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Tom Swift in the Land of Wonders by Victor Appleton

Part 4 out of 4

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again in their camp, "we must go about this trip
to the cavern in a way that will cause no suspicion
over there as to what our object is," and he
nodded in the direction of the quarters of his

"Do you mean to go off quietly?" asked Ned.

"Yes. And to keep the work going on here,
at these shafts," put in the scientist, "so that
if any of their spies happen to come here they
will think we still believe the buried city to be
just below us. To that end we must keep the
Indians digging, though I am convinced now that
it is useless."

Accordingly preparations were made for an
expedition into the jungle under the leadership of
Goosal. Tal had not sufficiently recovered from
the jaguar wounds to go with the party, but the
old man, in spite of his years, was hale and hearty
and capable of withstanding hardships.

One of the most intelligent of the Indians was
put in charge of the digging gangs as foreman,
and told to keep them at work, and not to let
them stray. Tolpec, whose brother Tom had
tried to save, proved a treasure. He agreed to
remain behind and look after the interests of his
friends, and see that none of their baggage or
stores were taken.

"Well, I guess we're as ready as we ever
shall be," remarked Tom, as the cavalcade made
ready to start. Mules carried the supplies that
were to be taken into the jungle, and others of
the sturdy animals were to be ridden by the
travelers. The trail was not an easy one, Goosal
warned them.

Tom and his friends found it even worse than
they had expected, for all their experience in
jungle and mountain traveling. In places it was
necessary to dismount and lead the mules along,
sometimes pushing and dragging them. More
than once the trail fairly hung on the edge of
some almost bottomless gorge, and again it
wound its way between great walls of rock,
so poised that they appeared about to topple
over and crush the travelers. But they kept on
with dogged patience, through many hardships.

To add to their troubles they seemed to have
entered the abode of the fiercest mosquitoes
encountered since coming to Honduras. At times
it was necessary to ride along with hats covered
with mosquito netting, and hands encased in

They had taken plenty of condensed food with
them, and they did not suffer in this respect.
Game, too, was plentiful and the electric rifles of
Tom and Ned added to the larder.

One night, after a somewhat sound sleep
induced by hard travel on the trail that day, Tom
awoke to hear some one or something moving
about among their goods, which included their

"Who's there?" asked the young inventor
sharply, as he reached for his electric rifle.

There was no answer, but a rattling of the pans.

"Speak, or I'll fire!" Tom warned, adding this
in such Spanish as he could muster, for he thought
it might be one of the Indians. No reply came,
and then, seeing by the light of the stars a dark
form moving in front of the tent occupied by
himself and Ned, Tom fired.

There was a combined grunt and squeal of
pain, then a savage growl, and Ned yelled:

"What's the matter, Tom?" for he had been
awakened, and heard the crackle of the electrical

"I don't know," Tom answered. "But I shot
something--or somebody!"

"Maybe some of Beecher's crowd," ventured
his chum. But when they got their electric
torches, and focused them on the inert, black
object, it was found to be a bear which had come
to nose about the camp for dainty morsels.

Bruin was quite dead, and as he was in prime
condition there was a feast of bear meat at the
following dinner. The white travelers found it
rather too strong for their palates, but the Indians
reveled in it.

It was shortly after noon the next day, when
Goosal, after remarking that a storm seemed
brewing, announced that they would be at the
entrance to the cavern in another hour.

"Good!" cried Professor Bumper. "At last
we are near the buried city."

"Don't be too sure," advised Mr. Damon,
"We may be disappointed. Though I hope not
for your sake, my dear Professor."

Goosal now took the lead, and the old Indian,
traveling on foot, for he said he could better look
for the old landmark that way than on the back
of a mule, walked slowly along a rough cliff.

"Here. somewhere, is the entrance to the cav-
ern," said the aged man. "It was many years
ago that I was here--many years. But it seems
as though yesterday. It is little changed."

Indeed little did change in that land of wonders.
Only nature caused what alterations there were.
The hand of man had long been absent.

Slowly Goosal walked along the rocky trail,
on one side a sheer rock, towering a hundred feet
or more toward the sky. On the other side a
deep gash leading to a great fertile valley below.

Suddenly the old man paused, and looked about
him as though uncertain. Then, more slowly
still, he put out his hand and pulled at some
bushes that grew on a ledge of the rock. They
came away, having no depth of earth, and a small
opening was disclosed.

"It is here," said Goosal quietly. "The
entrance to the cavern that leads to the burial
place of the dead, and the city that is dead also.
It is here."

He stood aside while the others hurried
forward. It took but a few minutes to prove that
he was right--at least as to the existence of the
cavern--for the four men were soon peering into
the opening.

"Come on!" cried Tom, impetuously.

