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Tom Swift in Captivity by Victor Appleton

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the pretended clergyman turned his attentions to Mr. Damon.

That eccentric gentleman welcomed him at first, until a quiet hint
from Tom brought that to an end.

"Bless my fire shovel!" cried Mr. Damon. "You don't say so! Not a
clergyman at all? Dear me!"

And then, getting desperate, and needing very much to learn how long
a journey his rivals were to undertake, so that he, too, might
prepare for it, Mr. Hank Delby, alias Blinderpool, began to "pump"

But the latter was too sharp for him. Well knowing that a white man
would not get suddenly friendly with one of the black race unless
for some selfish object, Eradicate fairly snubbed the seeming
minister, until that worthy had to go off by himself, saying bitter
things and casting black looks at our friends.

"But I'll get ahead of them yet!" he muttered, "and I'll get their
giants away from them, if they capture any."

The box on which Tom set such an importance, and which had so nearly
been the cause of a disaster, had been stored in one of the fire-
proof compartments of the ship, and now, as a few days more would
see the vessel entering the harbor of the Rio de la Plata, thence to
steam up to the ancient city of Buenos Ayres, Tom and the others
began to think of what lay before them.

"How do you propose to head into the interior?" asked Mr. Damon one
afternoon, when the captain announced that the following morning
would see them nearly opposite Montevideo.

"I'm going to hire a lot of burrows, donkeys or whatever they have
down here that answers the purpose," replied Tom. "We have a lot of
things to transport, and I guess pack mules would be the best, if we
can get them. Then I've got to hire some drivers and some porters,
camp-makers and the like. In fact we'll have quite a party. I guess
I'll need ten natives, and a head man and with ourselves we'll be
fifteen. So we'll need plenty of food. But then we can get that as
we go along, except when we get away into the interior, and then
we'll have to hunt it ourselves."

"That's the stuff!" cried Ned. "We haven't had a good hunting
expedition since we went to elephant land, Tom. The electric rifles
will come in handy here."

"Yes, I expect they will. Now come on, Ned, and help me get a list
ready of the things we've got to take with us, and how they can best
be divided up."

Thick weather delayed the ship somewhat, so it was not until evening
of the next day that they made Montevideo, where part of the cargo
was to be discharged. As they would lay over there a day, the boys
decided to go ashore, which they did, wondering at the strange
sights in the old city.

Tom watched to see if the pretended minister would land, and
endeavor to force his acquaintance, but Mr. Hank Delby, to give him
his right name, was not in evidence. In fact he was turning over
scheme after scheme in his mind in order to hit on one that would
enable him to take advantage of the preparations which had been made
by his rival in the circus business.

"I've just got to get a line on where those giants are to be found,"
mused Mr. Delby, in the seclusion of his stateroom, "even if I have
to take some other disguise and follow that Swift crowd. That's what
I'll do. I'll put on some other disguise! I wonder what it had
better be?"

Tom and Ned, to say nothing of Mr. Damon and Eradicate, found much
to interest them in the capital of Uruguay, and they were rather
sorry, in a way, when it was time for them to leave.

"But we'll see plenty more strange sights," remarked Tom, as the
steamer started off for Buenos Ayres. "In fact our trip hasn't
really begun yet."

In due time they dropped anchor at the ancient city, and then began
a series of confused and busy times. In fact there was so much to
do, seeing to the unloading of their stuff, arranging for hotel
accommodations, seeing to hiring natives for the expedition into the
interior, and other details, that Tom and his friends had no time to
think anything about the pretended clergyman who had caused them a
little worry.

Eventually their belongings were stored in a safe place, and our
friends sat down to a good dinner in a hotel that, while it was in
far-off South America, yet was as good as many in New York, and, in
some respects the boys, and Mr. Damon, liked it better.

They found that the Spanish and Portuguese languages were the
principal ones spoken, together with a mixture of the native
tongues, and as both Ned and Tom, as well as Mr. Damon, had a
working knowledge of Spanish they got along fairly well. Some of the
hotel people could speak English.

Tom made inquiries and found that the best plan would be to
transport all his stuff by the regular route to Rosario, on the
Parana river in Argentina, and there he could make up his pack
train, hire native carriers, and start for the interior.

"Then we'll do that," he decided, "and take it easy until we get to

It took them the better part of a week to do this, but at last they
were on the ground, and felt for the first time that they were
really going into a wild and little explored country.

"Are you going to stick to the Parana river?" asked Ned.

"No," replied Tom, in the seclusion of their room, "if there are any
giants they will be found in some undiscovered, or at least little
traveled, part of the country. I don't believe they are in the
vicinity of the big rivers, or other travelers would have heard
about them, and, as far as we know, Mr. Preston's animal agent is
the only one who ever got a trace of them. We'll have to go into the
jungle on either side of the river."

"Bless my walking stick!" cried Mr. Damon. "Have we really to go
into the jungle, Tom?"

"I'm afraid we have, if we want to get any giants, and get a trace
of Mr. Poddington."

"All right, I'm game, but I do hope we won't run into a band of
fighting natives."

In Rosario it was learned that while the "war" was not regarded
seriously from the fact that the fighting tribes were far inland,
still it was going on with vigor, and large bands of natives were
roaming about, stealing each others' cattle and horses, burning
villages, and taking captives.

"I guess we're in for it," remarked Tom grimly. "But I'm not going
to back out now."

Unexpected complications, difficulties in the way of getting the
right kind of help, and a competent man to take charge of the native
drivers, so delayed our friends that it was nearly two weeks after
their arrival in Rosario before they could start for the interior.

Of course the object of the expedition was kept a secret, and Tom
let it be known that he and his friends were merely exploring, and
wanted rare plants, orchids, or anything in that line. The natives
were not very curious.

At last the day for the start came. The mules, which had been hired
as beasts of burdens, were loaded with boxes or bales on either
side, the natives were marshalled into line. Tom, Ned, and Mr.
Damon, each equipped with a rifle had a saddle animal to ride, and
Eradicate was similarly equipped, though for a weapon he depended on
a shotgun, which he said he understood better than the electric

The aeroplane, divided into many small packages, the goods for
barter, their supplies, stores, ammunition, and the box of which Tom
took such care--all these were on the backs of the beasts of burden.
Some food was taken along, but for a time, at least, they could
depend on scattered towns or villages, or the forest game, for their

"Are we all ready?" called Tom, looking at the rather imposing
cavalcade of which he was the head.

"I guess so," replied Ned. "Let her go!"

"Bless my liver pad!" gasped Mr. Damon. "If we've got to start do
it, and let's get it over with Tom."

"All ready, Rad?" asked the colored man's young master.

"All ready, Massa Tom. But I mus' say dat I'd radder hab Boomerang
dan dish yeah animal what I'm ridin'."

"Oh, you'll do all right, Rad. Then, if we're all ready, forward
march!" cried Tom, and with calls to their animals, the drivers
started them off.

Hardly had they begun the advance than Ned, who had been narrowly
watching one of the natives, hurried up to Tom, and rapidly
whispered something to his chum.

"What?" cried Tom. "Armed with a six-shooter, is he? Well, we'll see
about that! Halt!" he cried in Spanish, and then he called San Pedro
the head mule driver, to him.



"Who is that man?" demanded Tom pointing to the one Ned had
indicated. Tom's chum had had a glimpse of a shining revolver in the
hip pocket of one of the mule drivers, and knowing that the simple
natives were not in the habit of carrying such weapons, the lad had
communicated his suspicions to Tom.

"What man, senor?" asked the head mule driver.

"That one!" and the young inventor again pointed toward him. And,
now that Tom looked a second time he saw that the man was not as
black as the other drivers--not an honest, dark-skinned black but
more of a sickly yellow, like a treacherous half-breed. "Who is he?"
asked Tom, for the man in question was just then tightening a girth
and could not hear him.

"I know not, senor. He come to me when I am hiring the others, and
he say he is a good driver. And so he is, I test him before I engage
him," went in San Pedro in Spanish. "He is one good driver."

"Why does he carry a revolver?"

"A revolver, senor? Santa Maria, I know not! I--"

"I'll find out," declared Tom determinedly. "Here," he called to the
offending one, who straightened up quickly. "Come here!"

The man came, with all the cringing servility of a born native, and
bowed low.

"Why have you a weapon?" asked the young inventor. "I gave orders
that none of the drivers were to carry them."

"A revolver, senor? I have none! I--"

"Rad, reach in his pocket!" cried Tom, and the colored man did so
with a promptness that the other could not frustrate. Eradicate held
aloft a large calibre, automatic weapon.

"What's that for?" asked Tom, virtuously angry.

"I--er--I--" and then, with a hopeless shrug of his shoulders the
man turned away.

"Give him his gun, and get another driver, San Pedro," directed our
hero, and with another shrug of his shoulders the man accepted the
revolver, and walked slowly off. Another driver was not hard to
engage, as several had been hanging about, hoping for employment at
the last minute, and one was quickly chosen.

"It's lucky you saw that gun, Ned," remarked Tom, when they were
actually under way again.

