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Tom Swift in the Land of Wonders by Victor Appleton

Part 3 out of 4

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"Ned, do you really think Tolpec is going to
desert us?" asked Tom.

"Well, I don't know," was the slowly given reply.
"It's a possibility, isn't it?"

"Yes, it is," broke in Professor Bumper. "But
what if it is? We might as well trust him, and
if he proves true, as I believe he will, we'll be
so much better off. If he proves a traitor we'll
only have lost a few days, for if he doesn't come
back we can go on again in the way we started."

"But that's just it!" complained Tom. "We
don't want to lose any time with that Beecher
chap on our trail."

"I am not so very much concerned about him,"
remarked Professor Bumper, dryly.

"Why not?" snapped out Mr. Damon.

"Well, because I think he'll have just about
as hard work locating the hidden city, and finding
the idol of gold, as we'll have. In other words
it will be an even thing, unless he gets too far
ahead of us, or keeps us back, and I don't believe
he can do that now.

"So I thought it best to take a chance with this
Indian. He would hardly have taken the trouble
to come all the way back, and run the risks he
did, just to delay us a few days. However, we'll
soon know. Meanwhile, we'll take it easy and
wait for the return of Tolpec and his friends."

Though none of them liked to admit it, Ned's
words had caused his three friends some anxiety,
and though they busied themselves about the
camp there was an air of waiting impatiently for
something to occur. And waiting is about the
hardest work there is.

But there was nothing for it but to wait, and
it might be at least a week, Professor Bumper
said, before the Indian could return with a party
of porters and mules to move their baggage.

"Yes, Tolpec has not only to locate the
settlement," Tom admitted, "but he must persuade the
natives to come back with him. He may have
trouble in that, especially if it is known that he
has left Jacinto, who, I imagine, is a power among
the tribes here."

But there were only two things left to do--wait
and hope. The travelers did both. Four days
passed and there was no sign of Tolpec. Eager-
ly, and not a little anxiously, they watched the
jungle path along which he had disappeared.

"Oh, come on!" exclaimed Tom one morning,
when the day seemed a bit cooler than its
predecessor. "Let's go for a hunt, or something!
I'm tired of sitting around camp."

"Bless my watch hands! So am I!" cried Mr. Damon.
"Let's all go for a trip. It will do us good."

"And perhaps I can get some specimens of interest,"
added Professor Bumper, who, in addition to being
an archaeologist, was something of a naturalist.

Accordingly, having made everything snug in
camp, the party, Tom and Ned equipped with
electric rifles, and the professor with a butterfly
net and specimen boxes, set forth. Mr. Damon
said he would carry a stout club as his weapon.

The jungle, as usual, was teeming with life,
but as Ned and Tom did not wish to kill wantonly
they refrained from shooting until later in the
day. For once it was dead, game did not keep
well in that hot climate, and needed to be cooked
almost immediately.

"We'll try some shots on our back trip," said
the young inventor.

Professor Bumper found plenty of his own
particular kind of "game" which he caught in the
net, transferring the specimens to the boxes he
carried. There were beautiful butterflies, moths
and strange bugs in the securing of which the
scientist evinced great delight, though when one
beetle nipped him firmly and painfully on his
thumb his involuntary cry of pain was as real
as that of any other person.

"But I didn't let him get away," he said in
triumph when he had dropped the clawing insect
into the cyanide bottle where death came painlessly.
"It is well worth a sore thumb."

They wandered on through the jungle, taking
care not to get too far from their camp, for they
did not want to lose their way, nor did they want
to be absent too long in case Tolpec and his
native friends should return.

"Well, it's about time we shot something, I
think," remarked Ned, when they had been out
about two hours. "Let's try for some of these
wild turkeys. They ought to go well roasted
even if it isn't Thanksgiving."

"I'm with you," agreed Tom. "Let's see who
has the best luck. But tone down the charge
in your rifle and use a smaller projectile, or you'll
have nothing but a bunch of feathers to show
for your shot. The guns are loaded for deer."

The change was made, and once more the two
young men started off, a little ahead of Professor
Bumper and Mr. Damon. Tom and Ned had
not gone far, however, before they heard a strange
cry from Mr. Damon.

"Tom! Ned!" shouted the eccentric man,
"Here's a monster after me! Come quick!"

"A tiger!" ejaculated Tom, as he began once
more to change the charge in his rifle to a larger
one, running back, meanwhile, in the direction
of the sound of the voice.

There were really no tigers in Honduras, the
jaguar being called a tiger by the natives, while
the cougar is called a lion. The presence of these
animals, often dangerous to man, had been indicated
around camp, and it was possible that one had been
bold enough to attack Mr. Damon, not through hunger,
but because of being cornered.

"Come on, Ned!" cried Tom. "He's in some
sort of trouble!"

But when, a moment later, the young inventor
burst through a fringe of bushes and saw Mr.
Damon standing in a little clearing, with upraised
club, Tom could not repress a laugh.

"Kill it, Tom! Kill it!" begged the eccentric man.
"Bless my insurance policy, but it's a terrible beast!"

And so it was, at first glance. For it was a
giant iguana, one of the most repulsive-looking
of the lizards. Not unlike an alligator in shape,
with spikes on its head and tail, with a warty,
squatty ridge-encrusted body, a big pouch beneath
its chin, and long-toed claws, it was enough
to strike terror into the heart of almost any one.
Even the smaller ones look dangerous, and this
one, which was about five feet long, looked
capable of attacking a man and injuring him. As
a matter of fact the iguanas are harmless, their
shape and coloring being designed to protect them.

"Don't be afraid, Mr. Damon," called Tom, still
laughing. "It won't hurt you!"

"I'm not so positive of that. It won't let me pass."

"Just take your club and poke it out of the way,"
the young inventor advised. "It's only waiting
to be shoved."

"Then you do it, Tom. Bless my looking glass,
but I don't want to go near it! If my wife could
see me now she'd say it served me just right."

Mr. Damon was not a coward, but the giant
iguana was not pleasant to look at. Tom, with
the butt of his rifle, gave it a gentle shove,
whereupon the creature scurried off through the brush
as though glad to make its escape unscathed.

"I thought it was a new kind of alligator," said
Mr. Damon with a sigh of relief.

"Where is it?" asked Professor Bumper, coming
up at this juncture. "A new species of alligator?
Let me see it!"

"It's too horrible," said Mr. Damon. "I never
want to see one again. It was worse than a
vampire bat!"

Notwithstanding this, when he heard that it
was one of the largest sized iguanas ever seen,
the professor started through the jungle after it.

"We can't take it with us if we get it," Tom
called after his friend.

"We might take the skin," answered the
professor. "I have a standing order for such things
from one of the museums I represent. I'd like
to get it. Then they are often eaten. We can
have a change of diet. you see."

"We'd better follow him," said Tom to Ned.
"We'll have to let the turkeys go for a while.
He may get into trouble. Come on."

Off they started through the jungle, trailing
after the impetuous professor who was intent on
capturing the iguana. The giant lizard's progress
could be traced by the disturbance of the
leaves and underbrush, and the professor was
following as closely as possible.

So fast did he go that Ned, Tom and Mr.
Damon, following, lost sight of him several
times, and Tom finally called:

"Wait a minute. We'll all be lost if you keep
this up."

"I'll have him in another minute," answered
the professor. "I can almost reach him now.
Then---- Oh!"

