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Tom Swift in the Land of Wonders by Victor Appleton

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Title: Tom Swift in the Land of Wonders

Author: Victor Appleton

Release Date: Apr, 1996 [EBook #499]
[Yes, we are more than one year ahead of schedule]
[This file was first posted on March 11, 2002]
[Most recently updated: March 11, 2002]

Edition: 11

Language: English

Character set encoding: ASCII


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donated by Caere Corporation, 1-800-535-7226.
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The Underground Search
for the Idol of Gold





Tom Swift in the Land of Wonders






Tom Swift, who had been slowly looking
through the pages of a magazine, in the contents
of which he seemed to be deeply interested,
turned the final folio, ruffled the sheets back
again to look at a certain map and drawing, and
then, slapping the book down on a table before
him, with a noise not unlike that of a shot,

"Well, that is certainly one wonderful story!"

"What's it about, Tom?" asked his chum, Ned
Newton. "Something about inside baseball, or a
new submarine that can be converted into an
airship on short notice?"

"Neither one, you--you unscientific heathen,"
answered Tom, with a laugh at Ned. "Though
that isn't saying such a machine couldn't be invented."

"I believe you--that is if you got on its trail,"
returned Ned, and there was warm admiration in
his voice.

"As for inside baseball, or outside, for that
matter, I hardly believe I'd be able to tell third
base from the second base, it's so long since I
went to a game," proceeded Tom. "I've been
too busy on that new airship stabilizer dad gave
me an idea for. I've been working too hard,
that's a fact. I need a vacation, and maybe a
good baseball game----"

He stopped and looked at the magazine he had
so hastily slapped down. Something he had read
in it seemed to fascinate him.

"I wonder if it can possibly be true," he went
on. "It sounds like the wildest dream of a
professional sleep-walker; and yet, when I stop to
think, it isn't much worse than some of the
things we've gone through with, Ned."

"Say, for the love of rice-pudding! will you
get down to brass tacks and strike a trial
balance? What are you talking of, anyhow? Is it
a joke?"

"A joke?"

"Yes. What you just read in that magazine
which seems to cause you so much excitement."

"Well, it may be a joke; and yet the professor
seems very much in earnest about it," replied
Tom. "It certainly is one wonderful story!"

"So you said before. Come on--the `fillium'
is busted. Splice it, or else put in a new reel and
on with the show. I'd like to know what's doing.
What professor are you talking of?"

"Professor Swyington Bumper."

"Swyington Bumper?" and Ned's voice
showed that his memory was a bit hazy.

"Yes. You ought to remember him. He was
on the steamer when I went down to Peru to
help the Titus Brothers dig the big tunnel. That
plotter Waddington, or some of his tools,
dropped a bomb where it might have done us
some injury, but Professor Bumper, who was a
fellow passenger, on his way to South America
to look for the lost city of Pelone, calmly picked
up the bomb, plucked out the fuse, and saved
us from bad injuries, if not death. And he was
as cool about it as an ice-cream cone. Surely
you remember!"

"Swyington Bumper! Oh, yes, now I remember
him," said Ned Newton. "But what has
he got to do with a wonderful story? Has he
written more about the lost city of Pelone? If
he has I don't see anything so very wonderful
in that."

"There isn't," agreed Tom. "But this isn't
that," and Tom picked up the magazine and
leafed it to find the article he had been reading.

"Let's have a look at it," suggested Ned. "You
act as though you might be vitally interested
in it. Maybe you're thinking of joining forces
with the professor again, as you did when you
dug the big tunnel."

"Oh, no. I haven't any such idea," Tom said.
"I've got enough work laid out now to keep me
in Shopton for the next year. I have no notion
of going anywhere with Professor Bumper. Yet
I can't help being impressed by this," and,
having found the article in the magazine to which
he referred, he handed it to his chum.

"Why, it's by Bumper himself!" exclaimed Ned.

"Yes. Though there's nothing remarkable in
that, seeing that he is constantly contributing
articles to various publications or writing books.
It's the story itself that's so wonderful. To
save you the trouble of wading through a lot
of scientific detail, which I know you don't care
about, I'll tell you that the story is about a queer
idol of solid gold, weighing many pounds, and,
in consequence, of great value."

"Of solid gold you say?" asked Ned eagerly.

"That's it. Got on your banking air already,"
Tom laughed. "To sum it up for you--notice
I use the word `sum,' which is very appropriate
for a bank--the professor has got on the track
of another lost or hidden city. This one, the
name of which doesn't appear, is in the Copan
valley of Honduras, and----"

"Copan," interrupted Ned. "It sounds like
the name of some new floor varnish."

"Well, it isn't, though it might be," laughed
Tom. "Copan is a city, in the Department of
Copan, near the boundary between Honduras and
Guatemala. A fact I learned from the article
and not because I remembered my geography."

"I was going to say," remarked Ned with a
smile, "that you were coming it rather strong
on the school-book stuff."

"Oh, it's all plainly written down there," and
Tom waved toward the magazine at which Ned
was looking. "As you'll see, if you take the
trouble to go through it, as I did, Copan is, or
maybe was, for all I know, one of the most
important centers of the Mayan civilization."

"What's Mayan?" asked Ned. "You see I'm
going to imbibe my information by the deductive
rather than the excavative process," he added
with a laugh.

"I see," laughed Tom. "Well, Mayan refers
to the Mayas, an aboriginal people of Yucatan.
The Mayas had a peculiar civilization of their
own, thousands of years ago, and their calendar
system was so involved----"

"Never mind about dates," again interrupted
Ned. "Get down to brass tacks. I'm willing
to take your word for it that there's a Copan
valley in Honduras. But what has your friend
Professor Bumper to do with it?"

"This. He has come across some old
manuscripts, or ancient document records, referring
to this valley, and they state, according to this
article he has written for the magazine, that
somewhere in the valley is a wonderful city,
traces of which have been found twenty to forty
feet below the surface, on which great trees are
growing, showing that the city was covered
hundreds, if not thousands, of years ago."

"But where does the idol of gold come in?"

"I'm coming to that," said Tom. "Though,
if Professor Bumper has his way, the idol will
be coming out instead of coming in."

"You mean he wants to get it and take it
away from the Copan valley, Tom?"

"That's it, Ned. It has great value not only
from the amount of pure gold that is in it, but
as an antique. I fancy the professor is more
interested in that aspect of it. But he's written
a wonderful story, telling how he happened to
come across the ancient manuscripts in the tomb
of some old Indian whose mummy he unearthed
on a trip to Central America.

"Then he tells of the trouble he had in
discovering how to solve the key to the translation
code; but when he did, he found a great story
unfolded to him.

"This story has to do with the hidden city,
and tells of the ancient civilization of those who
lived in the Copan valley thousands of years ago.
The people held this idol of gold to be their
greatest treasure, and they put to death many of
other tribes who sought to steal it."