"Wait a moment," suggested the professor,
"Sometimes the air in these places is foul. We
must test it." But a torch one of the Indians
threw in burned with a steady glow. That test
was conclusive at least. They made ready to enter.

Torches of a light bark, that glowed with a
steady flame and little smoke, had been provided,
as well as a good supply of electric dry-battery
lamps, and the way into the cavern was thus well
lighted. At first the Indians were afraid to
enter, but a word or two from Goosal reassured
them, and they followed Professor Bumper, Tom,
and the others into the cavern.

For several hundred feet there was nothing
remarkable about the cave. It was like any
other cavern of the mountains, though wonderful
for the number of crystal formations on the root
and walls--formations that sparkled like a million
diamonds in the flickering lights.

"Talk about a wonderland!" cried Tom.
"This is fairyland!"

A moment later, as Goosal walked on beside
the professor and Tom, the aged Indian came to
a pause, and, pointing ahead, murmured:

"The city of the dead!"

They saw the niches cut in the rock walls.
niches that held the countless bones of those who
had died many, many years before. It was a
vast Indian grave.

"Doubtless a wealth of material of historic
interest here," said Professor Bumper, flashing
his torch on the skeletons. "But it will keep.
Where is the city you spoke of, Goosal?"

"Farther on, Senor. Follow me."

Past the stone graves they went, deeper and
deeper into the great cave. Their footsteps
echoed and re-echoed. Suddenly Tom, who with
Ned had gone a little ahead, came to a sudden
halt and said:

"Well, this may be a burial place sure enough,
but I think I see something alive all right--if
it isn't a ghost."

He pointed ahead. Surely those were lights
flickering and moving about, and, yes, there were
men carrying them. The Bumper party came to
a surprised halt. The other lights advanced,
and then, to the great astonishment of Professor
Bumper and his friends, there confronted them
in the cave several scientists of Professor Beecher's
party and a score or more of Indians. Professor
Hylop, who was known to Professor Bumper,
stepped forward and asked sharply:

"What are you doing here?"

"I might ask you the same thing," was the

"You might, but you would not be answered,"
came sharply. "We have a right here, having
discovered this cavern, and we claim it under a
concession of the Honduras Government. I shall
have to ask you to withdraw."

"Do you mean leave here?" asked Mr Damon.

"That is it, exactly. We first discovered this
cave. We have been conducting explorations in
it for several days, and we wish no outsiders."

"Are you speaking for Professor Beecher"' asked Tom.

"I am. But he is here in the cave, and will
speak for himself if you desire it. But I represent
him, and I order you to leave. If you do
not go peaceably we will use force. We have
plenty of it," and he glanced back at the Indians
grouped behind him--scowling savage Indians.

"We have no wish to intrude," observed
Professor Bumper, "and I fully recognize the right
of prior discovery. But one member of our
party (he did not say which one) was in this
cave many years ago. He led us to it."

"Ours is a government concession!" exclaimed
Professor Hylop harshly. "We want no intruders!
Go!" and he pointed toward the direction
whence Tom's party had come.

"Drive them out!" he ordered the Indians in
Spanish, and with muttered threats the dark-
skinned men advanced toward Tom and the

"You need not use force," said Professor Bumper.

He and Professor Hylop had quarreled bitterly
years before on some scientific matter, and the
matter was afterward found to be wrong. Perhaps
this made him vindictive.

Tom stepped forward and started to protest,
but Professor Bumper interposed.

"I guess there is no help for it but to go. It
seems to be theirs by right of discovery and
government concession," he said, in disappointed
tone. "Come friends"; and dejectedly they
retraced their steps.

Followed by the threatening Indians, the
Bumper party made its way back to the entrance.
They had hoped for great things, but if the cavern
gave access to the buried city--the ancient
city of Kurzon on the chief altar of which stood
the golden idol, Quitzel--it looked as though
they were never to enter it.

"We'll have to get our Indians and drive those
fellows out!" declared Tom. "I'm not going to
be beaten this way--and by Beecher!"

"It is galling," declared Professor Bumper.
"Still he has right on his side, and I must give
in to priority, as I would expect him to. It is
the unwritten law."

"Then we've failed!" cried Tom bitterly.

"Not yet," said Professor Bumper. "If I can
not unearth that buried city I may find another
in this wonderland. I shall not give up."

"Hark! What's that noise?" asked Tom, as
they approached the entrance to the cave.

"Sounds like a great wind blowing," commented Ned.

It was. As they stood in the entrance they
looked out to find a fierce storm raging. The
wind was sweeping down the rocky trail, the
rain was falling in veritable bucketfuls from the
overhanging cliff, and deafening thunder and
blinding lightning roared and flashed.