His voice ended in a scream that seemed to
be one of terror. So sudden was the change that
Tom and Ned, who were together, ahead of Mr.
Damon, looked at one another in fear.

"What has happened?" whispered Ned, pausing.

"Don't stop to ask--come on!" shouted Tom.

At that instant again came the voice of the savant.

"Tom! Ned!" he gasped, rather than cried.

"I'm caught in the coils! Quick--quick if you
would save me!"

"In the coils!" repeated Ned. "What does he mean?
Can the giant iguana----"

Tom Swift did not stop to answer. With his
electric rifle in readiness, he leaped forward
through the jungle.



Before Tom and Ned reached the place
whence Professor Bumper had called, they heard
strange noises, other than the imploring voice of
their friend. It seemed as though some great
body was threshing about in the jungle, lashing
the trees, bushes and leaves about, and when
the two young men, followed by Mr. Damon,
reached the scene they saw that, in a measure,
this really accounted for what they heard.

Something like a great whip was beating about
close to two trees that grew near together. And
then, when the storm of twigs, leaves and dirt,
caused by the leaping, threshing thing ceased for
a moment, the onlookers saw something that
filled them with terror.

Between the two trees, and seemingly bound
to them by a great coiled rope, spotted and banded,
was the body of Professor Bumper. His arms
were pinioned to his sides and there was horror
and terror on his face, that looked imploringly
at the youths from above the topmost coil of
those encircling him.

"What is it?" cried Mr. Damon, as he ran
pantingly up. "What has caught him? Is it the
giant iguana?"

"It's a snake--a great boa!" gasped Tom. "It
has him in its coils. But it is wound around
the trees, too. That alone prevents it from
crushing the professor to death.

"Ned, be ready with your rifle. Put in the
heaviest charge, and watch your chance to fire!"

The great, ugly head of the boa reared itself
up from the coils which it had, with the quickness
of thought, thrown about the man between
the two trees. This species of snake is not
poisonous, and kills its prey by crushing it to
death, making it into a pulpy mass, with scarcely
a bone left unbroken, after which it swallows
its meal. The crushing power of one of these
boas, some of which reach a length of thirty
feet, with a body as large around as that of a
full-grown man, is enormous.

"I'm going to fire!" suddenly cried Tom. He
had seen his chance and he took it. There was
the faint report--the crack of the electric rifle--
and the folds of the serpent seemed to relax.

"I see a good chance now," added Ned, who
had taken the small charge from his weapon,
replacing it with a heavier one.

His rifle was also discharged in the direction
of the snake, and Tom saw that the hit was a
good one, right through the ugly head of the reptile.

"One other will be enough to make him loosen
his coils!" cried Tom, as he fired again, and such
was the killing power of the electric bullets that
the snake, though an immense one, and one that
short of decapitation could have received many
injuries without losing power, seemed to shrivel up.

Its folds relaxed, and the coils of the great
body fell in a heap at the roots of the two trees,
between which the scientist had been standing.

Professor Bumper seemed to fall backward as
the grip of the serpent relaxed, but Tom, dropping
his rifle, and calling to Ned to keep an eye
on the snake, leaped forward and caught his friend.

"Are you hurt?" asked Tom, carrying the limp
form over to a grassy place. There was no
answer, the savant's eyes were closed and he
breathed but faintly.

Ned Newton fired two more electric bullets
into the still writhing body of the boa.

"I guess he's all in," he called to Tom.

"Bless my horseradish! And so our friend
seems to be," commented Mr. Damon. "Have
you anything with which to revive him, Tom?"

"Yes. Some ammonia. See if you can find a
little water."

"I have some in my flask."

Tom mixed a dose of the spirits which he
carried with him, and this, forced between the pallid
lips of the scientist, revived him.

"What happened?" he asked faintly as he opened
his eyes. "Oh, yes, I remember," he added
slowly. "The boa----"

"Don't try to talk," urged Tom. "You're all
right. The snake is dead, or dying. Are you
much hurt?"

Professor Bumper appeared to be considering.
He moved first one limb, then another. He
seemed to have the power over all his muscles.

"I see how it happened," he said, as he sat
up, after taking a little more of the ammonia. "I
was following the iguana, and when the big lizard
came to a stop, in a little hollow place in the
ground, at the foot of those two trees, I leaned
over to slip a noose of rope about its neck. Then
I felt myself caught, as if in the hands of a giant,
and bound fast between the two trees."

"It was the big boa that whipped itself around
you, as you leaned over," explained Tom, as Ned
came up to announce that the snake was no
longer dangerous. "But when it coiled around
you it also coiled around the two trees, you,
fortunately slipping between them. Had it not
been that their trunks took off some of the pressure
of the coils you wouldn't have lasted a minute."

"Well, I was pretty badly squeezed as it was,"
remarked the professor. "I hardly had breath
enough left to call to you. I tried to fight off the
serpent, but it was of no use."

"I should say not!" cried Mr. Damon. "Bless my
circus ring! one might as well try to combat
an elephant! But, my dear professor, are you all
right now?"

"I think so--yes. Though I shall be lame and
stiff for a few days, I fear. I can hardly walk."

Professor Bumper was indeed unable to go
about much for a few days after his encounter
with the great serpent. He stretched out in a
hammock under trees in the camp clearing, and
with his friends waited for the possible return
of Tolpec and the porters.

Ned and Tom made one or two short hunting
trips, and on these occasions they kept a lookout
in the direction the Indian had taken when he
went away.

"For he's sure to come back that way--if he
comes at all," declared Ned; "which I am beginning
to doubt."

"Well, he may not come," agreed Tom, who
was beginning to lose some of his first hope.
"But he won't necessarily come from the same
direction he took. He may have had to go in an
entirely different way to get help. We'll hope
for the best."

A week passed. Professor Bumper was able
to be about, and Tom and Ned noticed that
there was an anxious look on his face. Was he,
too, beginning to despair?

"Well, this isn't hunting for golden idols very
fast," said Mr. Damon, the morning of the eighth
day after their desertion by the faithless Jacinto.
"What do you say, Professor Bumper; ought
we not to start off on our own account?"

"We had better if Tolpec does not return
today," was the answer.

They had eaten breakfast, had put their camp
in order, and were about to have a consultation
on what was best to do, when Tom suddenly
called to Ned, who was whistling:


Through the jungle came a faint sound of singing
--not a harmonious air, but the somewhat
barbaric chant of the natives.

"It is Tolpec coming back!" cried Mr. Damon.
"Hurray! Now our troubles are over t Bless my
meal ticket! Now we can start!"

"It may be Jacinto," suggested Ned.

"Nonsense! you old cold-water pitcher!"
cried Tom. "It's Tolpec! I can see him! He's
a good scout all right!"

And then, walking at the head of a band of
Indians who were weirdly chanting while behind
them came a train of mules, was Tolpec, a cheerful
grin covering his honest, if homely, dark face.

"Me come back!" he exclaimed in gutteral
English, using about half of his foreign vocabulary.

"I see you did," answered Professor Bumper
in the man's own tongue. "Glad to see you.
Is everything all right?"

"All right," was the answer. "These Indians
will take you where you want to go, and will not
leave you as Jacinto did."

"We'll start in the morning!" exclaimed the
savant his own cheerful self again, now that
there was a prospect of going further into the
interior. "Tell the men to get something to eat,
Tolpec. There is plenty for all."