"Whew!" whistled Ned. "That IS some yarn.
But what is Professor Bumper going to do about it?"

"I don't know. The article seems to be written
with an idea of interesting scientists and
research societies, so that they will raise money
to conduct a searching expedition.

"Perhaps by this time the party may be
organized--this magazine is several months old.
I have been so busy on my stabilizer patent that
I haven't kept up with current literature. Take
it home and read it! Ned. That is if you're
through telling me about my affairs," for Ned,
who had formerly worked in the Shopton bank,
had recently been made general financial man-
ager of the interests of Tom and his father. The
two were inventors and proverbially poor business
men, though they had amassed a fortune.

"Your financial affairs are all right, Tom," said
Ned. "I have just been going over the books,
and I'll submit a detailed report later."

The telephone bell rang and Tom picked up
the instrument from the desk. As he answered in
the usual way and then listened a moment, a
strange look came over his face.

"Well, this certainly is wonderful!" he exclaimed,
in much the same manner as when he had finished
reading the article about the idol. "It certainly
is a strange coincidence," he added,
speaking in an aside to Ned while he himself
still listened to what was being told to him
over the telephone wire.



"What's the matter, Tom? What is it?"
asked Ned Newton, attracted by the strange
manner of his chum at the telephone. "Has
anything happened?"

But the young inventor was too busy listening
to the unseen speaker to answer his chum,
even if he heard what Ned remarked, which is

"Well, I might as well wait until he is
through," mused Ned, as he started to leave the
room. Then as Tom motioned to him to remain,
he murmured: "He may have something
to say to me later. But I wonder who is talking
to him."

There was no way of finding out, however,
until Tom had a chance to talk to Ned, and at
present the young scientist was eagerly listening
to what came over the wire. Occasionally Ned
could hear him say:

"You don't tell me! That is surprising! Yes
--yes! Of course if it's true it means a big
thing, I can understand that. What's that? No,
I couldn't make a promise like that. I'm sorry,

Then the person at the other end of the wire
must have plunged into something very interesting
and absorbing, for Tom did not again
interrupt by interjected remarks.

Tom. Swift, as has been said, was an inventor,
as was his father. Mr. Swift was now rather old
and feeble, taking only a nominal part in the
activities of the firm made up of himself and his
son. But his inventions were still used, many
of them being vital to the business and trade of
this country.

Tom and his father lived in the village of
Shopton, New York, and their factories covered
many acres of ground. Those who wish to read
of the earliest activities of Tom in the inventive
line are referred to the initial volume, "Tom
Swift and His Motor Cycle." From then on he
and his father had many and exciting adventures.
In a motor boat, an airship, and a submarine
respectively the young inventor had gone through
many perils. On some of the trips his chum,
Ned Newton, accompanied him, and very often
in the party was a Mr. Wakefield Damon, who
had a curious habit of "blessing" everything
that happened to strike his fancy.

Besides Tom and his father, the Swift household
was made up of Eradicate Sampson, a colored
man-of-all-work, who, with his mule Boomerang,
did what he could to keep the grounds
around the house in order. There was also Mrs.
Baggert, the housekeeper, Tom's mother being
dead. Mr. Damon, living in a neighboring town,
was a frequent visitor in the Swift home.

Mary Nestor, a girl of Shopton, might also
be mentioned. She and Tom were more than
just good friends. Tom had an idea that some
day----. But there, I promised not to tell that
part, at least until the young people themselves
were ready to have a certain fact announced.

From one activity to another had Tom Swift
gone, now constructing some important invention
for himself, as among others, when he made
the photo-telephone, or developed a great
searchlight which he presented to the Government
for use in detecting smugglers on the

The book immediately preceding this is called
"Tom Swift and His Bit, Tunnel," and deals
with the efforts of the young inventor to help a
firm of contractors penetrate a mountain in
Peru. How this was done and how, incidental-
ly, the lost city of Pelone was discovered, bringing
joy to the heart of Professor Swyington
Bumper, will be found fully set forth in the book.

Tom had been back from the Peru trip for
some months, when we again find him interested
in some of the work of Professor Bumper,
as set forth in the magazine mentioned.

"Well, he certainly is having some conversation,"
reflected Ned, as, after more than five
minutes, Tom's ear was still at the receiver of
the instrument, into the transmitter of which
he had said only a few words.

"All right," Tom finally answered, as he hung
the receiver up, "I'll be here," and then he turned
to Ned, whose curiosity had been growing with
the telephone talk, and remarked:

"That certainly was wonderful!"

"What was?" asked Ned. "Do you think I'm
a mind reader to be able to guess?"

"No, indeed! I beg your pardon. I'll tell you
at once. But I couldn't break away. It was
too important. To whom do you think I was
talking just then?"

"I can imagine almost any one, seeing I know
something of what you have done. It might be
almost anybody from some person you met up
in the caves of ice to a red pygmy from the
wilds of Africa."

"I'm afraid neither of them would be quite
up to telephone talk yet," laughed Tom. "No,
this was the gentleman who wrote that interesting
article about the idol of gold," and he
motioned to the magazine Ned held in his hand.

"You don't mean Professor Bumper!"

"That's just whom I do mean."

"What did he want? Where did he call

"He wants me to help organize an expedition
to go to Central America--to the Copan valley,
to be exact--to look for this somewhat mythical
idol of gold. Incidentally the professor will
gather in any other antiques of more or less
value, if he can find any, and he hopes, even if he
doesn't find the idol, to get enough historical
material for half a dozen books, to say nothing
of magazine articles."

"Where did he call from; did you say?"

"I didn't say. But it was a long-distance call
from New York. The Professor stopped off
there on his way from Boston, where he has been
lecturing before some society. And now he's
coming here to see me," finished Tom.

"What! Is he going to lecture here?" cried
Ned. "If he is, and spouts a whole lot of that
bone-dry stuff about the ancient Mayan civilization
and their antiquities, with side lights on
how the old-time Indians used to scalp their
enemies, I'm going to the moving pictures! I'm
willing to be your financial manager, Tom Swift,
but please don't ask me to be a high-brow. I
wasn't built for that."

"Nor I, Ned. The professor isn't going to
lecture. He's only going to talk, he says."

"What about?"

"He's going to try to induce me to join his
expedition to the Copan valley."

"Do you feel inclined to go?"

"No, Ned, I do not. I've got too many other
irons in the fire. I shall have to give the professor
a polite but firm refusal."

"Well, maybe you're right, Tom; and yet that
idol of gold--GOLD--weighing how many pounds
did you say?"

"Oh, you're thinking of its money value, Ned,
old man!"

"Yes, I'd like to see what a big chunk of gold
like that would bring. It must be quite a nugget.
But I'm not likely to get a glimpse of it
if you don't go with the professor."

"I don't see how I can go, Ned. But come
over and meet the delightful gentleman when
he arrives. I expect him day after to-morrow."

