Text - "Tom Swift and his Big Tunnel or, The Hidden City of the Andes" Victor Appleton

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Instead he jumped up from his chair and ran
toward the front door. Mr. Titus followed. They both saw a strange

Standing on the front porch, which he seemed to occupy completely, was
a large horse, with a saddle twisted underneath him. The animal was
looking about him as calmly as though he always made it a practice to
come up on the front piazza when stopping at a house.

Off to one side, with a crushed hat on the back of his head, with a
coat split up the back, with a broken riding crop in one hand and a
handkerchief in the other, sat a dignified, elderly gentleman.

That is, he would have been dignified had it not been for his position
and condition. No gentleman can look dignified with a split coat and a
crushed hat on, sitting under the nose of a horse on a front piazza,
with his raiment otherwise much disheveled, while he wipes his
scratched and bleeding face with a handkerchief.

"Bless my-bless my-" began the elderly gentleman, and he seemed at a
loss what particular portion of his anatomy or that of the horse, to
bless, or what portion of the universe to appeal to, for he ended up
with: "Bless everything, Tom Swift!"

"I heartily agree with you, Mr. Damon!" cried Tom. "But what in the
world happened?"

"That!" exclaimed Mr. Damon, pointing with his broken crop at the horse
on the piazza. "I was riding him when he ran away-just as my
motorcycle tried to climb a tree. No more horses for me! I'll stick to
airships," and slamming his riding crop down on the porch floor with
such force that the horse started back, Mr. Damon arose, painfully
enough if the contortions on his face and his grunts of pain went for

"Let me help you!" begged Tom, striding forward. "Mr. Titus, perhaps
you will kindly lead the horse down off the piazza?"

"Certainly!" answered the tunnel contractor. "Whoa now!" he called
soothingly, as the steed evinced a disposition to sit down on the side
railing. "Steady now!"

The horse finally allowed himself to be led down the broad front steps,
sadly marking them, as well as the floor of the piazza, with his sharp

"Ouch! Oh, my back!" exclaimed Mr. Damon, as Tom helped him to stand up.

"Is it hurt?" asked Tom, anxiously.

"No, I've just got what old-fashioned folks call a 'crick' in it,"
explained the elderly horseman. "But it feels more like a river than a
'crick.' I'll be all right presently."

"How did it happen?" asked Tom, as he led his guest toward the hall.
Meanwhile Mr. Titus, wondering what it was all about, had tied the
horse to a post out near the street curb, and had re-entered the

"I was riding over to see you, Tom, to ask you if you wouldn't go to
South America with me," began Mr. Damon, rubbing his leg tenderly.

"South America?" cried Tom, with a sudden look at Mr. Titus.

"Yes, South America. Why, there isn't anything strange in that, is
there? You've been to wilder countries, and farther away than that."

"Yes, I know-it's just a coincidence. Go on."

"Let me get where I can sit down," begged Mr. Damon. "I think that
crick in my back is running down into my legs, Tom. I feel a bit weak.
Let me sit down, and get me a glass of water. I shall be all right

Between them Tom and Mr. Titus assisted the horseman into an easy
chair, and there, under the influence of a cup of hot tea, which Mrs.
Baggert, the housekeeper, insisted on making for him, he said he felt
much better, and would explain the reason for his call which had
culminated in such a sensational manner.

And while Mr. Damon is preparing his explanation I will take just a few
moments to acquaint my new readers with some facts about Tom Swift, and
the previous volumes of this series in which he has played such
prominent parts.

Tom Swift was the son of an inventor, and not only inherited his
father's talents, but had greatly added to them, so that now Tom had a
wonderful reputation.

Mr. Swift was a widower, and he and Tom lived in a big house in
Shopton, New York State, with Mrs. Baggert for a housekeeper. About the
house, from time to time, shops and laboratories had been erected,
until now there was a large and valuable establishment belonging to Tom
and his father.

The first volume of this series is entitled, "Tom Swift and His Motor
Cycle." It was through a motor cycle that Tom became acquainted with
Mr. Wakefield Damon, who lived in a neighboring town. Mr. Damon had
bought the motor cycle for himself, but, as he said, one day in riding
it the machine tried to climb a tree near the Swift house.

The young inventor (for even then he was working on several patents)
ministered to Mr. Damon, who, disgusted with the motor cycle, and
wishing to reward Tom, let the young fellow have the machine.

Tom's career began from that hour. For he learned to ride the motor
cycle, after making some improvements in it, and from then on the youth
had led a busy life. Soon afterward he secured a motor boat and from
that it was but a step to an airship.

The medium of the air having been conquered, Tom again turned his
attention to the water, or rather, under the water, and he and his
father made a submarine. Then he built an electric runabout, the
speediest car on the road.

It was when Ton Swift had occasion to send his wireless message from a
lonely island where he had been shipwrecked that he was able to do Mr.
and Mrs. Nestor a valuable service, and this increased the regard which
Miss Mary Nestor felt for the young inventor, a regard that bid fair,
some day, to ripen into something stronger.

Tom Swift might have made a fortune when he set out to discover the
secret of the diamond makers. But Fate intervened, and soon after that
quest he went to the caves of ice, where he and his friends met with
disaster. In his sky racer Tom broke all records for speed, and when he
went to Africa to rescue a missionary, had it not been for his electric
rifle the tide of battle would have gone against him and his party.

Marvelous, indeed, were the adventures underground, which came to Tom
when he went to look for the city of gold, but the treasure there was
not more valuable than the platinum which Tom sought in dreary Siberia
by means of his air glider.

Tom thought his end had come when he fell into captivity among the
giants; but even that turned out well, and he brought two of the giants
away with him. Koku, one of the two giants, became devotedly attached
to the lad, much to the disgust of Eradicate Sampson, the old negro who
had worked for the Swifts for a generation, and who, with his mule
Boomerang, "eradicated" from the place as much dirt as possible.

With his wizard camera Tom did much to advance the cause of science.
His great searchlight was of great help to the United States government
in putting a stop to the Canadian smugglers, while his giant cannon was
a distinct advance in ordnance, not excepting the great German guns
used in the European war.

When Tom perfected his photo telephone the last objection to rendering
telephonic conversation admissible evidence in a law court was done
away with, for by this invention a person was able to see, as well as
to hear, over the telephone wire. One practically stood face to face
with the person, miles away, to whom one was talking.

The volume immediately preceding this present one is called: "Tom Swift
and His Aerial Warship." The young inventor perfected a marvelous
aircraft that was the naval terror of the seas, and many governments,
recognizing what an important part aircraft were going to play in all
future conflicts, were anxious to secure Tom's machine. But he was true
to his own country, though his rivals were nearly successful in their
plots against him.

The Mars, which was the name of Tom's latest craft, proved to be a
great success, and the United States government purchased it. It was
not long after the completion of this transaction that the events
narrated in the first chapter of this book took place.

Mr. Damon and Tom had been firm friends ever since the episode of the
motor cycle, and the eccentric gentleman (who blessed so many things)
often went with Tom on his trips. Besides Mary Nestor, Tom had other
friends. The one, after Miss Nestor, for whom he cared most (if we
except Mr. Damon) was Ned Newton, who was employed in a Shopton bank.
Ned also had often gone with Tom, though lately, having a better
position, he had less time to spare.