Tom Swift in the Caves of Ice
Part 3 out of 3
"Wait a minute!" gasped the young inventor. "I want to throw on the
storage battery, and that will give us some light. Then we can see
what We are doing." An instant later the whole ship was illuminated,
and those aboard her felt calmer. Still the RED CLOUD continued to
"Can't we do something?" yelled Ned. "Start the propellers, Tom!"
"No, I'll use the gas. I can't see where we're heading for, as the
searchlight is out of business. We may be in the midst of a lot of
bergs. We were flying too low. Just start the gas generating
Ned hurried to obey this order. He saw Tom's object. With the big
bag full of gas the airship would settle gently to earth as easily
as though under the command of the propellers and wing planes.
In a few minutes the hissing of the machine told that the vapor was
being forced into the bag and a little later the downward motion of
the ship was checked. She moved more and more slowly toward the
earth, until, with a little jar, she settled down, and came to rest.
But she was on such an uneven keel that the cabin was tilted at an
"Bless my salt-cellar!" cried Mr. Damon. "We are almost standing on
"Better that than not standing at all," replied Tom, grimly. "Now to
see what the damage is."
He scrambled from the forward door of the cabin, no easy task
considering how it was tilted, and the others followed him. It was
too dark to note just how much damage had been inflicted, but Tom
was relieved to see, as nearly as he could judge, that it was
confined to the forward part of the front platform or deck of the
ship. The wooden planking was split, but the extent of the break
could not be ascertained until daylight. The searchlight connections
had been broken by the collision, and it could not be used.
"Now to take a look at the machinery," suggested the young inventor,
when he had walked around his craft. "That is what I am worried
about more than about the outside."
But, to their joy, they found only a small break in the motor. That
was what caused it to stop, and also put the dynamo out of
"We can easily fix that," Tom declared.
"Bless my coffee-spoon!" cried Mr. Damon, who seemed to be running
to table accessories in his blessings. Perhaps it was because it was
so near supper time. "Bless my coffee-spoon! But how did it happen?"
"We were running too low," declared Tom. "I had forgotten that we
were likely to get among tall mountain peaks at any moment, and I
set the elevation rudder too low. It was my fault. I should have
been on the lookout. We must have struck the mountain of ice a
glancing blow, or the result would have been worse than it is. We'll
come out of it all right, as it is."
"We can't do anything to-night," observed Ned.
"Only eat," put in Mr. Damon, "and we'll have to take our coffee
cups half full, for everything is so tilted that it's like topsy-
turvey land. It makes me fairly dizzy!"
But he forgot this in the work of getting a meal, and, though it was
prepared under considerable difficulties, at last it was ready.
Bright and early the next morning Tom was up making another
inspection of his ship. He found that even if the forward deck was
not repaired they could go on, as soon as the motor was in shape,
but, as they had some spare wood aboard, it was decided to
temporarily repair the smashed platform.
It was cold work, even wearing their thick garments; but, after
laboring until their fingers were stiff from the frost, Ned hit on
the idea of building a big fire of some evergreen trees near where
the ship lay.
"Say, that's all right!" declared Tom, as the warmth of the blaze
made itself felt. "We can work better, now!"
The RED CLOUD was tilted on some rough and uneven ground, in among
some little hills. On either side arose big peaks, the one in
particular that they had hit towering nearly fifteen thousand feet.
Everything was covered with snow and ice, and, in fact, the ice was
so thick on the top of the mountains that the crags resembled
icebergs rather than stony peaks. The crash of the airship had
brought down a great section of this solid rock-ice.
"Do you think we are anywhere near the valley of gold?" asked Mr.
Damon that afternoon, when the work was nearly finished.
"It's somewhere in this vicinity." declared Abe. "Me an' my partner
passed through jest such a place as this on our way there. I
wouldn't wonder but what it wasn't more than a few hundred miles
"Then we'll soon be there," said Tom. "I'll start in the morning. I
could go to-night, but there are a few adjustments I want to make to
the motor, and, besides, I think it will be safer, now that we are
among these peaks, to navigate in daylight, or at least with the
searchlight going. I should have thought of that before."
"Then, if you're not going to start away at once," spoke Mr. Parker,
"I think I will walk around a bit, and make some observations. I
think we are now in the region where we may expect a movement of the
ice. I want to test it, and see if it is traveling in a southerly
direction. If it is not now, it will soon be doing that, and the
coating of ice may reach even as far as New York."
"Pleasant prospect," murmured Tom. Then he said aloud: "Well if you
are going, Mr. Parker, we'll be with you. I'll be glad of the chance
to stretch my legs, and what more remains to be done, can be
finished in the morning."
Mr. Damon declared that he did not relish a tramp over the ice and
snow, and would stay in the warm cabin, but Tom and Ned, with Abe
and Mr. Parker started off. The scientist pointed out what he
claimed were evidences of the impending movement of the ice, while
Abe explained to the lads how the Alaskan Indians of that
neighborhood hunted and fished, and how they made huts of blocks of
"We are nearing th' Arctic circle," the old miner said, "and we'll
soon be among th' most savage of the Eskimo tribes."
"Is there any hunting around here?" asked Ned.
"Yes, plenty of musk ox" answered Abe.
"I wish I'd brought my gun along and could see one of the big beasts
now," went on Ned. He looked anxiously around, but no game was in
sight. After a little farther tramp over the icy expanse they all
declared that they had seen enough of the dreary landscape, and
voted to return to the ship.
As they neared their craft Tom saw several large, shaggy black
objects standing in a line on the path the adventurers had come over
a little while before. The objects were between the gold-seekers and
the RED CLOUD.
"What in the world are those?" asked the young inventor.
"Look to me like black stones," spoke Ned.
"Stones?" cried Abe. "Look out, boys, those are musk oxen; and big
ones, too! There's a lot of 'em! Make for the ship! If they attack
us we're goners!"
The boys and Mr. Parker needed no second warning. Turning so as to
rush past the shaggy creatures, the four headed toward the ship.
But if our friends expected to reach it unmolested they were
disappointed. No sooner had they increased their pace than the oxen,
with snorts of rage, darted forward. The animals may have imagined
they were about to be attacked, and determined to make the first
"Here they come!" yelled Ned.
"Sprint for it!" cried Tom.
"Oh, if I only had my gun!" groaned Abe.
It was hard work running over the ice and snow, hampered as they
were with their heavy fur garments. They soon realized this, and the
pace was telling on them. They were now near to the ship, but the
savage creatures still were between them and the craft.
"Try around the other way!" directed Tom, They changed their
direction, but the oxen also shifted their ground, and with loud
bellows of rage came on, shaking their shaggy heads and big horns,
while the hair, hanging down from their sides and flanks, dragged in
"Right at 'em! Run and yell!" advised the young inventor. "Maybe we
can scare 'em!"
They followed his advice. Yelling like Indians the four rushed
straight for the animals. For a moment only the creatures halted.
Then, bellowing louder than ever they rushed straight at Tom and the
The largest of the oxen, with a sudden swerve, made for Mr. Parker,
who was slightly in the lead off to one side. In an instant the
scientist was tossed high in the air, falling in a snow bank.
"Mr. Damon! Mr. Damon!" yelled Tom, frantically. "Get a gun and
shoot these beasts!"
