Part 2 out of 3
Preparations were now practically completed for their trip to
Seattle by rail. Tom made some inquiries in the next few days
regarding the Fogers, but only learned that the father and son had
left town, after superintending the shipment of their airship.
"Well, we start to-day," remarked Tom, as he arose one morning. "In
two weeks, at most, we ought to be hovering over the valley, Abe."
"I hope so? Tom. You've got the map put away safely, have you?"
"Sure thing. Are you all ready?"
"Then we'll start for the depot right after breakfast." The
adventurers had arranged to take a local train from Shopton, and get
on a fast express at one of the more important! stations.
Good-byes were said, Mr. Swift, Mr. Jackson, Mrs. Baggert and
Eradicate waving their adieus from the porch as Tom and the others
started for the depot. Miss Mary Nestor had bidden our hero farewell
the previous night--it being a sort of second good-bye, for Tom was
a frequent caller at her house, and, if the truth must be told he
rather disliked to leave the young lady.
Tom found a few of his friends at the station, who had gathered
there to give him and Ned BON-VOYAGE.
"Bring us back some nuggets, Tom," pleaded Arthur Norton.
"Bring me a musk-ox if you can shoot one," suggested one.
"A live bear or a trained Eskimo for mine," exclaimed another.
Tom laughingly promised to do the best he could.
"I'll send you some gold nuggets by wireless," said Ned Newton.
It was almost time for the train to arrive. In the crowd on the
platform Tom noticed Pete Bailey.
"He must feel lost without Andy," observed the young inventor to
"Yes, I wonder what he's hanging around here for?"
They learned a moment later, for they saw Pete going into the
"Must be something important for him to wire about," observed Ned.
Tom did not answer. The window of the office was slightly open,
though the day was cool, and he was listening to the clicks of the
telegraph instrument, as the operator sent Pete's message. Tom was
familiar with the Morse code. What was his surprise to hear the
message being sent to Andy Foger at a certain hotel in Chicago. And
the message read:
"Tom Swift's party leaving to-day."
"What in the world does that mean?" thought Tom, but he did not tell
Ned what he had picked up as it went over the wire. "Why should Andy
want to be informed when we leave? That's why Pete was hanging
around here! He had been instructed to let Andy know when we left
for Seattle. There's something queer back of all this."
Tom was still puzzling over the matter when their train roiled in
and he and the others got aboard.
"Well, we're off!" cried Ned.
"Yes; we're off," admitted Tom, and, to himself he added: "No
telling what will happen before we get there, though."
The trip to Chicago was without incident, and, on arrival in the
Windy City, Tom was on the lookout for Andy or his father, but he
did not see them. He made private inquiries at the hotel mentioned
in Pete's telegram, but learned that the Fogers had gone on.
"Perhaps I'm worrying too much," thought Tom. But an event that
occurred a few nights later, when they were speeding across the
continent showed him that there was need of great precaution.
On leaving Chicago, Tom had noticed, among the other passengers
traveling in the same coach as themselves, a man who seemed to be
closely observing each member of the party of gold-hunters. He was a
man with a black mustache, a mustache so black, in fact, that Tom at
once concluded that it had been dyed. This, in itself, was not much,
but there was a certain air about the man--a "sporty" air--which
made Tom suspicious.
"I wouldn't be surprised if that man was a gambler, Ned," he said to
his chum, one afternoon, as they were speeding along. The man in
question was several seats away from Tom.
"He does look like one," agreed Ned.
"I needn't advise you not to fall in with any of his invitations to
play cards, I suppose," went on Tom, after a pause.
"No, indeed, it's something I don't do," answered Ned, with a laugh.
"But it might be a good thing to speak to Abe Abercrombie about him.
If that man's a sharper perhaps Abe knows him, or has seen him, for
Abe has traveled around in the West considerable."
"We'll ask him," agreed Tom, but the miner, when his attention was
called to the man, said he had never seen him before.
"He does look like a confidence man," agreed Abe, "but as long as he
doesn't approach us we can't do anything, and don't need to worry."
There was little need to call the attention of either Mr. Damon or
Mr. Parker to the man, for Mr. Damon was busy watching the scenery,
as this trip was a new one to him, and he was continually blessing
something he saw or thought of. As for Mr. Parker, he was puzzling
over some new theories he had in mind, and he said little to the
On the night of the same day on which Tom had called special
attention to the man with the black mustache, our hero went to his
berth rather late. He had sent some telegrams to his father and one
to Miss Nestor, and, when he turned in he saw the "gambler," as he
had come to call him, going into the smoking compartment of the
coach. Though Tom thought of the man as a gambler, there was no
evidence, as yet, that he was one, and he had made no effort to
approach any of our friends, though he had observed them closely.
How long Tom had been asleep he did not know, but he was suddenly
awakened by feeling his pillow move. At first he thought it was
caused by the swaying of the train, and he was about to go to sleep
again, when there came a movement that he knew could not have been
caused by any unevenness of the roadbed.
Then, like a flash there came to Tom's mind the thought that under
his pillow, in a little leather case he had made for it, was the
map, showing the location of the valley of gold.
He sat up suddenly, and made a lunge for the pillow. He felt a hand
being hurriedly withdrawn. Tom made a grab for it, but the fingers
slipped from his grasp.
"Here! Who are you!" cried Tom, endeavoring to peer through the
"It's all right--mistake," murmured a voice.
Tom leaned suddenly forward and parted the curtains of his berth.
There was a dim light burning in the aisle of the car. By the gleam
of it the young inventor caught sight of a man hurrying away, and he
felt sure the fellow who had put his hand under his pillow was the
man with the black mustache. He confirmed this suspicion a moment
later, for the man half turned, as if to look back, and the youth
saw the mustache.
"He--he was after my map!" thought Tom, with a gasp.
He sat bolt upright. What should he do? To raise an alarm now, he
felt, would only bring a denial from the man if he accused him.
There might also be a scene, and the man might get very indignant.
Then, too, Tom and his friends did not want their object made known,
as it would be in the event of Tom raising an outcry and stating
what was under his pillow.
He felt for the map case, opened it and saw, in the gleam of the
light, that it was safe.
"He didn't get it anyhow," murmured our hero. "I guess I won't say
anything until morning, though he did come like a thief in the night
to see if he could steal it."
Tom glanced to where his coat and other clothing hung in the little
berth-hammock, and a hasty search showed that his money and ticket
"It was the map he was after all right," mused Tom. "I'll have a
talk with Mr. Damon in the morning about what's best to do. That's
why the fellow has been keeping such a close watch on us. He wanted
to see who had the map."
Then another thought came to Tom.
"If it was the map he was after," he whispered to himself, "he must
know what it's about Therefore the Fogers must have told him. I'll
wager Andy or his father put this man up to steal the map. Andy's
afraid he hasn't got a copy of the right one. This is getting more
and more mysterious! We must be on our guard all the while. Well,
I'll see what I'll do in the morning."
But in the morning the man with the black mustache was not aboard
the train, and on inquiring of the conductor, Tom learned that the
mysterious stranger had gotten off at a way station shortly after
A VANDAL'S ACT
"Bless my penknife!" exclaimed Mr. Daman, the next morning, when he
had been told of Tom's experience in the night, "things are coming
to a pretty pass when our enemies adopt such tactics as this! What
can we do, Tom? Hadn't you better let one of us carry the map?"
"Oh, I guess not," answered the young inventor. "They have had one
try at me, and found that I wasn't napping. I don't believe they'll
try again. No, I'll carry the map."
Tom concealed it in an old wallet, as he thought it was less likely
to attract attention there than in the new case he formerly used.
Still he did not relax his vigilance, and his sleep for the next few
nights was uneasy, as he awakened several times, thinking he felt a
hand under his pillow.
At length Ned suggested that one of them sit up part of the night,
and keep an eye on Tom's berth. This was agreed to, and they divided
the hours of darkness into watches, each one taking a turn at
guarding the precious map. But they might have spared themselves the
trouble, for no further attempt was made to get it.
"I'd just like to know what Andy Foger's plans are?" said Tom one
afternoon, as they were within a few miles of Seattle. "He certainly
must have made up his mind quickly, after he saw the map, about
going in search of the gold."
"Maybe his father proposed it," suggested Ned. "I heard, in our
bank, that Mr. Foger has lost considerable money lately, and he may
"I shouldn't wonder. Well, if they are going to Sitka, Alaska, to
assemble their ship, I think they'll have trouble, for supplies are
harder to get there than in Seattle. But we'll soon be on our way
ourselves, if nothing happens. I hope all the parts of the RED CLOUD
They did, as Tom learned a few hours later, when they had taken up
their quarters in a Seattle hotel, and he had made inquiries at the
railroad office. In the freight depot were all the boxes and crates
containing the parts of the big airship, and by comparison with a
list he had made, the young inventor found that not a single part
"We'll soon have her together again," he said to his friends, "and
then we'll start for Alaska."
"Where are you going to assemble the airship?" asked Mr. Damon.