"I'll be here," promised Ned; and then he
went downtown to attend to some matters con-
nected with his new duties, which were much
less irksome than those he had had when he
had been in the bank.

"Well, Tom, have you heard any more about
your friend?" asked Ned, two days later, as he
came to the Swift home with some papers needing
the signature of the young inventor and his

"You mean----?"

"Professor Bumper."

"No, I haven't heard from him since he
telephoned. But I guess he'll be here all right.
He's very punctual. Did you see anything of
my giant Koku as you came in?"

"Yes, he and Eradicate were having an
argument about who should move a heavy casting
from one of the shops. Rad wanted to do it
all alone, but Koku said he was like a baby now."

"Poor Rad is getting old," said Tom with a
sigh. "But he has been very faithful. He and
Koku never seem to get along well together."

Koku was an immense man, a veritable giant,
one of two whom Tom had brought back with
him after an exciting trip to a strange land. The
giant's strength was very useful to the young

"Now Tom, about this business of leasing to
the English Government the right to manufac-
ture that new explosive of yours," began Ned,
plunging into the business at hand. "I think
if you stick out a little you can get a better
royalty price."

"But I don't want to gouge 'em, Ned. I'm
satisfied with a fair profit. The trouble with
you is you think too much of money. Now----"

At that moment a voice was heard in the hall
of the house saying:

"Now, my dear lady, don't trouble yourself.
I can find my way in to Tom Swift perfectly well
by myself, and while I appreciate your courtesy
I do not want to trouble you."

"No, don't come, Mrs. Baggert," added another
voice. "Bless my hat band, I think I know my
way about the house by this time!"

"Mr. Damon!" ejaculated Ned.

"And Professor Bumper is with him," added
Tom. "Come in!" he cried, opening the hall
door, to confront a bald-headed man who stood
peering at our hero with bright snapping eyes,
like those of some big bird spying out the land
from afar. "Come in, Professor Bumper; and
you too, Mr. Damon!"



Greetings and inquiries as to health having
been passed, not without numerous blessings on
the part of Mr. Damon, the little party gathered
in the library of the home of Tom Swift sat
down and looked at one another.

On Professor Bumper's face there was, plainly
to be seen, a look of expectation, and it seemed
to be shared by Mr. Damon, who seemed eager
to burst into enthusiastic talk. On the other
hand Tom Swift appeared a bit indifferent.

Ned himself admitted that he was frankly
curious. The story of the big idol of gold had
occupied his thoughts for many hours.

"Well, I'm glad to see you both," said Tom
again. "You got here all right, I see, Professor
Bumper. But I didn't expect you to meet and
bring Mr. Damon with you."

"I met him on the train," explained the author
of the book on the lost city of Pelone, as well
as books on other antiquities. "I had no
expectation of seeing him, and we were both
surprised when we met on the express."

"It stopped at Waterfield, Tom," explained
Mr. Damon, "which it doesn't usually do, being
an aristocratic sort of train, not given even to
hesitating at our humble little town. There
were some passengers to get off, which caused
the flier to stop, I suppose. And, as I wanted
to come over to see you, I got aboard."

"Glad you did," voiced Tom.

"Then I happened to see Professor Bumper a
few seats ahead of me," went on Mr. Damon,
"and, bless my scarfpin! he was coming to see
you also."

"Well, I'm doubly glad," answered Tom.

"So here we are," went on Mr. Damon, "and
you've simply got to come, Tom Swift. You
must go with us!" and Mr. Damon, in his
enthusiasm, banged his fist down on the table with
such force that he knocked some books to the floor.

Koku, the giant, who was in the hall, opened
the door and in his imperfect English asked:

"Master Tom knock for him bigs man?"

"No," answered Tom with a smile, "I didn't knock
or call you, Koku. Some books fell, that is all."

"Massa Tom done called fo' me, dat's what he done!"
broke in the petulant voice of Eradicate.

"No, Rad, I don't need anything," Tom said.
"Though you might make a pitcher of lemonade.
It's rather warm."

"Right away, Massa Tom! Right away!" cried
the old colored man, eager to be of service.

"Me help, too!" rumbled Koku, in his deep
voice. "Me punch de lemons!" and away he
hurried after Eradicate, fearful lest the old
servant do all the honors.

"Same old Rad and Koku," observed Mr.
Damon with a smile. "But now, Tom, while
they're making the lemonade, let's get down to
business. You're going with us, of course!"

"Where?" asked Tom, more from habit than
because he did not know.

"Where? Why to Honduras, of course! After
the idol of gold! Why, bless my fountain pen,
it's the most wonderful story I ever heard of!
You've read Professor Bumper's article, of
course. He told me you had. I read it on the
train coming over. He also told me about it,
and---- Well, I'm going with him, Tom Swift.

"And think of all the adventures that may
befall us! We'll get lost in buried cities, ride down
raging torrents on a raft, fall over a cliff maybe
and be rescued. Why, it makes me feel quite
young again!" and Mr. Damon arose, to pace
excitedly up and down the room.

Up to this time Professor Bumper had said
very little. He had sat still in his chair
listening to Mr. Damon. But now that the latter had
ceased, at least for a time, Tom and Ned looked
toward the scientist.

"I understand, Tom," he said, "that you read
my article in the magazine, about the possibility
of locating some of the lost and buried cities of

"Yes, Ned and I each read it. It was quite

"And yet there are more wonders to tell," went
on the professor. "I did not give all the details
in that article. I will tell you some of them. I
have brought copies of the documents with me,"
and he opened a small valise and took out several
bundles tied with pink tape.

"As Mr. Damon said," he went on while
arranging his papers, "he met me on the train, and
he was so taken by the story of the idol of gold
that he agreed to accompany me to Central America."

"On one condition!" put in the eccentric man.

"What's that? You didn't make any conditions
while we were talking," said the scientist.

"Yes, I said I'd go if Tom Swift did."

"Oh, yes. You did say that. But I don't call
that a condition, for of course Tom Swift will go.
Now let me tell you something more than I could
impart over the telephone.

"Soon after I called you up, Tom--and it was
quite a coincidence that it should have been at a
time when you had just finished my magazine
article. Soon after that, as I was saying, I
arranged to come on to Shopton. And now I'm
glad we're all here together.

"But how comes it, Ned Newton, that you are
not in the bank?"

"I've left there," explained Ned.

"He's now general financial man for the Swift
Company," Tom explained. "My father and I
found that we could not look after the inventing
and experimental end, and money matters, too,
and as Ned had had considerable experience this
way we made him take over those worries," and
Tom laughed genially.

"No worries at all, as far as the Swift
Company is concerned," returned Ned.

"Well, I guess you earn your salary," laughed
Tom. "But now, Professor Bumper, let's hear
from you. Is there anything more about this
idol of gold that you can tell us?"