"Good!" grunted the new guide and soon the
hungry Indians, who had come far, were satisfying
their hunger.

As they ate Tolpec explained to Professor
Bumper, who repeated it to the youths and Mr.
Damon, that it had been necessary to go farther
than he had intended to get the porters and
mules. But the Indians were a friendly tribe,
of which he was a member, and could be depended on.

There was a feast and a sort of celebration in
camp that night. Tom and Ned shot two deer,
and these formed the main part of the feast and
the Indians made merry about the fire until nearly
midnight. They did not seem to mind in the
least the swarms of mosquitoes and other bugs
that flew about, attracted by the light. As for
Tom Swift and his friends, their nets protected

An early start was made the following morning.
Such packages of goods and supplies as could
not well be carried by the Indians in their head
straps, were loaded on the backs of the pack-
mules. Tolpec explained that on reaching the
Indian village, where he had secured the porters,
they could get some ox-carts which would be a
convenience in traveling into the interior toward
the Copan valley.

The march onward for the next two days was
tiresome; but the Indians Tolpec had secured
were as faithful and efficient as he had described
them, and good progress was made.

There were a few accidents. One native fell
into a swiftly running stream as they were fording
it and lost a box containing some much-needed
things. But as the man's life was saved Professor
Bumper said it made up for the other loss.
Another accident did not end so auspiciously.
One of the bearers was bitten by a poisonous
snake, and though prompt measures were taken,
the poison spread so rapidly that the man died.

In due season the Indian village was reached.
where, after a day spent in holding funeral services
over the dead bearer, preparations were
made for proceeding farther.

This time some of the bearers were left behind,
and ox-carts were substituted for them, as it was
possible to carry more goods this way,

"And now we're really off for Copan!"
exclaimed Professor Bumper one morning, when
the cavalcade, led by Tolpec in the capacity of
head guide, started off. "I hope we have no
more delays."

"I hope not, either," agreed Tom. "That
Beecher may be there ahead of us."

Weary marches fell to their portion. There
were mountains to climb, streams to ford or swim,
sending the carts over on rudely made rafts.
There were storms to endure, and the eternal heat
to fight.

But finally the party emerged from the
lowlands of the coast and went up in among the
hills, where though the going was harder, the
climate was better. It was not so hot and moist.

Not wishing to attract attention in Copan
itself, Professor Bumper and his party made a
detour, and finally, after much consultation with
Tom over the ancient maps, the scientist announced
that he thought they were in the vicinity
of the buried city.

"We will begin test excavations in the
morning," he said.

The party was in camp, and preparations were
made for spending the night in the forest, when
from among the trees there floated to the ears
of our friends a queer Indian chant.

"Some one is coming," said Tom to Ned.

Almost as he spoke there filed into the clearing
where the camp had been set up, a cavalcade of white men,
followed by Indians. And at the sight of one
of the white men Tom Swift uttered a cry.

"Professor Beecher!" gasped the young inventor.



The on-marching company of white men, with
their Indian attendants, came to a halt on the
edge of the clearing as they caught sight of the
tents already set up there. The barbaric chant
of the native bearers ceased abruptly, and there
was a look of surprise shown on the face of
Professor Fenimore Beecher. For Professor Beecher
it was, in the lead of the rival expedition.

"Bless my shoe laces!" exclaimed Mr. Damon.

"Is it really Beecher?" asked Ned, though he knew
as well as Tom that it was the young archaeologist.

"It certainly is!" declared Tom. "And he has
nerve to follow us so closely!"

"Maybe he thinks we have nerve to get here
ahead of him," suggested Ned, smiling grimly.

"Probably," agreed Tom, with a short laugh.
"Well, it evidently surprises him to find us here
at all, after the mean trick he played on us to
get Jacinto to lead us into the jungle and desert

"That's right," assented Ned. "Well, what's
the next move?"

There seemed to be some doubt about this
on the part of both expeditions. At the sight
of Professor Beecher, Professor Bumper, who had
come out of his tent, hurriedly turned to Tom
and asked him what he thought it best to do.

"Do!" exclaimed the eccentric Mr. Damon,
not giving Tom time to reply. "Why, stand
your ground, of course! Bless my house and
lot! but we're here first! For the matter of that,
I suppose the jungle is free and we can no more
object to his coming: here than he can to our
coming. First come, first served, I suppose is the
law of the forest."

Meanwhile the surprise occasioned by the
unexpected meeting of their rivals seemed to have
spread something like consternation among the
white members of the Beecher party. As for the
natives they evidently did not care one way or
the other.

There was a hasty consultation among the
professors accompanying Mr. Beecher, and then the
latter himself advanced toward the tents of Tom
and his friends and asked:

"How long have you been here?"

"I don't see that we are called upon to answer
that question," replied Professor Bumper stiffly.

"Perhaps not, and yet----"

"There is no perhaps about it!" said Professor
Bumper quickly. "I know what your object is,
as I presume you do mine. And, after what
I may term your disgraceful and unsportsmanlike
conduct toward me and my friends, I prefer
not to have anything further to do with you.
We must meet as strangers hereafter."

"Very well," and Professor Beecher's voice was
as cold and uncompromising as was his rival's.
"Let it be as your wish. But I must say I don't
know what you mean by unsportsmanlike conduct."

"An explanation would be wasted on you,"
said Professor Bumper stiffly. "But in order that
you may know I fully understand what you did
I will say that your efforts to thwart us through
your tool Jacinto came to nothing. We are here
ahead of you."

"Jacinto!" cried Professor Beecher in real or
simulated surprise. "Why, he was not my `tool,'
as you term it."

"Your denial is useless in the light of his
confession," asserted Professor Bumper.


"Now look here!" exclaimed the older
professor, "I do not propose to lower myself by
quarreling with you. I know certainly what
you and your party tried to do to prevent us
from getting here. But we got out of the trap
you set for us, and we are on the ground first.
I recognize your right to make explorations as
well as ourselves, and I presume you have not
fallen so low that you will not recognize the
unwritten law in a case of this kind--the law
which says the right of discovery belongs to the
one who first makes it."

"I shall certainly abide by such conduct as
is usual under the circumstances," said
Professor Beecher more stiffly than before.
"At the same time I must deny having set a trap.
And as for Jacinto----"

"It will be useless to discuss it further!"
broke in Professor Bumper.

"Then no more need be said," retorted the
younger man. "I shall give orders to my friends,
as well as to the natives, to keep away from
your camp, and I shall expect you to do the
same regarding mine."

"I should have suggested the same thing
myself," came from Tom's friend, and the two rival
scientists fairly glared at one another, the others
of both parties looking on with interest.

Professor Bumper turned and walked defiantly
back to his tent. Professor Beecher did the same
thing. Then, after a short consultation among
the white members of the latter's organization,
their tents were set up in another clearing,
removed and separated by a screen of trees and
bushes from those of Tom Swift's friends. The
natives of the Beecher party also withdrew a little
way from those of Professor Bumper's organization,
and then preparations for spending the
night in the jungle went on in the rival

"Well, he certainly had nerve, to deny, practically,
that he had set Jacinto up to do what he did," commented Tom.

"I should say so!" agreed Ned.

"How do you imagine he got here nearly as
soon as we did, when he did not start until
later?" asked Mr. Damon.

