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Tom Swift in Captivity by Victor Appleton

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A Daring Escape by Airship








Tom Swift closed the book of adventures he had been reading, tossed
it on the table, and got up. Then he yawned.

"What's the matter?" asked his chum, Ned Newton, who was deep in
another volume.

"Oh, I thought this was going to be something exciting," replied
Tom, motioning toward the book he had discarded. "But say! the make-
believe adventures that fellow had, weren't anything compared to
those we went through in the city of gold, or while rescuing the
exiles of Siberia."

"Well," remarked Ned, "they would have to be pretty classy
adventures to lay over those you and I have had lately. But where
are you going?" he continued, for Tom had taken his cap and started
for the door.

"I thought I'd go out and take a little run in the aeroplane. Want
to come along? It's more fun than sitting in the house reading about
exciting things that never have happened. Come on out and--"

"Yes, and have a tumble from the aeroplane, I suppose you were going
to say," interrupted Ned with a laugh. "Not much! I'm going to stay
here and finish this book."

"Say," demanded Tom indignantly. "Did you ever know me to have a
tumble since I knew how to run an airship?"

"No, I can't say that I did. I was only joking."

"Then you carried the joke too far, as the policeman said to the man
he found lugging off money from the bank. And to make up for it
you've got to come along with me."

"Where are you going?"

"Oh, anywhere. Just to take a little run in the upper regions, and
clear some of the cobwebs out of my head. I declare, I guess I've
got the spring fever. I haven't done anything since we got back from
Russia last fall, and I'm getting rusty."

"You haven't done ANYTHING!" exclaimed Ned, following his chum's
example by tossing aside the book. "Do you call working on your new
invention of a noiseless airship nothing?"

"Well, I haven't finished that yet. I'm tired of inventing things. I
just want to go off, and have some good fun, like getting
shipwrecked on a desert island, or being lost in the mountains, or
something like that. I want action. I want to get off in the jungle,
and fight wild beasts, and escape from the savages!"

"Say! you don't want much," commented Ned. "But I feel the same way,

"Then come on out and take a run, and maybe we'll get on the track
of an adventure," urged the young inventor. "We won't go far, just
twenty or thirty miles or so."

The two youths emerged from the house and started across the big
lawn toward the aeroplane sheds, for Tom Swift owned several speedy
aircrafts, from a big combined aeroplane and dirigible balloon, to a
little monoplane not much larger than a big bird, but which was the
most rapid flier that ever breathed the fumes of gasolene.

"Which one you going to take, Tom?" asked Ned, as his chum paused in
front of the row of hangars.

"Oh, the little double-seated monoplane, I guess that's in good
shape, and it's easy to manage. When I'm out for fun I hate to be
tinkering with levers and warping wing tips all the while. The Lark
practically flies herself, and we can sit back and take it easy.
I'll have Eradicate fill up the gasolene tank, while I look at the
magneto. It needs a little adjusting, though it works nearly to
perfection since I put in some of that new platinum we got from the
lost mine in Siberia."

"Yes, that was a trip that amounted to something. I wouldn't mind
going on another like that, though we ran lots of risks."

"We sure did," agreed Tom, and then, raising his voice he called
out: "Rad, I say Rad! Where are you? I want you!"

"Comin', massa Tom, comin'," answered an aged colored man, as he
shuffled around the corner of the shed. "What do yo'-all want ob

"Put some gasolene in the Lark, Rad. Ned and I are going to take a
little flight. What were you doing?"

"Jest groomin' mah mule Boomerang, Massa Tom, dat's all. Po'
Boomerang he's gittin' old jest same laik I be. He's gittin' old,
an' he needs lots ob 'tention. He has t' hab mo' oats dan usual,
Massa Tom, an' he doan't feel 'em laik he uster, dat's a fac', Massa

"Well, Rad, give him all he wants. Boomerang was a good mule in his

"An' he's good yet, Massa Tom, he's good yet!" said Eradicate
Sampson eagerly. "Doan't yo' all forgit dat, Massa Tom." And the
colored man proceeded to fill the gasolene tank, while Tom adjusted
the electrical mechanism of his aeroplane, Ned assisting by handing
him the tools needed. Eradicate, who said he was named that because
he "eradicated" dirt, was a colored man of all work, who had been in
the service of the Swift household for several years. He and his
mule Boomerang were fixtures.

"There, I guess that will do," remarked Tom, after testing the
magneto, and finding that it gave a fat, hot spark. "That ought to
send us along in good shape. Got all the gas in, Rad?"

"Every drop, Massa Tom."

"Then catch hold and help wheel the Lark out. Ned, you steady her on
that side. How are the tires? Do they need pumping up?"

"Hard as rocks," answered Tom's chum, as he tapped his toe against
the rubber circlets of the small bicycle wheels on which the
aeroplane rested.

"Then they'll do, I guess. Come on now, and we'll give her a test
before we start off. I ought to get a few hundred more revolutions
per minute out of the motor with the way I've adjusted the magneto.
Rad, you and Ned hold back, while I turn the engine over."

The youth and the colored man grasped the rear supports of the long,
tail-like part of the monoplane while Tom stepped to the front to
twist the propeller blades. The first two times there was no
explosion as he swung the delicate wooden blades about, but the
third time the engine started off with a roar, and a succession of
explosions that were deafening, until Tom switched in the muffler,
thereby cutting down the noise. Faster and faster the propeller
whirled about as the motor warmed up, until the young inventor

"That's the stuff! She's better than ever! Climb up Ned, and we'll
start off. You can turn her over, Rad; can't you?"

"Suah, Massa Tom," was the reply, for Eradicate had been on so many
trips with Tom, and had had so much to do with airships, that to
merely start one was child's play for him.

The two youths had scarcely taken their seats, and the colored man
was about to twist around the fan-like blades of the big propeller
in front, when from behind there came a hail.

"Hold on there! Wait a minute, Tom Swift! Bless my admission ticket,
don't go! I've got something important to tell you! Hold on!"

"Humph! I know who that is!" cried Tom, motioning to Eradicate to
cease trying to start the motor.

"Mr. Damon, of course," agreed Ned. "I wonder what he wants?"

"A ride, maybe," went on Tom. "If he does we've got to take the
Scooter instead of this one. That holds four. Well, we may as well
see what he wants."

He jumped lightly from his seat in the monoplane and was followed by
Ned. They saw coming toward them, from the direction of the house, a
stout man, who seemed very much excited. He was walking so fast that
he fairly waddled, and he was smiling at the lads, for he was one of
their best friends.

"Glad I caught you, Tom." he panted, for his haste had almost
deprived him of breath. "I've got something important to tell you. I
hurried over as soon as I heard about it."

"Well, you're just in time," commented Ned with a laugh. "In another
minute we'd have been up in the clouds."

"What is it, Mr. Damon?" asked Tom. "Have you got wind of a city of
diamonds, or has some one sent you a map telling where we can go to
pick up ten thousand dollar bills by the basket?"

"Neither one; Tom, neither one. It's something better than either of
those, and if you don't jump at the chance I'm mistaken in you,
that's all I've got to say. Come over here."

He turned a quick glance over his shoulder as he spoke and advanced
toward the two lads on tiptoe as though he feared some one would see
or hear him. Yet it was broad daylight, the place was the starting
ground for Tom's aeroplanes and save Eradicate there was no one
present except Mr. Damon, Ned and the young inventor himself.

"What's up?" asked Tom in wonderment.

"Hush!" cautioned the odd gentleman. "Bless my walking stick, Tom!
but this is going to be a great chance for you--for us,--for I'm
going along."

"Going where, Mr. Damon?"

"I'll tell you in a minute. Is there any one here?"

"No one but us?"

"You are sure that Andy Foger isn't around."

"Sure. He's out of town, you know."

"Yes, but you never can tell when he's going to appear on the scene.
Come over here," and taking hold of the coat of each of the youths,
Mr. Damon led them behind the big swinging door of the aeroplane

"You haven't anything on hand; have you, Tom?" asked the odd
gentleman, after peering through the crack to make sure they were

"Nothing at all, if you mean in the line of going off on an
adventure trip."

"That's what I mean. Bless my earlaps! but I'm glad of that. I've
got just the thing for you. Tom, I want you to go to a strange land,
and bring back one of the biggest men there--a giant! Tom Swift, you
and I and Ned--if he wants to go--are going after a giant!"

Mr. Damon gleefully clapped Tom on the back, with such vigor that
our hero coughed, and then the odd gentleman stepped back and gazed
at the two lads, a look of triumph shining in his eyes.

For a moment there was a silence. Tom looked at Ned, and Ned gave
his chum a quick glance. Then they both looked sharply at Mr. Damon.

"A--a giant," murmured Tom faintly.

"That's what I said," replied Mr. Damon. "I want you to help me
capture a giant, Tom."

