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Title: The Boy Scout Explorers at Treasure Mountain
Author: Palmer, Don
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Boy Scout Explorers at Treasure Mountain" ***

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[Illustration: “As he jerked it open, an old woman stumbled into the
room.” (See page 46)]



                             _THE BOY SCOUT
                               EXPLORERS_
                          AT TREASURE MOUNTAIN


                                  _BY_
                               DON PALMER


                             _ILLUSTRATED_


                        CUPPLES AND LEON COMPANY
                       _Publishers_    _New York_

                          Copyright, 1955, by
                        CUPPLES AND LEON COMPANY
                          All Rights Reserved
               _Printed in the United States of America_



                                CONTENTS


  CHAPTER                                                           PAGE
  1. An Important Assignment                                           7
  2. Captain Carter                                                   17
  3. Path to Adventure                                                27
  4. A Mission                                                        35
  5. An Ancient Manuscript                                            46
  6. Earthquake Tremors                                               53
  7. Scout Cargo                                                      61
  8. Contraband                                                       68
  9. Captain Carter’s Deception                                       77
  10. Fury of a Mob                                                   85
  11. Into the Wilderness                                             92
  12. A Mysterious Follower                                          105
  13. A Poisoned Arrow                                               113
  14. Disaster                                                       120
  15. Into the Chasm                                                 132
  16. Capture                                                        138
  17. Hostile Indians                                                145
  18. The Medicine Man                                               152
  19. The Tunnel                                                     162
  20. The Hidden City                                                170
  21. Cannibal Fish                                                  176
  22. Indian Secrets                                                 181
  23. Beneath the Mask                                               190
  24. Captain Carter’s Scheme                                        203
  25. Inca Gold                                                      215



                               Chapter 1
                        AN IMPORTANT ASSIGNMENT


“What do you suppose is delaying Mr. Livingston? He should have been
here half an hour ago.”

Uneasily, Jack Hartwell glanced at his wristwatch and then toward the
entranceway of the Savoy Hotel terrace dining room.

There was no sign of the Scout leader. George (Happy) Livingston,
advisor to Explorer Post 21, had invited the four Scouts to meet him
promptly at 7:30 p.m. for dinner at the hotel. Now it was pushing eight
o’clock, and he’d neither shown up nor sent word.

Three times a waiter had pointedly asked the Scouts if they cared to
order. It was getting harder to stall.

“Maybe Mr. Livingston forgot he invited us.”

This remark came from Willie Medaugh, a tow-headed fifteen-year-old with
broad, powerful shoulders. He was assistant crew leader, and wore the
green Explorers’ uniform.

The others, Jack of the twinkling blue eyes, serious Ken Dougherty and
Warwick Washburn, were fellow members of the Rover Crew, Post 21. “War,”
a lean, freckled youngster with great enthusiasm and a peppery temper,
was the newest recruit, a willing if untried member of the tough,
efficient little band.

“Mr. Livingston never would have forgotten his appointment with us,” Ken
Dougherty said in answer to Willie’s remark. “Not Hap!”

“No, you can bet something important held him up,” agreed Jack. “He’ll
be along, or send word.”

Quiet-spoken, the crew leader had an easy, assured manner which inspired
confidence. Next term he would be a senior at Belton High School. He was
an outstanding athlete, hard of muscle and ever ready for adventure.

“Hey, Jack’s right!” Willie suddenly warbled. “Here comes Mr. Livingston
now!”

A powerfully built man of thirty-eight strode across the dining room to
the table by the garden railing. Before becoming a Scout leader, he had
spent ten years in FBI work.

“Sorry to be late, fellows,” he apologized, seating himself beside Ken.

After ordering for the group, he explained that an important conference
had delayed him. “You wonder why I invited you here tonight?” he
remarked, a twinkle in his eyes.

“Is it about our trip to Minnesota?” Jack inquired.

“Yes, Jack. I’m afraid it’s off for this year.”

As the news sank in, every face mirrored disappointment. For months, the
Explorers had planned a canoe trip to the Minnesota lakes. And now it
was off!

“It’s like this,” Mr. Livingston explained. “I have a chance to head an
expedition to Peru. It looks pretty good and I hate to pass it up.”

If a rocket had exploded in their midst, the four Rovers could not have
been more astonished.

“Peru?” echoed Willie. “Way off in South America!”

“Right. In many sections, the country still is wild and unexplored. I
hate to give up our canoeing trip, but this may be the chance of a
lifetime.”

“I don’t blame you,” Jack replied politely. “Peru, gosh!”

“You’ll go by boat?” inquired Ken.

“No, by plane. Our expedition supplies will be sent ahead by freighter.
A man named Captain Carter will look after that detail. He’s to meet me
here later tonight to discuss the plans.”

“Who’ll go with you?” asked War. “When do you leave? And what’s the
purpose of the trip?”

“One question at a time. First of all, I expect to take all the Rovers.”

War dropped his fork. The other Scouts were jolted into rapt attention.

“You’re inviting us all to go to Peru?” Jack demanded in disbelief.

“That’s right.”

“But the Rovers haven’t much folding money.”

“All expenses will be paid.”

“Say, that’s great!” Jack exclaimed. “But it’s fantastic! Who is the
easy-mark willing to pay for this pleasure jaunt?”

“I didn’t say the expedition would be a pleasure trip,” Mr. Livingston
warned. “The mission will be a tough one—harder than anything we ever
attempted before. Mr. Monahan, our backer, is a level-headed business
man. He’ll expect results.”

By this time, the waiter had brought chicken and steaks, but the four
Rovers were too excited to do full justice to the appetizing food set
before them. They fairly bombarded Mr. Livingston with questions.

“Here’s the meat of it,” he said. “For many years—twelve to be exact—Mr.
Monahan’s brother, Burton, lived in Peru. Recently, through a meeting
with a missionary in a little coastal village, he learned of an
unexplored ancient Inca temple where great treasure had supposedly been
hidden at the time Spaniards conquered the country.”

“Weren’t the Incas an Indian race?” Willie inquired.

“Correct. They excelled at road building, stone work and in the arts.
When the Spaniards looted the country about 400 years ago, the Incas
saved some of their vast treasure by dumping it into lakes or burying it
in caves.”

“We’re going to Peru to search for lost treasure?” demanded War
excitedly.

Mr. Livingston shook his head. “No, the lost treasure concerns us only
as it may account for Burton Monahan’s strange disappearance.”

“Tell us more,” urged Jack.

“Burton Monahan learned of the lost Inca temple through a parchment
which an old Peruvian missionary translated for him.”

“A parchment?” echoed Willie thoughtfully. “One of those animal skin
things the old timers wrote on?”

“Right. It was a curious document, written by a Portuguese explorer in
the early eighteenth century.”

“What became of the parchment?” Ken demanded. “Who has it now?”

“Why, I have,” Mr. Livingston replied in an offhand manner. “Accurately
speaking, it’s a rough translation. I’ll show it to you in a minute.
First, let me tell you more about the expedition.”

As the Scouts listened attentively, he explained that the parchment
translation had been given to him only a few minutes earlier by Albert
Monahan, brother of the missing explorer.

“Burton Monahan sent the copy to his brother more than a year ago,
hoping to get him to finance a treasure search,” Mr. Livingston related.
“Albert Monahan considered the tale about hidden gold pure fantasy. He
refused the request. Burton undertook the search alone and poorly
equipped. He vanished. That was fully six months ago.”

“No one ever heard of him again?” questioned Ken.

“A few half-hearted search parties were organized, but little came of
them. Captain Carter, who was the last white man to see Burton after he
started into the wilds, seems to have a few clues as to the route the
missing man took. He’s persuaded Mr. Monahan to finance an expedition to
learn whether or not Burton still is alive.”

“So we owe the trip to Captain Carter?” commented Jack.

“Quite the contrary. Captain Carter expected to control the expedition.
He didn’t much like the idea of having me put in charge.”

“Then how did we get accepted?” Jack asked, puzzled.

“Mr. Monahan doesn’t entirely trust Captain Carter, I suspect. At any
rate, in financing the trip, he specified that I was to be in charge. I
insisted upon having you fellows along. I’ve already cleared with your
parents, so if you’re game to tackle a really tough proposition, the
expedition is set.”

“Peru, here I come!” Warwick chortled.

“Just lead me to the Inca treasure!” added Willie, his eyes sparkling.

“It’s quite a responsibility,” said Jack soberly. “I hope we’ll be equal
to it.”

“You will be. I have full confidence in every member of our little team,
and told Mr. Monahan so.”

“The parchment translation should be helpful in tracing Burton’s route,”
Ken remarked thoughtfully. “You were going to show it to us, Mr.
Livingston.”

The Scout leader nodded and laid several sheets of folded yellow paper
upon the table. He picked one at random, and after studying the fine
writing, read aloud:

“‘One afternoon we had drawn near unto the blue mountains, and were
struck by their strangely jagged peaks—a wild sierra, whose walls
gleamed with quartz crystals, betokening the presence of gold.

“‘That evening we stood entranced at the glory of the sunset falling on
the jeweled rocks, touching them into splendor until cascades of fire
seemed to spring from rock to rock. It was a country of strange and
unearthly beauty, but over all there seemed to brood a spirit of
mystery, an omen of fear.’”

As if to whet their curiosity, Mr. Livingston deliberately broke off.

Forgetting the manuscript for a moment, he next brought forth from his
pocket a bit of multi-colored rope. The cord was tied at intervals with
tiny knots.

“Now this,” he explained, “is an ancient Inca _quipu_ or book.”

“Those knots were used by the Incas to record figures, weren’t they?”
Ken recalled from his reading.

“Yes, Ken, for our purpose it has no practical value. The parchment
translation however, might lead us to Burton Monahan. Particularly if we
can find the old missionary who gave it to him originally.”

“Read some more,” urged Jack. “That stuff about ‘a spirit of mystery’
sort of intrigues me.”

Before Mr. Livingston could pick up the manuscript a waiter approached
to say that he was wanted on the telephone.

“It may be Mr. Monahan calling,” the Scout leader said, getting up
quickly. “Excuse me, fellows. I’ll be right back. Meanwhile, see what
you can make of the writing.”

After Mr. Livingston had gone, the four Explorers pored over the
translation. They were still trying to puzzle out the difficult writing
when the waiter reappeared to tell them that they too were wanted in the
lobby.

“Must be Mr. Livingston,” said Jack. “But why does he send for us,
instead of coming back?”

“Go and see,” War advised with a shrug. “I’ll wait here.”

The other three went quickly to the hotel lobby. Mr. Livingston was not
there, nor did they find him in the telephone booth. After trying vainly
to learn who had summoned them, they started back to the terrace dining
room.

“Where’s War?” Ken demanded, noticing that their table was now deserted.

Just at that moment, they caught a glimpse of the freckle-faced boy,
coming from the opposite direction.

“I was looking for you,” War greeted them cheerfully. “Took you an awful
long time—say, why that dead-pan look, Jack? What’s wrong?”

“The parchment! You didn’t go off and leave it lying unguarded on the
table?”

“Why, just for a minute,” War admitted, looking scared. “But no one
would touch it. Take it easy, Jack! I can see that bundle of colored
cord still there.”

Without replying, Jack went quickly to the deserted table. True, the
_quipu_ lay on the tablecloth beside Ken’s half-empty water glass. But
the parchment translation was nowhere visible.

Could a breeze have blown the manuscript to the floor? Jack was
convinced otherwise, but to make certain he searched under the table and
along the terrace railing.

“War,” he said, keeping his voice low, “you’re sure you didn’t take
those papers with you?”

Miserably, the boy shook his head. “I left ’em lying right here on the
table. They can’t be gone!”

“But they are,” Jack said, his voice grim with worry. “That call to the
lobby was a trick by someone to get us away from this table. Mr.
Livingston trusted that translation to us, and now it’s been stolen!”



                               Chapter 2
                             CAPTAIN CARTER


“A fine Scout I prove to be!” Warwick berated himself. “Why, I’ve messed
up the expedition to Peru! Without that translation, there may be no
trip.”

The other three Rovers knew that War might be right about the
expedition. However, careless as he had been in leaving the manuscript
unguarded, they did not blame him.

“It wasn’t your fault,” Ken said, to make him feel better. “We all fell
for that telephone gag.”

“Whoever took that translation can’t be far from here,” Warwick
muttered. “Why, I wasn’t away from this table five minutes, if that
long.”

As the four Explorers searched the terrace floor, a waiter came over to
inquire if anything had been lost. Jack told him about the missing
papers and asked if anyone had visited the table during their absence.
The waiter recalled that a man had stopped there for a moment and then
had left the terrace.

“Can you describe him?” Willie asked eagerly.

“He was heavy set, deeply tanned. Why, there he is now—leaving the hotel
grounds.”

The waiter indicated the retreating figure of a stockily built man,
dimly outlined against the dark shrubbery. The stranger moved swiftly,
away from the terrace.

“He’s the one who snatched the parchment!” War exclaimed with instant
conviction. “Let’s nail him!”

To the dismay of the waiter, the four Explorers leaped nimbly over the
terrace railing onto the lawn below.

By this time the man they pursued was midway across the hotel grounds.
Unaware that anyone followed, he paused beside a tall evergreen and bent
over as if to place something at its base. Now that the stranger was
beyond the reflection of the terrace lights, the Scouts could not
discern his movements clearly.

“He’s pitching that manuscript!” Warwick whispered. “Let’s grab him
quick!”

“We can circle in from behind,” Ken advised. “Be quiet and careful.”

“We might be making a mistake,” Jack advised uneasily, but the others
did not heed.

Moving softly through the darkness, they suddenly surrounded the
stranger. War grabbed him firmly by the arm.

“We got you, mister!” he asserted. “Hand over that manuscript!”

The man pulled angrily away. He was powerfully built, with a
close-cropped head of chestnut colored hair. Ken and Willie moved in
close, cutting off all possible escape.

“Manuscript!” the stranger exclaimed. “What are you blubbering about
anyhow? What’s the big idea?”

“You know well enough!” War accused. “You took that translation from our
hotel table just now!”

“Say, are you kids crazy?”

“We want those papers,” War insisted. “Hand ’em over!”

“You little hoodlum, you!” the man snarled. “If you don’t stop pawing in
my pants pocket, I’ll sock you! I’ve had enough of this!”

“Maybe you can explain what you were hiding by this evergreen,” Willie
suggested pointedly.

“Well, jar my rigging! You kids have got bats in the belfry! I was
looking for my wristwatch.”

“Your wristwatch!” War said scornfully, “That’s good!”

“The strap unfastened and it slipped off. It’s here somewhere.”

Taking no part in the conversation, Jack had devoted himself to
inspecting the ground beneath the evergreen.

“Is this your watch, sir?” he inquired, holding up the shiny object.

“It is! I hope you realize now that you’ve made a blasted mistake.”

“But—I was sure—” Warwick stammered, completely deflated. “The waiter
said he saw you at our table on the terrace. Maybe you’ll explain what
you were doing there.”

“I went to the terrace to see a guy named George Livingston. They told
me that was his table. No one there. Only empty dishes. So I left.”

“You were to see Mr. Livingston?” Jack repeated. “Then you must be—”

“Captain Carter. Captain Edmund Carter, skipper of the _Shark_.”

“Jumping hop toads!” War muttered. “I—I guess I’ve made another bad
mistake.”

The captain’s laugh was unpleasant. “I should complain to the police,”
he said. “But forget it. No use getting one’s wind up over trifles.”

“That’s very decent of you,” Jack replied. “We apologize, Captain
Carter.”

“It was an unfortunate mistake,” added Ken. “Happy—Mr. Livingston had
shown us the parchment translation. We left it on the table when we were
called away, and it disappeared.”

“So you tag me?”

“It was a mistake,” Jack said patiently. “By the way, when you stopped
at our table, did you see the manuscript?”

“Oh, so now you want to put me through the third degree! It’s not enough
that you grab me from behind and maul me?”

“We’re only trying to learn what became of a very valuable property,”
Jack answered, carefully holding his temper in check.

“Son, I didn’t see your papers or whatever it was you lost. Get that
straight?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Okay, that’s settled. Now do you know where I’ll find this character,
Livingston?”

Jack resented the captain’s manner of referring to the Scout leader. He
answered briefly. “He’s at the hotel.”

“Can you take me to him?”

“I guess so.”

“Then cast off,” Captain Carter ordered. “We’ll forget that you tried to
manhandle me. Lucky for you I got a milk-and-honey disposition.”

Unconcerned by the Scouts’ loss of the manuscript, the seaman strode
down the path toward the hotel.

In the darkness, he could not see the faces of the four Rovers which all
too plainly mirrored their private thoughts as to the captain’s
“milk-and-honey” temperament.

At the hotel once more, the boys could not find Mr. Livingston in the
lobby. Somewhat puzzled by his prolonged absence, they returned to their
original table with the captain.

As he studied the menu, the Explorers were able to examine his ruddy,
unfriendly face. A jagged scar marred his left cheek. As for his dark
eyes, they had a quick trick of shifting, and never seemed to return a
steady, even gaze.

Willie, trying hard to make conversation, said: “You must know a lot
about Peru, Captain Carter.”

“I’m wondering—” Jack began, and broke off.

“Have you been there often?”

“Too often.”

“It must be an interesting country.”

“Lousy,” the captain growled. “Three areas—coastal, the sierra region
and the heavily forested slopes that lead to the Amazonian plains. Rain,
heat, freezing cold. Lima, the capital, ain’t so bad. They ought to
chuck the rest of the country into the Pacific.”

“Oh, it can’t be that bad,” Ken protested. “I hope not, because we’re
going there with Mr. Livingston.”

Captain Carter laid aside his menu and stared directly at Ken. In that
unguarded moment, concern and hostility were reflected in his lined
face.

“You mean I got to nursemaid a bunch of kids?” he demanded.

“That’s an unflattering way of putting it,” Ken replied. “We’ve never
been to Peru, but we’re not softies.”

“I’ll vouch for that,” said a voice directly behind the captain.

Unnoticed, Mr. Livingston had crossed the terrace to the table.

“Oh, here you are!” exclaimed Jack in relief. “We couldn’t find you
anywhere, Mr. Livingston.”

“I see you’re in good company,” replied the Scout leader, shaking hands
with Captain Carter. “Sorry to have been held up. Anything wrong?”

“Plenty,” Warwick answered. Without mentioning the unfortunate episode
with Captain Carter, he told of the manuscript’s disappearance.

The loss plainly startled the Scout leader. Nevertheless, he said very
little and did not blame Warwick.

“Don’t worry about it,” he advised the Scouts. “I’m mighty sorry to lose
the translation, but if we’re lucky enough to find that old missionary
who made it, we should be able to duplicate the information.”

As Captain Carter ate his dinner, the Scouts listened attentively to his
talk with Mr. Livingston. The seaman ignored them entirely as he
discussed details of the proposed trip.

“According to the arrangement, I’ll be off for Peru next week,” he
growled. “See to it that all your heavy supplies are at the dock ready
for loading on the _Shark_ by noon of the sixth.”

“Everything will be there,” Mr. Livingston promised. “We’ll follow next
month by plane and meet your boat at the coastal port of Cuertos.
Right?”

“Right,” the captain scowled. “I’m warning you though, this is no
expedition for a bunch o’ kids.”

“The Explorers are well seasoned,” Mr. Livingston returned. “They’re
tough and efficient. I know I can depend on them. That’s why I told Mr.
Monahan I wouldn’t attempt the search for his brother without their
help.”

“That’s a laugh! If you run afoul of a tribe of wild Indians, you figure
to hold ’em at bay with your Scout knives?”

“I doubt that would be our way, captain. There are methods of handling a
situation that do not involve force.”

“Yeah? Well, give me my two fists or a round of ammunition!” Captain
Carter had finished his dinner. He shoved back his chair. “I’ll be going
now,” he announced. “My job is to get your supplies through to Cuertos
on time. The _Shark_ will be there. Just don’t come cryin’ to me when
the going gets rough!”

With barely a nod to the four Scouts, the seaman left the terrace.
Without comment, Mr. Livingston settled the bill for all the dinners.

“Pleasant character,” Jack remarked. “Tough as an old lanyard knot!”

“I wonder where Mr. Monahan found him?” speculated Ken.

“Captain Carter introduced himself—sold the expedition, so to speak. He
knows Peru thoroughly.”

“He certainly took a dislike to us,” Jack commented. “Not that I blame
him too much.”

War himself related to Mr. Livingston how he had mistaken the captain
for a thief.

“I sure am sorry I jumped him the way I did,” he said contritely. “I
guess I’m in the doghouse now.”

“No such thing,” the Scout leader smiled. “You acted a bit impulsively,
without thinking through the situation. Next time you’ll react more
wisely.”

“You still want me to make the trip?”

“I certainly do.”

“Thanks,” War said, his eyes shining. “I’ll do my best to prove worthy.
I’m going to try to find out what became of that missing manuscript.”

“That’s a job for all of us,” Jack amended. “We’re all equally
responsible for the loss.”

Before leaving the hotel, Mr. Livingston and the Rovers talked to
several of the waiters and other diners. No one had seen any person
except Captain Carter visit their table.

“I’m wondering—” Jack began, and broke off.

“Wondering what, Jack?” prompted Mr. Livingston.

“Well, maybe my suspicions are unfounded. But it hit me that maybe we
made a mistake not to search Captain Carter.”

“We got into enough trouble as it was,” Warwick muttered.

“Supposing—just for speculation—that Captain Carter knew we were
following him and dropped that watch into the shrubbery.”

“So that when we found it we’d assume we’d made a terrible mistake!”
Willie exclaimed. “Maybe he had the translation in his pocket all the
time!”

“We were chumps not to have searched him,” asserted War.

Mr. Livingston smiled. “An interesting speculation,” he commented. “Off
hand though, I can’t imagine why Captain Carter would want the
translation. For that matter, had he asked to see it, I certainly would
have shown it to him. We’re all supposed to be working together to find
Burton Monahan. So a motive for the theft seems to be lacking.”

“I guess so,” Jack admitted reluctantly.

“Bear in mind that we’re saddled with Captain Carter for the duration of
the trip.”

“And it’s poor policy to stir up bad feeling before we’re even on our
way.”

“Exactly, Jack,” the Scout leader agreed. “We must do our level best to
get along with the captain. He’s not the man of my choice. But if he
once gets the idea that we’re unfriendly or watching him, he could cause
us a peck of trouble.”



                               Chapter 3
                           PATH TO ADVENTURE


During the next few weeks, the entire Scout organization buzzed with the
news that Ken, Jack, Willie and War were to set off on a great
adventure.

Younger Scouts eyed them enviously. Belatedly, there was a rush by boys
over 14 to join the Rovers. Applications readily were accepted, but the
newcomers quickly learned that the trip to Peru was a closed expedition
except for those who had proven their ability to endure real hardships.

As for the fortunate four, they scarcely could believe their own good
luck. It seemed a miracle that they had been selected, that all expenses
would be paid, and that their parents had given consent.

Their enthusiasm boundless, the young Explorers spent hours at the
public library, reading about South America. Jack, in particular,
studied Spanish grammar, trying out phrases on his friends.

According to a carefully worked out plan, Captain Carter was scheduled
to sail without delay for Cuertos, an almost unknown dog-hole port on
the Peruvian coast.

The trip through the Canal would take many weeks, while the Rovers, by
clipper, would reach their destination speedily. Captain Carter’s
_Shark_ was expected to arrive at Cuertos well ahead of Mr. Livingston’s
party. A meeting date was set for the following month.

As preparations rapidly went forward for the sailing, the four Explorers
saw little of Captain Carter. Occasionally, they ran into him at Mr.
Livingston’s home, but always he shunned them. Though they tried to be
friendly, he would not respond.

“He won’t get over his grudge,” Willie remarked. “A nice way to start a
long trip!”

“It’s not our fault,” Jack returned. “We’ve done everything we can to
make amends. He distrusts us, and between you and me and the gatepost, I
feel the same about him!”

The Explorers consoled themselves with the thought that once their
equipment and stores had been delivered at Cuertos, they would be done
with Captain Carter. Few freighters, they were told, ever visited the
out-of-the-way port.

“Don’t underestimate Captain Carter,” Mr. Livingston advised the Rovers.
“He can be very useful to us if we win him over. He knows the ropes and
can put us in touch with the right people.”

“You’re not expecting trouble on this trip?” Jack asked quietly.

“It’s well to be prepared. Our expedition may end at Cuertos. If we
learn that Burton Monahan is dead and can establish it, that terminates
our mission. On the other hand, if we discover that he went into the old
Inca country, it will be our duty to trace him as far as we can. That’s
why we’re sending plenty of supplies ahead.”

“I sure wish we hadn’t lost that translation,” War said gloomily.

“Forget it,” the Scout leader advised. “It’s gone, and we may as well
stop worrying about it.”

Equipped with lists Mr. Livingston supplied, the Explorers packed
carefully for the trip. Nothing was left to chance. Informed that they
might expect extremes of weather in Peru, sweltering heat in the
lowlands and frigid temperatures if their journey took them high into
the mountains, they chose each item with great care.

Mr. Livingston personally inspected all luggage that was to go by boat.
Every unnecessary item was discarded.

Finally, the last box was labeled and sent to the dock for shipment. On
the day of sailing, the Rovers drove to the waterfront to see the
_Shark_ on her way. Mr. Livingston, having important duties elsewhere,
was unable to accompany the group.

The vessel proved to be a small, rather filthy-looking schooner, which
regularly carried cargo through the Panama Canal.

Bent upon exploring the vessel from stem to stern, the four Rovers
started up the gangplank. A sailor stopped them.

“Sorry,” he said curtly. “No visitors.”

“But we came to see our stuff loaded,” Willie replied. “Captain Carter
knows us. He won’t object.”

“There’s the Captain now!” cried War, spying the officer on deck. “Hi,
Captain! May we come aboard?”

“We sail in thirty minutes,” the Captain returned shortly. “You’d only
be in the way.”

War would have pressed the matter, but Jack gave him a quick nudge.

“Let it slide,” he advised. “No use getting the Captain’s goat again.
Come on, we can watch the loading from shore.”

Hiding their annoyance, the Explorers sought a patch of shade in the lee
of a large warehouse. Stevedores trundled boxes and barrels of cargo
aboard. Captain Carter remained on deck personally supervising the job.

The boxes marked for the Scout expedition were raised in a great net and
swung down into the hold. The stevedores then moved the overflow up the
gangplank.

In an ugly temper, Captain Carter berated the men for being slow. One
fellow, who carried an especially heavy load, stumbled on the uneven
planking. Either by accident or design, he permitted a box to slip from
his shoulder into the water.

“Stupid idiot!” Captain Carter shouted. “Brainless! Can’t you watch what
you’re doing?”

Jack and Ken instantly leaped to their feet. Seizing a grappling hook,
they tried to raise the sunken box from the shallow water.

“Lay off that!” Captain Carter shouted, even more furiously.

Startled by the violence of the outburst, Jack gazed up into the enraged
face of the Captain. In that instant, he fancied that the surly,
pouch-like face mirrored not only anger but fear. What reason might the
Captain have for not wanting the Explorers to help retrieve the lost
cargo?

“Ken and I were only trying to help,” he said quietly.

“When I want your assistance, I’ll tell you so!” the Captain growled.
“Aboard the _Shark_, I’m in command. Now get away from the gangplank!”

“Okay,” Jack muttered, eyes blazing. He’d learned in early Scouting days
that it nearly always paid to hold one’s tongue.

War, however, could not resist making a muttered comment.

“What was that?” Captain Carter bellowed at him.

“Oh, peddle your fish!” War exclaimed. “I’m glad we’re not passengers on
your old tub!”

“A sentiment shared, young man. When I see you in Peru, it will be soon
enough!”

