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Boy Scouts in an Airship by G. Harvey Ralphson

Part 3 out of 4

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"It must be a rich concession," Ned said.

"It is, and Lyman got it for a song, for no one ever supposed that
swamp would make good grazing ground."

"I guess Mr. Lyman will earn all he gets out of it," Ned laughed.

"He will never get anything out of it, unless he comes to terms with
me," Collins said, impatiently. "We'll find some way to keep him
out of Asuncion until after the 31st. It is a long way from here to

"All the more reason why we should get busy looking for him," Ned

"And when we find him?" asked Collins, tentatively.

"I shall take him back to Asuncion."

"Then you'd better not find him," threatened Collins. "If you're
going to oppose me, I'll leave it to you to look him up. I'll go
back to Asuncion and bring men out here who will see that you never
leave the mountains."

"Gee! That's a cheerful proposition!" grinned Jimmie.

Collins, disgusted at his failure to either bribe or frighten the
boys, started away, but Jackson laid a heavy hand on his shoulder
and swung him around.

"Wait a minute!" he said.

"What do you mean?" demanded Collins.

"You're not going to Asuncion after help," Jackson said. "I have a
little score to settle with you myself! You're the man who accused
me of running off cattle. Well, you're going to remain right here
with me until I go out with you and give you a chance to make that

Collins glanced at Ned.

"Is this by your order?" he asked.

Ned shook his head.

"I have no present quarrel with you," he said.

Collins started away again, but Jackson thrust him back, not any too

"If you make a touse," he said, "I'll tie you up. Now," he added,
as Collins, almost foaming with rage, threw himself on the ground,
"I want you to tell me where you left that tent."

Both Ned and Jimmie sprang to their feet at the mention of the word.

"A tent! Here!"

Collins snarled out some impertinent reply, and Ned asked:

"Did they bring in a tent?"

"You bet they did!" Jackson answered. "This fine-haired duck with
the circus parade clothes wasn't going to sleep in no cavern. He
was going to have a nice, soft, cool bed under a tent while he was
waiting for the Lyman concession to lapse. He was reared a pet--he

The ex-cowboy was so enraged at Collins for the insinuations he had
cast upon him that he pushed up to where he lay and would have
assaulted him if Ned had not interposed.

"Let him alone," the boy said. "We'll leave the law to make payment
in his case. Are you going to tell us where the tent is, Collins?"
he added, turning to the angry captive.

"I guess you can get along without the tent," Collins said. "You
won't have to remain here long. I've got men coming in. They may
be here at any moment. Officers of the Republic of Paraguay!"

"I shall be glad to meet them!" Ned laughed. "If you'll tell me
where the tent is I'll be able to entertain them properly."

"Aw, I can find the tent if it is around here anywhere!" Jimmie
broke in.

"What do you want of it?" demanded Collins

"A little tent cloth," Ned smiled, "would make a serviceable machine
of the Nelson. We could make new planes in no time. What do you
think of the idea?"

"I'm not going to have the tent cut up," shouted Collins.

"I guess yes," Jimmie said, provokingly. "You burned our planes,
and you've got to supply material for new ones."

The little fellow darted away as he spoke, working his way over the
ledges which separated the two dents on the mountain sides. In a
short time Ned heard him calling and saw him looking down from the
shelf above the cavern.

"Come on up," the lad cried. "I can see the tent over in the other
valley, and there's another automobile coming. What do you think of
that? This must be a regular station on the underground railroad
between Asuncion and Lymanville!"

Ned lost no time in gaining the ledge. The white body of the tent
was in plain sight, just where the men had dropped it out of the
machine. The two boys hastened into the depression, seized the
canvas in their arms, and started back toward the Nelson. On the
shelf again, Ned asked:

"Where did you see a motor car?"

"Over east," was the reply. "There's a tunnel under the range off
that way. I take it that a river ran there once, draining this

Presently the machine appeared in the valley from which the Vixen
had slipped off into the pit. There were four men in the two seats.
One was the Indian in goggles who had driven the car away, the
others were white men. The car could not have gone far, so these
men must have been picked up just outside.

The boys carried the canvas down to the Nelson and began the work of
making new planes, keeping close watch, but leaving the newcomers to
do the calling if there was any to be done. There was plenty of
canvas and the tools necessary for the work were found in the
Nelson's tool chest. Collins watched the doings angrily.

"These men," he finally said, "are officers. Two from Paraguay and
one from Peru. They have warrants for your arrest."

He started to his feet as if to join the others as he spoke, but
Jackson saw that he did not get very far.

"Tell your friends," Jackson said, "that we're too busy to be
bothered now. We'll soon have this aeroplane fixed, and then we'll
give an imitation of men sailing out of this mess. Lyman knows a
friend is here, for he heard my cowboy call. He will soon come out
of his hole, and we'll take him back to Asuncion--just to prevent
international complications!" he added with a grin.

The work of preparing the new planes progressed swiftly, but before
it was completed the men who had arrived in the automobile appeared
on the ledge and called down to those below.



"Well," Ned called back, as the new arrivals shouted down from the
ledge, "what do you want?"

"We want to talk with you."

"Cripes," Jimmie grinned, "we're in good demand today. The stock of
Boy Scouts must be gettin' shy!"

"Go on and talk, then," Ned answered, well satisfied as to what the
fellows wanted.

"Shall we come down there?"

"You stay away!" Jimmie replied. "We're a little particular about
our company!"

"Is that little runt speaking for you?" demanded the man on the
ledge. "If he is, we'll do something besides talk."

"For the present he is," Ned replied. "What can I do for you?"

"You can surrender yourself. We have warrants for your arrest."

"Couldn't think of it!" was the cool reply. "We prefer to remain at

"I told you!" Collins grunted, rising from his reclining position
and moving toward the ledge. "I told you that you'd get into
trouble. You'll sweat for this!"

Jackson caught him by the shoulder and whirled him back.

"You stay here!" the ex-cowboy gritted. "The less trouble you make
the better treatment you will receive."

"What are you doing to Collins?" asked the newcomer. "Tell him to
come up here."

"I'm being held a prisoner!" Collins shouted. "Train your guns on
these kids and drive them off. And find Lyman. He left the cavern,
but he's somewhere about, for he answered a cowboy call not long

"We already have Lyman!" was the answer. "He thought we were the
friends who had called him and joined us. We'll take care of him,
all right."

"That's fine business--not!" grunted Jimmie.

Ned was not a little disappointed by the announcement. With Lyman
in the hands of his enemies, it might be impossible to get him back
to Asuncion in time to save his concession.

And here was another difficulty, one which might bring on a war
between the United States and Paraguay. Ned, as an official of the
United States Secret Service, now knew that those high in authority
in the government of Paraguay were involved in the attempt to
defraud Lyman of his rights. This had been only suspected before.

So long as only private interests were interfering with the treaty
rights, so long as the government of the unruly republic was not
mixed up in the attempt to cheat an American citizen out of his
property, the government at Washington might well restrain its hand.
But when the government of Paraguay itself, as Ned now believed, was
involved in the crooked game, that was an entirely different matter.

Ned believed that a full disclosure of the facts in the case would
send warships to Asuncion. He believed that an international
complication might breed open war unless he succeeded in getting
Lyman away without open conflict with the authorities of the little
republic. But how?

Well, the State Department at Washington had trusted him, and he
would do his best. The thing to do at that time, it appeared to
him, was to await the action of the newcomers. They might be
officers of Paraguay, with authority to make arrests in Peru, and
they might be only four-flushers. He must temporize until he found
out what they proposed to do in the matter.

And, then, he reasoned, if they had Lyman, he had Collins! That was
not so bad! Perhaps an exchange of prisoners might be made! This
did not seem very likely, but still there was hope. Collins, for
all he knew, might be the man who expected to profit by the robbery
of the American cattleman.

"So Mr. Lyman is there with you?" Ned called back. "Send him over
here. I want to talk with him."

A harsh laugh was the only answer to this.

"You may as well come to terms with me," Collins exclaimed. "You
have no chance of winning now. I like your nerve, but you're
butting into too strong a game for a lad of your years."

"I shall have to take chances," Ned replied. "What will those men
do with Lyman?"

"I don't know!"

"I know!" Jimmie cried. "They'll kill him!"

"I don't think they'll do that," Collins remarked, with a wicked
sneer, "but it would clear the atmosphere if he should fall down a

"If he does," Ned declared, flushing with anger at the brutality of
the remark, "you will also take a tumble. If he is injured in any
way, you'll answer to me for it."