"Yes, I saw the sun shining on it as his coat flapped up. What was
his game, do you suppose?"

"Oh, he might be what they call a 'bad half-breed' down here. I
guess maybe he thought he could lord it over the other drivers when
we got out in the jungle, and maybe take some of their wages away
from them, or have things easier for himself."

"Bless my wishbone!" exclaimed Mr. Damon. "You don't think he meant
to use it on us, Tom?"

"Why no? What makes you ask that?"

"Oh, I'm just nervous, I guess," replied the odd man.

But if Mr. Damon could have seen that same half-breed a little
later, as he slipped into a Rosario resort, with the yellow stain
washed from his face, the nervousness of the eccentric gentleman
would have increased. For the man who had been detected with the
revolver muttered to himself:

"Caught! Well, I'll fool 'em next time all right! I thought I could
get away with the pack train, and then it would have been easy to
turn the natives any way I wished, after I had found what I'm
looking for. But I had to go and carry that gun! I never thought
they'd spot it. Well, it's all up now, and if Waydell heard of it
he'd want to fire me. But I'll make good yet. I'll have to adopt
some other disguise, and see if I can't tag along behind."

All unconscious of the plotter they had left back of them, Tom and
his companions pushed on, rapidly leaving such signs of civilization
as were represented by small native towns and villages, and coming
nearer to the jungles and forests that lay between them and the
place where Tom was destined to be made a captive.

They were far enough away from the tropics to escape the intolerable
heat, and yet it was quite warm. In fact the weather was not at all
unpleasant, and, once they were started, all enjoyed the novelty of
the trip.

Tom planned to keep along the eastern shore of the Parana river,
until they reached the junction where the Salado joins it. Then he
decided that they would do better to cross the Parana and strike
into the big triangle made by that stream and its principal
tributary, heading north toward Bolivia.

"For it is in that little-explored part of South America that I
think the giants will be found." said Tom, as he talked it over with
Ned and Mr. Damon in the privacy of their tent, which had been set

"But why should there be giants there any more than anywhere else?"
asked Ned.

"No particular reason," answered his chum. "But, according to the
last word Mr. Preston had from his agent, that was where he was
heading for, and that's where Zacatas, his native helper, said he
lost track of his master. I have a theory that the giants, if we
find any, will turn out to be a branch of a Patagonian tribe."

"Patagonians!" exclaimed Ned.

"Yes. You know the natives of the Southern part of Argentina grow to
a considerable size. Now Patagonia is a comparatively bleak and cold
country. What would prevent some of that big tribe centuries ago,
from having migrated to a warmer country, where life was more
favorable? After several generations they may have grown to be

"Bravo!" exclaimed Mr. Damon. "It's a good theory, at any rate, Tom.
Though whether you can ever prove it is a question."

"Yes, and a big one," agreed the young inventor with a laugh.

For some days they traveled along over a comparatively flat country,
bordering the river. At times they would pass through small native
villages, where they would be able to get fresh meat, poultry and
other things that varied their bill of fare. Again there would be
long, lonely stretches of forest or jungle, through which it was
difficult to make their way. And, occasionally they would come to
fair-sized towns where their stay was made pleasant.

"I doan't see any ob dem oranges an' bananas droppin' inter mah
mouf, Massa Tom," complained Eradicate one day, after they had been
on the march for over a week.

"Have patience, Rad," advised Tom. "We'll come to them when we get a
little farther into the interior. First we'll come to the monkeys,
and the cocoanut trees."

"Hones' Massa Tom?"


And though it was pretty far south for the nimble simians, the next
day they did come upon a drove of them skipping about in the tall
palm trees.

"There they are, Rad! There they are!" cried Ned, as the chattering
of the monkeys filled the forest.

"By golly! So dey be! Heah's where I get some cocoanuts!"

Before anyone could stop him, Eradicate caught up a dead branch, and
threw it at a monkey. The chattering increased, and almost instantly
a shower of cocoanuts came crashing down, narrowly missing some of
our friends.

"Hold on, Rad! Hold on!" cried Tom. "Some of us will be hurt!"

Crack! came a cocoanut down on the skull of the colored man.

"Bless my court plaster! Someone's hurt now!" cried Mr. Damon.

"Hurt? Bless yo' heart, Massa Damon, it takes mo' dan dat t' hurt
dish yeah chile!" cried Eradicate with a grin. "Ah got a hard head,
Ah has, mighty hard head, an' de cocoanut ain't growed dat kin bust
it. Thanks, Mistah Monkey, thanks!" and with a laugh Eradicate
jumped off his mule, and began gathering up the nuts, while the
monkeys fled into the forest.

"Very much good to drink milk," said San Pedro, as he picked up a
half-ripe nut, and showed how to chop off the top with a big knife
and drain the slightly acid juice inside. "Very much good for

"Let's try it," proposed Tom, and they all drank their fill, for
there were many cocoanuts, though it was rather an isolated grove of

The monkeys became more numerous as they proceeded farther north
toward the equator, for it must be remembered that they had landed
south of it, and at times the little animals became a positive

Several days passed, and they crossed the Parana river and struck
into the almost unpenetrated tract of land where Tom hoped to find
the giants. As yet none of their escort dreamed of the object of the
expedition, and though Tom had caused scouts to be sent back over
their trail to learn if they were being followed there was no trace
of any one.

One day, after a night camp on the edge of a rather high table land,
they started across a fertile plain that was covered with a rich
growth of grass.

"Good grazing ground here," commented Ned.

"Yes," put in San Pedro. "Plenty much horse here pretty soon."

"Do the natives graze their herds of horses here?" asked Tom.

"No natives--wild horses," explained Pedro. "Plenty much, sometimes
too many they come. You see, maybe."

It was nearly noon, and Tom was considering stopping for dinner if
they could come to a good watering place, when Ned, who had ridden
slightly in advance, came galloping back as fast as his steed would
carry him.

"Look out! Look out!" he cried. "There's a stampede of 'em, and
they're headed right this way!"

"Stampede of what? Who's headed this way?" cried Tom. "A lot of

"No, wild horses! Thousands of 'em! Hear 'em coming?"

In the silence that followed Ned's warning there could be heard a
dull, roaring, thundering sound, and the earth seemed to tremble.

"The young senor speaks truth! Wild horses are coming!" cried San
Pedro. "Get ready, senors! Have your weapons at hand, and perchance
we can turn the stampede aside."

"The rifles! The electric rifles, Ned--Mr. Damon! We've got to stop
them, or they'll trample us to death!" cried Tom.

As he spoke the thundering became louder, and then, looking across
the grassy plain, all saw a large troop of wild horses, with flying
manes and tails, headed directly toward them!



"Quick! Peg out the mules!" cried San Pedro, after one look at the
onrushing horses. "Drive the stakes well down! Tie them fast and
then get behind those rocks! Lively!"

He cried his orders to the natives in Spanish, at the same time
motioning to Tom and Ned.

"Get off your mules!" he went on. "Peg them out. Peg out the others,
and then run for it!"

"Run for it?" repeated Tom, "Do you think I'm going to leave my
outfit in the midst of that stampede?" and he waved his hand toward
the thundering, galloping wild horses which were coming nearer every
moment. "Get out the electric rifles, and we'll turn that stampede.
I'm not going to run."

"Bless my saddle!" cried Mr. Damon. "This is awful! There must be a
thousand of them."

"Nearer two!" cried Ned, who was struggling to loosen the straps
that bound his electric rifle to the side of his mule. Already the
pack animals as well as those ridden by the members of the giant-
hunting party were showing signs of excitement. They seemed to want
to join the stampeding horses.

"Peg our animals out! Peg them out! Make them so they can't join the
others!" yelled San Pedro. "It's our only chance!"

"I believe he's right!" cried Mr. Damon. "Tom, if we wait until
those maddened brutes are up to us they'll fairly sweep ours along
with them, and there's no telling where we'll end up. I think we'd
better follow his advice and tie our mules as strongly as we can.
Then we can go over there by the rocks, and fire at the wild horses.
We may be able to turn them aside."

"Guess that's right," agreed the young inventor after a moment's
thought. "Come on, Ned. Peg out!"

"Peg out! Peg out!" yelled the natives, and then began a lively
scene. Pegging stakes were in readiness, and, attached to the bridle
of each mule was a strong, rawhide rope for tying to the stake. The
pegs were driven deeply into the ground and in a trice the animals
were made fast to them, though they snorted, and tried to pull away
as they heard the neighing of the stampeding animals and saw them
coming on with an irresistible rush.

"Hurry!" begged San Pedro, and hurry Tom, Ned and the others did.
Animal after animal was made fast--that is all but one and that bore
on its back two rather large but light boxes--the contents of the
case which Tom had rescued from the fire in the hold.

"What are you going to do with mule?" asked Ned, as he saw Tom begin
to lead the animal away, the others having been pegged out.

"I'm going to take him over to the rocks with me. I'm not going to
take any chances on this mule getting away with those things in the
boxes. Give me a hand here, and then we'll see what the electric
rifles will do against those horses."

But the one mule which Tom had elected to take with him seemed to
resent being separated from his companions. Bracing his feet well
apart, the animal stubbornly refused to move.