“Just be sure you deliver our stuff safely!” War shouted back. “Don’t be
dumping any more of it!”

To break up the useless repartee, the other Explorers pulled War away
from the dock.

One and all, they smarted under the Captain’s rude treatment. He was
being well paid to transport the expedition supplies to Peru. Why then,
should he have taken such a dislike to them?

“It’s because of that parchment translation incident,” Willie declared
as the four stepped back to watch two sailors recover the sunken box.
“The old boy won’t forget or forgive.”

Later that afternoon, after the _Shark_ had sailed, Jack and Ken related
the unfortunate loading affair to Mr. Livingston.

“Captain Carter is a surly fellow, I’m afraid,” the Scout leader
commented. “Fortunately, we won’t run into him again until we hit Peru.
And we shouldn’t have too close an association after that.”

“I sure wish we were leaving tomorrow,” Jack declared with a grin.
“How’ll we wait?”

“The days will pass fast enough,” Mr. Livingston assured him.

He was right. Almost before the Explorers realized it, the long weeks
had slipped by.

On the night before the party was scheduled to board the clipper for
Peru, the Scout organization held a final meeting.

For the four Rovers, the occasion was a solemn, impressive one. Well
they knew that weeks, perhaps months, might elapse before they would
meet again in formal session. Even so, they had no inkling of the
exciting adventures that lay ahead or of the part that Captain Carter
was to play in their lives.

During the early part of the evening, movie slides were shown on Peru.
Jack, as crew leader, thanked the committee for the fine program
presented, and then, with regret, announced that it was time to end the
meeting by closing the log.

A hush fell upon the throng. War arose, and soberly closed the big book
in which were recorded minutes of the organization.

Never had the simple ceremony been more impressive than on this night.
On the table beside Jack was the Explorer’s Emblem—wings, anchor and
compass—symbolic of air, sea and land activities. In front of it were
two glowing candles. To the left stood the American flag, and on the
right, the unit banner.

Jack himself turned to extinguish the candles, symbolic of the ideals
lighting the way of all Explorers.

“This emblem is to remind us that we are part of a great organization,”
he said soberly. “An organization made up of thousands of fellows in
troop, crew and post everywhere.”

Normally, the ceremony would have ended there, but Jack went on. With
deep feeling, he added the words of the Scout oath:

  “‘On my honor, I will do my best
  To do my duty to God and my country and to obey the Scout Law;
  To help other people at all times;
  To keep myself physically strong, mentally awake and morally
              straight.’”

The other Explorers joined in, speaking each word with sincerity. All
eyes were glued upon Jack, Ken, Willie and Warwick.

At that impressive moment, knowing that on the morrow they would be
speeding far from America, the four felt their responsibility keenly.

Hadn’t they been singled out for an important mission? They must try
hard to make Mr. Livingston and the other Scouts proud of them! Come
what would, they dared not fail or falter.



                               Chapter 4
                               A MISSION


“Six days overdue, and no sign of the _Shark_! What a help Captain
Carter proved to be!”

Jack delivered the remark as he lay on the steep hillside overlooking
Cuertos harbor in Peru. His sentiment was shared by the other Explorers,
Willie, Ken and War. Six days of waiting in a desolate coastal town had
left the four Rovers decidedly restless and impatient.

Behind them now were a thrilling plane journey from the States, exciting
days in Lima. But nearly a week had elapsed since they had registered at
the little Cuertos Hotel in this sleepy town seldom visited by tourists.

To the annoyance of Mr. Livingston and the Scouts, the _Shark_ had not
yet made port. What, they wondered, had delayed Captain Carter and their
supplies?

On this sunny morning, while Mr. Livingston conferred with government
officials, Jack and his friends had decided to watch the harbor for a
possible glimpse of the long overdue vessel.

“Maybe Carter never will show up,” War remarked, tossing a stone into
the waves which broke gently on the shore below. “I don’t trust him.”

“The _Shark_ may have run into bad storms,” Jack replied. “It’s hard
waiting, though—especially when we can’t pick up any information about
Burton Monahan.”

“Apparently the only one who knows anything about him is that old
missionary who lives on the hill,” Ken said thoughtfully. “And he won’t
see us.”

A week ago, the day of their arrival, the Scouts and Mr. Livingston had
called at the crumbling old mission overlooking the sea. Politely but
firmly, a servant had informed them that Father Francisco Manoel was ill
and would receive no visitors. For five straight days, the answer always
had been the same.

“It’s an excuse not to see us!” Willie asserted, getting up from the
rocks. “Father Francisco just does not want to tell what he knows about
Burton Monahan or that old parchment!”

“Oh, we can’t be sure,” Jack drawled. “Father Francisco may be sick. We
didn’t expect this job to be an easy one. Or did we think Burton Monahan
would be sitting conveniently on a rock pile waiting for us?”

“I’m getting tired of perching on this one!” War announced. “Let’s
move!”

“Where?”

“We might amble into the village again.”

“Okay,” Jack agreed. “We’re not to meet Hap for a couple of hours.
Plenty of time.”

Slowly, the Rovers climbed a crooked path which twisted up the steep
hillside. Midway to the summit they met an old woman with a brilliantly
colored parrot perched on her shoulder.

“_Buenos dias_,” croaked the bird.

“Good day, yourself!” Jack responded.

He halted, intending to inspect the saucy parrot. But the bent old
native woman glared angrily at him and shuffled hurriedly on.

“Guess she didn’t like the way I spoke to her pet,” Jack said with a
shrug. “Or was she suspicious of our Explorers’ uniforms?”

At the top of the hill, the four Scouts paused to breathe deeply of the
salt air. Willie snapped several pictures of the old mission, and then
he and War wandered on.

Left behind, Jack and Ken watched the sea for a while before starting in
the direction their companions had taken. In passing the old mission
door, Jack impulsively paused to knock.

“No use,” Ken discouraged him. “There’s never any answer.”

But even as he spoke, they heard footsteps. Surprisingly, the massive
door swung open and a servant peered out at them.

“Father Francisco see you now,” she informed them in broken English.
“Enter!”

“Well, what d’ you know!” Ken murmured startled. “We must have pressed
the magic button!”

The servant motioned for the two Scouts to follow her down a tiled
corridor. Eventually, they came to a pleasant half-underground library
whose long, wide window provided a view of the ocean. On three sides,
the walls were lined with books.

Father Francisco sat facing the sea, but he turned slowly as the Scouts
entered. He was a small, bent old man in a black dressing robe and
sandals. Pillows braced his back.

Motioning Ken and Jack into well-worn leather chairs, he said in precise
but perfect English: “I regret I have been ill and could not see you
when first you called. My arthritis has been most painful. Mr.
Livingston did not accompany you?”

Jack replied that their leader was in conference with government
officials. He and Ken both were uncomfortably aware of the old
missionary’s intent scrutiny. They had an odd feeling that he not only
knew everything about them and their party, but could read their
innermost thoughts.

“How do you like Peru?” Father Francisco inquired politely.

“We haven’t seen very much of it,” Jack confessed. “Cuertos though,
isn’t exactly as we pictured it.”

“The coastal area is very dry,” the missionary said, fingering a long,
gold neck chain. “Here at Cuertos we have a good rain at least once a
century. Earthquakes, I regret to say, are more frequent.”

An awkward silence fell. Father Francisco broke it by inquiring: “You
are Scouts from America?”

“Explorers,” Ken said proudly. “I guess you already know why we are
here.”

Father Francisco eyed the pair quizzically. “You are searching for
Burton Monahan? Or is it the treasure which intrigues you?”

“We’re trying to find Mr. Monahan,” Jack replied earnestly.

“One must be very brave or very foolhardy to venture far into the wilds.
A mule-back trip across Peru consumes weeks.”

Ken and Jack nodded, remaining silent.

“Many of our mountain roads are mere tracks,” Father Francisco
continued. “Only caves or stone huts offer shelter. To venture far one
must have a trusted _arriero_ or muleteer to act as guide. A dependable
man is not easy to find.”

To Jack and Ken it was clear that the missionary deliberately was trying
to discourage them. They listened attentively as he mentioned the many
dangers that might beset a traveler. When he had finished, Jack said
quietly:

“We realize, Father, that our mission won’t be easy. All the same, a few
hardships won’t bother us. You knew Burton Monahan?”

“Very well. Ah, he was a reckless one! But with the courage of a lion!
From the first, the old tale of treasure fascinated him. Yet in
fairness, I must say it was not lust for Inca gold that spurred him on,
as it does so many adventurers who come to this country. No, it was the
lure of the unknown that drew him irresistibly to his fate.”

“His fate?” Ken repeated, startled. “Then you believe that Burton
Monahan is dead?”

Father Francisco shrugged his thin shoulder. “_Quien sabe?_” he murmured
in Spanish. “Who knows? There is one who might provide the answer, if he
would. I fear however, that the truth will never pass his lips. Not if
it profits him to remain silent.”

“Who is this man?” questioned Jack.

The missionary did not answer. The Explorers were certain he heard and
that deliberately he withheld his reply.

“I would assist you if I could,” Father Francisco resumed after a
moment. “Unfortunately, I can do nothing.”

“Tell us everything you know about Mr. Monahan’s disappearance,” Jack
urged.

“For many weeks he studied the ancient parchment which I have
here—taking notes, trying to figure out the route of the Portuguese
explorers who so faithfully recounted their discovery of the hidden
pre-Inca city. Finally, disregarding all advice, he organized a party
and set off into the most desolate section of the mountains. That was
many months ago.”

“And that was the last you ever heard of him?” Ken inquired.

“Word filtered back. As the journey became more difficult, his natives
began to desert. Finally, even Captain Carter abandoned him.”

“Captain Carter!” exclaimed Jack, startled. “The skipper of the
_Shark_?”

“The same.”

“Why, we didn’t know he had a close association with Mr. Monahan,” Ken
declared. “Captain Carter is bringing our equipment here on the _Shark_.
In fact, he promoted the expedition.”

Father Francisco eyed the two Scouts with a fixed rigid smile. “So
Captain Carter is to be a member of your party?” he asked softly.

“Mr. Monahan—Burton’s brother—thought he could be helpful to us,” Ken
explained.

“Ah, yes, Captain Carter could be of assistance, if he chose,” murmured
the old missionary. “I regret to say he is not known in Cuertos for his
cooperative qualities. Captain Carter—”

Abruptly, the missionary broke off, as if he had been on the verge of
making an unintended disclosure.

“You must excuse me now,” he said apologetically. “It is the hour of my
siesta. As for the temple treasure and Burton Monahan, I advise you for
your own safety, to banish all thought of an expedition.”

Disappointed by the dismissal, Ken turned to leave. Jack, however, was
unwilling to be discharged so easily.

He sensed that mention of Captain Carter’s name somehow had been
unfortunate. Seemingly, Father Francisco had become distrustful of their
association with the skipper of the _Shark_.

“Captain Carter was assigned to our expedition by Burton Monahan’s
brother,” he informed the missionary. “We have no liking for him. Right
now we’re annoyed because the _Shark_ hasn’t made port with our cargo.”

“We’ve counted on your help,” Ken added earnestly. “If we don’t get it,
the expedition will bog down right here at Cuertos.”

“I believe that you are sincere,” the old missionary said after a long
silence. “This much I will tell you. Captain Carter has an ugly
reputation among our people.”

“Because of the Monahan affair?” interposed Jack.

“There were whispers that after Monahan left here, he fell in with
Carter,” the missionary explained reluctantly. “Some believe that
together they came upon the hidden city and that for lust of gold,
Carter removed Monahan from the picture.”

“But the captain has claimed to be working to save Monahan!” Jack
exclaimed.

“I cannot vouch for the truth of the tale. I do know that Captain Carter
has unsavory connections, both here and inland. As master of the _Shark_
he has many profitable lines only indirectly connected with the
transportation of cargo.”

“But why would Carter ask financial assistance from Burton Monahan’s
brother?” Jack asked in perplexity. “If he did away with Burton, why
pretend to be seeking him?”

“Who can fathom the depths of a twisted mind?” murmured Father
Francisco. “I cannot vouch for the truth of the rumors. Possibly,
Captain Carter has been misunderstood and misjudged.”

Seeking to gain information, Jack and Ken asked other questions. The
missionary politely evaded them. Abruptly changing the subject, he
offered to show the Scouts the ancient Portuguese manuscript which long
had been in his possession.

Painfully pulling himself from the pillows, he hobbled to a walnut
cabinet.

“I spent many years translating the manuscript which is written in
Portuguese,” he informed the Explorers as he unlocked the heavy double
doors. “You are familiar with the history of Peru?”

“We’ve read a lot lately,” Jack returned. “Especially about how the
Spanish general Pizarro conquered the country in 1532.”

“Peru then was under Inca domination,” the missionary said, warming to
his subject. “The Inca ruler, you know, was regarded as a representative
of the Sun God, head of the priesthood and the army.

“When Pizarro took the country, he forced the Indians to turn over vast
amounts of treasure to ransom their king, who had been made a captive.
But the Incas were betrayed, for their ruler was put to death. Angered,
they dumped much of their gold into lakes and streams or hid it in
caves. One such treasure lake, so this ancient manuscript discloses,
lies hidden ‘inside a mountain.’ The phrase has been variously
interpreted. According to ancient belief, the treasure mountain is
visible from here.”

“From this mission?” Jack asked incredulously.

“Yes, but as I presently will show you, the clue has little value.”

Almost reverently, Father Francisco spread the parchment on a table
before the Scouts. Eagerly, they peered at the fine-grained skin which
had been scraped and rubbed with pumice to permit writing on either
side.

“Imagine being able to read that!” Ken said in awe.

“The manuscript begins thus,” the missionary translated. “‘We wandered
ten years in the wilds, seeking gold. Little did we find until in the
year—’”

Abruptly, Father Francisco broke off, his attention diverted toward the
door of the library. The Scouts had heard no unusual sound, but the
missionary seemed disturbed.

“Someone, I believe, loiters in the passageway!” he whispered. “Be
quick! See who it is that listens by the door!”



                               Chapter 5
                         AN ANCIENT MANUSCRIPT


Following Father Francisco’s direction, Jack darted swiftly to the
library door.

As he jerked it open, an old woman with a parrot on her shoulder,
stumbled forward into the room. Obviously, she had been listening at the
keyhole. Jack recognized her at once as the same unfriendly native he
and Ken had met earlier on the path.

In a torrent of Spanish, the woman apologized to Father Francisco. He
scolded her soundly for her behavior and bade her be gone.

Still chattering, the woman backed out of the room and vanished into the
corridor.

“Do you suppose she followed us here?” Ken speculated. “Our presence in
the village seems to be stirring plenty of excitement.”

“Lolita has ears like a sponge,” said Father Francisco. “She is a friend
of Captain Carter’s. One of his few supporters in the village.”

Forgetting the parrot woman, the Scouts once more examined the ancient
Portuguese manuscript. At their request, Father Francisco read aloud a
passage in which the Portuguese adventurers described their first
glimpse of the treasure area.

“‘Our native Indians said it was a country whose Gods did not wish it to
be known,’” he recited, “‘and that they would visit wrath and terror
upon all intruders.’”

Skipping through the manuscript, the missionary read several beautiful
passages, including one in which the writer told of making camp near the
treasure mountain.

“‘Darkness made terrifying the unearthly landscape of chasm, precipice
and gorge,’” Father Francisco quoted. “‘At dawn, the sun lit up
frightful precipices which none could scale, and in the bush-strewn and
craggy path we took at the foot of these weird mountains, we had to step
warily because of lurking rattlesnakes. Had we been bitten, of antidote
there was none.’”

Glancing up from his reading, the missionary smiled at the two Scouts.

“There is more, much more. This, however, gives you a faint idea of what
you might expect to encounter should you decide to try to follow the
route taken by Burton Monahan.”

“Does the manuscript give directions for reaching the hidden city?” Ken
asked, undaunted.

“In a vague way. My thought is that the Portuguese deliberately gave
incorrect information so that others could not find the treasure.”

“Why didn’t they go back themselves?” questioned Jack.

“According to legend, the few men who survived the expedition, did
attempt to return many years later, but could not retrace their way.
Many men since have tried and failed.”

“I’d like to read every word of the manuscript!” Ken declared.

“If you linger awhile in Cuertos, I gladly will translate it for you,”
offered the missionary. “The tale is most absorbing. The Portuguese
adventurer relates that the secret entrance to the city was discovered
by an Indian. While gathering wood for the camp, he suddenly saw a cleft
by means of which the rocks could be scaled.”

“Do you believe that the ancient Inca city exists?” Jack asked.

Father Francisco hesitated and then answered: “There is considerable
evidence that this manuscript was based on fact. The city herein
described might be such a one as Cuzco, the ancient capital of the
Incas. The Portuguese’s account of ruins tallies in all respects with
those which have come to light in recent years.”

“Strange that the city never has been spotted from the air,” remarked
Ken thoughtfully.

“Planes seldom fly in that area. In any case, the ruins would be
well-hidden by centuries of vegetation.”

“You doubt though, that Burton Monahan reached his objective?” Ken
persisted.

“If he did, he either lost his life or is being held captive by hostile
Indians.” Father Francisco frowned and added as a question: “You noticed
the mantilla Lolita wore? The fastening—a gold pin in the form of a
fish?”

Ken and Jack admitted that they had failed to note the ornament.

“That pin disturbs me,” the missionary said. “The workmanship is
unusually fine. I should judge that the ornament is of Inca or pre-Inca
origin.”

“How did the woman get it?” Jack speculated.

“Ah, if I knew the answer to your question, I might know also what
became of Burton Monahan. Lolita has worn the pin for many months now,
ever since Captain Carter returned here from the unsuccessful
expedition.”

“Then you think he gave it to her!” Jack exclaimed. “Perhaps for some
service?”

“I would not know,” Father Francisco returned. “It has occurred to me
that Captain Carter may have reached the hidden city, or contacted
natives who have had access to its treasures. This he has denied. As for
Lolita, she has told me repeatedly that she bought the pin at a native
market.”

“If Captain Carter reached the ancient Inca city, he must know what
became of Burton Monahan,” Jack asserted, lost in thought. “Wait until
we see him again!”

“You will not have long to wait, I think,” the missionary predicted with
a smile.

At Jack’s look of astonishment, he inclined his head toward the expanse
of window overlooking his area. In the distance, a small freighter could
be seen plying its way toward the harbor.

“The _Shark_, I believe,” Father Francisco identified the vessel.
“Captain Carter should drop anchor within the hour. But I advise that
you refrain from questioning him about Lolita’s pin.”

Jack and Ken were troubled by the information the old missionary had
given them. Distrust of Captain Carter which had been kept in close
check, now flared anew. Yet they realized that without specific facts
and proof, they dared not accuse the seaman. To hint even, that they
thought he had withheld vital information about Burton Monahan, would be
to invite a quarrel which might wreck the expedition before it was well
underway.

“If the _Shark_ is coming in, we ought to find Willie and War,” Ken
suggested, eager to get back to the waterfront. “Maybe they’ve already
sighted her.”

“May we come here later to go over the parchment with you in detail?”
Jack asked the missionary. “Mr. Livingston will want to see it too.”

“I will give you what help I can,” Father Francisco promised.

“You mentioned that the treasure lake supposedly lies within a
mountain,” Ken reminded him as he and Jack were ready to leave. “Does
that mean it is hidden behind a mountain chain?”

“The phrase has been variously interpreted. Burton Monahan believed, as
do I, that the lake and the secret city are hemmed in by high
mountains.”

“Yet this treasure mountain is visible from the mission?” Jack probed.

“So the manuscript reports. Come, I will show you.”

Leaving the parchment on the table, the old missionary moved with
tottering steps to an arched doorway which opened upon the street. With
a bony hand, he indicated the rim of mountains visible in the far
distance.

“Yonder you see the highest, most inaccessible ranges of the Andes,” he
said. “Even intrepid travelers have found many of the chasms and valleys
impassable.”

“Which is the secret mountain?” Ken asked eagerly.

Father Francisco pointed out one of the ranges, which in the sunlight
seemed afire with spears of red and gold.

“Have explorers never reached those peaks?” Jack questioned. “In all
these years, it seems impossible that no one would have gone there.”

“Many have attained the heights, my son. But little gold has been found.
As for the lost city, it remains as elusive as in the sixteenth century
when the Portuguese first set eyes upon it.”

“Mr. Monahan took a direct route to yonder mountain?” Ken asked, his
eyes on the rim of blue.

“No, it was his belief that the directions given in the parchment were
incorrect. Either the Portuguese were mistaken in their bearings, or
deliberately misleading.”

“You know the route he took?”

“To a certain point, yes. Beyond that, there is no definite information.
We have only Captain Carter’s word—”

A startled expression came upon the missionary’s kindly face. The two
Scouts followed his gaze upward to the expanse of adobe wall where an
ugly, jagged crack had appeared.

Even as they stared in astonishment, the crack widened. Plaster began to
fall. They felt the floor tremble beneath them.

“An earth tremor!” Father Francisco announced calmly, grasping the
doorway for support. “Quickly! Seek the safety of the street!”



                               Chapter 6
                           EARTHQUAKE TREMORS


A second, harder tremor jarred the room, nearly knocking Jack and Ken
off their feet.

“This mission is soundly built,” the old missionary said in a quiet
voice. “These ancient walls have sustained a dozen severe quakes. But
you will feel safer outside.”

The two Scouts were reluctant to leave Father Francisco, who scarcely
seemed able to maintain his balance.

“Come with us,” Jack urged, taking his arm.

“No, I must toll the bell. When my people hear the bell, they know that
the quake is not a hard one. It reassures them and prevents panic. I
must ring it now.”

Painfully, the missionary moved toward the long corridor. Another shock
came, knocking a small statue from a niche in the wall. Plaster dust
filled the air.

“Where is the bell?” Jack demanded. “We’ll ring it for you.”

“Across the patio,” Father Francisco directed. “The bell tower is to the
right, beyond the kitchens.”

The very walls seemed to weave as Jack and Ken raced for the tower.
Outside the mission, all was confusion. The Scouts could hear the
frightened screams of terrified natives who sought the streets.

Reaching the bell tower, they seized the long rope. A dozen times they
tolled the bell.

Another heavy tremor shook the mission. For a moment, Jack and Ken
feared that the bell tower would come toppling down upon their heads.
But the danger passed and even to their ears, the steady, clear clang of
the bell was reassuring.

Minutes passed and there were no further quakes. Jack dropped the bell
rope.

“The worst is over now, I think,” he said. “Let’s see what has happened
to the village.”

Outside, natives were milling in the streets and running toward the
mission. In two places the cobblestones had heaved up, leaving a wide,
deep crevass. Faces mirrored fear and anxiety, but there was no panic.

Heavy dust hung over the street. Some distance away, a house was on
fire. Already the villagers were fighting the flames with buckets of
water. Jack and Ken helped, and then, when the blaze was out, looked
about for Warwick and Willie.

“I guess they must have gone back to the waterfront,” Ken said. “Or
maybe to our hotel. We ought to find ’em.”

“Think we should make certain Father Francisco is all right before we
go?”

“A good idea,” Ken nodded. “Quakes are old stuff to him, I guess. But at
his age a little excitement might bring on a heart attack. Let’s go back
to say goodbye.”

The outside mission door stood wide open. Meeting no one, the two Scouts
went down the deserted corridor to pause hesitantly at the entrance to
the library.

Evidently, the elderly missionary had not expected them to return. His
back was toward them. He was searching rapidly through the miscellaneous
papers which cluttered the table.

“It’s over, I guess,” Jack remarked in a purposely loud voice. “No great
damage done.”

Startled, Father Francisco turned around quickly. “Oh, yes, yes,” he
said, almost vaguely.

“Is anything wrong, Father?” Ken inquired, aware that the missionary
seemed gravely disturbed.

“The old Portuguese manuscript,” Father Francisco muttered. “Did either
of you pick it up when you went to ring the bell?”

“Why, no,” answered Ken.

“It was lying on the table when we left,” Jack added.

“So I thought,” declared Father Francisco in a troubled voice. “I went
to the street for a few minutes to quiet my people. When I returned a
moment ago, I could not find the parchment.”

“Might your housekeeper have taken it?” suggested Ken.

“Impossible. My servants are trained never to touch any of my papers.”

“Has anyone else been in the library?” Jack questioned. “For instance,
that parrot woman we caught listening at the door?”

“Lolita would have no use for the manuscript. She has no schooling and
can neither read nor write.”

The Scouts became aware that Father Francisco was regarding them with a
peculiar, thoughtful expression. Belatedly, it dawned upon them that
they might be under suspicion.

“I hope you don’t think we took that parchment!” Jack blurted out.
“We’re Scouts. It’s part of our creed to be honest and trustworthy.”

“I believe you,” the missionary said. “Give the matter no further
thought. True, I value the parchment highly, but sooner or later, the
culprit will reveal himself.”

“There’s something mighty queer about that manuscript taking wings,” Ken
remarked. “First, we lose the translation. Now the original is gone—just
when we need it too.”

“We can’t blame this on Captain Carter,” Jack pointed out. “His boat is
probably making harbor about now.”

“That parchment might have helped us find Burton Monahan.”

Father Francisco told the Scouts that although he had no copy of the
Portuguese manuscript, he had pored over it so often he could recall
countless passages from memory. He promised that he would write as much
as he could remember in English and have it for the boys if they came
again.

“We’ll return,” Jack assured him. “Having a copy of that manuscript
means a lot to us.”

Taking leave of the missionary, Ken and Jack went directly to the beach.
Father Francisco had made no mistake in identifying the _Shark_. The
familiar schooner was anchored some distance from shore. Even now, a
small boat was plying its way across the harbor.

“There’s Captain Carter!” Jack cried, recognizing the man in the bow.
“Let’s head him off.”

At the dogtrot, the Scouts started down shore. But they were too far
away to hail the Captain. His boat touched the beach some distance away,
and without seeing them he started off alone in the opposite direction.

Determined to overtake him, Ken and Jack followed. Captain Carter was
still some yards away when abruptly he halted to talk to a woman at an
open-air vegetable stall.

“The parrot woman!” Ken exclaimed, stopping short. “Father Francisco was
right! They’re old friends.”

The two Explorers were too far away to hear the conversation, even if
they could have understood the rapid flow of Spanish. But they noted
that the two spoke most earnestly together.

And then Lolita, with a movement so swift that Ken and Jack nearly
missed it, whipped something from her dress front. She handed the bulky
object to Captain Carter, who thrust it under his coat.

“What was that?” Jack demanded alertly.

“It looked like the missing parchment to me!”

“I thought so too! But why would she have snatched it for Captain
Carter? He couldn’t have told her to do it, because he only now made
port.”

“You got me,” Ken responded. “But she certainly slipped him something.
Shall we buzz ’em?”

“Let’s wait,” Jack decided after a moment of thought. “No use tipping
our hand.”

Unnoticed, they watched the two talk together for a few minutes longer.
Captain Carter took money from his billfold, giving it to the parrot
woman. She then slipped away behind the vegetable stall.

Ken and Jack made no attempt to intercept the Captain until he had
started on. As they came up behind him, he whirled suddenly and reached
toward his hip as if for a weapon.

“Oh, it’s you,” he said relaxing. “Well! Well! I just came ashore to
tell Livingston his cargo is here safe and sound.”

“Six days late,” Jack remarked.

“We were delayed by a gale. Where’s Livingston?”

Jack explained that the Scout leader was in conference with government
officials.

“Still set on going inland?”

“That’s the plan,” Ken told him.

“It’s a mistake,” Captain Carter said gruffly. “If anyone goes off on a
wild chase looking for Monahan, I’m the man to do it, because I know
this country. Now if Livingston could see it that way, you could park
yourselves comfortably—like at Lima. I’d take the expedition in and
either find Monahan or learn what became of him.”