"Surely you would not drive us out in this
storm," said Professor Bumper to his former

"You can not stay in the cave! You must get
out!" was the answer, as a louder crash of thunder
than usual seemed to shake the very mountain.



For an instant Tom and his friends paused at
the entrance to the wonderful cavern, and looked
at the raging storm. It seemed madness to
venture out into it, yet they had been driven
from the cave by those who had every right of
discovery to say who, and who should not, partake
of its hospitality.

"We can't go out into that blow!" cried Ned.
"It's enough to loosen the very mountains!"

"Let's stay here and defy them!" murmured Tom.
"If the--if what we seek--is here we have
as good a right to it as they have."

"We must go out," said Professor Bumper simply.
"I recognize the right of my rival to dispossess us."

"He may have the right, but it isn't human,"
said Mr. Damon. "Bless my overshoes! If
Beecher himself were here he wouldn't have the
heart to send us out in this storm."

"I would not give him the satisfaction of
appealing to him," remarked Professor Bumper.
"Come, we will go out. We have our ponchos,
and we are not fair-weather explorers. If we
can't get to the lost city one way we will
another. Come my friends."

And despite the downpour, the deafening
thunder and the lightning that seemed ready to sear
one's eyes, he walked out of the cave entrance,
followed by Tom and the others.

"Come on!" cried Tom, in a voice he tried to
render confident, as they went out into the
terrible storm. "We'll beat 'em yet!"

The rain fell harder than ever. Small torrents
were now rushing down the trail, and it was only
a question of a few minutes before the place
where they stood would be a raging river, so
quickly does the rain collect in the mountains and
speed toward the valleys.

"We must take to the forest!" cried Tom.
"There'll be some shelter there, and I don't like
the way the geography of this place is behaving.
There may be a landslide at any moment."

As he spoke he motioned upward through the
mist of the rain to the sloping side of the mountain
towering above them. Loose stones were
beginning to roll down, accompanied by patches
of earth loosened by the water. Some of the
patches carried with them bunches of grass and
small bushes.

"Yes, it will be best to move into the jungle,"
said the professor. "Goosal, you had better take
the lead."

It was wonderful to see how well the aged Indian
bore up in spite of his years, and walked on
ahead. They had left their mules tethered some
distance back, in a sheltering clump of trees, and
they hoped the animals would be safe.

The guide found a place where they could
leave the trail, though going down a dangerous
slope, and take to the forest. As carefully as
possible they descended this, the rain continuing to
fall, the wind to blow, the lightning to sizzle all
about them and the thunder to boom in their ears.

They went on until they were beneath the
shelter of the thick jungle growth of trees, which
kept off some of the pelting drops.

"This is better!" exclaimed Ned, shaking his
poncho and getting rid of some of the water that
had settled on it.

"Bless my overcoat!" cried Mr. Damon. "We seem
to have gotten out of the frying pan into the fire!"

"How?" asked Tom. "We are partly sheltered here,
though had we stayed in the cave in spite of----"

A deafening crash interrupted him, and following
the flash one of the giant trees of the forest
was seen to blaze up and then topple over.

"Struck by lightning!" yelled Ned.

"Yes; and it may happen to us!" exclaimed
Mr. Damon. "We were safer from the lightning
in the open. Maybe----"

Again came an interruption, but this time a
different one. The very ground beneath their feet
seemed to be shaking and trembling.

"What is it?" gasped Ned, while Goosal fell on
his knees and began fervently to pray.

"It's an earthquake!" yelled Tom Swift.

As he spoke there came another sound--the
sound of a mass of earth in motion. It came
from the direction of the mountain trail they had
just left. They looked toward it and their horror-
stricken eyes saw the whole side of the
mountain sliding down.

Slowly at first the earth slid down, but
constantly gathering force and speed. In the face
of this new disaster the rain seemed to have
ceased and the thunder and lightning to be less
severe. It was as though one force of nature
gave way to the other.

"Look! Look!" gasped Ned.

In silence, which was broken now only by a
low and ominous rumble, more menacing than
had been the awful fury of the elements, the
travelers looked.

Suddenly there was a quicker movement of
seemingly one whole section of the mountain.
Great rocks and trees, carried down by the
appalling force of the landslide were slipping over
the trail, obliterating it as though it had never existed.

"There goes the entrance to the cavern!" cried Ned,
and as the others looked to where he pointed
they saw the hole in the side of the mountain
--the mouth of the cave that led to the lost city
of Kurzon--completely covered by thousands of
tons of earth and stones.

"That's the end of them!" exclaimed Tom, as
the rumble of the earthquake died away.

"Of----" Ned stopped, his eyes staring.

"Of Professor Beecher's party. They're
entombed alive!"