"I've got to hire some sort of a big shed," explained Tom. "I heard
of one I think I can get. It's out at the fair grounds, and was used
some time ago when they had a balloon ascension here. It will be
just what I need."
"How long before we can start for the gold valley?" asked the old
"Oh, in about a week," answered the lad, "that is, if everything
Tom lost no time in getting to work. He had the different parts of
his airship carted to the big shed which he hired. This building was
on one edge of the fair grounds, and there was a large, level space
which was admirably adapted for trying the big craft, when once more
it was put together.
The gold-seekers worked hard, and to such good purpose that in three
days most of the ship was together once more, and the RED CLOUD
looked like herself again. Tom hired a couple of machinists to aid
him in assembling the motor, and some of the gas appliances and
"Ha! Bless my rubber shoes!" cried Mr. Damon in delight, as he
looked at the big craft "This is like old times, Tom!"
"Yes, indeed," agreed our hero.
"Are you going to give it a preliminary tryout?" asked Ned.
"Oh, yes, I think we can do that to-morrow," replied Tom. "I want to
know that everything is in good working shape before I trust the
ship on the trip to the frozen north. There are several problems I
want to work out, too, for I think I will need a different kind of
gas up where the temperature is so low."
"It certainly is cold up here," agreed Ned, for they were now much
farther north than when they were in Shopton, and, besides, winter
was coming on. It was not the best time of the year to journey into
Alaska, but they had no choice. To delay, especially now, might mean
that their enemies would get ahead of them.
"We'll be warm in the airship, though; won't we?" asked Abe.
"Oh, yes," answered Tom. "We'll be warm, and have plenty to eat.
Which reminds me that I must begin to see about our stock of
provisions and other supplies, for we'll soon be on our way."
Work on the airship was hastened to such good advantage the next two
days that it was in shape for a trial flight, and, one afternoon,
the RED CLOUD was wheeled from the shed out into big field, the gas
was generated, and the motor started.
There was a little hitch, due to the fact that some of the machine
adjustments were wrong, but Tom soon had that remedied and then,
with the big propellers whirling around, the airship was sent
scudding across the field.
Another moment and it rose like a great eagle, and sailed through
the air, while a small crowd that had daily gathered in the hope of
seeing a flight, sent up a cheer.
"Does it work all right?" asked Ned anxiously, as he stood in the
pilothouse beside his chum.
"As good as it did in Shopton," answered the young inventor,
"Bless my pocketbook! but that's lucky," exclaimed Mr. Damon. "Then
we can soon start, eh?"
"As soon as we are stocked up," replied the lad.
Tom put the airship through a number of "stunts" to test her
stability and the rudder control, much to the delight of the
gathering throng. Everything was found to work well, and after
ascending to a considerable height, to the no small alarm of the old
miner, Tom made a quick descent, with the motor shut off. The RED
CLOUD conducted herself perfectly, and there was nothing else to be
She was sent down to earth and wheeled back into the shed, and not
without some difficulty, for the crowd, which was now very large,
wanted to get near enough to touch the wonderful craft.
"To-morrow I'll arrange about the supplies and provisions, and we'll
stock her up," said Tom to his companions. "Now you folks had better
go back to the hotel."
"Aren't you coming?" asked Ned.
I'm going to bunk here in the shed to-night, said the young
"I can't take any chances now that the RED CLOUD is in shape for
flying. Some of the Foger crowd might be hanging around, and break
in here to damage her."
"But the watchman will be on guard," suggested Ned, for since the
hiring of the shed, the young inventor had engaged a man to remain
on duty all night.
"I know," answered Tom Swift, "but I'm not going to take any
chances. I'll stay here with the watchman."
Ned offered to share the vigil with his chum, and, after some
objection Tom consented. The others went back to the hotel,
promising to return early in the morning.
Tom slept heavily that night, much heavier than he was in the habit
of doing. So did Ned, and their deep breathing as they lay in their
staterooms, in the cabin of the airship, told of physical weariness,
for they had worked hard to re-assemble the RED CLOUD.
The watchman was seated in a chair just inside the big door of the
shed, near a small stove in which was a fire to take off the chill
of the big place. The guard had slept all day, and there was no
excuse for him nodding in the way that he did.
"Queer, how drowsy I feel," he murmured several times. "It's only a
little after midnight, too," he added, looking at his watch, "Guess
I'll walk around a bit to rouse myself."
He firmly intended to do this, but he thought he would wait just a
few minutes more, and he stretched out his legs and got comfortable
in the chair.
Three minutes more and the watchman was asleep--sound asleep, while
a strange, sweet, sickish odor seemed to fill the atmosphere about
There was a noise at the door of the shed, a door in which there
were several cracks. A man outside laid aside something that looked
like an air pump. He applied one eye to a crack, and looked in on
the sleeping watchman.
"He's off," the man murmured. "I thought he'd never get to sleep!
Now to get in and dose those two lads! Then I'll have the place to
There was a clicking noise about the lock on the shed door. It was
not a very secure lock at best, and, under the skilful fingers of
the midnight visitor, it quickly gave way. The man entered. He gave
one look at the slumbering watchman, listened to his heavy
breathing, and then went softly toward the airship, which looked to
be immense in the comparatively small shed--taking up nearly all the
The intruder peered in through the cabin windows where Ned and Tom
were asleep. Once more there was in the atmosphere a sickish odor.
The man again worked the instrument which was like a small air pump,
taking care not to get his own face too near it. Presently he
stopped and listened.
"They're doped," he murmured. He arose, and took from his mouth and
nose a handkerchief saturated with some chemical that had rendered
him immune to the effects of the sleep-producing that he had
generated. "Sound asleep," he added. Then, taking out a long, keen
knife, the vandal stole toward where the great wings of the RED
CLOUD stretched out in the dim light like the pinions of a bird.
There was a ripping, tearing, rending sound, as the vandal cut and
slashed, but Tom, Ned and the watchman slumbered on.
TOM IS HELD UP
Tom Swift stirred uneasily in his heavy sleep. He dreamed that he
was again in his berth in the railroad car, and that the thief was
feeling under his pillow for the map. Only, this time, there seemed
to be hands feeling about his clothing, trying to locate his inner
The lad murmured something unintelligible, but he did not awaken.
The fumes prevented that. However, his movements showed that the
effect of the drug was wearing off. It was intended only for
temporary use, and it lasted less time than it would otherwise have
done in a warmer, moister climate, for the cold, crisp air that
penetrated the shed from outside dispelled the fumes.
"Guess I'd better not chance it," murmured the intruder. "He may not
have it on him. and if I go through all his pockets I'll wake him
up. Anyhow, I've done what they paid me for. I don't believe they'll
sail in this airship."
The vandal gave one glance at the sleeping lads, and stole from the
cabin of the craft. He looked at his work of ruin, and then tiptoed
past the slumbering watchman. A moment later and he was outside the
shed, hurrying away through the night.
Several hours after this Mr. Damon and the old miner were pounding
on the door of the shed. Mr. Parker, the scientist, had remained at
the hotel, for he said he wanted to work out a few calculations
regarding some of his theories.
"I thought we'd find them up by this time," spoke the eccentric man,
as he again knocked on the door. "Tom said he had lots to do to-
"Maybe they are working inside, and can't hear our knocks,"
suggested Abe. "Try th' door."
"Bless my heart! I never thought of that," exclaimed Mr. Damon. "I
believe I will."
The door swung open as he pushed it, for it had not been locked when
the intruder left. The first thing Mr. Damon saw was the watchman,
still asleep in his chair.
"Bless my soul!" the old man shouted. "Look at this, Abe!"
"Something's wrong!" cried the miner, sniffing the air. "There's
been crooked work here! Where are the boys?"
Mr. Damon was close to the airship. He looked in the cabin window.
"Here they are, and they're both asleep, too!" he called. "And--
bless my eyeglasses! Look at the airship! The planes and wings are
all cut and slashed! Something has happened! The RED CLOUD is all
Abe hastened to his side. He looked at the damage done, and a fierce
look came over his face.
"The Fogers again!" he murmured. "We'll pay 'em back for this! But
first we must see to the boys!"
They needed small attention, however. The opening of the big door
had let in a flood of fresh air, and this dispelled the last of the
fumes. The watchman was the first to revive. The sleep caused by the
chemical, sprayed from the air-pump by the vandal, had been
succeeded by a natural slumber, and this was the case with Ned and
Tom. They were soon aroused, and looked with wonder, not unmixed
with rage, at the work done in the night.
Every one of the principal planes of the airship, each of the
rudders, and some of the auxiliary wings had been cut by a sharp
knife--some in several places. The canvas hung in shreds and
patches, and the trim RED CLOUD looked like some old tramp airship
now. Tom could scarcely repress a groan.
"Who did it?" he gasped.
"And with us here on guard!" added Ned.
"I--I must have fallen asleep," admitted the watchman in confusion.
"You were all asleep," said Mr. Damon. "I couldn't rouse you!"
"And there was th' smell of chloroform, or something like it in th'
shed," added the miner.