"He did not have the unfortunate experience
of being deserted in the jungle," replied Tom.
"He probably had Jacinto, or some of that
unprincipled scoundrel's friends, show him a short
route to Copan and he came on from there."

"Well, I did hope we might have the ground
to ourselves, at least for the preliminary explorations
and excavations. But it is not to be. My
rival is here," sighed Professor Bumper.

"Don't let that discourage you!" exclaimed Tom.
"We can fight all the better now the foe
is in the open, and we know where he is."

"Yes, Tom Swift, that is true," agreed the
scientist. "I am not going to give up, but I
shall have to change my plans a little. Perhaps
you will come into the tent with me," and he
nodded to Tom and Ned. "I want to talk over
certain matters with you and Mr. Damon."

"Pleased to," assented the young inventor, and
his financial secretary nodded.

A little later, supper having been eaten, the
camp made shipshape and the natives settled
down, Tom, Ned, Mr. Damon and Professor
Bumper assembled in the tent of the scientist,
where a dry battery lamp gave sufficient illumination
to show a number of maps and papers scattered
over an improvised table.

"Now, gentlemen," said the professor, "I have
called you here to go over my plans more in
detail than I have hitherto done, now we are on
the ground. You know in a general way what
I hope to accomplish, but the time has come
when I must be specific.

"Aside from being on the spot, below which,
or below the vicinity where, I believe, lies the
lost city of Kurzon and, I hope, the idol of gold,
a situation has arisen--an unexpected situation,
I may say--which calls for different action from
that I had counted on.

"I refer to the presence of my rival, Professor
Beecher. I will not dwell now on what he has
done. It is better to consider what he may do."

"That's right," agreed Ned. "He may get up in
the night, dig up this city and skip with that
golden image before we know it."

"Hardly," grinned Tom.

"No," said Professor Bumper. "Excavating
buried cities in the jungle of Honduras is not
as simple as that. There is much work to be
done. But accidents may happen, and in case
one should occur to me, and I be unable to prosecute
the search, I want one of you to do it. For
that reason I am going to show you the maps
and ancient documents and point out to you
where I believe the lost city lies. Now, if you
will give me your attention, I'll proceed."

The professor went over in detail the story
of how he had found the old documents relating
to the lost city of Kurzon, and of how, after
much labor and research, he had located the
city in the Copan valley. The great idol of
gold was one of the chief possessions of Kurzon,
and it was often referred to in the old
papers; copies and translations of which the
professor had with him.

"But this is the most valuable of all," he said,
as he opened an oiled-silk packet. "And before
I show it to you, suppose you two young men
take a look outside the tent."

"What for?" asked Mr. Damon.

"To make sure that no emissaries from the
Beecher crowd are sneaking around to overhear
what we say," was the somewhat bitter answer
of the scientist. "I do not trust him, in spite
of his attempted denial."

Tom and Ned took a quick but thorough
observation outside the tent. The blackness of the
jungle night was in strange contrast to the light
they had just left.

"Doesn't seem to be any one around here,"
remarked Ned, after waiting a minute or two.

"No. All's quiet along the Potomac. Those
Beecher natives are having some sort of a song-
fest, though."

In the distance, and from the direction of their
rivals' camp, came the weird chant.

"Well, as long as they stay there we'll be all
right," said Tom. "Come on in. I'm anxious to
hear what the professor has to say."

"Everything's quiet," reported Ned.

"Then give me your attention," begged the

Carefully, as though about to exhibit some,
precious jewel, he loosened the oiled-silk wrappings
and showed a large map, on thin but tough

"This is drawn from the old charts," the
professor explained. "I worked on it many months,
and it is the only copy in the world. If it were
to be destroyed I should have to go all the way
back to New York to make another copy. I have
the original there in a safe deposit vault."

"Wouldn't it have been wise to make two
copies?" asked Tom.

"It would have only increased the risk. With
one copy, and that constantly in my possession,
I can be sure of my ground. Otherwise not.
That is why I am so careful of this. Now I will
show you why I believe we are about over the
ancient city of Kurzon."

"Over it!" cried Mr. Damon. "Bless my
gunpowder! What do you mean?" and he looked
down at the earthen floor of the tent as though
expecting it to open and swallow him.

"I mean that the city, like many others of
Central and South America, is buried below the
refuse of centuries," went on the professor.
"Very soon, if we are fortunate, we shall be
looking on the civilization of hundreds of years
ago--how long no one knows.

"Considerable excavation has been done in
Central America," went on Professor Bumper,
"and certain ruins have been brought to light.
Near us are those of Copan, while toward the
frontier are those of Quirigua, which are even
better preserved than the former. We may visit
them if we have time. But I have reason to
believe that in this section of Copan is a large
city, the existence of which has not been made
certain of by any one save myself--and, perhaps,
Professor Beecher.

"Certainly no part of it has seen the light of
day for many centuries. It shall be our pleasure
to uncover it, if possible, and secure the idol of

"How long ago do you think the city was
buried?" asked Tom.

"It would be hard to say. From the carvings
and hieroglyphics I have studied it would seem
that the Mayan civilization lasted about five
hundred years, and that it began perhaps in the
year A. D. five hundred."

"That would mean," said Mr. Damon, "that
the ancient cities were in ruins, buried, perhaps,
long before Columbus discovered the new

"Yes," assented the professor. "Probably
Kurzon, which we now seek, was buried deep for
nearly five hundred years before Columbus landed
at San Salvadore. The specimens of writing and
architecture heretofore disclosed indicate that.
But, as a matter of fact, it is very hard to
decipher the Mayan pictographs. So far, little but
the ability to read their calendars and numerical
system is possessed by us, though we are gradually
making headway.

"Now this is the map of the district, and by the
markings you can see where I hope to find what
I seek. We shall begin digging here," and he
made a small mark with a pencil on the map.

"Of course," the professor explained, "I may be
wrong, and it will take some time to discover the
error if we make one. When a city is buried thirty
or forty feet deep beneath earth and great trees
have grown over it, it is not easy to dig down to it."

"How do you ever expect to find it?" asked Ned.

"Well, we will sink shafts here and there. If
we find carved stones, the remains of ancient
pottery and weapons, parts of buildings or building
stones, we shall know we are on the right
track," was the answer. "And now that I have
shown you the map, and explained how valuable
it is, I will put it away again. We shall begin
our excavations in the morning."

"At what point?" asked Tom.

"At a point I shall indicate after a further
consultation of the map. I must see the configuration
of the country by daylight to decide.
And now let's get some rest. We have had a
hard day."

The two tents housing the four white members
of the Bumper party were close together,
and it was decided that the night would be divided
into four watches, to guard against possible
treachery on the part of the Beecher crowd.

"It seems an unkind precaution to take against
a fellow scientist," said Professor Bumper, "but
I can not afford to take chances after what has

The others agreed with him, and though standing
guard was not pleasant it was done. However
the night passed without incident, and then
came morning and the excitement of getting
breakfast, over which the Indians made merry.
They did not like the cold and darkness, and
always welcomed the sun, no matter how hot.

"And now," cried Tom, when the meal was
over, "let us begin the work that has brought us

"Yes," agreed Professor Bumper, "I will
consult the map, and start the diggers where I think
the city lies, far below the surface. Now, gentlemen,
if you will give me your attention----"

He was seeking through his outer coat pockets,
after an ineffectual search in the inner one. A
strange look came over his face.