Stunned, not alone by the realization of the
awfulness of the fate of their rivals, but also by
the terrific storm and the effect of the earthquake
and the landslide, Tom and his friends remained
for a moment gazing toward the mouth of the
cavern, now completely out of sight, buried by
a mass of broken trees, tangled bushes, rocks and
earth. Somewhere, far beyond that mass, was
the Beecher party, held prisoners in the cave
that formed the entrance to the buried city.

Tom was the first to come to a realization of
what was needed to be done.

"We must help them!" he exclaimed, and it was
characteristic of him that he harbored no enmity.

"How?" asked Ned.

"We must get a force of Indians and dig them
out," was the prompt answer.

At Tom's vigorous words Professor Bumper's
forces were energized into action, and he stated:
"Fortunately we have plenty of excavating
tools. We may be in time to save them. Come
on! the storm seems to have passed as suddenly
as it came up, and the earthquake, which, after
all did not cover a wide area, seems to be over.
We must start the work of rescue at once. We
must go back to camp and get all the help we
can muster."

The storm, indeed, seemed to be over, but it
was no easy matter to get back over the soggy,
rain-soaked ground to the trail they had left to
take shelter in the forest. Fortunately the earthquake
had not involved that portion where they
had left their mules, but most of the frightened
animals had broken loose, and it was some little
time before they could all be caught.

"It is no use to try to get back to camp to-
night," said Tom, when the last of the pack and
saddle animals had been corralled. "It is getting
late and there is no telling the condition of the
trail. We must stay here until morning."

"But what about them?" and Mr. Damon
nodded in the direction of the entombed ones.

"We can help them best by waiting until the
beginning of a new day," said the professor. "We
shall need a large force, and we could not bring
it up to-night. Besides, Tom is right, and if we
tried to go along the trail after dark, torn and
disturbed as it is bound to be by the rain, we
might get into difficulties ourselves. No, we
must camp here until morning and then go for

They all decided finally this was best. The
professor, too, pointed out that their rivals were
in a large and roomy cave, not likely to suffer
from lack of air nor food or water, since they
must have supplies with them.

"The only danger is that the cave has been
crushed in," added Tom; "but in that event we
would be of no service to them anyhow."

The night seemed very long, and it was a most
uncomfortable one, because of the shock and
exertions through which the party had passed.
Added to this was the physical discomfort caused
by the storm.

But in time there was the light in the east that
meant morning was at hand, and with it came
action. A hasty breakfast, cups of steaming coffee
forming a most welcome part, put them all
in better condition, and once more they were on
their way, heading back to the main camp where
they had left their force of Indians.

"My!" exclaimed Tom, as they made their
way slowly along, "it surely was some storm!
Look at those big trees uprooted over there.
They're almost as big as the giant redwoods of
California, and yet they were bowled over as if
they were tenpins."

"I wonder if the wind did it or the earthquake,"
ventured Mr. Damon.

"No wind could do that," declared Ned. "It must
have been the landslide caused by the earthquake."

"The wind could do it if the ground was made
soft by the rain; and that was probably what
did it," suggested Tom.

"There is no harm in settling the point,"
commented Professor Bumper. "It is not far off our
trail, and will take only a few minutes to go
over to the trees. I should like to get some
photographs to accompany an article that perhaps
I shall write on the effects of sudden and
severe tropical storms. We will go to look at
the overturned trees and then we'll hurry on to
camp to get the rescue party."

The uprooted trees lay on one side of the
mountain trail, perhaps a mile from the mouth of
the cave which had been covered over, entombing
the Beecher party. Leaving the mules in
charge of one of the Indians, Professor Bumper
and his friends, accompanied by Goosal, approached
the fallen trees. As they neared them
they saw that in falling the trees had lifted with
their roots a large mass of earth and imbedded
rocks that had clung to the twisted and gnarled
fibers. This mass was as large as a house.

"Look at the hole left when the roots pulled
out!" cried Ned. "Why, it's like the crater of
a small volcano!" he added. And, as they stood
on the edge of it looking curiously at the hole
made, the others agreed with Tom's chum.

Professor Bumper was looking about, trying
to ascertain if there were any evidences of the
earthquake in the vicinity, when Tom, who had
cautiously gone a little way down into the excavation
caused by the fallen trees, uttered a cry of surprise.

"Look!" he shouted. "Isn't that some sort of
tunnel or underground passage?" and he pointed
to a square opening, perhaps seven feet high and
nearly as broad, which extended, no one knew
where, downward and onward from the side of
the hole made by the uprooting of the trees.

"It's an underground passage all right," said
Professor Bumper eagerly; "and not a natural
one, either. That was fashioned by the hand
of man, if I am any judge. It seems to go right
under the mountain, too. Friends, we must
explore this! It may be of the utmost importance!
Come, we have our electric torches, and we shall
need them, for it's very dark in there," and he
peered into the passage in front of which they
all stood now. It seemed to have been tunneled
through the earth, the sides being lined by either
slabs of stone, or walls made by a sort of concrete.