"Plenty, Tom, plenty. I could talk all day,
and not get to the end of the story. But a lot
of it would be scientific detail that might be too
dry for you in spite of this excellent lemonade,"

Between them Koku and Eradicate had managed
to make a pitcher of the beverage, though
Mrs. Baggert, the housekeeper, told Tom afterward
that the two had a quarrel in the kitchen
as to who should squeeze the lemons, the giant
insisting that he had the better right to "punch"

"So, not to go into too many details," went on
the professor, "I'll just give you a brief outline
of this story of the idol of gold.

"Honduras, as you of course know, is a
republic of Central America, and it gets its name
from something that happened on the fourth
voyage of Columbus. He and his men had had
days of weary sailing and had sought in vain
for shallow water in which they might come to
an anchorage. Finally they reached the point
now known as Cape Gracias-a-Dios, and when
they let the anchor go, and found that in a short
time it came to rest on the floor of the ocean,
some one of the sailors--perhaps Columbus himself--
is said to have remarked:

"`Thank the Lord, we have left the deep
waters (honduras)' that being the Spanish word
for unfathomable depths. So Honduras it was
called, and has been to this day.

"It is a queer land with many traces of an
ancient civilization, a civilization which I
believe dates back farther than some in the far
East. On the sculptured stones in the Copan
valley there are characters which seem to
resemble very ancient writing, but this pictographic
writing is largely untranslatable.

"Honduras, I might add, is about the size of
our state of Ohio. It is rather an elevated table-
land, though there are stretches of tropical
forest, but it is not so tropical a country as many
suppose it to be. There is much gold scattered
throughout Honduras, though of late it has not
been found in large quantities.

"In the old days, however, before the Spaniards
came, it was plentiful, so much, so that the
natives made idols of it. And it is one of the
largest of these idols--by name Quitzel--that I
am going to seek."

"Do you know where it is?" asked Ned.

"Well, it isn't locked up in a safe deposit box,
of that I'm sure," laughed the professor. "No,
I don't know exactly where it is, except that it
is somewhere in an ancient and buried city
known as Kurzon. If I knew exactly where
it was there wouldn't be much fun in going after
it. And if it was known to others it would have
been taken away long ago.

"No, we've got to hunt for the idol of gold
in this land of wonders where I hope soon to be.
Later on I'll show you the documents that put
me on the track of this idol. Enough now to
show you an old map I found, or, rather, a copy
of it, and some of the papers that tell of the idol,"
and he spread out his packet of papers on the
table in front of him, his eyes shining with
excitement and pleasure. Mr. Damon, too, leaned
eagerly forward.

"So, Tom Swift," went on the professor, "I
come to you for help in this matter. I want
you to aid me in organizing an expedition to go
to Honduras after the idol of gold. Will you?"

"I'll help you, of course," said Tom. "You
may use any of my inventions you choose--my
airships, my motor boats and submarines, even
my giant cannon if you think you can take it
with you. And as for the money part, Ned will
arrange that for you. But as for going with you
myself, it is out of the question. I can't. No
Honduras for me!"



Had Tom Swift's giant cannon been discharged
somewhere in the vicinity of his home it could
have caused but little more astonishment to
Mr. Damon and Professor Bumper than did the
simple announcement of the young inventor.
The professor seemed to shrink back in his chair,
collapsing like an automobile tire when the air
is let out. As for Mr. Damon he jumped up and

"Bless my----!"

But that is as far as he got--at least just then.
He did not seem to know what to bless, but he
looked as though he would have liked to include
most of the universe.

"Surely you don't mean it, Tom Swift,"
gasped Professor Bumper at length. "Won't
you come with us?"

"No," said Tom, slowly. "Really I can't go.
I'm working on an invention of a new aeroplane
stabilizer, and if I go now it will be just at a
time when I am within striking distance of success.
And the stabilizer is very much needed."

"If it's a question of making a profit on it,
Tom," began Mr. Damon, "I can let you have
some money until----"

"Oh, no! It isn't the money!" cried Tom.
"Don't think that for a moment. You see the
European war has called for the use of a large
number of aeroplanes, and as the pilots of them
frequently have to fight, and so can not give their
whole attention to the machines, some form of
automatic stabilizer is needed to prevent them
turning turtle, or going off at a wrong tangent.

"So I have been working out a sort of
modified gyroscope, and it seems to answer the
purpose. I have already received advance orders
for a number of my devices from abroad, and as
they are destined to save lives I feel that I ought
to keep on with my work.

"I'd like to go, don't misunderstand me, but
I can't go at this time. It is out of the question.
If you wait a year, or maybe six months----"

"No, it is impossible to wait, Tom," declared
Professor Bumper.

"Is it so important then to hurry?" asked Mr.
Damon. "You did not mention that to me, Professor

"No, I did not have time. There are so many ends
to my concerns. But, Tom Swift, you simply must go!"

"I can't, my dear professor, much as I should like to."

"But, Tom, think of it!" cried Mr. Damon,
who was as much excited as was the little bald-
headed scientist. "You never saw such an idol
of gold as this. What's its name?" and he
looked questioningly at the professor.

"Quitzel the idol is called," supplied Professor
Bumper. "And it is supposed to be in a
buried city named Kurzon, somewhere in the
Sierra de Merendon range of mountains, in the
vicinity of the Copan valley. Copan is a city,
or maybe we'll find it only a town when we get
there, and it is not far from the borders of

"Tom, if I could show you the translations I
have made of the ancient documents, referring
to this idol and the wonderful city over which
it kept guard, I'm sure you'd come with us."

"Please don't tempt me," Tom said with a
laugh. "I'm only too anxious to go, and if it
wasn't for the stabilizer I'd be with you in a
minute. But---- Well, you'll have to get along
without me. Maybe I can join you later."

"What's this about the idol keeping guard
over the ancient city?" asked Ned, for he was
interested in strange stories.

"It seems," explained the professor, "that in
the early days there was a strange race of people,
inhabiting Central America, with a somewhat
high civilization, only traces of which remained
when the Spaniards came.

"But these traces, and such hieroglyphics, or,
to be more exact pictographs, as I have been able
to decipher from the old documents, tell of one
country, or perhaps it was only a city, over which
this great golden idol of Quitzel presided.

"There is in some of these papers a description
of the idol, which is not exactly a beauty,
judged from modern standards. But the main
fact is that it is made of solid gold, and may
weigh anywhere from one to two tons."

"Two tons of gold!" cried New Newton. "Why,
if that's the case it would be worth----" and
he fell to doing a sum in mental arithmetic.

"I am not so concerned about the monetary
value of the statue as I am about its antiquity,"
went on Professor Bumper. "There are other
statues in this buried city of Kurzon, and though
they may not be so valuable they will give me
a wealth of material for my research work."

"How do you know there are other statues?"
asked Mr. Damon.