“You know then where he disappeared?” Jack asked, watching the seaman
closely.

Captain Carter shot a quick, suspicious glance at him. “No such thing,”
he denied. “I know where he made his last camp before he started into
hostile Indian territory. I tried to get him to turn back, but he
wouldn’t listen.”

Ken and Jack remained silent. Nevertheless, they were convinced that the
master of the _Shark_ was lying. More than ever they were of the opinion
that he knew more about Burton Monahan’s disappearance than he had
revealed. Why, they wondered, was he eager to head an expedition and yet
unwilling to have them go along?

“I was hired to haul your cargo here, and the job’s done,” the Captain
continued. “If you’re asking for advice, though, I’m telling you to
forget the expedition.”

“That’s what Father Francisco said, too,” Ken replied.

“Father Francisco?” Carter’s face twisted with dislike. “What did that
old fossil tell you about me?”

“Not very much,” Jack answered. “It may interest you to know that while
we were at the mission, Father Francisco lost the Portuguese parchment
which described the secret mountain and the lost Inca city. It was
stolen from the library during the earthquake.”

“So?”

“We saw Lolita at the mission,” Ken took over. “In fact, she listened at
the door. Weren’t you talking to her just now?”

“What if I was? You want to make something of it?”

“We were wondering—”

“Well, don’t!” Captain Carter cut in belligerently. “Keep out of my
affairs, or I’ll teach you a lesson you won’t find in the Boy Scout
manual! Lolita’s an old friend of mine. I got a lot of friends in this
port.”

With that, the master of the _Shark_ swaggered away, to disappear in a
water-front tavern.



                               Chapter 7
                              SCOUT CARGO


“How we got ourselves hooked with a guy like Captain Carter I’ll never
know,” Jack commented in disgust. “But if he figures we’re going to back
out on the expedition, or let him take over, he can guess again.”

“I wonder when he’ll get our gear ashore?” Ken speculated.

“Probably when he’s good and ready to ask clearance from the port
inspectors. He won’t hurry. You can be sure of that.”

The Scouts turned once more toward the sea. Before they had walked far,
they spied Warwick and Willie and hailed them.

“Hi!” War greeted the pair. “We’ve been looking everywhere for you two.
Hap sent a message.”

“Where is he?” Jack asked quickly. “Still with those government men?”

Willie nodded. “He figures on being tied up half the day. Our little
party may stall right here at Cuertos.”

“How come?”

“Well, the authorities aren’t keen on having us start for the high
sierras. Captain Carter’s name seems to be poison here. We’re under a
cloud because of our association with him.”

“He’s here, by the way,” Ken informed the pair. “As unco-operative as
ever, too.”

“When did the boat get in?” Willie demanded eagerly.

“Only a few minutes ago,” Ken answered. “Captain Carter’s visiting his
‘friends’ around town. After he’s talked out, maybe he’ll get around to
moving our stuff ashore.”

The sun by this time was high overhead. Bored by inactivity, the Scouts
returned to their hotel for lunch.

Throughout the afternoon, they waited for Mr. Livingston. Twice he sent
word that he had been delayed longer than expected.

“The expedition’s run into a snag,” Willie remarked in discouragement.
“We may never get out of this hole!”

By dinner time, the Explorers were thoroughly disturbed by Mr.
Livingston’s long absence. A note assured them that he would be at the
hotel without fail by nine o’clock.

“I’ve run into unexpected difficulties,” he wrote. “Hope to have
everything ironed out so we can leave Cuertos within forty-eight hours.”

After eating, the Scouts strolled to the market, and then to the water
front. In the fast gathering shadows, they could dimly make out the
_Shark_ riding at anchor.

“Let’s go aboard,” Willie suddenly proposed.

“How’ll we get there?” Ken asked. “Swim? No, thanks! I’m not offering
myself as shark bait.”

Willie, however, had sighted a fisherman whose motorboat was tied up
nearby. “Let’s make a deal with him to take us out there,” he suggested.

“Captain Carter may not like it,” Jack reminded him. “He wouldn’t let us
go aboard once before.”

“We can try,” Willie insisted. “Come on! Anything’s better than just
standing around.”

The others followed willingly enough. By means of Jack’s Spanish and a
dollar from Ken, they were able to persuade the fisherman to take them
out to the _Shark_.

As the craft came alongside, Jack loudly hailed the vessel. At first
there was no answer. Finally, a lone sailor thrust his head over the
railing to peer suspiciously down at the visitors.

In Spanish he demanded to know what they wanted.

Jack asked for Captain Carter, only to be told that he was not aboard.

“I can’t make out all he’s saying,” the Scout crew leader reported to
his chums. “I gather though, that he’s alone. The others must have been
given shore leave.”

“Let’s go aboard,” War urged.

Before the others could deter him, he seized a rope, and went up hand
over hand. Oblivious to a torrent of Spanish which poured from the lips
of the Shark’s watch, he then lowered a ladder for his friends.

Ken and Willie quickly climbed aboard. Jack hesitated. Before
reluctantly following, he instructed the boatman to wait.

“I feel like a pirate coming here while Captain Carter is gone,” he
admitted, leaping lightly down on the gently rolling deck. “He has it in
for us now. If he finds us here, he’ll have just cause for complaint.”

“We have a right to find out about our cargo,” Willie insisted. “Haven’t
we waited all day? I need some of my stuff.”

“We can’t take anything,” Jack pointed out. “Every box will have to pass
customs.”

“Inspection doesn’t amount to much in this port,” Willie scoffed. “Let’s
see if we can locate our boxes.”

“Even if we do, we’re not taking any of them from the _Shark_,” Jack
said firmly.

“Okay,” Willie agreed. “It won’t do any harm to look around though.”

Descending to the hole, the Scouts quickly found a compartment where a
pile of boxes had been stored. All were marked in the name of the Scout
organization.

“Say, this one is water-stained,” War observed, pointing to a box on the
top of the stack. “It’s the one that went overboard when Captain Carter
loaded for the trip.”

“Hope nothing was ruined,” War said anxiously. “Let’s have a look.”

“Better not,” Ken advised.

“It’s our stuff, isn’t it?” War demanded, taking out his Scout knife.

He began to pry off the top boards. Finally, one came loose. Willie
focused the beam of his flashlight on the opening.

“Say! What’s this?” he exclaimed. “We must have broken into the wrong
box.”

“This isn’t our stuff,” War confirmed. “But the box is marked with our
name! How do you figure it?”

His curiosity piqued, the boy went to work energetically prying loose
another board. As he ripped it loose, the others obtained their first
clear view of what was inside the box.

In amazement and silence, they beheld the contents. Then War burst out
indignantly: “Well, I’m a jumping horn toad! That two-timing,
double-crossing Captain Carter!”

The box contained several sawed off shot guns and ammunition.

“This can’t be our equipment!” Jack declared. “How’d it get into boxes
marked in the Scout name?”

“We didn’t bring in a single weapon,” Ken said soberly. “I know, because
I helped Hap check every box.”

“This looks bad—mighty bad,” Jack murmured.

“No wonder Captain Carter wouldn’t let me help pull this box out of the
water,” Willie asserted. “He was afraid we’d find out what it held.”

“Maybe these other boxes don’t contain what they’re supposed to,
either!” War said suspiciously. “I’ll bet Captain Carter has been using
us to promote some scheme of his own!”

“This may explain those unsavory rumors that have been floating around
Cuertos,” Jack added thoughtfully. “Captain Carter must be mixed up in
some dirty business, just as Father Francisco hinted.”

“And we’re tied up with him,” Ken declared. “No wonder Hap is having
such a tough time getting clearance for our expedition. If the
authorities find this ammunition in Scout boxes, we’ll be finished
here!”

Quickly, he pulled another box out where it could be opened. With War’s
help, he pried the top boards wide enough apart so he could run a hand
inside.

“More guns,” he announced grimly.

A third and a fourth box likewise were inspected. One contained
ammunition and the other, hand grenades. No longer could the Scouts have
the slightest doubt. Unquestionably, under cover of the Scout name,
Captain Carter was bringing illegal cargo into the country!

The discovery of guns and ammunition in the _Shark’s_ hold, thoroughly
alarmed the Explorers.

“No wonder we’re in bad here!” Willie burst forth. “It’s because of our
hook-up with the captain! I’ll bet he’s smuggling this stuff in to help
Revolutionists!”

“If officials find these boxes with the Scout name on ’em, we’ll be
pulled into this ugly business too!” added War.

“Another thing,” contributed Ken grimly. “Once Captain Carter discovers
we’ve opened this ammunition, he may not let us have our stuff. He’ll be
nasty.”

“I sure wish Hap were here,” Jack said uneasily. “I wish—”

He stiffened. A small boat had grated against the _Shark’s_ hull.

“Must be our boatman,” War muttered. “We told him to stay.”

The Scouts waited rather tensely, listening. A moment later they heard
heavy steps on the deck above them.

Motioning for the others to remain where they were, Jack moved
noiselessly to the companionway.

Cautiously, he peered out on deck. His worst fears were confirmed. It
was not their boatman who had come aboard, but Captain Carter!



                               Chapter 8
                               CONTRABAND


Jack slipped back into the hold to report to his companions.

“It’s the old boy himself,” he whispered. “We’re in a pickle!”

“What do we do now?” War asked. “Hide?”

“Captain Carter must know someone is aboard, if our boatman waited,”
Jack reasoned. “He’ll find us here quickly enough.”

“He’ll make hash of us!”

“Relax!” Jack advised. “Captain Carter seems to be alone. There are four
of us.”

“Anyway, he’s the one to do the explaining—not us,” Ken pointed out.
“Our gear is aboard the _Shark_, or it’s supposed to be. We’ve got a
right to be here.”

“He may be armed,” Jack warned. “We’ll have to be on the alert. Now
let’s go on deck before he comes down here.”

Quickly, they all went up the companionway. As they emerged into the
cool evening air, Captain Carter loomed in front of them.

“Well, blister my timbers!” he exclaimed wrathfully. “It didn’t take you
long to get out here after you thought I was away! What were you doing
in the hole?”

“Looking for our cargo,” Ken told him coldly.

“Didn’t I tell you to stay off this vessel?”

“You did,” Ken replied, “but I think we have a right to be here.
Especially as you spent the day at a tavern instead of getting our stuff
ashore.”

“You’ll get your cargo in good time.”

“We found some of the boxes in the hold,” Jack said. “They were marked
for our expedition. But they didn’t contain our equipment.”

“So you opened ’em?”

“We certainly did,” War cut in, enjoying the captain’s consternation.
“They contained guns and ammunition—that’s what!”

“Why, you blithering little sneaks!” the captain muttered.

“Maybe you can explain it,” Jack said quietly.

“I’ll explain nothing! Get off this vessel and stay clear! You hear me!
Get off!”

“We want our equipment. Mr. Livingston—”

“Mr. Livingston—” Captain Carter mocked. “Mr. Livingston! I’m so sick of
that name I could vomit! I’m sick of all you meddling, stupid little
boys. You call yourselves Rovers—Explorers! One night in the hills and
you’ll be whimpering for your mothers. One flurry of poisoned Indian
arrows and you’ll come flying back to Cuertos crying for your morning
milk!”

The seaman’s words infuriated the Scouts. War’s fists clenched tightly
and he began to stammer: “Why, you-y-you—”

Jack placed a restraining hand on the younger boy’s arm. It was evident
that Captain Carter deliberately had made the personal remarks, hoping
to distract them from asking further questions.

“Suppose you tell us why those boxes were marked in the name of the
Scout organization?” he persisted.

“Because Mr. Livingston ordered it.”

Jack eyed the captain steadily. “That’s not so,” he replied quietly.
“Ken and I helped check every box that went aboard the _Shark_. There
were no guns or ammunition.”

“Those particular boxes were picked up in the Canal Zone—at Mr.
Livingston’s orders.”

One and all the Explorers showed by their expressions that they did not
believe the captain.

“I’m getting your stuff off this vessel right now,” the seaman
announced. “Then I don’t want to hear any more squawks!”

Shoving Willie aside, he went down into the forecastle hold.

Soon, with the aid of the watch, all cargo stamped with the Scout name,
had been brought on deck. Jack counted twelve boxes which he was certain
had not been in the original shipment.

“What are you doing with our stuff?” he demanded.

Captain Carter did not answer. Ignoring the Scouts, he started to
supervise the loading of a small motor tender.

“Shake it up!” he ordered his helper. “We got to move this stuff fast.
First, those boxes of grenades.”

The Scouts witnessed the loading with increasing misgiving. They were
firmly convinced that Mr. Livingston never had ordered guns or grenades
for the expedition. But without him there to confirm it, they hesitated
to tangle with Captain Carter.

“How will this stuff go through customs?” Ken muttered, watching as
another box was lowered to the tender. “It doesn’t make sense to me!”

“Nor to me,” Jack agreed. “I’m sure Hap had no hand in this business.
You notice the captain isn’t moving the regular Scout boxes—only the
guns and ammunition.”

“He’s in a mighty big hurry too! Say, maybe he’s scared of custom
officials, and is trying to get rid of the stuff while it’s dark!”

“We could stop him.”

“Maybe,” Ken conceded. “He’s armed though, and someone would be likely
to get hurt.”

“I’m going for Mr. Livingston,” Jack announced with sudden decision.

“How?” Ken drawled. “You aim to swim?”

“Our boatman—”

“Gone. Either he went off while we were below, or more likely, Captain
Carter dismissed him.”

“We’re stranded here then!”

“We are, unless we can ride in on the tender. So maybe we should wait a
bit and pretend to play along.”

The Scouts clustered together, silently watching. Approximately half of
the boxes containing weapons had been lowered onto the tender, when
Willie heard the splash of oars.

“What was that?” he demanded in an undertone. “Our boatman coming back
maybe?”

Peering out across the rail into the darkness, the Scouts at first could
see no one. Then, they made out a small rowboat coming directly toward
the Shark.

“Ahoy!” called a cheery voice. “Anyone aboard?”

“That sounds like Hap’s voice!” War cried excitedly.

Captain Carter also had heard the approaching boat. Speaking rapidly in
Spanish, he ordered the sailor in the tender to shove off.

The Scouts shouted to Mr. Livingston, urging him to hurry. Eagerly, they
helped him aboard.

“I’m relieved to find you fellows here,” the Scout leader asserted.
“What a day I’ve had with government officials! Our troubles aren’t over
either, I’m afraid.”

“You don’t know the half of it,” Ken said, looking directly at Captain
Carter.

He waited for the master of the _Shark_ to take the initiative in
mentioning the boxes of ammunition. The captain however, smiled
arrogantly, and remained silent.

Unaware of the tense situation, Mr. Livingston remarked casually:

“I’m mighty glad the _Shark_ finally made port. We should get our
expedition on its way within a few days, providing government officials
give us clearance. So far, they’ve refused.”

“Refused?” Willie demanded. “Why?”

“Well, it’s ridiculous. But a lot of nasty rumors seem to have
circulated about our party. We’re under suspicion of aiding a group of
would-be revolutionists, who have taken refuge in the back country. I
think I finally managed to convince them of our good intentions. At any
rate, port inspectors are coming aboard in a few minutes to make sure
we’re not bringing in any contraband. Once our personal cargo passes
inspection, the way should be cleared for us to leave Cuertos.”

“Jumping hop toads!” exclaimed War in dismay. “You mean if those
government men should find guns or ammunition aboard, they’d hold up our
trip?”

“If they came upon anything of that sort, they’d probably toss us in
jail,” Mr. Livingston chuckled.

The Scouts could not share their leader’s amusement. Even Captain Carter
had been jarred by Mr. Livingston’s casual announcement.

“The port authorities are coming here?” he demanded harshly. “Tonight?”

“Why, yes, that’s my understanding. I told them we’d welcome a thorough
check.”

“You babbling idiot! You’ve done it now!”

“Done what?” Mr. Livingston coldly inquired.

“Ruined all my plans. The authorities haven’t inspected my vessel in
four voyages! Now you bring ’em down on me!”

Amazed by the seaman’s blast of anger, Mr. Livingston demanded: “Any
reason why inspectors shouldn’t check the cargo?”

“Any reason?” Carter mocked savagely. “If I’m caught, so are you!”

“Kindly explain.”

“Take a fast look at some of those boxes and you’ll have your answer,”
Jack grimly informed the Scout leader, indicating the cargo which
remained on deck.

“What’s wrong, Jack?”

“Plenty. These boxes are marked for our expedition. They’re loaded with
hand grenades, sawed-off shotguns and the like. Captain Carter has moved
one load to shore already.”

“Guns!” Mr. Livingston turned coldly toward the seaman. “So it’s true,
Captain Carter—you’re aiding Revolutionists!”

“No, it’s not!” the captain denied.

“Then explain these boxes.”

“I have use for those grenades. You’ll hear about it in good time. Now
if you’ll climb down the mast, I might cut you in on a good deal.”

“We want no deal with you, Captain Carter.”

“Figure you’re above me, eh? You and your high ideals!”

“We believe in honesty.”

“Yeah!” the captain sneered. “Well, let me tell you this—you got a lot
to learn!”

“We’ll be no shield for a revolutionist.”

“You got me all wrong, I tell you!” Captain Carter shouted. “I’m not
denying I used your boxes to haul in a little ammunition. I need it for
a special purpose. What’s the harm? Your stuff is all here. I’ll set it
ashore and no questions asked.”

“You can’t get by with it, Captain Carter.”

“I can if you’ll keep your mouth shut. You and your nice little boys!”

“The answer is no.”

“Oh, so you aim to turn me in, eh?” the captain sneered. “Don’t forget,
Scoutmaster, you’re tarred with the same stick!”

“We’ll have no part in this ugly mess. From the start, your name and
reputation have been a drag to the expedition.”

“The guns are in your name,” Captain Carter reminded him. “If they’re
found aboard the _Shark_, your expedition is finished. You’ll never set
foot inland—not one step. You’ll find yourself under suspicion, bound
head and foot with government red tape!”

Ken had been peering intently over the railing. Not only had his keen
ears picked up the sound of a fast-approaching motor launch, but he
could see its outline some distance to starboard.

Jack too, heard the sound, and joined Ken at the railing.

“That boat’s heading straight for the _Shark_,” he observed uneasily.

“A government launch too,” added Ken. “It looks very much as if the red
tape is on its way!”



                               Chapter 9
                       CAPTAIN CARTER’S DECEPTION


Captain Carter moved swiftly to the rail to ascertain that Ken spoke the
truth.

“It’s the customs boat all right!” he exclaimed. “They’ll search the
_Shark_ from stem to stern. If any of these boxes are found, I’m a dead
duck!”

“You admit you’ve been helping the Revolutionists?” Mr. Livingston
demanded.

“I admit nothing! What’s more, if you have any thought of trying to find
Burton Monahan, you’ll keep clear of this. Help me get these boxes
overboard!”

“Overboard?”

“You don’t want the government men to find ’em, do you?” Captain Carter
snarled. “They’re your boxes, remember! Come on, there’s not a second to
lose.”

“You’ll get no help from me.”

“Then you’re cooking your own goose! Either you lay hold and help heave
the guns overboard, or I’ll deny all knowledge of the cargo.”

“That lie wouldn’t get you far.”

“You think not? I’m afraid, my dear Livingston, that you don’t know
Peruvian officials as I do. They’ll believe me all right.”

Seizing a fire ax, the captain smashed open a box bearing the Scout
name. Hauling out dynamite and other explosives, he dropped them
overboard.

By this time, the government boat was drawing close to the schooner.

Abandoning the axe, Captain Carter dragged the filled boxes to the port
railing. One by one he shoved them overboard. The heavily laden
containers fell with loud splashes, sinking slowly out of sight into the
dark water.

Silently, Mr. Livingston and the four Explorers witnessed the disposal
of the contraband cargo. Once, as the Scout leader tried to halt the
dumping, Captain Carter drew his revolver.

“Keep back!” he warned. “Move out of my way!”

He dropped the last telltale box into the water, letting it fall
carefully to avoid a heavy splash.

The government boat emerged from the dark a moment later, pulling
alongside the _Shark_.

“_Shark_, ahoy!”

“Ahoy, there!” Captain Carter returned the shout.

“We’re coming aboard for inspection!”

“Come ahead,” the captain jovially invited.

The government boat made fast and three men came smartly aboard.
Suspiciously, they looked about the deck.

“We heard a splash as we came up,” their spokesman commented.

“Some refuse we were getting rid of,” the captain replied easily.
“You’ll find everything in order here.”

“We’ll have a look below.”

“Go right ahead, gentlemen,” invited the captain with elaborate
courtesy.

At this point, Mr. Livingston quietly informed the officials that the
seaman had dumped ammunition only a few moments before the government
boat had arrived.

“That’s a blasted lie!” Captain Carter exclaimed wrathfully. “Gentlemen,
this pest has it in for me, because I’ve refused to help him start on a
wild hunt for Burton Monahan! He swore he’d get even, and this is the
way he’s trying to do it!”

The Scouts gathered beside their leader, staunchly supporting his story.

“This is a frame up, gentlemen,” Captain Carter said smoothly to the
officials. “You know me—I wouldn’t try to pull the wool over your eyes.
Search the vessel and see if you can find any contraband!”

“We know you very well, Captain Carter,” was the grim response.

While Mr. Livingston and the Scouts waited, the customs men made a
thorough check of the vessel. Coming upon equipment marked for the Scout
expedition, they dragged the boxes out into the open.

As the first one was smashed apart, the Explorers squirmed uneasily,
wondering what might be brought to light. They need have had no
misgiving. The box contained only tents and sleeping bags.

Another box held heavy clothing for high altitudes. A third was filled
with dehydrated foods and tinned goods.

“You see!” Captain Carter said triumphantly. “Everything in order, just
as I said. These Boy Scouts are a bunch of trouble makers. They got it
in for me!”

“That’s not so!” War cried hotly. “You dumped six boxes and you can’t
deny it!”

“It’s not so. Even if it was, you got no proof. You can’t tie up my boat
on the say-so of these irresponsible kids and their Scoutmaster!”

The government officials conferred privately. At the end of their
conference, they politely informed the captain that no charge would be
placed against him. They also told Mr. Livingston that he might move the
Scout cargo ashore. The government boat then pulled away.

No word was spoken until the craft was well beyond the point at which
voices would carry.

Captain Carter then slapped his thigh and laughed boisterously.

“Well, Scoutmaster, how’d I do? Anyone who gets ahead of Captain Carter
has to get up mighty early in the morning.”

“You may hear from those government men again,” Mr. Livingston warned.

“Oh, sure! They’ve been watching me for a year, but they know they got
to have proof! They’ll keep an eye on me, but they ain’t makin’ any
false moves.”

“You managed to get a tender load of grenades and other stuff ashore,”
Jack said coldly. “What do you aim to do with that contraband? Sell it
to the Revolutionists hiding out in the hills?”

“You’re crazy!” Captain Carter’s eyes smoldered angrily. “I told you I’m
not helping any Revolutionists.”

“Then what are you doing with the stuff?”

“You’d like to know, wouldn’t you?” the captain sneered. “Well, let me
tell you this, young man. I was the one person who could have helped you
find Burton Monahan. But would you play along? You would not! So now
you’re on your own, and bad luck to you!”

“What do you mean, you’re the one person who could have helped us find
Mr. Monahan?” the Scout leader asked quickly. “You have information
you’ve withheld?”

“No such thing,” the captain denied. “I was the last white man to see
him alive, and I know the country. But you and me can never get along.”

“A true observation,” Mr. Livingston returned. “We want no association
with a man who would aid revolutionists.”

“High and mighty, ain’t you?” Captain Carter sneered. “Without me, you
got no chance of ever finding Burton Monahan.”

“You know what became of him?”

“Maybe I got an idea,” the seaman returned, his eyes glinting. “Maybe if
you’d play along my way—forget all your grand and glorious ideals, we
could work together.”

“Just what do you propose? That we help you get your contraband cargo to
a Revolutionist leader?”

“Oh, stow that talk, will you? You jar my compass! Can’t you get it
through your thick skull that I’m not tied up with any revolutionists?
Maybe in the old days, I picked up a dollar here and there bringing in
stuff for Carlos Vandetti, but that’s behind me.”

“Then why were you bringing in grenades and ammunition?”

“I got a good use for ’em. One tender load made shore before you brought
those sneakin’ officials down on my back. It ain’t enough for my
purpose, but I’ll make it do.”

“You’re not making yourself clear, Captain,” Mr. Livingston said coldly.
“Why not come to the point?”

“It’s like this,” the seaman replied. “I got a reason for wanting to go
along on this expedition into the mountains.”

“We figured so.”

“All this loose talk about me helping the Revolutionists has made
government officials suspicious. They watch me like a hawk. If I team up
with your expedition, no questions will be asked.”

“Only a few minutes ago, you were trying to wreck the expedition by
accusing us!”

“I was in a hank. A trigger temper’s one of my weaknesses. Now, if we
can make a deal—”

“You’re proposing to trade on the Scout name. You want to move your hand
grenades and what ammunition you have left under our banner?”

“I wouldn’t put it like that. I’ll go along with the expedition and give
you the benefit of my experience. As I said, I got mighty good use for
those grenades. If you help me, maybe I’ll help you.”

“You’ve betrayed Mr. Monahan by pretending you were sincere in trying to
find his brother!”

“Who says I double-crossed him? Maybe, if you play along, I’ll lead you
to Burton.”

“You do know what became of Burton Monahan,” Mr. Livingston accused.
“I’ve suspected it for a long while.”

“Hold on, I didn’t say that!”

“Nevertheless, I think it may be so. Because Mr. Monahan wanted me to
co-operate with you, I’ve tried in every way to obey his wishes. But
this is the end, Captain. Even if you were able to guide us to Burton
Monahan, I know you would do it only for your own profit!”

“Then it’s no deal?”

“No deal,” Mr. Livingston repeated firmly. “From this hour on, the
Scouts go it alone. We’re severing all connection with you.”

Captain Carter’s amused smile implied that the decision was of no great
moment.

“Okay, if that’s the way you want it,” he replied with a shrug. “Your
cargo will be set ashore tomorrow morning. Now get off the _Shark_ and
keep out of my sight! Because I’m warning you that next time we meet,
I’ll do you no favors!”



                               Chapter 10
                             FURY OF A MOB


True to his word, Captain Carter set all the Scout equipment ashore
before dawn the next morning. The various boxes were delivered to the
hotel, and a careful inspection satisfied Mr. Livingston and the
Explorers that nothing was missing.

Of the captain, no more was seen. Following the unfortunate affair
aboard the _Shark_, the officer carefully avoided the party.

“But don’t think we’ve heard the last of him,” Mr. Livingston predicted.
“He’ll pop up when we least expect him and make trouble! I’ll be glad
when we’re well away from this village.”

Intent upon making a start on the trip inland, the Scout leader absented
himself from the hotel most of the morning. He conferred for several
hours with Father Francisco, obtaining maps and a great deal of useful
information.

As for the Explorers, they whiled away their time at the village and the
waterfront. Always, the _Shark_ drew their eyes like a magnet. The
vessel remained at anchor, rolling in the swells, but there was no
evidence of activity aboard.

“Wonder what Captain Carter will do now that we’ve turned down a deal
with him?” Willie speculated.

No one answered. In fact, the attention of the others had been diverted
to the narrow strip of beach. The tide was very nearly at its high
point, coming in strong.

Jack halted abruptly, staring at a pile of debris which had been washed
up some distance away.

“Wow! Are we in a jam!” he exclaimed in dismay. “See what’s lying on the
beach!”

“Where?” demanded Warwick, squinting into the bright sunlight.

Jack pointed up shore to a pile of rocks, against which giant
greenish-blue waves were smashing.

“I still don’t see anything.”

“Then you sure need glasses! If that isn’t a box, I’m losing my own
eyesight!”