"But look at the airship!" groaned Tom.
"Is it ruined--can't we go to the valley of gold?" asked Ned.
Tom did not answer for a few minutes. He was walking around looking
at his damaged craft. The sleepy feeling was rapidly leaving him, as
well as Ned and the watchman.
"Bless my watch chain!" exclaimed Mr. Damon. "What an ugly, mean
piece of work. Can you repair it, Tom?"
"I think so," was the hesitating answer. "It is not as bad as I
feared at first. Luckily the gas-bag has not been touched, for, if
it had, we could hardly have repaired it. I can fix the wings and
the rudders. The propellers have not been damaged, nor has the motor
been touched. I think they must have made another attempt to take
the map off me," he went on, as he looked at several pockets that
had been turned inside out.
An examination of the door showed how the lock had been forced, and
the adventurers could easily guess the rest. But who the midnight
vandal was they could not tell, though Tom and the others were sure
it was some one hired by the Fogers.
"They wanted to delay us," said Tom. "They thought this would hold
us back, but it won't--for long. We'll get right to work, and make
new planes and rudders. Fortunately the framework isn't hurt any."
Once Tom got into action nothing held him back. He hardly wanted to
stop for meals. New canvas was ordered, and that very afternoon some
of the damaged wings had been repaired. In the meanwhile the stores
and provisions that had been ordered were arriving, and, under the
direction of the miner and Mr. Damon were put in the RED CLOUD. Tom
and Ned, with the help of a man they hired, worked diligently to
replace the damaged planes and rudders. Mr. Parker came out to the
airship shed, but he was of little use as a helper, for he was
continually stopping to jot down some memoranda about an observation
he thought of, or else he would lay aside his tools to go outside,
look at the weather, and make predictions.
But Tom and the others labored to such good advantage that in three
days they had repaired most of the damage done. Luckily the vandal
had cut and slashed in a hurry, and his malicious work was only half
accomplished. There was no clue to his identity.
No trace was seen of the Fogers, and Tom hardly expected it, for he
thought they were in Sitka by this time. Nor were any suspicious
persons seen hanging around the shed. The adventurers left their
rooms at the hotel, and took up their quarters in the airship that
would soon be their home for many days. They wanted to be where they
could watch the craft, and two guards were engaged.
"We'll start to-morrow," Tom announced gaily one evening when, after
a hard day's work the last of the damaged planes had been repaired.
"Start fer th' valley of gold?" asked the miner.
"Yes. Everything is in good shape now. I want to go into town, to
send some messages home, telling dad we'll soon be on our way, and I
also want to get a few things."
"Shall I come?" asked Ned.
"No, I'd rather you'd stay here," spoke Tom, in a low voice. "We
can't take any more chances of being delayed, and, as it's pretty
well known that we'll sail to-morrow, the Foger crowd may try some
more of their tricks. No, I'll go to town alone, Ned. I'll soon be
back, however. You stay here."
Both Tom came nearly never coming back. As he was returning from
sending the messages, and purchasing a few things he needed for the
trip, he passed through a dark street. He was walking along,
thinking of what the future might hold for him and his companions,
after they reached the caves of ice, when, just as he got to a high
board fence, surrounding some vacant lots, he heard some one whisper
"Here he comes!"
The young inventor was on his guard instantly. He jumped back to
avoid a moving shadow, but was too late. Something struck him on the
back of his head, and he felt his senses leaving him. He struggled
against the feeling, and he realized, even in that exciting moment,
that the thick collar of his heavy overcoat, which he had turned up
because of a cold wind, had, perhaps, saved him from a broken skull.
"Hold him!" commanded another voice. "I'll go through him!"
The packages dropped from Tom's nerveless fingers. He felt himself
sinking down, in spite of his fierce determination not to succumb.
He felt several hands moving rapidly about his body, and then he
struck blindly out at the footpads.
OFF FOR THE FROZEN NORTH
Tom Swift felt as if he was struggling in some dream or nightmare.
He felt strong hands holding him and saw evil faces leering at him.
Then gradually his brain cleared. His muscles, that had been
weakened by the cowardly blow, grew strong. He felt his fist land
heavily on some one's face. He heard a smothered gasp of pain.
Then came the sound of footsteps running--Tom heard the "ping" of a
policeman's night-stick on the sidewalk.
"Here come the cops!" he heard one voice exclaim.
"Did you get it?" asked another.
"No, I can't find it. Cut for it now!"
They released the young inventor so suddenly that he staggered about
and almost fell.
The next moment Tom was looking into the face of a big policeman,
who was half supporting him.
"What's the matter?" asked the officer.
"Hold-up, I guess," mumbled the lad. "There they go!" he pointed
toward two dark forms slipping along down the dimly-lighted street.
The officer drew his revolver, and fired two shots in the air, but
the fleeing figures did not stop.
"How did it happen?" asked the policeman. "Did they get anything
"No--I guess not," answered Tom. He saw the packages containing his
purchases lying where they had fallen. A touch told him his watch
and pocketbook were safe. The precious map was in a belt about his
waist, and that had not been removed. "No, they didn't get
anything," he assured the officer.
"I came along too quick for 'em, I guess," spoke the bluecoat. "This
is a bad neighborhood. There have been several hold-ups here of
late, but I was on the job too soon for these fellows. Hello, Mike,"
as another officer came running up in answer to the shots and the
raps of the night-stick. "Couple of strong-arm-men tackled this
young fellow just now. I saw something going on as I turned the
corner, and I rapped and ran up. They went down that way. I fired at
'em. You take after 'em, Mike, and I'll stay here. Don't believe you
can land 'em, but try! I came up too quick to allow 'em to get
Tom did not contradict this. He knew, however, that, had the men who
attacked him wished to take his watch or money, they could have done
it several times before the officer arrived.
"It was the map they were after," thought Tom, "not my watch or
money. This is more of the Foger's work. We must get away from
The policeman inquired for more particulars from Tom, who related
how the hold-up had taken place. The young inventor, however, said
nothing about the map he carried, letting the officer think it was
an ordinary attempt at robbery, for Tom did not want any reference
in the newspapers to his search for the valley of gold.
Presently the other policeman returned, having been unable to get
any trace of the daring men. The two bluecoats wanted to accompany
Tom back to the airship shed, for his own safety, but he declared
there was no more danger, and, after having given his name, so that
the affair might be reported at headquarters, he was allowed to go
on his way. His head ached from the blow, but otherwise he was
"Those fellows have been keeping watch for me," the lad reasoned, as
he walked quickly toward the airship shed. "They must have been
shadowing me, and they hid there until I came back. Andy Foger and
his father must be getting desperate. I think I know why, too. That
little dig I gave Andy about his map is bearing fruit. He begins to
think it's the wrong map, and he wants to get hold of the right one.
Well, they shan't if I can help it. We'll be away from here in the
There was indignation and some alarm among Tom's friends when he
told his story a little later that night.
"Bless my walking-stick!" cried Mr. Damon. "You'll need a bodyguard
"I'd just like t' git my hands on them fellers!" exclaimed the old
miner. "I'd show 'em!" and a look at his rugged frame and his
muscular arms and gnarled hands showed Tom and Ned that in the event
of a fight they could count much on Abe Abercrombie.
"I am glad there will be no more delays, and that we will soon be
moving northward," spoke Mr. Parker, a little later. "I am anxious
to confirm my theory about the advance of the ice crust, I met a man
to-day who had just returned from the north of Alaska. He said that
a severe winter had already set in up there. So I am anxious to get
to the ice caves."
"So am I," added Tom, but it was for a different reason.
They were all up early the next morning, for there were several
things to look after before they started on the trip that might
bring much of danger to the adventurers. Under Tom's direction, more
gas was generated, and forced into the big bag. A last adjustment
was made of the planes, wing tips and rudders, and the motor was
given a try-out.
"I guess everything is all right," announced the young inventor.
"We'll take her out."
The RED CLOUD was wheeled from the big shed, and placed on the open
lot, where she would have room to rush across the ground to acquire
momentum enough to rise in the air. Tom, whenever it was practical,
always mounted this way, rather than by means of the lifting gas,
as, in the event of a wind, he would have better control of the
ship, while it was ascending into the upper currents of air, than
when it was rising like a balloon.
"All aboard!" cried the lad, as he looked to see that the course was
clear. Early as it was, there was quite a crowd on hand to witness
the flight, as there had been every day of late, for the population
of Seattle was curious regarding the big craft of the air.
"Let her go!" cried Ned Newton, enthusiastically.
Tom took his place in the steering-tower, or pilothouse, which was
forward of the main cabin. Ned was in the engine-room, ready to give
any assistance if needed. Mr. Damon, Mr. Parker and Abe Abercrombie
were in the main cabin, looking out of the windows at the rapidly
"Here we go!" cried the young inventor, as he pulled the lever
starting the motor, There was a buzz and a hum. The powerful
propellers whirred around like blurs of light. Forward shot the
great airship over the ground, gathering speed at every revolution
of the blades.