"Come on!" yelled Tom, pulling on the leading rope.

"Bless my porous plaster!" cried Mr. Damon. "You'd better hurry,
Tom! Those wild horses are almost on us!"

"I'm trying to hurry!" replied the young inventor, "but this mule
won't come. Ned, get behind and shove, will you?"

"Not much! I don't want to be kicked."

"Beat him! Strike him! Wait until I get a club!" yelled San Pedro.
"Come, Antonia, Selka, Balaka!" he cried, to several of the natives
who had already started for the sheltering rocks a short distance
away. "Beat the mule for Senor Swift!"

Ned joined Tom at the leading rope, and the two lads tried to pull
the animal along. Mr. Damon rushed over to lend his aid, and San
Pedro, catching up a long stick, was about to bring it down on the
mule's back. Meanwhile the stampeding animals were rushing nearer.

"Hold on dere, Massa Tom!" suddenly called Eradicate. "Yo'-all done
flustered dat mule, dat's what yo' done. Yo'-all am too much excited
'bout him. Be calm! Be calm!"

"Calm! With that bunch of wild animals bearing down on us?" shouted
Tom. "Let's see you be calm, Rad. Come on here, you obstinate
brute!" he cried, straining on the rope.

"Let me do it, Massa Tom. Let me do it," suggested the colored man
hurrying to the balky beast.

Then, as gently as if he was talking to a nervous child, and totally
oblivious to the danger of the approaching horses, Eradicate went up
to the mule's head, rubbed its ears until they pointed naturally
once more, murmured something to it, and then, taking the rope from
Ned and Tom, Eradicate led the mule along toward the rocks as easily
as if there had never been any question about going there.

"For the love of tripe! How did you do it?" asked Tom.

"Bless my peck of oats!" gasped Mr. Damon. "It's a good thing we had
Rad along!"

"All mules am alike," said the colored man with a grin. "An dish
yeah one ain't much different from mah Boomerang. I guess he's a
sorter cousin."

"Come on!" yelled San Pedro. "No time to lose. Make for the rocks!"

Tom, Ned and Mr. Damon sprinted then, and there was need to, for the
foremost of the galloping horses was not a hundred feet away. Then
came Eradicate, leading the mule that had at last consented to
hurry. The natives, with San Pedro, were already at the rocks,
waiting for the white hunters with the deadly electric rifles.

"If they stampede our mules we'll be in a pickle!" murmured Ned.

"I guess those ropes will hold unless they bite them through,"
remarked Tom.

"Yes, they sure hold," cried San Pedro, and indeed one had to shout
now to be heard above the thundering of the horses. Now the tethered
mules were lost to sight in the multitude of the other steeds all
about them.

"Come on, Ned!" yelled Tom, as he sighted his rifle. "Pump it into
them! We must turn them, or they may come over this way, and if they
do it will be all up with us."

"Shoot to kill?" asked Ned, as he drew back the firing lever of his
electric rifle.

"No, only a stunning charge. Those horses are valuable, and there's
no use killing them. All we want to do is to turn them aside."

"That's right," agreed Mr. Damon, forgetting in the excitement of
the moment to bless himself or anything. "We'll only stun them."

The rifles were quickly adjusted to send out a comparatively weak
charge of electricity, and then they were trained on the dense mass
of horses, while the three marksmen began working the firing levers.

At first, though horse after horse fell to the ground, stunned,
there was no appreciable effect on the thousands in the drove. The
poor mules were hidden from sight, though by reason of divisions in
the living stream of animals it could still be told where they were
tethered, and where the horses separated to go past them.
Fortunately the ropes and pegs held.

"Fire faster!" cried Tom. "Shoot across the front of them, and try
to turn them to one side."

From the rocks, behind which the natives and our friends crouched,
there came a steady stream of electric fire. Horse after horse went
down, stunned but not badly hurt, and in a few hours the beasts
would feel no ill effects. The firing was redoubled, and then there
came a break in the steady stream of horseflesh.

Some hesitated and sought to turn back. Others, behind, pressed them
on, and then, as if in fear at the unknown and unseen power that was
laying low animal after animal, the great body, of horses, suddenly
turned at right angles to their course and broke away. There were
now two bodies of the wild runaways, those that had passed the
tethered mules, and those that had swung off. The stampede had been

"That's the stuff!" cried Tom, jumping up from behind the rocks, and
swinging his hat. "We've turned them."

"And just in time, too," added Ned, as he joined his chum. Then all
the others leaped up, and the sight of the human beings completed
the scare. The stampeding animals swung off more than before, so
that they were nearly doubling back on their own trail. The others
thundered off, and the ground was strewn with unconscious though
unharmed animals.

"One mule gone!" cried San Pedro, hastily counting the still
tethered animals which were wildly tugging at their ropes.

"Never mind," spoke Tom, "it's the one with some of that damaged
bartering stuff I intended for trading. We can afford to lose that.
Rad, is your animal all right?"

"He suah am, Massa Tom. Dish yeah mule am almost as sensible as
Boomerang, ain't yo'?" and Eradicate patted the big animal he was

"I'll send a man down the trail, and maybe he can pick up the
missing one," said San Pedro, and while the other natives were
quieting the restless mules, one tall black man hastened in the wake
of the retreating horses.

He came back in an hour with the missing animal, that had broken its
tether rope and then, after running along with the wild horses had
evidently dropped out of the drove. Aside from the loss of a small
box, there had been no damage done, and the cavalcade was soon under
way once more, leaving the motionless horses to recover from the
effects of the electricity.

"Bless my saddle pad!" cried Mr. Damon. "I don't think I want to go
through anything like that again."

"Neither do I," agreed Tom. "We are well out of it."

"How much you take for one of them rifles?" asked San Pedro

"Not for sale," answered Tom with a laugh.

They camped in a fertile valley that night, and had a much-needed
rest. As yet Tom had made no inquiries as to the location of giant
land from any of the natives of the villages or towns through which
they passed. He knew as soon as he did begin asking questions, his
own men would hear of it, and they might be frightened if they knew
they were in an expedition the object of which was to capture some
of the tall men.

"We'll just go along for a few days more," said Tom, to Ned, "and
then, when I do spring my surprise, they'll be so far from home that
they won't dare turn back. In a few days I'll begin making

They traveled on for three days more, ever heading north, and coming
more into the warmer climate. The vegetation began to take on a more
tropical look, and finally they reached a region infested with many
wild beasts and monkeys, and with patches of dense jungle on either
side of the narrow trail. Fruits, tropical flowers and birds

"I think we're getting there," remarked Tom, on the evening of the
third day after his talk with Ned. "San Pedro says there's quite a
village about half a day's march ahead, and I may learn something
there. I'll know by to-morrow whether we are on the right trail or

The natives were getting supper, and Eradicate was busy with a meal
for the three white hunters. Mr. Damon had strolled down to the bank
of a little stream, and was looking at some small animals like foxes
that had come for their evening drink. They seemed quite fearless.

Suddenly something long, round and thick seemed to drop down out of
a tree close to the odd gentleman. So swift and noiseless was it
that Mr. Damon never noticed it. Then, like a flash something went
around him, and he let out a scream of terror.

San Pedro, who was nearest to him, saw and heard. The next instant
the black muleteer came rushing toward the camp, crying:

"He is caught in a rope! Mr. Damon is caught in a rope!"

"A rope!" repeated Ned. not understanding.

"Yes, a rope in a tree. Come quickly!"

Tom caught up one of the electric rifles and rushed forward. No
sooner had he set eyes on his friend, who was writhing about in the
folds of what looked like a big ship cable, then the young inventor

"A rope! Yes, a living rope! That's a big boa constrictor that has
Mr. Damon! Get a gun, Ned, and follow me! We must save him before he
is crushed to death!"

And the two lads rushed forward while the living rope drew its folds
tighter and tighter about the unfortunate man.



"Bless my--!" but that was as far as poor Mr. Damon could get. The
breath was fairly squeezed out of him by the folds of the great
serpent that had dropped down out of the tree to crush him to death.
His head fell forward on his breast, and his arms were pinioned to
his sides.

"Quick, Ned!" cried Tom. "We must fire together! Be careful not to
hit Mr. Damon!"

"That's right. I'll take the snake on one side, Tom, and you on the

"No! Then we might hit each other. Come on my side. Aim for the
head, and throw in the highest charge. We want to kill, not stun!"

"Right!" gasped Ned, as he ran forward at his chum's side.

San Pedro, and the other natives, could do nothing. In the gathering
twilight, broken by the light of several campfires, they stood
helpless watching the two plucky youths advance to do battle with
the serpent. Eradicate had caught up a club, and had dashed forward
to do what he could, but Tom motioned him back.

"We can manage," spoke the young inventor.

Then he and Ned crept on with ready rifles. The snake raised its
ugly head and hissed, ceasing for a moment to constrict its coils
about the unfortunate man.

"Now's our chance--fire!" hoarsely whispered Ned.