Once more the two youths exchanged significant glances, and then
Tom, in a low and gentle voice said:

"Yes, Mr. Damon, that's all right. We'll get you a giant right away.
Won't we, Ned? Now you'd better come in the house and lie down, I'll
have Mrs. Baggert make you a cup of tea, and after you have had a
sleep you'll feel better. Come on," and the young inventor gently
tried to lead his friend out from behind the shed door.

"Look here, Tom Swift!" exclaimed the odd gentleman indignantly. "Do
you think I'm crazy? Lie down? Rest myself? Go to sleep? Say, I'm
not crazy! I'm not tired! I'm not sleepy! This is the greatest
chance you ever had, and if we get one of those giants--"

"Yes, yes, we'll get one," put in Ned soothingly.

"Of course," added Tom. "Come on, now, Mr. Damon. You'll feel better
after you've had a rest. Dr. Perkinby is coming over to see father
and I'll have him--"

Mr. Damon gave one startled glance at the young inventor and his
chum, and then burst into a peal of hearty laughter.

"Oh, my!" he exclaimed at intervals in his pyroxisms. "Oh, dear! He
thinks I'm out of my head! He can't stand that talk about giants! Oh
dear! Tom Swift, this is the greatest chance you ever had! Come on
in the house and I'll tell you all I know about giant land, and then
if you want to think I'm crazy you can, that's all I've got to say!"



Without a word Tom and Ned followed Mr. Damon toward the Swift
house. Truth to tell the youths did not know what to say, or they
would have been bubbling over with questions. But the talk of the
odd man, and his strange request to Tom to go off and capture a
giant had so startled the young inventor and his chum that they did
not know whether to think that Mr. Damon was joking, or whether he
had suddenly taken leave of his senses.

And while I have a few minutes that are occupied in the journey to
the house I will introduce my new readers more formally to Tom Swift
and his friends.

Tom though only a young man, was an inventor of note, as his father
was before him. Father and son lived in a fine house in the town of
Shopton, in New York state, and Mrs. Swift being dead, the two were
well looked after by Mrs. Baggert their housekeeper. Eradicate
Sampson, as I have said, was the man of all work about the place.
Ned Newton who had a position in a Shopton bank, was Tom's
particular chum, and Mr. Wakefeld Damon, of the neighboring town of
Waterfield, was a friend to all who knew him. He had the odd habit
of blessing anything and everything he could think of, interspersing
it in his talk.

In the first volume of this series, called "Tom Swift and His Motor-
Cycle," I related how Tom made the acquaintance of Mr. Damon,
afterward purchasing a damaged motor-cycle from the odd gentleman.
On this machine Tom had many adventures, incidentally saving some of
his father's valuable patents from a gang of conspirators. Later Tom
got a motor boat, and had many races with his rivals on Lake
Carlopa, beating Andy Foger, the red-haired bully of the town, in
signal fashion. After his adventures on the water Tom sighed for
some in the air, and he had them in his airship the Red Cloud.

"Tom Swift and His Submarine Boat." is a story of a search after
sunken treasure, and, returning from that quest Tom built an
electric runabout, the speedest car on the road. By means of a
wireless message, later, Tom was able to save himself and the
castaways of Earthquake Island, and, as a direct outcome of that
experience, he was able to go in search of the diamond makers, and
solve the secret of Phantom Mountain, as told in the book dealing
with that subject.

When he went to the caves of ice Tom had bad luck, for his airship
was wrecked, and he endured many hardships in getting home with his
companions, particularly as Andy Foger sought revenge on him.

But Tom pluckily overcame all obstacles and, later, he built a sky
racer, in which he made the quickest trip on record. After that,
with his electric rifle, he went after elephants in the interior of
Africa and was successful in rescuing some missionaries from the
terrible red pygmies.

One of the mission workers, later, sent Tom details about a buried
city of gold in Mexico, and Tom and his chum together with Mr. Damon
located this mysterious place after much trouble, as told in the
book entitled, "Tom Swift in the City of Gold." The gold did not
prove as valuable as they expected, as it was of low grade, but they
got considerable money for it, and were then ready for more

The adventures soon came, as those of you who have read the book
called, "Tom Swift and His Air Glider," can testify. In that I told
how Tom went to Siberia, and after rescuing some Russian political
exiles, found a valuable deposit of platinum, which to-day is a more
valuable metal than gold. Tom needed some platinum for his
electrical machines, and it proved very useful.

He had been back from Russia all winter and, now that Spring had
come again, our hero sighed for more activity, and fresh adventures.
And with the advent of Mr. Damon, and his mysterious talk about
giants, Tom seemed likely to be gratified.

The two chums and the odd gentleman continued on to the house, no
one speaking, until finally, when they were seated in the library,
Mr. Damon said:

"Well, Tom, are you ready to listen to me now, and have me explain
what I meant when I asked you to get a giant?"

"I--I suppose so," hesitated the young inventor. "But hadn't I
better call dad? And are you sure you don't want to lie down and
collect your thoughts? A nice hot cup of tea--"

"There, there, Tom Swift; If you tell me to lie down again, or
propose any more tea I'll use you as a punching bag, bless my boxing
gloves if I don't!" cried Mr. Damon and he laughed heartily. "I know
what you think, Tom, and you, too, Ned," he went on, still
chuckling. "You think I don't know what I'm saying, but I'll soon
prove that I do. I'm fully in my senses, I'm not crazy, I'm not
talking in my sleep, and I'm very much in earnest. Tom, this is the
chance of your life to get a giant, and pay a visit to giant land.
Will you take it?"

"Mr. Damon, I--er--that is I--"

Tom stammered and looked at Ned.

"Now look here, Tom Swift!" exclaimed the odd man. "When you got
word about the buried city of gold in Mexico you didn't hesitate a
minute about making up your mind to go there; did you?"

"No, I didn't."

"Well, that wasn't any more of a strain on your imagination than
this giant business; was it?"

"Well, I don't know, as--"

"Bless my spectacles! Of course it wasn't! Now, look here. Tom, you
just make up your mind that I know what I'm talking about, and we'll
get along better. I don't blame you for being a bit puzzled at
first, but just you listen. You believe there are such things as
giants; don't you?"

"I saw a man in the circus once, seven feet high. They called him a
giant," spoke Ned.

"A giant! He was a baby compared to the kind of giants I mean," said
Mr. Damon quickly. "Tom, we are going after a race of giants, the
smallest one of which is probably eight feet high, and from that
they go on up to nearly ten feet, and they're not slim fellows
either, but big in proportion. Now in giant land--"

"Here's Mrs. Baggert with a quieting cup of tea," interrupted Tom.
"I spoke to her as we came in, and asked her to have some ready. If
you'll drink this, Mr. Damon, I'm sure--"

"Bless my sugar bowl, Tom! You make a man nervous, with your cups of
tea. I'm more quiet than you, but I'll drink it to please you. Now
listen to me."

"All right, go ahead."

"A friend of mine has asked me if I knew any one who could undertake
to go to giant land, and get him one or two specimens of the big men
there. I at once thought of you, and I said I believed you would go.
And I'll go with you, Tom! Think of that! I've got faith enough in
the proposition to go myself!"

There was no mistaking Mr. Damon's manner. He was very much in
earnest, and Tom and Ned looked at each other with a different light
in their eyes.

"Who is your friend, and where in the world is giant land?" asked
Tom. "I haven't heard of such a place since I read the accounts of
the early travelers, before this continent was discovered. Who is
your friend that wants a giant?"

"If you'll let me, I'll have him here in a minute, Tom."

"Of course I will. But good land! Have you got him concealed up your
sleeve, or under some of the chairs? Is he a dwarf?" and Tom looked
about the room as if he expected to see some one in hiding.

"I left him outside in the garden, Tom," replied the odd man. "I
told him I'd come on ahead, and see how you took the proposition.
Don't tell him you thought me insane at first. I'll have him here in
a jiffy. I'll signal to him."

Not waiting for a word from either of the boys, Mr. Damon went to
one of the low library windows, opened it, gave a shrill whistle and
waved his handkerchief vigorously. In a moment there came an
answering whistle.

"He's coming," announced the odd gentleman.

"But who is he?" insisted Tom. "Is he some professor who wants a
giant to examine, or is he a millionaire who wants one for a body

"Neither one, Tom. He's the proprietor of a number of circuses, and
a string of museums, and he wants a giant, or even two of them, for
exhibition purposes. There's lots of money in giants. He's had some
seven, and even eight feet tall, but he has lately heard of a land
where the tallest man is nearly ten feet high, and very big, and
he'll pay ten thousand dollars for a giant alive and in good
condition, as the animal men say. I believe we can get one for him,
and--Ah, here he is now," and Mr. Damon interrupted himself as a
small, dark-complexioned man, with a very black mustache, black
eyes, a watch chain as big around as his thumb, a red vest, a large
white hat, and a suit of large-sized checked clothes appeared at the
open library window.

"Is it all right?" this strange-appearing man asked of Mr. Damon.

"I believe so," replied the odd gentleman. "Come in, Sam."