Tom tilted the forward rudder to lift the ship. Suddenly it shot
over the heads of the crowd. There was a cheer and some applause.
"Off for the frozen north!" cried Ned, waving his cap.
Tom shifted the rudder, to change the course of the airship. Mr.
Damon was gazing on the crowd below.
"Tom! Tom!" he cried suddenly. "There's the man with the black
mustache--the man who tried to rob you in the sleeping-car!" He
pointed downward to some one in the throng.
"He can't get us now!" exclaimed Tom, as he increased the speed of
the RED CLOUD, and then, taking up a telescope, after setting the
automatic steering gear, Tom pointed the glass at the person whom
Mr. Damon had indicated.
PELTED BY HAILSTONES
"Yes, that's the man all right," observed the lad. "But if he came
here to have another try for the map, he's too late. I hope we don't
land now until we are in the valley of gold." Tom passed the
telescope to Ned, who confirmed the identification.
"Perhaps he came to see if we started, and then he'll report to Andy
Foger or his father by telegraph," suggested Mr. Damon.
"Perhaps," admitted Tom. "Anyhow, we're well rid of our enemies--at
least for a time. They can't follow us up in the air." He turned
another lever and the RED CLOUD shot forward at increased speed.
"Maybe Andy will race us," suggested Ned.
"I'm not afraid of anything his airship can do," declared Tom. "I
don't believe it will even get up off the ground, though he did make
a short flight before he packed up to follow us. It's a wonder he
wouldn't think of something himself, instead of trying to pattern
after some one else. He tried to beat me in building a speeding
automobile, and now he wants to get ahead of me in an airship. Well,
let him try. I'll beat him out, just as I've done before."
They were now over the outskirts of Seattle, flying along about a
thousand feet high, and they could dimly make out curious crowds
gazing up at them. The throng that had been around the airship shed
had disappeared from view behind a little hill, and, of course, the
man with the black mustache was no longer visible, but Tom felt as
if his sinister eyes were still gazing upward, seeking to discern
the occupants of the airship.
"We're well on our way now," observed Ned, after a while, during
which interval he and Tom had inspected the machinery, and found it
"Yes, and the RED CLOUD is doing better than she ever did before,"
said Tom. "I think it did her good to take her apart and put her
together again. It sort of freshened her up. This machine is my
special pride. I hope nothing happens to her on this journey to the
caves of ice."
"If my theory is borne out, we will have to be careful not to get
caught in the crush of ice, as it makes its way toward the south,"
spoke Mr. Parker with an air as if he almost wished such a thing to
happen, that he might be vindicated.
"Oh, we'll take good care that the RED CLOUD isn't nipped between
two bergs," Tom declared.
But he little knew of the dire fate that was to overtake the RED
CLOUD, and how close a call they were to have for their very lives.
"No matter what care you exercise, you cannot overcome the awful
power of the grinding ice," declared the gloomy scientist. "I
predict that we will see most wonderful and terrifying sights."
"Bless my hatband!" cried Mr. Damon, "don't say such dreadful
things, Parker my dear man! Be more cheerful; can't you?"
"Science cannot be cheerful when foretelling events of a dire
nature," was the response. "I would not do my duty if I did not hold
to my theories."
"Well, just hold to them a little more closely," suggested Mr.
Damon. "Don't tell them to us so often, and have them get on our
nerves, Parker, my dear man. Bless my nail-file! be more cheerful.
And that reminds me, when are we going to have dinner, Tom?"
"Whenever you want it, Mr. Damon. Are you going to act as cook
"I think I will, and I'll just go to the galley now, and see about
getting a meal. It will take my mind off the dreadful things Mr.
But if the gloomy scientific man heard this little "dig" he did not
respond to it. He was busy jotting down figures on a piece of paper,
multiplying and dividing them to get at some result in a complicated
problem he was working on, regarding the power of an iceberg in
proportion to its size, to exert a lateral pressure when sliding
down a grade of fifteen per cent.
Mr. Damon got an early dinner, as they had breakfasted almost at
dawn that morning, in order to get a good start. The meal was much
enjoyed, and to Abe Abercrombie was quite a novelty, for he had
never before partaken of food so high up in the air, the barograph
of the RED CLOUD showing an elevation of a little over twelve
"It's certainly great," the old miner observed, as he looked down
toward the earth below them, stretched out like some great relief
map. "It sure is wonderful an' some scrumptious! I never thought I'd
be ridin' one of these critters. But they're th' only thing t' git
t' this hidden valley with. We might prospect around for a year, and
be driven back by the Indians and Eskimos a dozen times. But with
this we can go over their heads, and get all the gold we want."
"Is there enough to give every one all he wants?" asked Tom, with a
quizzical smile. "I don't know that I ever had enough."
"Me either," added Ned Newton.
"Oh, there's lots of gold there," declared the old miner. "The thing
to do is to get it and we can sure do that now."
The remainder of the day passed uneventfully, though Tom cast
anxious looks at the weather as night set in, and Ned, noting his
chum's uneasiness, asked:
"Worrying about anything, Tom?"
"Yes, I am," was the reply. "I think we're in for a hard storm, and
I don't know just how the airship will behave up in these northern
regions. It's getting much colder, and the gas in the bag is
condensing more than I thought it would. I will have to increase our
speed to keep us moving along at this elevation."
The motor was adjusted to give more power, and, having set it so
that it, as well as the rudders, would be controlled automatically,
Tom rejoined his companions in the main cabin, where, as night
settled down, they gathered to eat the evening meal.
Through the night the great airship plowed her way. At times Tom
arose to look at some of the recording instruments. It was growing
colder, and this further reduced the volume of the gas, but as the
speed of the ship was sufficient to send her along, sustained by the
planes and wings alone, if necessary, the young inventor did not
Morning broke gray and cheerless. A few flakes of snow fell. There
was every indication of a heavy storm. They were high above a
desolate and wild country now, hovering over a sparsely settled
region where they could see great forests, stretches of snow-covered
rocks, and towering mountain crags.
The snow, which had been lazily falling, suddenly ceased. Tom looked
out in surprise. A moment later there came a sound as if some giant
fingers were beating a tattoo on the roof of the main cabin.
"What's that!" cried Ned.
"Bless my umbrella! has anything happened?" demanded Mr. Damon.
"It's a hail storm!" exclaimed Tom. "We've run into a big hail
storm. Look at those frozen stones! They're as big as hens' eggs!"
On a little platform in front of the steering-house could be seen
falling immense hailstones. They played a tattoo on the wooden
"A hail storm! Bless my overshoes!" cried Mr. Damon.
"A hail storm!" echoed Mr. Parker. "I expected we would have one.
The hailstones will become even larger than this!"
"Cheerful," remarked Tom in a low voice, with an apprehensive look
"Is there any danger?" asked his chum.
"Danger? Plenty of it," replied the young inventor. "The frozen
particles may rip open the gas bag. "He stopped suddenly and looked
at a gage on the wall of the steering-tower--a gage that showed the
"One compartment of the bag has been ripped open!" cried Tom. "The
vapor is escaping! The whole bag may soon be torn apart!"
The noise of the pelting hailstones increased. The roar of the
storm, the bombardment of the icy globules, and the moaning of the
wind struck terror to the hearts of the gold-seekers.
"What's to be done?" yelled Ned.
"We must go up, to get above the storm, or else descend and find
some shelter!" answered Tom. "I'll first see if I can send the ship
up above the clouds!"
He increased the speed of the motor so that the propellers would aid
in taking the ship higher up, while the gas-generating machine was
set in operation to pour the lifting vapor into the big bag.
A FRIGHTENED INDIAN
The violence of the hail storm, the clatter of the frozen pellets as
they bombarded the airship, the rolling, swaying motion of the craft
as Tom endeavored to send it aloft, all combined to throw the
passengers of the RED CLOUD into a state of panic.
"Bless my very existence!" cried Mr. Damon, "this is almost as bad
as when we were caught in the hurricane at Earthquake Island!"
"I am sure that this storm is but the forerunner of some dire
calamity!" declared Mr. Parker.
"I'm afraid it's all up with us," came from Abe Abercrombie, as he
looked about for some way of escape.
"Do you think you can pull us through, Tom?" asked Ned Newton, who,
not having had much experience in airships had yet to learn Tom's
skill in manipulating them.
The young inventor alone seemed to keep his nerve. Coolly and calmly
he stood at his post of duty, shifting the wing planes from moment
to moment, managing the elevation rudder, and, at the same time,
keeping his eye on the registering dial of the gas-generating
"It's all right," said Tom, more easily than he felt. "We are going
up slowly. You might see if you can induce the gas machine to do any
better, Mr. Damon. We are wasting some of the vapor because of the
leak in the bag, but we can manufacture it faster than it escapes,
so I guess we'll be all right."
"Mr. Parker, may I ask you to oil the main motor? You will see the
places marked where the oil is to go in. Ned, you help him. Here,
Abe, come over here and give me a hand. This wind makes the rudders
hard to twist."