"What's the matter?" asked Tom.

"The map--the map!" gasped the professor.
"The map I was showing you last night! The map
that tells where we are to dig for the idol of gold!
It's gone!"

"The map gone?" gasped Mr. Damon.

"I--I'm afraid so," faltered the professor.
"I put it away carefully, but now----"

He ceased speaking to make a further search
in all his pockets.

"Maybe you left it in another coat," suggested Ned.

"Or maybe some of the Beecher crowd took it!" snapped Tom.



The four men gazed at one another.
Consternation showed on the face of Professor
Bumper, and was reflected, more or less, on the
countenances of his companions.

"Are you sure the map is gone?" asked Tom.
"I know how easy it is to mislay anything in a
camp of this sort. I couldn't at first find my
safety razor this morning, and when I did locate
it the hoe was in one of my shoes. I'm sure a
rat or some jungle animal must have dragged
it there. Now maybe they took your map,
Professor. That oiled silk in which it was wrapped
might have appealed to the taste of a rat or a

"It is no joking matter," said Professor
Bumper. "But I know you appreciate the seriousness
of it as much as I do, Tom. But I had the map
in the pocket of this coat, and now it is gone!"

"When did you put it there?" asked Ned.

"This morning, just before I came to breakfast."

"Oh, then you have had it since last night!"
Tom ejaculated.

"Yes, I slept with it under my clothes that I
rolled up for a pillow, and when it was my turn
to stand guard I took it with me. Then I put
it back again and went to sleep. When I awoke
and dressed I put the packet in my pocket and
ate breakfast. Now when I look for it--why,
it's gone!"

"The map or the oiled-silk package?" asked
Mr. Damon, who, once having been a businessman,
was sometimes a stickler for small points.

"Both," answered the professor. "I opened
the silk to tie it more smoothly, so it would not
be such a lump in my pocket, and I made sure
the map was inside."

"Then the whole thing has been taken--or you
have lost it," suggested Ned.

"I am not in the habit of losing valuable maps,"
retorted the scientist. "And the pocket of my
coat I had made deep, for the purpose of carrying
the long map. It could not drop out."

"Well, we mustn't overlook any possible
chances," suggested Tom. "Come on now, we'll
search every inch of the ground over which you
traveled this morning, Professor."

"It MUST be found," murmured the scientist.
"Without it all our work will go for naught."

They all went into the tent where the professor
and Mr. Damon had slept when they were not
on guard. The camp was a busy place, with the
Indians finishing their morning meal, and getting
ready for the work of the day. For word
had been given out that there would be no more
long periods of travel.

In consequence, efforts were being directed by
the head men of the bearers to making a more
permanent camp in the wilderness. Shelters of
palm-thatched huts were being built, a site for
cooking fires made, and, at the direction of Mr.
Damon, to whom this part was entrusted, some
sanitary regulations were insisted on.

Leaving this busy scene, the four, with solemn
faces, proceeded to the tent where it was hoped
the map would be found. But though they went
through everything, and traced and retraced
every place the professor could remember having
traversed about the canvas shelter, no signs of
the important document could be found.

"I don't believe I dropped it out of my pocket,"
said the scientist, for perhaps the twentieth time.

"Then it was taken," declared Tom.

"That's what I say!" chimed in Ned.
"And by some of Beecher's party!"

"Easy, my boy," cautioned Mr. Damon. "We
don't want to make accusations we can't prove."

"That is true," agreed Professor Bumper.
"But, though I am sorry to say it of a fellow
archaelogist, I can not help thinking Beecher
had something to do with the taking of my map."

"But how could any of them get it?" asked Mr. Damon.
"You say you had the map this morning, and certainly
none of them has been in our camp since dawn,
though of course it is possible that some of them
sneaked in during the night."

"It does seem a mystery how it could have
been taken in open daylight, while we were about
camp together," said Tom. "But is the loss
such a grave one, Professor Bumper?"

"Very grave. In fact I may say it is impossible
to proceed with the excavating without the map."

"Then what are we to do?" asked Ned.

"We must get it back!" declared Tom.

"Yes," agreed the scientist, "we can not work
without it. As soon as I make a little further
search, to make sure it could not have dropped
in some out-of-the-way place, I shall go over to
Professor Beecher's camp and demand that he
give me back my property."

"Suppose he says he hasn't taken it?" asked Tom.

"Well, I'm sure he either took it personally,
or one of his party did. And yet I can't understand
how they could have come here without our
seeing them," and the professor shook his head
in puzzled despair.

A more detailed search did not reveal the missing
map, and Mr. Damon and his friend the
scientist were on the point of departing for the
camp of their rivals, less than a mile away, when
Tom had what really amounted to an inspiration.

"Look here, Professor!" he cried. "Can you
remember any of the details of your map--say,
for instance, where we ought to begin excavating
to get at the wonders of the underground city?"

"Well, Tom, I did intend to compare my map
with the configuration of the country about here.
There is a certain mountain which serves as a
landmark and a guide for a starting point. I
think that is it over there," and the scientist
pointed to a distant snow-capped peak.

The party had left the low and marshy land
of the true jungle, and were among the foothills,
though all about them was dense forest and
underbush, which, in reality, was as much a jungle
as the lower plains, but was less wet.

"The point where I believe we should start
to dig," said the professor, "is near the spot
where the top of the mountain casts a shadow
when the sun is one hour high. At least that is
the direction given in the old manuscripts. So,
though we can do little without the map, we
might make a start by digging there."

"No, not there!" exclaimed Tom.

"Why not?"

"Because we don't want to let Beecher's crowd
know that we are on the track of the idol of gold."

"But they know anyhow, for they have the map,"
commented Ned, puzzled by his chum's words.

"Maybe not," said Tom slowly. "I think this
is a time for a big bluff. It may work and it
may not. Beecher's crowd either has the map or
they have not. If they have it they will lose
no time in trying to find the right place to start
digging and then they'll begin excavating.

"Very good! If they do that we have a right
to dig near the same place. But if they have not
the map, which is possible, and if we start to dig
where the professor's memory tells him is the
right spot, we'll only give them the tip, and they'll
dig there also."

"I'm sure they have the map," the professor said.
"But I believe your plan is a good one, Tom."

"Just what do you propose doing?" asked Ned.

"Fooling 'em!" exclaimed Tom quickly. "We'll
dig in some place remote from the spot where the
mountain casts its shadow. They will think, if
they haven't the map, that we are proceeding by
it, and they'll dig, too. When they find nothing,
as will also happen to us, they may go away.

"If, on the other hand, they have the map, and
see us digging at a spot not indicated on it, they
will be puzzled, knowing we must have some idea
of where the buried city lies. They will think
the map is at fault, perhaps, and not make use of
it. Then we can get it back."

"Bless my hatband!" cried Mr. Damon.
"I believe you're right, Tom.
We'll dig in the wrong place to fool 'em."

And this was done. Search for the precious
map was given up for the time being, and the
professor and his friends set the natives to work
digging shafts in the ground, as though sinking
them down to the level of the buried city.

But though this false work was prosecuted with
vigor for several days, there was a feeling of
despair among the Bumper party over the loss of
the map.

"If we could only get it back!" exclaimed the
professor, again and again.