The young inventor and his two companions had come to a halt. The
oxen also stopped momentarily. Suddenly Mr. Damon appeared on the
deck of the airship. He held two rifles. Laying one down he aimed
the other at the ox which was rushing at the prostrate Mr. Parker.
The eccentric man fired. He hit the beast on the flank, and, with a
bellow of rage it turned.
"Now's our time!" yelled Tom. "Head for the ship, I'll get my
"We can't leave Mr. Parker!" yelled Abe.
But the scientist had arisen, and was running toward the RED CLOUD.
He did not seem to be much hurt. Mr. Damon fired again, hitting
another beast, but not mortally.
Once more the herd of shaggy creatures came on, but the adventurers
were now almost at the ship, on the deck of which stood Mr. Damon,
firing as fast as he could work the lever and pull the trigger.
THE CAVES OF ICE
"Keep on firing! Hold 'em back a few minutes and I'll soon turn my
electric rifle loose on 'em!" yelled Tom Swift as he sprinted
forward. "Keep on shooting, Mr. Damon!"
"Bless my powder-horn! I will!" cried the excited man. "I'll fire
all the cartridges there are in the rifle!"
Which, at the rate he was discharging the weapon, would not take a
long time. But it had the effect of momentarily checking the advance
of the creatures.
Not for long, however. Our friends had barely reached the airship,
with Mr. Parker stumbling and slipping on the ice and snow, ere the
musk oxen came on again, with loud bellows.
"They're going to charge the ship! They'll ram her!" yelled Ned
"I think I can stop them!" cried Tom, who had leaped toward his
stateroom. He came out a moment later, carrying a peculiar-looking
gun, The adventurers had seen it before, but never in operation, as
Tom had only put some finishing touches on it since undertaking the
voyage to the caves of ice.
"What sort of a weapon is that?" cried Abe, as he helped Mr. Parker
"It's my new electric rifle," answered the young inventor. "I don't
know how it will work, as it isn't entirely finished, but I'm going
to try it."
Putting it to his shoulder he aimed at the leading musk ox, and
pulled a small lever. There was no report, no puff of smoke and no
fire, yet the big creature, which had been rushing at the ship,
suddenly stopped, swayed for a moment, and then fell over in the
snow, kicking in his death agony.
"One down!" yelled Tom. "My rifle works all right, even if it isn't
He aimed at another ox, and that creature was stopped in its tracks.
Mr. Damon had exhausted his cartridges, and had ceased firing, but
Abe Abercrombie was ready with his rifle, and opened up on the
beasts. Tom killed another with his electric gun, and Abe shot two.
This stopped the advance, and only just in time, for the foremost
animals were already close to the ship, and had they rushed at the
frail hull they might have damaged it beyond repair.
"Here goes for the big one!" cried Tom, and, aiming at the largest
ox of the herd, the young inventor pulled the lever. The brute fell
over dead, and the rest, terror stricken, turned and fled.
"Hurrah! That's the stuff!" cried Ned Newton, capering about on
deck. He had hurried to his stateroom and secured his rifle, and,
before the musk oxen were out of sight he had killed one, which gave
him great delight.
"Mighty lucky we drove them away," declared Abe. "They are terrible
savage at times, an' I reckon we struck one of them times. But say,
Tom, what sort of a gun is that you got, anyhow?"
"Oh, it fires electric bullets," explained our hero. "But I haven't
time to tell you about it now. Let's get out and skin one of those
oxen. The fresh meat will come in good, for we've been living on
canned stuff since we left Seattle. We've got time enough before it
They hurried to where the shaggy creatures lay in the snow, and soon
there was enough fresh meat to last a long time, as it would keep
well in the intense cold. Tom put away his electric gun, briefly
explaining the system of it to his companions. The time was to come,
and that not very far off, when that same electric rifle was to save
his life in a remarkable manner, in the wilds of Africa where he
went to hunt elephants.
In the cozy cabin that night they sat and talked of the day's
adventures. The airship had been slightly lifted up by means of the
gas bag, and now rested on a level keel, so it was more comfortable
for the gold hunters.
"I did not complete my observations about the great snow slide,"
remarked Professor Parker, "I trust I will have time to go over the
ground again to-morrow."
"We leave early in the morning," objected Tom.
"Besides, I don't believe it would be safe to go over that ground
again," put in Mr. Damon.
"Bless my gunpowder! But when I saw those savage creatures rushing
at you, I thought it was all up with us. Are you hurt, Parker, my
dear fellow? I forgot to ask before."
"Not hurt in the least," answered the scientist. "My heavy and thick
fur garments saved me from the beasts' horns, and I fell in some
soft snow. I was quite startled for a moment. I thought it might be
the beginning of the snow movement."
"It was an ox movement," said Ned, in a low voice to Tom.
Morning saw the travelers again under way, with the Red Cloud now
floating high enough to avoid the lofty peaks. The weather was clear
but very cold, and Tom, who was in the pilot-house, could see a long
distance ahead, and note many towering crags, which, had the airship
been flying low enough, would have interfered with her progress.
"We'll have to keep the searchlight going all night, to avoid a
collision," he decided.
"Are we anywhere near the place?" asked Mr. Damon.
"We're in th' right region," declared the old miner. "I think we're
on th' right track. I recognize a few more landmarks."
"There wouldn't have been any trouble if I hadn't lost the map."
complained Tom, bitterly.
"Never mind about that," insisted Abe. "We'll find th' place anyhow.
But look ahead there; is that another hail storm headin' this way,
The young inventor glanced to where Abe pointed. There was a mist in
the air, and, for a time great apprehension was felt, but, in a few
minutes there was a violent flurry of snow and they all breathed
easier. For, though the flakes were so numerous as to completely
shut off the view, there was no danger to the airship from them. Tom
steered by the compass.
The storm lasted several hours, and when it was over the adventurers
found themselves several miles nearer their destination--at least
they hoped they were nearer it, for they were going it blind.
Abe declared they were now in the region of the gold valley. They
cruised about for two days, making vain observations by means of
powerful telescopes, but they saw no signs of any depression which
corresponded with the place whence Abe had seen the gold taken from.
At times they passed over Indian villages, and had glimpses of the
skin-clad inhabitants rushing out to point to the strange sight of
the airship overhead. Tom was beginning to reproach himself again
for his carelessness in losing the map, and it did begin to took as
if they were making a fruitless search.
Still they all kept up their good spirits, and Mr. Damon concocted
some new dishes from the meat of the musk oxen. It was about a week
after the fight with the savage creatures when, one day, as Ned was
on duty in the pilothouse, he happened to lock down. What he saw
caused him to call to Tom.
"What's the matter?" demanded the young inventor, as he hurried
"Look down there," directed Ned. "It looks as if we were sailing
over a lot of immense beehives of the old-fashioned kind."
Tom looked. Below were countless, rounded hummocks of snow or ice.
Some were very large--as immense as a great shed in which a
dirigible balloon could be housed--while others were as small as the
ice huts in which the Eskimos live.
"That's rather strange," remarked Tom. "I wonder--"
But he did not complete his sentence, for Abe Abercrombie, who had
come to stand beside him, suddenly yelled out:
"The caves of ice! The caves of ice! Now I know where we are! We're
close to the valley of gold! There are the caves of ice, and just
beyond is th' place we're lookin' for! We've found it at last!"