The young inventor could not have chosen a better method of
relieving the fears of his friends than by giving them something to
do to take their minds off their own troubles. They hurried to the
tasks he had assigned to them, and, in a few minutes, there were no
more doubts expressed.
Not that the RED CLOUD was out of danger, Far from it. The storm was
increasing in violence, and the hailstones seemed to double in
number. Then, too, being forced upward as she was, the airship's bag
was pelted all the harder, for the speed of the craft, added to the
velocity of the falling chunks of hail, made them strike on the
surface of the ship with greater violence.
Tom was anxiously watching the barograph, to note their height. The
RED CLOUD was now about two and a half miles high, and slowly
mounting upward. The gas machine was working to its fullest
capacity, and the fact that they did not rise more quickly told Tom,
more plainly than words could have done, that there were several
additional leaks in the gas-bag.
"I'll take her up another thousand feet," he announced grimly.
"Then, if we're not above the storm it will be useless to go
"Why?" asked Ned, who had come back to stand beside his chum.
"Because we can't possibly get above the storm without tearing the
ship to pieces. I had rather descend."
"But won't that be just as bad?"
"Not necessarily. There are often storms in the upper regions which
do not get down to the surface of the earth, snow and hail storms
particularly. Hail, you know, is supposed to be formed by drops of
rain being hurled up and down in a sort of circular, spiral motion
through alternate strata of air--first freezing and then warm, which
accounts for the onion-like layers seen when a hailstone is cut in
"That is right," broke in Mr. Parker, who was listening to the young
inventor. "By going down this hail storm may change into a harmless
rain storm. But, in spite of that fact, we are in a dangerous
climate, where we must expect all sorts of queer happenings."
"Nice, comfortable sort of a companion to have along on a gold-
hunting expedition, isn't He?" asked Tom of Ned, making a wry face
as Mr. Parker moved away. "But I haven't any time to think of that.
Say, this is getting fierce!"
Well might he say so. The wind had further increased in violence,
and while the storm of hailstones seemed to be about the same, the
missiles had nearly doubled in size.
"Better go down," advised Ned. "We may fall if you don't."
"Guess I will," assented Tom. "There's no use going higher. I doubt
if I could, anyhow, with all this wind pressure, and with the gas-
bag leaking. Down she is!"
As he spoke he shifted the levers, and changed the valve wheels. In
an instant the RED CLOUD began to shoot toward the earth.
"What's happened? What in th' name of Bloody Gulch are we up
ag'in'?" demanded the old miner, springing to his feet.
"We're going down--that's all," answered Tom, calmly, but he was far
from feeling that way, and he had grave fears for the safety of
himself and his companions.
Down, down, down went the RED CLOUD, in the midst of the hail storm.
But if the gold-seekers had hoped to escape the pelting of the
frozen globules they were mistaken. The stones still seemed to
increase in size and number. The gas machine register showed a
sudden lack of pressure, not due to the shutting off of the
"Look!" cried Ned, pointing to the dial.
"Yes--more punctures," said Tom, grimly.
"What's to be done?" asked Mr. Damon, who had finished the task Tom
allotted to him. "Bless my handkerchief! what's to be done?"
"Seek shelter if the storm doesn't stop when we get to the earth
level," answered Tom.
"Shelter? What sort of shelter? There are no airship sheds in this
"I may be able to send the ship under some overhanging mountain
crag," answered the young inventor, "and that will keep off the
Eagerly Tom and Ned, who stood together in the pilothouse peered
forward through the storm.
The wind was less violent now that they were in the lower currents
of air, but the hail had not ceased.
Suddenly Tom gave a cry. Ned looked at him anxiously. Had some new
calamity befallen them? But Tom's voice sounded more in relief than
in alarm. The next instant he called:
"Look ahead there, Ned, and tell me what you see."
"I see something big and black," answered the other lad, after a
moment's hesitation. "Why, it's a big black hole!" he added.
"That's what I made it out to be," went on Tom, "but I wanted to be
sure. It's the opening to a cave or hole in the side of the
mountain. I take it."
"You're right," agreed Ned.
"Then we're safe," declared Tom.
"I'm going to take the RED CLOUD in there out of the storm."
"Can you do it? Is the opening big enough?"
"Plenty. It's larger than my shed at home, Jove! but I'm glad I saw
that in time, or there would have been nothing left of the gas-bag!"
With skilful hands Tom turned the rudders and sent the airship down
on a slant toward the earth, aiming for the entrance to the cave,
which loomed up in the storm. When the craft was low enough down so
that the superstructure would not scrape the top of the cave, Tom
sent her ahead on the level. But he need have had no fears, for the
hole was large enough to have admitted a craft twice the size of the
A few minutes later the airship slid inside the great cavern, as
easily as if coming to rest in the yard of Tom's house. The roof of
the cave was high over their heads, and they were safe from the
storm. The cessation from the deafening sound of the pelting
hailstones seemed curious to them at first.
"Well, bless my shoelaces! if this isn't luck!" cried Mr. Damon, as
he opened the door of the cabin, and looked about the cave in which
they now found themselves. It was comparatively light, for the
entrance was very large, though the rear of the cavern was in gloom.
"Yes, indeed, we got to it just in time,'" agreed Tom. "Now let's
see what sort of a place it is. We'll have to explore it."
"There may be a landslide, or the roof may come down on our heads,"
objected Mr. Parker.
"Oh, my dear Parker! please be a little more cheerful," begged Mr.
The adventurers followed Tom from the airship, and all but the young
inventor gazed curiously at the interior of the cave. His first
thought was for his airship. He glanced up at the gas-bag, and noted
several bad rents in it.
"I hope we can fix them," Tom thought dubiously.
But the attention of all was suddenly arrested by something that
occurred just then. From the dark recess of the cavern there sounded
a fearful yell or scream. It was echoed back a thousand-fold by the
rocky walls of the cave, Then there dashed past the little group of
gold-seekers a dark figure.
"Look out! It's a bear!" shouted Mr. Damon. "A bear! It's an Eskimo
Indian!" yelled Abe Abercrombie, "an' he's skeered nigh t' death!
Look at him run!"
As they gazed toward the lighted entrance of the cave they saw
leaping and running from it an Indian who quickly scudded out into
the hail storm.
"An Indian," exclaimed Tom. "An Indian in the cave! If there's one,
there may be more. I guess we'd better look to our guns. They may
attack us!" and he hurried back into the airship, followed by Ned
and the others.
THE RIVAL AIRSHIP
Well armed, the adventurers again ventured out into the cave. But
they need not have been alarmed so soon, for there were no signs of
any more Indians.
"I guess that one was a stray Eskimo who took shelter in here from
the storm," said Abe Abercrombie.
"Are we in the neighborhood of the Alaskan Indians and Eskimos?"
"Yes, there are lots of Indians in this region," answered the old
miner, "but not so many Eskimos. A few come down from th' north, but
we'll see more of them, an' fewer of th' pure-blooded Indians as we
get nearer th' valley of gold. Though t' my mind th' Indians an'
Eskimos are pretty much alike,"
"Well, if we don't have to defend ourselves from an attack of
Indians, suppose we look over the airship," proposed Tom.
"It's too dark to see very much," objected Ned. But this was
overcome when Tom started up a dynamo, and brought out a portable
search-light which was played upon the superstructure of the RED
CLOUD. The gas-bag was the only part of the craft they feared for,
as the hailstones could not damage the iron or wooden structure and
the planes were made in sections, and in such a manner that rents in
them could easily be repaired. So, in fact, could the gas-bag be
mended, but it was harder work.
"Well, she's got some bad tears in her," announced Tom as the light
flashed over the big bag. "Luckily I have plenty of the material,
and some cement, so I think we can mend the rents, though it will
take some days. Nothing could have been better for us than this
cave. We'll stay here until we're ready to go on."
"Unless the Indians drive us out," said Abe, in a low tone.
"Why, do you think there is any danger of that?" inquired Tom.
"Well, th' brown-skinned beggars aren't any too friendly," responded
the old miner. "Th' one that was in here will be sure to tell th'
others of some big spirit that flew into th' cave, an' they'll be
crowdin' around here when th' storm's over. It may be we can fight
'em off, though."
"Maybe they won't attack us," suggested Ned, hopefully. "Perhaps we
can make them believe we are spirits, and that it will be unlucky to
interfere with us."
"Perhaps," admitted Abe, "though my experience has been that these
Indians are a bad lot. They haven't much respect for spirits of any
kind, an' they'll soon find out we're human. But then, we'll wait
an' see what happens."
"And, in the meantime, have something to eat," put in Mr. Damon.
"Bless my knife and fork! but the hail storm gave me an appetite."
In fact, there were few things which did not give Mr. Damon an
appetite, Tom thought with a smile. But the meal idea was considered
very timely, and soon the amateur cook was busy in the galley of the
airship, whence speedily came savory odors. The electric lights were
switched on, and the adventurers were quickly made comfortable in
the cave, which so well sheltered the RED CLOUD. Tom completed his
inspection of the craft, and was relieved to find that while there
were a number of small rents, none was very large, and all could be
mended in time.