It seemed as if the big snake heard, for, raising its head still
higher, it fairly glared at Ned and Tom. It was the very chance they
wanted, for they could now fire without the danger of hitting Mr.

"Ready?" asked Tom of his chum in a low voice.

"Ready!" was the equally low answer.

It was necessary to kill the serpent at one shot, as to merely wound
it might mean that in its agony it would thresh about, and seriously
injure, if not kill, Mr. Damon.

"Fire!" called Tom in a whisper, and he and Ned pressed the triggers
of the electric rifles on the same instant.

There was a streak of bluish flame that cut like a sliver through
the gathering darkness, and then, as though a blight had fallen upon
it, the folds of the great snake relaxed, and Mr. Damon slipped to
the ground unconscious. The electric charges had gone fairly through
the head of the serpent and it had died instantly.

"Quick! Mr. Damon! We must get him away!" cried Tom. "He may be

Together the chums sprang forward. The folds of the serpent had
scarcely ceased moving before the two youths snatched their friend
away. Dropping their rifles, they lifted him up to bear him to the
sleeping tent which had been erected.

"Liver pin!" suddenly ejaculated Mr. Damon. It was what he started
to say when the serpent had squeezed the breath out of him, and, on
regaining consciousness from his momentary faint, his brain carried
out the suggestion it had originally received.

"How are you?" cried Tom, nearly dropping Mr. Damon's legs in his
excitement, for he had hold of his feet, while Ned was at the head.

"Are you all right?" gasped Ned.

"Yes--I--I guess so. I--I feel as though I had been put through a
clothes wringer though. What happened?"

"A big snake dropped down out of a tree and grabbed you," answered

"And then what? Put me down, boys, I guess I can walk."

"We shot it," said Ned modestly.

"Bless my insurance policy!" exclaimed the odd gentleman. "I--I
hardly know what to say. I'll say it later. You saved my life. Let
me see if any bones are broken."

None was, fortunately, and after staggering about a bit Mr. Damon
found that he could limp along. But he was very sore and bruised,
for, though the snake had squeezed him but for part of a minute,
that was long enough. A few seconds more and nearly every bone in
his body would have been crushed, for that is the manner in which a
constrictor snake kills its prey before devouring it.

"Santa Maria! The dear gentleman is not dead then?" cried San Pedro,
as the three approached the tents.

"Bless my name plate, no!" exclaimed Mr. Damon.

"Praise to all the saints! The brave young senors with their
wonderful guns saved him. Now you must rest and sleep."

"I feel as if that was all I wanted to do for a month," commented
Mr. Damon. His soreness and stiffness increased each minute, and he
was glad to get to bed, while the boys and Eradicate rubbed his
limbs with liniment. San Pedro knew of a leaf that grew in the
jungle which, when bruised, and made into poultices, had the
property of drawing out soreness. The next day he found some, and
Mr. Damon was wrapped up in bandages until he declared that he
looked like an Egyptian mummy.

But the leaf poultices did him good, and in a few days he was able
to be about, though he was still a trifle stiff. Of course the
cavalcade had to halt in the woods, but they did not mind this as
they had traveled well up to this time, and the enforced rest was

"Well, do you feel able to move along?" asked Tom of Mr. Damon one
morning, about a week later, for they were still in the "snake
camp," as they called it in memory of the big serpent.

"Oh, yes, I think so, Tom. Where are you going?"

"I want to push on to the next village. There I hope to get some
line on giant land, and really I ought to begin making inquiries
soon. San Pedro and the others are wondering what our object is, for
we haven't collected any specimens of either flowers or animals, or
the snake skin, and he thinks we are a sort of scientific

"Well, let's travel then. I'm able."

So they started off once more along the jungle and forest trail. As
San Pedro had predicted, they came upon evidences of a native
village. Scattered huts, made of plastered mud and grass, with
thatched roofs of palm leaves, were met with, as they advanced, but
none of the places seemed to be inhabited, though rude gardens
around them showed that they had been the homes of natives up to

"No one seems to be at home," remarked Tom, when they had gone past
perhaps half a dozen of these lonely huts.

"I wonder what can be the matter?" asked Ned. "It looks as if they
had gone off in a hurry, too. Maybe there's been some sort of

"No, no sickness," said San Pedro. "Natives no sick."

"Bless my liver pill!" cried Mr. Damon, who was almost himself
again. "Then what is it?"

"Much fight, maybe."

"Much fight?" repeated Tom.

"Yes, tribes at war. Maybe natives go away so as not be killed."

"By Jove!" exclaimed the young inventor. "That's so. I forgot about
what Mr. Preston said. There's a native war going on around here.
Well, when we get to the town we can find out more about it, and
steer clear of the two armies, if we have to."

But as they went farther on, the evidences of a native war became
more pronounced. They passed several huts that had been burned, and
the native mule drivers began showing signs of fear.

"I don't like this," murmured Tom to his chum. "It looks bad."

"What can you do?"

"Nothing, I guess. We've got to keep on. No use turning back now.
Maybe the two rival forces have annihilated each other, and there
aren't any fighters left."

At that moment there arose a cry from some of the natives who, with
the mules and their burdens, had pressed on ahead.

"What's that?" exclaimed Tom.

"Something's happened!" gasped Ned.

"Bless my cartridge box!" cried Mr. Damon.

The three went forward and came to a little hill. They looked down
into a valley--a valley that had sheltered a native village, but the
village was no more. It was but a heap of blackened and fire-scarred
ruins, and there were still clouds of smoke arising from the grass
huts, showing that the enemy had but recently made their assault on
the place.

"Bless my heart!" cried Mr. Damon. "The whole place has been wiped

"Not one hut left," added Ned.

"Hark!" cried Tom.

An instant later there arose, off in the woods, a chorus of wild
yells. It was followed by the weird sound of tom-toms and the gourd
and skin drums of the natives. The shouting noise increased, and the
sound of the war drums also.

"Look!" cried Mr. Damon, pointing to a distant hill, and there the
boys saw two large bodies of natives rushing toward one another,
brandishing spears, clubs and the deadly blow guns.

They were not more than half a mile away, and in plain view of Tom
and his party, though the two forces had not yet seen our friends.

"They're going to fight!" cried Tom.

And the next moment the two bodies of natives came together in a
mass, the enemies hurling themselves at each other with the
eagerness and ferocity of wild beasts. It was a deadly battle.



"Say, look at those fellows pitch into one another!" gasped Ned.

"It's fighting at close range all right," commented Mr. Damon.

"If they had rifles they wouldn't be at it hand to hand," spoke Tom.
"Maybe it's just as well they haven't, for there won't be so many
killed. But say, we'd better be thinking of ourselves. They may make
up their quarrel and turn against us any minute."

"No--never--no danger of them being friends--they are rival tribes,"
said San Pedro. "But either one may attack us--the one that is the
victor. It is better that we keep away."

"I guess you're right," agreed Tom. "Lead the way, San Pedro, and
we'll get out of sight."

But there was a fascination in watching the distant battle that was
hard to resist. It was like looking at a moving picture, for at that
distance none of the horrors of war were visible. True, natives went
down by scores, and it was not to be doubted but what they were
killed or injured, but it seemed more like a big football scrimmage
than a fight.

"This is great!" cried Tom. "I like to watch it, but I'm sorry for
the poor chaps that get hurt or killed. I hope they're only stunned
as we stunned the wild horses."

"I'm afraid it is more serious than that," spoke San Pedro. "These
natives are very bloodthirsty. It would not be well for us to incur
their anger."

"We won't run any chances," decided Tom. "We'll just travel on. Come
on, Ned--Mr. Damon."

As he spoke there was a sudden victorious shout from the scene of
the battle. One body of natives was seen to turn and flee, while the
others pursued them.

"Now's our time to make tracks!" called Tom. "We'll have to push on
to the next village before we can ask where the gi--" he caught
himself just in time, for San Pedro was looking curiously at him.

"The senor wishes to find something?" asked the head mule driver
with an insinuating smile.

"Yes," broke in Eradicate. "We all is lookin' fo' some monstrous
giant orchards flowers."

"Ah, yes, orchids," spoke San Pedro. "Well, there may be some in the
jungle ahead of us, but the senors have come the wrong trail for
flowers," and he looked curiously at Tom, while, from afar, come the
sound of the native battle though the combatants could no longer be

"Never mind," said our hero quickly. "I guess I'll find what I want.
Now come on."

They started off, skirting the burned village to get on the trail
beyond it. But hardly had they made a detour of the burned huts than
one of the native drivers, who was in the rear, came riding up with
a shout.

"Now what's the matter?" cried Tom, looking back.

There was a voluble chattering in Spanish between the driver and San

"He says the natives that lived in this village have driven their
enemies away, and are coming back--after us," translated the head
mule driver.

"After us!" gasped Ned.

"Yes," replied San Pedro simply. "They are coming even now. They
will fight too, for all their wild nature is aroused."

It needed but a moment's listening to prove this. From the rear came
wild yells and the beating of drums and tom-toms.

"Bless my fountain pen!" cried Mr. Damon. "What are we going to do?"