With one bound, though the window was some distance from the ground,
the little man leaped into the library. He landed lightly on his
feet, quickly turned two hand springs in rapid succession, and then,
without breathing in the least rapidly, as most men would have done
after that exertion, he made a low bow to Tom and Ned.

"Boys, let me introduce you to my friend, Sam Preston, an old
acrobat and now a circus proprietor," said Mr. Damon. "Mr. Preston,
this is Tom Swift, of whom I told you, and his chum, Ned Newton."

"And will they get the giant for me?" asked the circus man quickly.

"I think they will," replied Mr. Damon. "I had a little difficulty
in making the matter clear to them, and that's why I sent for you.
You can explain everything."

"Have a chair," invited Tom politely. "This is a new one on me--
going after giants. I've done almost everything else, though."

"So Mr. Damon said," spoke Mr. Preston gravely. He was much more
sedate and composed than one would have supposed after his
sensational entrance into the room. "I am very glad to meet you, Tom
Swift, and I hope we can do business together. Now, if you have a
few minutes to spare, I'll tell you all I know about giant land."



"Jove! That sounds interesting!" exclaimed Ned, as he settled
himself comfortably in his chair.

"It is interesting," replied the circus man. "At least I found it so
when I first listened to one of my men tell it. But whether it is
possible to get to giant land, and, what is more bring away some of
the big men, is something I leave to you, Tom Swift. After you have
heard my story, if you decide to go, I'll stand all the expenses of
fitting out an expedition, and if you fail I won't have a word to
say. If, on the other hand, you bring me back a giant or two, I'll
pay you ten thousand dollars and all expenses. Is it a bargain?"

"Let me hear the story first," suggested our hero, who was a
cautious lad when there was need for it. Yet he liked Mr. Preston,
even at first sight, in spite of his "loud" attire, and the rather
"circusy" manner in which he had entered the room. Then too, if he
was a friend of Mr. Damon, that was a great deal in his favor.

"I am, as you know, in the circus business," began Mr. Preston. "I
have a number of traveling shows, and several large museums in the
big cities. I am always on the lookout for new attractions, for the
public demands them. Once get in the rut of having nothing new, and
your business will fall off. I know, for I've been in the business,
man and boy, for nearly forty years. I began as a performer, and I
can still do a double somersault over fifteen elephants in a row. I
always keep in practice for there's nothing like showing a performer
how to do a thing yourself."

"But about the giants, which is what I'm interested in most now. Of
course I've had giants in my circuses and museums, from the
beginning. The public wanted 'em and we had to have 'em. Some of 'em
were fakes--men on stilts with long pants to cover up their legs,
and others were the real, genuine, all-wool-and-a-yard-wide article.
But none of them were very big. A shade under eight feet was the
limit with me."

"I also have lots of wild animals, and it was when some of my men
were out after some tapirs, jaguars and leopards that I got on the
track of the giants. It was about a year ago, but up to this time I
haven't seen my way clear to send after the big men. It was this

Mr. Preston assumed a more comfortable position in his chair, nodded
at Mr. Damon, who was listening attentively to all that was said,
and resumed.

"As I said I had sent Jake Poddington, one of my best men, after
tapirs and some other South American animals. He didn't have very
good luck hunting along the Amazon. In the first place that region
has been pretty well cleaned out of circus animals, and another
thing it's getting too well populated. Another thing is that you
can't get the native hunters and beaters to work for you as they did
years ago."

"So Poddington wrote to me that he was going to take his assistants,
make a big jump, and hike it for the Argentine Republic. He had a
tip that along the Salado river there might be something doing, and
I told him to go ahead."

"He shipped me what few animals he had, and lit out for a three
thousand mile journey. I didn't hear from him for some time, and,
when I did, I got the finest collection of animals I had ever laid
eyes on. I got them about the same time I did a letter from Jake,
for the mail service ain't what you could call rushing in that part
of South America."

"But what about the giants?" interrupted Mr. Damon.

"I'm coming to them," replied the circus man calmly. "It was this
way: At the tail of his letter which he sent with the shipment of
animals Jake said this, and I remember it almost word for word:"

"'If all goes well,' he wrote, 'I'll have a big surprise for you
soon. I've heard a story about a race of big natives that have their
stamping ground in this section, and I'm going to try for a few
specimens. I know how much you want a giant.'"

"Well?" asked Tom, after a pause, for the circus man had ceased
talking and was staring out of the opened library window into the
garden that was just becoming green.

"That was all I ever heard from poor Jake," said Mr. Preston softly.

"Bless my insurance policy!" gasped Mr. Damon. "You didn't tell me
that! What happened to him."

"I never could find out," resumed Mr. Preston. "I never heard
another word from him, and I've never seen him from the time I
parted with him to go after the animals. The letter saying he was
going after the giants was the last line of his I've seen."

"But didn't you try to locate him?" asked Tom. "Didn't he have some
companions--some one who could tell what became of him?"

"Of course I tried!" exclaimed Mr. Preston. "Do you think I'd let a
man like Jake disappear without making some effort to find him? But
he was the only white man in his party, the rest were natives. That
was Jake's way. Well, when some time past and I didn't hear from
him, I got busy. I wrote to our consuls and even some South American
merchants with whom I had done business. But it didn't amount to

"Couldn't you get any news?" asked Ned softly.

"Oh, yes, some, but it didn't amount to much. After a long time, and
no end of trouble, I had a man locate a native named Zacatas, who
was the head beater of the black men under Jake."

"Zacatas said that he and Jake and the others got safely to the
Salado river section, but I knew that before, for that was where the
fine shipment of animals came from. Then Jake got that tip about the
giants, and set off alone into the interior to locate them, for all
the natives were afraid to go. That was the last seen of poor Jake."

"Bless my fire shovel!" cried Mr. Damon. "What did Zacatas say
became of the poor fellow?"

"No one knew. Whether he reached giant land and was killed there, or
whether he was struck down by some wild beast in the jungle, I never
could find out. The natives under Zacatas waited in camp for him for
some time, and then went back to the Amazon region where they
belonged. That's all the news I could get."

"But I'm sure there are giants in the interior of South America, for
Jake always knew what he was talking about. Now I want to do two
things. I want to get on the trail of poor Jake Poddington if I can,
and I want a giant--two or three of them if it can be managed."

"Ever since Jake disappeared I've been trying to arrange things to
make a search for him, and for the giants, but up to now something
has been in the way. I happened to mention the matter to my friend,
Mr. Damon, and he at once spoke of you, Tom Swift."

"Now, what I want to know is this: Will you undertake to get a giant
for me, rescue Jake Poddington if he is alive in the interior of
South America, or, if he is dead, find out how it happened and give
him decent burial? Will you do this, Tom Swift?"

There was a silence in the room following the dramatic and simple
recital of the circus man. Tom was strangely moved, as was his chum
Ned As for Mr. Damon, he was softly blessing every thing he could
think of.

Tom looked out of the long, opened windows of the library. In fancy
he could see the forest and jungles of South America. He saw a
sluggish river flowing along between rank green banks, while, from
the overhanging trees, long festoons of moss hung down, writhing now
and then as the big water anacondas or boa constrictors looped their
sinuous folds over the low limbs.

In fancy he saw dark-skinned natives slinking along with their
deadly blow guns, and poisoned arrows. He thought he could hear the
low growls and whines of the treacherous jaguars and see their lithe
bodies slinking along. He saw the brilliant-hued flowers, saw the
birds of gorgeous plumage, and listened in fancy to their discordant

Then, too, he saw a lonely white man in a miserable native hut
thousands of miles from civilization, waiting, waiting, waiting for
he knew not what fate. Again he saw monstrous men stalking along--
men who towered ten feet or more, and who were big and brawny. All
this passed through the mind of Tom in an instant.

"Well?" asked Mr. Preston softly.

"I'll go!" suddenly cried the young inventor. "I don't know whether
I can get you a giant or not, Mr. Preston, but if it's possible I'll
get poor Jake Poddington, dead or alive!"

"Good!" cried the circus man, jumping up and clasping Tom's hand. "I
thought you were that kind of a lad, after I heard Mr. Damon
describe you. You've taken a big load off my heart, Tom Swift. Now
to talk of ways and means! I'll have a giant yet, and maybe I'll get
back the best man who ever shipped a consignment of wild animals,
good Jake Poddington! Now to business!"



"You'll go in an airship of course; won't you, Tom?" asked Mr.
Damon, when they had pulled their chairs up around a library table,
and Mr. Preston had taken some papers from his pocket.

"An airship? No, I don't believe I shall," replied the young
inventor. "In the first place, I'm a bit tired of scooting through
the air so much, though it isn't to be denied that it's the quickest
way of going. But in South America there are so many jungles that it
will be hard to find a level starting ground for a take-off, after
we land. Of course we could go up as a balloon, but this expedition
is going to be different from any we were ever on before."

"How so?" asked Ned.

"Well, in the first place we've got to start at one end of a trail,
and make careful inquiries all along the way. It isn't like when we
went for the city of gold. There we had to look for a certain ruined
temple, which was the landmark. When we went after the platinum in
Siberia we had to look for the place of the high winds, so I could
use my air glider. But now we're trying to locate a man who traveled
on foot through the jungles, and if we went in an airship we might
just miss the connecting link."