"But what about the rescue work?" asked Mr. Damon.

"I am not forgetting Professor Beecher and his
friends," answered the scientist.

"Perhaps this may be a better means of rescuing
them than by digging them out, which will take
a week at least," observed Tom.

"This a better way?" asked Ned, pointing to the tunnel.

"That's it," confirmed the savant. "If you
will notice it extends back in the direction
of the cave from which we were driven.
Now if there is a buried city beneath all this
jungle, this mountain of earth and stones, the
accumulation of centuries, it is probably on the
bottom of some vast cavern. It is my opinion
that we were only in one end of that cavern, and
this may be the entrance to another end of it."

"Then," asked Mr. Damon, "do you mean that
we can enter here, get into the cave that contains
the buried city, or part of it, and find there
Beecher and his friends?"

"That's it. It is possible, and if we could it
would save an immense lot of work, and probably
be a surer way to save their lives than by
digging a tunnel through the landslide to find
the mouth of the cave where we first entered."

"It's a chance worth taking," said Mr. Damon.
"Of course it is a chance. But then everything
connected with this expedition is; so one is no
worse than another. As you say, we may find
the entombed men more easily this way than any

"I wonder," said Tom slowly, "if, by any
chance, we shall find, through this passage, the
lost city we are looking for."

"And the idol of gold," added Ned.

"Goosal, do you know anything about this?"
asked Professor Bumper. "Did you ever hear
of another passage leading to the cave where you
saw the ancient city?"

"No, Learned One, though I have heard stories
about there being many cities, or parts of a big
one, beneath the mountain, and when it was
above ground there were many entrances to it."

"That settles it!" cried the professor in
English, having talked to Goosal in Spanish.
"We'll try this and see where it leads."

They entered the stone-lined passage. In
spite of the fact that it had probably been buried
and concealed from light and air for centuries,
as evidenced by the growth of the giant trees
above it, the air was fresh.

"And this is one reason," said Tom, in
commenting on this fact, "why I believe it leads to
some vast cavern which is connected in some
fashion with the outer air. Well, perhaps we
shall soon make a discovery."

Eagerly and anxiously the little party pressed
forward by the light of the pocket electric lamps.
They were obsessed by two thoughts--what they
might find and the necessity for aiding in the
rescue of their rivals.

On and on they went, the darkness illuminated
only by the torches they carried. But they
noticed that the air was still fresh, and that a
gentle wind blew toward them. The passage
was undoubtedly artificial, a tunnel made by the
hands of men now long crumbled into dust. It
had a slightly upward slope, and this, Professor
Bumper said, indicated that it was bored upward
and perhaps into the very heart of the mountain
somewhere in the interior of which was the
Beecher party.

Just how far they went they did not know, but
it must have been more than two miles. Yet
they did not tire, for the way was smooth.

Suddenly Tom, who, with Professor Bumper,
was in the lead, uttered a cry, as he held his
torch above his head and flashed it about in a

"We're blocked!" he exclaimed. "We're up
against a stone wall!"

It was but too true. Confronting them, and
extending from side to side across the passage
and from roof to floor, was a great rough stone.
Immense and solid it seemed when they pushed
on it in vain.

"Nothing short of dynamite will move that,"
said Ned in despair. "This is a blind lead.
We'll have to go back."

"But there must be something on the other
side of that stone," cried Tom. "See, it is pierced
with holes, and through them comes a current of
air. If we could only move the stone!"

"I believe it is an ancient door," remarked
Professor Bumper.

Eagerly and frantically they tried to move it
by their combined weight. The stone did not
give the fraction of the breadth of a hair.

"We'll have to go back and get some of your
big tunnel blasting powder, Tom," suggested Ned.

As he spoke old Goosal glided forward. He
had remained behind them in the passage while
they were trying to move the rock. Now he
said something in Spanish.

"What does he mean?" asked Ned.

"He asks that he be allowed to try," translated
Professor Bumper. "Sometimes, he says, there
is a secret way of opening stone doors in these
underground caves. Let him try."

Goosal seemed to be running his fingers lightly
over the outer edge of the door. He was muttering
to himself in his Indian tongue.

Suddenly he uttered an exclamation, and, as
he did so, there was a noise from the door itself.
It was a grinding, scraping sound, a rumble as
though rocks were being rolled one against the

Then the astonished eyes of the adventurers
saw the great stone door revolve on its axis
and swing to one side, leaving a passage open
through which they could pass. Goosal had
discovered the hidden mechanism.

What lay before them?