Meanwhile the Beecher party seemed inactive.
True, some members of it did come over to look
on from a respectful distance at what the diggers
were doing. Some of the rival helpers, under
the direction of the head of the expedition, also
began sinking shafts. But they were not in the
locality remembered by Professor Bumper as being

"I can't imagine what they're up to," he said.
"If they have my map they would act differently,
I should think."

"Whatever they're up to," answered Tom, "the
time has come when we can dig at the place
where we can hope for results." And the following
day shafts were started in the shadow of the

Until some evidence should have been obtained
by digging, as to the location beneath the surface
of a buried city, there was nothing for the
travelers to do but wait. Turns were taken in
directing the efforts of the diggers, and an
occasional inspection was made of the shafts.

"What do you expect to find first?" asked Tom
of Professor Bumper one day, when the latter was
at the top of a shaft waiting for a bucket load
of dirt to be hoisted up.

"Potsherds and artifacts," was the answer.

"What sort of bugs are they?" asked Ned with
a laugh. He and Tom were about to go hunting
with their electric rifles.

"Artifacts are things made by the Indians--or
whatever members of the race who built the
ancient cities were called--such as household articles,
vases, ornaments, tools and so on. Anything
made by artificial means is called an artifact."

"And potsherds are things with those Chinese
laundry ticket scratches on them," added Tom.

"Exactly," said the professor, laughing.
"Though some of the strange-appearing inscriptions
give much valuable information. As soon
as we find some of them--say a broken bit of
pottery with hieroglyphics on--I will know I am
on the right track."

And while the scientist and Mr. Damon kept
watch at the top of the shaft, Tom and Ned went
out into the jungle to hunt. They had killed some
game, and were stalking a fine big deer, which
would provide a feast for the natives, when suddenly
the silence of the lonely forest was broken
by a piercing scream, followed by an agonized
cry of

"El tigre! El tigre!"



"Did you hear that, Tom?" asked Ned, in a
hoarse whisper.

"Surely," was the cautious answer. "Keep
still, and I'll try for a shot."

"Better be quick," advised Ned in a tense voice.
"The chap who did that yelling seems to be in

And as Ned's voice trailed off into a whisper,
again came the cry, this time in frenzied pain.

"El tigre! El tigre!" Then there was a jumble of words.

"It's over this way!" and this time Ned shouted,
seeing no need for low voices since the other was so loud.

Tom looked to where Ned had parted the
bushes alongside a jungle path. Through the
opening the young inventor saw, in a little glade,
that which caused him to take a firmer grip on his
electric rifle, and also a firmer grip on his nerves.

Directly in front of him and Ned, and not more
than a hundred yards away, was a great tawny
and spotted jaguar--the "tigre" or tiger of Central
America. The beast, with lashing tail, stood
over an Indian upon whom it seemed to have
sprung from some lair, beating the unfortunate
man to the ground. Nor had he fallen scatheless,
for there was blood on the green leaves about
him, and it was not the blood of the spotted

"Oh, Tom, can you--can you----" and Ned

The young inventor understood the unspoken

"I think I can make a shot of it without hitting
the man," he answered, never turning his head.
"It's a question, though, if the beast won't claw
him in the death struggle. It won't last long,
however, if the electric bullet goes to the right
place, and I've got to take the chance."

Cautiously Tom brought his weapon to bear.
Quiet as Ned and he had been after the discovery,
the jaguar seemed to feel that something was
wrong. Intent on his prey, for a time he had
stood over it, gloating. Now the brute glanced
uneasily from side to side, its tail nervously
twitching, and it seemed trying to gain, by a sniffing
of the air, some information as to the direction
in which danger lay, for Tom and Ned had
stooped low, concealing themselves by a screen
of leaves.

The Indian, after his first frenzied outburst
of fear, now lay quiet, as though fearing to move,
moaning in pain.

Suddenly the jaguar, attracted either by some
slight movement on the part of Ned or Tom, or
perhaps by having winded them, turned his head
quickly and gazed with cruel eyes straight at the
spot where the two young men stood behind the

"He's seen us," whispered Ned.

"Yes," assented Tom. "And it's a perfect shot.
Hope I don't miss!"

It was not like Tom Swift to miss, nor did he
on this occasion. There was a slight report from
the electric rifle--a report not unlike the crackle
of the wireless--and the powerful projectile sped
true to its mark.

Straight through the throat and chest under
the uplifted jaw of the jaguar it went--through
heart and lungs. Then with a great coughing,
sighing snarl the beast reared up, gave a convulsive
leap forward toward its newly discovered
enemies, and fell dead in a limp heap, just beyond
the native over which it had been crouching before
it delivered the death stroke, now never to fall.

"You did it, Tom! You did it!" cried
Ned, springing up from where he had been kneeling
to give his chum a better chance to shoot.
"You did it, and saved the man's life!" And Ned
would have rushed out toward the still twitching body.

"Just a minute!" interposed Tom. "Those
beasts sometimes have as many lives as a cat.
I'll give it one more for luck." Another electric
projectile through the head of the jaguar produced
no further effect than to move the body
slightly, and this proved conclusively that there
was no life left. It was safe to approach, which
Tom and Ned did.

Their first thought, after a glance at the
jaguar, was for the Indian. It needed but a brief
examination to show that he was not badly hurt.
The jaguar had leaped on him from a low tree
as he passed under it, as the boys learned afterward,
and had crushed the man to earth by the
weight of the spotted body more than by a stroke
of the paw.

The American jaguar is not so formidable a
beast as the native name of tiger would cause
one to suppose, though they are sufficiently dan-
gerous, and this one had rather badly clawed the
Indian. Fortunately the scratches were on the
fleshy parts of the arms and shoulders, where,
though painful, they were not necessarily serious.

"But if you hadn't shot just when you did, Tom,
it would have been all up with him," commented

"Oh, well, I guess you'd have hit him if I
hadn't," returned the young inventor. "But let's
see what we can do for this chap."

The man sat up wonderingly--hardly able to
believe that he had been saved from the dreaded
"tigre." His wounds were bleeding rather freely,
and as Tom and Ned carried with them a first-aid
kit they now brought it into use. The wounds
were bound up, the man was given water to
drink and then, as he was able to walk, Tom and
Ned offered to help him wherever he wanted to

"Blessed if I can tell whether he's one of our
Indians or whether he belongs to the Beecher
crowd," remarked Tom.

"Senor Beecher," said the Indian, adding, in
Spanish, that he lived in the vicinity and had
only lately been engaged by the young professor
who hoped to discover the idol of gold before
Tom's scientific friend could do so.

Tom and Ned knew a little Spanish, and with
that, and simple but expressive signs on the part
of the Indian, they learned his story. He had his
palm-thatched hut not far from the Beecher camp,
in a small Indian village, and he, with others,
had been hired on the arrival of the Beecher party
to help with the excavations. These, for some
reason, were delayed.

"Delayed because they daren't use the map they
stole from us," commented Ned.

"Maybe," agreed Tom.

The Indian, whose name, it developed, was Tal,
as nearly as Tom and Ned could master it, had
left camp to go to visit his wife and child in the
jungle hut, intending to return to the Beecher
camp at night. But as he passed through the
forest the jaguar had dropped on him, bearing him
to earth.

"But you saved my life, Senor," he said to
Tom, dropping on one knee and trying to kiss
Tom's hand, which our hero avoided. "And now
my life is yours," added the Indian.