“Jack’s right!” Ken exclaimed. “It is a box, and what’s worse, it looks
like one of ours. Or rather, one of Carter’s that was stamped with the
Scout name.”

“Golly, gee!” War cried. “How could it be? All of those boxes with
ammunition and guns were sunk to the bottom of the bay!”

“The bay is shallow at this point,” Jack reminded him. “And the tide is
coming in strong.”

“Ye fishes!” Willie muttered in consternation. “Suppose that is one of
the boxes with the Scout name on it! Then what?”

“Captain Carter will get his!” War chortled. “Those custom officials
will have proof that he was lying when he denied dumping the stuff last
night!”

“They’ll also see our name printed on the boxes,” Jack reminded the
group. “We’re almost certain to be involved.”

“And that would mean we can’t get out of Cuertos tomorrow,” added Ken.
“As things stand now, Mr. Livingston practically has everything
arranged.”

“We’d better find out if that is one of our boxes,” Jack declared,
starting off across the beach. “Come on!”

Walking fast and dodging waves which washed high on the pebbles, they
reached the rock pile. A water-soaked, battered box lay partially buried
in wet sand.

“It’s one that Captain Carter dumped last night!” Jack asserted, turning
it over. “What wretched luck that it had to wash up here!”

“And another is coming in!” War exclaimed, sighting a container which
was rolling and twisting in the heavy sea.

The wave broke on the sand, leaving its telltale debris behind. War
waded through ankle-deep water to drag the second box high on the beach.

“What’ll we do with ’em?” he asked.

“If these boxes are found here, custom officials are certain to hear
about it,” Ken declared in a worried voice. “We don’t dare let the stuff
lie.”

Quickly he scanned the deserted beach. No one was in sight.

“We could hide ’em—” he suggested slowly.

“Hap might not approve,” Jack replied. “On the other hand, he told the
customs men the truth and they accepted his word. Now if we produce this
evidence to nail Captain Carter, there’s no telling what wild story
he’ll come up with to save his skin.”

“We know he’ll try to involve us deeply,” Ken asserted. “He warned us
he’ll make trouble if he can. I’m in favor of hiding the boxes. We can
tell Hap later, and if he wants us to dig them up, we’ll have to do it.”

“Okay, let’s get at it!” jack consented. “No time to lose.”

Quickly the four Rovers dragged the two boxes to a small dune which rose
in front of the dark cliff. Working fast, they dug deep holes and buried
the ammunition. Then they smoothed out their own footprints left on the
sand.

“Well, that’s done!” Willie said, wiping perspiration from his forehead.
“Think anyone saw us?”

“I dunno,” War returned, scanning the cliffs above the beach. “A native
woman has been standing there for a minute or two.”

“It’s that old gal with the parrot,” Ken recognized her. “She’s watching
us all right!”

“Think she saw us bury the boxes?” Jack asked uneasily.

“It’s hard to tell.”

“Even if she did, she wouldn’t know what was in ’em,” Willie said,
taking the cheerful view. “Let’s move off before she gets suspicious.”

Accepting his advice, the others sauntered casually along the shore.
However, as they walked, they kept an alert gaze upon the cliff, and
they also watched the sea for evidence of other boxes.

“That native woman is leaving,” Ken presently reported in an undertone.
“We won’t need to be so careful now.”

Selecting a spot not far from the dune where the contraband cargo had
been buried, the four Rovers sat down to watch the sea.

By this time, the tide definitely had turned. While Ken, Willie and War
rested, Jack made a quick tour of the beach. He returned shortly to
report that the other boxes apparently had not washed ashore.

“They may roll up tomorrow, or maybe never,” he declared.

“Captain Carter sure would get a big kick out of this,” Willie remarked.
“He’d consider it a huge joke on us. It certainly goes against my grain
to do him a favor.”

“We’re doing ourselves a bigger one,” Ken pointed out. “If we don’t get
out of Cuertos soon, I have a hunch our expedition will stall for good!”

“Maybe Father Francisco is right,” War remarked thoughtfully. “Maybe it
is foolish for us to try to find Burton Monahan. If he’s been gone so
many months, he must be dead.”

“Hey, listen!” Willie suddenly exclaimed.

The others became silent. A peculiar sound, distinguishable as the hum
of many angry voices, plainly could be heard.

“What’s up?” Jack muttered, scrambling to his feet.

At first the Explorers could see no one. Then they sighted at least
thirty villagers armed with clubs, coming down a steep cliff trail.

“A regular mob!” War observed nervously. “Heading this way too!”

“Toward us,” added Willie. “Say, they mean business!”

“There’s that parrot woman who was watching us,” Jack said, recognizing
her amid the angry throng. “She’s stirred up the natives against us!”

“But why?” Ken demanded. “Did she see us bury the boxes?”

“She may have,” Jack replied. “Anyway, she’s Carter’s friend. He may be
behind this!”

“We’ll have some tall explaining to do in a minute or so,” Ken said.
“How’s you’re Spanish, Jack?”

“Not equal to that gang! They’re out for blood!”

Even as he spoke, a stone was hurled from above. It clattered down over
the cliff, barely missing Willie’s head.

“Let’s get out of here fast!” he proposed.

A shower of stones now was falling on the beach. To remain was to invite
injury.

“Hey, I don’t want to run,” War protested, holding back. “We’ve done
nothing wrong. We can explain—”

“Listen, brother!” Jack said, grasping him by the arm. “You can’t
explain anything to a crazy mob.”

“Especially when you can’t speak the language decently,” Ken added
urgently.

The villagers now were very close, led by the chattering parrot woman.
Shaking their sticks, the natives shouted ugly threats.

“Come on!” urged Jack, leading the flight. “We’ve got to move out of
here fast! Unless we do, our escape will be cut off!”



                               Chapter 11
                          INTO THE WILDERNESS


The route to the hotel already had been blocked by the approaching
villagers. Moving hurriedly down the beach, the Explorers climbed a
steep path which wound up a high hill to the rear of the mission.

If the Scouts had hoped so easily to elude their pursuers, they learned
otherwise. The villagers kept coming on, shouting angry threats, only
the general import of which the boys understood.

“They’re plenty mad, and I don’t think it’s about those buried boxes
either,” Jack said, looking back. “Something has stirred ’em up. If they
try to lay hands on us, it could end in a bloody free-for-all.”

“Let’s make a stand and face ’em,” pleaded War, halting.

Ken pulled him along. “We’d come off badly against so many,” he advised.
“Besides, if we get into a fight, we’ll be finished in this village. The
Scouts would get a bad name.”

“That’s right,” Jack supported him. “But we’ll have to think of
something quick! We can’t make it back to our hotel this way. Some of
that wild bunch are coming up the street now to head us off!”

By this time, the group had reached the mission on the hilltop. Ken
studied the high rear wall. “Father Francisco is about to have four
uninvited guests!” he announced with a grin. “Over we go!”

Quickly, he boosted Willie to the top of the sturdy stone barrier. The
latter then helped Jack and War, who in turn, pulled Ken to the safety
of the ledge.

Just as a group of villagers came pounding up the path, they leaped
lightly down into the enclosed garden.

At a table beside an under-nourished, stunted tree sat Father Francisco.
The missionary calmly was sipping a cup of tea. He seemed more amused
than annoyed by the unexpected intrusion.

“Excuse us, Father,” Jack apologized, brushing dust from his uniform.
“We were a little pressed for time or we would have used the door.”

“A mob is after us!” War burst out. “We don’t know why, but the whole
village is ready to tear us apart. Hear ’em yell? Any minute, they’ll
try to break in here!”

“I think not,” smiled the missionary. “You are quite safe within these
walls.”

Summoning his servant, he ordered the woman to bar the mission door.
“And bring four cups and a fresh pot of tea,” he added.

The Explorers sat down and tried to relax. As casual as if he were
utterly unaware of the shouting crowd on the other side of the wall,
Father Francisco told the boys that Mr. Livingston had left the mission
only a half hour earlier.

“I tried to dissuade him from starting in search of Burton Monahan and
the lost city,” he informed the group. “His mind is made up. So I have
agreed to give him what assistance I can. All arrangements have been
made for you to leave on the morrow.”

“Tomorrow?” Willie repeated. “Say, that’s great!”

“We’ve worn out our welcome in this village, that’s sure,” Jack added
ruefully. “I wonder what stirred everyone against us?”

“Drink your tea,” the missionary urged, “and I will seek the answer.”

Moving painfully with the aid of a cane, Father Francisco went through
the patio and thence to the front entranceway where the mob had
gathered. When he rejoined the Scouts fifteen minutes later, his face
was grave.

“This is more serious than I thought,” he reported. “Lolita has turned
the villagers against you.”

“We suspected she was at the bottom of it,” Ken nodded. “What’s it all
about?”

“Lolita has convinced the villagers that your expedition is for the sole
purpose of obtaining sacred Inca treasure from the ancient temples.”

“But that isn’t so,” Jack denied instantly. “Can’t we explain to them?”

“I tried, and I believe my words carried some weight. Nevertheless, my
advice is to leave Cuertos as soon as you can. Tonight if possible. Or
at the very latest, early tomorrow morning.”

“We don’t know much about Mr. Livingston’s plans,” Jack replied, rather
worried. “We’ve scarcely seen him all day.”

“He is arranging for you to leave here by car,” the missionary
disclosed. “At Cuya you will pick up a reliable guide, who will assist
in hiring natives to accompany you. That part will be easy. Later steps
of the journey will become increasingly hard.”

“We’re not expecting an easy time,” Jack replied quietly.

“Wherever you are, my prayers will go with you. I must admit that I am
greatly relieved that Captain Carter is not to be a member of your
party.”

Before anyone could reply, the servant woman came hurriedly to the
garden. She addressed Father Francisco rapidly in Spanish.

“This is most annoying,” the missionary said to the Scouts. “The throng
becomes unruly again. Lolita has stirred them up once more. The
villagers demand that I turn you over to them.”

“We didn’t mean to cause you trouble by coming here,” Ken apologized.
“If only we could make them understand—”

“That, at the moment, is doubtful. But do not be disturbed. We will
retire to the library, and presently they will go away.”

“They’re making a worse clatter every minute,” Jack remarked with a
shake of his head. “They may try to break down the door.”

Unmindful of the noise from outside, Father Francisco guided his
visitors to the library. There, he produced a half dozen sheets of
beautifully written manuscript.

“This is the translation I promised to make for you,” he said, placing
the script in Jack’s hand. “Some of the passages are missing because my
memory grows faulty with advancing years. I must confess too, that all
portions of the manuscript are not strictly accurate. You may have this
copy, and I sincerely hope it will be of use to you.”

“You never recovered the original parchment?” Jack inquired after he had
thanked the missionary for the laborious work.

Father Francisco shook his head. “Lolita may have stolen it,” he
remarked. “On a number of occasions I have scolded her for her
behavior.”

Jack skimmed through the closely written pages.

“Say, this is rich stuff!” he asserted. “Listen, fellows! ‘Around the
camp fire which we lit that night, we held council and decided that next
morning all of us would set off cautiously down the trail to the city of
the dead....’”

“There is a break at that point,” Father Francisco apologized. “My
memory failed me completely.”

Jack read on:

“‘We came into the open from the trail, approached towering walls and
passed under a gigantic entrance of three lofty arches. These were built
of colossal stones, the center arch dominating the others.’”

“That’s an account of the Portuguese explorers’ first view of the
ancient city?” War asked in awe.

The missionary nodded. “The original offers a most graphic description
of ‘an ethereal region that served as a throne for the wind and stars.’
My translation is not the best, and my recollection of it, even poorer.
It should, nevertheless, serve your purpose.”

“Is the city’s location given?” Ken asked hopefully.

“Yes, but the directions are too general to be of much help. Briefly
told, the manuscript relates how the explorers, after many hardships
came to the mountains, whose sides seemed aflame. This they took to be
an omen of good fortune.

“Finding the mountains almost impossible to scale, the explorers made
camp. Next day, in a search for fire wood, an opening was found between
the cliffs. Upon investigating the cleft, they discovered they could
climb to the summit.

“When finally they emerged, they beheld the hidden city stretched before
them. Now, the tale might have been discredited, save for one thing.”

“What was that?” War prompted.

“Bear in mind that the manuscript was written in the sixteenth century.
The description given by the explorers of the ancient Inca city might
fit any number of ruins which since have been discovered. Yet at the
time the manuscript was written, they were utterly unknown. Uneducated
adventurers scarcely could have invented such vivid detail as the
manuscript contained.”

“So Burton Monahan and other explorers who went before him believe that
the city actually existed?” Ken remarked. “That it was never discovered
after the Portuguese left it?”

“True. Remember that the way is difficult and that cargo animals cannot
be taken far on the trail. The climate ranges from cold to extreme heat,
so that a considerable amount of equipment must be carried. Few are
willing to undertake such a venture.”

“What happened after the Portuguese reached the hidden city?” inquired
War, eager to hear more of the story.

“Here’s a hint,” declared Jack, reading at random from the manuscript.

“‘The grandeur of these mighty remains awed every man’s tongue into
silence. We tiptoed in the shadow of the ruins. The stones were black
with age. No one spoke above a whisper and orders were given in a low
voice. High above the crown of the middle arch, strange and unknown
characters were engraved.’”

The reading at this point was interrupted by loud shouting and pounding
on the outer mission door.

“They’re going to break in here!” Willie asserted, getting to his feet.

“Do not be disturbed,” said Father Francisco. “There is a secret way
out. I will show you.”

He beckoned for the Scouts to follow him. Crossing the library, he
pressed a hidden spring. To the amazement of the Scouts, one of the wide
bookshelves swung inward.

Behind it was revealed a low, arched-over tunnel.

“This escape was very useful in the early days of the mission,” Father
Francisco observed cheerfully. “Today it has little practical value,
save on a rare occasion such as this.”

“Where does it lead?” War asked, peering into the tunnel’s dark
interior. He could not see its end.

“It twists through the hillside to emerge in a small cave overlooking
the sea. Once there, you will be near your hotel. I suggest that you go
directly there and remain until your departure from Cuertos.”

“We will,” Ken promised gratefully.

“Wait,” Father Francisco bade the Scouts as they would have started into
the tunnel. “You will need a light to guide you. A candle—”

“No need,” Jack said. “I have my pocket flashlight. Thanks for
everything.”

Switching on the light, he started ahead of the others into the low,
narrow passageway. A half dozen wide, well-worn stone steps led downward
to a lower level.

Moving fast, the Scouts followed an uneven dirt floor in a crazy pattern
of turns and zigzags. Soon they had lost all sense of direction.

“Shouldn’t this thing be coming to an end?” Willie presently demanded.
“We’ve gone a mile.”

“Not even half that far,” Jack corrected, pausing to look back.

“Anyone behind us?” Willie asked.

“Nope. Father Francisco will look after that detail for us. You know,
he’s a mighty good egg!”

“He pulled us out of a tight spot,” Ken agreed. “When we find the hidden
city, we can send him some Inca gold as a token of our gratitude!”

“Let’s get out of here,” Willie urged impatiently. “This place makes me
feel like a trapped rat.”

Jack went on again, closely followed by the other three Scouts. The
tunnel widened for a short distance, then became so narrow that they
scarcely had space to squeeze through.

“We’re coming to steps,” Jack advised those behind him. “I can see
daylight too.”

A few yards farther on, and the beam of his flashlight focused upon
large slabs of rock imbedded in the hillside. The Scouts climbed at a
sharp angle. Then, just as the missionary had promised, they found
themselves in a cave with ceiling so low that they could not stand
upright.

The exit to the cave was blocked by stones which at first seemed firmly
fixed. But after Willie and Ken had worked a while, they were able to
roll them aside and crawl out onto a narrow rock shelf overlooking the
sea.

“Come on out!” Willie called jubilantly to the others. “The view’s
great!”

“Any sign of the villagers?” Jack asked, switching off his flashlight.

“Nary a sign,” chuckled Willie. “I guess we outwitted ’em.”

Before crawling down from the ledge, the Explorers carefully replaced
the pile of stones at the exit to the cave.

The task accomplished, they cautiously descended the steep slope, took
their bearings, and returned to the hotel without encountering anyone.

There they learned that Mr. Livingston anxiously had awaited them for
nearly an hour.

“I’m glad you came,” he told the four. “How soon can you be ready to
leave here?”

“We can’t pull out too fast to suit us,” Jack replied for the group.
“Not after what just happened.”

He then related the unfortunate incident of the beach and mission, and
their close call with the unruly mob.

“That settles it,” Mr. Livingston said tersely. “Captain Carter is
behind this, I’m convinced! Once we shake him, I’ll breathe easier. Pack
your duds, fellows, and we’ll be off.”

“You mean we’re leaving right now?” Ken asked.

“Just as soon as we can get off. I’ve already arranged for two cars to
take us to Cuya where the road ends. All our equipment, medicines and
trading goods have been loaded. So throw your personal stuff together,
and we’ll be on our way.”

Thrilled that the long period of inactivity at last was to come to an
end, the Scouts soon had their gear ready. Within an hour, the hotel
bill had been settled and two wretched-looking touring cars were at the
door.

“Not too modern, boys,” Mr. Livingston said with a smile as the Scouts
piled in. “But the tires are sound. With luck, we’ll reach Cuya by late
tonight.”

Without incident, the two cars chugged through the crooked village
streets and out into open country. Mr. Livingston, Willie and War rode
in the lead automobile, while Ken and Jack ate dust in the vehicle
behind.

Speed was impossible. Sections of the highway had been paved, but the
many rough patches made driving hazardous.

After awhile, the pavement, such as it was, gave way to a road of hard
surface clay. Vegetation was scanty, scarcely more than a few tufts of
grass and an occasional twisted algarroba tree.

The two cars were about an hour out of Cuertos when Jack noticed that a
gray car was following some distance behind.

At first, he gave it only casual attention. However, when his own driver
slowed to a standstill before attempting to cross a narrow log bridge,
he was surprised to see the other automobile pull up some distance back.

“That’s funny,” he remarked aloud.

“What is?” Ken demanded. Half asleep, he pulled himself upright to look
back down the road.

“No matter how slow we travel, that car behind never tries to pass us.”

“The road’s narrow.”

“Even so, Ken, not many drivers would eat dust for fifty miles. He’s had
several chances to pass.”

Now that his attention had been drawn to the vehicle behind the two
Scout cars, Ken kept watch. Not until their own automobile had crossed
the log bridge, did the following car start up.

As the road presently widened, Jack directed the driver to slow down and
give the car behind every chance to pass. Instead of doing so, it too,
slackened speed.

“You were right, Jack!” Ken asserted, completely convinced. “We’re being
trailed!”



                               Chapter 12
                         A MYSTERIOUS FOLLOWER


Dusk came on, and still the mysterious automobile kept behind the two
Scout touring cars. At times the vehicle was lost to view, but when the
Explorers thought they had seen the last of it, they glimpsed it once
more far down the highway.

“Maybe Captain Carter is trailing us,” speculated Jack. “That driver
stays just far enough back so we can’t see who is in the car.”

“I can’t figure out why Carter’s so keen on going along on our
expedition,” Ken responded, slapping a mosquito which had made a
three-point landing on his arm. “Not because of any tender feeling for
Burton Monahan!”

“Maybe he’s learned the location of the old Inca city, Ken.”

“I’ve thought that for quite a while. Gold would lure him from his ship,
all right. If he tags along, we’re in for real trouble!”

“No use borrowing it ahead of time,” Jack shrugged, peering once more at
the darkening road behind them. “I can’t even see the car now. No
headlights either.”

Five minutes later, the lead automobile in which Mr. Livingston rode,
pulled up to change a tire. Taking advantage of the delay, the Scouts
opened up some of their rations and prepared a quick but tasty supper
along the highway. Nearly an hour elapsed before the two cars again were
ready to proceed.

During this time, no other automobile passed.

“Either we were wrong about that car trailing us, or the driver pulled
up somewhere,” Ken declared as he climbed into the back seat beside
Jack.

“Quit worrying about it,” the other advised with a laugh. “If Captain
Carter is following us, we’ll find out all too soon!”

By nine o’clock the Scout party had reached Cuya, nestled pleasantly in
a valley below a range of snow-capped peaks. On Mr. Livingston’s map,
the village had been marked as the first stop.

Here the Scouts were to pick up a guide with whom arrangements had been
made. The next stage of the journey would be undertaken by burro.

At the Peru Hotel, a dingy structure, the boys were shown to their
rooms. While the others rested, Mr. Livingston and Jack went downstairs
to talk to the hotel clerk and check on details for the next morning’s
departure.

“Where will I find a guide named Miquel?” the Scout leader inquired.

The clerk spread his hands in an apologetic gesture. “Senor, I deeply
regret, you not find him. Miquel leave Cuya three hours ago.”

“He left?” Mr. Livingston repeated in dismay. “But he had orders from
Father Francisco to meet us here! He was paid in advance to have
everything ready for our departure.”

“Miquel say he go to visit grandmother in another village.”

“When will he return?”

“Two weeks—two months. _Quien sabe?_”

“The rascal disappeared on purpose with our money!” Mr. Livingston
exclaimed. “Are other guides to be had?”

“_Si, Senor_, for a price. But they do not know the mountain country as
does Miquel. He is very good guide, but _muy perezoso_—very lazy.”

“There may be more to it than that,” Mr. Livingston replied. “He may be
afraid of the trip, or possibly he was bought off.”

The Scout leader obtained the names of other guides and, with Jack,
started making the rounds. After hours of dickering, they finally were
able to engage a stubby little man named Pedro, who for twice the amount
that Miquel had been paid agreed to accompany the party.

“We’ve made a poor start,” Mr. Livingston admitted as he and Jack
returned to the hotel after midnight. “I hope we can depend on Pedro,
but I have my doubts.”

On one point only, the Scout leader was encouraged. Conversation with
the hotel man confirmed that months before, Burton Monahan’s party had
passed through Cuya. Natives later had returned with reports of great
hardship encountered on the trail. Many had deserted after only a few
days travel. Miquel had kept on to the second base camp, there refusing
to go further.

Jack and Mr. Livingston were abroad most of the night, checking
equipment and arranging for burros.

By dawn however, all was in readiness for the departure into the
mountains. Fortified by a hearty breakfast, the Scouts set off
single-file on the start of a tortuous trail.

Pedro, his olive skin glistening in the bright sunlight, led the
expedition. Behind followed Ken and Mr. Livingston. War, Willie and Jack
brought up the rear, the latter astride a sturdy but temperamental burro
he had nicknamed “High Hat.”

On the first day, the route took them into a great valley, fed by
streams which during the wet season gushed down the ravines with great
force. Well-seasoned, the Scouts found the going no test of their
endurance.

The trail became increasingly difficult on the second day. Before the
Scouts had attained much altitude, Ken, who was leading, let out a yelp:
“Rock slide ahead!”

There was no way around the barrier. Rocks had to be laboriously lifted
and moved.

“This little jaunt may not be quite the breeze we pictured it,” Willie
puffed, looking ruefully at his blistered hands. “It’s worth while
though, if we learn what became of Burton Monahan.”

After hours of hard, tedious work, a path was cleared. Once more the
expedition started on. Jack, however, could not get High Hat to budge.
He coaxed the stubborn animal, prodded him with a stick and finally, in
desperation, whacked him hard. The animal still refused to move.

“High Hat have bad habit—very bad,” Pedro informed him cheerfully. “When
you make stop on trail, High Hat think time come to make camp.”

“Yeah! So I gathered!” Jack muttered in disgust. “How do I convince him
otherwise?”

“Have to unload him, _Senor_. No other way.”

“For crying out loud!” Jack exploded. “I spent a long while this morning
getting everything packed on his stupid back just the way I wanted it!”

“Spend much longer time here, unless _Senor_ unpack.”

Submitting to the inevitable, Jack removed the duffle bags, one by one.
High Hat then permitted himself to be led. Jack laboriously repacked
him, and the burro went on again without complaint.

“Keep going, you fellows ahead!” he advised good naturedly. “I don’t
want to have another brush-to with High Hat.”

Three times though, when the party was halted by minor rock slides, Jack
was compelled to go through the same tedious procedure of unpacking and
repacking the burro. His patience sorely tried, he was glad when Mr.
Livingston called an early halt for the day.

Camp was made by a stream, a rugged cliff wall serving as windbreak.
Nearby, the party saw considerable evidence of earlier Inca life. Mr.
Livingston pointed out the ruins of an ancient bath where clear water
still flowed. The Scouts themselves came upon niches in the wall where
idols once had been placed.

According to pre-arranged plan, Jack and Ken put up the tents, while Mr.
Livingston and Willie started a fire and prepared the evening meal. War
set off to search for additional firewood.

Twenty minutes later he hastened back, his arms laden. He was breathing
hard and laboring under great excitement.

“What’s the matter, War?” Jack teased, driving in the last tent stake.
“Did you see an Inca priest lurking behind a rock? Or maybe you’ve
already found the secret entrance to the hidden city!”

War dropped his firewood. “You needn’t be funny!” he retorted. “I saw
something else that gave me the jim-jams.”

“A llama?” Ken asked with a grin. “Maybe a caravan of ’em?”

“Aw, cut it out, fellows! I’m serious. I was standing at the edge of the
cliff, looking down, when I saw a flash of light.”

“The setting sun?” Jack chuckled. “Reflected on a rock?”

“It was a flash of sunlight all right. But I’m sure it was a signal.”

The grins had faded from the faces of the other two Scouts. By this
time, Mr. Livingston, and Willie also had joined the group.

“What’s that about a signal, War?” the Scout leader asked soberly.

“I’ve been trying to tell these two know-it-alls! It was as if someone
were flashing a mirror. The signals came like dots and dashes. Only I
don’t think it was in Morse code.”

“Sure you didn’t imagine it, War? We’ve had a pretty exhausting day—”

“I saw those signals, Mr. Livingston,” War insisted. “They came from the
trail below us. Come and I’ll show you.”

He led them along the trail to an open space through which they could
obtain a view of the valley and the deep gorges below.

“I was standing right here when a flash of light hit me squarely in the
face. It was as if someone had done it deliberately!”

Ken carefully adjusted his powerful field glass to study the terrain
below.

“See anything?” Mr. Livingston asked him.

For a moment, Ken did not answer. Then he nodded.

“Someone has made camp down there. I can see two or three men—one of
them doesn’t look like a native either. He looks a lot like—”

Breaking off, Ken offered the glass to Jack, who quickly raised it to
his eyes.

“You tell me who it is,” he directed.

“It’s Captain Carter!” Jack exclaimed, stunned by his observation. “We
all know what that means!”

“That bird must be trailing us deliberately!” burst out War. “He’s put
out because we wouldn’t include him in the expedition. Now he’s
following us just to be ornery!”



                               Chapter 13
                            A POISONED ARROW


It was bitterly cold when Jack, still drugged by sleep, forced himself
to roll out of his eiderdown sleeping bag.

The fire, kept up during the night, had dwindled to glowing embers.

He quickly fed the coals fresh wood, noticing that the pile of fuel was
low.

Once the fire was going well, he stretched his stiff legs by taking a
brisk hike down trail to where the burros had been left for the night.

Mabel, Jude, Babe and the others were there, looking fresh and willing.
But High Hat was nowhere to be seen.

The reason was readily apparent. During the night, the animal had
slipped her ropes and wandered off.

A second look convinced Jack that High Hat had not accomplished her
escape without help. Someone deliberately had stolen or set the animal
free.

“It must have been done for sheer meanness!” he told himself. “Who would
pull such a trick?”

His gaze swept the circle of humans near the fire. Pedro was sleeping
peaceful as a baby in his blankets and the other bearers were stretched
out around him. It was highly improbable that any of them had released
the animal, Jack decided.

Below the Scout camp, a thin column of smoke was rising lazily through
the early morning mists.