"You wait!" warned Collins. "I've handled cases like this before.
I can give you cards and spades and beat you out. You'll be getting
hungry before long."

"And the Nelson will be ready for flight before long," Ned replied.

During all this conversation Jackson and Jimmie had kept steadily at
work sewing the new, strong canvas taken from the tent on the frame
of the planes. They could not make a very neat job of it, but they
did their work well. Ned had hope of getting out of the valley that
very night. Presently the men on the ledge withdrew for a time, and
Ned began a closer examination of the Nelson. To his disgust he
discovered that the gasoline was very low in the great tanks. Built
for long flights, the Nelson's tanks were very large, fitted to
carry a supply which would last a couple of days. Ned did not quite
understand why the supply should be short after a run of only three
or four hundred miles.

"I've got an idea!" Jimmie said, catching the worried look on Ned's

"I'm afraid it will take something more than an idea to get the
Nelson back to Lima," Ned replied in a low tone, for he did not care
to have Collins informed of this new difficulty.

Collins, however, had been watching the movements of the boys
closely, and at once surmised what the trouble was. He laughed
insultingly as he pointed to the great tanks.

"Empty?" he snarled. "I knew it. Now will you be good!"

"Shut up!" raged Jackson, who was only too anxious to get a pretext
for attacking Collins. "We've heard enough from you!"

"'Tie him up!" ordered Ned. "He's likely to make a run for it, and
then we should have to shoot him. Tie him up good and tight."

"You'll be sorry if you do!" threatened the captive.

Notwithstanding this threat, the fellow was bound hand and foot.
During the process of the work, which was performed none too gently
by Jackson, Collins called out to his friends in the other valley,
but there was no response. They were probably too busy with their
plotting against the boys to hear the shouts.

This business completed, Jimmie beckoned Ned aside.

"Here's my idea," he said. "The Vixen's tanks didn't blow up when
she burned and dropped. When it comes night I can go and get the
gasoline. The tanks were full, were they not?"

"Yes, chock full. The driver seemed to have fitted her out for a
long run. But we may be able to get the stuff before dark. The
Vixen did not land in the valley where they are, but in a canyon
over to the west. Suppose you go over there and see what the
chances are?"

"All right!" replied the boy. "And if the tanks of the Vixen are
not full, we'll steal the fuel out of that automobile when it gets

"That's a good idea, too!" laughed Ned.

Jimmie hastened away, keeping in the gully as long as possible and
dodging around friendly cliffs when it came to climbing over the
ridge which shut in the valley on the west. The gully cut across
the valley, east and west, and was very deep at the east end.

After the disappearance of the boy, Ned removed Collins to the deep
end of the cut and placed Jackson there as a guard. He did not want
the captive to know what was going on, as a shout to his friends, if
they again visited the ledge, might put them in possession of the
facts regarding the empty tanks of the Nelson. Then it would be an
easy matter for them to prevent the getting of the gasoline from the
wrecked Vixen.

Then Ned, hearing no more from the alleged officers, went to work on
the planes, and succeeded in getting a long strip sewed in before
Jimmie returned with his report.

"The tanks are almost full," the lad said, "and all we've got to do
is to unscrew a couple of burrs and lug them right over here. We
can't do that until, after dark, for they would shoot at us.
Where's Collins?"

Ned pointed to the gully.

"Well," the boy continued, "when I got up on that ridge, I could see
the men over in the other valley. They are getting reinforcements
from somewhere. Anyway, I saw half a dozen Indians standing around.
They've got a fire and are cooking dinner. Then I saw one of the
white men pointing, and I'll tell you right now what they're going
to do! They're going to station men around this little old crater
and keep us in here until we starve, unless we give in."

"They forget that there's an air route," laughed Ned.

"Suppose we get up there on the Nelson!" exclaimed the boy. "And
suppose they shoot us off! That wouldn't be funny, would it?"

"We've got to go in the night, then," Ned said. "But before we go I
want to have a talk with those fellows."

"Then you'll get a word with Lyman, if you can?"

"That wasn't a bluff, then? They have captured him again?"

"Oh, yes, they've got him with them, all right. Anyway, there's
four white men, and only three came in the car. Guess it's Lyman,
sure enough!"

"What is he doing?"

"Just walking about. They haven't got him tied up, at least the man
I took for Lyman isn't. He looks mad enough to bite nails, though!"

"That is a wonder," Ned said. "It may be that they are trying to
make terms with him."

"Of course!" replied the boy.

Along in the afternoon one of the alleged officers appeared on the
ledge again. He appeared to be somewhat excited, and Ned suspected
that something had gone wrong with the other party. However, he
remained quiet, waiting for the other to make his errand known.
After a short silence the fellow asked:

"What has become of Collins?"

"He is still here," Ned answered.

"Held against his will?"

"Well, he is still doing some kicking."

"You'll be sorry if you don't let him go."

"How will you trade prisoners?" asked Ned. "Send Lyman down here
and we'll send Collins up to you."

"Oh, Lyman doesn't want to leave us," was the reply. "We've
arranged a settlement with him."

Ned did not believe this. He knew that the Lyman concession was a
valuable one, and that the cattleman would put up a long fight
before sacrificing it.

"Send him down here then," Ned answered. "If he is voluntarily
staying with you, he can return if he wants to. Send him down!"

"He is afraid you'll try some trick on him," was the reply.

The whole afternoon passed in just such conversation as this--talk
which brought no results worth mentioning. Ned did not believe that
Lyman was remaining with the newcomers voluntarily. He did not
believe that Lyman was suspicious of him.

The men in the other valley frequently visited the ledge and talked
with Ned, but the boy saw that they were quietly making arrangements
to surround him. Now and then the figure of an Indian appeared on
the elevations about the valley, which was the crater of an extinct

A little study showed Ned that in some long forgotten time the two
valleys had formed a great crater, and that this had been cut in two
by the elevation of a mass in the center. High up above this dead
crater, on the north, stretched the bulk of the mountain, the
eruption having taken place on its south slope.

But while Ned talked with the visitors, argued with them,
threatened, he kept at work on the planes, and at nightfall had them
completed. The canvas had been put on double and sewed on very
strongly, so the boy believed that it was as good a machine as ever
that he contemplated getting out that night.

"But," argued Jimmie, when the plans were laid, "we can't all go in
the Nelson. How are you going to carry Lyman, Jackson and me?"

Jimmie thought for a moment and then added: "But we haven't got
Lyman yet. We'll have to come back after him, I take it, after we
land Jackson outside."

"But I'm going to get him," Ned replied, "if this machine works all
right. I'm going to leave you and Jackson here. What about that?"

"If you can grab Lyman," Jimmie grinned in disbelief, "I'll be
willing to stay here as long as the grub lasts!"

"I'm going to get him," Ned replied. "I don't know how, but I've
just got to get him back to Asuncion before the 31st."

"And what about Collins?"

"We'll have to let him go. When I get out, let him go, and then you
two will have to hide away until I can come back after you."

"All right," replied Jimmie, with a sigh. "Only hurry back! I
don't want to starve to death here."

After dark Ned, Jackson and Jimmie lugged the tanks of the wrecked
Vixen over to the valley and dumped the gasoline into the Nelson's
tanks. Even this accession did not quite fill the latter.

"Wish we could get to the motor car," Jimmie suggested.

"Now," Ned said, "I want you two to kick up an awful rumpus here,
directly. Shoot and do all the yelling possible. Let Collins loose
and chase him! He deserves it! Then, when the fellows over there
run up on the ledge to see what is doing, I'll swoop down in the
aeroplane and pick up Lyman--that is, if he is willing to come with
me. If he isn't, I can't get him, that's all."

"Then, when we get up in the air, we take to our heels?"

"Exactly. If you don't these fellows will make trouble for you.
Hide, but keep making to the east. When I come back after you I'll
come in from that way."

"How long will it be?" asked the lad, who did not quite like the
notion of being left there with Jackson.

"I can't say," was the reply. "I may leave Lyman in the nearest
town, or he may want to go to Asuncion. I may be back by daylight,
and I may be gone two days. I hope to be back by daylight."

"All right," Jimmie grunted. "We'll keep off to the east, and when
you return you can pick us up before they know what's going on.
Here's hoping you get Lyman!"

"I'll get him!" Ned replied, shutting his teeth hard together.

So, all arrangements made, Jimmie crept up on the ledge, about nine
o'clock, and looked over into the twin valley.