"Because my documents tell me so. It was
because the people made other idols, in opposition,
as it were, to Quitzel, that their city or
country was destroyed. At least that is the
legend. Quitzel, so the story goes, wanted to be
the chief god, and when the image of a rival was
set up in the temple near him, he toppled over
in anger, and part of the temple went with him,
the whole place being buried in ruins. All the
inhabitants were killed, and trace of the ancient
city was lost forever. No, I hope not forever,
for I expect to find it."

"If all the people were killed, and the city
buried, how did the story of Quitzel become
known?" asked Mr. Damon.

"One only of the priests in the temple of
Quitzel escaped and set down part of the tale," said
the professor. "It is his narrative, or one based
on it, that I have given you."

"And now, what I want to do, is to go and
make a search for this buried city. I have fairly
good directions as to how it may be reached.
We will have little difficulty in getting to
Honduras, as there are fruit steamers frequently
sailing. Of course going into the interior--to the
Copan valley--is going to be harder. But an
expedition from a large college was recently
there and succeeded, after much labor, in ex-
cavating part of a buried city. Whether or not
it was Kurzon I am unable to say.

"But if there was one ancient city there must
be more. So I want to make an attempt. And
I counted on you, Tom. You have had considerable
experience in strange quarters of the earth,
and you're just the one to help me. I don't
need money, for I have interested a certain
millionaire, and my own college will put up part
of the funds."

"Oh, it isn't a question of money," said Tom.
"It's time."

"That's just what it is with me!" exclaimed
Professor Bumper. "I haven't any time to lose.
My rivals may, even now, be on their way to Honduras!"

"Your rivals!" cried Tom. "You didn't say anything about them!"

"No, I believe I didn't There were so many
other things to talk about. But there is a rival
archaeologist who would ask nothing better than
to get ahead of me in this matter. He is younger
than I am, and youth is a big asset nowadays."

"Pooh! You're not old!" cried Mr. Damon.
"You're no older than I am, and I'm still young.
I'm a lot younger than some of these boys who
are afraid to tackle a trip through a tropical
wilderness," and he playfully nudged Tom in the ribs.

"I'm not a bit afraid!" retorted the young inventor.

"No, I know you're not," laughed Mr. Damon.
"But I've got to say something, Tom, to stir you
up. Ned, how about you? Would you go?"

"I can't, unless Tom does. You see I'm his
financial man now."

"There you are, Tom Swift!" cried Mr. Damon.
"You see you are holding back a number
of persons just because you don't want to go."

"I certainly wouldn't like to go without Tom,"
said the professor slowly. "I really need his
help. You know, Tom, we would never have
found the city of Pelone if it had not been for
you and your marvelous powder. The conditions
in the Copan valley are likely to be still
more difficult to overcome, and I feel that I risk
failure without your young energy and your
inventive mind to aid in the work and to suggest
possible means of attaining our object. Come,
Tom, reconsider, and decide to make the trip."

"And my promise to go was dependent on
Tom's agreement to accompany us," said Mr.

"Come on!" urged the professor, much as one boy
might urge another to take part in a ball game.
"Don't let my rival get ahead of me."

"I wouldn't like to see that," Tom said slowly.
"Who is he--any one I know?"

"I don't believe so, Tom. He's connected
with a large, new college that has plenty of
money to spend on explorations and research
work. Beecher is his name--Fenimore Beecher."

"Beecher!" exclaimed Tom, and there was
such a change in his manner that his friends
could not help noticing it. He jumped to his
feet, his eyes snapping, and he looked eagerly
and anxiously at Professor Bumper.

"Did you say his name was Fenimore Beecher?"
Tom asked in a tense voice.

"That's what it is--Professor Fenimore Beecher.
He is really a learned young man, and
thoroughly in earnest, though I do not like his
manner. But he is trying to get ahead of me,
which may account for my feeling."

Tom Swift did not answer. Instead he hurried
from the room with a murmured apology.

"I'll be back in about five minutes," he said,
as he went out.

"Well, what's up now?" asked Mr. Damon of
Ned, as the young inventor departed. "What
set him off that way?"

"The mention of Beecher's name, evidently.
Though I never heard him mention such a person

"Nor did I ever hear Professor Beecher speak
of Tom," said the bald-headed scientist. "Well,
we'll just have to wait until----"

At that moment Tom came back into the room.

"Gentlemen," he said, "I have reconsidered my
refusal to go to the Copan valley after the idol
of gold. I'm going with you!"

"Good!" cried Professor Bumper.

"Fine!" ejaculated Mr. Damon. "Bless my time-table!
I thought you'd come around, Tom Swift."

"But what about your stabilizer?" asked Ned.

"I was just talking to my father about it,'
the young inventor replied. "He will be able
to put the finishing touches on it. So I'll leave
it with him. As soon as I can get ready I'll go,
since you say haste is necessary, Professor Bumper."

"It is, if we are to get ahead of Beecher."

"Then we'll get ahead of him!" cried Tom.
"I'm with you now from the start to the finish.
I'll show him what I can do!" he added, while
Ned and the others wondered at the sudden
change in their friend's manner.



"Tom how soon can we go?" asked Professor
Bumper, as he began arranging his papers, maps
and documents ready to place them back in the

"Within a week, if you want to start that

"The sooner the better. A week will suit me.
I don't know just what Beecher's plans are, but,
he may try to get on the ground first. Though,
without boasting, I may say that he has not had
as much experience as I have had, thanks to
you, Tom, when you helped me find the lost city
of Pelone."

"Well, I hope we'll be as successful this time,"
murmured Tom. "I don't want to see Beecher
beat you."

"I didn't know you knew him, Tom," said the

"Oh, yes, I have met him. once," and there
was something in Tom's manner, though he tried
to speak indifferently, that made Ned believe
there was more behind his chum's sudden change
of determination than had yet appeared.

"He never mentioned you," went on Professor
Bumper; "yet the last time I saw him I said I
was coming to see you, though I did not tell
him why."

"No, he wouldn't be likely to speak of me,"
said Tom significantly.

"Well, if that's all settled, I guess I'll go back
home and pack up," said Mr. Damon, making a
move to depart.

"There's no special rush," Tom said. "We
won't leave for a week. I can't get ready in
much less time than that."

"Bless my socks! I know that," ejaculated Mr.
Damon. "But if I get my things packed I can
go to a hotel to stay while my wife is away. She
might take a notion to come home unexpectedly,
and, though she is a dear, good soul, she doesn't
altogether approve of my going off on these wild
trips with you, Tom Swift. But if I get all
packed, and clear out, she can't find me and she
can't hold me back. She is visiting her mother
now. I can send her a wire from Kurzon after
I get there."

"I don't believe the telegraph there is work-
ing," laughed Professor Bumper. "But suit
yourself. I must go back to New York to arrange
for the goods we'll have to take with us.
In a week, Tom, we'll start."

"You must stay to dinner," Tom said. "You
can't get a train now anyhow, and father wants
to meet you again. He's pretty well, considering
his age. And he's much better I verily
believe since I said I'd turn over to him the task
of finishing the stabilizer. He likes to work."