IN THE GOLD VALLEY
The excited cries of the old miner brought Mr. Damon and Mr. Parker
to the pilothouse on the run.
"Bless my refrigerator!" exclaimed Mr. Damon. "Are there more of
those savage, shaggy creatures down there?"
"No, but we are over th' caves of ice," explained Abe. "That means
we are near th' gold."
"You don't say so!" burst out the scientist. "The caves of ice! Now
I can begin my real observations! I have a theory that the caves are
on top of a strata of ice that is slowly moving down, and will
eventually bury the whole of the North American continent. Let me
once get down there, and I can prove what I say."
"I'd a good deal rather you wouldn't prove it, if it's going to be
anything like it was on Earthquake Island, or out among the diamond
makers." said Tom Swift. "But we will go down there, to see what
they are like. Perhaps there is a trail from among the ice caves to
the valley of gold."
"I don't think so," said Abe, shaking his head.
"I think th' gold valley lies over that high ridge," and he pointed
to one. "That's where me an' my partner was," he went on. "I
recognize th' place now."
"Well, we'll go down here, anyhow," decided Tom, and he pulled the
lever to let some gas out of the bag, and tilted the deflection
rudder to send the airship toward the odd caves.
And, curious enough did our friends find them when they had made a
landing and got out to walk about them. It was very cold, for on
every side was solid ice. They walked on ice, which was like a floor
beneath their feet, level save where the ice caves reared
themselves. As for the caverns, they, too, were hollowed out of the
solid ice. It was exactly as though there had once been a level
surface of some liquid. Then by some upheaval of nature, the surface
was blown into bubbles, some large and some small. Then the whole
thing had frozen solid, and the bubbles became hollow caves. In time
part of the sides fell in and made an opening, so that nearly all
the caves were capable of being entered.
This method of their formation was advanced as a theory by Mr.
Parker, and no one cared to dispute him. The gold-seekers walked
about, gazing on the ice caves with wonder showing on their faces.
It was almost like being in some fantastic scene from fairyland, the
big ice bubbles representing the houses, the roofs being rounded
like the igloos of the Eskimos. Some had no means of entrance, the
outer surface showing no break. Others had small openings, like a
little doorway, while of still others there remained but a small
part of the original cave, some force of nature having crumbled and
"Wonderful! Wonderful!" exclaimed Mr. Parker. "It bears out my
theory exactly! Now to see how fast the ice is moving."
"How are you going to tell?" asked Tom.
"By taking some mark on this field of ice, and observing a distant
peak. Then I will set up a stake, and by noting their relative
positions, I can tell just how fast the ice field is moving
southward." The scientist hurried into the ship to get a sharpened
stake he had prepared for this purpose.
"How fast do you think the ice is moving?" asked Ned.
"Oh, perhaps two or three feet a year." "Two or three feet a year?"
gasped Mr. Damon. "Why, Parker, my dear fellow, at that rate it will
be some time before the ice gets to New York."
"Oh, yes. I hardly expect it will reach there within two thousand
years, but my theory will be proved, just the same!"
"Humph!" exclaimed Abe Abercrombie, "I ain't goin' to worry any
more, if it's goin' t' take all that while. I reckoned, to hear him
talk, that it was goin' t' happen next summer."
"So did I," agreed Tom, but their remarks were lost on Mr. Parker
who was busy making observations. The young inventor and the others
walked about among the ice caves.
"Some of these caverns would be big enough to house the RED CLOUD in
case of another hail storm," observed Tom. "That one over there
would hold two craft the size of mine," and, in fact, probably three
could have gotten in if the opening had been somewhat enlarged, for
the ice cave to which our hero pointed was an immense one.
As the adventurers were walking about they were startled by a
terrific crashing sound. They started in alarm, for, off to their
left, the top of one of the ice caverns had crashed inward, the
blocks of frozen water crushing and grinding against one another.
"It's a good thing we weren't in there," remarked Tom, and he could
not repress a shudder, "There wouldn't have been much left of the
RED CLOUD if she had been inside."
It was a desolate place, in spite of the wild beauty of it, and
beautiful it was when the sun shone on the ice caves, making them
sparkle as if they were studded with diamonds. But it was cold and
cheerless, and there were no signs that human beings had ever been
there. Mr. Parker had completed the setting of his stake, and picked
out his landmarks, and was gravely making his "observations," and
jotting down some figures in a notebook.
"How fast is it moving, Parker?" called Mr. Damon.
"I can't tell yet," was the response. "It will require observations
extending over several days before I will know the rate."
"Then we might as well go on," suggested Tom. "There is nothing to
be gained from staying here, and I would like to get to the gold
valley. Abe says we are near it."
"Right over that ridge, I take it to be," replied the miner. "An' we
can't get there any too soon for me. Those Fogers may git their ship
fixed up, an' arrive before we do if we wait much longer."
"Not much danger, I guess," declared Ned.
"Well, we'll go up in the air, and see what we can find," decided
Tom, as he turned back toward the ship.
They found the "ridge" as Abe designated it. to be a great plateau,
over a hundred miles in extent, and they were the better part of
that day crossing it, for they went slowly, so as not to miss the
valley which the miner was positive was close at hand. Mr. Parker
disliked leaving the ice caves, but Abe said there were more in the
valley where they were going, and the scientist could renew his
It was getting dusk when Tom, who was peering through a powerful
glass, called out:
"Well, we're at the end of the plateau, and it seems to dip down
into a valley just beyond here."
"Then that's the place!" cried Abe, excitedly. "Go slow, Tom."
Our hero needed no such caution. Carefully he sent the airship
forward. A few minutes later they were passing over a large Eskimo
village, the fur-clad inhabitants of which rushed about wildly
excited at the sight of the airship.
"There they are! Them's th' beggars!" cried the old miner. "Them's
th' fellows who drove me an' my partner away. But there's th' valley
of gold! I know it now! How t' fill our pockets with nuggets!"
"Are you sure this is the place?" asked Mr. Damon.
"Sartin sure of it!" declared Abe. "Put her down, Tom! Put her
"All right," agreed the young inventor, as he shifted the deflection
rudder. The airship began her descent into the valley. The edge of
the plateau, leading down into the great depression was now black
with the Eskimos and Indians, who were capering about, gesticulating
"It's quite a surprise party to 'em," observed Ned Newton.
"Yes, I hope they don't spring one on us," added Tom.
Down and down went the RED CLOUD lower and lower into the valley.
"There are ice caves there!" cried Mr. Parker, pointing to the
curiously rounded and hollow hummocks. "Lots of them!"
"And larger than the others!" added Mr. Damon.
The airship was now moving slowly, for Tom wanted to pick out a good
landing place. He saw a smooth stretch of the ice just ahead of him,
in front of an immense ice cave.
"I'll make for that," he told Ned.
A few minutes later the craft had come to rest. Tom shut off the
power and hurried from the pilothouse, donning his fur coat as he
rushed out. A blast of frigid air met him as he opened the outer
door of the cabin. Back on the ridge of the plateau he could see the
fringe of Indians.
"Well, we're here in the valley," he said, as his friends gathered
about him on the icy ground.