Abe Abercrombie took a look outside the cave after the meal had been
served. The old miner declared that they had made a good advance on
their northern journey for, though he could not tell their exact
location, he knew by the character of the landscape that they had
passed the boundaries of Alaska.
"A few more days' traveling at the rate we came will bring us to the
Snow Mountains and the valley of gold," he said.
"Well, we won't average such speed as we did during the hail storm,"
said Tom. "The wind of that carried us along at a terrific pace. But
we will get there in plenty of time, I think,"
"Why; is there any particular rush?" asked Ned.
"There's no telling when the Fogers may appear," answered the young
inventor in a low voice. "But now we must get to work to repair
The hail storm had ceased, and, with the passing of the clouds the
cave was made lighter. But Tom did not depend on this, for he set up
powerful searchlights, by the gleams of which he and his companions
began the repairing of the torn gas-bag.
They worked all the remainder of that day, and were at it again
early the next morning, making good progress.
"We can go forward again, in about two days," spoke Tom. "I want to
give the cement on the patches plenty of chance to dry."
"Then I will have time to go out and make some observations, will I
not?" asked Mr. Parker. "I think this cave is a very old one, and I
may be able to find some evidences in it that the sea of ice is
slowly working its way down from the polar regions."
"I hope you don't," whispered Ned to Tom, who shook his head
dubiously as the gloomy scientist left the cave.
The weather was very cold, but, in the cavern it was hardly noticed.
The adventurers were warmly dressed, and when they did get chilly
from working over the airship, they had but to go into the well-
heated and cozy cabin to warm themselves.
It was on the third day of their habitation in the cave, and work on
putting the patches on the gas-bag was almost finished. Mr. Parker
had gone out to make further observations, his previous ones not
having satisfied him. Tom was on an improvised platform, putting a
patch on top of the bag, when he heard a sudden yell, and some one
dashed into the cavern.
"They're coming! They're coming!" cried a voice, and Tom, looking
down, saw Mr. Parker, apparently in a state of great fear.
"What's coming?" demanded the young inventor, "the icebergs?"
"No--the Indians!" yelled the scientist. "A whole tribe of them is
rushing this way!"
"I thought so!" cried Abe Abercrombie. "Where's my gun?" and he
dashed into the airship.
Tom slid down off the platform.
"Get ready for a fight!" he gasped. "Where are you, Ned?"
"Here I am. We'd better get to the mouth of the cave, and drive 'em
back from there."
"Yes. If I'd only thought, we could have blockaded it in some way.
It's as big as a barn now, and they can rush us if they have a mind
to. But we'll do our best!"
The adventurers were now all armed, even to Mr. Parker. The
scientist had recovered from his first fright, when he spied the
Indians coming over the snow, as he was "observing" some natural
phenomenon. Tom, even in his excitement, noticed that the professor
was curiously examining his gun, evidently more with a view to
seeing how it was made, and on which principle it was operated,
rather than to discover how to use it.
"If it comes to a fight, just point it at the Indians, pull the
trigger, and work that lever," explained the young inventor. "It's
an automatic gun."
"I see," answered Mr. Parker. "Very curious. I had no idea they
worked this way."
"Oh, if I only had my electric rifle in shape!" sighed Tom, as he
dashed forward at the side of Ned.
"Your electric rifle?"
"Yes, I've got a new kind of weapon--very effective. I have it
almost finished. It's in the airship, but I can't use it just yet.
However, maybe these repeaters will do the work."
By this time they were at the entrance of the cave, and, looking out
they saw about a hundred Indians, dressed in furs, striding across
the snowy plain that stretched out from the foot of the mountain in
which was the cavern.
"They're certainly comin' on," observed Abe, grimly. "Git ready for
The gold-seekers lined up at the mouth of the cave, with guns in
their hands. At the sight of this small, but formidable force, the
Indians halted. They were armed with guns of ancient make, while
some had spears, and others bows and arrows. A few had grabbed up
stones as weapons.
There appeared to be a consultation going on among them, and,
presently, one of the number, evidently a chief or a spokesman, gave
his gun to one of his followers, and, holding his hands above his
head, while he waved a rag that might have once been white, came
"By Jove!" exclaimed Tom. "It's a flag of truce! He wants to talk
with us I believe!"
"Bless my cartridges!" exclaimed Mr. Damon. "Can they speak
"A little," answered Abe Abercrombie. "I can talk some of their
lingo, too. Maybe I'd better see what they want."
"I guess it would be a good plan," suggested Tom, and, accordingly
the old miner stepped forward. The Indian came on, until Abe
motioned for him to halt.
"I reckon that's as far as it'll be healthy for you t' come," spoke
Abe, grimly. "Now what do you fellers want?"
Thereupon there ensued a rapid exchange of jargon between the miner
and the Indian. Abe seemed much relieved as the talk went on, until
there came what seemed like a demand on the part of the dark-hued
"No. you don't! None of that!" muttered Abe. "If you had your way
you'd take everything we have."
"What is it? What does he want?" asked Tom in a low voice.
"Why, the beggar began fair enough," replied the miner. "He said one
of their number had been in the cave when a storm came an' saw a big
spirit fly in, with men on its back. He ran away an' now others have
come to see what it was. They don't guess it's an airship, for
they've never seen one. but they know we're white folks, an' they
always want things white folks have got."
"This fellow is a sort of chief, an' he says the white folks?--
that's us, you know?--have taken th' Indians' cave. He says he
doesn't want t' have any trouble, an' that we can stay here as long
as we like, but that we must give him an' his followers a lot of
food. Says they hain't got much. Land! Those beggars would eat us
out of everything we had if we'd let 'em!"
"What are you going to tell them?" inquired Mr. Damon.
"I'm goin' t' tell 'em t' go t' grass, or words t' that effect,"
replied Abe. "They haven't any weapons that amount t' anything, an'
we can stand 'em off. Besides, we'll soon be goin' away from here;
won't we, Tom?"
"Oh, there's no use givin' in to 'em," interrupted Abe. "If you give
'em half a loaf, they want two. Th' only way is t' be firm. I'll
tell 'em we can't accommodate 'em."
Thereupon he began once more to talk to the Indians in their own
tongue. His words were at first received in silence, and then angry
cries came from the natives. The chief made a gesture of protest.
"Well, if you don't like it, you know what you kin do!" declared
Abe. "We've got th' best part of our journey before us, an' we can't
give away our supplies. Go hunt food if you want it, ye lazy
The peaceful demeanor of the Indians now turned to rage. The leader
dropped the rag that had served for a flag of truce, and took back
"Look out! There's going to be trouble!" cried Tom.
"Well, we're ready for 'em!" answered Abe, grimly.
There was a moment of hesitation among the natives. Then they seemed
to hold a consultation with the chief. It was over shortly. They
broke into a run, and quickly advanced toward the cave. Tom and the
others held their guns in readiness.
Suddenly the Indians halted. They gazed upward, and pointed to
something in the air above their heads. They gave utterance to cries
"What is it; another storm coming?" asked Tom.
"Let's look," suggested Ned. He and Tom stepped to the mouth of the
cave--they went outside. There was little danger from the natives
now, as their attention was fixed on something else.
A moment later Tom and Ned saw what this was.
Floating in the air, almost over the cave, was a great airship--a
large craft, nearly the size of the RED CLOUD. Hardly able to
believe the evidence of their eyes, Tom and Ned watched it. Whence
had it come? Whither was it going?
"It's a triplane!" murmured Ned.
"A triplane!" repeated Tom. "Yes--it is--and it's the airship of
Andy Foger! Our rivals are on our track!"
He continued to gaze upward as the triplane shot forward, the noise
of the motor being plainly heard. Then, with howls of fear, the
Indians turned and fled. The rival airship had vanquished them.
Astonished and terrified as the Indians had been at the sight of the
big-winged craft, high in the air above their heads, Tom and the
others were no less surprised, though, of course, their fear was not
exactly the same as that of the Alaskan natives.
"Do you really think that is Andy Foger?" asked Ned, as they watched
the progress of the triplane.
"I'm almost sure of it," replied Tom. "That craft is built exactly
as his was. but I never expected him to have such good luck sailing
"It isn't going very fast," objected Ned.
"No, but it can navigate pretty well, and that's something. He must
have hustled to get it together and reach this point with it."
"Yes, but he didn't have to travel as far as we did," went on Ned.
"He put his ship together at Sitka, and we came from Seattle."
"Bless my memoranda book!" exclaimed Mr. Damon. "The Fogers here!
What's to be done about it?"
"Nothing, I guess," answered Tom. "I'd just as soon they wouldn't
see us. I don't believe they will. Get back into the cave. We must
use strategy now to get ahead of them. There will be a race to the
valley of gold."
"Well, he served us one good turn, anyhow, though he didn't mean
to," put in Abe Abercrombie.
"How?" asked Mr. Parker, who was still examining his gun, as though
trying to understand it.