“Captain Carter or one of his men may have been sneaking around here
last night,” Jack thought. “I’d like to catch him at it!”

Loss of High Hat would be a serious matter, though not necessarily
fatal. But he didn’t look with enthusiasm upon the prospect of toting
High Hat’s load over the steep, narrow trails.

Jack estimated the distance to the camp below as not more than
three-quarters of a mile. He knew he could make it easily going down,
but the climb back would consume time and energy. Still, he might be
lucky enough to recover High Hat, and at the same time pick up important
information.

War, Willie, Ken and Mr. Livingston were sleeping snugly in their warm
bags. No need to awaken them, he decided. They’d need their energy later
for the day’s journey. Better to go quickly, and get back before
breakfast was ready.

His mind made up, Jack scribbled a note and swung off down the
mountainside. A mist hung over the valley, blocking his view of the
snow-capped peaks above.

Boulders and stones littered the path, such as it was, delaying him more
than he had expected. When finally he approached the camp below, there
was no one about. The fire had been put out and the campers had
departed.

Disgusted that his trip had been a waste of time, Jack nevertheless
looked carefully about. He noted evidence that four or five men had
slept there during the night. Footprints clearly showed the direction in
which the party had gone.

“This must have been Captain Carter’s camp,” Jack reflected.
“Furthermore, he’s taking our same route. Only he probably figures on
getting out ahead of us.”

Unable to find any trace of High Hat, the Scout retraced his way. It was
hard going, and when he finally reached camp, his heart was pounding
from too fast a climb.

The other Scouts had delayed breakfast because of his absence.

“Hey! What was the idea of wandering off?” Willie greeted him. “You gave
us a bad scare.”

“Didn’t you get my note?”

“Sure,” Willie answered, pouring hot chocolate. “But you’ve been gone a
long while. Look at the sun.”

“Did you find the burro?” Ken questioned.

Jack disgustedly admitted his failure.

“I guess I didn’t use my head,” he confessed ruefully. “I thought I
could find High Hat and at the same time learn if Captain Carter has
been following us.”

“We’ll have to worry along without the burro,” Mr. Livingston said. “I
know you went after the animal with the best of intentions, Jack, but it
was a risky thing to do.”

“I realize that now.”

“Henceforth, the rule must be that no one is to leave camp alone or
without permission.”

“I’ll remember,” Jack promised. “Since we’re not in hostile Indian
country yet, I didn’t think there would be any danger.”

“On these trails anything can happen. You might take a bad fall and have
no one to help you. Or you might have run into trouble with those
campers below. Also, we can’t tell how the natives will treat us, even
in this area.”

“We’ve scarcely seen a native since we left Cuya,” remarked War.

“Nevertheless, we’ll be coming to villages before long. Even though we
see no one, take my word that news of our expedition precedes us.”

“I’m sorry,” Jack said. “You may be sure it won’t happen again.”

The Scouts finished breakfast and quickly broke camp. All morning they
struggled over the trails, at times looking down into chasms that
brought their hearts into their throats.

On either side of sharp, razor-back ridges, the path descended into a
deep, terrifying abyss. Occasionally, the Scouts saw the bleaching bones
of dead animals, and vultures hovered overhead.

Shortly before dusk they came to a village where they had hoped to
recruit extra bearers to replace two who had deserted. None could be
hired.

However, they were made welcome at the home of a missionary doctor, who
told them that Burton Monahan’s party had passed that way many months
before, never to return. It was the doctor’s opinion that the explorer
had been killed by hostile Indians.

“Beyond this village you will have rough, unfrequented trail,” he
advised the Scout leader. “Your map will be useless to you. Better roll
it up and return.”

Mr. Livingston’s smile gave reply.

For two comparatively pleasant days, the Scouts rested and relaxed in
the doctor’s home. A blister on War’s foot healed, and good food and
plenty of sleep revived the spirits of everyone.

On the trail once more, the Explorers found the doctor’s prediction all
too true. Hours were required to travel even a short distance. The path
they pursued became no more than a narrow ledge high above a valley
floor. A single mis-step would mean certain death.

As for Captain Carter, the Scouts caught no glimpse of him, or of the
party of campers which had drawn Jack’s investigation.

One evening as they camped by a fast-flowing stream, Ken fancied he saw
a light flashing on a distant cliff. But by the time he had called Mr.
Livingston, it had disappeared.

“An Indian torch perhaps,” the Scout leader decided. “We’ve seen no
Indians in days, yet I have a feeling they are everywhere around us.”

An uneasiness pervaded the entire camp, which the Scouts tried to dispel
by being especially cheerful. But the hardships of the trail had left
their toll. Muscles ached, and the food, though plentiful, had become
monotonous.

Though Mr. Livingston had not said so, the Scouts sensed that even he
had begun to doubt they ever could find the fabled lost Inca city.

“If you ask me, that old Portuguese manuscript was a phony,” asserted
War one night as the Scouts lounged around the camp fire. “We’ve
followed directions precisely, but what have we found? Nothing!”

“I keep wondering what became of Captain Carter,” Jack said, ignoring
the remark. “I have a hunch he knows the location of that hidden city.”

“In that case,” Ken grinned, “it might be smart to trail the
captain—save us a lot of trouble.”

“It might at that, if we could catch up with him. Seems as if he or
someone else is out ahead of us, and heading for the same general
locality. Sooner or later—”

Jack broke off, startled by a sudden commotion. Those gathered at the
fire could hear native bearers chattering excitedly.

“Something’s wrong!” Mr. Livingston exclaimed, pulling himself painfully
to his feet.

He and the Scouts went quickly to investigate. The bearers had clustered
about Pedro, who was examining some object he held in his hand.

“What is it, Pedro?” Mr. Livingston questioned.

“Poison arrow.”

“Where did you get it, Pedro?”

“Found on trail near camp.”

“Apparently shot with an _atlatl_ or throwing stick,” Mr. Livingston
said. “The ancient Incas used them.”

Pedro nodded solemnly.

“Very bad omen,” he asserted. “Arrow poisoned.”

“But it wasn’t shot at any member of our party,” Mr. Livingston pointed
out. “Tell your boys that finding the arrow means nothing.”

The guide shook his head. “Arrow a warning,” he insisted. “My boys say
they go no farther. Party must turn back or harm befall!”



                               Chapter 14
                                DISASTER


Mr. Livingston carefully inspected the long dart. After showing it to
the four Rovers, he broke and threw it aside.

“You no heed the warning, _Senor_?” Pedro asked.

“No, Pedro. We have come too far to turn back now. I was told in Cuya
that the natives in this section of the country are not friendly, but
neither are they considered dangerously hostile.”

“Someone maybe stir them up, _Senor_,” Pedro declared with a troubled
shake of his head. “No good come to go on.”

“Captain Carter may have had something to do with this,” Willie
suggested. “If he could turn the Indians against us, he would.”

“Senor change his mind? Turn back?”

“No, Pedro,” Mr. Livingston refused again.

Breakfast over, the Scouts broke camp, pushing doggedly on. Their way
mounted by steps, each more severe and difficult. At noon, the party
lunched by a thundering cataract.

The trail by this time had played out. Mr. Livingston had long abandoned
the map as useless and trusted to his compass. He and Pedro hacked a
path ahead, finding the going harder by the hour.

That night the Scouts spent bitterly cold hours on the mountainside,
unprotected from the icy wind. All about were jagged peaks, hemming them
in.

Even the shadows seemed oppressive, and the Explorers shivered despite
their warm clothing. There was little conversation as they gathered
about the fire to eat the hot food Ken and Willie had prepared.

“The mountains give you a closed in feeling,” Jack presently remarked.
“A sort of consciousness that the Gods are watching. Or does it hit
anyone else that way?”

“I’ve had the same sensation all day,” Ken returned. “For that matter, I
have a hunch we have been watched.”

“By Indians?”

Ken shrugged as be stirred the fire. “Probably.”

“Hap doesn’t seem to think they’ll cause trouble.”

“I’m not so sure he believes that,” Ken answered soberly. “He’s kept his
revolver handy all day. But he knows we can’t turn tail without
abandoning the mission.”

“You know, I got a feeling we may be close to our goal,” Jack went on
after a long moment of silence. “These mountains are a lot like those
described in the manuscript.”

“All mountains are quite a bit alike, Jack.”

“Oh, sure, but these peaks are more formidable. Somewhere in this maze
we may stumble on a hidden plateau or valley. We may never find the
hidden city or Burton Monahan, but I think there’s a good chance we may
learn what became of him.”

“Maybe we’ll come across that ancient Inca city too,” Willie
contributed. “Captain Carter must think it exists, or he wouldn’t have
been so keen on an expedition. Wonder what became of him?”

“We haven’t seen his party in days—or any other white man,” War
remarked, nursing a large welt on his cheek. “I suspect—”

Suddenly he broke off, springing up from a crouched position by the
fire.

“What was that?” he demanded in a half whisper. “Something swished past
my ear just now!”

Alerted, the other Scouts moved out of the circle of firelight.

The object had sped past War to lodge in a tent pole some distance
beyond. Jack pulled an arrow from the wood.

“Another warning,” he muttered. “Only this time it’s more serious.”

“Indians must be all around this camp,” War said nervously. “If they
should decide to attack—”

Aware that something was amiss, Mr. Livingston, who had been looking
after the burros, came quickly. Jack showed him the arrow.

“It barely missed War,” he told the Scout leader.

“The miss was deliberate,” Mr. Livingston replied. “But that doesn’t
make the situation any less serious. We’re in a bad spot, unless we can
convince the natives that our intentions are friendly.”

Disturbed by War’s close call, the Scout leader ordered a search of the
area surrounding the camp. The bearers were reluctant to venture from
the protection of the group. They huddled together, chattering
excitedly. Pedro, Mr. Livingston and Jack made a cautious investigation
of the area themselves. Not a sign of anyone could they find, yet they
were certain that Indians were all about them.

“We’ll take no chances,” Mr. Livingston advised. “Stay in camp boys, and
keep your eyes open. We’ll post a double guard tonight.”

The shooting of the second arrow had filled everyone with uneasiness.
Was it possible, they speculated, that in preceding them, Burton Monahan
had fallen victim to just such a group of hostile Indians?

“I’ve heard about explorers being held captive for years,” War remarked
morosely. “Maybe—”

“Pipe down!” Ken advised him. “Keep away from the firelight too, unless
you want an arrow through your gizzard!”

Mr. Livingston advised the Scouts to try to catch some sleep.

“I’ll stay up and keep watch until midnight,” he promised. “After that,
Pedro can take over.”

“Let me,” Jack offered.

“No, you need your sleep, Jack. We’ll have a hard day tomorrow.”

No further disturbance marred the slumber of the Scouts that night.
However, when Jack pulled out of his bag at dawn, he knew instantly that
some new disaster had befallen.

During the night, all of the native bearers save Pedro, quietly had
deserted, taking with them five burros and nearly a third of the
remaining supplies.

Mr. Livingston called a brief council that morning after breakfast.

“You know the situation,” he said. “We may as well face the truth. We’re
entering hostile Indian country. Our bearers have deserted, leaving us
barely enough rations to get safely back to Cuya. Pedro advises that we
turn back.”

“He’s been advising that ever since we left there,” growled Ken. “Now
he’s worried about those arrows.”

“No use ducking it, Ken. We’re in a bad spot. We can’t ignore the
warnings.”

“We’ve not seen a single Indian,” Jack said thoughtfully. “Maybe Captain
Carter is lurking around somewhere, and is trying tricks to scare us
out.”

“That’s possible,” the Scout leader conceded, “but hardly probable.”

“What do you think we should do?” Willie asked. “Turn back as Pedro
suggests.”

“If I were alone, I’d be sorely tempted to go on. I confess I have a
feeling—call it a hunch, if you will—that we’re close to our goal.”

“I’ve had the same feeling!” Jack asserted.

“But we can’t depend on hunches,” Mr. Livingston continued soberly.
“Other explorers have been betrayed time and time again, by that same
yearning to keep on despite the odds.”

“You’re saying we must return to Cuya?” War prompted.

“I think it’s a decision we must make together. Frankly, I owe your
parents a duty. I’m responsible for your welfare, and I have no right to
take you headlong into danger.”

“We didn’t come on this trip with our eyes closed,” Ken reminded him.

“True, but you had no idea what you were up against. For that matter,
neither did I. I knew this trip would be rugged, but I didn’t think we’d
run into hostile Indians.”

“How long will our supplies last?” Jack inquired. “It seems to me that’s
the basis for our decision.”

“I’ve made a careful check,” Mr. Livingston replied. “We have enough to
get back to Cuya with probably a three or four day leeway.”

“If we’d cut our rations by half?” Jack suggested.

“Naturally that would give us more travel days. We could stand up under
shortened intake probably, but what about the Indians?”

“Are we in any worse situation than we were before?” Ken speculated.
“Our bearers wouldn’t have been much good in an attack.”

“No, they’d have deserted.”

“Personally, I’m in favor of going on for at least another day or two,”
Jack suddenly proposed, his mind made up. “I’m not saying the prospect
doesn’t scare me a little. But we’ve come a long way now, and I’d hate
to turn tail. How would it sound, telling the fellows back home, that we
quit because someone shot an arrow at us?”

“I feel the same way,” announced Ken quietly. “If we mind our own
business and make no hostile moves, those Indians should tumble to the
idea that we’re friendly.”

“We can leave some of our trade goods here at camp when we start on,”
contributed War. “A sort of peace offering.”

“Unfortunately, we haven’t very much left,” Mr. Livingston said
ruefully. “Our bearers helped themselves when they sneaked away last
night.”

The matter was debated for awhile longer. In the end, however, the Scout
leader agreed to proceed one day’s journey farther.

“I knew you fellows would take this attitude,” he declared. “I’m proud
of you. I just hope we’re making no mistake.”

Pedro accepted the decision in gloomy silence. He made it clear by his
attitude, however, that he felt Mr. Livingston was courting almost
certain trouble.

Breaking camp, the Scouts shouldered their packs and started doggedly
on. With only one burro remaining, practically all supplies and camp
equipment had to be carried on their backs.

The climb became so difficult that frequent halts had to be called for
rest. Mr. Livingston’s seemingly indefatigable strength began to fail.

“Don’t know what’s the matter with me,” he muttered when Jack remarked
upon his pallor. “I thought I had more stamina. This hard climbing seems
to be doing me in.”

“Want to camp?”

“No, Jack, with our rations so short, we’ll have to push on without
delay, or turn back. I’m thinking maybe I made the wrong decision this
morning.”

“We’ve had no more trouble from the Indians.”

“I know, Jack, but they may be everywhere around us. We’re in a
precarious position and must be very careful.”

As the day wore on, the party proceeded at a slower and slower pace. Mr.
Livingston had developed a sudden fever which came on after the midday
halt for lunch.

Though he insisted it was nothing serious, the Scouts were alarmed to
see that he shivered violently and alternately burned with heat.

Toward the end of the afternoon, Pedro, Jack and Ken decided to take the
burro and all heavy supplies and push on ahead of the others.

“We’ll make camp and have supper ready by the time the rest of you get
there,” Jack promised. “With Hap sick, you can’t go as fast as we can.
I’m worried about him.”

“If he isn’t better tomorrow, we’ll have to turn back and forget Burton
Monahan,” declared Willie morosely. “Bad luck is coming in large doses
now.”

Before pressing on, Ken and Jack persuaded the Scout leader to take
another measure of quinine.

“This may be just a passing attack,” he said, trying to reassure them.
“Tomorrow will tell. If I get down, leave me, and start back to Cuya.”

“Oh, sure,” Jack joked. “We’ll toss you to the Indians!”

Nevertheless, he and Ken were well aware that Mr. Livingston’s illness,
coupled with loss of their supplies, might add up to a very serious
situation.

“We’re about at the end of our trail,” Ken remarked after they had left
the slower party. “Hap may snap out of his sickness, but I have a
feeling he’ll be worse tomorrow instead of better.”

“Same here,” agreed Jack, studying the crude map the leader had given
him. “It begins to look as if we’re licked! But then, we never had too
good a chance from the start. Our clues were too vague.”

“Sometimes I think we made an error not to team up with Captain Carter.
He’s a reptile all right, but I’ll bet he could have led us to Burton
Monahan.”

“Then why didn’t he lay his cards honestly on the table?”

“Carter’s not the type,” Ken replied. “Besides, he has to be the whole
show. It hurt his ego to be hooked up with Scouts.”

Despite comparatively fast travel, the two Explorers and Pedro were
overtaken by dusk long before they had reached their destination.
Finally, while it remained light, they brought up at a deep ravine over
which hung a suspension bridge of withes.

The structure was not unlike other bridges on which the Scouts
previously had passed. It looked older though, as if no one had crossed
it in many years.

Four stout cables of braided withes were anchored on either side to a
pair of heavy stones. Across the cables, at right angles, twigs had been
laid to form a pathway. Above, two smaller cables provided handrails.

“According to directions from Hap, we’re supposed to camp across the
river,” Jack said, studying the map. “The distance here was a lot longer
than he figured. Maybe we ought to stop right now.”

“No decent place to make camp,” Ken pointed out. “It looks like wild
country on across the bridge too!”

Jack nodded, gazing in awe at the strangely jagged peaks ahead. In the
last gathering rays of sunset, the rocks gleamed as if inset with gold
and precious jewels.

“‘It was a country of strange and unearthly beauty,’” he quoted
thoughtfully, “‘but over it all there seemed to brood a spirit of
mystery, an omen of fear.’”

“Shut up—you!” growled Ken. “Isn’t this place eerie enough without you
adding to it? Don’t remind me of that parchment at a moment like
this—all that junk about strange Gods visiting wrath and terror on
intruders!”

“Somehow, a fellow feels as if he were an intruder here, Ken. And
doesn’t the locality fit the description Father Francisco gave us?”

“In a way, yes. But we’ve been saying that every time we come to a
particularly impressive gorge.”

“This one tops them all, Ken. Well, do we go on?”

“I guess so,” Ken decided reluctantly. “Let’s leave a note here for Hap
under a pile of stones. That bridge doesn’t look any too safe though, so
we’ll have to check it before trying to cross.”

The two Scouts scribbled a message, placing it conspicuously near the
bridge.

Pedro meanwhile, was repacking a duffle bag. The task finished, he led
the burro to the entrance of the bridge. There the animal balked.

“Hey, wait!” Jack called. “That bridge may not be safe!”

Pedro either did not hear or understand the command. He tugged at the
halter and succeeded in getting the timid burro started across the
weaving suspension bridge.

To the horror of the two watchers, the withes underfoot suddenly gave
way. The burrow crashed through.

Pedro clutched wildly for the supporting cables. His pack slipped from
his shoulders.

He could not save himself despite his frantic efforts. The entire end of
the bridge gave way, carrying him with it. Uttering an agonizing cry, he
dropped into the chasm below.



                               Chapter 15
                             INTO THE CHASM


Rushing to the edge of the drop-off, Jack and Ken saw that Pedro had
fallen into the stream below. The impact, they were certain, must have
broken his back.

But, to their great relief, they saw him begin to move. With feeble,
dog-like strokes, he swam toward the sheer walls of the chasm.

“Keep swimming!” Jack shouted encouragement. “We’ll get you out!”

Already Ken had uncoiled a long length of nylon rope which had served
the party well in several previous emergencies.

The weighted line fell with a splash into the water close to the
struggling Pedro. He managed to grasp it, and the Scouts pulled him to
the rocks below. There, he gained more substantial support, dragging
himself out on a shelf, where he lay exhausted.

“Jeepers! We’re in a pickle now,” Ken muttered, studying the terrain
below. “Without help, it’s going to be hard to get Pedro out of that
chasm.”

“And the burro is gone—with most of our stuff! We’re lucky though that
Pedro wasn’t killed.”

“He’s badly hurt, Jack. If we can’t pull him out, we’ve got to get down
there and give him first aid.”

“We can get down all right, but to get out is a different proposition.”

“Pedro should have tested that bridge before he started across,” Ken
said with a worried frown. “Wonder why it collapsed? Age probably.”

“It seemed to give way everywhere at once.”

Ken examined the withes, and the muscles of his lean, brown jaw
tightened.

“Jack, this bridge was deliberately weakened!”

“You’re sure?”

“See for yourself, Jack. The underpinning’s been cut with a sharp knife.
Quite recently too! Maybe today or within the last few hours!”

The discovery rather unnerved the two Scouts. With Pedro helpless on the
rocks below, and Mr. Livingston somewhere behind them, suffering from
fever, their situation seemed to be growing more precarious by the
moment.

“Hostile Indians probably,” Jack muttered. “Something like this is to be
expected after those warning arrows. They’re trying to prevent us from
going on. We’re at the fringe of the forbidden country.”

“If the Indians get it into their heads we’re here to despoil treasure
temples, I hate to think of the revenge they might wreak on us! We’re in
a spot, Jack.”

“I sure wish Hap would get here,” Jack declared, casting an uneasy
glance back toward the darkening crags. “No chance for a few hours.”

“Pedro’s safe enough on the ledge, but we’ve got to get down to him.
You’ll have to lower me on the rope.”

“Getting back won’t be so easy.”

“We’ll worry about that later. It’s no good trying to make camp on this
side of the stream. Too exposed. If an attack should come, we’d have no
protection whatsoever.”

“We’ve lost most of our supplies,” Jack said grimly. “This finishes us,
even if Pedro isn’t in a bad way.”

The fading sunlight, splashing on the great rocks, transformed them into
glowing fire. But the two Scouts had no thought for the splendor of the
scenery.

Working feverishly against darkness, Jack managed to lower Ken to the
rock shelf above the stream. He provided first aid, and made a crude
splint for Pedro’s leg which had a cracked bone.

Then Ken called excitedly that he could see a balsa raft made of logs,
hidden in a clump of bushes close by.

“If I can get Pedro onto the balsa, we can ferry downstream where we can
make camp,” he called up to Jack. “It’s our best bet.”

“Okay,” Jack agreed after considering the proposal. “I’ll lower the
duffle bags, and then try to get down there without breaking my neck.”

He left another note for Mr. Livingston, after making certain that the
following party was nowhere in view of the mountainside. Anchoring the
rope to a stone support of the wrecked bridge, he slid down onto the
narrow shelf.

Pedro lay moaning with pain, unable to take a step by himself.

Leaving him for a few moments, Ken and Jack investigated the balsa,
which proved to be in sea-worthy condition.

Ken took the stern paddle and Jack the bow. Steering in close to the
rock shelf, they managed to lower Pedro onto the raft. What few supplies
that remained, were piled in the center of the craft.

“This river evil,” whispered Pedro, stirring beneath the blanket Jack
spread over him. “Dangerous to cross.”

Only too well, Jack and Ken were aware of the risks involved. The
surface of the fast-moving stream was broken by a series of rapids, a
warning that a waterfall might await them beyond the first bend.

“We may as well shove off,” Ken urged.

The balsa slid easily through the foaming water, close to shore. Rocks
were everywhere and the current was deceptively swift.

Jack dipped his paddle cautiously, studying the opposite shore. Where
could they land? He knew the stream was treacherous, and that once the
awkward raft was out into the main draw, they might not be able to stay
its progress down river.

“Think we can make it?” he asked doubtfully.

“We’ve got to, or we’re licked,” Ken answered.

“We could just wait here for Hap.”

“He’s expecting us to have a camp ready, Jack. Besides, I don’t like to
wait here. I’ve got one of those feelings.”

A rather terrifying silence had fallen upon the river. The Scouts had
seen no one. Yet they sensed as certainly as if they had stared directly
into a hostile coppery face, that their every movement was being
watched.

“With Pedro laid up, Hap coming down with fever, and most of our
supplies gone, we’re at the end,” Ken asserted. “The best we can do is
make some sort of camp tonight, and start back in the morning.”

“I reckon so,” Jack agreed gloomily. “It’s tough to be licked, but I
guess we are. That weakened bridge shows you what the natives will do,
if they get good and sore at us.”

The balsa crept on down stream, until finally Ken shoved it out into the
swift current.

“Dig in!” he shouted as the craft moved faster and faster.

The water seethed and eddied about the balsa, but Ken and Jack kept it
under control. They were nearing the opposite shore and already had
selected their landing spot, when suddenly arrows began to splash in the
water ahead of them.

“Jeepers!” Jack exclaimed, nearly dropping his paddle. “Now what?”

He could see no one in the gathering darkness. Not a single face. But
the warning arrows kept coming from the shore.

“They’ll kill us if we try to land,” Ken cried. “We’ll have to turn
back.”

“We can’t against this current. We have to keep on.”

Passing the point where they had expected to land, the Scouts continued
down river. The balsa bounded wildly through the rapids, barely missing
projecting rocks and boulders. The current was running stronger by the
moment.

“Listen!” Jack suddenly cried.

His keen ears had detected the unmistakable roar of a waterfall ahead!

The rapid might not be a very formidable one, but its thunder struck
terror to the three on the bouncing balsa. Pedro began to whimper
piteously and to whisper a prayer.

“Paddle!” Jack shouted to Ken. “Try for shore! It’s our only chance!”



                               Chapter 16
                                CAPTURE


Ken and Jack fought the current desperately, but could not delay the
swift progress of their balsa downstream. Irresistibly, they were drawn
closer and closer to the brink of the waterfall.

The stern swung around, and the craft went broadside, striking a large
boulder. Pedro was spilled into the boiling waters.

In trying to save him, Jack and Ken lost their paddles, and also were
thrown into the stream. The former grasped a rock, and managed to extend
a helping hand to Pedro, who clung desperately.

But in assisting the guide, Jack lost his own grip on the rock. The
current swept him on. He swam frantically, exerting all his strength.
Exhausted and grasping for breath, he finally pulled himself out on
shore.

Dragging himself to his feet, he peered back to see what had become of
Ken and Pedro. Both were clinging desperately to the rocks, but at any
instant might be swept on over the falls. The balsa and all their
vitally precious stores were gone.

“Hold on!” he shouted hoarsely. “Don’t let go!”

Jack had no rope. He knew he could expect no help from the Indians.

“Stay back!” Ken shouted, as he started to wade toward the boulder.
“You’ll be swept off your feet!”

Feeling the vicious tug of the current, Jack retreated to the fringe of
trees. His gaze fastened upon a long, tough vine which hung within
reach.

Ripping it down, he waded as far as he dared out into the shallow water.
He floated the vine rope toward the boulder, but it was only after a
fourth desperate try, that he reached his objective.

Ken seized one end and tied the vine about Pedro’s waist. Working fast,
and fearful that at any instant the make-shift rope would snap, Jack
pulled the guide to safety.

Moaning with fright, Pedro collapsed on the beach.

Once more Jack paid out the vine. Ken was able to grasp it on the second
try, and also was hauled to shallow water.

Resting briefly, he and Jack then carried Pedro back among the trees.
Darkness now covered their movements, but they knew the forest was alive
with unfriendly Indians.

The two Scouts were too shocked and discouraged to discuss their
desperate predicament. The loss of the balsa and their stores was a
serious matter. Their only hope, it seemed, lay with Mr. Livingston and
the other Scouts. Yet if the following party should arrive at the broken
bridge, it might find itself ambushed.

“We ought to warn ’em what they’re running into,” Jack muttered. “But
how?”

He fished in his packets. His Scout knife was gone, but there remained a
metal, water-proof container of matches.

“I’ll get a fire started,” he announced.

“Won’t it draw the Indians?”

“It may,” Jack conceded, “but you can be sure they’re watching our every
move anyway. So there’s nothing to be gained by freezing to death.
Besides, if Hap reaches the bridge, he’ll be able to see the fire.”

“But he won’t know it’s ours, Jack. He may think it’s a native camp.”

“Anyway, let’s have a fire,” the other urged. “We can dry out our
clothes at least.”