"So, I think the best way will be to do just as Mr. Poddington did--
travel on foot or by horses and mules, and go slowly, making
inquiries from time to time. Then we MAY get to giant land, we MAY
find him."

"I don't hope for all that," said the circus man, "but if you can
only get some news of him it will be a relief. If he died peaceably
it would be better than to be a captive among some of those savage
tribes. It's been a year now since I heard the last of him. But I
agree with Tom that an airship won't be much good in the jungle. You
might take along a small one, if you could pack it, to scare the
natives with. In fact it might be a good thing to show to the
giants, if you find them."

"That is my idea," declared Tom. "I'll take the Lark with me. That's
a mighty powerful machine for its size, and it can be taken apart in
sections. It will carry three on a pinch, and I have had five in her
with two auxiliary seats. I'll take the Lark, and she may come in

"When can you start?" asked Mr. Preston.

"As soon as we can fit out an expedition," answered Tom. "It
oughtn't to take long. I don't have to build an air glider this
time. It won't take long to take the Lark apart. I haven't finished
work on my noiseless airship yet, but that can wait. Yes, we'll be
ready as soon as you want us to start, Mr. Preston."

"It can't be too soon for me. I'll deposit a certain sum in the bank
to your credit, Tom, and you can draw on it for expenses. I'll pay
any amount to get word of poor Jake, to say nothing of having a
giant for my circus. Now as to ways of getting there. Have you a
large map of South America?"

Tom had one, and he and the others were pouring over it when Tom's
father came into the room.

"Well, well!" he exclaimed. "What's this? What are you up to now,
Tom, my boy? Mrs. Baggert said you took down the South American map.
What's up?"

"Lots, dad? I'm going after giants this time!"

"Giants, Tom? Are you joking?"

"Not a bit of it, Mr. Swift," answered Mr. Damon. "Bless my check
book! I believe if some one wanted the moon Tom Swift would try to
get it for them."

Then Mr. Swift noticed the stranger present, and was introduced to
the circus man.

"Is it really true, Tom," asked the aged inventor, when the story
had been related, "are you going to have a try for giant land?"

"That's what I am, dad, and I wish you were going along."

"No, Tom, I'm getting too old for that. But I did hope you'd stay
home for a while, and help me work on my gyroscope invention. It is
almost completed."

"I will help you, dad, as soon as I get back with a giant or two.
Who knows? maybe I'll get one myself."

"What would you do with one?" asked Ned with a laugh.

"Have him help Eradicate," answered the young inventor. "Rad is
getting pretty old, and he needs an assistant."

"But are these giants black?" asked Mr. Swift.

"That's a point I don't know," answered the circus man frankly.
"Jake didn't say in his letter. They may be black, white or midway
between. That's what Tom has got to find out for us."

"And I'll do it!" exclaimed our hero. "Now let's see. I suppose the
best plan would be to take a ship right to the Rio de la Plata,
landing say at Buenos Ayres or Montevideo, and then organize an
expedition to strike into the interior."

"Why don't you do just as Mr. Poddington did?" asked Ned, "start
from the Amazon and work south?"

"It would take too long," declared Tom. "We know that the giants are
somewhere in the northern part of Argentina, or in Paraguay or
Uruguay. Or they may be on the other side of the Uruguay river in
Brazil. It's quite a stretch of territory, and we've got to take our
time exploring it. That's why I don't want to waste time working
down from the Amazon. We'll go right to Buenos Ayres, I think."

"That's what I'd do," advised the old circus man. "Now I can give
you some points on what to take, and how to act when you get there.
The South Americans are a queer people--very nice when treated
right, but very bad if not," and then he told some of his
experiences as a circus man in South America, for he had traveled

"I'd go again, if my business didn't keep me here," he concluded,
"for I'd ask nothing better than to hunt for giant land, or try to
rescue poor Jake. But I can't. I'm depending on you, Tom Swift."

"What's that? Giant land?" exclaimed Mrs. Baggert, the motherly
housekeeper, as she came in to announce that dinner was ready. "You
don't mean to tell me, Tom, that you're going off again?"

"That's what I am, Mrs. Baggert. You'd better put me up a few
sandwiches, for I don't know when I'll be back," and Tom winked at
his chum.

"Oh, of all things I ever heard in all my born days!" cried the
housekeeper, throwing up her hands. "Will you ever settle down, Tom

"Maybe he will when Miss Mary Nestor is ready to settle down too,"
said Ned mischievously, referring to a girl of whom Tom was very

"Say, I'll fix you for that!" cried our hero, as he made an
unsuccessful grab for Ned. "But, Mrs. Baggert, can you put on a
couple of extra plates? Mr. Damon and Mr. Preston will stay to

"Not if it's going to put you out, Tom," objected the circus man. "I
can go to the hotel, and--"

"No, indeed!" exclaimed Mrs. Baggert graciously, for she prided
herself on her housekeeping arrangements, and she used to say that
unexpected company never "flustrated" her. Soon the little party was
seated around the table, where the talk went from grave to gay, the
subject of the giants being uppermost.

Mr. Preston told many funny stories of his circus days, and some of
them had the spice of danger in them, for he had been all over the
world, either as a performer or as the owner of amusement

"Now, the next question to be settled," said the old circus man,
when they were once more gathered in the library, "is how many are

"I am, for one!" exclaimed Ned quickly. "I'm sure my folks will let
me. Especially as we aren't going to use an airship, but will travel
just as ordinary folks do."

"Except in case of emergency," explained Tom. "We'll have the Lark
to use if we need her."

"Oh, of course," agreed Ned. "How about you, Mr. Damon? Will you

The odd man looked around the room before replying, as though he
feared someone might be listening on the sly.

"Go on, Andy Foger isn't here," invited Tom with a laugh.

"I'll go--if I can pursuade my wife to let me," said the odd man in
a whisper, as if, even then, the good lady might overhear him. "I'm
not going to say anything about giants. I'll tell her we are going
to rescue a poor fellow from--er--well from the natives of South
America, and I'm sure she'll consent. Of course I'll go."

"That's three," remarked Tom. "I think I can get Eradicate to go. He
doesn't like airships, and when he knows we're not going in one it
will please him. Then he likes it hot, and I guess South America is
about as warm as they come. I am almost sure we can count on Rad."

"That will make a nice party," commented the circus man. "Now I'll
make out a list of the supplies you'd better take, and tell you what
to do about getting native helpers, and so on," and with that he
plunged into the midst of details that took up most of the remainder
of the day.

"Well, then I guess that settles most everything," remarked Tom,
several hours later. "I'll begin at once to take the Lark apart for
shipment, and begin ordering the things we need."

"Oh, there's one thing I almost forgot about," said Mr. Preston
suddenly. "Queer, how I should overlook that, too. I don't suppose
you mind a fight or two; do you?" he asked, looking sharply at Tom.

"Well, it all depends. We've had several fights on other
expeditions, though I can't say that I like 'em," replied the young
inventor. "Why do you ask?"

"Because you may have one--or several," was the answer of the circus
man. "You'll have to beware of my rival."

"Your rival?"

"Yes, the bitterest foe I have is a rival circus man named Wayland
Waydell. He, or some of his men, are always camping on my trail when
I send out after a new consignment of wild animals, and I shouldn't
be a bit surprised but what he'd try to get ahead of me on the giant

"But how does he know you want giants?" asked Tom.

"Because news of circus expeditions always leaks out somehow or
other. I'm sure Waydell will learn that you are acting for me, and
so I warn you in time. In fact, he tried to get ahead of me when I
sent Jake Poddington out over a year ago, and I always had my
suspicions that he had a hand in Jake's disappearance, but maybe I'm
wrong. So that's what I mean when I say beware of Wayland Waydell,

"I will!" exclaimed Tom. "He'll have to get up early to get ahead of
us." But Tom little knew the man against whom he was to pit himself
in the search for giants.



Once Tom Swift made up his mind to do a thing, he did not waste time
in setting about it. He had decided to go to giant land, and that
was all there was to it. His father talked with him about the
matter, pointed out the dangers, and suggested that, as the young
inventor had had many adventures in the last few years, and had made
considerable money from the discovery of the city of gold, and the
platinum mines, the prize offered for a giant was not much of an

"But it isn't that so much, dad," explained Tom. "There's that poor
circus man, maybe suffering in the centre of South America. I want
to find him, if I can, or get some news that he died a natural
death, and is decently buried."

"You never can do it, Tom."

"Well dad, I'm going to make a big try!" he returned; and that
settled it as far as Tom was concerned.

For several days after the visit of Mr. Preston Tom was busy making
plans for his trip to South America. He wanted to lay out a regular
schedule before proceeding. Ned Newton had had hard work to persuade
his folks to let him go, but they finally consented, and as for Mr.
Damon, his plan was simple.