"An' now for th' gold!" cried Abe, "for it's here that th' nuggets
are--enough for all of us! Come on an' have a hunt for 'em!"
THE FOGERS ARRIVE
In Spite of the fact that he tried to remain calm, Tom Swift felt a
wild exultation as he thought of what lay before him and his
friends. To be in a place where gold could be picked up! where they
might all become fabulously wealthy! where the ground might be seen
covered with the precious yellow metal! this was enough to set the
nerves of any one a-tingle!
Tom could hardly realize it at first. After many hardships, no
little danger, and after an attempt on the part of their enemies to
defeat them, they had at last reached their goal. Now, as Abe had
said, they could hunt for the gold.
But if they expected to see the precious yellow nuggets lying about
ready to be picked up like so many kernels of corn, they were
disappointed. A quick look all about showed them only a vast extent
of ice and snow, broken here and there by the big caves of ice.
There were not so many of the latter as at the first place they
stopped, but the caverns were larger.
"Gold--I don't see any gold," remarked Ned Newton, with a
disappointed air. "Where is it?"
"Bless my pocketbook, yes! Where is it?" demanded Mr. Damon.
"Oh, we've got to dig for it," explained Abe. "It's only when
there's been a slight thaw that some of th' pebble nuggets kin be
seen. They're under th' ice, an' we've got t' dig for 'em."
"Does it ever thaw up here?" asked Mr. Parker. "The ice of the caves
seems thick enough to last forever."
"It does thaw an' melt some," went on the miner. "But some of th'
caves last all through what they call 'summer' up here, though it's
more like winter. We're above th' Arctic circle now, friends."
"Maybe we can keep on to the Pole," suggested Ned.
"Not this trip," spoke Tom, grimly. "We'll try for the gold, first."
"Yes, an' I'm goin' t' begin diggin' right away!" exclaimed Abe, as
he turned back into the airship, and came out again with a pick and
shovel, a supply of which implements had been brought along. The
others followed his example. and soon the ice chips were flying
about in a shower, while the sun shining on them gave the appearance
of a rainbow.
"Look at those Indians watching us," remarked Ned to Tom, as he
paused in his chipping of the frozen surface. The young inventor
glanced up toward the distant plateau where a fringe of dark figures
stood. The natives were evidently intently watching the gold-
"Do you think there's any danger from them. Abe?" asked Tom.
"Not much," was the reply. "They made trouble for me an' my partner,
but I guess th' airship has scared 'em sufficient, so they won't
come snoopin' down here," and Abe fell to at his digging again.
Mr. Damon was also vigorously wielding a pick, but Mr. Parker like
the true scientist he was, had renewed his observations. Evidently
the gold had no attractions for him, or, if it did, he preferred to
wait until he had finished his calculations.
Vigorously the adventurers wielded their implements, making the ice
fly, but for an hour or more no gold was discovered. Mr. Damon,
after picking lightly at a certain place, would get discouraged, and
move on to another. So did Ned, and Tom, after going down quite a
way, left off work, and walked over to one of the big ice caves.
"What's up?" asked Ned, resting from his labors.
"I was thinking whether it would be safe to put the RED CLOUD in
this ice cave for a shelter," replied Tom. "There may come up a hail
storm at any time, and damage it. The caves would be just the place
for it, only I'm afraid the roof might collapse."
"It looks strong," said Ned. "Let's ask Mr. Parker his opinion."
"Good idea," agreed Tom.
The scientist was soon taking measurements of the thickness of the
cave roof, noting its formation, and looking at the frozen floor.
"I see no reason why this cave should collapse," he finally
announced. "The only danger is the movement of the whole valley of
ice, and that is too gradual to cause any immediate harm. Yes, I
think the airship could be housed in the ice cave."
"Then I'll run her in, and she'll be safer," decided Tom. "I guess
we three can do it, Ned, and leave Mr. Damon and Abe to keep on
digging for gold." The airship was so buoyant that it could easily
be moved about on the bicycle wheels on which it rested, and soon,
after the lower edge of the opening into the ice cave had been
smoothed down, the RED CLOUD was placed in the novel shelter.
"Now to continue the search for the yellow nuggets!" cried Ned, and
Tom went with him, even Mr. Parker condescending to take a pick,
now. Abe was the only one who dug steadily in one place. The others
tried spot after spot.
"You've got t' stick t' one lead until you find somethin', or until
it peters out," explained the miner. "You must git down to th' dirt
before you'll find any gold, though you may strike a few grains that
have worked up into th' ice."
After this advice they all kept to one hole until they had worked
down through the ice to the dirt surface below. But even then, Abe,
who was the first to achieve this, found no gold, and the old miner
went to another location.
All the rest of that day they dug, but with no result. Not even a
few grains of yellow dust rewarded their efforts.
"Are you sure this is the right place?" asked Mr. Damon, somewhat
fretfully, of Abe. as they ate supper that night in the airship,
sheltered as it was in the ice cave.
"I'm positive of it," was the reply. "There's gold here, but it will
take some prospectin' t' find it. Maybe th' deposits have been
shifted by th' ice movement, as Mr. Parker says. But it's here, an'
we'll git it. We'll try ag'in t'-morrow."
They did try, but with small success. Laboring all day in the cold
the only result was a few little yellow pebbles that Tom found
imbedded in the ice. But they were gold, and the finding of them
gave the seekers hope as they wearily began their task the following
day. The weather seemed even colder, and there was the indication of
a big storm.
They were scattered in different places on the ice, not far away
from the big cave, each one picking away vigorously. Suddenly Abe,
who had laboriously worked his way down to the dirt, gave an
"I've struck it! Struck it rich!" he shouted, leaping about as he
threw down his pick, "Look here, everybody!" He stooped down over
the hole. They all ran to his side, and saw him lifting from a
little pocket in the dirt, several large, yellow pebbles.
"Gold! Gold!" cried Abe. "We've struck it at last!"
For a moment no one spoke, though there was a wild beating of their
hearts. Then, off toward the farther end of the valley there sounded
a curious noise. It was a shouting and yelling, mingled with the
snapping of whips and the howls and barkings of dogs.
"Bless my handkerchief!" cried Mr. Damon. "What's that?"
They all saw a moment later. Approaching over the frozen snow were
several Eskimo sledges, drawn by dog teams, and the native drivers
were shouting and cracking their whips of walrus hide.
"The natives are coming to attack us!" cried Ned.
Tom said nothing. He was steadily observing the approaching sleds.
They came on rapidly. Abe was holding the golden nuggets in his
"Get the guns! Where's your electric rifle, Tom?" cried Mr. Damon.
"I don't believe we'll need the guns--just yet," answered the young
"Bless my cartridge-belt! Why not?" demanded the eccentric man.
"Because those are the Fogers," replied Tom. "They have followed us-
-Andy and his father! Andy Foger here!" gasped Ned.
Tom nodded grimly. A few minutes later the sleds had come to a halt
not far from our friends, and Andy, followed by his father, leaped
off his conveyance. The two were clad in heavy fur garments.
"Ha, Tom Swift! You didn't get here much ahead of us!" exulted the
bully. "I told you I'd get even with you! Come on, now, dad, we'll
get right to work digging for gold!"