"Forward! cried Tom Swift.

"Where?" asked Mr Damon, hanging back for
an instant. "Bless my compass, Tom! do you
know where you're going?"

"I haven't the least idea, but it must lead to
something, or the ancients who made this
revolving stone door wouldn't have taken such care
to block the passage."

"Ask Goosal if he knows anything about it,"
suggested Mr. Damon to the professor.

"He says he never was here before," translated
the savant, "but years ago, when he went into
the hidden city by the cave we left yesterday, he
saw doors like this which opened this way."

"Then we're on the right track!" cried Tom.
"If this is the same kind of door, it must lead
to the same place. Ho for Kurzon and the idol
of gold!"

As they passed through the stone door, Tom
and Professor Bumper tried to get some idea of
the mechanism by which it worked. But they
found this impossible, it being hidden within the
stone itself or in the adjoining walls. But, in
order that it might not close of itself and entomb
them, the portal was blocked open with stones
found in the passage.

"It's always well to have a line of retreat open,"
said Tom. "There's no telling what may lie beyond us."

For a time there seemed to be nothing more
than the same passage along which they had
come. Then the passage suddenly widened, like
the large end of a square funnel. Upward and
outward the stone walls swept, and they saw
dimly before them, in the light of their torches,
a vast cavern, seemingly formed by the falling
in of mountains, which, in toppling over, had met
overhead in a sort of rough arch, thus protecting,
in a great measure, that which lay beneath

Goosal, who had brought with him some of
the fiber bark torches, set a bundle of them
aflame. As they flared up, a wondrous sight
was revealed to Tom Swift and his friends.

Stretching out before them, as though they
stood at the end of an elevated street and gazed
down on it, was a city--a large city, with streets,
houses, open squares, temples, statues, fountains,
dry for centuries--a buried and forgotten city--
a city in ruins--a city of the dead, now dry as
dust, but still a city, or, rather, the strangely
preserved remains of one.

"Look!" whispered Tom. A louder voice just then,
would have seemed a sacrilege. "Look!"

"Is it what we are looking for?" asked Ned in a low voice.

"I believe it is," replied the professor. "It is
the lost city of Kurzon, or one just like it. And
now if we can find the idol of gold our search will
be ended--at least the major part of it."

"Where did you expect to find the idol?" asked Tom.

"It should be in the main temple. Come, we
will walk in the ancient streets--streets where
no feet but ours have trod in many centuries.

In eager silence they pressed on through this
newly discovered wonderland. For it was a
wonderful city, or had been. Though much of
it was in ruins, probably caused by an earthquake
or an eruption from a volcano, the central
portion, covered as it was by the overtoppling
mountains that formed the arching roof, was well

There were rude but beautiful stone buildings.
There were archways; temples; public squares;
and images, not at all beautiful, for they seemed
to be of man-monsters--doubtless ancient gods.
There were smoothly paved streets; wondrously
carved fountains, some in ruins, all now as dry
as bone, but which must have been places of
beauty where youths and maidens gathered in
the ancient days.

Of the ancient population there was not a
trace left. Tom and his friends penetrated some
of the houses, but not so much as a bone or a
heap of mouldering dust showed where the
remains of the people were. Either they had fled
at the approaching doom of the city and were
buried elsewhere, or some strange fire or other
force of nature had consumed and obliterated

"What a wealth of historic information I shall
find here!" murmured Professor Bumper, as he
caught sight of many inscriptions in strange
characters on the walls and buildings.
"I shall never get to the end of them."

"But what about the idol of gold?" asked Mr.
Damon, "Do you think you'll find that?"

"We must hurry on to the temple over there,"
said the scientist, indicating a building further along.

"And then we must see about rescuing your
rivals, Professor," put in Tom.

"Yes, Tom. But fortunately we are on the
ground here before them," agreed the professor.

Undoubtedly it was the chief temple, or place
of worship, of the long-dead race which the
explorers now entered. It was a building beautiful
in its barbaric style, and yet simple. There were
massive walls, and a great inner court, at the end
of which seemed to be some sort of altar. And
then, as they lighted fresh torches, and pressed
forward with them and their electric lights, they
saw that which caused a cry of satisfaction to
burst from all of them.

"The idol of gold!"

Yes, there it squatted, an ugly, misshapen,
figure, a cross between a toad and a gila monster,
half man, half beast, with big red eyes--rubies
probably--that gleamed in the repulsive golden
face. And the whole figure, weighing many
pounds, seemed to be of SOLID GOLD!

Eagerly the others followed Professor Bumper
up the altar steps to the very throne of the golden
idol. The scientist touched it, tried to raise it
and make sure of its solidity and material.

"This is it!" he cried. "It is the idol of gold!
I have found We have found it, for it
belongs to all of us!"