"We'll stay and take the night train back,"
agreed Mr. Damon. "It will be like old times,
Tom," he went on, "traveling off together into
the wilds. Central America is pretty wild, isn't
it?" he asked, as if in fear of being disappointed!
on that score.

"Oh, it's wild enough to suit any one,"
answered Professor Bumper.

"Well, now to settle a few details," observed
Tom. "Ned, what is the situation as regards the
financial affairs of my father and myself? Nothing
will come to grief if we go away, will there?"

"I guess not, Tom. But are you going to take
your father with you?"

"No, of course not."

"But you spoke of `we.' "

"I meant you and I are going."

"Me, Tom?"

"Sure, you! I wouldn't think of leaving you
behind. You want Ned along, don't you, Professor?"

"Of course. It will be an ideal party--we
four. We'll have to take natives when we get
to Honduras, and make up a mule pack-train for
the interior. I had some thoughts of asking
you to take an airship along, but it might frighten
the Indians, and I shall have to depend on
them for guides, as well as for porters. So it
will be an old-fashioned expedition, in a way."

Mr. Swift came in at this point to meet his old

"The boy needs a little excitement," he said.
"He's been puttering over that stabilizer invention
too long. I can finish the model for him
in a very short time."

Professor Bumper told Mr. Swift something
about the proposed trip, while Mr. Damon went
out with Tom and Ned to one of the shops to
look at a new model aeroplane the young inventor
had designed.

There was a merry party around the table at
dinner, though now and then Ned noticed that
Tom had an abstracted and preoccupied air.

"Thinking about the idol of gold?" asked Ned
in a whisper to his chum, when they were about
to leave the table.

"The idol of gold? Oh, yes! Of course! It
will be great if we can bring that back with us."
But the manner in which he said this made Ned
feel sure that Tom had had other thoughts,
and that he had used a little subterfuge in his

Ned was right, as he proved for himself a little
later, when, Mr. Damon and the professor having
gone home, the young financial secretary
took his friend to a quiet corner and asked:

"What's the matter, Tom?"

"Matter? What do you mean?"

"I mean what made you make up your mind
so quickly to go on this expedition when you
heard Beecher was going?"

"Oh--er--well, you wouldn't want to see our
old friend Professor Bumper left, would you,
after he had worked out the secret of the idol
of gold? You wouldn't want some young
whipper-snapper to beat him in the race, would
you, Ned?"

"No, of course not."

"Neither would I. That's why I changed my
mind. This Beecher isn't going to get that idol
if I can stop him!"

"You seem rather bitter against him."

"Bitter? Oh, not at all. I simply don't want
to see my friends disappointed."

"Then Beecher isn't a friend of yours?"

"Oh, I've met him, that is all," and Tom tried
to speak indifferently.

"Humph!" mused Ned, "there's more here than I dreamed of.
I'm going to get at the bottom of it."

But though Ned tried to pump Tom, he was
not successful. The young inventor admitted
knowing the youthful scientist, but that was all,
Tom reiterating his determination not to let Professor
Bumper be beaten in the race for the idol
of gold.

"Let me see," mused Ned, as he went home
that evening. "Tom did not change his mind
until he heard Beecher's name mentioned. Now
this shows that Beecher had something to do
with it. The only reason Tom doesn't want
Beecher to get this idol or find the buried city
is because Professor Bumper is after it. And
yet the professor is not an old or close friend
of Tom's. They met only when Tom went to
dig his big tunnel. There must be some other

Ned did some more thinking. Then he
clapped his hands together, and a smile spread
over his face.

"I believe I have it!" he cried. "The little
green god as compared to the idol of gold!
That's it. I'm going to make a call on my way home."

This he did, stopping at the home of Mary
Nestor, a pretty girl, who, rumor had it, was
tacitly engaged to Tom. Mary was not at home,
but Mr. Nestor was, and for Ned's purpose this

"Well, well, glad to see you!" exclaimed
Mary's father. "Isn't Tom with you?" he asked
a moment later, seeing that Ned was alone.

"No, Tom isn't with me this evening," Ned
answered. "The fact is, he's getting ready to
go off on another expedition, and I'm going with him."

"You young men are always going somewhere,"
remarked Mrs. Nestor. "Where is it to this time?"

"Some place in Central America," Ned
answered, not wishing to be too particular. He
was wondering how he could find out what he
wanted to know, when Mary's mother unexpectedly
gave him just the information he was after.

"Central America!" she exclaimed. "Why,
Father," and she looked at her husband, "that's
where Professor Beecher is going, isn't it?"

"Yes, I believe he did mention something about that."

"Professor Beecher, the man who is an author-
ity on Aztec ruins?" asked Ned, taking a shot in
the dark.

"Yes," said Mr. Nestor. "And a mighty fine
young man he is, too. I knew his father well.
He was here on a visit not long ago, young
Beecher was, and he talked most entertainingly
about his discoveries. You remember how
interested Mary was, Mother?"

"Yes, she seemed to be," said Mrs. Nestor.
"Tom Swift dropped in during the course of
the evening," she added to Ned, "and Mary
introduced him to Professor Beecher. But I can't
say that Tom was much interested in the
professor's talk."

"No?" questioned Ned.

"No, not at all. But Tom did not stay long.
He left just as Mary and the professor were
drawing a map so the professor could indicate
where he had once made a big discovery."

"I see," murmured Ned. "Well, I suppose
Tom must have been thinking of something else
at the time."

"Very likely," agreed Mr. Nestor. "But Tom
missed a very profitable talk. I was very much
interested myself in what the professor told us,
and so was Mary. She invited Mr. Beecher to
come again. He takes after his father in being
very thorough in what he does.

"Sometimes I think," went on Mr. Nestor, "that
Tom isn't quite steady enough. He's thinking
of so many things, perhaps, that he can't get his
mind down to the commonplace. I remember he
once sent something here in a box labeled
`dynamite.' Though there was no explosive in it,
it gave us a great fright. But Tom is a boy, in
spite of his years. Professor Beecher seems
much older. We all like him very much."

"That's nice," said Ned, as he took his
departure. He had found out what he had come
to learn.

"I knew it!" Ned exclaimed as he walked
home. "I knew something was in the wind.
The little green god of jealousy has Tom in his
clutches. That's why my inventive friend was
so anxious to go on this expedition when he
learned Beecher was to go. He wants to beat
him. I guess the professor has plainly shown
that he wouldn't like anything better than to
cut Tom out with Mary. Whew! that's something
to think about!"



Ned Newton decided to keep to himself what
he had heard at the Nestor home. Not for the
world would he let Tom Swift know of the

"That is, I won't let him know that I know,"
said Ned to himself, "though he is probably as
well aware of the situation as I am. But it sure
is queer that this Professor Beecher should have
taken such a fancy to Mary, and that her father
should regard him so well. That is natural,
I suppose. But I wonder how Mary herself
feels about it. That is the part Tom would
be most interested in.