"Well, you'd better get home with it and take
care of it," said Tom. "I'll have Professor Bumper
come over and dress your scratches in a better
and more careful way. The bandages we put
on are only temporary."

"My wife she make a poultice of leaves--they
cure me," said the Indian.

"I guess that will be the best way," observed
Ned. "These natives can doctor themselves for
some things, better than we can."

"Well, we'll take him home," suggested Tom.
"He might keel over from loss of blood.
Come on," he added to Tal, indicating his object.

It was not far to the native's hut from the place
where the jaguar had been killed, and there Tom
and Ned underwent another demonstration of affection
as soon as those of Tal's immediate family and the
other natives understood what had happened.

"I hate this business!" complained Tom, after
having been knelt to by the Indian's wife and
child, who called him the "preserver" and other
endearing titles of the same kind. "Come on,
let's hike back."

But Indian hospitality, especially after a life
has been saved, is not so simple as all that.

"My life--my house--all that I own is yours,"
said Tal in deep gratitude. "Take everything,"
and he waved his hand to indicate all the possessions
in his humble hut.

"Thanks," answered Tom, "but I guess you
need all you have. That's a fine specimen of
blow gun though," he added, seeing one hanging
on the wall. "I wouldn't mind having one like
that. If you get well enough to make me one,
Tal, and some arrows to go with it, I'd like it
for a curiosity to hang in my room at home."

"The Senor shall have a dozen," promised the

"Look, Ned," went on Tom, pointing to the
native weapon. "I never saw one just like this.
They use small arrows or darts, tipped with wild
cotton, instead of feathers."

"These the arrows," explained Tal's wife,
bringing a bundle from a corner of the one-room
hut. As she held them out her husband gave a
cry of fear.

"Poisoned arrows! Poisoned arrows!" he exclaimed.
"One scratch and the senors are dead men. Put them away!"

In fear the Indian wife prepared to obey, but
as she did so Tom Swift caught sight of the package
and uttered a strange cry.

"Thundering hoptoads, Ned!" he exclaimed.
"The poisoned arrows are wrapped in the piece of oiled
silk that was around the professor's missing map!"



Fascinated, Tom and Ned gazed at the package
the Indian woman held out to them. Undoubtedly
it was oiled silk on the outside, and through
the almost transparent covering could be seen
the small arrows, or darts, used in the blow gun.

"Where did you get that?" asked Tom, pointing
to the bundle and gazing sternly at Tal.

"What is the matter, Senor?" asked the Indian in turn.
"Is it that you are afraid of the poisoned arrows?
Be assured they will not harm you unless
you are scratched by them."

Tom and Ned found it difficult to comprehend
all the rapid Spanish spoken by their host, but
they managed to understand some, and his
eloquent gestures made up the rest.

"We're not afraid," Tom said, noting that the
oiled skin well covered the dangerous darts. "But
where did you get that?"

"I picked it up, after another Indian had thrown
it away. He got it in your camp, Senor. I
will not lie to you. I did not steal. Valdez
went to your camp to steal--he is a bad Indian--
and he brought back this wrapping. It contained
something he thought was gold, but it was
not, so he----"

"Quick! Yes! Tell us!" demanded Tom
eagerly. "What did he do with the professor's
map that was in the oiled silk? Where is it?"

"Oh, Senors!" exclaimed the Indian woman,
thinking perhaps her husband was about to be
dealt harshly with when she heard Tom's
excited voice. "Tal do no harm!"

"No, he did no harm," went on Tom, in a
reassuring tone. "But he can do a whole lot of good
if he tells us what became of the map that was in
this oiled silk. Where is it?" he asked again.

"Valdez burn it up," answered Tal.

"What, burned the professor's map?" cried Ned.

"If that was in this yellow cloth--yes,"
answered the injured man. "Valdez he is bad. He
say to me he is going to your camp to see what
he can take. How he got this I know not, but
he come back one morning with the yellow pack-
age. I see him, but he make me promise not
to tell. But you save my life I tell you everything.

"Valdez open the package; but it is not gold,
though he think so because it is yellow, and the
man with no hair on his head keep it in his pocket
close, so close," and Tal hugged himself to indicate
what he meant.

"That's Professor Bumper," explained Ned.

"How did Valdez get the map out of the
professor's coat?" asked Tom.

"Valdez he very much smart. When man
with no hair on his head take coat off for a
minute to eat breakfast Valdez take yellow thing
out of pocket."

"The Indian must have sneaked into camp
when we were eating," said Tom. "Those from
Beecher's party and our workers look all alike
to us. We wouldn't know one from the other,
and one of our rival's might slip in."

"One evidently did, if this is really the piece of
oiled silk that was around the professor's map,"
said Ned.

"It certainly is the same," declared the young
inventor. "See, there is his name," and he
stretched out his hand to point.

"Don't touch!" cried Tal. "Poisoned arrows
snake poison--very dead-like and quick."

"Don't worry, I won't touch," said Tom grimly.
"But go on. You say Valdez sneaked into our
camp, took the oiled-silk package from the coat
pocket of Professor Bumper and went back to
his own camp with it, thinking it was gold."

"Yes," answered Tal, though it is doubtful if
he understood all that Tom said, as it was half
Spanish and half English. But the Indian knew
a little English, too. "Valdez, when he find no
gold is very mad. Only papers in the yellow
silk-papers with queer marks on. Valdez think
it maybe a charm to work evil, so he burn them
up--all up!"

"Burned that rare map!" gasped Tom.

"All in fire," went on Tal, indicating by his
hands the play of flames. "Valdez throw away
yellow silk, and I take for my arrows so rain not
wash off poison. I give to you, if you like, with
blow gun."

"No, thank you," answered Tom, in disappointed
tones. "The oiled silk is of no use without
the map, and that's gone. Whew! but this is
tough!" he said to his chum. "As long as it was
only stolen there was a chance to get it back,
but if it's burned, the jig is up."

"It looks so," agreed Ned. "We'd better get
back and tell the professor. It he can't get along
without the map it's time he started a movement
toward getting another. So it wasn't Beecher,
after all, who got it."

"Evidently not," assented Tom. "But I
believe him capable of it."

"You haven't much use for him," remarked Ned.

"Huh!" was all the answer given by his chum.

"I am sorry, Senors," went on Tal, "but I
could not stop Valdez, and the burning of the

"No, you could not help it," interrupted the
young inventor. "But it just happens that it
brings bad luck to us. You see, Tal, the papers
in this yellow covering, told of an old buried
city that the bald-headed professor--the-man-
with-no-hair-on-his-head--is very anxious to
discover. It is somewhere under the ground," and
he waved to the jungle all about them, pointing

"Paper Valdez burn tell of lost city?" asked
Tal, his face lighting up.

"Yes. But now, of course, we can't tell where
to dig for it."

The Indian turned to his wife and talked rapidly
with her in their own dialect. She, too, seemed
greatly excited, making quick gestures. Finally
she ran out of the hut.

"Where is she going?" asked Tom suspiciously.

"To get her grandfather. He very old Indian.
He know story of buried cities under trees. Very
old story--what you call legend, maybe. But
Goosal know. He tell same as his grandfather
told him. You wait. Goosal come, and you listen."

"Good, Ned!" suddenly cried Tom. "Maybe,
we'll get on the track of lost Kurzon after all,
through some ancient Indian legend. Maybe we
won't need the map!"