"Hurray!" cried Tom Swift, and Ned and Mr.
Damon joined in the cry.

There was no need for silence or caution now;
and yet, as they stood about the squat and ugly
figure, which, in spite of its hideousness, was
worth a fortune intrinsically and as an antique,
they heard from the direction of the stone passage
a noise.

"What is it?" asked Tom Swift.

There was a murmur of voices.

"Indians!" cried Professor Bumper, recognizing
the language--a mixture of Spanish and Indian.

The cave was illuminated by the glare of other
torches which seemed to rush forward. A moment
later it was seen that they were being carried
by a number of Indians.

"Friends," murmured Goosal, using the
Spanish term, "Amigos."

"They are our own Indians!" cried Tom Swift.
"I see Tolpec!" and he pointed to the native who
had deserted from Jacinto's force to help them.

"How did they get here?" asked Professor Bumper.

This was quickly told. In their camp, where,
under the leadership of Tolpec they had been
left to do the excavating, the natives had heard,
seen and felt the effects of the storm and the
earthquake, though it did little damage in their
vicinity. But they became alarmed for the safety
of the professor and his party and, at Tolpec's
suggestion, set off in search of them.

The Indians had seen, passing along the trail,
the uprooted trees, and had noted the footsteps
of the explorers going down to the stone passage.
It was easy for them to determine that Tom
and his friends had gone in, since the marks of
their boots were plainly in evidence in the soft

None of the Indians was as much wrought up
over the discovery of Kurzon and the idol as
were the white adventurers. The gold, of course,
meant something to the natives, but they were
indifferent to the wonders of the underground
city. Perhaps they had heard too many legends
concerning such things to be impressed.

"That statue is yours--all yours," said old
Goosal when he had talked with his relatives and
friends among the natives. "They all say what
you find you keep, and we will help you keep it."

"That's good," murmured Professor Bumper.
"There was some doubt in my mind as to our
right to this, but after all, the natives who live
in this land are the original owners, and if they
pass title to us it is clear. That settles the last

"Except that of getting the idol out," said Mr. Damon.

"Oh, we'll accomplish that!" cried Tom.

"I can hardly believe my good luck," declared
Professor Bumper. "I shall write a whole book
on this idol alone and then----"

Once more came an interruption. This time
it was from another direction, but it was of the
same character--an approaching band of torch-
bearers. They were Indians, too, but leading
them were a number of whites.

And at their head was no less personage than
Professor Beecher himself.

For a moment, as the three parties stood
together in the ancient temple, in the glare of
many torches, no one spoke. Then Professor
Bumper found his voice.

"We are glad to see you," he said to his rival.
"That is glad to see you alive, for we saw the
landslide bury you. And we were coming to
dig you out. We thought this cave--the cave of
the buried city--would lead us to you easier than
by digging through the slide. We have just
discovered this idol," and he put his hand on the
grim golden image.

"Oh, you have discovered it, have you?" asked
Professor Beecher, and his voice was bitter.

"Yes, not ten minutes ago. The natives have
kindly acknowledged my right to it under the law
of priority. I am sorry but----"

With a look of disgust and chagrined
disappointment on his face, Professor Beecher turned
to the other scientists and said:

"Let us go. We are too late. He has what
I came after."

"Well, it is the fortune of war--and discovery,"
put in Mr. Hardy, one of the party who seemed
the least ill-natured. "Your luck might have
been ours, Professor Bumper. I congratulate

"Thank you! Are you sure your party is all
right--not in need of assistance? How did you
get out of the place you were buried?"

"Thank you! We do not require any help. It
was good of you to think of us. But we got
out the way we came in. We did not enter the
tunnel as you did, but came in through another
entrance which was not closed by the landslide.
Then we made a turn through a gateway in a
tunnel connecting with ours--a gateway which
seems to have been opened by the earthquake--
and we came here, just now.

"Too late, I see, to claim the discovery of the
idol of gold," went on Mr. Hardy. "But I trust
you will be generous, and allow us to make
observations of the buildings and other relics."

"As much as you please, and with the greatest
pleasure in the world," was the prompt answer
of Professor Bumper. "All I lay sole
claim to is the golden idol. You are at liberty
to take whatever else you find in Kurzon and to
make what observations you like."

"That is generous of you, and quite in contrast
to--er--to the conduct of our leader. I trust
he may awaken to a sense of the injustice he
did you."

But Professor Beecher was not there to hear
this. He had stalked away in anger.

"Humph!" grunted Tom. Then he continued:
"That story about a government concession was all
a fake, Professor, else he'd have put up a fight now.
Contemptible sneak!"