While Ken did what he could to make Pedro more comfortable, the crew
leader searched for suitable wood.

The matches had remained dry. Choosing a protected spot where a large
boulder provided a windbreak, he built a small fire. Then, while Ken and
Pedro warmed themselves, he gathered more wood. This he stacked nearby,
intending to throw it all on, should there be any evidence that Hap’s
party had arrived at the broken bridge.

The fire cheered the three and gave them a measure of reassurance.

“No attack yet,” Ken remarked hopefully. “Maybe those Indians intend to
leave us alone.”

“Don’t count on it,” Jack replied. “They’re just being deliberate.”

Time wore on. Pedro slept fitfully, but Ken and Jack were afraid to doze
off even for an instant. They kept the fire going and maintained a
ceaseless vigil for their friends.

“Hap should be at the bridge by this time,” Ken said anxiously.
“Something’s happened.”

Jack felt particularly sick at heart, blaming himself for the disaster
that had befallen.

“We made our first bad mistake in not testing the bridge,” he said.

“That was Pedro’s error, Jack.”

“Yes, but we should have watched him. Then I misjudged the swiftness of
the current.”

“We both did,” Ken corrected. “No use blaming yourself, Jack. What’s
done is done.”

“This means the end of the expedition, even if we weren’t beaten
before,” Jack went on. “It will be nip and tuck getting back to Cuya
with only the supplies Hap, Willie and War have on their backs. And
there’s Pedro—”

“Let’s meet one problem at a time,” Ken advised. “Our first is to make
contact with Hap before the Indians do. Try to catch some sleep now
while I watch.”

Jack settled himself as comfortably as possible, but he was too tense to
doze. Some time later, Ken touched his arm. Instantly, he was alert.

“What gives?”

Without speaking, Ken pointed along the shore.

“Alive with savages!” Jack gasped, pulling himself to his feet. “They’re
going to attack!”

Beyond the rim of firelight, he dimly could see the banks lined with
Indians, who had landed in canoes and balsas. They wore no feather
headdress, but their faces had been made grotesque with red paint from
the juice of forest berries.

“We’re sunk unless we can convince ’em we’re friendly!” Ken declared.
“I’ll go down to meet ’em—”

“Don’t risk it,” Jack warned, grasping his arm. “Those boys mean
business this time.”

His words were drowned by a sudden shout which came from the savages. A
shower of arrows, shot with great force from powerful bows, descended on
the camp site.

Ken and Jack retreated from the fire, dragging the trembling Pedro with
them. The three huddled in the underbrush, tensely waiting.

“We might have a fighting chance if we were armed,” Jack muttered. “As
it is, we’re wholly at their mercy.”

“It’s better we’re unarmed,” Ken returned. “Maybe if we don’t return the
fire of arrows or make any hostile moves, they may get it through their
thick skulls that we mean them no harm. Wow!”

The exclamation was wrung from his lips as an arrow whizzed by his ear
to bury itself in the bark of a tree trunk directly behind.

“Sure, we can convince ’em we’re friendly!” Jack exclaimed. “If one of
those arrows ever hits us, we won’t be doing any talking!”

The three flattened themselves upon the earth. For a while the rain of
arrows kept up but then subsided.

Cautiously, the Scouts raised themselves up to survey the situation.

Natives were swarming in from behind the trees, moving swiftly and
menacingly. Those in advance carried throwing sticks. Behind them were
others with battle axes and war clubs.

“We’re surrounded!” Ken gasped. “They’ve got us!”

Jack went forward to meet the oncoming swarm. His hand was flung up in a
salute, a token of good intentions.

“_Amigos!_ Friends!” he shouted.

All about him, he beheld only leering, hostile faces. An Indian with a
long spear seized him by the arms, spinning him around.

He struggled and tried to shake off his captor. But he was powerless to
move. His arms were held as if by bands of steel. A heavy object crashed
down on his head and he knew no more.



                               Chapter 17
                            HOSTILE INDIANS


Jack opened his eyes to find Ken anxiously bending over him. Gradually,
he came to a realization that he was lying on a pile of straw in a
darkened hut. He could hear the monotonous beat of drums beyond the open
doorway, through which flickered the light of a moving torch.

“Feeling better?” Ken asked.

Jack rubbed the swelling on his head, and managed a sickly grin. “Where
are we?” he asked hoarsely.

“Your guess is as good as mine. We’re in one of the villages.”

“Pedro?”

“He’s here. His leg keeps him hobbled, but he’s not in too much pain
now.”

“Hap?”

Ken shook his head. “After you passed out, Jack, they brought us to this
village upriver from the falls. I’d judge it’s four hours journey from
the suspension bridge.”

“What time is it now?” Jack asked, trying to orient himself.

“They took my wristwatch—not that it would be much good after that river
ducking. I figure it lacks a couple of hours until dawn.”

“We’re prisoners in this hut?”

“Nothing else but! A guard is posted at the door.”

Jack lay for awhile, staring into the darkness. His head throbbed and he
seemed incapable of rational thought. He tried not to think of Happy,
War and Willie. Had they reached the broken suspension bridge? And if
so, what had happened to them?

“Any water?” he mumbled after a time.

Ken pressed a vessel into his hands. “This was left for us,” he said. “I
guess they don’t aim to make us die of thirst, at least.”

Jack drank deeply. The water was warm and unpleasant of taste.

Getting unsteadily to his feet, he staggered to the doorway of the hut.
A native with hair cropped short, a spear in his hand, guarded the exit.

Some distance from the hut a big fire had been started. Around it in a
semi-circle were grouped the Indian warriors, their heads moving
sideways in rhythm to the beat of the drums.

Jack tried to pass the guard, only to be shoved back into the hut.

“No use getting him riled,” Ken cautioned. “If you do, we may get pretty
rough treatment.”

“Any chance we can make a break for freedom?”

“Where’d we go, Jack? Our compass, supplies, everything is gone.”

“If we were lucky, we might make contact with Hap.”

“We’d have to be darned lucky, Jack. Even if we could get away, the
Indians would be after us in a flash. Besides, Pedro can’t move on that
bad leg.”

“Then our only chance is to wait and hope that somehow Hap will be able
to help us.”

“That’s about the size of it,” Ken admitted reluctantly. “It’s a slim
chance, I know, but something may turn up.”

As the night wore on, the never-ending beat of the drums hammered at
Jack’s nerves. Restlessly, he moved about the hut, trying desperately to
hit upon a plan for escape. Ken and Pedro slept at intervals but his own
body was too tired and battered to feel its own fatigue.

Dawn came, driving back the shadows. As the sun rose, the natives began
a solemn dance, rocking from side to side.

The central figure, whom Jack took to be a chief, wore his hair cut
short with two plaits at the ears, ornamented with bright red plumes.
About his neck was a collar of large green stones.

“Get a load of that bird!” Jack directed Ken who had been awakened by
the louder throb of the drums. “Do you suppose those stones can be
emeralds?”

“They look like it. Look at the size of ’em! As large as pigeon eggs!”

“That horse collar is worth a fortune if those stones are real emeralds,
Ken!”

“You can bet they’re genuine, all right! And look at this water vessel.”

Ken picked up the container in which there now remained a scant inch of
liquid. The jar was of curious design in the shape of an animal head.
Obviously, it was of pre-Inca design and very old.

“Pure gold,” he commented briefly.

“Then it’s possible, Ken, that we’re close to the sacred city and the
treasure temple!”

“Maybe. Either that, or rich mines are situated near here. Many were
lost at the time of the Spanish conquest.”

Ken put the jug on the floor and joined Jack near the doorway. Their
guard stood like a statue, staring straight before him.

“Get a load of the robe that chief is wearing!” Jack directed.
“Embroidered in gold and silver thread!”

“This must be a special ceremonial occasion. I hope we’re not the
occasion!”

In silence the Scouts watched the dancing which had mounted in frenzy.
Then, into the circle came a strange looking creature in blue striped
trousers, his face covered by a cougar animal mask.

To the amazement of the two prisoners, he danced with the finish of a
professional. He completed his sprightly routine with a handspring which
brought chuckles of delight from the circle of natives.

“That old boy must be a medicine man,” Jack declared. “He’s good!”

“Too good.”

“What d’you mean, Ken?”

“Did you ever see dancing like that before?”

“On the stage.”

“That’s the point, Jack. That native—if he is one—has picked up some
pretty showy tricks. Either he’s been taught by a white man, or he is
white.”

“You might be right, at that,” Jack agreed, impressed by the other’s
alert observation. “If he’s white, he should help us, if he can.”

“Whoever he is, it’s plain he has influence over these savages. If we
bide our time, we may get a chance to try to talk to him.”

“I can wait,” Jack returned with a feeble grin. “Right now, I have
nothing more pressing to do!”

As the morning wore on, the scouts made several attempts to talk to
their guard. He neither understood English nor Spanish, speaking a
strange dialect which Ken and Jack did not recognize.

By gestures they did convey that they were hungry and thirsty. But
several hours elapsed before a native woman brought them another jug of
water and a pudding made of ground maize.

Though encouraged by the treatment they had received, the Scouts were
fretting under confinement. What, they speculated, would be their fate
and Pedro’s? Happy certainly would attempt to find them, and in so doing
might lose his life. Their prospects were too dismal to contemplate.

As the sun rose higher, the village became quieter. Armed warriors went
exhausted to their hammocks and the camp fires died down. The medicine
man, whose strange costume and actions had attracted the Scouts’
attention, vanished from view.

“We’ve lost our chance to try to talk to him,” Jack said in disgust. “If
he should be a white man, he probably doesn’t even know that we’re being
held here.”

Sunk in gloom, the two abandoned conversation. Because there was nothing
else to occupy their minds, they alternately looked after Pedro, and
slept. The guide had abandoned all hope, taking no interest in his
surroundings. His depression dragged even lower the faltering spirits of
the two Scouts.

Jack had fallen into another light doze, when he felt Ken’s touch on his
arm. Instantly, he was awake.

“Something’s up!” the other informed him in a half whisper.

The drums were rolling once more, and natives could be seen pouring
excitedly out of their huts.

Ken and Jack tried to peer out the doorway, but the guard blocked their
view deliberately. He jabbed at them with his spear, forcing them back.

As the hubbub and tumult increased, their curiosity steadily mounted.
What was causing such excitement in the village? Were visitors expected
or had the natives captured other unfortunate prisoners?

And then, unexpectedly, the cause of the commotion was made known to
them. The guard moved aside. Through the hut doorway, supported on
either side by Warwick and Willie, staggered Mr. Livingston!



                               Chapter 18
                            THE MEDICINE MAN


Shocked to see their friends, Jack and Ken helped to lower Mr.
Livingston onto the pallet of straw.

“What happened?” Jack asked grimly.

“We were captured at the suspension bridge,” Willie explained. “The
Indians surrounded us, and we didn’t have a chance. Hap’s in bad shape.
He needs a doctor.”

“We’ve lost our quinine supply,” War added miserably. “Those natives
stripped us of everything except our clothes.”

Many hours, of which the Scouts kept painful account, slowly passed. Mr.
Livingston tossed fitfully, calling often for water.

Ken and Jack took turns sitting beside him, giving War and Willie
opportunity to sleep. Repeatedly, they tried to make the guard at the
hut door understand their urgent need for medicines, but he eyed them
blankly.

At dusk, a native woman again brought food. By signs, the Scouts tried
to convey the idea of Mr. Livingston’s desperate need. She gave no
indication she understood. But shortly after she had left, a medicine
man came to the hut. He wore an animal mask, and the Scouts recognized
him as the same one who had danced so professionally.

“Me Ino,” the man announced.

“You speak English?” Jack cried. “Our leader is down with fever and
we’ve got to get him out of here! Will you help us?”

“Me Ino,” the medicine man repeated.

“He didn’t understand a word of what you said,” Ken said despairingly.
“That ‘Me Ino,’ is the only phrase he knows.”

The medicine man however, had crossed the hut to gaze at the prostrate
Mr. Livingston. In that instant, Jack had the uncomfortable feeling that
despite the native’s apparent lack of comprehension, he understood
English perfectly.

Acting upon this conviction, he tried again to talk to Ino. But it was
useless. The medicine man shook his head and kept repeating the foolish
phrase.

Squatting beside Mr. Livingston, he laid a black handkerchief on the
floor of the hut.

“He’s going to try some of his magic stuff!” War muttered. “That’s all
we need to make this a jolly occasion!”

The cloth laid out, Ino sprinkled it with leaves, examining the manner
in which they fell. Then he seemed to lapse into a semitrance, muttering
cabalistic phrases.

The magic incantations finished, the medicine man prepared a hot brew of
herbs made from a white root which resembled a turnip.

As he thrust the brimming gourd to Mr. Livingston’s lips, Willie leaped
forward, intending to strike the cup from Ino’s hand.

“Don’t do that, Willie!” Ken ordered sharply.

“But it may be poisoned.”

“I don’t think so. Ino is trying to help us. Maybe his herbs will do Hap
some good.”

“It’s a cinch something has to be done,” added Jack. “The tea probably
won’t do any harm, and it may help.”

Mr. Livingston himself reached out, and with a trembling hand, took the
gourd. He sipped the hot liquid cautiously and made a wry face. Then he
slowly drained the entire gourd. A few minutes later, as the Scouts
anxiously watched, he dropped off into deep sleep.

“Hap’s been drugged,” Willie asserted. “He may never come out of it.”

“He seems to be sleeping quite naturally,” Ken observed. “Take it easy,
Willie. I have a hunch this old medicine boy knows his stuff.”

“I’d like to get a peep beneath that animal mask he wears,” Jack
muttered. “I have a notion to—”

A quick shake of the head from Ken made him change his mind about trying
to expose the native’s face to view. Sober thought convinced him that
any such action would be sheer folly.

The medicine man remained a few minutes longer in the hut, briefly
examining Pedro. He nodded approvingly at the manner in which Ken and
Jack had set the guide’s leg, and then vanished.

“You know, Ino isn’t as dumb as he pretends,” Jack declared when the
native had gone. “He’s been around white folks—you can tell that from
the way he acts and the manner in which he danced.”

“He means to be friendly,” Ken asserted. “If we play our cards right, he
may help us get out of here.”

“I don’t trust him,” Willie declared.

“I keep thinking he may be a white man,” Jack went on, paying no heed to
the other’s remark. “At any rate, he knows more English than that silly
phrase, ‘Me Ino.’”

“I thought so too,” nodded Ken. “Several times when Willie was talking,
I noticed that he was listening as if he understood. But if he knows
English, why didn’t he reveal himself?”

“Maybe he doesn’t trust us any more than we do him,” Jack returned. “We
didn’t tell him anything about why we’re here, or who we are. We didn’t
even let him know we’re Scouts.”

“I didn’t figure it would mean anything to him.”

“Probably not, Ken. But I can’t help wishing we’d tried to convince him
that we’re trying to find Burton Monahan, not to steal Inca gold.”

Dusk came on and still Mr. Livingston slept as one dead to the world.
Later, however, he aroused and seemed somewhat better. His temperature
had dropped and he no longer was wracked by sudden chills. Though he
could not eat, he insisted that he felt greatly improved.

“Guess I was wrong about Ino,” Willie admitted. “That vile looking brew
of his turned the trick.”

Food had been brought to the hut at regular intervals and its quality
improved. This, the Scouts also attributed to Ino’s influence. The
medicine man himself, did not reappear.

Throughout the night, the Explorers again took turns watching Mr.
Livingston and Pedro. For the most part, both slept, and required little
attention.

Another day passed, a monotonous repetition of the previous one. Mr.
Livingston improved steadily, suffering only a few minor relapses during
which his fever mounted.

“I’m well on the way to recovery, thanks to that herb tea or whatever it
was,” he told the Scouts. “How to get out of here is our next problem.
The natives aren’t unfriendly. If we bide our time, they may release
us.”

“Ino’s working for us,” Jack insisted. “Even though we haven’t seen him,
you can tell by the way we’re treated now, that we’re not distrusted as
we were.”

During the early part of the night, he took his turn watching Mr.
Livingston, and then tried to sleep after Ken had relieved him. Toward
morning, he was aroused, and discovered his friend bending over him.

“Get up, Jack! Our guard has gone!”

“What?” Jack came fully awake. “Are you sure?”

“Not a sign of him. The entire village seems deserted. The warriors have
gone off somewhere.”

Getting to his feet, Jack awakened Willie and War. Excitedly, they
studied the possibilities of their situation.

“This is our chance to escape,” Ken declared, “but it may be a trap.”

“Even if we get away, what of Mr. Livingston and Pedro?” Jack asked in
an undertone. “We can’t leave them behind, and they’re in no condition
to travel even under favorable condition.”

“It must be a trap,” Willie insisted. “These natives are stupid. But not
stupid enough to leave this hut unguarded unless they want us to walk
off.”

“They’ve been drinking chicha or whatever it is, pretty steadily since
we were dragged in here,” War pointed out. “Maybe they’ve all passed
out, including our guard.”

“Don’t you believe it,” Ken advised bluntly. “Some sort of celebration
is in full swing all right, but our guard had his wits about him a half
hour ago. There’s something mighty queer about this exodus.”

“At any rate, there’s no future in staying here,” Jack announced. “I’m
going to slip out and look around. The rest of you wait and see if I get
peppered with arrows!”

While the other Scouts watched anxiously, he moved some distance from
the hut. Cautiously, he surveyed the darkened village. No one was
visible. Though he had no way of accurately telling time, he judged that
it lacked about two hours of dawn.

A fire, in which a lamb had been roasted whole earlier in the night,
still smoldered. Otherwise, there was no sign of life or activity. Had
the natives suddenly decided to abandon their villages, and if so, why?

“This sure is queer,” Jack muttered. “I don’t get it.”

He made a quick tour of the village, seeing not a man, woman or child.
Some distance away, through the dense trees, he caught the flash of
lighted straw torches. There were a great many of them, and they were
moving away from the village.

“This is the best chance we’ll ever have to get out of here,” Jack told
himself. “But dare we take it?”

His common sense advised that Mr. Livingston and Pedro could never
endure the rigors of the trail in their present conditions. He had only
a vague idea as to their whereabouts, and no compass. A lack of supplies
made the situation even more hopeless.

“Maybe our hut door was left unguarded because the natives know we can’t
run away,” he speculated. “That must be it.”

Turning over various plans in his mind, Jack went quickly back to rejoin
his friends. He revealed the situation, and then made his proposal.

“I’ll hit for Cuya alone. If I can make it, I’ll send help. If I fail,
you’ll be no worse off than you are now.”

“No Jack.” The voice was Mr. Livingston’s. Unobserved by the Scouts, he
had arisen from his pallet of straw.

“You’re feeling better!” Jack cried.

“My fever has mostly gone,” the Scout leader answered. “I’m weak in my
legs, but otherwise quite strong. I can make it, if the decision is to
pull out of here. But we must all stick together.”

Jack’s gaze fell upon Pedro and he remained silent. He knew that Mr.
Livingston, although remarkably better was not as strong as he believed.
And it would be utterly impossible to take the guide with them.

Pedro himself solved the latter problem, by declaring that under no
circumstance would he risk trying to leave the hut.

“We may be able to forage a little food in the huts,” Jack said
dubiously. “And if we’re real lucky, we may come upon an Indian canoe.”

“Whatever we do, we’ll have to do it fast,” Ken urged. “Our chances to
get away lessen every minute.”

“Okay, let’s go,” proposed War. “Anything’s better than this hut.”

Thinking of Pedro, Jack still hesitated. “Go,” the guide advised. “Send
help. Go!”

“We’ll make it to Cuya somehow,” Jack assured him. “Before you know it,
we’ll be back here for you.”

Their minds now made up, the four Scouts quitted the hut. War and Willie
supported Mr. Livingston, while Jack and Ken went ahead to search for
supplies.

They were midway through the deserted village when an indistinct figure
glided toward them. The Scouts halted, and waited tensely.

Then they saw that it was Ino, the Medicine Man.

Strangely, he spoke no word, but motioned for them to follow him. At the
same time, he pressed into Jack’s hand two canteens of water, and a
supply of concentrated food.

“Canteens!” the crew leader exclaimed. “Not ours either! This
concentrated food though, is some that must have been taken from Hap,
War and Willie when they were captured.”

“Ino’s trying to help us!” Ken cried. “Maybe he was responsible for
everyone being away from the village. Our pal!”

Obedient to the medicine man’s gestures, the Scouts followed him through
the empty village. Walking fast, Ino conducted them along a rugged path.
They came to a spring where he permitted everyone to drink deeply and
fill the canteens.

Jack noticed another trail leading upward at a steep angle. He turned as
if to take it, only to have Ino reprimand him sharply. The medicine man
pointed to the other path which descended.

“Follow trail,” he ordered.

“Say, you speak pretty fair English,” Jack remarked. “Thanks for helping
us out of this mess. But before we go, how about telling us who you
really are?”

“Yeah, who are you?” Willie demanded.

“Me Ino.”

“He answers that way to everything,” War chuckled. “For once, it came
exactly right! He doesn’t understand much we say, but he’s our friend
just the same.”

Jack had his own opinion of Ino’s comprehension. Nevertheless, he kept
his thoughts to himself.

Grasping Ino’s rough hand, he pressed it in token of gratitude. He then
offered Mr. Livingston a supporting arm, and began the long trek.



                               Chapter 19
                               THE TUNNEL


“‘Follow trail—’” Willie mimicked the old medicine man. “That’s all very
nice. But where does the darn thing lead?”

The Scouts had paused on the path to let Mr. Livingston rest. Since
leaving Ino at the spring, they had walked as fast as the rough ground
would permit.

“This trail leads to the river, I suspect,” commented Ken. “We may find
a balsa there.”

“Probably with our names engraved on it,” Jack returned ironically.
“Everything’s too convenient! Why was Ino so eager to have us get away?”

“He felt sorry for us,” War answered.

Jack nodded thoughtfully. “I’m convinced Ino isn’t a native,” he said.
“He understands English pretty well.”

“That ‘follow trail’ of his, popped out very easily,” agreed Ken. “But
if he’s a white man, why didn’t he reveal himself to us?”

“Yeah, why does he live here with the natives?” Willie demanded. “He’d
have to have a strong motive.”

“A lost gold mine perhaps, or the Inca city,” Jack suggested
reflectively.

“You think Ino may be a trader who stumbled onto some secret after
getting in the good graces of the Indians?”

“It could be. I’m sure Ino wanted to get us away from the village while
the natives were gone. You noticed how sharply he spoke when I started
to take that other trail by the spring.”

“I did!” Willie exclaimed. “He was afraid we’d go that way.”

“That path must lead to something Ino doesn’t want us to see,” Jack went
on with conviction. “If we weren’t in such a tough spot—”

“We have to go on,” Ken urged, glancing at Mr. Livingston. “Right now,
too.”

Supported by Willie and Ken, the Scout leader dragged himself along. He
was shaking again, and his teeth chattered. Finally he halted.

“No use kidding ourselves, boys. I’ll never last. You fellows go on
without me.”

“Never!” Jack replied. “We’ll carry you.”

“That wouldn’t work, and you know it, Jack. Even without me, you’ll have
a tough time getting back to Cuya.”

“We’ll never leave you,” Ken insisted.

Mr. Livingston lacked the strength to argue. Sagging down by a tree, he
sipped water which War gave him.

Jack, Ken and Willie drew aside to discuss their situation. In whispers,
they agreed that without natives to help carry their leader, they never
could make it. Even if they were lucky enough to find a canoe or balsa,
they could not expect to get farther than the broken bridge.

“Hap’s got to rest a few minutes, no matter what we do,” Jack said,
thinking it over. “Meanwhile, one of us should go ahead to look for a
canoe. I’ll slip back to the spring to see where that other path leads.”

“Curiosity will prove your finish yet,” Ken predicted soberly.

“We may be close to the sacred Inca City, Ken. Before we leave here, I
want to satisfy myself on that point.”

Further discussion ended with a decision that Jack should explore the
trail leading from the spring. Willie would try to reach the river to
look for a canoe.

“Both of you, hurry!” Ken advised. “If the natives return to their
village and discover we’ve walked off—curtains!”

“If I’m not back in half an hour—before dawn—start for the river without
me,” Jack advised grimly.

After the two Scouts had gone their separate ways, Ken settled down to
wait beside Mr. Livingston and War. He was plenty worried. Hap kept
throwing off a protective jacket. At one moment he suffered chills, and
the next, seemed to burn with high fever.

“That medicine man’s dope wasn’t so wonderful after all!” War scoffed.

“Hap is better today, even so,” Ken replied. “If he had a day to get on
his feet, we might make it out of here.”

“A day! We’ll be lucky to have another hour of freedom!”

The first streaks of light were lining the horizon, and still neither
Willie nor Jack returned. Nervously, Ken paced up and down the path.

“Listen!” he suddenly exclaimed.

From a far distance, high within the mountain, could be heard a strange,
weird cry. The sound seemed to arise from many throats.

“A chant to the dawn!” Ken declared. “These Indians must be sun
worshipers, just as were the ancient Incas!”

“There should be a temple near here, Ken. Maybe Jack was right about
that hidden Inca city!”

“Right or not, I wish he’d get back. It’s clear now why the village was
deserted. The natives all went off to greet the dawn with special
ceremonies.”

“Someone’s coming now.” War suddenly warned.

As the two waited tensely, a low whistle told them that it was Willie
who approached. He came up a moment later, panting from the fast climb.

“Did you reach the river?” Ken demanded.

Willie nodded. “Couldn’t find a canoe or a balsa,” he reported. “If we
had more time—”

“Sure, if we just had more time,” Ken echoed.

Sorely beset, he hesitated in making a decision. As he turned over
various plans in his mind, Jack came into sight. Greatly relieved that
the crew leader had returned safely, Ken grasped his hand. “Learn
anything, boy?” he demanded hopefully.

“The path leads to a solid wall of rock. But get this! I found a gap
that looks as if it may be a tunnel. I didn’t dare take time to
investigate it.”

“Not the hidden city you were sure you’d find, Jack?”

“That passageway may lead to it, Ken! I could hear natives close by,
yelling and chanting. Couldn’t see anyone though.”

“What’ll we do?” Ken demanded. “Here we are on the verge of an important
discovery, but our situation is desperate. If we try an escape by river,
we’re not even certain of having a balsa.”

“We could hide out for a day and hope Hap will get stronger.”

“Our supplies are low now,” Ken said, frowning. “Another thing, once the
natives take after us, they’ll try the river first of all. How far away
is this tunnel through the rocks?”

“Close by, Ken. It’s a steep climb though.”

“Any chance to find a good hide-out up there?”

“The rocks near the tunnel entrance offer some protection. Better than
this, but not good.”

“Let’s make for it then,” Ken suddenly advised.

They told Mr. Livingston of their plan, and he nodded agreement. Ken
hoisted him onto his back in a fireman’s carry, toting him as far as the
spring. There they splashed water on his fevered face, and went on
again. When the path became very steep, the Scout leader managed to walk
with support on either side.

Presently they reached the ridge to find themselves surrounded by rocks
which had weathered into weird shapes. As they examined the passage
entranceway through the great mass of twisted stone, Jack suddenly
became tense.

“Listen!” he bade the others.

The chanting in the distance had ceased. But the Scouts could hear the
hum of voices coming closer, and the pounding of feet on hard stone.

“The natives are returning this way!” Jack muttered. “Take cover!”

Quickly, the party retreated behind the eroded rocks, flattening
themselves on the rough floor. Moments passed.

Then single file, like a swarm of hornets, the warriors began to pour
out of the tunnel. The procession continued for so long that the Scouts
lost count of those who passed through.

Finally, no more came. After waiting another ten minutes, Jack crept out
to investigate. He returned to report that the natives had returned to
their village and that the passageway seemed empty.