Tom and his companions did not know what to say.
JUMPING THE CLAIM
There was a sneering look on Andy's face, and Mr. Foger, too, seemed
delighted at having reached the valley of gold almost as soon as had
our friends. Tom and the others looked at the means by which the
bully had arrived. There were four sleds, each one drawn by seven
dogs, and in charge of a dark-skinned native. On the two foremost
sleds Andy and his father had ridden, while the other two evidently
contained their supplies.
For a moment Andy surveyed Tom's party and then, turning to one of
the native drivers, he said:
"We'll camp here. You fellows get to work and make an ice house, and
some of you cook a meal--I'm hungry."
"No need build ice house," replied the native, who spoke English
"Why not?" demanded Andy.
"Live in ice cave-plenty much ob'em--plenty much room," went on the
Eskimo, indicating several of the large caverns.
"Ha! That's a good idea," agreed Mr. Foger, "Andy, my son, we have
houses already made for us, and very comfortable they seem, too.
We'll take up our quarters in one, and then hunt for the gold."
Mr. Foger seemed to ignore Tom and his friends. Abe Abercrombie
"Look here, you Fogers!" he exclaimed without ceremony, "was you
calculatin' on stakin' any claims here?"
"If you mean are we going to dig for gold, we certainly are,"
replied Andy insolently, "and you can't stop us."
"I don't know about that," went on Abe, grimly. "I ain't goin' t'
say nothin' now, about th' way you stole th' map from me, an' made a
copy, but I am goin t' say this, an' that is it won't be healthy fer
any of you t' git in my way, or t' try t' dig on our claims!"
"We'll dig where we please!" cried Andy. "You don't own this
"We own as much of it as we care to stake out, by right of prior
discovery!" declared Tom, firmly.
"And I say we'll dig where we please!" insisted Andy. "Hand me a
pick," he went on to another of the natives.
"Wait jest a minute," spoke Abe calmly, as he put his little store
of nuggets in the pocket of his fur coat, and drew out a big
revolver. "It ain't healthy t' talk that way, Andy Foger, an' th'
sooner you find that out th' better. You ain't in Shopton now, an'
th' only law here is what we make for ourselves. Tom, maybe you'd
better get out th' rifles, an' your electric gun, after all. It
seems like we might have trouble," and Abe cooly looked to see if
his weapon was loaded.
"Oh, of course we didn't mean to usurp any of your rights, my dear
friend!" exclaimed Mr, Foger quickly, and he seemed nervous at the
sight of the big revolver, while Andy hastily moved until he was
behind the biggest of the sledge drivers. "We don't want to violate
any of your rights," went on Mr. Foger. "But this valley is large,
and do I understand that you claim all of it?"
"We could if we wanted to," declared Abe stoutly; "but we'll be
content with three-quarter of it, seein' we was here fust. If you
folks want t' dig fer gold, go over there," and he pointed to a spot
some distance away.
"We'll dig where we please!" cried Andy.
"Oh, will you?" and there was an angry light in Abe's eyes. "I
guess, Tom, you'd better git--"
"No! No! My son is wrong--he is too hasty," interposed Mr. Foger.
"We will go away--certainly we will. The valley is large enough for
both of us--just as you say. Come, Andy!"
The bully seemed about to refuse, but a look at Abe's angry face and
a sight of Mr. Damon coming from the cave where the airship was,
with a rifle, for the eccentric man had hastened to get his weapon--
this sight calmed Andy down. Without further words he and his father
got back on their sleds, and were soon being driven off to where a
large ice cave loomed up, about a mile away.
"Good riddance," muttered the miner, "now we kin go on diggin'
wthout bein' bothered by that little scamp."
"I don't know about that," spoke Tom, shaking his head dubiously.
"There's always trouble when Andy Foger's within a mile. I'm afraid
we haven't seen the last of him."
"He'd better not come around here ag'in," declared Abe. "Queer, how
he should turn up, jest when I made a big strike."
"They must have come on all the way from where their airship was
wrecked, by means of dog sleds," observed Ned, and the others agreed
with him. Later they learned that this was so; that after the
accident to the ANTHONY, the crew had refused to proceed farther
north, and had gone back. But Mr. Foger had hired the natives with
the dog teams, and, by means of the copy of the map and with what
knowledge his Eskimos had, had reached the valley of gold.
"We have certainly struck it rich," went on Abe, as he went back to
where he had dug the hole. "Now we'd better all begin prospectin'
here, for it looks like a big deposit. We'll stake out a large
enough claim to take it all in. I guess Mr. Parker can do that,
seein' as how he knows about such things."
The scientist agreed to do this part of the work, it being
understood that all the gold discovered would be shared equally
after the expenses of the trip had been paid.
Feverishly Abe and the others began to dig. They did not come upon
such a rich deposit as the miner had found, but there were enough
nuggets picked up to prove that the expedition would be very
No more attention was paid to the Fogers, but through the telescope
Tom could see that the bully and his father had made a camp in one
of the ice caves, and that both were eagerly digging in the frozen
surface of the valley.
Before night several thousand dollars' worth of gold had been taken
out by our friends. It was stored in the airship, and then, after
suppers the craft's searchlight was taken off, and placed in such a
position in front of the cave of ice so that the beams would
illuminate the claim staked out by Tom and the others.
"We'll stand watch an' watch," suggested Abe, "but I don't think
them Fogers will come around here ag'in."
They did not, and the night passed peacefully. The next day our
friends were again at work digging for gold. So were the Fogers, as
could be observed through the glass, but it was impossible to see
whether they got any nuggets.
The gold seemed to be in "pockets," and that day the ones in the
vicinity of the strike first made by Abe were cleaned out.
"We'll have to locate some new 'pockets,'" said the miner, and the
adventurers scattered over the frozen plain to look for other
deposits of the precious metal.
Tom and Ned were digging together not far from one another. Suddenly
Ned let out a joyful cry.
"Strike anything?" asked Tom.
"Something rich," answered the bank clerk. He lifted from a hole in
the ground a handful of the golden pebbles.
"It's as good as Abe's was!" exclaimed Tom. "We must stake it out at
once, or the Fogers may jump it. Come on, we'll go back and tell
Abe, and get Mr. Parker and Mr. Damon over here."
The three men were some distance away, and there was no sign of the
Fogers. Tom and Ned hurried back to where their friends were,
leaving their picks and shovels on the frozen ground.
The good news was soon told, and, with some stakes hastily made from
some extra wood carried on the airship, the little party hastened
back to where Tom and Ned had made their strike.
As they emerged from behind a big hummock of ice they saw, standing
over the holes which the lads had dug, Andy Foger and his father!
Each one had a rifle, and there was a smile of triumph on Andy's
"What are you doing here?" cried Tom, the hot blood mounting to his
"We've just staked out a claim here," answered the bully.
"And you deserted it," put in Mr. Foger smoothly. "I think your
mining friend will tell you that we have a right to take up an
"But we didn't abandon it!" declared Tom. "We only went away to get
"The claim was abandoned, and we have 'jumped' it," went on Mr.
Foger, and he cocked his rifle. "I need hardly tell you that
possession is nine points of the law, and that we intend to remain.
Andy, is your gun loaded?"