In fact the story of Tom Swift's trip to the
underground land of wonders is ended, for with
the discovery of the idol of gold the main object
of the expedition was accomplished. But their
adventures were not over by any means, though
there is not room in this volume to record them.

Suffice it to say that means were at once taken
to get the golden image out of the cave of the
ancient city. It was not accomplished without
hard work, for the gold was heavy, and Professor
Bumper would not, naturally, consent to
the shaving off of so much as an ear or part of
the flat nose, to say nothing of one of the half
dozen extra arms and legs with which the ugly
idol was furnished.

Finally it was safely taken out of the cave,
and along the stone passage to the opening
formed by the overthrown trees, and thence on
to camp.

And at the camp a surprise awaited Tom.

Some long-delayed mail had been forwarded
from the nearest place of civilization and there
were letters for all, including several for our hero.
One in particular he picked out first and read

"Well, is every little thing all right, Tom?"
asked Ned, as he saw a cheerful grin spread itself
over his chum's face.

"I should say it is, and then some! Look
here, Ned. This is a letter from----"

"I know. Mary Nestor. Go on."

"How'd you guess?"

"Oh, I'm a mind-reader."

"Huh! Well, you know she was away when
I went to call to say good-bye, and I was a little
afraid Beecher had got an inside edge on me."

"Had he?"

"No, but he tried hard enough. He went to
see Mary in Fayetteville, just as you heard, be-
fore he came on to join his party, but he didn't
pay much of a visit to her."


"No. Mary told him he'd better hurry along
to Central America, or wherever it was he
intended going, as she didn't care for him as much
as he flattered himself she did."

"Good!" cried Ned. "Shake, old man. I'm glad!"

They shook hands.

"Well, what's the matter? Didn't you read
all of her letter?" asked Ned when he saw his
chum once more perusing the epistle.

"No. There's a postscript here.

"`Sorry I couldn't see you before you left. It
was a mistake, but when you come back----'

"Oh, that part isn't any of your affair!" and,
blushing under his tan, Tom thrust the letter
into his pocket and strode away, while Ned
laughed happily.

With the idol of gold safe in their possession,
Professor Bumper's party could devote their
time to making other explorations in the buried
city. This they did, as is testified to by a long
list of books and magazine articles since turned
out by the scientist, dealing strictly with archaeo-
logical subjects, touching on the ancient Mayan
race and its civilization, with particular reference
to their system of computing time.

Professor Beecher, young and foolish, would
not consent to delve into the riches of the ancient
city, being too much chagrined over the loss of
the idol. It seems he had really promised to
give a part of it to Mary Nestor. But he never
got the chance.

His colleagues, after their first disappointment
at being beaten, joined forces with Professor
Bumper in exploring the old city, and made many
valuable discoveries.

In one point Professor Bumper had done his
rival an injustice. That was in thinking
Professor Beecher was responsible for the treachery
of Jacinto. That was due to the plotter's own
work. It was true that Professor Beecher had
tentatively engaged Jacinto, and had sent word
to him to keep other explorers away from the
vicinity of the ancient city if possible; but
Jacinto, who did not return Professor Bumper's
money, as he had promised, had acted treacherously
in order to enrich himself. Professor
Beecher had nothing to do with that, nor had he
with the taking of the map, as has been seen, the
loss of which, after all, was a blessing in disguise,
for Kurzon would never have been located
by following the directions given there, as it was
very inaccurate.

In another point it was demonstrated that the
old documents were at fault. This was in reference
to the golden idol having been overthrown
and another set up in its place, an act which had
caused the destruction of Kurzon.

It is true that the city was destroyed, or rather,
buried, but this catastrophe was probably
brought about by an earthquake. And another
great idol, one of clay, was found, perhaps a
rival of Quitzel, but it was this clay image which
was thrown down and broken, and not the golden

Perhaps an effort had been made, just before
the burying of the city, to change idols and the
system of worship, but Quitzel seemed to have
held his own. The old manuscripts were not
very reliable, it was found, except in general.

"Well, I guess this will hold Beecher for a
while," said Tom, the night of the arrival of
Mary's letter, and after he had written one in
answer, which was dispatched by a runner to
the nearest place whence mail could be

"Yes, luck seems to favor you," replied Ned.
"You've had a hand in the discovery of the idol
of gold, and----"

"Yes. And I discovered something else I
wasn't quite sure of," interrupted Tom, as he
felt to make sure he had a certain letter safe in
his pocket.

It was several weeks later that the explorations
of Kurzon came to an end--a temporary end, for
the rainy season set in, when the tropics are
unsuitable for white men. Tom, Professor Bumper,
Ned and Mr. Damon set sail for the United
States, the valuable idol of gold safe on board.

And there, with their vessel plowing the blue
waters of the Caribbean Sea, we will take leave
of Tom Swift and his friends.

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