"No wonder Tom wants to get ahead of this
young college chap, who probably thinks he's
the whole show. If he can find the buried city,
and get the idol of gold, it would be a big
feather in his cap.

"He'd have no end of honors heaped on him,
and I suppose his hat wouldn't come within
three sizes of fitting him. Then he'd stand in
better than ever with Mr. Nestor. And, maybe,
with Mary, too, though I think she is loyal
to Tom. But one never can tell.

"However, I'm glad I know about it. I'll
do all I can to help Tom, without letting him
know that I know. And if I can do anything
to help in finding that idol of gold for Professor
Bumper, and, incidentally, Tom, I'll do it," and
he spoke aloud in his enthusiasm.

Ned, who was walking along in the darkness,
clapped his open hand down on Tom's magazine
he was carrying home to read again, and
the resultant noise was a sharp crack. As it
sounded a figure jumped from behind a tree
and called tensely:

"Hold on there!"

Ned stopped short, thinking he was to be
the victim of a holdup, but his fears were
allayed when he beheld one of the police force of
Shopton confronting him.

"I heard what you said about gettin' the gold,"
went on the officer. "I was walkin' along and I
heard you talkin'. Where's your pal?"

"I haven't any, Mr. Newbold," answered Ned
with a laugh, as he recognized the man.

"Oh, pshaw! It's Ned Newton!" exclaimed
the disappointed officer. "I thought you was
talkin' to a confederate about gold, and figured
maybe you was goin' to rob the bank."

"No, nothing like that," answered Ned, still
much amused. "I was talking to myself about
a trip Tom Swift and I are going to take

"Oh, that's all right," responded the
policeman. "I can understand it, if it had anything to
do with Tom. He's a great boy."

"Indeed he is," agreed Ned, making a mental
resolve not to be so public with his thoughts
in the future. He chatted for a moment with
the officer, and then, bidding him good-night,
walked on to his home, his mind in a whirl with
conglomerate visions of buried cities, great grinning
idols of gold, and rival professors seeking
to be first at the goal.

The next few days were busy ones for Tom,
Ned and, in fact, the whole Swift household.
Tom and his father had several consultations and
conducted several experiments in regard to the
new stabilizer, the completion of which was so
earnestly desired. Mr. Swift was sure he could
carry the invention to a successful conclusion.

Ned was engaged in putting the financial
affairs of the Swift Company in shape, so they
would practically run themselves during his ab-
sence. Then, too, there was the packing of their
baggage which must be seen to.

Of course, the main details of the trip were
left to Professor Bumper, who knew just what
to do. He had told Tom and Ned that all they
and Mr. Damon would have to do would be to
meet him at the pier in New York, where they
would find all arrangements made.

One day, near the end of the week (the beginning
of the next being set for the start) Eradicate
came shuffling into the room where Tom was
sorting out the possessions he desired to take
with him, Ned assisting him in the task.

"Well, Rad, what is it?" asked Tom, with
businesslike energy.

"I done heah, Massa Tom, dat yo' all's gwine
off on a long trip once mo'. Am dat so?"

"Yes, that's so, Rad."

"Well, den, I'se come to ast yo' whut I'd bettah
take wif me. Shall I took warm clothes or cool

"Well, if you were going, Rad," answered Tom
with a smile, "you'd need cool clothes, for we're
going to a sort of jungle-land. But I'm sorry to
say you're not going this trip."

"I---- I ain't gwine? Does yo' mean dat yo'
all ain't gwine to take me, Massa Tom?"

"That's it, Rad. It isn't any trip for you."

"In certain not!" broke in the voice of Koku,
the giant, who entered with a big trunk Tom had
sent him for. "Master want strong man like a
bull. He take Koku!"

"Look heah!" spluttered Eradicate, and his eyes
flashed. "Yo'--yo' giant yo'--yo' may be strong
laik a bull, but ya' ain't got as much sense as
mah mule, Boomerang! Massa Tom don't want
no sich pusson wif him. He's gwine to take me."

"He take me!" cried Koku, and his voice was
a roar while he beat on his mighty chest with his
huge fists.

Tom, seeing that the dispute was likely to be
bothersome, winked at Ned and began to speak.

"I don't believe you'd like it there, Rad--not
where we're going. It's a bad country. Why
the mosquitoes there bite holes in you--raise
bumps on you as big as eggs."

"Oh, good land!" ejaculated the old colored man.
"Am dat so Massa Tom?"

"It sure is. Then there's another kind of bug
that burrows under your fingernails, and if you
don't get 'em out, your fingers drop off."

"Oh, good land, Massa Tom! Am dat a fact?"

"It sure is. I don't want to see those things
happen to you, Rad."

Slowly the old colored man shook his head.

"I don't mahse'f," he said. "I---- I guess I
won't go."

Eradicate did not stop to ask how Tom and
Ned proposed to combat these two species of

But there remained Koku to dispose of, and he
stood smiling broadly as Eradicate shuffled of.

"Me no 'fraid bugs," said the giant.

"No," said Tom, with a look at Ned, for he did
not want to take the big man on the trip for
various reasons. "No, maybe not, Koku. Your
skin is pretty tough. But I understand there are
deep pools of water in the land where we are
going, and in them lives a fish that has a hide
like an alligator and a jaw like a shark. If you
fall in it's all up with you."

"Dat true, Master Tom?" and Koku's voice

"Well, I've never seen such a fish, I'm sure,
but the natives tell about it."

Koku seemed to be considering the matter.
Strange as it may seem, the giant, though afraid
of nothing human and brave when it came to a
hand-to-claw argument with a wild animal, had
a very great fear of the water and the unseen
life within it. Even a little fresh-water crab in
a brook was enough to send him shrieking to
shore. So when Tom told of this curious fish,
which many natives of Central America firmly
believe in, the giant took thought with himself.
Finally, he gave a sigh and said:

"Me stay home and keep bad mans out of
master's shop."

"Yes, I guess that's the best thing for you,"
assented Tom with an air of relief. He and Ned
had talked the matter over, and they had agreed
that the presence of such a big man as Koku, in
an expedition going on a more or less secret mission,
would attract too much attention.

"Well, I guess that clears matters up," said
Tom, as he looked over a collection of rifles and
small arms, to decide which to take. "We won't
have them to worry about."

"No, only Professor Beecher," remarked Ned,
with a sharp look at his chum.

"Oh, we'll dispose of him all right!" asserted
Tom boldly. "He hasn't had any experience in
business of this sort, and with that you and
Professor Bumper and Mr. Damon know we
ought to have little trouble in getting ahead of
the young man."

"Not to speak of your own aid," added Ned.

"Oh, I'll do what I can, of course," said Tom,
with an air of indifference. But Ned knew his
chum would work ceaselessly to help get the idol
of gold.