“I went a short distance in,” he told the others excitedly, “I could see
daylight ahead, so the tunnel must be short. I thought I could make out
the ruins of an old roadway.”

“The ancient Inca city,” murmured Mr. Livingston, pulling himself to a
sitting position. “Our goal?”

“I’m not sure, but I think so! If we dare press on, we’ll soon know.
What do you say?”

“Let’s go,” War urged instantly. “We can’t be any worse off than we are
now.”

“Except that the city may be regarded as sacred,” Jack pointed out. “If
we were found there, it could mean our finish.”

No one spoke for several minutes. Then Mr. Livingston gave answer by
trying to pull himself to his feet. “We go on,” he said grimly. “Our
chance to escape by the river already is gone. We must hide at least
until nightfall.”

“Sure, and while we’re waiting, why not learn all we can!” cried War,
well pleased with the decision.

The passageway, though narrow, permitted the Scouts to walk very nearly
upright. With Jack leading they groped their way along the smooth rocks.
At length, they came into the open once more.

Blinking as they gazed directly into the bright morning sun, the Scouts
looked about. Below rolled a green sea of forest and the winding river.

Beneath their tired feet were the remains of an ancient roadway, leading
on to a large, clear area devoid of all save a few scrub trees.

“Where’s the sacred city?” demanded War.

Mr. Livingston and the other Explorers were too disappointed to answer.

Instead of the old Inca ruins they had expected to find, only a barren
scene spread before their eyes.



                               Chapter 20
                            THE HIDDEN CITY


The disappointment of the five was so great that for a time no one made
any comment on the failure to reach the ancient Inca city.

Leaving his friends near the tunnel exit, Jack went on to see what he
could discover. Upon his return, he reported that the area’s chief
attraction was a deep quarry pool.

“This ends our search, I guess,” he admitted ruefully. “When first I
found the tunnel, I thought it must lead to the hidden city. No such
luck.”

“With natives in the village below us, we can’t hope to escape before
nightfall,” Ken said gravely. “Let’s find a hide-out until dark.”

Selecting a rock shelter not far from the quarry lake, the Scouts
scooped out a bed for Mr. Livingston in the earth.

“Don’t worry about me, boys,” he advised as they took turns staying
beside him. “The fever is down again. I feel better.”

At lunch time, the Scouts doled out only skimpy portions of the
concentrated food Ino had given them.

“At least we have enough water,” Willie remarked, drinking deeply from
one of the canteens. “We can refill these at the spring when we slip out
tonight.”

“I wish we could find Ino again,” Ken said. “He might help us get a
balsa.”

The thought kept nagging at him, and finally he went out through the
tunnel to see what chance he would have of reaching the medicine man. He
was gone three hours, so long that the others became very uneasy over
his absence.

“No luck,” he reported as he rejoined the group. “I couldn’t get near
the village. It’s swarming with natives, and they’re mighty excited
about something!”

“Our disappearance probably,” War commented.

“It’s more than that, I think. They seemed to be entertaining a
distinguished visitor—another chief probably.”

“Then maybe this is our chance to sneak away!” Willie proposed. “Did you
find a balsa?”

“Couldn’t reach the river. Natives everywhere. I didn’t see Ino either.
Until nightfall there’s nothing to do but wait here.”

“We might swim,” War proposed with a grin. “I’ve been thinking about it
all day. I sure could go for a nice dip in the quarry.”

“How would you ever get out?” Jack discouraged him. “Those rock walls
are sheer.”

“I’ve been looking it over. A long rock shelf runs along one side. I
made a rope out of vines, and you guys can haul me up after I’ve had my
swim.”

“You think of everything, don’t you!” Jack exclaimed. “What if the rope
should break?”

“It won’t. I made it strong.”

“Let’s see that rope,” Jack demanded.

He tested it, grudgingly admitting that War had done a good job.

“A swim is pretty risky,” he said weakening. “What if the natives should
decide to pop up here while you’re taking your dip?”

“We can post a guard to watch the tunnel. What d’you say?”

“I wouldn’t mind a swim myself,” Jack admitted, sorely tempted. “What do
you think, Hap?”

Mr. Livingston knew that both boys were excellent swimmers. He told them
they might go ahead, but to make the dip a brief one.

Willie posted himself at the entranceway to the tunnel, promising that
if he saw anyone approaching on the trail, he would whistle twice.

Jack and War stripped to their shorts and dived from the rocky ledge
deep into the cooling waters. Down, down, down, they went into the dark
depths, enjoying the descent.

Finally, growing short of air, Jack pulled up his head and came to the
surface, gulping air.

War broke water close by, and swam in a circle with a smooth, easy crawl
stroke. Above, on the rock ledge, Ken and Mr. Livingston watched
somewhat anxiously.

“Make it snappy,” Ken advised. “This isn’t the Y pool, you know.”

Jack swam a few minutes longer, then pulled himself to a low rock shelf
only a few feet above the lake surface. From this position, he dived
again, taking it at a long slant.

His body scraped rock, and he realized with a shock that he had barely
missed diving head foremost into a projecting shelf which had not been
visible from above.

Still under water, his right hand touched a hard, small object lying on
the projection. Involuntarily, his fingers closed upon it. Then, in need
of air, he surfaced again.

Pulling himself out onto the wide shelf below Ken and Mr. Livingston, he
opened his fist to see what it was he had found.

Within his fingers was a tiny ornament, plainly a corroded, blackened
earring. But even to Jack’s untrained eye the metal was pure gold, very
old, and set with a large emerald.

“Hey, look what I’ve found!” he shouted, holding up the trinket.

“Pipe down!” Ken warned him. “Where do you think you are? Grand Central
Station?”

War had by this time crawled out onto the ledge beside Jack. He too
became excited as he examined the bit of treasure.

“Say, maybe this lake is loaded with gold and gems!” he cried. “Look at
the size of that emerald! Man! No wonder Burton Monahan went off his
rocker when he hunted for the secret Inca city!”

Jack tossed the ornament up to Mr. Livingston and Ken who shared the
enthusiasm as they examined it.

“This is either Inca or pre-Inca work,” the Scout leader asserted. “The
jewelry probably was thrown into the water centuries ago as a
sacrificial offering.”

“Or maybe to keep General Pizarro from getting it when he looted Peru,”
added Ken.

“If you found an earring, Jack, there must be lots of other stuff down
there!” War declared, preparing to dive.

“Hold on,” Jack stopped him. “This lake is so deep, I doubt you ever
could reach bottom without an air tank or a diving suit. Don’t try it.”

“Trying to keep all the treasure for yourself, eh?”

“Don’t be an egg, War,” Jack grinned. “You’re welcome to all you can
bring up. I’m trying to tell you that I found this earring on a rock
shelf not very far down. Don’t crack your thick skull by diving into
it.”

“Thanks, pal. I’ll watch it. I’m off now to scoop up a handful of
treasure!”

Studying the water momentarily, War plunged in. From above, the others
could see his dark shadow moving slowly along the shelf. Presently,
gasping for breath, he surfaced.

“Get anything?” Ken called eagerly.

“Nothing,” War admitted in disgust. “Not a darn thing.”

Jack decided to try his luck. Taking a deep breath, he dived diagonally
along the shelf. In the dark water, he could dimly see the rocks, but
nothing more. Working fast, he groped his way along until he came to a
sudden drop-off.

A small fish, silvery in color with dark spots, shot past him. Intent
upon regaining the surface, Jack paid it no heed.

Therefore, he was taken completely off guard when it swerved and came at
him savagely. He felt a sharp pain in his left arm.

For an instant, Jack could not believe that the fish had bitten him.
Then in a flash, realization came—he had been attacked by the terrible
caribe fish, a cannibal more dangerous than the shark!



                               Chapter 21
                             CANNIBAL FISH


Those who watched anxiously from above, suddenly saw Jack’s
short-cropped head appear above the rippled water. He was thrashing
wildly.

“Something must have attacked him!” War exclaimed, preparing to dive to
the rescue of his friend. “He’s hurt!”

Jack was grasping his left arm, trying to staunch the flow of blood. His
face was agonized by intense pain.

“Keep out, War!” he called. “Caribe fish!”

Still grasping his injured arm, Jack scissored to the rock ledge. War
pulled him to safety. Blood kept gushing from the wound in his forearm.

Thoroughly alarmed, Ken lowered the vine rope. War boosted from below,
and Jack was hoisted to the rim.

“The wound isn’t very deep,” he muttered as Ken examined it anxiously.
“That savage little fish would have taken off a finger if I hadn’t
swerved! His teeth sunk into me like a razor!”

“Teeth!” Ken echoed incredulously as he bound Jack’s wound with a
handkerchief. “A fish with teeth?”

“That’s right,” supplied Mr. Livingston. “Caribe fish sometimes are
under-rated because of their small size. But in large numbers they are
exceedingly dangerous. That’s because they’re equipped with teeth which
work like shears, opening and closing by means of powerful jaw muscles.”

Ken had finished tying up Jack’s arm. “The wound isn’t deep, but it may
get infected,” he said anxiously. “I wish we had some iodine and a first
aid kit!”

“I’ll be okay,” Jack replied carelessly. “All in all, I’m lucky to be in
one piece.”

“That’s so,” returned Mr. Livingston, his face grave. “Cannibal fish
will kill a bird instantly, if one is unfortunate enough to drop into
infested waters.”

“How do you figure War and I weren’t attacked when we first dived in?”

“You were wearing shorts. That probably helped. I’ve read that caribe
fish are less likely to recognize flesh and blood if a man is clothed.”

“That pool must be alive with ’em,” Ken shuddered. “As far as I’m
concerned, the Incas can keep their treasure!”

“Funny thing,” Jack said thoughtfully, “that one fish was the only one I
saw. There may be others, but not many.”

A low whistle from the pool belatedly reminded the three that War still
was on the rock ledge below. Jack and Ken lowered the vine rope, pulling
him up.

“The fish can keep their old pool!” War exclaimed, shivering as he began
to dress. “I’ve had enough—”

His words trailed off. From the direction of the tunnel, the three heard
two sharp whistles.

“Willie’s signal!” Mr. Livingston exclaimed. “Take cover!”

Grabbing up his clothes and the vine rope, Jack followed the others into
the shelter they had selected for their hide-out.

“Where’s Willie?” he worried.

Before the group could settle itself, the other Scout came bounding into
view. He slid down behind the rocks, breathless from running.

“The natives are heading this way!” he announced.

“You weren’t seen going through the tunnel?” Ken demanded.

“I don’t think so, but I’m not sure.”

“What’s bringing those Indians back here now?” War asked irritably. “Why
don’t they stay in their village where they belong?”

“Quiet!” Jack warned him. “If we’re caught, it won’t be funny.”

The Scouts did not have long to wait. A swarm of natives came through
the tunnel, reforming at the exit in a procession.

“They’re carrying the Chief on a golden litter!” War whispered in awe.
“Or is it our friend Ino?”

At first the Scouts and Mr. Livingston could not see the face of the man
who sprawled comfortably beneath the feather-adorned canopy.

The great personage was borne ceremoniously by six sturdy Indians with
skirts of gold cloth and headdress of waving red plumes.

“Some style!” Willie chuckled. “It’s like a circus parade!”

Behind the litter, trooped natives with javelins, war clubs and painted
shields.

Presently the man on the litter shifted his position so that his face
became visible to those crouched behind the rocks. The Scouts stiffened
in shocked surprise.

It was Captain Carter!

“How did that conniving little crook get here and in the good graces of
the natives?” Jack muttered. “Why, they’re treating him as if he were a
king!”

“Do you suppose he was in the village at the time we were captured?”
speculated Ken. He went on, to answer his own question. “Maybe, but I
doubt it.”

“It’s clear he has top rating with the natives,” Jack declared. “I
suspect he’s tumbled to some vital secret. Otherwise, you may be sure he
wouldn’t waste time here. He must practically have his greedy hands on
Inca gold!”

The Scouts became silent for the procession now had drawn close. As they
watched, the litter was carried past the lake and on to a mass of quartz
rock which glistened in the late afternoon sun.

Two of the natives rolled aside a huge stone, which hitherto had escaped
the attention of the Explorers. Even from a distance, they could see
that it gave entrance to another small tunnel.

Captain Carter alighted from the litter. A native motioned for him to
enter the narrow passageway.

The seaman hesitated, seemingly suspicious that he might be walking into
a trap. But after a moment of indecision, he stooped and crawled through
the opening. One by one, the natives followed.

“Where can they be taking him?” War speculated. “He certainly isn’t a
prisoner.”

“They’re treating him like a ruler!” Jack snorted in disgust. “What do
you make of it, Hap?”

“How he managed to ingratiate himself, I wouldn’t know,” Mr. Livingston
replied with a wry smile. “But I’m sure he’s been here before. Unless I
have the wrong slant, the Indians have just revealed to him a most
closely guarded secret—the entranceway to the ancient Inca city!”



                               Chapter 22
                             INDIAN SECRETS


The unexpected arrival of Captain Carter had stunned the Explorers,
leaving them for a moment without a plan.

They were convinced however, that Mr. Livingston’s appraisal of the
situation was correct. The old sea captain somehow had gained the
confidence of the natives and had been conducted to the mysterious
hidden city.

Warwick and Willis both urged that they be permitted to follow, in an
attempt to learn what lay beyond the tunnel.

“Not alone,” the Scout leader advised. “If we decide to risk it, we’ll
all wait here until nightfall. Even then, we may be caught.”

“The Indians aren’t mistreating Captain Carter,” Willie pointed out.
“They seem to think he’s a God.”

“His case is different,” replied Mr. Livingston. “Probably through an
earlier visit here, he managed to impress them. But if we were caught in
the secret city, we might be dealt with most harshly.”

The Scouts knew that their leader was right. Nevertheless, the
temptation to explore further was very hard to resist.

“We’ll have to wait until dusk,” Jack insisted, siding with Mr.
Livingston. “Then we can decide whether to attempt the tunnel or hike
for the river.”

During the fading hours of the afternoon, the Scouts kept constant watch
of the tunnel exit. Neither Captain Carter nor any of the bearers, who
had escorted him, reappeared. Three times they saw natives enter the
narrow passageway, on each occasion replacing the stone barrier.

As dusk came on, the Scouts again held counsel, deciding that if ever
the venture were to be made, it must be soon. Because no one was willing
to remain behind, it was agreed that all should attempt the passage
together. Jack and Ken were assigned to start ahead and to give a
warning in the event of impending trouble.

Emerging from their rock shelter, the Scouts cautiously heaved aside the
heavy stone barrier. Noiselessly, they trod through the passageway which
narrowed until they were forced to crawl.

At last, however, Ken and Jack saw open sky above, and signaled to those
behind that the way was clear.

As they emerged into the starlight, they stopped short at the sight
which lay before them. Scarcely a quarter of mile ahead were the
slumbering ruins of a long-dead Inca city.

Visible against the dark sky were three lofty entranceway arches, built
of colossal stones.

The grandeur of the sight awed the group to silence. Ken, the first to
find voice, whispered: “It’s just as the parchment described! We’ve
found the sacred city!”

Mr. Livingston leaned against a rock as he gazed beyond the massive
arches to the ruins of the old habitation.

“Ahead lies the temple of the ancient Incas,” he murmured. “Few white
men ever have viewed the sights we are about to see.”

Imbued by a deep excitement, the Explorers pushed on. Almost on tiptoe,
they passed beneath age-blackened entranceway arches. Not a native was
visible.

“It’s like a city of the dead,” whispered Ken.

Entering upon what once had been an Inca street, the Scouts picked their
way amid a litter of broken pillars and masonry.

On either side were remains of houses whose porticos were decorated with
elaborate carvings. All had been built of great stone blocks, joined
perfectly but without the use of mortar.

With cat-like tread, the Scouts moved on to the main plaza. In its
center stood a tall, black stone column, on which was poised a statue of
a man. To the right were ruins of a once magnificent temple approached
by a flight of broken steps.

“It is the ancient city Burton Monahan sought,” Mr. Livingston said with
conviction. “We may never know whether or not he ever reached here.”

“But you can bet Captain Carter has the answer,” Warwick muttered.

The Scouts had caught no further glimpse of the arrogant seaman, but
they guessed that he might be sleeping or feasting inside one of the
ruined buildings beyond the plaza. Farther on, they could see camp
fires, and smell the aroma of roasting meat.

“We can’t stay here,” Mr. Livingston advised. “Either we must return the
way we came, quickly—or find a hide-out.”

“How about one of these ruined houses?” Ken proposed, pointing out a
fairly well preserved stone building some distance from the plaza. “If
we hole in there, it will give us a chance to look over the situation.”

Jack nodded, for there was no alternative. As they crept into the stone
dwelling, he noticed that Mr. Livingston was breathing hard.

“Fever coming up again?” he asked anxiously.

“I’ll be all right,” Mr. Livingston replied, lowering himself onto the
dusty floor. “All the comforts of home here.”

Jack covered him with his jacket and gave him the last of the water from
the canteen. After the Scout leader had fallen into a restless sleep, he
and Ken quietly conferred.

“Our situation is desperate,” Jack said. “We can’t possibly escape down
river with Hap as he is now. And if we stay here until dawn, we’re
certain to be captured. Maybe we should find Carter and throw ourselves
on his mercy.”

“That guy doesn’t know the meaning of the word.”

“He’s a white man, and so are we. He might give us a break if we hit him
right.”

“We don’t even know where the old boy has staked himself out for the
night,” Ken objected. “If we try to find him, the natives will get us
first.”

“We’ll have to think of something,” Jack insisted soberly. “We can’t
stay here many hours.”

“We need water.”

“I’m going after it,” Jack announced with sudden decision. He had seen a
stone basin in the plaza, its four carved serpents spouting spring water
from their mouths. Twice he had observed natives fill their jugs.

“It’s risky, Jack.”

“No more so than staying here. By nosing around I may find out where
Captain Carter’s keeping himself.”

“Okay,” Ken agreed reluctantly, “but be careful.”

Taking the empty canteens, Jack made his way toward the water fountain.
Moving stealthily in the darkness, he stared at the great ruined temple,
unroofed and open to the stars. Somewhere within that building, or
perhaps in the palace, Captain Carter must lie sleeping.

For what enormous stakes was the seaman risking his life? The vast Inca
treasure? And where, he wondered, might it lie hidden? At the bottom of
the quarry lake perhaps, or in another hiding place equally
inaccessible.

Half way across the plaza, Jack saw a native with a lighted straw torch,
mounting the broad steps of the temple. He ducked into a stone doorway
to wait until the plaza again was empty.

Beyond the temple and the palace, all buildings lay in complete ruin.
Great chasms told him the cause of the terrific upheaval. The area had
been shaken by a devastating earthquake which in a single, mighty blow
had toppled pillars and shattered massive walls.

After satisfying himself that the plaza again was deserted, the crew
leader went swiftly to the water fountain.

He filled the first canteen and had reached for the second, when he
heard a sound directly behind him.

Jack whirled around. Against the background of blackened stone, a man
stood watching him. For a nerve shattering instant, he thought that it
was a hostile native who had come upon him. Then he was relieved to
recognize Ino.

As he grasped the canteens, uncertain whether to stand his ground or
flee, the medicine man came slowly toward him. In the starlight, the
horrible animal face mask had a terrifying appearance.

“You!” the medicine man muttered. “Why did you not go when you had the
chance?”

“So you do speak English!” Jack retorted boldly. “Why not rip off that
animal face and come clean? Who are you anyhow?”

Ino ignored the question. He seized Jack’s arm, giving him an angry
little shake.

“Fool!” he cried, keeping his voice low so that it would not echo in the
empty street. “If you are found here in the sacred city, it may mean
your death! Where are your friends?”

Jack indicated the stone house where the others waited.

“Why did you risk coming here?” Ino demanded. “You were free to go.”

“Our leader is too sick to travel. Besides—”

“Besides, you were impelled by the lust for gold!” Ino accused. “You are
friends of Captain Carter!”

“No! Absolutely not. And we didn’t come here looking for gold either. We
came—”

Ino did not permit him to finish. “You cannot stay here,” he insisted.
“You do not realize your danger. You must leave now—at once—while there
still is time.”

“I tell you we can’t go with Mr. Livingston so weak and sick,” Jack
returned in exasperation. “Why don’t you take off that silly animal mask
and reveal yourself. Are you a trader?”

“You ask too many questions,” Ino answered. “Take me to your friends and
we’ll see what can be done. You must be away from here before dawn.”

“Anxious to get rid of us, aren’t you?”

“I’ve told you,” Ino retorted irritably. “You don’t realize your own
danger! Once these natives are stirred up, there’s no telling what
they’ll do.”

“Captain Carter seems safe enough.”

“Captain Carter is the one who has excited the Indians!” Ino asserted.
“He has half convinced them that he is a God greater than their own
ruler, Panomuna. Tomorrow at dawn there is to be a test of their
powers—a challenge to the Sun God. One or the other will be victorious
and gain control. The winner, I fear, will not be Panomuna.”

“And if Captain Carter is the winner?”

“He’ll make short work of me. Captain Carter has no scruples. He’d have
done me in a long while ago had he dared.” The voice behind the animal
mask crackled with ironical laughter. “The natives, you see, believe
that I am a skilled medicine man. My knowledge of first aid and a few
herbs has stood me in good stead.”

“Why have you remained here?” Jack demanded. “Tell me your name.”

“It would mean nothing to you.”

“It might,” Jack retorted, annoyed by the man’s unwillingness to
disclose his identity. “Are you, by any chance, Burton Monahan?”

His question evoked only silence.

Jack decided upon a bold move. Before the other suspected his intention,
he lunged forward to snatch the mask from his face.



                               Chapter 23
                            BENEATH THE MASK


Jack stared into the countenance of a clean shaven man who might have
been thirty-five years of age. The resemblance to photographs of Burton
Monahan was marked.

“You are Albert Monahan’s missing brother!” he accused.

Ino made no attempt to replace the mask. He smiled. “So you know my
name, lad. How did you learn it?”

“From your brother. He financed our expedition here in search of you.”

“My brother sent a party here? Well, if that isn’t one for the book!”

“You are Burton Monahan?” Jack pressed him. “You don’t deny it?”

“Deny it? Why should I? I’d have revealed myself before this, if I had
known you were searching for me. I thought you were only here for gold.”

“Nothing could be further from our purpose. Your brother assigned us to
find you and bring you back to civilization. Why do you smile?”

“Because this is the first I knew that I was considered lost. Evidently,
my brother never received the message I sent.”

“Message? What message?”

“One that Captain Carter was supposed to deliver. He was to inform my
brother that I was safe here. I take it he pulled a worse double-cross
than I thought.”

“Captain Carter told your brother that you had been missing many months.
He induced him to finance this rescue party. Carter supposedly was to
help us, but instead he made everything as difficult as possible.”

“That I can believe,” Burton Monahan rejoined. “Captain Carter is a
scoundrel. He has only one objective—to gain the Inca treasure.”

“Is that what brought him back here?”

“It is,” Burton Monahan said shortly. “I’ll tell you more about it
later. Take me to your friends now. We must see what can be done before
dawn. I’ve not exaggerated in saying that your party is in very grave
danger.”

The man readjusted the animal mask, though not before Jack had obtained
another clear view of his clean-cut face. He was tall and exceedingly
thin, but with hard, firm muscles.

“It is dangerous to remain here in the plaza,” Burton said uneasily.
“Captain Carter must not see you.”

“Where is he?” Jack asked, leading the way toward the stone house where
his friends waited.

“Asleep in the palace. He’s been in a half-drunken stupor ever since the
natives brought him to this sacred city.”

“I take it the natives have inducted him into all of their secrets?”

“Not yet. Captain Carter expects to play his trump card tomorrow after
he discredits Panomuna. Then, unless I can prevent it, I fear he’ll try
to make off with the treasure.”

“Is the treasure hidden here in the sacred city?” Jack questioned.

“No,” Burton Monahan answered. “Had it been stored in the plaza,
adventurers long ago would have carted it away. The Incas hid their gold
and priceless ornaments in a diabolically clever manner. So far, even
Captain Carter hasn’t been able to get his hands on it.”

“This treasure isn’t at the bottom of the lake?”

“I may reveal the secret to you in good time,” Mr. Monahan responded.
“First though, I must satisfy myself that you really were sent here by
my brother. Tell me how you came to know Captain Carter.”

Starting at the beginning, Jack swiftly related the manner in which the
expedition had been organized. Mr. Monahan seemed satisfied with the
account.

“I’ll tell you about myself,” he offered, “but the story must wait until
I’ve talked to your leader.”

Inside the stone dwelling, Mr. Monahan made himself known to the other
Scouts and Mr. Livingston.

“Our mission has been accomplished,” the latter said weakly, grasping
the explorer’s hand. “It appears, though, that I may never get back to
report to your brother.”

“You will return,” Burton Monahan assured him. “This fever from which
you suffer, will pass. It is Captain Carter who presents the hazard.”

“Tell us how you met him,” Mr. Livingston urged. “And why have you
remained here with the natives?”

“I’ve spent much of my life in Peru,” Mr. Monahan began his strange
story. “Always the tale of this lost Inca city fascinated me. A few
archaeologists shared my belief that it existed, while others were
convinced that the ancient parchment was born of some writer’s
imagination.

“At any rate, I set off to find the locality. One misadventure after
another beset my party—no need to bore you with the details, because you
are familiar with the difficulties which befall. We encountered hostile
Indians, and my natives deserted.

“I was taken prisoner. I do not mean that I was mistreated, but I was
not permitted to leave the village. It was during this period of
captivity that I gained an inkling that I was near an ancient Inca
temple and the sacred city which the Indians desired to keep from the
view of white men.”

“What made you pose as a medicine man?” Ken questioned.

“I’m coming to that. Because of my knowledge of first aid and medicine,
it was easy to impress the natives with my skill. Gradually, I won their
friendship, and adopted the medicine man role as an added protection for
myself. As my knowledge of the language improved, I began to pick up
additional scraps of information about the hidden city and a treasure
said to lie inside a mountain.”

“By this time, I was reluctant to return to civilization, although I no
longer was held prisoner. Village life was not too unpleasant. I
lingered on, hoping to be permitted to view the sacred city. Even after
I learned how entrance was gained, I dared not attempt it lest I be
killed.”

“And what of Captain Carter?” questioned Willie.

“He came into camp one night with a few natives. Captain Carter at that
time, was supplying a bandit leader with ammunition, but they had missed
contact. He stumbled upon the village quite by accident.”

“But we thought you and the captain were together in your search for the
city!” exclaimed Ken in astonishment.

“Captain Carter is an adventurer without scruples. I wish I never had
set eyes on him! Unfortunately, I trusted him at first.”

“Didn’t the natives make trouble for him?” Jack inquired.

“They did not. Captain Carter on his first visit here was well supplied
with guns. He used the ammunition to good advantage, impressing the
natives, and disposing of the few who challenged his authority. Had it
not been for the ruler, Panomuna, he would have been in full control
here.”

“Carter, I take it, learned of the treasure?” remarked Mr. Livingston.
He had pulled himself to a sitting position, his back to the stone wall.

“Yes, he was as familiar as I with the old legend. Stupidly, I accepted
him as a friend and imparted my knowledge of the sacred city and the
treasure. It was my hope to obtain the priceless archaeological objects
and get them safely back to government officials. Captain Carter
pretended to fall in with my plan. All the while, he was plotting to
seize the treasure for himself.”

“Why didn’t you return to Cuya and ask assistance?” Mr. Livingston
asked.

“To have done so would have started a stampede here,” Mr. Monahan
explained. “Captain Carter and I both knew that special equipment would
be required to lift the treasure from its resting place. So it was
agreed that while I remained in the village, Captain Carter would return
to my brother to obtain the necessary funds and equipment. We both felt
that if the natives gained any inkling of what we were about, no white
man ever again would be permitted near the sacred city.”