There was a campfire burning, and Lyman, or the man the boy took for
the cattleman, sat close beside it. The others were walking about.
Now and then an Indian stepped inside the circle of light cast by
the fire, consulted with the others for a moment, and disappeared

It was certain that the alleged officers were preparing to advance
on the boys, bent on putting the Nelson out of commission for good.
The planes had not been repaired any too quickly. When Jimmie
reported Ned stepped into the machine.

"When I get within sight of those in that valley," he said, "make
all the noise you can. If you can cause them to think you're
killing Collins, all the better. Make him yell! I'll go straight
up and drop down by that fire before they get over their

A few strong shoves, a dozen revolutions of the rubber-tired wheels,
and the Nelson left the ground, as strong and capable as ever. The
motors made little noise, and no signs of discovery came from the
other side until the machine was high up. Then a few ineffectual
shots were fired at her.

Jimmie and Jackson began their part of the performance promptly by
shooting and yelling. They loosened Collins, much to that
gentleman's delight, and started him off in the dim light on a run.
As Jackson took great delight in landing his bullets close to
Collins' feet, the alleged salesman ran for dear life toward the
ledge, screaming and calling for help at every jump.

This was exactly what the others wanted, and in a short time they
saw a huddle of dark figures on the ledge. In the excitement the
firing on the Nelson had ceased.

Jackson and Jimmie were not long in getting out of the valley after
that. They whirled around the elevation between the two valleys,
sometimes feeling their way in the darkness, climbed over a ledge,
and made for the black entrance to the tunnel through which Jackson
had entered.

When they were at the mouth of the tunnel they turned and looked
back. The Nelson was lifting from the valley where the fire had
been seen, whirling up, up into the night sky. They could not
determine from where they stood whether there were two or one on the
big aeroplane. They had no means of knowing whether Ned had
succeeded or failed.

The two watched the dim bulk of the aeroplane as it winged over
their heads. Now and then, after it was too late to do her any
harm, a few vengeful shots were fired at her. The fact that Ned
kept going convinced them that he had picked up Lyman and was on the
way out with him.

After the aeroplane had disappeared from sight Jackson and Jimmie
hurried on through the dark tunnel, which, as has been said, was
merely the dry channel of a stream which had cut its way out of the
valley years before. Jimmie proposed that they remain there all
night, but Jackson objected to this.

Their pursuers knew that he knew of the tunnel, he explained, in
support of his objection, as they were aware that he had entered the
valley by that route, so they would naturally look there for them.

This was convincing, of course, and the two hastened on their way,
lighted by the little searchlight. For a long time there were no
indications of pursuit, then a popping roar came beating down the

"That's the automobile!" Jimmie cried. "Sounds like an express
train, eh?"

"It certainly does," Jackson replied, "and it is up to us to get out
of the way, somewhere. They won't take extra pains to catch us



The Nelson swept out of the air like a bird and landed so close to
the fire that Ned felt the warmth of it on his face. The wheels cut
the earth at first, under the force of the quick descent, then

The firelight shone on the white planes, bringing them out strongly
against the darkness, and Ned knew that he could not remain there a
minute without being discovered by the alleged officers of the
little republic he was just then warring against. When he landed
the men were out of sight around the ledge, but they of course saw
the aeroplane and came running back.

Lyman, or a man Ned believed to be the cattleman whose financial
operations had stirred up an international row, stood moodily by the
fire when the Nelson dropped down, almost on top of his head. He
sprang away, rubbed his eyes as if trying to awake himself from a
bad dream, and then stood stock still, watching.

"Lyman?" Ned called.

There was no reply, and Ned spoke the name again.

"Yes, Lyman," the man by the fire answered, then. "What new wrinkle
is this?" he added, stepping a little closer to the machine.

"If you're Lyman," Ned replied, hastily, "you can't get in here any
too quickly. Those fellows will be here directly, with Thomas Q.
Collins in the lead, if my boys do their duty. There will be little
chance for either of us then. Jump in!"

"But I've never been on one of those things, and I'm afraid," Lyman
said, with a shrug of the shoulders. "I'm afraid I'd fall out."

A shot came from the ledge, and Ned reached for the button which
would start the motors going.

"You've only a minute to decide," he said. "I've come a long way to
find you. If you reject this chance you won't get another."

"Well," Lyman cried, stepping up to the seat, very shaky as to
nerves and pale as death, "I may as well die from a fall as from a
bullet or a knife. If Collins is coming back with the officers,
I'll have to do something."

The instant he was in his seat, Ned threw the leather straps about
his legs and wrists and buckled them tight. Lyman shivered with

"I thought so!" he cried, mistaking Ned's motives. "This is only
another trick!"

The wheels bumped for an instant over the inequalities of the
surface, the machine rocked lightly, then the planes lifted into the
air, the propellers running like mad. A few ineffectual shots came
from the men who were running down from the ledge. Ned saw Jimmie
and Jackson chasing Collins out of the valley, heard their shots,
and then, in a few moments, saw them at the mouth of the tunnel.

In five minutes more the Nelson was out of all danger, purring
through the darkness like a contented cat. Lyman sat moodily in his
harness, saying not a word, but fully convinced that this was only
another trick of his enemies. Directly the boy slowed the motors
down so as to make conversation possible.

"Well," he said, turning on one of the electric bulbs so as to see
the face of his passenger, "what do you think of the Nelson? Peach,
isn't she?"

"Where are you taking me?" was the only reply to the question.

"That is for you to say. We are not very far from Sicuani, Peru,
and from there you can secure transportation back to Asuncion--if
you think it safe to go there, under the circumstances. About a
hundred miles to the north is Cuzco. You can go there and prepare
for your visit to Asuncion if you care to. Then, over here in
Bolivia, is Sucre. It might be well for you to go there. Anyway,
it is up to you."

"Who is doing this?" asked Lyman, suspiciously.

"I can't see as that makes any difference to you," Ned replied.

"I was in the hope," Lyman went on, "when you came down upon me so
unexpectedly, that my friends had found me. You speak English like
a New York man," he went on. "Perhaps you live over there?"

"Yes," was the reply. "I live in New York, when I am home."

"Nice little old rotten government we've got!" almost shouted Lyman.
"The people at Washington let any crooked little republic do
anything it has a mind to do to a citizen of the United States.
They're too busy getting themselves into office and keeping in to
pay any attention to their duties. England wouldn't stand for a
minute the tricks that have been played on me, not by business
rivals, but by the government of Paraguay! England protects her
citizens, wherever they are!"

"Well," Ned replied, with a laugh, "you may be right about England,
but you are wrong about Uncle Sam. He looks after his own, too; if
he didn't I wouldn't be here now. You wouldn't be on earth!"

"Do you mean to say--"

Lyman hesitated, and Ned went on and told him as much of the history
of the expedition as he thought it necessary for the cattleman to

"And now," he concluded, "Where do you want to go?"

"I want you to go with me, wherever I go," was the reply. "And I
think we'd better go straight to Asuncion."

"Do you think that a safe plan?"

"Oh, yes; they won't dare abduct me again."

"Then," Ned added, "we may as well get on the way. Asuncion is
somewhere about twelve hundred miles from here, and we've got to
make it by daylight."

"What's that?" asked Lyman, hardly believing he had heard aright.
"You would better say in two days."

"The Nelson can make it in eight hours," Ned replied, "if we don't
drop into any holes in the air or adverse currents."

"Holes in the air!" repeated Lyman.

"Sure," answered Ned. "The atmosphere surrounding the earth is just
like the water in the large reservoirs--there are deep places and
shallow places, holes you can drop in, and currents like the Gulf
Stream current, the Japanese current, which warms the northern
states and British Columbia, and the Arctic Humboldt current, which
sends a cold stream down the Pacific coast of South America. If we
have no difficulties with these rivers of the air, and the wind does
not come up too strong, we can make Asuncion by six o'clock in the
morning. It is about ten now."

"What sort of an airship have you here?" demanded Lyman, amazed at
the thought of running at the rate of two hundred miles an hour or a
hundred and fifty, at least.

"She was built for speed and endurance," was the reply. "Now cover
your face with this mask, unless you want to have your breath blown
out of the back of your head, and we'll get under way."

That was a night ride which neither of the participants ever forgot.
The first part of the night was dark. Then a moon shone down from a
cloudless sky, showing all the beauties of that magnificent country.