Tom gave no sign that there was any complication
in his affair with Mary Nestor, and of
course Ned did not tell anything of what he knew
about it.

That night saw the preparations of Ned and
Tom about completed. There were one or two
matters yet to finish on Tom's part in relation
to his business, but these offered no difficulties.

The two chums were in the Swift home, talking
over the prospective trip, when Mrs. Baggert,
answering a ring at the front door, announced
that Mr. Damon was outside.

"Tell him to come in," ordered Tom.

"Bless my baggage check!" exclaimed the
excitable man, as he shook hands with Tom and
Ned and noted the packing evidences all about.
"You're ready to go to the land of wonders."

"The land of wonders?" repeated Ned.

"Yes, that's what Professor Bumper calls the
part of Honduras we're going to. And it must
be wonderful, Tom. Think of whole cities,
some of them containing idols and temples of
gold, buried thirty and forty feet under the
surface! Wonderful is hardly the name for it!"

"It'll be great!" cried Ned. "I suppose you're
ready, Mr. Damon--you and the professor?"

"Yes. But, Tom, I have a bit of unpleasant
news for you."

"Unpleasant news?"

"Yes. You know Professor Bumper spoke of
a rival--a man named Beecher who is a member
of the faculty of a new and wealthy college."

"I heard him speak of him--yes," and the way
Tom said it no one would have suspected that
he had any personal interest in the matter.

"He isn't going to give his secret away,"
thought Ned.

"Well, this Professor Beecher, you know,"
went on Mr. Damon, "also knows about the idol
of gold, and is trying to get ahead of Professor
Bumper in the search."

"He did say something of it, but nothing was
certain," remarked Tom.

"But it is certain!" exclaimed Mr. Damon.
"Bless my toothpick, it's altogether too certain!"

"How is that?" asked Tom. "Is Beecher
certainly going to Honduras?"

"Yes, of course. But what is worse, he and
his party will leave New York on the same
steamer with us!"



On hearing Mr. Damon's rather startling
announcement, Tom and Ned looked at one another.
There seemed to be something back of
the simple statement--an ominous and portending

"On the same steamer with us, is he?" mused Tom.

"How did you learn this?" asked Ned.

"Just got a wire from Professor Bumper
telling me. He asked me to telephone to you about
it, as he was too busy to call up on the long
distance from New York. But instead of 'phoning
I decided to come over myself."

"Glad you did," said Tom, heartily. "Did
Professor Bumper want us to do anything
special, now that it is certain his rival will be
so close on his trail?"

"Yes, he asked me to warn you to be careful
what you did and said in reference to the expedition."

"Then does he fear something?" asked Ned.

"Yes, in a way. I think he is very much afraid
this young Beecher will not only be first on the
site of the underground city, but that he may
be the first to discover the idol of gold. It would
be a great thing for a young archaeologist like
Beecher to accomplish a mission of this sort,
and beat Professor Bumper in the race."

"Do you think that's why Beecher decided to
go on the same steamer we are to take?" asked Ned.

"Yes, I do," said Mr. Damon. "Though from
what Professor Bumper said I know he regards
Professor Beecher as a perfectly honorable man,
as well as a brilliant student. I do not believe
Beecher or his party would stoop to anything
dishonorable or underhand, though they would
not hesitate, nor would we, to take advantage of
every fair chance to win in the race."

"No, I suppose that's right," observed Tom;
but there was a queer gleam in his eye, and his
chum wondered if Tom did not have in mind the
prospective race between himself and Fenimore
Beecher for the regard of Mary Nestor. "We'll
do our best to win, and any one is at liberty to
travel on the same steamer we are to take," added
the young inventor, and his tone became more

"It will be all the livelier with two expeditions
after the same golden idol," remarked Ned.

"Yes, I think we're in for some excitement,"
observed Tom grimly. But even he did not
realize all that lay before them ere they would
reach Kurzon.

Mr. Damon, having delivered his message, and
remarking that his preparations for leaving were
nearly completed, went back to Waterfield, from
there to proceed to New York in a few days
with Tom and Ned, to meet Professor Bumper.

"Well, I guess we have everything in pretty
good shape," remarked Tom to his chum a day
or so after the visit of Mr. Damon. "Everything
is packed, and as I have a few personal matters
to attend to I think I'll take the afternoon off."

"Go to it!" laughed Ned, guessing a thing of two.
"I've got a raft of stuff myself to look after,
but don't let that keep you."

"If there is anything I can do," began Tom,
"don't hesitate to----"

"Nonsense!" exclaimed Ned. "I can do it all alone.
It's some of the company's business, anyhow,
and I'm paid for looking after that."

"All right, then I'll cut along," Tom said, and
he wore a relieved air.

"He's going to see Mary," observed Ned with
a grin, as he observed Tom hop into his trim
little roadster, which under his orders, Koku had
polished and cleaned until it looked as though
it had just come from the factory.

A little later the trim and speedy car drew up
in front of the Nestor home, and Tom bounded
up on the front porch, his heart not altogether
as light as his feet.

"No, I'm sorry, but Mary isn't in," said Mrs.
Nestor, answering his inquiry after greeting him.

"Not at home?"

"No, she went on a little visit to her cousin's at
Fayetteville. She said something about letting
you know she was going."

"She did drop me a card," answered Tom, and,
somehow he did not feel at all cheerful. "But
I thought it wasn't until next week she was

"That was her plan, Tom. But she changed
it. Her cousin wired, asking her to advance
the date, and this Mary did. There was something
about a former school chum who was also
to be at Myra's house--Myra is Mary's cousin
you know."

"Yes, I know," assented the young inventor.
"And so Mary is gone. How long is she going
to stay?"

"Oh, about two weeks. She wasn't quite
certain. It depends on the kind of a time she has,
I suppose."

"Yes, I suppose so," agreed Tom. "Well, if
you write before I do you might say I called,
Mrs. Nestor."

"I will, Tom. And I know Mary will be sorry
she wasn't here to take a ride with you; it's
such a nice day," and the lady smiled as she
looked at the speedy roadster.

"Maybe--maybe you'd like to come for a spin?"
asked Tom, half desperately.

"No, thank you. I'm too old to be jounced
around in one of those small cars."

"Nonsense! She rides as easily as a Pullman

"Well, I have to go to a Red Cross meeting,
anyhow, so I can't come, Tom. Thank you,
just the same."

Tom did not drive back immediately to his
home. He wanted to do a bit of thinking, and
he believed he could do it best by himself. So
it was late afternoon when he again greeted Ned,
who, meanwhile, had been kept very busy.

"Well?" called Tom's chum.

"Um!" was the only answer, and Tom called
Koku to put the car away in the garage.

"Something wrong," mused Ned.

The next three days were crowded with events
and with work. Mr. Damon came over
frequently to consult with Tom and Ned, and
finally the last of their baggage had been packed,

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