Saturday, 22 September 2007

Through the Andes

Through the Andes
A serial in three parts all parts digital captured by Doug Frizzle 2007.
Amazing Stories September, October, November 1934.

Our readers will be delighted to find a story by Verrill, which we are commencing in this issue. It treats of an adventurous trip through the Andes and is characterized by a varied personnel whose widely different characters are excellently depicted. Mr. A. Hyatt Verrill is a very high authority on the region in which the scene of this story is laid.


CHAPTER I Off for the Unknown
WHEN we had passed through Cajamarca we had heard rumors of bandits in the mountains. Then, at Porvenir, the Commandante had told us that ever since the last revolution, against the Dictator, Serrano, bands of outlaws had been robbing travelers in the hills. But Don Jaime, at the Hacienda de Dos Rios, had minimized the danger. The Commandante's outlaws, he declared, showing his strong even teeth in a smile and with one lean hand airily waving all bandits aside, were merely the remnants of the insurrectos who dared not show themselves at the towns and could not return to their own homes, for fear of arrest and a firing squad. "So what would you, señores?" he asked. "man must live—no? They may steal—yes. They may help themselves to sheep, to the cattle, to the corn and the chickens. But, caramba, do not the soldiers of the gobiemo do the same? Yet would the Señor Commandante call them bandits? Bandits! Pouff! I myself ride over the passes and through the hills in the night as well as in the day, and do I see these so-dreadful brigands, these outlaws? Madre de Dios—no! Never, not at all, not one bandit do I meet. Insurrectos, si—ragged, half-starved rascals who, had their cause won, would of a truth be holding fat jobs like that of El Commandante. Cholos* mostly, who were led to take arms by those with more brains and less courage than themselves, who deserted them when they saw defeat. But bandits! Pouff, I say!"
* Half-breed South American Indians.
And as El Commandante was a timid soul and wont to exaggerate all things— his own importance included—and as Don Jaime was in a position to know, we decided that brigands were the least of the dangers we faced on our expedition into the wild Achcacuna district. Besides, none of us were the sort to be much troubled by thought of banditti, even if we had taken the Commandante's words at their face value. We three had been in tight places before. All of us were old hands at the game. We could all shoot and shoot straight, and we had all met some pretty hard cases of Homo sapiens in our days. "Red," or more properly, Jimmy Neil, had once served on the Texas Rangers, and bad men had no terror for him. Saunderson had traveled through brigand-infested portions of the Orient. And I had lived for so long among primitive savage tribes and traditionally hostile Indians that I had developed a sort of contempt for supposedly dangerous human beings, and discounted all tales of bad-men, red or white. And we didn't have much that would tempt genuine, dyed-in-the-wool bandits, even if they were in the hills. We weren't carrying money like the paymasters at the mines. On the contrary we were practically penniless as far as specie was concerned, for we were headed for a district where currency had no intrinsic value and we didn't have twenty-five dollars in real money among us. I think Red's Masonic ring was the only piece of jewelry in the outfit, and our watches were either Ingersolls or cheap nickel-plated timepieces. Of course there were our guns and ammunition, our food supplies and our camp outfit. But aside from the firearms and the food there wasn't anything that a bandit could sell or use, and the provisions weren't enough to tempt any brigand to risk his life. Oh, yes, there were the trade goods. But what outlaw would want glass beads, tin whistles, mouth organs, cotton ribbon, files, hoop iron, cheap butcher knives and scented soap—especially the soap?
And everyone in the country knew all about our expedition, who we were, what we had and where we were going, so there wasn't much fear of being held up by mistake. Everyone knew we were on a quasi-scientific exploring trip. Saunderson was a sportsman and had joined the party for the sake of the hunting and in the hope of getting a chance to bag some new game to add to his trophies—the spectacled Andean bear, the mountain jaguar, much like the prized snow-leopard of the Himalayas, or even one of the semi-mythical Andean wild goats that the Indians of the high altitudes described. But I think he really went along as much for the adventure entailed by entering an unexplored territory as with the expectation of getting big game, and I'm sure he would have been satisfied with a few vicunas, a guanaco or two and an ordinary jaguar. I never did know just why I took Red along. Perhaps because his whimsicalities amused me and I felt he would be good company, perhaps because he asked me to take him, and somehow people never could refuse Red, or again it may be that some sixth sense or intuition told me that Fate had decreed that his paths and mine were to cross and that my life—all our lives—would depend upon him. Whatever the reason, Red was along with us. As for myself, I had long wanted to explore the Achcacuna country. It was practically unknown. No white man—at least no white man I had been able to find—had ever explored it. As far as known, none of its inhabitants—if it contained any— had ever appeared in the outlying villages and towns. For some wholly inexplicable reason the ordinary Indians— the Quichuas and Collas—considered it taboo, and not even the government survey planes ever had flown across more than one corner of the district. But even if they had, the pilots couldn't have seen anything, for the Achcacuna was a jungle-covered valley—or series of valleys—hemmed in by vast mountain ranges. It was, in fact, a sort of detached section of the trans-Andean Montana— the tropical jungle country of the Amazon tributaries—hidden away among the mountains as if it had been lifted bodily and carried over the eastern ranges and dropped down a couple of hundred miles from where it belonged; a bit of the tropics surrounded with snow-clad peaks.
That much was known from what the men in the army planes had reported. But the reason that I was so keen on getting into the Achcacuna was because I had a hunch that there, if anywhere, I might find remains of the first cultured inhabitants of South America—the pre-pre-Incans from whom the ancient civilizations had sprung. Always, I had contended that the Incan culture and the cultures preceding it, yes, even the immeasurably ancient Tiahuanacan civilization, had come from the east. From my years of study of the Peruvian, Bolivian and other remains, I felt convinced that the religions, the arts, the astronomical and the engineering knowledge of these peoples had been introduced by way of the Amazon, and thence over the Andes, by civilized men from Atlantis of the Mediterranean, thousands of years before the first Inca had appeared on the shores of Lake Titicaca, And if my theory was correct, then it would be logical to assume that these wanderers from the east, coming from semi-tropical lands, penetrating—slowly and perhaps after many years—the Amazonian Valleys, would have established permanent homes, perhaps great cities, in some verdured, warm and sheltered spot before attempting to explore or cross the austere, barren Andes and the deserts. And the Achcacuna was just that type of spot.