The mountains, the forests, the headwaters of the rivers which help
to make the Amazon, were under their feet. Now and then they swept
over a point of light which denoted the presence of a small town.
Occasionally the cry of frightened wild beasts--the vicious mountain
lion, the savage tiger cat, the prowling puma--came up to their

After a short run to the southeast, Ned wheeled about and struck
straight off to the east. The wind was growing stronger, and the
Nelson was not making as good time as the boy desired.

There was a fierce current about the top of Mt. Sorata, which is
something over 21,000 feet in height, and again Ned swung off to the
north. Dropping down, then, he swept into the valley of the Beni
river, which joins the Madeira river, some distance beyond the
Bolivian border.

He knew that at the eastern rim of Bolivia there was a series of
high mountain ranges which would protect him from the drifts blowing
over from the Atlantic--Serre Geral, Serre Paxecis, Serre
Aguapehy--and he reasoned that he could make better speed under the
lee of these elevations. So he swept down the valley of the Beni
until it joined with the Madeira, crossed a line of hills, and made
for the Serre Geral range, something under a hundred miles away.

As the Nelson cleared the valley, however, Lyman gave Ned a punch in
the ribs with an elbow and nodded toward the ground. His wrists
were fast in the harness so he could not use his hands. Ned looked
down and instantly dropped the Nelson a few hundred feet.

Some distance down the Madeira, in the center of the stream, were
the lights of a boat which seemed to be anchored there. Ned swept
closer and tried his best to make out the outlines of the craft, but
he could not do it without descending close to the river, and this
he did not care to do.

"It looks like the Black Bear," he thought, as he shot up into the
air again, "but of coarse it can't be. Those Boy Scouts are not
fools enough to bring her up into this country."

So he came to the protection of the mountains and proceeded south
toward Asuncion at a speed which caused Lyman to gasp for breath.
Of course he was ignorant of the fact that Frank, Jack, and Harry
had started out, during his absence, to explore the headwaters of
the Amazon, hoping to come upon the Nelson before returning.

As for the lads on the Black Bear, they did not even know that the
Nelson was so close to them that night. It was three nights later
that they first saw the aeroplane drifting above them. Asuncion
does not at all compare in beauty or in thrift with the other
capital cities of South America. The government of the republic is
so unstable that business men are loath to make heavy investments

For one thing the town is poorly lighted, and when Ned came, in view
of the place at five O'clock the few street lamps were already out.
People were abroad at that early hour, however, and small crowds
soon gathered on the street corners to watch the great airship

What Ned could not see was the intense excitement around the
government offices. In ten minutes from the time the airship showed
above the city, messengers were out in the streets and officials of
the lower rank were headed for their offices. In a few minutes this
alarm was communicated to police headquarters and to the military
station where the governor's guard was stationed.

If the boy had been able to understand the situation below, if he
had known that Asuncion had been communicated with from Lima and
also from Sicuani, he would have given the city a wide berth. He
saw the gathering of crowds below, of course, but naturally
attributed this to curiosity. He had no doubt that the Nelson was
the first airship ever seen at Asuncion.

"Where are you going to take me?" asked Lyman, as the machine slowed
down and he found himself able to speak.

"To the American consul," was the reply.

Lyman sighed and shook his head.

"I'm afraid he will take little interest in me," he said.

"Doubtless," Ned replied, "he has received instructions from
Washington. Anyway, I fail to see how they can molest you now, even
if they have the inclination to do so. You just go about your
business as usual, and leave this abduction matter to the future.
You can gain nothing now by stirring that up. Report to the consul
and go on about your business as if nothing had happened."

"That is the only thing there is to do," Lyman responded, with a
sigh. "Still, I'm suspicious of those chaps. They'll have some
trick ready."

Before long Ned found a level spot not far from the capitol building
where he could, drop the Nelson. When he headed for that locality
he was followed through the streets below by a shouting, howling

"I can't understand this," he thought, and Lyman was still more

At last the Nelson was brought to the surface of the earth and Ned
and Lyman stepped out, very willing to stretch their legs after such
a long ride. They had been in the air about twice the time set for
endurance by noted aviators.

They did not get much of a chance to stretch their legs, however,
for they bumped into a squad of soldiers on stepping out of their

"You are under arrest!" a gaily-dressed officer said, flashing his
sword out of its scabbard.

"What for?" demanded Ned, speaking in Spanish.

"Smuggling!" was the reply.

Ned laughed heartily. Arrested for smuggling!

"Search us, and search the machine, then," he replied, "and let us
go on about our business. We have no time to lose."

"In time! In time!" was the drawling reply. "Such things are not
done so quickly here! In three-four days--in a week--in three, four
weeks, perhaps. In the meantime you go to the jail."

Ned thought of the swiftly-slipping days, of the peril Jimmie and
Jackson were in, of Leroy in prison at Lima, and was about ready to
fight. The officer refused to take him to the president, or to the
American consul. In a quarter of an hour he was in a cell, alone,
wondering what had been done with Lyman, and also wondering what
would become of the Nelson.

He knew that the charge of smuggling, of bringing goods into the
republic by means of an airship, would be held against him as long
as it pleased his accusers to keep him in prison. That would be
until the concession expired and, possibly, until the Nelson lay a
total wreck in the streets.

He saw no one who could give him any information as to what was
going on in the outside until the morning of the 21st, after he had
been incarcerated forty-eight hours. Then a turnkey unlocked his
door and motioned him out.

"For trial?" Ned asked, hopefully.

"It is the wish of the president," was the reply.

"But what, why, when--"

"You have yet to see," was the impertinent reply. "You have yet to
see if you can do these things to our countree!"

And so, mystified and, if the truth must be told, not a little
discouraged, Ned was led through the prison corridors, his mind
filled wit thoughts of Leroy, Jimmie, the Nelson, an, strangely
enough, the Black Bear!



There was a shock when the prow of the Black Bear struck a canoe
which lay full in its path. The momentum was retarded for only a
second. Then the motor boat was beyond the line of war canoes with
their screaming, gesticulating occupants.

Looking out of the rear ventilator, Frank saw a smashed canoe
running down with the current, with a dozen or more natives clinging
to it. But there was still a large number of canoes up the river,
and the Black Bear was struck more than once by forceless bullets
and poisoned arrows as she sped past them.

Armed with modern rifles, the Indians would have made short work of
the occupants of the Black Bear, but the muskets they used were old
and mostly out of condition. The arrows were far more deadly,
although they stood less chance of penetrating the tough panels.

"Now," Harry said, as they passed a racing fleet of Indian boats,
"we can open up a little and get a breath of fresh air! I'm just
about suffocated!"

"Not just yet," Jack, who was at the front, said, "for there's a
mess of the black scamps just ahead. They are on the bank, both
banks, and seem to be waiting for something to happen. I wonder
what it can be?"

"Some trap, I suppose," Harry gritted. "Well, all we can do is to
ran on through them, if they come out in boats, and get out of their
reach. We ought to be able to be out of this blasted country in a
couple of hours."

"That's all right," Jack replied, "but you just listen a moment."

But the racing motors shut out all individual sounds, and Harry shut
them down for a minute. Seeing this, Jack dropped an anchor at the
prow, and the boat lay pulling at the cable in the current.

"What did you do that for?" asked Frank, addressing both boys from
the stem.

"Listen!" commanded Jack.

"Look!" ordered Harry.

What Frank heard was the heavy, continuous roar of a waterfall.
What he saw, as he crowded up under the plate glass panel in the
top, were the lights of an airship!

"I tell you," Harry cried, excitedly, "that that's the Nelson. You
can't fool me about that."

"Why doesn't she come down, then?" demanded Jack.

"Because she doesn't know that this is the Black Bear. That is an
easy one! If she did she'd be here in a second."

The boys studied the lights a moment and then turned their attention
to the Indians, who were now making a great clamor. In a short time
it was easy to see what they were up to.

Above roared the falls and the rapids. At this point in the Beni
river there is a swift drop from the mountain plateau above. It
will be remembered that the Beni reaches away up into the Illimani
mountains, with its springs not far distant from the summit of the

Where the boys were the Paredon and the Paderneira, falls and the
Araras and the Misericordia rapids made the navigation of the river,
even in the protected Black Bear, impossible for many miles. The
Indians seemed to understand this, for they had gathered at the foot
of the falls, possibly expecting to see the craft attempt the

Jack watched them from the prow for a time and then asked:

"What's that they are throwing into the river?"