"I--I guess they've got us--fer th' time bein'," murmured Abe, as he
motioned to Tom and the others to come away. "Besides they've got
guns, an' we haven't--but wait," added the miner, mysteriously. "I
haven't played all my tricks yet."
ATTACKED BY NATIVES
To state that Tom and his friends were angry at the trick the Fogers
had played on them would be putting it mildly. There was righteous
indignation in their hearts, and, as for the young inventor he felt
that much blame was attached to him for his neglect in not remaining
on guard at the place of the lucky strike while Ned went to call the
"I guess Andy must have been spying on us," spoke Ned, "or he would
never have known when to rush up just as he did; as soon as we
"Probably," admitted Tom, bitterly.
"But, bless my penholder!" cried Mr. Damon. "Can't we do something,
Abe? Won't the law--?"
"There ain't any law out here, except what you make yourself," said
the miner. "I guess they've got us for th' time bein'."
"What do you mean by that?" asked Tom, detecting a gleam of hope in
"Well, I mean that I think we kin git ahead of 'em. Come on back to
th' ship, an' we'll talk it over."
They walked away, leaving Andy and his father in possession of the
rich deposits of gold, and that it was much richer even then than
the hole Abe had first discovered was very evident. The two Fogers
were soon at work, digging out the yellow metal with the pick and
shovels Tom and Ned had so thoughtlessly dropped.
"What little law there is out here they've got on their side," went
on Abe, "an' they've got possession, too, which is more. Of course
we could go at 'em in a pitched battle, but I take it you don't want
any bloodshed?" and he looked at Tom.
"Of course not," replied the lad quickly, "but I'd like to meet Andy
alone, with nothing but my fists for a little while," and Tom's eyes
"So would I," added Ned.
"Perhaps we can find another pocket of gold better than that one,"
suggested Mr. Damon.
"We might," admitted Abe, "but that one was ours an' we're entitled
to it. This valley is rich in gold deposits, but you can't allers
put your hand on 'em. We may have t' hunt around for a week until we
strike another. An', meanwhile, them Fogers will be takin' our gold!
It's not to be borne! I'll find some way of drivin' 'em out. An'
we've got t' do it soon, too."
"You mean if we don't that they'll get all the gold?" asked Mr.
"No, I mean that soon it will be th' long night up here, an' we
can't work. We'll have t' go back, an' I don't want t' go back until
I've made my pile."
"Neither do any of us, I guess," spoke Tom, "but there doesn't seem
to be any help for it."
They discussed several plans on reaching the ship, but none seemed
feasible without resorting to force, and this they did not want to
do, as they feared there might be bloodshed. When night closed in
they could see the gleam of a campfire, kindled by the Foger party,
at the gold-pocket, from bits of the scrubby trees that grew in that
"They're going to stay on guard," announced Tom. "We can't get it
away from them to-night."
Though Abe had spoken of some plan to regain the advantage the
Fogers had of them, the old miner was not quite ready to propose it.
All the next day he seemed very thoughtful, while going about with
the others, seeking new deposits of gold. Luck did not seem to be
with them. They found two or three places where there were traces of
the yellow pebbles, but in no very great quantity.
Meanwhile the Fogers were busy at the pocket Ned had located. They
seemed to be taking out much of the precious metal.
"And it all ought to be ours," declared Tom, bitterly.
"Yes, and it shall be, too!" suddenly exclaimed. Abe. "I think I
have a plan that will beat 'em."
"What is it?" asked Tom.
"Let's get back to the ship, and I'll tell you," said Abe. "We can't
tell when one of their natives might be sneakin' in among these ice
caves, an' they understand some English. They might give my scheme
In brief Abe's plan, as he unfolded it in the cabin of the RED CLOUD
They would divide into two parties, one consisting of Ned and Tom,
and the other of the three men. The latter, by a circuitous route,
would go to the ice caves where the Fogers had established their
camp. It was there that the Indians remained during the day, while
Andy and his father labored at the gold pocket, for, after the first
day when they had had the natives aid them, father and son had
worked alone at the hole, probably fearing to trust the Indians. At
night, though either Andy or his father remained on guard, with one
or two of the dusky-skinned dog drivers.
"But we'll work this trick before night," said Abe. "We three men
will get around to where the natives are in the ice cave. We'll
pretend to attack them, and raise a great row, firing our guns in
the air, and all that sort of thing, an' yellin' t' beat th' band.
Th' natives will yell, too, you can depend on that."
"Th' Fogers will imagine we are tryin' t' git away with their sleds
an' supplies, an' maybe their gold, if they've got it stored in th'
ice cave. Naturally Andy or his father will run here, an' that will
leave only one on guard at th' mine. Then Tom an' Ned can sneak up.
Th' two of 'em will be a match for even th' old Foger, if he happens
t' stay, an' while Tom or Ned comes up in front, t' hold his
attention, th' other can come up in back, an' grab his arms, if he
tries t' shoot. Likely Andy will remain at th' gold hole, an' you
two lads kin handle him, can't you?"
"Well, I guess!" exclaimed Tom and Ned together.
The plan worked like a charm. Abe, Mr. Damon and Mr. Parker raised a
great din at the ice cave where the Foger natives were. The sound
carried to the hole where Andy and his father were digging out the
gold. Mr. Foger at once ran toward the cave, while Andy, catching up
his gun, remained on the alert.
Then came the chance of Tom and Ned. The latter coming from his
hiding-place, advanced boldly toward the bully, while Tom, making a
detour, worked his way up behind.
"Here! You keep away!" cried Andy, catching sight of Ned. "I see
what the game is, now! It's a trick!"
"You're a nice one to talk about tricks!" declared Ned, advancing
"Keep away if you don't want to get hurt!" yelled Andy.
"Oh, you wouldn't hurt me; would you?" mocked Ned, who wanted to
give Tom time to sneak up behind the bully.
"Yes, I would! Keep back!" Andy was nervously fingering his weapon.
The next instant his gun flew from his grasp, and he went over
backward in Tom's strong grip; for the young inventor, in his
sealskin shoes had worked up in the rear without a sound. The next
moment Andy broke away and was running for his life, leaving Tom and
Ned in possession of the gold hole, and that without a shot being
fired. A little later the three men, who had hurried away from the
cave as Mr. Foger rushed up to see what caused the racket, joined
Tom and Ned, and formal possession was taken of their lucky strike.
"We'll guard it well, now," decided Tom, and later that day they
moved some supplies near the hole, and for a shelter built an igloo,
Eskimo fashion, in which work Abe had had some experience. Then they
moved the airship to another ice cave, nearer their "mine" as they
called it, and prepared to stand guard.
But there seemed to be no need, for the following day there was no
trace of the Fogers. They and their natives had disappeared.
"I guess we were too much for them," spoke Tom. But the sequel was
soon to prove differently.
It was three days after our friends had regained their mine, during
which time they had dug out considerable gold, that toward evening,
as Tom was taking the last of the output of yellow pebbles into the
cave where the airship was, he looked across the valley.
"Looks like something coming this way," observed the young inventor.
"Natives, I guess."
"It is," agreed Ned, "quite a large party, too!"
"Better tell Abe and the others," went on Tom. "I don't like the
looks of this. Maybe the sudden disappearance of the Fogers has
something to do with it."