"Stop them if we can," answered Tom coolly. "Ned, you and I and Mr.
Damon will form a rear guard. San Pedro, take the mules and the men,
and make as good time as you can in advance. We'll take three of the
fastest mules, and hold these fellows back with the electric rifles,
and when we've done that we'll ride on and catch up to you."

"Very good," said San Pedro, who seemed relieved to know that he did
not have to do any of the fighting.

Three of the lighter weight mules, who carried small burdens, were
quickly relieved of them, and mounting these steeds in preference to
the ones they had been riding since they took the trail, Tom, Ned
and Mr. Damon dropped back to try and hold off the enemy.

They had not far to ride nor long to wait. They could hear the
fierce yells of the victorious tribesmen as they came back to their
ruined village, and though there were doubtless sad hearts among
them, they rejoiced that they had defeated their enemies. They knew
they could soon rebuild the simple grass huts.

"Small charges, just to stun them!" ordered Tom, and the electric
rifles were so adjusted.

"Here's a good place to meet them," suggested Ned, as they came to a
narrow turn in the trail. "They can't come against us but a few at a
time, and we can pump them full of electricity from here."

"The very thing!" cried Tom, as he dismounted, an example followed
by the others. Then, in another moment, they saw the blacks rushing
toward them. They were clad in nondescript garments, evidently of
their own make, and they carried clubs, spears, bows and arrows and
blow guns. There was not a firearm among them, as they passed on
after the party of our friends whom they had seen from the battle-
hill. They gave wild yells as they saw the young inventor's friends.

"Let 'em have it!" called Tom in a low voice, and the electric
rifles sent out their stunning charges. Several natives in the front
rank dropped, and there was a cry of fear and wonder from the
others. Then, after a moment's hesitation they pressed on again.

"Once more!" cried Tom.

Again the electric rifles spoke, and half a score went down
unconscious, but not seriously hurt. In a few hours they would be as
well as ever, such was the merciful charge that Tom Swift and the
others used in the rifles.

The third time they fired, and this was too much for the natives.
They could not battle against an unseen and silent enemy who mowed
them down like a field of grain. With wild yells they fled back
along the trail they had come.

"I guess that does it!" cried Tom. "We'd better join the others

Mounting their mules, they galloped back to where San Pedro and his
natives were pressing forward.

"Did you have the honor of defeating them," the head mule driver

"I had the HONOR," answered Tom, with a grim smile.

Then they pressed on, but there was no more danger. That night they
camped in a peaceful valley and were not disturbed, and the
following day they put a good many miles behind them. On the advice
of San Pedro, they avoided the next two villages as they realized
that they were in the war zone, and then they headed for a large
town where Tom was sure he would hear some news of the giants.

They had to camp twice at night before reaching this town, and when
they did get to it they were warmly welcomed, for white explorers
had been there years before, and had treated the natives well. Tom
distributed many trinkets among the head men and won their good will
so that the party was given comfortable huts in which to sleep, and
a plentiful supply of provisions.

"Can you arrange for a talk with the chief?" asked Tom of San Pedro
that night. "I want to ask him about certain things."

"About where you can find giant flowers?" asked the mule driver with
a quick look.

"Yes--er--and other giant things," replied Tom. "I fix," answered
San Pedro shortly, but there was a queer look on his face.

A few hours later Tom was summoned to the hut of the chief of the
town, and thither he went with Ned, Mr. Damon and San Pedro as
interpreter, for the natives spoke a jargon of their own that Tom
could not understand.

There were some simple ceremonies to observe, and then Tom found
himself facing the chief, with San Pedro by his side. After the
greetings, and an exchange of presents, Tom giving him a cheap
phonograph with which the chief was wildly delighted, there came the
time to talk.

"Ask him where the giant men live?" our hero directed San Pedro,
believing that the time had now come to disclose the object of his

"Giant men, Senor Swift? I thought it was giant plants--orchids--you
were after," exclaimed San Pedro.

"Well, I'll take a few giant men if I can find them. Tell him I
understand there is a tribe of giants in this country. Ask him if he
ever heard of them."

San Pedro hesitated. He looked at Tom, and the young inventor
fancied that there was a tinge of white on the swarthy face of the
chief mule driver. But San Pedro translated the question.

Its effect on the chief was strange. He half leaped from his seat,
and stared at Tom. Then he uttered a cry--a cry of fear--and spoke

"What does he say?" asked Tom of San Pedro eagerly, when the chief
had ceased speaking.

"He say--he say," began the mule driver and the words seemed to
stick in his throat--"he say there ARE giants--many miles to the
north. Terrible big men--very cruel--and they are fearful. Once they
came here and took some of his people away. He is afraid of them. We
are ALL afraid of them," and San Pedro looked around apprehensively,
as though he might see one of the giants stalking into the chief's
hut at any moment.

"Ask him how many miles north?" asked Tom, hardly able to conceal
his delight. The giants had no terrors for him.

"Two weeks journey," translated San Pedro.

"Good!" cried the young inventor. "Then we'll keep right on. Hurrah!
I'm on the right track at last, and I'll have a giant for the circus
and we may be able to rescue Mr. Poddington!"

"Is the senor in earnest?" asked San Pedro, looking at Tom
curiously. "Is he really going among these terrible giants?"

"Yes, but I don't believe they'll be so terrible. They may be very
gentle. I'm sure they'll be glad to come with me and join a circus--
some of them--and earn a hundred dollars a week. Of course we're
going on to giant land!"

"Very good," said San Pedro quietly, and then he followed Tom out of
the chief's hut.

"It's all right, Ned old sport, we'll get to giant land after all!"
cried Tom to his chum as they reached the hut where they were

The next morning when Tom got up, and looked for San Pedro and his
men, to give orders about the march that day, the mule drivers were
nowhere to be seen. Nor were the mules in the places where they had
been tethered. Their packs lay in a well ordered heap, but the
animals and their drivers were gone.

"This is queer," said Tom, rubbing his eyes to make sure that he saw
aright. "I wonder where they are? Rad, look around for them."

The colored man did so, and came back soon, to report that San Pedro
and his men had gone in the night. Some of the native villagers told
him so by signs, Eradicate said. They had stolen away.

"Gone!" gasped Tom. "Gone where?"

"Bless my railroad ticket!" cried Mr. Damon.

"We're deserted," exclaimed Ned. "They've taken the mules, and left

"I guess that's it," admitted Tom ruefully, after a minute's
thought. "San Pedro couldn't stand for the giants. He's had a
frightful flunk. Well, we're all alone, but we'll go on to giant
land anyhow! We can get more mules. A little thing like this can't
phase me. Are you with me, Ned--Mr. Damon--Eradicate?"

"Of course we are!" they cried without a moment's hesitation.

"Then we'll go to giant land alone!" exclaimed Tom. "Come on, now,
and we'll see if we can arrange for some pack animals."



When it first became sure that San Pedro and the other natives had
deserted--fled in the night, for fear of the giants--there was a
reactionary feeling of despondency and gloom among Tom and his three
friends. But the boldness and energy of the young inventor, his
vigorous words, his determination to proceed at any cost to the
unknown land that lay before them--these served as a tonic, and
after a few moments, Ned, Mr. Damon, and even Eradicate looked at
things with brighter spirits.

"Do you really mean it, Tom?" asked Ned. "Will you go on to giant

"I surely will, if we can find it. Why, we found the city of gold
all alone, you and Mr. Damon and I, and I don't see why we can't
find this land, especially when all we have to do is to march

"But look at the lot of stuff we have to carry!" went on Ned, waving
his hand toward the heap of packs that the mule drivers had left

"Bless my baggage check, yes!" added Mr. Damon. "We can never do it.
Tom. We had better leave it here, and try to get back to

"Never!" cried Tom. "I started off after a giant, and I'm going to
get one, if I can induce one of the big men to come back with me.
I'm not going to give up when we're so close. We can get more pack
animals, I'm sure. I'm going to have a try for it. If I can't speak
the language of these natives I can make signs. Come on, Ned, we'll
pay a morning visit to the chief."

"I'll come along," added Mr. Damon.

"That's right," replied the young inventor. "Rad, you go stand guard
over our stuff. Some of the natives might not be able to withstand
temptation. Don't let them touch anything."

"Dat's what I won't, Massa Tom. Good land a massy! ef I sees any ob
'em lay a finger on a pack I'll shoot off my shotgun close to der
ears, so I will. Oh, ef I only had Boomerang here, he could carry
mos' all ob dis stuff his own se'f."

"You've got a great idea of Boomerang's strength," remarked Tom with
a laugh, as he and Ned and Mr. Damon started for the big hut where
the chief lived.

"Do you really think San Pedro and the others left because they were
afraid of the giants we might meet?" asked Ned.

"I think so," answered his chum.

"Bless my toothpick!" gasped Mr. Damon. "In that case maybe we'd
better be on the lookout ourselves."

"Time enough to worry when we get there," answered the young
inventor. "From what the circus man said the giants are not
particularly cruel. Of course Mr. Preston didn't have much
information to go on, but--well, we'll have to wait--that's all. But
I'm sure San Pedro and the others were in a blue funk and vamoosed
on that account."