"Logs!" replied Harry, looking out over Jack's shoulder, "and

"Well, of all the--"

The sentence was not finished. Frank, at the stern, gave a yell and
fired out of the loophole. "Come here!" he shouted, then, "if you
want to see what the devils are doing. This takes the cake!"

A glance showed the others what the plot against them was. Harry
went to his locker for his revolver and Jack drew his from a pocket.

"I guess it is a fight now!" Frank said. "You see what they are

"Of course. Anybody can see that."

Jack reached out of the opening and fired a perfect volley down
stream. Frank crowded against him to look out.

"Never touched them!" he cried.

"No," Jack went on, "they're forming a bridge with their canoes and
running logs and brush down against it. They've got an obstruction
already that the Black Bear never can get through."

"What's the matter with dynamite?" asked Harry.

"Oh, we can use dynamite as long as we have it," was the reply, "but
there will be Indians on guard there long after we are out of the

"I guess that's right!" with a sober drawing of the lips.

"I'll tell you what we've got to do," Harry said, presently. "We've
got to put on full power and try to run up the rapids."

"Why, there is noise enough for a ten-foot fall," Frank replied.

"We've got to risk it," Jack went on.

"Now, you just wait," Frank cut in. "I don't think you've got this
thing sized up right at all. Harry," he continued, "who does this
boat belong to?"

"To the Black Bear Patrol," was the reply. "You know that well

"Then we can do what we please with it, so long as we make it right
with the other members of the Patrol?"

"Why, of course."

Jack looked at his chums with a grin.

"What are you figuring on?" he asked. "One would think you were
planning to blow the Black Bear into smithereens."

"That's about it," Frank replied.

"And go to kingdom come with her?" laughed Jack. "Not any of that
for me. I'm headed, eventually, for little old N.Y."

"I'm tired of fooling with these cannibals," Frank explained. "We
haven't molested them, and yet they are after our scalps. They'll
get them, too, if something isn't done--and done right away, at

"I'm with you!" Jack exclaimed. "I'm willing to try anything once.
Only let me in on the secret!" he added, chuckling.

"You had it right," Frank said. "What I propose is to blow the
Black Bear into smithereens, and about a thousand of those
bloodthirsty natives with it. The world will be all the better for
their being out of it. They are worse than the savage beasts in the

"But what is to become of us?" asked Harry.

Frank pointed to the Wolf, tugging at the cable which held her nose
to the stem of the Black Bear.

"We'll be safe in there when the explosion takes place," he said.

Jack clapped the speaker on the shoulder.

"You're all right!" he cried.

Harry looked mystified for a moment, and then said, speaking loudly
in order that his voice might be heard above the shouts of the
savages and the beating of arrows against the panels of the boat:

"It looks as if we'd have to do it. I hate to leave the Black Bear
in such a mess away off here in South America, but I don't see how
we are to get her out. The Wolf will carry us all right, I
suppose?" he said, tentatively.

"Sure thing!" Frank replied. "I've been thinking it all out. We'll
do it this way: When we get ready we'll put on full speed ahead on
the motors, with the prow turned against that obstruction below.
Then we'll hop into the Wolf and shut everything down tight. The
Black Bear will weaken the jam below, and the sharp nose of the Wolf
will poke through the rest of the logs and canoes. And there you

"Free of the natives, and bobbing down the, river in safety!" cried
Jack. "That looks good to me!"

"But about the dynamite?" asked Harry.

"Well," Frank replied, "we've got to use the Black Bear for a
battering ram anyway, and she'll be all smashed up, so we may as
well go the whole hog with her. We'll put a lot of dynamite down
under the motors and fix a cap so it will blow up when the
concussion comes. By that time the natives will be swarming around
her, and they'll get what's coming to them."

"And where will we be when the explosion is rocking this half of the
world?" demanded Harry. "Up in the air?"

"We'll be a cuddled up in the Wolf, between the lockers, with plenty
of grub and ammunition, sailing down the river in a bullet-proof
vessel. This move will burst up our meeting with the Nelson, of
course, but there is no other way. They'll get us if we remain

While this talk had been going on, the cannibals had drawn nearer to
the Black Bear, pressing forward from both banks in canoes and
pounding at the panels with their arrows. It seemed only a question
of time when they would board the craft and force the panels. Their
shouts of victory were shrill and exasperating.

"You see how it is," Frank said, "the Black Bear can never be pushed
up over the falls, and we can never get her past the obstructions
below, even by the use of dynamite. If we could blow the those logs
out of the way, the Indians would board us instantly. We could give
them only a charge or two of dynamite and a few shots before they
would be inside. Now' we can drift down the river in the Wolf
without fear of entertaining man-eaters on board. They may get on
top of the boat, but they can never get inside."

"And so we'll have to give up our trip!" wailed Harry. "We'll have
to drift down stream in that hot hole and take a steamer at the
nearest river town!"

"It strikes me," Frank observed, "that it is a mighty good thing
we've got that hot hole to drift down stream in. If the Black Bear
had only been constructed on the principle of the Wolf, we'd be in a
position to give these heathens the laugh. Well, let us pull the
Wolf up and throw out stuff enough to give us room. Then we'll get
out the dynamite."

The boys drew the Wolf up by the cable as Frank tried to elude the
watchful eyes of the savages long enough to open the hatch on top
and climb inside, but a dozen arrows whizzed by his head when he
looked out.

"Can't do it!" he said.

"Never in the world!" Jack assented.

"Another good scheme gone wrong!" Harry ejaculated. "What next?"

"Dynamite," almost shouted Jack. "We'll give them dynamite as long
as it lasts, and then ram the logs below."

"We may kill, a couple of hundred," Frank said, "but it seems to me
that there will be about ten thousand left."

The boys were indeed in a tight box. With their automatics and
their dynamite they might keep the natives at bay for a time, but in
the end they would be obliged to surrender or starve to death.

"Well," Jack said, grimly, "let's get out the dynamite. I want to
see some of these devils blown up!"

Just then an arrow struck the plate glass panel at the top of the
Black Bear's deck covering and Jack looked up. He gazed a moment in
wonder and then let out a shout that rose above the yelling of the
savages and the pounding of arrows against the panels of the Black

"Glory be!" he shouted.

Frank and Harry crowded to his side and looked up.

"It is the Nelson!" Harry exclaimed.

"You bet it is!" Frank admitted.

"Good old Ned!" Jack roared.

The aeroplane was only a few yards above the Black Bear. Already
the natives were slinking away in their canoes. Those on the banks
were slowly withdrawing into the shelter of the forests.

"They're running away!" Jack cried. "Now we'll have some fun with
good old Ned Nestor!"

For a moment it looked as if the statement was correct; as if the
natives, alarmed at the sight of the aeroplane would disappear from
sight without a fight. But this supposition was soon disproved.

As the Nelson came nearer, a dozen bullets from the forests struck
her planes. The boys, in the boat raised the panel and shouted to
the aviator to look out for poisoned arrows.

Then the aeroplane shot up again. They could see that there was
only one person on the machine, and that he was busy arranging
something which looked like a stick of dynamite which he held in his

In a moment something grim and sinister whirled and hissed through
the air, and then there came a terrific explosion in the forest to
the right. Trees were leveled, and a great hole showed in the bank.
In an instant, following close on the roar of the dynamite, there
came a chorus of cries from savage throats-cries of fear, of terror,
of rage--and then silence.

For a moment it seemed as if the forests held no forms of animal
life, then the sharp call of the tiger-cat, the wail of the puma,
the chattering of the monkeys, came to the ears of the listening

"I guess this coming act will consist of a feed for the wild
beasts!" Jack said.

For a long time there was no sound of savage life in the forests,
save that from the throats of beasts of prey, scenting blood and
slowly drawing closer to the river's banks. The boys on the Black
Bear looked into each other's faces and wondered.

"They didn't act that way when we exploded dynamite!" Jack said.

"No. They came right back at us!" Frank replied.

"I take it that they think there's something supernatural in this
dropping of dynamite from the sky," Harry observed. "Anyway, they
seem to have taken themselves off, and we'll open up and signal to
the Nelson! Say, won't it be fine to see good old Ned Nestor again?
I wonder how he knew we were here?"

"And I wonder where Jimmie and Leroy are?" Harry reflected. "There
is only one person on the machine, and that must be Ned."

Jack was about to throw open the top panels when he caught sight of
the aeroplane again, nearer to the water than before.

"What's Ned doing?" he asked, pointing upward.

"Talking!" exclaimed Frank.

"Wigwagging!" Harry broke out. "Now, let us see what he says."