“Carter did see your brother,” Mr. Livingston informed him. “But he told
an entirely different story.”

“I realize that now,” Mr. Monahan said bitterly. “Captain Carter is so
certain of his position that he boasted to me not six hours ago that he
intends to seize all the treasure and then turn the natives against me.”

“Surely he couldn’t do that!” exclaimed Warwick. “You’re in good with
’em yourself!”

“They regard Carter as a God. He has impressed them with his use of
gunpowder. Why, he’s challenged Panomuna to a fire making ceremony at
dawn. Carter has boasted that no matter how quickly the old Inca ruler
can produce fire, he’ll do it quicker. You know, of course, who will win
that competition.”

“Carter,” Jack muttered.

“He’s sure of himself or he wouldn’t have risked a challenge. I don’t
know his scheme, but he’ll use some modern trick which will impress the
natives. Then, after Panomuna is discredited, it’s my guess Carter will
have no opposition in bringing up the treasure. He’s brought in
everything he’ll need for the job.”

“You haven’t told us where the treasure lies,” Ken reminded him.

Mr. Monahan did not answer the question. Instead, he said: “Carter aims
to take care of me when the time comes. As yet, I doubt that he knows of
the presence of your party here. You must get away tonight while there
is time.”

“You’ll go with us?” Ken asked.

“No, I must remain. Too much is at stake to abandon everything to that
scoundrel Carter!”

“We’re sticking,” Jack announced stoutly. “Maybe we can get a hold of
that ammunition.”

“Not a chance. Carter has it with him in the palace where he is
sleeping.”

“Can’t we jump him before dawn?”

“That would be too dangerous. He has a guard of natives and they honor
him as a God. As for yourselves, if you were seen here, you probably
would be put to death.”

“You’ll not leave with us?” Ken asked once more.

“I can’t. It’s my duty to try to save those treasures from a vandal like
Carter!”

“Then I guess we’ll stick with you,” Jack said, speaking for the others.
“How about it, Mr. Livingston?”

“It’s the only thing to do,” he replied quietly.

“You can’t remain here,” Mr. Monahan informed them.

“Isn’t there a safer place where we can hide?” Ken demanded.

“I could guide you through the mountain to the hidden lake,” Mr. Monahan
offered after a long hesitation.

“Through the mountain?” Jack repeated, struck by the phrase.

“Come, we must hurry!” Mr. Monahan said impatiently, without explaining
what he meant. “There is no time to lose. Very soon the natives will
start coming here for the dawn ceremony.”

Stooping, he lifted Mr. Livingston onto his powerful back, disregarding
the Scout leader’s insistence that he was able to walk.

Unseen, the group moved through the dead city, silently passing the
massive statue near the ruined temple. Mr. Monahan led the way up an
uneven rocky path. Burdened by Mr. Livingston’s weight, he climbed
slowly.

Presently however, they came to a low passageway through the rocks.
Here, the Scout leader had to crawl for a considerable distance. But at
length, they all came out into the starlight again.

“You are now inside the mountain, so to speak,” Mr. Monahan told the
Scouts. “I brought you to this hidden spot because I know you are to be
trusted with the secret.”

Below, only dimly visible in the fading starlight, lay a circular lake,
smaller than the one into which Jack and War had dived earlier that day.

With a sweep of his hand, Mr. Monahan indicated the dark waters.

“There lies the fabulous treasure of the Incas. When Peru was conquered
by the Spaniards, the Indians hurled great quantities of gold into this
lake.”

“Are there two treasure pools?” asked Jack, puzzled. “This one lying
inside the mountain, and the other at the site of the ruined city?”

“No,” Mr. Monahan explained, “the other lake contains little of value.
An underground stream connects the two. Occasionally, a bit of treasure
washes down into the lower lake. Also, a few trinkets have been offered
there as sacrifice to the Sun God.”

“I suppose that explains how we happened to find a single earring.”

“Quite true, Jack. You might dive fifty times again and find nothing.
Here, it is a different story. The lake bottom literally is covered with
valuable relics of a past civilization.”

“The lake is very deep?” asked Willie.

“On the contrary, it is quite shallow. By daylight one can see bottom.”

“In that case, can’t the treasure be brought up?” demanded Ken eagerly.

“Impossible.”

“Because the natives keep guard, you mean?” asked War.

“The pool has its guardians—placed here ages ago by Inca priests.”

“Guardians?” Jack repeated in wonder. “What sort of guardians?”

“Cannibal fish. The waters are infested with them. I assure you they are
very old and very vicious. Should anyone fall or dive into the pool, his
life would be forfeit.”

Silently the Scouts and Mr. Livingston gazed into the dark waters.
Guarded by cannibal fish! Even the thought of it gave them the shivers.

“A few of the smaller, practically harmless fish have found their way to
the pool below,” Mr. Monahan went on. “But the guardians of this lake
are a different proposition.”

“Is there no way the treasure can be brought to the surface?” inquired
Jack reflectively.

“Oh, there are many ways, but all involve preparation and equipment.
That was why Captain Carter went to my brother. It was our plan to work
quietly and to bring the treasure up before news leaked out what we were
about. As you have informed me, Captain Carter worked only for himself.”

“You’re convinced he intends to seize the gold?” Mr. Livingston
questioned. He had seated himself with his back to a large rock.

“I am. As for myself, I have no desire to profit, but only to turn over
the priceless relics to the government.”

“Discovery of this city with its temple and remarkable treasure should
make you famous,” the Scout leader remarked.

“Indeed, that would be my reward. I’ve risked my life to remain here. I
feel that Captain Carter is not entitled to any of the gold. He is a
cheap adventurer, unscrupulous and grasping!”

From directly behind the speaker, there came an unexpected scraping of
rock.

Startled by the sound, Mr. Monahan and the Scouts turned quickly. A
shadowy figure had emerged from the tunnel exit.

Before anyone could recover from surprise, Captain Carter himself
confronted the group. With indolent ease, he covered them with his
automatic. In the half-light, his smile was triumphant and evil.

“Avast there, Monahan!” he growled. “Have a care how you blacken my good
name! Now stand against yon rock, all of you! And reach for the stars!”



                               Chapter 24
                        CAPTAIN CARTER’S SCHEME


Slowly, Mr. Monahan and the Scouts obeyed the captain’s terse command to
raise their hands. He lined them up against the rock, but, observing Mr.
Livingston’s weakened condition, did not force him to arise.

“I should do you all in now and put an end to this cat-mouse game,” he
said in a bored tone. “It would be so easy.”

“I rather doubt that, captain,” Mr. Monahan answered, matching his cool,
detached manner. “True, you might shoot and toss us to the fish, but in
doing so, you certainly would bring the wrath of the natives down upon
your head. Don’t forget that as Ino, the Medicine Man, I still swing a
little weight. Do away with me, and you’ll bring the pack down on your
back!”

“You over-estimate your quack medical powers, Monahan,” Captain Carter
sneered. “But that’s beside the point. Why work against each other when
we can make a deal?”

“A deal?”

“This lake holds enough treasure for both of us, with a few trinkets
left over for the Scouts to take home to their mamas. Why not team
together to get it out?”

“Team with you!” Mr. Monahan exclaimed. “You’ve already betrayed and
cheated me! Instead of revealing to my brother that I was safe, you gave
him quite the opposite impression. You defrauded him.”

“He’ll get his cash back,” the captain retorted. “I was stony broke when
we parted company, and didn’t have enough money to pay off my crew. I
had to raise cash fast to get back here with the equipment we needed to
pull off the job.”

“Apparently, it never occurred to you to tell my brother the truth. Or
to go to government authorities. That was because you expected to do me
in and grab everything for yourself!”

“Oh, I considered it,” Captain Carter admitted with a shrug, “but the
scheme offers risks. First, the Scouts loused up my deal by bringing the
authorities down on my head. As a result, I got here with a minimum of
the explosives I’ll need.”

“You intend to dynamite the lake?”

“That might be the general idea. Know of a better way to get rid of
those man chewin’ fish?”

“It might work,” Mr. Monahan conceded grudgingly. “But the point is,
what will the natives do when you set off an explosion?”

“I always was one to go for the big chance—take all, lose all, that’s
me. First, I aim to set myself up as the big Chief, deposing old
mud-in-the-mouth Panomuna. Once that’s done, I’ll say hocus-pocus and
toss some grenades into this lake. That should do the trick.”

“You make it sound very easy,” Mr. Monahan replied. “Just how do you
propose to depose Panomuna?”

“It’s simple,” Captain Carter boasted. He flashed a cigarette lighter.
“I’ll do a snappy job of starting a fire with this little gadget.”

“You think of everything, captain!” Mr. Monahan remarked sarcastically.

“That’s me. Well, what do you say? Are you playing along?”

“Just what is your proposition?”

“We’ll split the treasure two ways—half yours, half mine. You let me get
out of the country before you tip government officials. That’s all I
ask.”

“No! All of the treasure must be turned over to the proper authorities.”

“You’re a stubborn fool!” Captain Carter asserted angrily. “Okay, if you
don’t want to play along, I’ll take all the treasure and you can’t stop
me. You and your boys can take your chances on getting out of here
alive. Your decision is final?”

“It is.”

“Okay then,” Carter said, lowering his automatic. “If we can’t be
friends, then it’s each man for himself, and the Devil catch the
hindmost. I’m warning you though—don’t try any tricks either tonight or
tomorrow. I’m setting myself up as a ruler, and if you try to interfere,
I’ll turn the natives loose on you.”

The captain started to leave. In passing Mr. Livingston, he scrutinized
him briefly.

“Fever, eh?” he remarked. “You’ll all be down with it before long.”

“Could you spare me a cigarette?” the Scout leader asked.

“Sure, anything for a pal,” the captain replied sarcastically.

Mr. Livingston fumbled with the cigarette which the seaman gave him, and
then asked for a match. Captain Carter offered him the cigarette
lighter. As he lit the fag, Jack suddenly moved forward as if to attack
the captain.

“Oh, no you don’t!” the officer snarled, whipping out his automatic
again. “No tricks, I warned you!”

“Jumpy, aren’t you?” Jack taunted. “I wasn’t even starting your way.”

“No? Well, remember what I told you, or it will be the worse for you
all.” His gaze upon the grinning Scout, Captain Carter reached out to
snatch the cigarette lighter from Mr. Livingston’s fingers.

Then, his automatic still trained upon the group, he backed slowly
toward the tunnel.

“You’re all invited to the ceremony at dawn,” he called in parting. “I
advise you though, to watch from a distance. If I catch a glimpse of
you, I’ll sick my natives onto you. Furthermore, once I’ve finished off
old Mud-in-the-Mouth, I may find it expedient to purge the Forbidden
City of strangers.”

After the captain had gone, the Scouts, Mr. Livingston and Mr. Monahan,
put in uncomfortable hours by the lake. Though they discussed any number
of plans, none of them seemed feasible.

Captain Carter, they knew, was quite capable of carrying out his threat.
Aware of their hostility, he would be more than ever on the alert.

“If we show ourselves in the city, he’ll finish us off,” Mr. Monahan
asserted. “My advice is to wait here until dawn. Even then, I don’t know
what we can do. If we try to overpower Carter, the natives will turn on
us.”

“Don’t give up hope,” Mr. Livingston encouraged the little band. “The
captain may outsmart himself. I thought of a scheme, but we can’t know
until tomorrow whether or not it will work.”

Near exhaustion, the Scout leader closed his eyes and slept. Toward
morning he was aroused by his companions, who whispered that the hour of
dawn was upon the mountain.

“Willie will stay here with you,” Jack told him. “The rest of us are
going to sneak down to the plaza to see what happens.”

Mr. Livingston aroused himself. “I’m stronger,” he insisted, stretching
his cramped legs. “My fever is down again. We’ll all go together.”

The others could not dissuade him. Aided by Jack and Ken, the Scout
leader made it through the tunnel. Still shielded by semi-darkness, the
group found a hiding place not far from the scene of activity.

“This is going to be like watching a spectacle movie!” War remarked,
thrilled by the sight.

In the plaza, hundreds of chanting natives knelt before the temple,
their heads bowed. As a prelude to the ceremonial test between Captain
Carter and the Inca ruler, replicas of the Sun and Moon were paraded on
the temple steps. An impressive silence fell upon the throng.

“This is it,” Jack whispered to his crouching companions. “Here comes
Panomuna!”

A procession of priests wound its way to the broken stone steps. Moving
with great dignity, the Inca ruler took his place in front of the great
crowd. He wore a flame colored robe and held aloft a magnificent golden
bowl.

As the first rays of the sun came over the mountain peak. Panomuna
turned to face the horizon. Raising his hand, he chanted:

“Capak inti-illariymin.”

The Indians bowed before him, replying in chorus to the chant.

“Now, Panomuna will kindle the sacred fire on the altar,” Mr. Monahan
informed the group. “He will concentrate the rays of the sun upon tinder
in the golden bowl. Then Captain Carter will do the trick faster.”

The native ruler held his great bowl aloft, catching the rays of the sun
as he pronounced his weird chant.

Soon he had created his fire, which he deposited with ceremony on the
altar. The multitude cheered.

Gradually, the cries subsided and deep silence came upon the throng.
Every eye fastened upon Captain Carter. Confident and sure of himself,
he strode down the temple steps.

“I hope he uses that cigarette lighter!” Mr. Livingston murmured. “It
would be just our luck for him to use a match.”

“The natives already are familiar with matches,” Mr. Monahan commented.
“That wouldn’t impress them and Carter knows it.”

By this time Jack had caught the gleam of bright metal in the captain’s
hand.

“He’s using the cigarette lighter!” he exclaimed jubilantly.

Carter raised his hands and in an imitation of Panomuna, entoned a
meaningless chant to the Sun God.

“Now, I produce fire!” he shouted.

But the flames were not forthcoming.

Three times the captain tried with the cigarette lighter and failed
completely to produce a spark. The natives, at first attentive, began to
rumble with displeasure.

“His silly old lighter won’t work!” War chortled, scarcely able to
control his laughter. “Serves him right for trying to set himself up as
king. Say—” Warwick’s gaze sought first Mr. Livingston and then Jack.
Both were grinning from ear to ear. “I get it!” he cried. “Mr.
Livingston, you emptied the fluid out of that lighter, didn’t you?”

“While Jack created a diversion,” the Scout leader confessed. “Captain
Carter doesn’t have a very good memory, or he would have recalled that I
never smoke cigarettes. He was easy to fool. I was afraid though, that
he’d check the lighter before the ceremony.”

“Hey, watch!” Willie interrupted the conversation. “There’s going to be
fireworks now! Not created by his royal highness, Captain Carter,
either!”

The captain appeared stunned by his failure to produce fire, and then
dismayed. Well he might be fearful. Triumphant that his rival had
failed, Panomuna now danced down the temple steps, inciting the natives
to take their revenge upon the intruder.

“Keep back, you!” the captain snarled. “Keep back I say!”

He drew his automatic and as a native came up the temple steps to seize
him, deliberately fired. The man fell, moaning.

Captain Carter fired twice into the crowd. Then, leaping down from the
temple steps, he fled up the trail toward the entrance to the treasure
lake.

“The man is mad!” Mr. Monahan exclaimed. “Now that he has discredited
himself, he should try to escape before the natives turn upon him
completely.”

“He’s heading straight for the treasure lake!” Jack cried in alarm.
“I’ll bet he has explosives hidden up there somewhere!”

Minutes passed. From their hiding place, the Scouts watched the angry
natives pursue the fleeing seaman. Their own position, they realized,
was highly precarious. But escape, even through the lower passageway,
was cut off. They could only wait and hope that if the situation became
critical, Ino might influence the natives in their favor.

Suddenly the Scouts heard a series of muffled explosions which shook the
earth.

“What was that?” Ken demanded, startled. “Sounded like dynamite all
right!”

“Hand grenades being exploded under water,” Mr. Monahan informed the
group. “Carter brought in a supply of them. He’s determined to get the
gold, even if it costs him his life. And I think it will. Nothing can
save him now.”

In the plaza, a native was pounding an alarm on the temple gong. Bong!
Bong! Bong! Weirdly the sound echoed through the streets of the village.

“Even if Captain Carter succeeds in killing the cannibal fish, how can
he hope to hold the natives at bay while he brings up the treasure?”
Jack speculated.

“It’s madness!” Mr. Monahan asserted.

“Maybe he thinks we’ll help him,” Willie began. “Maybe—”

His speculation ceased at that point, for the ground beneath his feet
began to shake and tremble.

For an instant the Scouts thought that Captain Carter had touched off
another mighty explosion, more powerful than anything that had preceded
it.

But their reasoning told them better. No man-made dynamite could cause
an entire area to be so convulsed.

Walls of stone houses lining the streets were weaving and crackling. A
massive pillar came tumbling down.

Great chasms had developed in the earth, so deep that they seemed
without bottom. Monoliths of immense size were hurled down.

“An earthquake!” cried Willie, seizing a rock for support.

“One of the worst this area has had since I’ve been here!” gasped Mr.
Monahan.

A great dust rose from the ruined city. Everywhere there was screaming,
shouting and terror as natives sought refuge.

“The wrath of the Gods is being visited upon the city,” murmured Mr.
Monahan.

“Surely, you don’t really believe that,” returned Mr. Livingston.

“Of course not,” the other admitted. “But that is what the natives will
think, if any survive this awful upheaval.”

Another hard tremor shook the area, leveling the statue in the plaza.
Crouching together for protection against the falling stone, the Scouts
tensely waited.

No further upheavals followed. After awhile, Mr. Monahan decided to
creep from the shelter to see what could be done to help the injured.

“Stay here until I test the temper of the natives,” he warned the
others. “In their present mood, there’s no telling what they may do.
Those explosions and the quake have thrown them into a panic.”

Cautiously, Mr. Monahan moved out into the devastated street. But before
he could start toward the shattered temple, he was brought up short by
the wild cries of a mob which approached the plaza from the inner lake
trail.

Into view came the Indian warriors, their dust-streaked faces contorted
with both fear and fierce triumph. On their shoulders they bore the
lifeless, battered body of Captain Carter.

“They’ve done for him!” exclaimed the Scout leader.

“They have,” grimly agreed Mr. Monahan. “He brought it on himself by
setting off those explosions!”

“Now what?” Jack asked, watching as the strange procession proceeded to
the temple steps. “Are they offering prayers to the Gods?”

Mr. Monahan nodded. “And may they be appeased!” he murmured. “If they
show displeasure by further earth tremors, all our lives may be
forfeit!”



                               Chapter 25
                               INCA GOLD


In the garden of Father Francisco’s mission, the Scouts, their leader
and Mr. Monahan sat sipping limeade from tall, frosted glasses.

Three weeks had elapsed since the fateful morning when Captain Carter
had set off a series of explosions in the lake within the mountain.
Since that day, many events had transpired, some of which were not
pleasant to recall.

The terrifying earthquake had completed the wreckage of many of the
impressive structures in the hidden Inca city. The great temple had been
half destroyed. Five natives had died in the disaster, and many more had
suffered injury.

That the earth tremor had been caused by the wrath of the gods over
Carter’s desecration of the treasure lake, the natives had become firmly
convinced. Angered, they had set upon him, taking his life.

“So you see,” Mr. Livingston soberly related to the missionary,
“everything considered, we are fortunate to have escaped. The natives
accepted us only because Mr. Monahan was able to convince them that we
were not there to loot the pool. After the quake we cared for the
injured, and that too, helped win friendship.”

“What of the treasure?” the missionary inquired.

“A major portion already has been removed and transported to Lima under
guard,” Mr. Monahan answered. “Government officials are at the scene to
complete the job. Our responsibility is ended.”

From a jacket pocket, Ken removed the ancient parchment he first had
seen in Father Francisco’s library.

“We return this to you, Father,” he said, offering the manuscript. “It
was found in Captain Carter’s dunnage after his death.”

“That old parrot woman must have stolen it and turned it over to him,”
contributed Jack. “Captain Carter knew you had the parchment, Father. He
probably wanted it to prevent adventurers, and particularly our party,
from seeking the lost city.”

“Your theory must be correct,” the missionary said meditatively.
“However, Captain Carter did not arrive in Cuertos until after your
party came.”

“We figure he probably tipped Lolita off about the parchment before he
left here for America,” Willie offered his opinion. “She must have
watched her chance to snatch it, and probably was paid well, either in
jewelry or cash.”

“I’m afraid my directions for reaching the lost city were not very
helpful,” Father Francisco apologized. “I gave you the best information
available, but unfortunately, I was deceived.”

“Deceived?” Warwick asked quickly. “In what way?”

“I have always believed that according to the story, the mountain of the
lost city could be seen from the doorway of this mission.”

“Actually, it can’t be,” remarked Ken.

“The wording of the manuscript was not incorrect—only our
interpretation,” declared the missionary. “Come, I will show you.”

Walking with difficulty, Father Francisco led the party through the
garden, into the mission. Surprisingly he did not conduct them to the
door with which they were familiar. Instead, he took them once more to
the half-underground library.

There, the Scouts were astonished to see that the walls had been
severely cracked. Plaster still lay untouched on the carpets.

“The quake which was so severe where you were, also struck here,” the
missionary disclosed. “The mission as you have noted, suffered some
damage. In taking down a wall here in the library, another door, which
had been plastered over, was revealed.”

“And from this original door, one would gaze directly toward the
treasure mountain!” exclaimed Jack. “No wonder so many explorers were
thrown off the track!”

Mr. Livingston told Father Francisco that he and the Scouts planned to
return to the United States as soon as flight tickets could be obtained.
Burton Monahan would remain a few weeks longer to assist government
officials in cataloging the treasures taken from the Inca city.

Mr. Monahan turned gratefully to the Scouts. “I can’t thank you fellows
enough for undertaking a dangerous mission in my behalf,” he told them.
“If it hadn’t been for you, I’m afraid Captain Carter would have
accomplished his evil purpose. Alone, I’d never have been a match for
him.”

“It was Mr. Livingston’s trick with the cigarette lighter that proved
his undoing,” Ken chuckled at the recollection. “’Course, the earthquake
helped. Even now, the natives can’t be convinced that Carter didn’t set
off the earth tremors with those grenade explosions.”

“All in all, it’s been a real trip of exploration,” Jack contributed.
“One we’ll never forget. After Peru though, it will be hard to tame
ourselves down enough to schedule a canoe trip to Minnesota.”

“Oh, I don’t know,” drawled War. “Right now, I can’t imagine anything
that would be more fun than to hit white water.”

“Or a quiet fishing trip,” added Ken.

“Depends on the kind of fish you go after,” declared Willie with a grin.
“Perch or cannibals?”

“I’ll settle for muskies,” Ken laughed. “Even a nice peppy bass!”

“The Minnesota trip may have to wait awhile,” Mr. Livingston told the
Explorers.

“Oh, that’s all right,” Ken assured him. “After a long, hard trip such
as this, we won’t need another vacation for awhile. Belton is good
enough for us.”

“How long you fellows stay there will be strictly up to you,” the Scout
leader hinted. “The truth is—I hate to tell you this—”

“Go ahead,” Willie urged. “After what we’ve been through, we can take
anything.”

“You can, and that’s a fact,” Mr. Livingston responded warmly. “I’ve
told you before, and I repeat, you fellows more than lived up to my
hopes and expectations on this trip.”

“Tell us the news,” Jack interrupted impatiently. “What’s in the wind,
Hap?”

“Word of our successful mission here has spread. I’ve already had an
offer of another expedition—one which would bring us back to South
America.”

“To Peru again?” questioned Ken.

“No,” Mr. Livingston replied, “but possibly to an even more interesting
country. How does that strike you?”

“It hits me from the ground floor up,” asserted War. “When do we take on
this new job?”

“Not for awhile,” Mr. Livingston said, smiling at his eagerness. “We all
need a little rest, and I want to rid myself completely of fever before
I lead you off on another jaunt. For that matter, other offers may
develop.”

“Then, for the immediate future, it’s Belton?” Ken asked.

“Right. We should have our flight tickets by tomorrow.”

“Just think of the yarns we can spin when we tie up with the fellows
again,” chuckled Ken, relishing the prospect. “Lucky we still have a few
Inca trophies, or I’m afraid no one would believe our story.”

“So it’s back to the USA and good old Post 21,” announced Jack with a
flourish.

“To paved roads and plenty of hot running water,” added War.

“To hamburgers and double-dip ice cream sundaes,” completed Willie, his
eyes twinkling. “Peru’s great, but right now, I’d trade every souvenir
in the world for a nice restful day at home!”


                Boy Scout Explorers at Treasure Mountain

The lure of Inca gold led Burton Monahan on a dangerous trip to the
mountains of Peru. When word is brought back that he has apparently
disappeared, his brother asks “Hap” Livingston and his Boy Scout
Explorers to try to find out what happened.

An ancient parchment provides clues to the location of the Treasure
Mountain but it cannot forewarn the Explorers of the many hazards—both
natural and man-made—that must be surmounted before their goal can be
reached.

An exciting, live-action story, filled with thrilling incidents of
courage and bravery, sure to hold the interest of every adventure
enthusiast.


                          BOY SCOUT EXPLORERS
                             By Don Palmer

The BOY SCOUT EXPLORERS is a part of the BOY SCOUTS OF AMERICA, a world
wide organization that helps to mold the boys of today into the men of
tomorrow.

The Boys of Explorer Post No. 21 have a very good leader named George
(Happy) Livingston. He directs the regular meetings of the Post, and
also takes them on various outings, camping trips, etc.

Follow the adventures of this group of boys, as they search for a lost
treasure, etc. and run into many thrilling experiences.

                            THE TITLES ARE:

  1. BOY SCOUT EXPLORERS at EMERALD VALLEY.
  2. BOY SCOUT EXPLORERS at TREASURE MOUNTAIN.
  3. BOY SCOUT EXPLORERS at HEADLESS HOLLOW.


                            DAN CARTER BOOKS
                           By MILDRED A. WIRT

                  [Illustration: Dan Carter Cub Scout]

An exciting series of action stories about a group of youngsters and the
fun they enjoy as CUB SCOUTS, the junior organization of the BOY SCOUTS.
Every boy will get a kick out of the adventures of DAN CARTER and how he
and his Pack help to solve some thrilling mysteries. For boys eight to
eleven.

  1 Dan Carter Cub Scout
  2 Dan Carter and the River Camp
  3 Dan Carter and the Money Box
  4 Dan Carter and the Haunted Castle
  5 Dan Carter and the Great Carved Face
  6 Dan Carter and the Cub Honor


                        THE BOY SCOUT EXPLORERS
                             By DON PALMER

       [Illustration: The Boy Scout Explorers at Emerald Valley]

THE BOY SCOUT EXPLORERS, senior branch of THE BOY SCOUTS of AMERICA, is
an organization dedicated towards molding the good character of our boys
and promoting their good citizenship. It seeks to instill them with a
spirit of civic duty and readiness to help others by stimulating their
interest in wholesome and creative activities.

Every boy will enjoy reading about the interesting adventures of The
Boys of Explorer Post No. 21 and their capable Scout Leader, George
(Happy) Livingston. Ideal stories for boys from 10 to 14.

  1 Boy Scout Explorers at Emerald Valley
  2 Boy Scout Explorers at Treasure Mountain
  3 Boy Scout Explorers at Headless Hollow

              For sale at all book and department stores.

                         CUPPLES & LEON COMPANY
                 200 Fifth Avenue    New York 10, N. Y.



                          Transcriber’s Notes


--Copyright notice provided as in the original—this e-text is public
  domain in the country of publication.

--Silently corrected palpable typos; left non-standard spellings and
  dialect unchanged.

--In the text versions, delimited italics text in _underscores_ (the
  HTML version reproduces the font form of the printed book.)





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