"Hey, Massa Tom!" suddenly called Eradicate. "Heah am a letter I
found on de baggage," and he ran forward with a missive, rudely
scrawled on a scrap of paper.

"It's from San Pedro," remarked Tom after a glance at it, "and it
bears out what I said. He writes that he and his men never suspected
that we were going after the giants, or they would never have come
with us. He says they are very sorry to leave us, as we treated them
well, but are afraid to go on. He adds that they have taken enough
of our bartering goods to make up their wages, and enough food to
carry them to the next village."

"Well," finished Tom. as he folded the paper, "I suppose we can't
kick, and, maybe after all, it will be for the best. Now to see if
the chief can let us have some mules."

It took some time, by means of signs, to make the chief understand
what had happened, but, when Tom had presented him with a little toy
that ran by a spring, and opened up a pack of trading goods, which
he indicated would be exchanged for mules, or other beasts of
burden, the chief grinned in a friendly fashion, and issued certain

Several of his men hurried from the big hut, and a little later,
when Tom was showing the chief how to run the toy, there was a sound
of confusion outside.

"Bless my battle axe!" cried Mr. Damon. "I hope that's not another
war going on."

"It's our new mules!" cried Ned, taking a look. "And some cows and a
bony horse or two, Tom. We've drawn a rich lot of pack animals!"

Indeed there was a nondescript collection of beasts of burden. There
were one or two good mules, several sorry looking horses, and a
number of sleepy-eyed steers. But there were enough of them to carry
all the boxes and bales that contained the outfit of our friends.

"It might be worse," commented Tom. "Now if they'll help us pack up
we'll travel on."

More sign language was resorted to, and the chief, after another
present had been made to him, sent some of his men to help put the
packs on the animals. The steers, which Tom did not regard with much
favor, proved to be better than the mules, and by noon our friends
were all packed up again, and ready to take the trail. The chief
gave them a good dinner,--as native dinners go,--and then, after
telling them that, though he had never seen the giants it had long
been known that they inhabitated the country to the north, he waved
a friendly good-bye.

"Well, we'll see what luck we'll have by ourselves," remarked Tom,
as he mounted a bony mule, an example followed by Ned, Mr. Damon and
Eradicate, They had left behind some of their goods, and so did not
have so much to carry. Food they had in condensed form and they were
getting into the more tropical part of the country where game

It was not as easy as they had imagined it would be for, with only
four to drive so many animals, several of the beasts were
continually straying from the trail, and once a big steer, with part
of the aeroplane on its back, wandered into a morass and they had to
labor hard to get the animal out.

"Well, this is fierce!" exclaimed Tom, at the end of the first day
when, tired and weary, bitten by insects, and torn by jungle briars,
they made camp that night.

"Going to give up?" asked Ned.

"Not much!"

They felt better after supper, and, tethering the animals securely,
they stretched out in their tents, with mosquito canopies over them
to keep away the pestering insects.

"I've got a new scheme," announced Tom next morning at breakfast.

"What is it? Going on the rest of the way in the aeroplane?" asked
Ned hopefully.

"No, though I believe if I had brought the big airship along I could
have used it. But I mean about driving the animals. I'm going to
make a long line of them, tying one to the other like the elephants
in the circus when they march around, holding each other's tails.
Then one of us will ride in front, another in the rear, and one on
each side. In that way we'll keep them going and they won't stray

"Bless my button hook!" cried Mr. Damon. "That's a good idea, Tom!"
It was carried out with much success, and thereafter they traveled

But even at the best it was not easy work, and more than once Tom's
friends urged him to turn back. But he would not, ever pressing on,
with the strange land for his goal. They had long since passed the
last of the native villages, and they had to depend on their own
efforts for food. Fortunately they did not have any lack of game,
and they fared well with what they had with them in the packs.

Occasionally they met little bands of native hunters, and, though
usually these men fled at the sight of our friends, yet once they
managed to make signs to one, who, informed them as best he could,
that giant land was still far ahead of them.

Twice they heard distant sounds of native battles and the weird
noise of the wooden drums and the tom-toms. Once, as they climbed up
a big hill, they looked down into a valley and saw a great conflict
in which there must have been several thousand natives on either
side. It was a fierce battle, seen even from afar, and Tom and the
others shuddered as they slipped down over the other side of the
rise, and out of sight.

"We'd better steer clear of them," was Tom's opinion; and the others
agreed with him.

For another week they kept on, the way becoming more and more
difficult, and the country more and more wild. They had fairly to
cut their way through the jungle at times, and the only paths were
animal trails, but they were better than nothing. For the last five
days they had not seen a human being, and the loneliness was telling
on them.

"I'd be glad to see even a two-headed giant," remarked Tom
whimsically one night as they made their camp.

"Yes, and I'd be glad to hear someone talk, even in the sign
language," added Ned, with a grin.

They slept well, for they were very tired, and Tom, who shared his
tent with Ned, was awakened rather early the next morning by hearing
someone moving outside the canvas shelter.

"Is that you, Mr. Damon?" he asked, the odd gentleman having a tent
adjoining that of the boys.

There was no answer.

"Rad, are you getting breakfast?" asked the young inventor. "What
time is it?"

Still no answer.

"What's the matter?" asked Ned, who had been awakened by Tom's

Before our hero had a chance to reply the flap of his tent was
pulled back, and a head was thrust in. But such a head! It was
enormous! A head covered with a thick growth of tawny hair, and a
face almost hidden in a big tawny, bushy beard. Then an arm was
thrust in--an arm that terminated in a brawny fist that clasped a
great club. There was no mistaking the, object that gazed in on the
two youths. It was a gigantic man--a man almost twice the size of
any Tom had ever seen. And then our hero knew that he had reached
the end of his quest.

"A giant!" gasped Tom. "Ned! Ned, we're in the big men's country,
and we didn't know it!"

"I--I guess you're right, Tom!"

The giant started at the sounds of their voices, and then his face
breaking into a broad grin, that showed a great mouth filled with
white teeth, he called to them in an unknown tongue and in a voice
that seemed to fairly shake the frail tent.



For a few moments after their first ejaculations neither Tom nor Ned
knew what to do. The giant continued to gaze at them, with the same
good-natured grin on his face. Possibly he was amused at the small
size of the persons in the tent. Then Tom spoke.

"He doesn't look as if he would bite, Ned."

"No, he seems harmless enough. Let's get up, and see what happens. I
wonder if there are any more of them? They must have come out on an
early hunt, and stumbled upon our camp."

At this moment there arose a cry from Mr. Damon's tent.

"Bless my burglar alarm!" shouted the odd gentleman. "Tom--Ned--am I
dreaming? There's a man here as big as a mountain. Tom! Ned!"

"It's all right, Mr. Damon!" called Tom. "We're among the giants all
right. They won't hurt you."

"Fo' de good land ob massy!" screamed Eradicate, a second later, and
then they knew that he, too, had seen one of the big men. "Fo' de
lub ob pork chops! Am dis de Angel Gabriel? Listen to de blowin' ob
de trump! Oh, please good Massa Angel Gabriel, I ain't nebber done
nuffin! I's jest po' ol' Eradicate Sampson, an' I got a mule
Boomerang, and' dat's all I got. Please good Mr. Angel--"

"Dry up, Rad!" yelled Tom. "It's only one of the giants. Come on out
of your tent and get breakfast. We're on the borders of giant land,
evidently, and they seem as harmless as ordinary men. Get up,

As Tom spoke he rose from the rubber blanket on which he slept. Ned
did the same, and the giant slowly pulled his head out from the
tent. Then the two youths went outside. A strange sight met their

There were about ten natives standing in the camp--veritable giants,
big men in every way. The young inventor had once seen a giant in a
circus, and, allowing for shoes with very thick soles which the big
man wore, his height was a little over seven feet. But these South
American giants seemed more than a foot higher than that, none of
those who had stumbled upon the camp being less than eight feet.

"And I believe there must be bigger ones in their land, wherever
that is," said Tom. Nor were these giants tall and thin, as was the
one Tom had seen, but stout, and well proportioned. They were
savages, that was evident, but the curious part of it was that they
were almost white, and looked much like the pictures of the old

But, best of all, they seemed good-natured, for they were
continually laughing or smiling, and though they looked with wonder
on the pile of boxes and bales, and on the four travelers, they
seemed more bewildered and amused, than vindictive that their
country should have been invaded. Evidently the fears of the natives
who had told Tom about the giants had been unfounded.

By this time Mr. Damon and Eradicate had come from their tents, and
were gazing with startled eyes at the giants who surrounded them.

"Bless my walking stick!" exclaimed Mr. Damon. "Is it possible?"

"Yes, we've arrived!" cried Tom. "Now to see what happens. I wonder
if they'll take us to their village, and I wonder if I can get one
of these giants for Mr. Preston's circus?"

"You certainly can't unless he wants to come," declared Ned. "You'd
have a hard tussle trying to carry one of these fellows away against
his will, Tom."

"I sure would. I'll have to make inducements. Well, I wonder what is
best to do?"