Without mentioning giants at all, he took Mr. Preston home with him,
and the circus man's tale of his assistant lost in the wilds of
South America was too much for Mrs. Damon.

"Go? Of course you'll go!" she said to her husband. "I demand that
you go, and I want you to find that poor man and rescue him. If you
could rescue the exiles from uncivilized Siberia I'm sure you can
get a man out of a civilized country."

Mr. Damon did not stop to point out that South America was far less
civilized, in some ways, than was Russia. He just kept still, and
made his preparations to go. Mr. Preston was a distant relative of
the odd man, and that was how he had happened to meet him and hear
the story which was destined to play such an important part in the
life of Tom Swift.

"Do you think we'll have much trouble after we get to South America,
and strike into the interior?" asked Mr. Damon one afternoon, when
he and Mr. Preston were helping Tom in the delicate work of packing
the wing planes of the Lark.

"No, South America isn't a bad country to travel in," replied the
circus man. "The natives are fairly friendly, and with a well-
organized party, and plenty of money, which I shall see that you
have, you ought to get along swimmingly. Only one thing bothers me."

"What's that?" asked Tom quickly.

"That's my rival, Waydell. He's sure to make trouble if he gets on
your trail."

"Have you heard from him?"

"No, and that's what makes me all the more suspicious. If he'd come
out and fight me in the open it wouldn't be so bad. But this
underhand business gets on my nerves. I don't know what he's up to."

"Maybe he isn't up to anything," suggested Ned. "He may not even
know you are going to make another try for the giants."

"Oh, yes, he does," replied the circus man. "He didn't succeed in
beating me when poor Jake was after them, for the simple reason that
it was a snap case, and even I didn't know that Poddington was
trying for the giants until he had started. But Waydell was soon
after him, and he knows that when I once set out for a freak or a
certain kind of animal I keep on until I get it. So he has probably
already figured out that I'm making new plans to get a giant."

"But how will he know that I am going?" inquired Tom.

"I don't know how he will know, but he will. We circus men have
queer ways of finding out things. I shouldn't be a bit surprised but
what he was already plotting and scheming to send an expedition on
my trail, to take advantage of anything you may learn."

"Well, we'll try and fool him, the same as we did the Mexicans when
we hunted for the city of gold," spoke Tom; and then putting aside
that worry, he and the others labored hard to get matters in shape
for a departure to South America.

"I suppose Eradicate is going," remarked Ned, in the intervals of
packing the aeroplane.

"Well, I've hinted it to him," replied Tom, "but I haven't asked him
outright. He said he wouldn't mind going to a hot country though.
Here he comes now. Guess I'll see how he takes it."

The colored man shuffled up with a hammer and nails, for he had been
putting covers on packing boxes.

"Then you are coming with us to South America; aren't you, Rad?"
asked Tom, winking at Ned.

"Souf America? Am dat de hot country yo'-all was referencin' to?"
asked Eradicate.

"That's it, Rad. It's nice and warm there. All you have to do is to
lie under a tree and cocoanuts will drop off into your mouth."

"Cocoanuts in mah mouf, Massa Tom! 'Scuse me! I doan't want t' go to
no sich country as dat. Cocoanuts in mah mouf! Why I ain't got but a
few teef left, an' a cocoanut droppin' offen a tree would shorely
knock dem teef out, shorely!"

"Oh, Rad, I didn't mean cocoanuts! I meant oranges and bananas--
they're soft," and Tom glanced quickly at Ned, for he saw that he
had made a mistake.

"Oh, well, den dat's diffunt, Massa Tom. I jes lubs oranges an'
bananas, an' ef yo'-all is shore dat I'll find some, why, I'll come

"Find 'em? Of course you will!" cried Ned.

"And cocoanuts, too," added Tom. "Only, Rad, I meant to say that the
monkeys would throw the cocoanuts down to you from the trees. That
breaks the hard shells you see, and all you have to do is to take
out the meat, and drink the milk. Then the monkeys throw you down a
palm leaf fan to cool yourself off, while you're eating it. Oh, I
tell you, Rad, South America is the place to go to have a good

"I believe you, Massa Tom. When do we-all start?"

"Pretty soon now."

"An' what all am yo' gwine arter, Massa Tom?"

The young inventor thought a moment. In times past he had not
hesitated to confide in his colored helper, but of late years
Eradicate had become somewhat childish, and he talked more than was
necessary. Tom wondered whether it would be safe to trust the giant
secret to him. After a moment's thought he realized that it would
not be. But, at the same time, he knew that if he did not give some
kind of an answer Eradicate would become suspicious, and that would
be worse. The colored helper had been with Tom on too many trips not
to know that his master never went without some object.

"Well, Rad, we're after big game this time," Tom said. "I don't know
what it will be that we'll get, whether animals or plants, and--"

"Oh, I knows, Massa Tom. Yo'-all means dem orchard plants that lib
on air--dem big orchard plants." Eradicate meant orchids, of which
many rare and beautiful kinds are found in South America.

"Yes, Rad, I guess we will get some big orchids," agreed Tom.

"An' I shorely will help climb de trees arter 'em. Or maybe we kin
git de monkeys to frow em down, same as dey will de cocoanuts."

"Maybe, Rad. Well, now go ahead and nail up the rest of these boxes.
We want to get started as soon as we can," and the colored man got
busy, murmuring from time to time something about oranges and
bananas and cocoanuts.

Everyone was occupied in getting matters in shape for the trip to
South America, even Mr. Swift laying aside his work on his pet
invention--a gyroscope--while he helped his son. And had Tom not
been quite so engrossed with his preparations he might have gone
about town more, in which case he would have learned something that
might have saved him and the others considerable trouble and no
little danger. And this fact was that Andy Foger had been in Shopton
several times lately.

After the trouble which the red-haired bully and his father caused
Tom and his friends on their trip to the city of gold, Mr. Foger
moved away from Shopton. He had lost his fortune and had to begin
all over again. The Foger homestead was closed up, and Andy ceased
to be a fixture of the town, for which Tom and Ned were very glad.

But of late Andy had been seen in Shopton several times, and it was
noticed that, on one or two occasions, he had a man with him--a man
who seemed to have plenty of money--a man with an air about him not
unlike that of Mr. Preston. A man with what newspaper men would have
called a circus or theatrical "air."

This man had visited Shopton soon after Mr. Preston made the giant
proposition to Tom, and before meeting Andy Foger had made special
inquiries about Tom Swift.

"Who are the people who have a hard feeling against this young
inventor in town?" the man had asked of several persons.

"Tom Swift has more friends than enemies," was the general reply.

"Oh, surely he must have some enemies," the man insisted. "He's been
running his aeroplanes and autos around town a long time, and surely
there must be some one who has a grudge against him. I suppose he
has lots of friends, but who are his enemies?"

Then he learned about Andy Foger, and, hearing that Andy now lived
in a nearby town, the man had at once gone there. It was not long
before he reappeared--and the red-haired bully was with him.

"And you haven't learned anything yet, Andy?" asked this mysterious
man one afternoon, when he met his tool in a quiet resort in

"Nothing yet, Mr. Waydell. But give me a little more time."

"Time! You've had more time now than you need. When I agreed to pay
you for finding out what part of South America Tom Swift would head
for to get some sort of a freak or animal for Preston's circus I
thought you'd make good quicker than this."

"So did I. But you see Tom is suspicious of me, and so is his chum,
Ned Newton. I can't go to them, and if I'm seen sneaking around the
house or shop, after what happened last, I'll be driven off."

"Well, it's up to you. I paid you to get the information and I
expect you to do it. Why don't you tackle that old colored man whom,
I understand, works for him? He ought to be simple enough to give
the game away."

"Eradicate? I will! I never thought of that I'll get that
information for you, Mr. Waydell, in a few days."

"You'd better, if you want to keep that money."

The two plotters parted, and that very afternoon gave Andy the
chance he wanted. He met Eradicate on his way to the village where
he was going after something Tom needed.

"Hello, Rad!" called Andy with a show of good feeling. "I haven't
seen you in some time. I suppose you're getting too old to travel
around with Tom any more?"

"Gittin' too old!" exclaimed the colored man indignantly, for that
was his sore point. "What yo'-all mean, Andy Foger? I ain't gittin'
old, an' neider am Boomerang."

"Oh, I thought you were, as you haven't been on any trips lately."

"I ain't, hey? Well I's gwine on one right soon, let me tell you
dat, Andy Foger!"

"No! Is that so? Glad to hear it. Up to the North Pole I suppose?"

"No, sah; not much! No cold country for this coon! I's gwine where
it's nice an 'warm, an' where de cocoanuts fall in yo' mouf--I mean
where de bananas an' oranges fall in you mouf, an' de monkeys frow
down cocoanuts an' palm leaf fans to yo'!"

"Where's that, Rad?" asked Andy, and he tried to make his voice
sound indifferent, as though the matter did not interest him.

"South America, dat's where it am, an' I's gwine wif Massa Tom. We's
gwine t' git a monstrous big orchard plant."