Slowly to the right and left, up and down, an electric bulb flashed
in the sky. Harry counted.

"That's C;" he said, "and that's 'a,' and that's 'u,' and that's
't,' and now 'i,' and 'o,' and 'n.' 'Caution!' That means that
we've got to stand pat for a time yet."

"It also means," Jack said, "that we've made no mistake about that
being the Nelson, with a Boy Scout on board. Those wigwag signals
show the supposition to be true."

"Well," Harry puzzled, "he wouldn't be sending us a warning from the
sky if there wasn't some danger we were not aware of. There is
something going on that we are not wise to."

There was a short silence on board and then Frank remarked:

"We must be nearer the falls than we thought, for the water seems to
be a ripple about us. Rear it! I'm going to look out and see it
looks like."

In a moment he was jamming the panel shut and springing the slides
over the loopholes and the ventilators.

Jack sprang to the prow, not knowing what danger threatened, but
obeying the sudden gestures of his chum to close every opening.
Before he sprung the steel panel over the ventilator he glanced
out on the river.

"Great heavens!" he cried. "Get your guns, boys!"

The whole surface of the stream, as far as the boy's eyes reached,
seemed covered with savage heads, floating, drifting, down upon the
Black Bear.



Under the light of the moon the rushing river seemed full of
leering, cruel eyes. The bodies of the swimming savages were not
visible--only the upturned faces and the threatening eyes, with now
and then a hand or the point of a glistening shoulder. There
appeared to be thousands of the cannibals; their mass reaching from
shore to shore.

Then, while the boys looked, expecting every instant to hear the
sound of feet outside the panels, a rocket shot out from the Nelson
and a score of parti-colored balls curved and hissed toward the

"Gee!" Jack cried. "He's giving them a fourth-of-July celebration!"

"Hope it scares them off," said Harry.

Looking through the heavy glass panel at the top, they saw a rain of
red fire drop down on the swirling river. For a moment the whole
upper air, then river and forest, was painted a bloody red by the
burning powder.

Cries came from the river, and the mass of floating heads parted and
swung swiftly toward the shores; then silence. The aeroplane
circled about cautiously and then dropped down lower. Jack opened
the panel.

"Hello the boat!" cried a voice from the aviator's seat.

"Hello, Ned!" all three boys called back.

"How do you know it's Ned?" was asked.

"We saw that beautiful face of yours in the red fire," replied Jack.
"How are we going to get out of here? They've blockaded the river
below, and the falls are above."

"I presume I have dynamite enough to blow up that improvised dam,"
replied Ned. "Why didn't you do it?"

Before Jack could explain the situation, the Nelson drifted past,
and he knew that his voice would not carry to her.

"I'm going to open up now," Harry said, as the Nelson drifted out of
range of the glass pane. "I'm pretty near choked in here."

"Nice time we would have had in the Wolf," laughed Jack.

"Anyway," urged Harry, "we should have been in her in a minute if
the Nelson hadn't shown up. Say, won't they give us the laugh in
New York? Came away off out here alone, and then had to be rescued
by Ned!"

Very cautiously the panels giving on the stern were opened. There
were no savages in view. The banks of the stream seemed as quiet
and harmless as a thicket in Central Park.

"I guess the rocket and the red fire got them!" grinned Frank.

"Yes, but they won't stay scared forever!" Harry put in. "We'd
better be getting out of this before they come back to their

"They never had any senses!" claimed Jack.

Looking out from the interior, now guarded only by the panels at the
front and sides, the boys saw Ned drop half a dozen sticks of
dynamite on the logs and brush which had been floated down on top of
a number of canoes. In some places the logs had pushed up until
they were high above the surface of the water.

The pressure of the current was continually making the obstruction
more compact. The canoes seemed to have been bound firmly together
and stretched from shore to shore. At least the moorings were
strong, for the logs were heavy and the current pulled heavily at

The explosions made great havoc with the barricade, and presently
the line was broken and the whole mass swung shoreward or drifted
down stream.

Then Ned called out:

"Now drop down stream and I will join you."

"Better look out where you land!" Harry called back.

"I hope I won't get into any such scrape as you did," Ned replied.

"Oh, you're not out of it yet!" laughed Frank. "These woods are
full of man-eaters. Look out where you go, and we'll find a place
for you to come down."

The anchor of the Black Bear was lifted and the power turned on. In
a minute she was going down stream at a thirty-mile gait.

Directly they passed the wrecked barricade, rolling and tumbling in
the waters, the canoes either broken or half full of water. The
Nelson still led the way down the stream.

"I guess he's never going to stop."

"Wonder if he's going back to New York?"

"Perhaps he's lost control!"

The boys looked and wondered as the aeroplane drifted on to the
north and cast. They were miles from the scene of the battle now,
but the airship went on.

Presently they saw the purpose of the aviator in making this long
run. A little nest of houses flashed out on the river bank, with
here and there a light showing, and here the onward course of the
Nelson became a circling descent.

In the east there was a faint line of dawn in the sky when the Black
Bear was pushed up to a primitive wharf. The aeroplane was still
circling in the air.

"He wants us to pick out a spot for him to land on," Jack said.
"There's one over by that hill," he added.

When Ned saw the three boys gather at the spot indicated and motion
to him to come down he lost no time in doing so. When he stepped
out of his seat all three lads were upon him. One would have
thought they were determined to tear him in pieces the way they
seized his hands, his legs, and pulled at his neck.

"You old fraud!"

"How did you know?"

"You're a nice old chaperon!"

For a moment Ned could not say a word, then he pushed the boys away
and sat down on the ground.

"You're a nice bunch!" he said.

"Sure!" said Jack.

"The people back there thought so much of us that they wanted us to
remain to dinner!" grinned Harry.

"There ain't no better people!" Frank insisted.

"How did you happen to get out here?" demanded Ned. "Why, you
fellows ought to have a chaperon. Those cannibals would have had a
good dinner today if the Nelson hadn't come that way."

"Now, don't crow over us!" pleaded Frank. "We know all about it.
You've gotten us out of many a scrape, but this is the large event.
We take off our hats to you. Now, where's Jimmie and Leroy?"

"I don't know," answered Ned, gravely.

"I guess you are the one who needs a--"

"I guess you are right," Ned replied. "I've been up against the
pricks good and plenty since I left you. If I get to New York
alive, I'm going to stay there for good."

"Where did you leave Leroy?" asked Frank.

"In jail!"

"Wow!" cried all three boys.

"And Jimmie? I don't see how you happened to lose him."

"Jimmie is lost in the Peruvian mountains," Ned said.

"Well, why don't we go and get him?" asked Harry.

"Yes," laughed Frank. "We might ride in the Black Bear over the
storm-tossed summits of the Andes!"

"At least," Ned said, "you boys can help me a lot. I have my hands
full. We can all ride the Nelson, I take it. She was built to
carry three average-weight men, you know, and I think she ought to
manage three boys and one man!"

"Oh, you man!" laughed Jack, poking Ned in the side. "You man who
has to come to the three boys for help!"

"Tell us about it," Frank said.

"The quicker we start in on the search for Jimmie the quicker he
will be found," Harry insisted.

It was not much of a town where the Nelson had landed. There were a
few native houses and a great warehouse, at one end of which was a
small office. Such river products as came from up stream were
packed there to await transportation down to the Amazon.

By the time the sun was up a score or more natives and a couple of
British traders were gathered about the aeroplane and the Black
Bear. One of the traders, Mr. Hamlin, invited the boys to his home
for breakfast, and left some of his employees on guard at the Nelson
and the Black Bear.

During the breakfast Ned recounted his adventures, to which the host
listened with the closest attention. Frank then told of the cruise
of the Black Bear, adding that they had hoped to reach the very last
yard of water flowing down the Andes slope to the east.

"It is wonderful what American Boy Scouts will accomplish!" Mr.
Hamlin said, when the tales had been told. "A few years ago no boy
of your age would have undertaken such a duty as sent you to
Paraguay," he added, addressing Ned, "and no boys would have dared
to navigate the Beni river," he continued, smiling at the three
bright faces on the other side of the table.

"The Boy Scout training makes for courage and resourcefulness," Ned
said. "We have not been caught in many traps. In fact, I think we
are now up against the very worst situation we have ever

"But you haven't yet told us how you got out of jail at Asuncion,
only that you got in on a smuggling charge and were released. Who
brought about the release?"