The giant who had looked in the tent of Ned and Tom, and who
appeared to be the leader of the party, now spoke in his big,
booming voice. He seemed to be asking Tom a question, but the young
inventor could not understand the language. Tom replied in Spanish,
giving a short account of why he and his companions had come to the
country, but the giant shook his head. Then Mr. Damon, who knew
several languages, tried all of them--but it was of no use.

"We've got to go back to signs," declared Tom, and then, as best he
could, he indicated that he and the others had come from afar to
seek the giants. He doubted whether he was understood, and he
decided to wait until later to try and make them acquainted with the
fact that he wanted one of them to come back with him.

The head giant nodded, showing that at least he understood
something, and then spoke to his companions. They conversed in their
loud voices for some time, and then motioned to the pack animals.

"I guess they want us to come along," said Torn, "but let's have
breakfast first. Rad, get things going. Maybe the giants will have
some coffee and condensed milk, though they'll have to take about
ten cupsful to make them think they've had anything. Make a lot of
coffee, Rad."

"But good land a massy, dey'll eat up eberyt'ing we got, Massa Tom,"
objected the colored man.

"Can't help it, Rad. They're our guests and we've got to be polite,"
replied the youth. "It isn't every day that we have giants to

The big men watched curiously while Rad built a fire, and when the
colored man was trying to break a tough stick of wood with the axe,
one of the giants picked up the fagot and snapped it in his fingers
as easily as though it were a twig, though the stick was as thick as
Tom's arm.

"Some strength there," murmured Ned to his chum admiringly.

"Yes, if they took a notion to go on a rampage we'd have trouble.
But they seem kind and gentle."

Indeed the giants did, and they liked the coffee which they tasted
rather gingerly at first. After their first sip they wanted more,
made as sweet as possible, and they laughed and talked among
themselves while Eradicate boiled pot after pot.

"Dey suah will eat us out of house an' home, Massa Tom," he wailed.

"Never mind, Rad. They will feed us well when we get to their town."

Then the pack animals were laden with their burdens. This was always
a task, but for the giants it was child's play. With one hand they
would lift a box or bale that used to tax the combined strength of
the four travelers, and soon the steers, horses and mules were ready
to proceed. The giants went on ahead, to show the way, the first
one, who seemed to be called "Oom," for that was the way his
companions addressed him, walked beside Tom, who rode on a mule. In
fact the giant had to walk slowly, so as not to get ahead of the
animal. Oom tried to talk to Tom, but it was hard work to pick out
the signs that meant something, and so neither gained much

Tom did gather, however, that the giants were out on an early hunt
when they had discovered our friends, and their chief town lay about
half a day's journey off in the jungle. The path along which they
proceeded, was better than the forest trails, and showed signs of
being frequently used.

"It doesn't seem possible that we are really among giants, Tom,"
spoke Ned, as they rode along. "I hardly believed there were

"There always have been giants," declared the young inventor. "I
read about them in an encyclopedia before I started on this trip. Of
course there's lots of wild stories about giants, but there have
really been some very big men. Take the skeleton in the museum of
Trinity College, Dublin. It is eight feet and a half in height, and
the living man must have even taller. There was a giant named
O'Brien, and his skeleton is in the College of Physicians and
Surgeons of England--that one is eight feet two inches high, while
there are reliable records to show that, when living, O'Brien was
two inches taller than that. In fact, according to the books, there
have been a number of giants nine feet high."

"Then these chaps aren't so wonderful," replied Ned.

"Oh, we haven't seen them all yet. We may find some bigger than
these fellows, though any one of these would be a prize for a
museum. Not a one is less than eight feet, and if we could get one
say ten feet--that WOULD be a find."

"Rather an awkward one," commented Ned.

It did not seem possible that they were really in giant land, yet
such was the fact. Of course the country itself was no different
from any other part of the jungle, for merely because big men lived
in it did not make the trees or plants any larger.

"I tell you how I account for it," said Tom, as they traveled on.
"These men originally belonged to a race of people noted for their
great size. Then they must have lived under favorable conditions,
had plenty of flesh and bone-forming food, and after several
generations they gradually grew larger. You know that by feeding the
right kind of food to animals you can make them bigger, while if
they get the wrong kind they are runts, or dwarfs."

"Oh, yes; that's a well-known fact," chimed in Mr. Damon.

"Then why not with human beings?" went on Tom. "There's nothing
wonderful in this."

"No, but it will be wonderful if we get away with one of these
giants," spoke Ned grimly.

Further talk was interrupted by a sudden shouting on the part of the
big men. Oom made some rapid motions to Tom, and a little later they
emerged from the woods upon a large, grassy plain, on the other side
of which could be seen a cluster of big grass and mud huts.

"There is the city of the giants!" cried Tom, and so it proved, a
little later, when they got to it.

Now there was nothing remarkable about this city or native town. It
was just like any other in the wilder parts of South America or
Africa. There was a central place, where, doubtless, the natives
gathered on market days, and from this the huts of the inhabitants
stretched out in irregular lines, like streets. Off to one side of
the "market square," as Tom called it, was a large hut, surrounded
by several smaller ones, and from the manner in which it was laid
out, and decorated, it was evident that this was the "palace" of the
king, or chief ruler.

"Say, look at that fellow!" cried Ned, pointing to a giant who was
just entering the "palace" as Tom dubbed the big hut. "He LOOKS
eleven feet if he's an inch."

"I believe you!" cried Tom. "Say, I wonder how big the king is?"

"I don't know, but he must be a top-notcher. I wonder what will
happen to us?"

Oom, who had Tom and his party in charge, led them to the "palace"
and it was evident that they were going to be presented to the chief
or native king. Back of our friends stretched out their pack train,
the beasts carrying the boxes and bales. Surrounding them were
nearly all the inhabitants of the giants' town, and when the
cavalcade had come to a halt in front of the "palace," Oom raised
his voice in a mighty shout. It was taken up by the populace, and
then every one of them knelt down.

"I guess His Royal Highness is about to appear," said Tom grimly.

"Yes, maybe we'd better kneel, too," spoke Ned.

"Not much! We're citizens of the United States, and we don't kneel
to anybody. I'm going to stand up."

"So am I!" said Mr. Damon.

An instant later the grass mat that formed the front door of the
"palace" was drawn aside, and there stood confronting our hero and
his friends, the King of Giant Land. And a mighty king was he in
size, for he must have been a shade over ten feet tall, while on
either side of him was a man nearly as big as himself.

Once more Oom boomed out a mighty shout and, kneeling as the giants
were, they took it up, repeating it three times. The king raised his
hand as though in blessing upon his people, and then, eyeing Tom and
his three friends he beckoned them to approach.

"He wants to see us at close range," whispered the young inventor.
"Come on, Ned and Mr. Damon. Trail along, Eradicate."

"Good--good land ob massy!" stammered the colored man. And then the
little party advanced into the "palace" of the giant king.



Tom Swift gazed fearlessly into the face of the giant ruler who
confronted him. The young inventor said later that he had made up
his mind that to show no fear was the only way of impressing the big
king, for surely no show of strength could have done it. With one
hand the giant could have crushed the life from our hero. But
evidently he had no such intentions, for after gazing curiously at
the four travelers who stood before him, and looking for some time
at the honest, black face of Eradicate, the king made a motion for
them to sit down. They did, upon grass mats in the big hut that
formed the palace of the ruler.

It was not a very elaborate place, but then the king's wants were
few and easily satisfied. The place was clean, Tom was glad to note.

The king, who was addressed by his subjects as Kosk, as nearly as
Tom could get it, asked some questions of Oom, who seemed to be the
chief of the hunters. Thereupon the man who had looked into Tom's
and Ned's tent that morning, and who had followed them into the
palace, began a recital of how he had found the little travelers.
Though Tom and his friends could not understand a word of the
language, it was comparatively easy to follow the narrative by the
gestures used.

Then the king asked several questions, others of the hunting party
were sent for and quizzed, and finally the ruler seemed satisfied,
for he rattled off a string of talk in his deep, booming voice.

Truly he was a magnificent specimen of manhood, being as I have
said, about ten feet tall, and built in proportion. On either side
of him, upon rude benches covered with soft jaguar skins, sat two
men, evidently his brothers, for they looked much like the king. One
was called Tola and the other Koku, for the ruler addressed them
from time to time, and seemed to be asking their advice.

"They're making up their minds what to do with us," murmured Tom. "I
only hope they let us stay long enough to learn the language, and
then I can make an offer to take one back to the United States with

"Jove! Wouldn't it be great if you could get the king!" exclaimed

"Oh, that's too much, but I'd like one of his brothers. They're each
a good nine feet tall, and they must be as strong as horses."

In contrast to some giants of history, whose only claim to notoriety
lay in their height, these giants were very powerful. Many giants
have flabby muscles, but these of South America were like athletes.
Tom realized this when there suddenly entered the audience chamber a
youth of about our hero's age, but fully seven feet tall, and very
big. He was evidently the king's son, for he wore a jaguar skin,
which seemed to be a badge of royalty. He had seemingly entered
without permission, to see the curious strangers, for the king spoke
quickly to him, and then to Tola, who with a friendly grin on his
big face lifted the lad with one hand and deposited him in a room
that opened out of the big chamber.