"Oh, yes; I've heard about them. Well, I hope you get all the
oranges and bananas you want. South America, eh? I suppose along the
Amazon river, where they have crocodiles forty feet long, that are
always hungry."

"No, sah! No crockermiles fo' me! We ain't goin' neah de Amerzon
riber at all. We's gwine away down in de middle part of South
America. It's a place suffin laik Gomeonaway--or Goonaway, or
suffin' laik dat."

"Oh, yes; I know where you mean!" and Andy could hardly conceal the
note of triumph in his voice. He had the very information he wanted
from the simple colored man. "Yes, I guess there are no crocodiles
there, and plenty of monkeys and cocoanuts. Well, I hope you have a
good time," and Andy hurried away to seek out the rival circus man.



"Hand me that hammer, Ned."

"There it is, right behind you, on the bench."

"Oh, so it is. Here are those nails you were asking for."

"Good. Now we'll make things hum," and Ned Newton's voice was
drowned in the rapid driving of nails into boards.

"Bless my screw driver!" suddenly exclaimed Mr. Damon, who was
sawing planks to make covers for boxes.

"What's the matter?" asked Tom, looking up from a bundle he was
tying up. It contained the magneto of his aeroplane and he was
putting waterproof paper about it. "Did you cut your finger?"

"No, but I just happened to think that I nailed my watch up in that
last box."

"Nailed up your watch!" cried Mr. Preston, who, after a trip to New
York to make arrangements for passages on a steamer, had come back
to help Tom pack up.

"Yes, I took it out to see how long it took me to make a box cover,
and then Tom asked me to nail up that box containing the motor
parts, and I laid my watch right down on top, and put the boards
over it."

"Well, the only thing to do is to take off the cover," remarked Tom

"Bless my chronometer! That will delay things," said the odd man
with a sigh. "But I suppose there is no hope for it," and he
proceeded to open the box, while Tom, Ned, the circus man and
Eradicate busied themselves over the hundred and one things to be
done before they would be ready for the trip to the interior of
South America.

"Look out, Ned!" called Tom. "You're making those top boards too
long. They'll stick out over the edge, and be ripped off if the box
catches on anything."

"Yes, you can't be too careful," cautioned Mr. Preston. "Each box or
package must be the right weight, or the porters and mule drivers
won't carry them into the interior. You may have to cross rough
trails, and even ford rivers. And as for bridges! well, the less
said about them the better. You aren't going to have any picnic, and
if you want to back out, Tom Swift, now is the time to say so."

"What! Back out?" cried our hero. "Never! I said I'd go and I'm
going. Ned, pass that brace and bit over, will you. I've got to bore
a hole for these screws."

And so the work went on in the big aeroplane shed, which they had
made their packing headquarters.

The Lark, that small, but strong and speedy aeroplane, had been
safely packed, and most of it had been sent on ahead to New York,
where the travellers were to take the steamer. There remained to be
transported their clothing, weapons and ammunition, and several
bundles and cases of trinkets which would be of more value in
bartering with the natives than money. Tom and Mr. Preston had
selected the things with great care, and at the last moment the
young inventor had packed a box of his own, and said nothing about
it. Included in it were some of his own and his father's inventions,
and had one been given a glance into that same box he would have
wondered at the queer things.

"What in the world are you taking with you, anyhow?" asked Ned, of
his chum, noticing the mysterious box.

"'You'll see, if we ever get to giant land," replied Tom with a

"How long before we can start?" asked Mr. Damon, late that day, when
most of the hard work had been finished. He was as anxious and as
eager as either of the youths to make a start.

"We ought to be ready at least a week from to-day," replied Tom,
"and perhaps sooner."

"Sooner, if you can make it," suggested Mr. Preston. "The steamer
sails a week from to-day, and if you miss that one you'll have to
wait two weeks more."

"Then a week from to-day we'll sail," decided Tom, with emphasis.
"We'll work nights getting things in shape."

Really, though, not much more remained to be done, and the next day
Mr. Preston again went to New York, accompanying a shipment of boxes
and cases that Tom sent on ahead.

The two chums were busy in the aeroplane hangar a few days after
this, nailing up the last of some light cases containing medicines,
personal effects and comforts that would accompany them on their

"Well, I'm glad of one thing," remarked Tom thoughtfully, as he
drove home the last nail in a box, "and that is that we won't be
bothered with that Andy Foger on this trip. I haven't seen hide nor
hair of him in some time. I guess he and his father are down and

"I guess so. I haven't seen him either."

"Massa Andy were in town a few days ago," ventured Eradicate.

"He was?" cried Tom. "Did you see him? What was he doing, Rad?"

"Nuffin, same as usual. He done say I were too old to go on any more
hexpiditions wif yo' an' I proved dat I wasn't."

"Proved that you weren't, Rad? How?" And Tom looked anxiously at his
colored helper.

"Why, I done say t' him dat I was gwine wif yo'-all dis time, t' dat
Comeaway country after a big orchard plant. Dat's how I done prove
it to dat Andy Foger."

"Rad, you didn't tell him we were going to South America?" asked Tom

"Suah I done so, Massa Tom. Dat were de only way t' prove t' him dat
I wa'an't gittin' too old."

"Oh, Rad! I'm afraid--" and Tom hesitated.

"Oh, I don't believe it amounted to anything," interposed Ned. "Andy
didn't have any one with him, did he, Rad?"

"No, Massa Ned. He were all alone by hisse'f."

"Then I guess it's all right, Tom. Andy was only rigging Eradicate,
and he didn't pay any attention to what he said."

"Well, I hope so," and the young inventor wore a thoughtful air as
he resumed the finish of the packing.

The colored man, blissfully unconscious that he had been the
innocent cause of a grave danger that overhung Tom and his friends,
whistled gaily as he gathered the boxes, bales and packages into a
pile, ready for the expressman, who was to call in the morning.

Tom, together with Ned, Mr. Damon and Eradicate, were to leave the
following afternoon, and stay in New York until the sailing of the
steamer. They preferred to be a day or so ahead of time than half an
hour late, and were taking no chances.

"Bless my timetable!" exclaimed Mr. Damon that night, as they sat in
the library of the Swift home, checking over the lists to make sure
that nothing had been forgotten, "bless my timetable, but it doesn't
seem possible that we are going to start at last."

"Yes, we'll soon be on the way to giant land," spoke Tom in a low
voice. Somehow the young inventor did not seem to be in his usually
bright spirits.

"You don't seem very enthusiastic," remarked Ned. "What's the
matter, Tom?"

"Oh, nothing much. Though I would feel better if I knew that Andy
Foger didn't have any inkling of what our plans were," he added, for
Eradicate was not present.

"Oh, nonsense!" exclaimed his chum. "Mr. Preston will be here in the
morning, and he'll know whether his rival has any idea of camping on
our trail. Cheer up!"

"Yes, I suppose I am foolish to worry," admitted Tom. "but, somehow
I can't help it. I wish Mr. Preston was here now to tell us that
Wayland Waydell had gone off to the centre of Africa for a dwarf.
Then I'd know we had nothing to fear. But I guess--"

Tom did not finish his sentence for, at that moment, there came a
peal at the door bell. Instinctively every one started, and Mr.
Damon exclaimed:

"Bless my burglar alarm! What's that?"

"Someone at the door, Tom," replied Mr. Swift calmly. "That's
nothing unusual. It's early yet."

But, in spite of his reassuring words, there was a feeling of vague

"I'll see who it is," volunteered Ned. "If it's Andy Foger--"

Mrs. Baggert entered the room at that moment. She had hurried to the
door, and, as she entered she announced:

"Mr. Preston!"

"Yes, it is I!" added the circus man following her quickly into the
room. "I came on to-night instead of waiting for the morning, Tom. I
have bad news for you!"

"Bad news!" gasped the young inventor. "Has Waydell got hold of your

"I'll wager it has something to do with Andy Foger!" exclaimed Ned.

"Neither one," spoke the circus man. "But I have just had a cable
dispatch from one of my animal agents in Brazil, saying that war has
broken out among the tribes in the central part of South America. A
big native war is being waged all around giant land, as near as we
can figure it out."

"War among the native tribes!" exclaimed Mr. Swift.

"Yes, and one of the worst in years. Of course, Tom, after such
alarming news as this I won't hold you to your promise to go. It's
all off. I'm sorry, but you'd better wait. It won't be safe to go
there now. Better unpack, Tom."

For a moment there was a silence in the room. Then the young
inventor leaped to his feet and faced the circus man.

"Unpack?" cried Tom in ringing tones. "Never! I'm going to giant
land, fight or no fight! Ned, come with me and we'll put in some of
my electric rifles. I wasn't going to take them along, but I will
now. Unpack? I guess not! I'm going to get a giant for you, Mr.
Preston, and save Jake Poddington if he's alive. Come on, Ned."



"Your electric rifles!" exclaimed Ned Newton, as he followed his
chum to the storeroom, where Tom kept a number of spare guns. "It's
a good thing you thought of them, Tom."