"The president of the Republic," was the reply. "He learned of the
matter and ordered me brought before him. Well, I had been
searched, and the Nelson had been searched, and nothing found, so I
was let go. The president also ordered the Nelson returned to me.
It had been appropriated by an official who had declared it
forfeited. Not a bad chap that president, still, I think he saw
Uncle Sam in the background!"

"And about this man Lyman?"

"I was told that he had gone back to his concession. I went out
there in the airship, but failed to find him. After we find Jimmie
and get Leroy out of the jail at Lima I'm going to find Lyman once

"This," Jack said, "is the 23d of August. Now, we saw you last
night, the 22d, and the night before, the 21st. Why didn't you come
down then?"

"Because I was not certain that it was the Black Bear, and because I
wanted to investigate the place where I last saw Jimmie and the man
Jackson. I was over the boat longer ago than the night of the 21st,
but you did not know it, I guess."

"Well, you came at the right time, when you did come," Jack said.
"I only wish you hadn't found us in such a pickle!"

"It doesn't seem to me," Mr. Hamlin suggested, "that the Nelson
ought to carry four. You may have to go pretty fast. Now, one of
you can remain with me, in welcome, and look after the Black Bear.
I have plenty of gasoline, and we can amuse ourselves with trips on
the river. Later, you can come back after the boat."

"I think I'd better stay," Harry Stevens said. "I'm not stuck on
long rides in the air. Besides, you can do just as well without me.
How far is it to the place where you left Jimmie and this man

Ned took out his pocket map and bent over it.

"Here we are," he said, presently, "in the valley of the Madeira,
with a range of mountains on each side. Below are the rapids and
the falls. You must have had a sweet time traveling up from Fort
San Antonio. You passed about three hundred miles of swift rapids
and falls. How many times did you have to take the Black Bear to

"Not once there," was the reply. "We managed to steam up. But,
say, we had a lovely time getting up over one waterfall!"

"Well," Ned went on, "here we are at the big bend of the upper
Madeira. We are not far from a thousand miles from the place where
I found Lyman. We can get there by nightfall."

"Not for me," Jack said, with a shrug of the shoulders. "We should
have to ride continuously to make it in that time, and I don't like
to remain in the air that long. We ought to have five rests of an
hour each, and get there in the morning."

"Yes," Ned replied, "I'm getting tired of long rides myself. We'll
go slower."

After breakfast the boys went to the Black Bear and looked her over.
The propeller which had been broken could easily be repaired, they
found, so they left that matter to Harry, replenished the tanks of
the Nelson with gasoline, and prepared for the long journey back to
the mountains of Peru.

"When are you coming back?" asked Harry, as the three mounted the

"In three days," replied Ned. "And we'll bring Jimmie with us."

"If they haven't fed him to the mountain lions before now!" Harry
said, with a strange premonition of evil in his heart.

And the Nelson was up and away, and Harry set to work cleaning up
the motor boat, hoping to forget in toil how lonely and apprehensive
he was.



Alarmed by the swift approach of the motor car in the tunnel, Jimmie
and Jackson took to their heels and made swift progress toward the
east entrance, throwing the searchlight about and keeping their eyes
out for some hiding place as they ran.

Before long it became evident that they could not long maintain the
pace they had taken. The motor car was gaining on them rapidly, as
they knew by the steady approach of the clamor which the engines
were making.

"Gee!" cried Jimmie, at last. "No use! I've got to drop in

Jackson was as ready to stop running as was Jimmie, so they drew up
against the wall and Jimmie shut off the light from his electric

"Do you think they saw that light?" asked Jimmie, pushing close to
the rock wall. "I hope not."

"Probably not, as there was always an angle between us," was the
whispered reply, "but their light is coming around that angle now.
Stand close!"

It was of little use to stand close.

Under the great lamps every crack and crevice of the tunnel walls
was in plain sight to the occupants of the car. The two fugitives
might as well have attempted concealment under the limelight in the
center of the stage of a Broadway theatre!

Jimmie's hand was on his automatic as the car halted in front of
him. Jackson saw what was in the boy's mind and laid a hand on his

"None of that!" he said.

"Well, I'm not goin' to be--"

Jackson forced the revolver out of the boy's hand as he brought it
out of his pocket.

"They've got us," he whispered, "and will be only too glad of an
excuse to shoot us down in cold blood."


This from Thomas Q. Collins, who sat in the front seat, looking at
the two as if he could bite them in pieces!

Jimmie looked sullenly toward his automatic, in Jackson's hand, and
said not a word. Jackson stepped forward.

"You've got us!" he said.

"You bet we have!" gloated Collins. "Where did that Nestor boy go
with the man he picked up by the fire?"

"Did he get him?" asked Jimmie.

"Yes, he got him, worse luck!" was the reply. "Where did he go with

"Don't know," replied Jimmie.

"I'll find a way to make you know!" gritted Collins. "Do you
fellows know what it is to be hungry?"

"Honest," Jackson cut in, "we don't know where Nestor went with
Lyman. When he left us, he was not certain that he could get him.
Thought Lyman might not want to go away with a stranger on such
short notice."

"Oh, what's the use?" demanded one of the others. "The fellow has
gone back to Asuncion. That's easy to figure out. Who set you boys
at work on this case?" he added, in a moment, at a whisper from his

"Ned set me at work," Jimmie answered.

"Yes, but who set him at work?"

"I'll tell you," Jackson said, with a smile of satisfaction on his
face, "the United States government set Ned at work. You'd better
watch out how you butt up against the Secret Service men."

"That's just what I told you!" sneered Collins. "You wouldn't
believe me. Now what do you think?"

The speaker left his seat in the machine and walked over to where
Jackson was standing, the revolver still in his hand.

"Give me that gun!" he demanded.

Jackson passed it over without a word of protest.

"Now your own gun," Collins demanded, extending his hand.

"I have no gun," was the reply. "You know that very well."

"I thought you might have stolen one since leaving the cow country,"
snarled the other. "There is no knowing what kind of property you
light-fingered gentlemen will acquire."

"You're a liar, Collins," Jackson said, coolly. "You know I never
ran off the cattle which were missed. I believe you stole them!"

Collins advanced angrily toward the speaker, but one of his company
drew him back.

"Cut it out!" he said. "There will be plenty of time later on."

"What are you going to do with us?" asked Jimmie.

"You'll see!" Collins replied. "I wonder how you would like a game
of chase-the-bullet? Similar to the one you gave me not long ago?"

"Like it fine," Jimmie grinned, "if it didn't do me no more harm
than it did you. Never touched you!"

"It may be different in your case," Collins threatened.

After consulting together in whispers for some moments, the men
loaded Jimmie and Jackson into the crowded motor car and put on the
reverse movement. In half an hour, the progress being slow, they
came to the valley where the campfire was still burning. Here they
all alighted.

Half a dozen Peruvian Indians of vicious appearance now came
forward, and Collins gave them instructions in an undertone, after
which the two captives were led away to the cavern in which Lyman
had been sheltered up to the time of the arrival of the Nelson. One
of the Indians remained outside while the others hastened away.

"Well," Jimmie said, as he looked gloomily at the discouraged
Jackson, "what do you think of this? I'd like to push the face of
that Collins person in so it would mix with the back curtain."

"We're in for it!" moaned Jackson.

"Aw, what can they do to us?" demanded the little fellow.

"They can keep us here until we die of starvation," replied Jackson.
"I've had a turn with starvation, and know what it's like."

Jimmie reached under his coat and brought out a can of beans.

"Here," he said, "get busy on this."

"They took mine away when they searched me for a gun," said Jackson.

"Buck up!" advised Jimmie. "We've got to figure out some way to
give them the slip. What?"

"Yes, I suppose so!"

Jackson had counted on getting back to civilization without further
difficulties, on the arrival of the Nelson, and now he was
completely discouraged. Jimmie sat on the floor of the cavern and
eyed him quizzically.

"Ned will come back after us," the little one said, presently. "You
put your bloomin' trust in Ned, an' you'll come a four-time winner
out of the box. I know. I've been out with him before."

"But how will he ever find us here?" asked Jackson.

"How did he ever find Lyman?" demanded the boy. "You hush your
kickin' an' leave it all to Ned. Guess he knows enough to get us
out of this sink of iniquity! That boy eats 'em alive!"

"I can't see why they should keep us here," Jackson remarked,
presently, prying off the top of the can of beans with his pocket
knife. "Why don't they go back to Asuncion and look after that
cattle concession?"