"It hardly seems possible," said Ned slowly.
"What can these Indians know of buried cities
that were out of existence before Columbus came
here? Why, they haven't any written history."

"No, and that may be just the reason they are
more likely to be right," returned Tom. "Legends
handed down from one grandfather to another
go back a good many hundred years. If
they were written they might be destroyed as
the professor's map was. Somehow or other,
though I can't tell why, I begin to see daylight
ahead of us."

"I wish I did," remarked Ned.

"Here comes Goosal I think," murmured Tom,
and he pointed to an Indian, bent with the weight
of years, who, led by Tal's wife, was slowly
approaching the hut.



"Now Goosal can tell you," said Tal, evidently
pleased that he had, in a measure, solved the
problem caused by the burning of the professor's
map. "Goosal very old Indian. He know old
stories--legends--very old."

"Well, if he can tell us how to find the buried
city of Kurzon and the--the things in it," said
Tom, "he's all right!"

The aged Indian proceeded slowly toward the
hut where the impatient youths awaited him.

"I know what you seek in the buried city,"
remarked Tal.

"Do you?" cried Tom, wondering if some one
had indiscreetly spoken of the idol of gold.

"Yes you want pieces of rock, with strange
writings on them, old weapons, broken pots.
I know. I have helped white men before."

"Yes, those are the things we want," agreed
Tom, with a glance at his chum. "That is--some
of them. But does your wife's grandfather talk
our language?"

"No, but I can tell you what he says."

By this time the old man, led by "Mrs. Tal"--
as the young men called the wife of the Indian
they had helped--entered the hut. He seemed
nervous and shy, and glanced from Tom and Ned
to his grandson-in-law, as the latter talked rapidly
in the Indian dialect. Then Goosal made answer,
but what it was all about the boys could
not tell.

"Goosal say," translated Tal, "that he know a
story of a very old city away down under ground."

"Tell us about it!" urged Tom eagerly.

But a difficulty very soon developed. Tal's
intentions were good, but he was not equal to
the task of translating. Nor was the understanding
of Tom and Ned of Spanish quite up to the mark.

"Say, this is too much for me!" exclaimed Tom.
"We are losing the most valuable part of this by
not understanding what Goosal says, and what
Tal translates."

"What can we do?" asked Ned.

"Get the professor here as soon as possible.
He can manage this dialect, and he'll get the
information at first hand. If Goosal can tell
where to begin excavating for the city he ought
to tell the professor, not us."

"That's right," agreed Ned. "We'll bring the
professor here as soon as we can."

Accordingly they stopped the somewhat difficult
task of listening to the translated story and
told Tal, as well as they could, that they would
bring the "man-with-no-hair-on-his-head" to
listen to the tale.

This seemed to suit the Indians, all of whom
in the small colony appeared to be very grateful
to Tom and Ned for having saved the life of

"That was a good shot you made when you
bowled over the jaguar," said Ned, as the two
young explorers started back to their camp.

"Better than I realized, if it leads to the discovery
of Kurzon and the idol of gold," remarked Tom.

"And to think we should come across the oiled-
silk holding the poisoned arrows!" went on Ned.
"That's the strangest part of the whole affair.
If it hadn't been that you shot the jaguar this
never would have come about."

That Professor Bumper was astonished, and
Mr. Damon likewise, when they heard the story
of Tom and Ned, is stating it mildly.

"Come on!" exclaimed the scientist, as Tom
finished, "we must see this Goosal at once.
If my map is destroyed, and it seems to be,
this old Indian may be our only hope.
Where did he say the buried city was, Tom?"

"Oh, somewhere in this vicinity, as nearly as
I could make out. But you'd better talk with
him yourself. We didn't say anything about the
idol of gold."

"That's right. It's just as well to let the
natives think we are only after ordinary relics."

"Bless my insurance policy!" gasped Mr. Damon.
"It does not seem possible that we are on
the right track."

"Well, I think we are, from what little information
Goosal gave us," remarked Tom. "This buried city
of his must be a wonderful place."

"It is, if it is what I take it to be," agreed the
professor. "I told you I would bring you to a
land of wonders, Tom Swift, and they have hardly
begun yet. Come, I am anxious to talk to Goosal."

In order that the Indians in the Bumper camp
might not hear rumors of the new plan to locate
the hidden city, and, at the same time, to keep
rumors from spreading to the camp of the rivals,
the scientist and his friends started a new shaft,
and put a shift of men at work on it.

"We'll pretend we are on the right track, and
very busy," said Tom. "That will fool Beecher."

"Are you glad to know he did not take your
map Professor Bumper?" asked Mr. Damon.

"Well, yes. It is hard to believe such things of
a fellow scientist."

"If he didn't take it he wanted to," said Tom.
"And he has done, or will do, things as unsportsmanlike."

"Oh, you are hardly fair, perhaps, Tom,"
commented Ned.

"Um!" was all the answer he received.

With the Indians in camp busy on the excavation
work, and having ascertained that similar
work was going on in the Beecher outfit,
Professor Bumper, with Mr. Damon and the young
men, set off to visit the Indian village and listen
to Goosal's story. They passed the place where
Tom had slain the jaguar, but nothing was left
but the bones; the ants, vultures and jungle animals
having picked them clean in the night.

On the arrival of Tom and his friends at the
Indian's hut, Goosal told, in language which
Professor Bumper could understand, the ancient
legend of the buried city as he had had it from his

"But is that all you know about it, Goosal?"
asked the savant.

"No, Learned One. It is true most of what I
have told you was told to me by my father and
his father's father. But I--I myself--with these
eyes, have looked upon the lost city."

"You have!" cried the professor, this time in
English. "Where? When? Take us to it!
How do you get here?"

"Through the cavern of the dead," was the
answer when the questions were modified.

"Bless my diamond ring!" exclaimed Mr.
Damon, when Professor Bumper translated the reply.
"What does he mean?"

And then, after some talk, this information
came out. Years before, when Goosal was a
young man, he had been taken by his grandfather
on a journey through the jungle. They
stopped one day at the foot of a high mountain,
and, clearing away the brush and stones at a
certain place, an entrance to a great cavern was
revealed. This, it appeared, was the Indian burial
ground, and had been used for generations.

Goosal, though in fear and trembling, was lead
through it, and came to another cavern, vaster
than the first. And there he saw strange and
wonderful sights, for it was the remains of a buried
city, that had once been the home of a great
and powerful tribe unlike the Indians--the ancient
Mayas it would seem.

"Can you take us to this cavern?" asked the professor.

"Yes," answered Goosal. "I will lead to it
those who saved the life of Tal--them and their
friends. I will take you to the lost city!"

"Good!" cried Mr. Damon, when this had been
translated. "Now let Beecher try to play any
more tricks on us! Ho! for the cavern and the
lost city of Kurzon."

"And the idol of gold," said Tom Swift to
himself. "I hope we can get it ahead of Beecher.
Perhaps if I can help in that--Oh, well, here's hoping,
that's all!" and a little smile curved his lips.

Greatly excited by the strange news, but
maintaining as calm an air outwardly as possible, so
as not to excite the Indians, Tom and his friends
returned to camp to prepare for their trip. Goosal
had said the cavern lay distant more than a two-
days' journey into the jungle.



"Now," remarked Tom, once they were back

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