"Yes, I didn't think we'd need them, for I believe peaceable means
are the best to use on natives. But if there's a war, and we have to
defend ourselves against the tribes, we'll take along something that
will do more damage than an ordinary rifle, and yet I can regulate
it so that it will only stun, and not kill."

"That's the stuff, Tom. No use in being needlessly cruel. How many
will you take?"

"Two or three. We may need 'em all."

A little later the two lads returned to the library where Mr. Damon,
Mr. Swift and the circus man were anxiously awaiting them. Mr.
Preston looked curiously at several objects which Tom and Ned
carried. The objects looked like guns but were different from any
the giant-seeker had seen.

"What are they?" he asked Tom.

"Electric rifles. One of my inventions," and Tom showed how the
weapon worked. Those of you who have read the volume entitled, "Tom
Swift and His Electric Rifle" will remember this curious weapon. It
was worked by a stored charge of magnetism of the wireless kind. By
this a concentrated globule of electricity was projected from the
muzzle, and it could be made strong or weak at the will of the
marksman. It could be made so powerful that it would totally
annihilate a whale, as Tom had once proved, or it could be made so
mild that it would put an enemy, or several of them, to sleep almost
as gently as some narcotic, and they would awaken after several
hours, little the worse for their experience.

A charge of electricity as powerful as five thousand volts could be
concentrated into a small wireless globule the size of a bullet, and
this would fly through space, or even through solid objects until,
reaching the limit of the range set, would strike the object aimed
at. With his wonderful electric rifle Tom had not only killed
elephants, and other big game, but fought off the red pygmies of

"And we may have a use for it in South America," he added as he
explained the workings to Mr. Preston.

"Well, I'm glad you didn't back out," commented the circus man, "and
this may come in mighty handy. I'll feel easier about you now, Tom,
when I know you have some electric rifles with you."

The circus man was told of what Eradicate had said to Andy, but he
was of the opinion that no harm would result from it.

"As far as I can learn," went on Mr. Preston, "my old rival Waydell
has given up the giant idea. He is looking for a two-headed
crocodile, said to be somewhere along the Nile river, and he's
fitting out an expedition there I understand. I guess we won't be
bothered with him. But the giant for mine! If I get that sort of an
attraction his two-headed crocodile won't be in it. I hope you have
luck, Tom Swift."

The last details of the expedition were considered. Nothing seemed
to have been left undone, and though carrying the electric rifles
would make a little more baggage, no one minded that.

"I kin carry dem," said Eradicate. "I ain't got much baggage of mah

So it was arranged, and early the next morning the little band of
intrepid travelers, who were going in search of giant land, started
for New York. They little knew what was ahead of them, nor what dire
perils they were to pass through.

Of course Tom had said good-bye to Mary Nestor and half-jokingly, he
had promised to bring back a giant of his own, that she might see
one outside of a circus.

"But, Tom," Mary exclaimed with a laugh, "what will you do with one
of the big creatures if you get one?"

"Have him help me on my newest invention--the noiseless airship,"
answered the young inventor. "I need some one to lift heavy weights.
It will save putting up a derrick. Yes, I think I'll get a giant of
my own."

The last good-byes were said, and the parting between Tom and his
father was affecting.

"I'll soon be back, dad," he said in as cheerful a tone as he could
assume, "and I'll help you finish your gyroscope."

"I hope you will, Tom," and then, with a pressure of his son's hand,
Mr. Swift turned away and went into the house, closing the door
after him.

The first part of the trip to New York was rather a silent one, no
one caring to talk much. Eradicate was the only cheerful member of
the party, which included the circus man, who was going as far as
the steamer with Tom and his friends.

"Say," Ned exclaimed finally, "any one would think we were going to
a funeral!"

"That's right," agreed Tom. "I guess something is on all our nerves.
Let's do something to take it off. Here comes a boy with some funny
papers. We'll buy some and read all the jokes."

This proved a diversion, and before the train had gone many miles
more the giant-hunters were talking and laughing as though they were
merely starting on a short pleasure trip, instead of an expedition
to the dangerous jungles of South America.

They put up at a good hotel in New York, and as soon as they were
established Tom and Mr. Preston went to the steamer Calaban which
was to land them at Buenos Ayres. They found that there was some
confusion about their luggage and boxes, and it took them the better
part of a day to get the tangle straightened out, and their stuff
stored together in one hold.

"It will be easier to get it out if it's all together," said Tom, at
the conclusion of their labors, and then he and the circus man
returned to the hotel. The ship was to sail two days later, and,
several hours before the time set for the departure, Tom and his
friends were on board.

"You don't see anything of your rival circus friend, do you?" asked
Tom, of the man who wanted a giant.

"Not a sign," was the answer, as Mr. Preston glanced over the throng
of on-coming passengers. "I guess we've either given him the slip,
or he's given up the game. You won't have to worry about him. Just
take it easy until you start for the interior, and from then on
you'll have hard work enough."

The last of the cargo was being taken aboard, the late passengers
had arrived and were anxiously watching to see that their baggage
was not lost. As Mr. Preston stood talking with Tom near the
gangplank, a clerical looking gentleman approached the circus man.

"I beg your pardon," he began in mild accents, "but could you tell
me where my stateroom is?" and he showed his ticket. "I'm not used
to traveling," he needlessly added for that fact was very evident.
Mr. Preston informed him how to get to his berth, and the gentleman
went on: "Are you going all the way to Buenos Ayres?"

"No, but my friend is," and the circus man nodded at Tom.

"Oh, I'm so glad!" the stranger exclaimed. "Then I shall have
someone of whom I can ask questions. I am quite lost when I travel."

"I'll help you all I can," volunteered Tom, "and I'll show you to
your stateroom now."

"Ah, thank you. Your name is--"

"Tom Swift," supplied the young inventor.

"Ah, yes, I believe I have read about your airships. I am the
Reverend Josiah Blinderpool. I am taking a little vacation. I trust
we shall become good friends."

"Humph, he's a regular infant, to be away from civilization," mused
Tom, when he had showed the clergyman to the proper stateroom.
"He'll get into trouble, he's so innocent." If he could have seen
that same "clergyman" double up with mirth when he had closed his
stateroom door after him, Tom would not have felt so sure about that
same "innocence."

"To think that I was talking face to face with Sam Preston and he
never tumbled to who I was!" exclaimed the newcomer softly. "That's
rich! Now if I play my cards right I shouldn't be surprised but what
they'd invite me to come along with them. That would just suit me. I
wouldn't have any trouble then, getting on the track of those
giants. The information Waydell got from that red-haired Foger chap
wasn't any too definite," and once more the man wearing the garb of
a minister chuckled.

"Well, I'll say good-bye," remarked Mr. Preston, a little later,
when the warning bell had rung. "I guess you'll get along all right.
I haven't seen a sign of Waydell, or any of his slick agents. You'll
have no trouble I guess."

But if the circus man could have seen the "clergyman" at that same
time looking over letters addressed to "Hank Delby," and signed
"Wayland Waydell" he would not have been so confident.

Mr. Preston bade good-bye to his friends, the gangplank was hauled
up, and a hoarse blast came from the whistle of the Calaban.

"Bless my pocketbook!" cried Mr. Damon. "We're off!"

"Yep, off t' git dat big, giant orchard plant," chimed in Eradicate.

"Hush!" exclaimed Tom, who did not like the use of the word "giant"
even in that connection. "Don't tell everyone our business, Rad."

"Dat's right, Massa Tom. I clean done forgot dat it's a sort of
secret. I'll keep mighty still 'bout it."

The Calaban swung out into the river and began steaming down the

The first week of the voyage was uneventful. The weather was
exceptionally fine, and hardly any one was seasick. The Reverend Mr.
Blinderpool was often on deck, and he made it a point to cultivate
the acquaintance of Tom and his friends. In spite of the fact that
he said he had traveled very little, he seemed to know much about
hidden corners of the world, but always, as on an occasion when he
had accidentally let slip some remark that showed he had been in
far-off China or Asia, he would suddenly change the conversation
when it verged to travel.

"There's something queer about that minister," said Ned after one of
these occasions, "but I can't decide what it is."

"Nonsense!" exclaimed Tom, who rather liked the man.

"No nonsense about it. Why should a minister take a trip like this
when he isn't sick, and when he isn't going to establish a mission
in South America? There's something queer about it, for, by his own
words he just took this voyage as a whim."

"Oh, you're too fussy," declared Tom; and for the time the subject
was dropped.

They ran into a storm when about ten days out, and for a while they
had a rough time of it, and then the weather cleared again.

It was one evening, after the formal dinner, when Tom and Ned were
strolling about on deck, before turning in, that, the quiet of the
ship was broken by what is always an alarming cry at sea.

"Fire! Fire!" shouted a man, pointing to a thin wisp of smoke
curling up from the deck amidships.

"Keep quiet!" yelled one of the stewards. "It is nothing!"

"It's a fire, I tell you!" insisted the man, and several others took
up the cry.