"Because they've got some one there to look out for it for them,"
replied the boy. "They're waitin' here for Ned to come back an' get
us, if anybody should ask you," he went on, his cheerful smile not
at all matching the serious import of his words. "This Collins
person has cards up his sleeve, an' he wants to get hold of Ned.
He's set his trap with us for bait."

"You're a cheerful little cuss!" grinned Jackson, beginning to see
the dangerous side of the situation. "And what are we going to do
when Ned comes back? Let them soak him?"

"Not so you could notice it," was the reply. "When Ned comes back
we'll be out at the other end of that tunnel, an' he'll swoop do in
in the Nelson an' pick us up, an' we'll be back in little old N. Y.
before you can say scat."

"But how can we--"

The entrance to the cavern was darkened for a moment and then the
flashily-dressed form of Collins made its appearance.

"What's that about getting back to little old N. Y.?" he asked.
"When do you start for Manhattan Island?"

"You heard, then?" asked Jackson.

"Of course."


"Well, we'll see that you don't get away until this Ned comes back
after you. We need him in our business."

"He'll land Lyman at Asuncion before you see him again," Jimmie

"Not a doubt of it," was the sullen reply, "but don't you ever think
we haven't got people there who will look out for our interests.
Lyman won't be at liberty long, and your Ned will come back here to
get what's coming to him."

"Is that so?" exclaimed the boy, putting on a bold front, but
inwardly fearful that the situation was a tragic one.

Leaving the captives with this cheering (?) information, Collins
went back to his companions, leaving the Indian still on guard. For
a time the Indian stood stolidly in front of the cave, then, looking
carefully about to see that he was not observed by his employers, he
faced the opening and uttered one English word:


Jackson opened his eyes in amazement, but Jimmie saw an extended
hand and sprang forward. The Indian's right hand was extended
toward the boy, palm up, the thumb and little finger meeting across
the palm and crossed, the remaining fingers straight out.

"You mean, 'Be prepared'?" Jimmie asked.

"'Be prepared,"' repeated the other, like one rehearsing a lesson.

"Gee!" laughed the boy. "Here's a Boy Scout lingerin' in little old
Peru! Now wouldn't that stop a clock?"

"You just wait a minute," Jackson said, hopefully. "I think I can
talk with this chap a little in Spanish."

Then followed a great picking of words to match gestures, and
gestures to explain words, during which the full salute of the Boy
Scouts of America was often repeated by the Indian. Then Jackson

"He says that there were Boy Scouts down here six months ago, and
that he guided them through the mountain passes to the headwaters of
the Beni river. From there they went through to the valley of the
Amazon in a boat--a steam launch."

Jimmie reached under his waistcoat collar and produced his Wolf
badge, pointing to it with his finger inquiringly. The Indian shook
his head.

"Not Wolves," the boy said, in a moment. "Let's see if they were
Black Bears."

When a Black Bear badge which belonged to Jack Bosworth was shown
the Indian still shook his head. Then he pointed to the sky and
whirled his hand around significantly, finishing with a waving,
flying motion.

"I see!" cried Jimmie. "They were Eagles!"

"This ought to help some," Jackson observed, his face growing more

"Of course it will," replied the boy. "Ask him if he wants to get
out of this blasted country and go to New York. We'll take him if
he'll get us out on the east slope before Ned gets back."

Jackson talked with the Indian again, but did not seem to be able to
come to terms with him.

"He doesn't want to commit himself," the ex-cattleman said. "We'll
have to wait until he thinks it over."

The Indian seemed moody and sullen for the next few hours. When
dawn came and the little fire which had blazed in the cavern all
night went out, he was called away and another native placed on

"That settles it," Jimmie said. "We lose!"

"I'm the losenest feller you ever seen," said Jackson. "I never won
a bet in my life. You're unlucky to get dumped in a mess with me."

About the time Ned and Lyman landed in Asuncion the boys in the
cavern began looking for his return. They were not permitted to
leave the cavern, but they watched the eastern sky intently every

They watched the sky, too, during the long days when Ned was in
prison at Asuncion. Late on the afternoon of the 21st, as the
reader knows, Ned searched the eastern slope for them but they did
not see him. On the morning of the 23d they were taken from the
cave and placed in full sight on the eastern slope, where they would
be sure to be seen from the sky. They did not know what to make of
this at first, but directly, when they saw Indians, heavily armed,
stationed in hiding places all about them, they understood.

Jimmie had expressed the situation exactly. The cowards were
baiting their trap for Ned with his friends.

Unless some means of warning him could be found, Ned would drop down
to his death if he landed to rescue the ones he had left behind.



On the 23d of August the Nelson, with Ned, Jack, and Frank on board,
was sweeping over the mountains and valleys of Bolivia and Peru
toward the twin valleys in which Jimmie and Jackson had been left.
Plenty of provisions and gasoline had been taken on at the Hamlin
storehouse, and the lads were well equipped for a week's cruise in
the air.

They did not urge the aeroplane to its fullest speed, nor did they
remain in the air longer than a couple of hours at a time. It had
been decided to strike the eastern slope of the range just before
dawn, so the Nelson was allowed to loiter on the way. Jack
afterwards declared that Ned slept half the time!

Had the first decision, to run to the twin valleys as swiftly as
possible, been held to, the two prisoners, guarded on that eastern
slope, would have seen the Nelson coming toward their relief.

At the same time, on landing, Ned and his companions would have been
confronted with armed Indians demanding immediate surrender. This
would not have been according to the notions of the boys on the
aeroplane, as they had figured that Jimmie and Jackson would be able
to keep out of the hands of the Collins gang.

The 23d dawned slowly, with the Nelson loitering over the great
brown and green map of South America and the boys tiring their eyes
looking for the glistening planes of the aeroplane. The captives
were provided with food, but it was decidedly cold on the
mountainside when night came.

All that day and all that night the guards lay in wait in
sequestered places, waiting for the Nelson. Although his only hope
of immediate rescue lay in the arrival of the Nelson, Jimmie wished
every minute of the time that Ned would in some manner be warned
away from that dangerous locality.

Just before dawn of the 24th Jimmie, who had fallen into a light
slumber, felt Jackson pulling at his arm.

"Wake up!" the man whispered. "There is a light in the sky!"

Jimmie was on his feet in an instant. Away off over a parallel
ridge to the east, a ridge not so high as the one on which they
stood, and which formed only a slight elevation in the general
slope, a single light twinkled and swung up and down in the half
light between night and morning. "That's the Nelson, all right!"
Jimmie declared. "Ned is coming! Good old Ned! Now, what can we
do to keep him from being murdered?" the boy added, tearfully.

"I give it up!" replied Jackson. "All we can do is to give them
some signals and tell them to keep away."

Jimmie sprang out to one of the guards, who already stood erect,
watching the light with his gun in his hand. The guard looked
curiously at Jimmie as he advanced, his hands clasping his
shoulders, his body shivering as from extreme cold. The Indian was
cold, too, so it did not take him long to make out the boy's

Jimmie next pointed to sticks lying about, and to bunches of dry
grass which stood in some of the crevices of the rocks. The guard
nodded consent for a fire and Jimmie raced about like mad collecting
principally dry grass.

Jackson ran to help him, piling his gatherings all on one heap.

"Make three piles!" Jimmie cried. "I want three fires! Three
bright fires! Make three heaps!"

The three heaps grew fast. They were not arranged in a row on a
level, but mounted one above another on the slope. Jimmies idea was
to so place the fires one above the other, some thing like notches
cut in a tree trunk.

The reason for this is apparent. Three fires in a line facing the
point signaled to signal "Good News." Three notches cut in a tree
trunk, one above another, mean "Important Warning!" Now the
question was, would Ned understand that the fires represented
warning notches, one above the other, and keep away until some safe
plan for landing could be arranged?

If he accepted the signal as "Good News" signs, he would drop down
to death. If he read them as Jimmie intended he should, he would
sail away and wait for a more favorable opportunity.

When the three fires were going the Indian guards gathered about in
order to warm themselves. Jimmie and Jackson hovered near them,
too, but they never shifted their eyes from the light in the sky.

The Nelson hovered over the elevation to the east for a second, and
then, much to the amazement of the lad, whirled about and shot
downward, out of sight. The guards watched the light as long as it
showed and then turned to the fires again.

Daylight came swiftly, and a finger of sunlight lay on the crest of
the mountains when the' machine was in the air again. It was,
perhaps, three miles away, across deep and dangerous canyons which
it would require hours of the hardest kind of traveling to cross on

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