Abe, Mr. Damon and Mr. Parker hurried from the ice cave. They had
caught up their guns as they ran out.
"They're still coming on," called Tom, "and are headed this way."
"They're Indians, all right!" exclaimed Abe. "Hark! What's that?"
It was the sound of shouting and singing.
Through the gathering dusk the party advanced. Our friends closely
scanned them. There was something familiar about the two leading
figures, and it could now be seen that in the rear were a number of
"There's Andy Foger and his father!" cried Ned. "They've gone and
got a lot of Eskimos to help them drive us away."
"That's right!" admitted Tom. "I guess we're in for it now!"
With a rush the natives, led by the Fogers, came on. They were
yelling now. An instant later they began firing their guns.
"It's a fierce attack!" cried Tom. "Into the ice cave for shelter!
We can cover the gold mine from there. I'll get my electric gun!"
THE WRECK OF THE AIRSHIP
Almost before our friends could retreat into the cave which now
sheltered the RED CLOUD, the attacking natives opened fire.
Fortunately they only had old-fashioned, muzzle-loading muskets,
and, as their aim was none of the best, there was comparatively
little danger. The bullets, however, did sing through the fast-
gathering darkness with a vicious sound, and struck the heavy sides
and sloping front of the ice cave with a disconcerting "ping!"
"I don't hear Andy or his father firing!" called Tom, as he and the
others returned the fire of the savage Indians. "I could tell their
guns by the sharper reports. The Fogers carry repeating rifles, and
they're fine ones, if they're anything like the one we took from
"That's right," agreed Tom's chum, "I don't believe Andy or his
father dare fire. They're afraid to, and they're putting the poor
ignorant natives up to it. Probably they hired them to try to drive
This, as they afterward learned, was exactly the case.
The battle, if such it could be called, was kept up. There was about
a hundred natives, all of whom had guns, and, though they were slow
to load, there were enough weapons to keep up a constant fusilade.
On their part, Tom and the others fired at first over the heads of
the natives, for they did not want to kill any of the deluded men.
Later, though, when they saw the rush keeping up, they fired at
their legs, and disabled several of the Eskimos, the electric gun
proving very effective.
It was now quite dark, and the firing slackened. From their position
in the cave, Tom and the others could command the hole where the
gold was, and, as they saw several natives sneaking up to it the
young inventor and Ned, both of whom were good shots, aimed to have
the bullets strike the ice close to where the Indians were.
This sort of shooting was enough, and the natives scurried away.
Then Tom hit on the plan of playing the searchlight on the spot, and
this effectually prevented an unseen attack. It seemed to discourage
the enemy, too for they did not venture into that powerful glow of
"They won't do anything more until morning," declared Abe. "Then
we'll have it hot an' heavy, though, I'm afeered. Well, we'll have
t' make th' best of it!"
They took turns standing guard that night, but no attack was made.
The fact of the Fogers coming back with the band of Indians told
Tom, more plainly than words, how desperately his enemies would do
battle with them. Anxiously they waited for the morning.
Several times in the night Mr. Parker was seen roaming about
uneasily, though it was not his turn to be on guard. Finally Tom
asked him what was the matter, and if he could not sleep.
"It isn't that," answered the scientist, "but I am worried about the
ice. I can detect a slight but peculiar movement by means of some of
my scientific instruments. I am alarmed about it. I fear something
is going to happen."
But Tom was too worried about the outcome of the fight he knew would
be renewed on the next day, to think much about the ice movement. He
thought it would only be some scientific phenomena that would amount
With the first streak of the late dawn, the gold-seekers were up,
and partook of a hot breakfast, with strong coffee which Mr. Damon
brewed. Tom took an observation from the mouth of the cave. The
searchlight was still dimly glowing, and it did not disclose
anything. Tom turned it off. He thought he saw a movement among the
ranks of the enemy, who had camped just beyond the gold hole.
"I guess they're coming!" cried the lad. "Get ready for them!"
The adventurers caught up their guns, and hurried to the entrance of
the cave. Mr. Parker lingered behind, and was observed to be
narrowly scanning the walls of the cavern.
"Come on, Parker, my dear man!" begged Mr. Damon. "We are in grave
danger, and we need your help. Bless my life insurance policy! but I
never was in such a state as this."
"We may soon be in a worse one," was the answer of the gloomy
"What do you mean?" asked Mr. Damon, but he hurried on without
waiting for a reply.
Suddenly, from without the cave came a series of fierce yells. It
was the battle-cry of the Indians. At the same moment there sounded
a fusillade of guns.
"The battle is beginning!" cried Tom Swift, grimly. He held his
electric gun, though he had not used it very much in the previous
attack, preferring to save it for a time of more need.
As the defenders of the cave reached the entrance they saw the body
of natives rushing forward. They were almost at the gold hole, with
Andy Foger and his father discreetly behind the first row of
Eskimos, when, with a suddenness that was startling, there sounded
throughout the whole valley a weird sound!
It was like the wailing of some giant--the sighing of some mighty
wind. At the same time the air suddenly became dark, and then there
came a violent snow squall, shutting out instantly the sight of the
advancing natives. Tom and the others could not see five feet beyond
"This will delay the attack," murmured Ned, "They can't see to come
Mr. Parker came running up from the interior of the cave. On his
face there was a look of alarm.
"We must leave here at once!" he cried.
"Leave here?" repeated Tom. "Why must we? The enemy are out there!
We'd run right into them!"
"It must be done!" insisted the scientist. "We must leave the cave
"What for?" cried Mr. Damon.
"Because the movement of the ice that I predicted, has begun. It is
much more rapid than I supposed it would be. In a short time this
cave and all the others will be crushed flat!"
"Crushed flat!" gasped Tom.
"Yes, the caves of ice are being destroyed! Hark! You can hear them
They all listened. Above the roar of the storm could be made out the
noise of crushing, grinding ice-sounds like cannon being fired, as
the great masses of frozen crystal snapped like frail planks.
"The ice caves are being destroyed by an upheaval of nature!" went
on Mr. Parker. "This one will soon go! The walls are bulging now! We
must get out!"
"But the natives! They will kill us!" cried Mr. Damon. "Bless my
soul! what a trying position to be in."
"I guess the natives are as bad off as we are," suggested Ned.
"They're not firing, and I can hear cries of alarm, I think they're
There was a lull in the snow flurry, and the white curtain seemed to
lift for a moment. The gold-seekers had a glimpse of the natives in
full retreat, with the Fogers--father and son--racing panic-stricken
after them. Tom could also see a big cave, just beyond the gold
hole, collapse and crumble to pieces like a house of cards.
"We have no time to lose!" Mr. Parker warned them. "The roof of this
cave is slowly coming down. The sides are collapsing! We must get
"Then wheel out the airship!" cried Tom. "We must save that! We
needn't fear the natives, now!"
The young inventor hurried to the RED CLOUD calling to Ned and the
others. They hastened to his side. It was an easy matter to move the
airship along on the wheels. It neared the opening of the cave. The
rumbling, roaring, grinding sound of the ice increased.
"Why--why!" cried Tom in surprise and alarm, as the craft neared the
mouth of the ice cavern, "we can't get it out--the opening is too
small! Yet it came in easily enough!"