A panic was imminent, and the captain came running from his

"What is it?" he asked.

An officer hurried to his side, and said something but in such a low
voice that Tom, who was standing close beside the two, scarcely
heard it. But he did hear this:

"There's a fire, sir, in hold number seventeen. We have turned the
hose in there, and the pumps are working."

"Very good, Mr. Meld. Now try and quiet the passengers. Tell them it
doesn't amount to much, and if it does we can flood that

Tom started at that.

"Come on, Ned!" he cried, grabbing his chum by the arm.

"Why, what's up? What's the matter?"

"Matter? Matter enough! The fire is in the hold where all our stuff
is stored, and if the flames reach that box I packed last--well, I
wouldn't give much for the ship!" and fairly dragging his chum
along, Tom raced for the place where the smoke was now coming up in
thicker clouds.



"Here, come back! You can't go past here!"

"But I've got to go! I tell you I must go! It's important!"

The first speaker was one of the ship's officers, and the other was
Tom Swift, who, accompanied by his chum, was trying to get past a
rope that had been hastily stretched in front of the hold where the
smoke was rolling up in ever-thickening clouds.

"It's important that you stay where you are," insisted the officer.
"Look here young man, do you want to start a panic? You know what
that is on board ship. Keep cool, we'll get the fire out all right."

"I am cool," responded Tom, and, though he did look a bit excited,
he was calm enough to know what he was doing.

"Then keep back!" insisted the officer.

A crowd was gathering and there were ominous whispers sent back and
forth. Some hysterical women were beginning to scream, and there
were anxious looks on all faces.

"I tell you it's important that I go down there," insisted Tom. "I
want to get a box--"

"We'll look after the baggage of the passengers," declared the
officer. "You don't need to worry, young man."

"But I tell you I do!" and Tom's voice was loud now. "It isn't so
much on my account, as--" and then, stepping quickly to the side of
the officer he whispered something.

"What!" cried the officer. "You don't tell me? That was a risk! I
guess I'll have to help you get it out. Here, Mr. Simm," he called
to one of the mates, "stand guard here. I'm going down into the hold
with this young man."

"Shall I come?" cried Ned.

"No, you go stay with Mr. Damon and Eradicate," answered Tom. "Tell
them everything is all right. And for cats' sake keep Rad cool.
Don't let him get excited and start a panic. I'll be back in a

With that Tom and the officer disappeared from view, and Ned, after
wondering what it was all about, hastened to reassure Mr. Damon and
the colored man that there was no danger, though from the manner in
which Tom had acted his chum was convinced that something was wrong.

Meanwhile our hero, accompanied by the officer, was groping his way
through the thick smoke in the compartment. The officer had switched
on the electric lights, and they shone with a yellow haze through
the clouds of choking vapor.

"Can you see it?" asked the officer anxiously.

"I had it put where I could easily get at it," answered Tom with a
cough, for some of the smoke had got down his throat. "I had an idea
I might need it in a hurry. Here it is!" and he pointed to a large
box, marked with his initials in red paint. "Give me a hand and
we'll get it out."

"Yes, and send it on deck. See, there's the fire!" and the officer
pointed to where a glow could be seen amid some bales of cotton. "It
will be slow burning, that's one good thing, and by turning steam
into this compartment we can soon put it out."

"It's pretty close to my box," commented Tom, "but there isn't as
much danger as I thought."

It did not take him and the officer long to move the box away from
its proximity to the fire, for the case was not heavy, though it was
of good size, and then the officer having called up an order to some
of his fellow seamen on deck, a rope was let down, and the box
hoisted up.

"Whew! That was a narrow escape!" exclaimed Tom as he saw his case
go up on deck. "I suppose I shouldn't have had that stored here. But
there were so many things to think of that I forgot."

"Yes, it was a risk," commented the officer. "But what are you going
to do with that sort of stuff, anyhow?"

"I may need it when we get among the wild tribes of South American
Indians," answered Tom non-commitally. "I'm much obliged for your

"Oh, that's nothing. Anything to save the ship."

At that moment there were confused cries, and a series of shouts and
commands up on deck.

"We'd better hurry out of here," said the officer.


"The captain has just ordered steam turned in here. I hope there
isn't anything of yours that will be damaged by it."

"No, everything else is in waterproof coverings. Come on, we'll
climb out."

They hurried from the compartment and, a little later clouds of
quenching steam were poured in from a hose run from the boiler room.
The hatch was battened down, and then the smoke ceased to come up.

"The danger is practically over," the captain assured the frightened
passengers. "The fire will be all out by morning. You may go to your
staterooms in perfect safety."

Some did, and others, disbelieving, hung around the hatch-cover,
sniffing and peering to discover traces of smoke. But the sailors
had done their work well, and a stranger would not have known that a
fire was in the hold.

The captain had spoken truly, and in the morning the fire was
completely out, a few charred bales of cotton being the only things
damaged. They were hauled up and dumped into the sea, while Tom,
making a hasty inspection of his other goods placed in that
compartment saw, to his relief, that beyond one case of trinkets,
designed for barter with the natives, nothing had been damaged, and
even the trinkets could be used on a pinch.

"But what was in that box?" asked Ned, that night as they got ready
to retire, the excitement having calmed down.

"Hush! Not so loud," cautioned Tom, for Mr. Damon was in the next
stateroom, while Eradicate had one across the corridor. "I'll tell
you, Ned, but don't breathe a word of it to Rad or Mr. Damon. They
might not intend to give it away, but I'm afraid they would, if they
knew, and I depend on the things in that box to give the native
giants the surprise of their lives in case we--well, in case we come
to close quarters."

"Close quarters?"

"Yes, have a fight, you know, or in case they get so fond of us that
they won't hear of letting us go--in other words if they make us

"Great Scott, Tom! You don't think they'll do that, do you?"

"No telling, but if they do, Ned, I've got some things in that box
that will make them wish they hadn't. It's got--" and Tom leaned
forward and whispered, as though he feared even the walls would

"Good!" cried his chum! "That's the stuff! No wonder you thought the
ship might be damaged if the fire got to that!"

It seemed that the slight fire was about all the excitement destined
to take place aboard the Calaban, for, after the blaze was so
effectually quenched, the ship slipped along through the calm seas,
and it was actually an effort to kill time on the part of the
passengers. As they progressed further south the weather became more
and more warm, until, as they approached the equator, every one put
on the lightest garments obtainable.

"Crossing the line," was the signal for the usual "stunts" among the
sailors. "Neptune" came aboard, with his usual sea-green whiskers
made from long rope ends, and with his trident much in evidence; and
there was plenty of horseplay which the passengers very much

Then, as the tropical region was left behind, the weather became
more bearable. There were one or two storms, but they were of no
consequence and the steamer weathered them easily.

Torn and his friends had several talks with the "Reverend Josiah
Blinderpool," as the pretended clergyman still called himself. But
he did not obtrude his company on them, and though he asked many
questions as to where Tom and his party were going, the young
inventor, with his usual caution in talking to strangers, rather
evaded them.

"Hang it all! He's as close-mouthed as a clam," complained "Mr.
Blinderpool" to himself one day, after an attempt to worm something
from Tom, "I'll just have to stick close to him and his chum to get
a line on where they're heading for. And I must find out, or Waydell
will think I'm throwing the game."

As for Tom and the others, they gave the seeming clergyman little
thought--that is until one day when something happened. Ned had been
down in the engine room, having had permission to inspect the
wonderful machinery, and, on his way back he passed the smoking
cabin. He was rather surprised to see Mr. Blinderpool in there,
puffing on a big black cigar, and with him were some men whom Ned
recognized as personages who had vainly endeavored to get a number
of passengers into a card game with them. And, unless Ned's eyes
deceived him, the seeming clergyman was about to indulge in a game

"That's mighty queer," mused Ned. "Guess I'll tell Tom about this. I
never saw a minister play cards in public before, and this Mr.
Blinderpool has been trying to get thick with Tom, of late. Maybe
he's a gambler in disguise."

Filled with this thought Ned hastened off to warn his chum.



"You don't say so!" exclaimed the young inventor, when Ned had told
him the queer news. "Well, do you know I've been suspicious of that
fellow ever since he tried to make friends with us."

"Suspicious? How so? You don't think--"

"Oh, I mean I think he's some kind of a confidence man who has
adopted the respectable clothes of a minister to fool people. He may
be a card sharper himself. Well, we won't have anything more to do
with him. It won't be long before we arrive at Buenos Ayres, and
then we won't be bothered with card sharpers or anybody else but--"

"Giants and fighting natives," finished Ned, with a laugh. "You
forget, Tom, that there's a war going on near the very place we're
headed for."

"That's so, Ned. But with what we have with us I guess we can make
out all right. I'm going to have the electric rifles handy the
minute we start for the interior."

The voyage continued, and was fast drawing to a close. "Mr.
Blinderpool" made several more attempts to strike up a friendship
with Tom, or his chum, but they were on their guard now, and,
failing to get into much of a conversation with the two young men,

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