"Did you see that!" cried Ned. "He lifted him as easily as you or I
would a cat, and I'll bet that fellow weighed close to four hundred
pounds, Tom."

"I should say so! It's great!"

The audience was now at an end, and Tom thought it was about time to
make some sort of a present to the king to get on good terms with
him. He looked out of the palace hut and saw that their pack animals
were close at hand. Nearby was one that had on its back a box
containing a phonograph and some records.

Making signs that he wanted to bring in some of his baggage, Tom
stepped out of the hut, telling his friends to wait for him. The
king and the other giants watched the lad curiously, but did not
endeavor to stop him.

"I'm going to give him a little music," went on the young inventor
as he adjusted the phonograph, and slipped in a record of a lively
dance air. His motions were curiously watched, and when the
phonograph started and there was a whirr of the mechanism, some of
the giants who had crowded into the king's audience chamber, showed
a disposition to run. But a word of command from their ruler stopped

Suddenly the music started and, coming forth as it did from the
phonograph horn, in the midst of that hut, in which stood the
silence-awed giants, it was like a bolt of lightning from the clear

At first the king and all the others seemed struck dumb, and then
there arose a mighty shout, and one word was repeated over and over
again. It sounded like "Chackalok! Chackalok!" and later Tom learned
that it meant wizard, magician or something like that.

Shout after shout rent the air, and was taken up by those outside,
for through the open door the strains of music floated. The giants
seemed immensely pleased, after their first fright, and suddenly the
king, coming down from his throne, stood with his big ear as nearly
inside the horn as he could get it.

A great grin spread over his face and then, approaching Tom, he
leaned over, touched him once on the forehead, and uttered a word.
At this sign of royal favor the other giants at once bowed to Tom.

"Say," cried Ned, "you've got his number all right! You're one of
the royal family now, Tom."

"It looks like it. Well, I'm glad of it, for I want to be on
friendly terms with His Royal Highness."

Once more the king addressed Tom, and the head hunter, motioning to
Tom and his friends, led them out of the palace, and to a large hut
not far off. This, he made himself understood by signs, was to be
their resting place, and truly it was not a bad home, for it was
well made. It had simple furniture in it, low couches covered with
skins, stools, and there were several rooms to it.

Calling in authorative tones to his fellow hunters, Tom had them
take the packs off the beasts of burdens and soon the boxes, bales
and packages were carried into the big hut, which was destined to be
the abiding place of our friends for some time. The animals were
then led away.

"Well, here we are, safe and sound, with all our possessions about
us," commented Tom, when all but Oom had withdrawn. "I guess we'll
make out all right in giant land. I wonder what they have to eat? Or
perhaps we'd better tackle some of our own grub."

He looked at Oom, who laughed gleefully. Then Tom rubbed his
stomach, opened his mouth and pointed to it and said: "We'd like to
eat--we're hungry!"

Oom boomed out something in his bass voice, grinned cheerfully, and
hurried out. A little later he came back, and following him, a
number of giant women. Each one bore a wooden platter or slab of
bark which answered for a plate. The plates were covered with broad
palm leaves, and when they had been set down on low benches, and the
coverings removed, our friends saw they had food in abundance.

There was some boiled lamb, some roasted fowls, some cereal that
looked like boiled rice, some sweet potatoes, a number of other
things which could only be guessed at, and a big gourd filled with
something that smelled like sweet cider.

"Say, this is a feast all right, after what we've been living on!"
cried Tom.

Once more Oom laughed joyfully, pointing to the food and to our
friends in turn.

"Oh, we'll eat all right!" exclaimed Tom. "Don't worry about that!"

The good-natured giant showed them where they could find rude wooden
dishes and table implements, and then he left them alone. It was
rather awkward at first, for though the bench or table looked low in
comparison to the size of the room, yet it was very high, to allow
for the long legs of the giants getting under it.

"If we stay here long enough we can saw off the table legs," said
the young inventor. "Now for our first meal in giant land."

They were just helping themselves when there arose a great shouting

"I wonder what's up now?" asked Tom, pausing with upraised fork.

"Maybe the king is coming to see us," suggested Ned.

"I'll look," volunteered Mr. Damon, as he went to the door. Then he
called quickly:

"Tom! Ned! Look! It's that minister we met on the ship--Reverend
Josiah Blinderpool! How in the world did he ever get here? And how
strangely he's dressed!"

Well might Mr. Damon say this, for the supposed clergyman was
attired in a big checked suit, a red vest, a tall hat and white
canvas shoes. In fact he was almost like some theatrical performer.

The gaudily-dressed man was accompanied by two natives, and all rode
mules, and there were three other animals, laden with packs on
either side.

"What's his game?" mused Ned.

The answer came quickly and from the man himself. Riding forward
toward the king's hut or palace, while the populace of wondering
giants followed behind, the man raised his voice in a triumphant

"Here at last!" he cried. "In giant land! And I'm ahead of Tom Swift
for all his tricks. I've got Tom Swift beat a mile."

"Oh, you have!" shouted our hero with a sudden resolve, as he
stepped into view. "Well, you've got another guess coming. I'm here
ahead of you, and there's standing room only."

"Tom Swift!" gasped the rival circus man. "Tom Swift here in ahead
of me!"



There was a great commotion among the giants. Men, women and
children ran to and fro, and a number of the largest of the big men
could be seen hurrying into the palace hut of King Kosk. If the
arrival of Tom and his friends had created a surprise it was more
than doubled when the circus man, and his small caravan, advanced
into the giants' city. His approach had been unheralded because the
giants were so taken up with Tom and his party that no one thought
to guard the paths leading into the village. And, as a matter of
fact, the giants were so isolated, they were so certain of their own
strength, and they had been unmolested so many years, that they did
not dream of danger.

As for our hero, he stood in the hut gazing at his rival, while Hank
Delby, in turn, stared at the young inventor. Then Hank dismounted
from his mule and approached Tom's hut.

"Bless my railroad ticket!" exclaimed Mr. Damon. "This is a curious
state of affairs! What in the world are we to do, Tom?"

"I don't know, I'm sure. We'll have to wait until we see what HE
does. He's been following us all along. He was that fake minister on
the boat. It's a wonder we didn't get on to him. I believe he's been
trying to learn our secret ever since Mr. Preston warned us about
him. Now he's here and he'll probably try to spoil our chances for
getting a giant so that he may get one for himself. Perhaps Andy
Foger gave him a tip about our plans."

"But can't we stop him?" asked Ned.

"I'm going to try!" exclaimed Tom grimly.

"Here he comes," spoke Mr. Damon quickly. "I wonder what he wants?"

Hank Delby had started toward the big hut that sheltered our
friends, while the gathered crowd of curious giants looked on and
wondered what the arrival of two white parties so close together
could mean.

"Well, what do you want?" asked Tom, when, his rival had come within
speaking distance.

"There's no use beating about the bush with you, Tom Swift," was the
frank answer. "I may as well out with it. I came after a giant, and
I'm going to get one for Mr. Waydell."

"Then you took advantage of our trail, and followed us?" asked the
young inventor.

"Oh, you can put it that way if you like," replied Delby calmly. "I
HAVE followed you, and a hard time I've had of it. I tried to do it
quietly, but you got on to my tricks. However it doesn't matter. I'm
here now, and I'm going to beat you out if I can."

"I remember now!" exclaimed Ned whispering in Tom's ear, "he was
disguised as one of the mule drivers and you fired him because he
had a revolver. Don't you remember, Tom?"

"That's right!" exclaimed the young inventor as he noted the face
and form of Delby more closely. Then our hero added: "You played a
low-down trick, Mr. Delby, and it won't do you any good. I caught
you trying to sneak along in my company and I'll catch you again.
I'm here first, and I've got the best right to try and get a giant
for Mr. Preston, and if you had any idea of fair play--"

"All's fair in this business, Tom Swift," was the quick answer. "I'm
going to do my best to beat you, and I expect you to do your best to
beat me. I can't speak any fairer than that. It's war between us,
from now on, and you might as well know it. One thing I will promise
you, though, if there's any danger of you or your party getting hurt
by these big men I'll fight on your side. But I guess they are too
gentle to fight."

"We can look after ourselves," declared Tom. "And since it's to be
war between us look out for yourself."

"Don't worry!" exclaimed Tom's rival with a laugh. "I've gone
through a lot to get here, and I'm not going to give up without a
struggle. I guess--"

But he did not finish his sentence for at that moment Oom, the big
hunting giant, came up behind him, tapped him on the shoulder, and
pointed to the king's hut, motioning to indicate that Mr. Delby was
wanted there.

"Very good," said the circus agent in what he tried to make sound
like a jolly voice, "I'm to call on his majesty; am I? Here's where
I beat you to it, Tom Swift."

Tom did not answer, but there was a worried look on his face, as he
turned to join his friends in the big hut. And, as he looked from a
window, and saw Delby being led into the presence of Kosk, Tom could
hear the strains of the big phonograph he had presented to the king.

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