"The cave is collapsing--growing smaller every moment!" cried Mr.
Parker. "We have only time to save our lives! Run out!"
"And leave the airship? Never!" yelled Tom.
"You must! You can't save that and your life!"
"Get axes and make the opening bigger!" suggested Ned, who, like his
chum, could not bear to think of the destruction of the beautiful
"No time! No time!" shouted Mr. Parker, frantically, "We must get
out! Save what you can from the ship--the gold--some supplies--the
guns--some food--save what you can!"
Then ensued a wild effort to get from the doomed craft what they
could--what they would need if they were to save their lives in that
cold and desolate country. Food, some blankets--their guns--as much
of the gold as they could hastily gather together--their weapons and
some ammunition--all this was carried from the cabin outside the
cave. The entrance was rapidly growing smaller. The roof was already
pressing down on the gas-bag.
Tom gave one last look at his fine craft. There were tears in his
eyes. He started into the cabin for something he had forgotten. Mr.
Parker grabbed him by the arm.
"Don't go in!" he cried hoarsely. "The cave will collapse in another
instant!" He rushed with Tom out of the cavern, and not a moment too
soon. The others were already outside.
Then with a rush and a roar, with a sound like a great explosion,
with a rending, grinding and booming as the great pieces of ice
collapsed one against the other, the big ice cave settled in, as
does some great building when the walls are weakened!
Down crashed the roof of the ice cave! Down upon the RED CLOUD,
burying out of sight, forever, under thousands of tons of ice and
snow, the craft which was the pride of Tom Swift's heart! It was the
end of the airship!
Tom felt a moisture of tears in his eyes as he stood there in the
midst of the snowstorm.
For a few moments after the collapse of the cave, and the
destruction of the airship, on which they depended to take them from
that desolate land, no one spoke. The calamity had been too
terrible--they could hardly understand it.
The snow had ceased, and, over the frozen plain, in full retreat,
could be seen the band of attacking Indians. They had fled in terror
at the manifestation of Nature. And Nature, as if satisfied at the
mischief she had wrought, called a halt to the movement of the ice.
The roaring, grinding sounds ceased, and there were no more
collapses of caves in that neighborhood.
"Well, we are up against it," spoke Tom, softly. "Poor old RED
CLOUD! There'll never be another airship like you!"
"We are lucky to have escaped with our lives," said Mr. Parker.
"Another moment and it would have been too late. I was expecting
something like this--I predicted it."
But his honor was an empty one--no one cared to dispute it with him.
"Bless my refrigerator! What's to be done!" exclaimed Mr. Damon.
"Start from here as soon as possible," decided Abe.
"Why, do you think the natives will come back?" asked Ned.
"No, but we have only a small supply of food, my lad, an' it's hard
to git up here. We must hit th' trail fer civilization as soon as we
"Go back--how; without the airship?" asked Tom, blankly.
"Walk!" exclaimed the miner, grimly. "It's th' only way!"
They realized that. There was no hope of digging through that mass
of fantastically piled ice to reach the airship, and, even if they
could have done so, it would have been crushed beyond all hope of
repair. Nor could they dig down for more food, though what they had
hastily saved was little enough.
"Well, if we've got to go, we'd better start," suggested Tom, sadly.
"Poor old RED CLOUD!"
"Maybe we can get a little more gold," suggested Ned.
They walked over to the hole whence they had taken the yellow
nuggets. The "pocket" was not to be seen. It was buried out of sight
under tons of ice.
"We'll get no more gold here," decided Abe, "lf we get safely out of
th' valley, and t' the nearest white settlement, we'll be lucky."
"Bless my soul! Is it as bad as that!" cried Mr. Damon.
Abe nodded without speaking. There was nothing else to do. Sadly and
silently they made up into packs the things they had saved, and
started southward, guided by a small compass the miner had with him.
It was a melancholy party. Fortunately the weather had turned a
little warmer or they might have been frozen to death. They tramped
all that day, shaping their course to take them out of the valley on
a side well away from where the hostile natives lived. At night they
made rude shelters of snow and blocks of ice and ate cold victuals.
The second day it grew colder, and they were slightly affected by
snow-blindness, for they had lost their dark glasses in the cave.
Even the gold seemed too great a burden to carry, and they found
they had more of it than at first they supposed. On the third day
they were ready to give up, but Abe bravely urged them on. Toward
the close of the fourth day, even the old miner was in despair, for
the food they could carry was not such as to give strength and
warmth, and they saw no game to shoot.
They were just getting ready to go into a cheerless camp for the
night, when Tom, who was a little in advance, looked ahead.
"Ned, do I see something or is it only a vision?" he asked.
"What does it look like?" asked his chum.
"Like Eskimos on sleds."
"That's what it is," agreed Ned, after an observation. "Maybe it's
the Fogers, or some of the savage Indians."
They halted in alarm, and got out their guns. The little party of
natives kept coming on toward them.
Suddenly Abe uttered a cry, but it was one of joy and not fear.
"Hurrah!" he yelled, "It's all right--they're friendly natives!
They're of the same tribe that helped me an' my partner! It's all
right, boys, we're rescued now!"
And so it proved. A few minutes later the gold-seekers were on the
sleds of the friendly Eskimos, some of whom remembered Abe, and the
weary and hungry adventures were being rushed toward the native
village as fast as the dogs could run. It was a hunting party that
had come upon our friends just in time.
Little more remains to be told. Well cared for by the kind Eskimos,
Tom and his friends soon recovered their spirits and strength. They
arranged for dog teams to take them to Sitka, and paid their friends
well for the service, not only in gold, but by presenting what was
of more value, the guns they no longer needed. Tom, however,
retained his electric rifle.
Three weeks after that they were on a steamer bound for
civilization, having bidden their friends the Eskimos good-by.
"Homeward bound," remarked Tom, some time later, as they were in a
train speeding across the continent. "It was a great trip, and the
gold we got will more than repay us, even to building a new airship.
Still, I can't help feeling sorry about the RED CLOUD."
"I don't blame you," returned Ned. "Are you going to build another
"Not one like the RED CLOUD, I think. But I have in mind plans for a
sort of racing craft. I think I'll start it when I get back home."
How Tom's plans developed, and what sort of a craft he built will be
related in the next volume of this series, to be called "Tom Swift
and His Sky Racer; or, the Quickest Flight on Record." In that will
be told how the young inventor foiled his enemies, and how he saved
his father's life. Our friends arrived safely at Shopton in due
season. They learned that the two Fogers had reached there shortly
before them. Tom and his party decided not to prosecute them, and
they did not learn the identity of the men who tried to rob Tom of
"But I guess Andy won't go about boasting of his airship any more,"
said Ned, "nor of how he got our gold mine away from us. He'll sing
mighty small for a while."
The store of gold brought from the North, proved quite valuable,
though but for the unforeseen accidents our friends could have
secured much more. Yet they were well satisfied. With his share Abe
Abercrombie settled down out West, Mr. Damon gave most of his gold
to his wife, Mr. Parker bought scientific instruments with his, Ned
invested his in bank stock, and Tom Swift, after buying a beautiful
gift for a certain pretty young lady, used part of the remainder to
build his Sky Racer.
And now, for a time, we will take leave of Tom and his friends, and
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