"He scared away them pesky natives," went on the miner. "Otherwise
we might have had a fight, an' while I reckon we could have beat
'em, it's best not to fight if you kin git out of it."
The gold-seekers had withdrawn inside the mouth of the cave, where
they could watch the progress of the rival airship without being
seen. The Indians had disappeared beyond a snow-covered hill.
The airship of Andy Foger, for such it subsequently proved to be,
floated slowly onward. Its progress was not marked with the speed of
Tom's craft, though whether or not the occupants of the ATHONY (as
Andy had vain-gloriously named his craft after himself) were
speeding up their motor, was a matter of conjecture.
The adventurers held a short consultation, while standing at the
mouth of the cave watching the progress of the ANTHONY. It rose in
the air, and circled about.
"He certainly IS trying to pick us up," declared Ned.
"Well, we'll start out after him to-morrow," decided Tom. "I think
all the patches will hold then."
They resumed work on the RED CLOUD, and that night Tom announced
that they would start in the morning. Meanwhile Andy's craft had
disappeared from sight. There was no further evidence of the
"I don't reckon they'll come back," spoke Abe, grimly. "They think
we are sure-enough spirits, now, able to call creatures out of the
air whenever we want 'em. But still we must be on our guard."
As Mr. Parker was not of much service in helping on the airship he
agreed to be a sort of guard and took his place just outside the
cave, where he could make "observations," and, at the same time
watch for the reappearance of Indians. They had little fear of an
attack at night, for Abe said the Alaskans were not fond of
The cold seemed to increase, and, even in the sheltered cave the
adventurers felt it. There were several heavy flurries of snow that
afternoon, and winter seemed setting in with a vengeance. The
daylight, too, was not of long duration, for the sun was well south
now, and in the far polar regions it was perpetual night.
After a brief inspection of the ship the next morning, following a
good night's rest, when they were not disturbed by any visits from
the natives, Tom announced that they would set sail. The day was a
clear one, but very cold, and the gold-seekers were glad of the
shelter of the warm cabin.
The RED CLOUD was wheeled from the cave, and set on a level place.
There was not room enough to make a flying start, and ascend by
means of the planes and propellers, so the gas-bag method was used.
The generating machine was put in operation, and soon the big red
bag that hovered over the craft began to fill. Tom was glad to see
that none of the several compartments leaked. The bag had been well
Suddenly the RED CLOUD shot up in the air. Up above the towering
snow-covered crags it mounted, and then, with a whizz and a roar,
the propellers were set going.
"Once more northward bound!" cried Tom, as he took his place in the
"And we'll see if we can beat Andy Foger there," added Ned.
All that morning the RED CLOUD shot ahead at good speed. The craft
had suffered no permanent damage during her fight with the hail
storm, and was as good as ever. They ate dinner high in the air,
while sailing over a great stretch of whiteness, where the snow lay
many feet deep on the level, and where great mountain crags were so
covered with the glistening mantle and a coating of ice as to
resemble the great bergs that float in the polar sea.
"I wouldn't want to be wrecked here," said Ned, with a shudder, as
he looked down. "We'd never get away. Does any one live down there,
"Yes, there are scattered tribes of Indians and Alaskan natives.
They live by hunting and fishing, and travel around by means of dog
sledges. But it's a dreary life. Me an' my partner had all we wanted
of it. An airship for mine!"
"I wonder what's become of Andy?" spoke Tom, that afternoon. "I
haven't sighted him, and I've been using the powerful telescope. I
can't pick him up, though he can't be so very far ahead of us."
"Let me try," suggested Ned. "Put her up a bit, Tom, where I can
look down. Andy won't dare go very high. Maybe I can sight him."
The RED CLOUD shot upward as the young inventor shifted the
elevation rudder, and the bank clerk, with the powerful glass to his
eye, swept the space below him. For half an hour he looked in vain.
Then, with a little start of surprise he handed the glass to his
"See what you make that out to be," suggested Ned. "It looks like a
big bird, yet I haven't seen any other birds to-day."
Tom looked. He peered earnestly through the telescope for a minute,
and then cried:
"It's Andy's airship! He's ahead of us! We must catch him! Ned, you
and Mr. Damon speed up the motor! The race is on!"
In a few minutes the great airship was hurling herself through
space, and, in less than ten minutes Andy's craft could be made out
plainly with the naked eye. Fifteen minutes more and the RED CLOUD
was almost up to her. Then those aboard the ANTHONY must have caught
sight of their pursuers, for there was a sudden increase in speed on
the part of the unscrupulous Foger crowd, who sought to steal a
march on Tom and his friends.
"The race is on!" repeated the young inventor grimly, as he pulled
the speed lever over another notch.
THE FALL OF THE ANTHONY
Had it not been for what was at stake, the race between the two big
airships would have been an inspiring one to those aboard Tom's
craft. As it was they were too anxious to overcome the unfair
advantage taken by Andy to look for any of the finer points in the
contest of the air.
"There's no denying that he's got a pretty good craft there,"
conceded Tom, as he watched the progress of his rival. "I never
thought Andy Foger could have done it."
"He didn't do very much of it," declared Ned. "He hired the best
part of that made. Andy hasn't any inventive ideas. He probably said
he wanted an airship, and his dad put up the money and hired men to
build it for him. Andy, Sam and Pete only tinkered around on it."
Later Tom and his chum learned that this was so--that Mr. Foger had
engaged the services of an expert to make the airship. This man had
been taken to Sitka with the Fogers, and had materially aided them
in re-assembling the craft.
"Do you think he can beat us?" asked Ned, anxiously.
"No!" exclaimed Tom, confidently. "There's only one craft that can
beat my RED CLOUD and that's my monoplane the BUTTERFLY. But I have
in mind plans for a speedier machine than even the monoplane.
However I haven't any fear that Andy can keep up to us in this
craft. I haven't begun to fly yet, and I'm pretty sure, from the way
his is going, that he has used his limit of speed."
"Then why don't you get ahead of him?" asked Mr. Damon. "Bless my
tape-measure! the way to win a race is to beat."
"Not this kind of a race," and the young inventor spoke seriously.
"If I got ahead of Andy now, he'd simply trail along and follow us.
That's his game. He wants me to be the path-finder, for, since I
cast a doubt on the correctness of the map, a copy of which he
stole, he isn't sure where he's going. He'd ask nothing better than
to follow us."
"Then what are you going to do if you don't get ahead of him?" asked
"I'm going to press him close until night," answered Tom, "and when
it's dark, I'm going to shoot ahead, and, by morning we'll be so far
away that he can't catch up to us."
"Good idea! That's th' stuff!" cried Abe with enthusiasm.
"He's a sneak!" burst out Mr. Damon. "I'd like to see him left
Tom carried out his plan. The remainder of the day he hung just on
Andy's flank, sometimes shooting high up, almost out of sight, and
again coming down, just to show what the RED CLOUD could do when
As for those aboard the ANTHONY, they seemed to be trying to
increase their speed, but, if that was their object they did not
have much success, for the big, clumsy triplane only labored along.
"I wonder who he's got with him?" said Ned, as darkness was closing
down. "I can't make out any one by this glass. They stick pretty
closely to the cabin."
"Oh, probably Andy's father is there," said "and, perhaps, some of
Mr. Foger's acquaintances. I guess Mr. Foger is as anxious to get
this gold as Andy is."
"He certainly needs money," admitted Ned. "Jove! but I hope we beat
But alas for Tom's hopes! His plan of waiting until night and then
putting on such speed as would leave Andy behind could not be
carried out. It was tried, but something went wrong with the main
motor, and only half power could be developed. Tom and Ned labored
over it nearly ail night, to no effect, and through the hours of
darkness they could see the lights from the cabin of the ANTHONY
gleaming just ahead of them. Evidently the bully's airship could not
make enough speed to run away from the RED CLOUD, or else it was the
plan of the Foger crowd to keep in Tom's vicinity.
The direction held by Andy's craft was a general northwestern one,
and Tom knew, in time, and that very soon, it would bring the
ANTHONY over the valley of gold. Evidently Andy was placing some
faith in his copy of the stolen map.
"Once I get this motor in shape I'll soon pull away from him,"
announced Tom, about four o'clock that morning, while he and Ned,
aided by Mr. Damon, were still laboring over the refractory machine.
"What are you going to do?" asked Ned.
"It's too late to carry out my original plan," went on Tom. "We're
getting so near the place now that I want to be there ahead of every
one else. So as soon as we can, I'm going to push the RED CLOUD for
all she's worth, and get to the valley of gold first. If possession
is nine points of the law, I want those nine points."
"That's the way to talk!" cried Abe. "Once we git on th' ground we
kin hold our own!"
It was breakfast time before Tom had the motor repaired, and he
decided to have a good meal before starting to speed up his craft.
He felt better after some hot coffee, for he and the others were
weary from their night of labor.
"Now for the test!" he cried, as he went back to the engine-room.
"Here's where we give Andy the go-by, and I don't think he can catch
There was an increasing hum to the powerful motor, the great
propellers whirled around at twice their former number of
revolutions, and the airship suddenly shot ahead.
Those on the ANTHOMY must have been watching for some such move as
that, for, no sooner had Tom's craft begun to creep up on his rival
than the forward craft also shot ahead.
But the airship was not built that could compete with Tom's. Like a
racer overhauling a cart-horse, the RED CLOUD whizzed through the
air. In a spirit of fun the young inventor sent his machine within a
few feet of Andy's. He had a double purpose in this, for he wanted
to show the bully that he did not fear him, and he wanted to see if
he could discover who was aboard.
Tom did catch a glimpse of Andy and his father in the cabin of the
ANTHONY, and he also saw a couple of men working frantically over
"They're going to try to catch us!" called Tom to Ned.
This was evident a moment later, for, after the RED CLOUD had forged
ahead, her rival made a clumsy attempt to follow. The ANTHONY did
show a burst of speed, and, for a moment Tom was apprehensive lest
he had underrated his rival's prowess.
Suddenly Ned, who was looking from a projecting side window of the
pilothouse, back toward Andy's ship, cried out in alarm.
"What's the matter?" shouted Tom.
"The airship--Andy's--two of the main wings have collapsed!"
Tom looked. It was but too true. The strain under which the ANTHONY
had been put when the machinists increased the speed, had been too
much for the frame. Two wings broke, and now hung uselessly down,
one on either side. The ANTHONY shot toward the snow-covered earth!
"They're falling!" cried Mr. Parker.
"Yes," added Tom, grimly, "the race is over as far as they are
"Bless my soul! Won't they be killed?" cried Mr. Damon.
"There's not much danger," replied the young inventor. "They can
vol-plane back to earth. That's what they're doing," he added a
moment later, as he witnessed the maneuver of the crippled craft.
"They're in no danger, but I don't believe they'll get to the valley
of gold this trip!"
Tom was soon to learn how easily he could be mistaken.
HITTING THE ICE MOUNTAIN
Onward sped the RED CLOUD. For a moment after the accident to Andy's
ship, Tom had slowed up his craft, but he soon went on again, after
he had satisfied himself that his enemies were in no danger.
"Don't you think--that is to say--I know they can't expect anything
from us," spoke Mr. Damon, "but for humanity's sake, hadn't we
better stop and help them, Tom?"
"I hardly think so," replied the young inventor. "In the first place
they would hardly thank us for doing so, and, in the second, I don't
believe they need help. They are almost safely down now."
"I don't just mean that," went on the odd man. "But they may starve
to death. This is a very desolate country over which we are
"They must have a supply of food in their ship," declared Tom, "and
they have brought their plight on themselves."
"They're in no great danger," put in Abe.
"There are plenty of natives around here, an' if the Fogers need
food or aid they can git it by payin' for it. Why, for the sake of
th' parts of their damaged airship, th' Eskimos would take th' whole
party back t' Sitka and feed 'em well on th' trip. Oh, they're all
"Very well, if you say so," assented Mr. Damon. He looked back to
watch the ANTHONY slowly settling to earth. It came gently down,
proving that Tom knew whereof he spoke, when he had said they could
vol-plane down. Before the RED CLOUD was out of sight Tom and his
companions saw Andy and his father leave their wrecked craft and
venture out on the snow-covered ground. The Fogers gazed enviously
after the airship of our hero as they saw him still forging toward
"I guess Andy's stolen map won't be of much use to him," mused Tom.
"Now we can put on all the speed we like, "and with that he shifted
the gears and levers until the airship was making exceedingly good
time toward the valley of gold.
The remainder of that day saw our adventurers pursuing their way
eagerly. At times they were flying high, and again, when Abe
suggested that they go down to observe the character of the country
over which they were passing, they skimmed along, just above the big
mountains, which seemed almost like icebergs, so covered were they
with frost and snow.
They were indeed in a wild and desolate country. Below them
stretched a seemingly endless waste of snow and ice--great forests
interspersed with treeless patches, while now and then they sailed
over a frozen lake.
Once in a while they had glimpses of bands of Indians, dressed in
furs, hunting. At such times the natives would look up, on hearing
the noise made by the motor of the airship, and catching a glimpse
of what must have seemed to them like some supernatural object, they
would fall down prostrate in amazement and fear.
"Airships are pretty much of a novelty up here," remarked Abe with a
The weather was new very cold, and the gold-seekers had to get out
their heavy fur garments, of which they had brought along a goodly
supply. True, it was warm in the cabin of the airship, but at times,
they wanted to venture out on the deck to get fresh air, or to make
some adjustments to the wing planes, and, on such occasions the
keen, frosty air, as it was driven past them by the motion of the
craft, made even the thickest garments seem none too warm. Then,
too, it was colder at the elevation at which they flew than down on
Another day found them in a still wilder and more desolate part of
Alaska. There were scarcely any signs of habitation now, and the
snow and ice seemed so thick that even a long summer of sunshine
could hardly have melted it. The hours of daylight, too, were
growing less and less the farther north they went.
"Do you think you can pilot us right to the Snow Mountains, Abe?"
asked Tom, on the third day after the accident to Andy's airship.
"Let's get out the map, and have another look at it. We must be
getting near the place now. We'll look at the map."
The young inventor went to his stateroom where he kept the important
document in a small desk, and the others heard him rummaging around.
He muttered impatiently, and Ned heard his chum say: "I thought sure
I put it in here." Then ensued a further search, and presently Tom
came out, his face wearing rather a puzzled and worried look, and he
asked: "Say, Abe, I didn't give that map back to you; did I?"
"Nope," answered the miner. "I ain't seen it since just before th'
hail storm. We was lookin' at it then."
"That's when I remember it," went on Tom, "and I thought I put it in
my desk. I didn't, by any possible chance give it to you; did I,
"Me? No, I haven't seen it."
"That's funny," went on Tom. "I'll look once more. Maybe it got
under some papers."
They heard him rummaging again in his desk.
"Bless my bank-book!" cried Mr. Damon. "I hope nothing has happened
to that map. We can't find the valley of gold without it."
Tom came back again.
"I can't find it." he said, hopelessly.
Then ensued a frantic search. Every possible place in the airship
was looked into, but the precious map did not turn up.
"Perhaps the Fogers took it," suggested Mr. Parker, who had helped
in the hunt, in a dreamy sort of fashion.
"That's not possible," said Tom. "They haven't been near enough to
us since I saw the map last. No, the last time I had it was just
before the hail storm, and, in the excitement of repairing the ship,
I have mislaid it."
"Maybe it's back there in the big cave," suggested Ned.
"It's possible," admitted the young inventor. "Pshaw! It's very
careless of me!"
"If you think it's in the cave, we'd better go back there and have a
hunt for it," suggested Mr. Damon. "Otherwise we are on a wild-goose
"Don't go back!" exclaimed old Abe. "I think we can find th' valley
of gold without th' map, now that we have come this far. I sort of
remember th' marks on that parchment, an' we are in the right
neighborhood now, for I kin see some of th' landmarks my partner and
I saw. I say, let's keep on! We can cruise around a bit until we
strike th' right place. That won't take us so long as it would to go
back to the cave. Besides, if we go back, the Fogers may get ahead
"With their broken airship?" asked Ned
"Can't they repair it?" demanded Abe.
"Hardly--up in this wild country," was Tom's opinion. "But perhaps
it WILL be just as well to keep on. I have a hazy remembrance of the
distances and directions on the map, and, though it will take longer
to hunt out the valley this way, I think we can do it. I can't
forgive myself for my carelessness! I should have kept a copy of the
map, or given one of you folks one."
But they would not hear of him blaming himself, and said it might
have happened to any one. It was decided that the map must be lost
in the big cave, and if it was there it was not likely to be found
by their enemies.
"We'll jest have t' prospect about a bit," declared Abe, "only we'll
do it in th' air instead of on th' ground."
It was dusk when the fruitless search for the map was over, and they
sat in the cabin discussing matters. The lights had not yet been
switched on, and the RED CLOUD was skimming along under the
influence of the automatic rudders and the propellers.
"Well, suppose we have supper," proposed Mr. Damon, who seemed to
think eating a remedy for many ills, mental and bodily. "Bless my
desert-spoon, but I'm hungry!"
He started toward the galley, while Tom went forward to the
pilothouse. Hardly had he reached it than there came a terrific
crash, and the airship seemed tossed back by some giant hand. Every
one was thrown off his feet, and the lights which had been turned on
suddenly went out.
"What's the matter?" cried Ned.
"Have we hit anything?" demanded Mr. Damon.
"Hit anything! I should say we had!" yelled Tom. "We've knocked a
piece off a big mountain of ice!"
As he spoke the airship began slowly settling toward the earth, for
her machinery had been stopped by the terrific impact.
A FIGHT WITH MUSK OXEN
"Can I help you, Tom? What's to be done?" demanded Ned Newton, as he
rushed to where his chum was yanking on various levers and gear