AS I said before, I had wanted to explore the district for years. But I had never had the opportunity or the necessary funds before. Then I had met Saunderson. He was not only a born adventurer and a sportsman, but he was wealthy. He was also Scotch; but being of that proverbially canny race did not prevent him from furnishing the wherewithal for the expedition, when I chanced to mention the Achcacuna and my theories in regard to it.
"Ripping!" he had ejaculated. “Tell you what I’ll do, old man. You know the country here. You want to hunt about for tumbled-down old ruins and dig up old bones, and I want to have a go at potting new game. If no chaps have been up in that jolly country, there should be good sport. I’ll supply the pounds, shillings and pence—or the equivalent—and you'll supply the experience and scientific knowledge, you know. Partners, you see! You'll get all the credit for any discoveries you make. I’ll get my trophies and have a devilish good time. What say?"
Naturally I said yes.
And now Saunderson was getting all the shooting and all the adventure he could have asked for—and more.

BUT I'll have to back-trail and start at where we were approaching Macapuy Pass, for that is where the story really begins. We had made very-good time for we were going light. Aside from Red, Saunderson and myself, there was Sam, my black West Indian camp boy who had been with me on many an expedition; two stocky Cholo arrieros or muleteers, or still better donkeyteers, for our "mules" were shaggy little burros; two Quichua Indians with their string of llamas; and "Karen" a bowlegged, monkey-faced Malay dwarf who was Saunderson's servant, valet, cook, body-guard, gun-bearer and clown combined. Not having expected any trouble with hostiles of any sort we had not provided much of an arsenal. Personally I never carry arms on my expeditions, as I have always found that the presence of weapons arouses suspicions on the part of the Indians and leads to trouble. But Saunderson of course had his guns—a high-powered rifle, a lighter rifle, and a double-barreled shot gun, in addition to a Browning automatic which he carried to give the coup de grace to any wounded beasts he might bring down. As for Red, he was never without a couple of forty-five Colts worn "low an' tied" as he expressed it, a habit acquired when on the Texas Ranger border patrol. "Naw, I don't pack 'em 'cause I reckon to need 'em," he drawled, when Saunderson jokingly asked him who he was gunning for one day. "But I jus' don't feel natural without 'em. Feel jus' as undressed without my six-guns as I would without my pants."
The Cholos, of course, had no weapons. The Indian llama drivers carried their woven woolen slings, as is the invariable custom, and Karen, who, as soon as we left civilization discarded conventional garments and appeared clad in sarong, turban and jacket, wore a crooked-bladed kris thrust through his waist-cloth. As for Sam—never to my knowledge had he fired a gun or a pistol or carried a weapon of any sort—no, not even a razor. Hence I was vastly surprised when, after leaving Don Jaime's hacienda, I discovered that he had provided himself with a pistol. As a weapon of offense or defense it was about as useful as a child's popgun; but many a collector would have prized it as an antique, for it was a long-barreled duelling pistol with percussion lock. In its day it had been a handsome and costly weapon, its stock mounted with silver and its lock-plate and barrel richly engraved. But time and lack of care had played havoc with it. It was rusty, the stock worm-eaten, bits of the silver inlay missing. But Sam—who confessed that he had secured it from the Major-domo of the hacienda in exchange for a multi-bladed pocket knife—was as proud of his "gun," as though it had been the latest and most deadly of weapons.
"Ah, happen' to overhear 'bout tha bandits," he explained, when I questioned him about the relic. "An' Ah considah tha aspec's o' tha' situation an' arrive to tha conclusion Ah bes' provide mese'f wif means for meetin' any potential'ties what might arise fo’ to confront we. Yaas, sir, Chief, Ah'm a man o' peace, but Ah boun' protec' me life an' tha provisions wha's in me care."
"But, good Lord, Sam, that thing isn't any good. And you never used a gun in your life!" I exclaimed.
Sam grinned. "Ah don't contradic' yo' assumptions, Chief," he replied. "But Ah goin' clean he up, spick an' span, an' load he jus' tha same. Ah know Ah don' never been call on to shoot off a gun, an Ah pray tha Lord Ah don't be fo'ced to tha' necess'ty. But ef Ah does Ah goin' try me bes' an’ arsk tha Lord fo' to stan' by me. An' mebbe 'tween me an' tha' Lord an' this ol' gun Ah'm goin' hit what Ah aim for."
Of course Sam's pistol was a source of no little raillery and amusement on our part, and the only reason I have mentioned the matter, and have devoted so much space to it, is because of later events which transpired.
As I was saying, we had made good time. From the Hacienda de Dos Rios we had climbed steadily up the Andean slopes, following the old Incan road most of the way, and heading for the Paso de Macapuy, the lowest point at which we could cross the range. In ancient times the Incas had maintained a suspension bridge across the Supay River, thus affording a route which climbed the ranges by a series of gentle grades to a much lower pass than that of Macapuy. But the bridge had rotted away centuries ago, it never had been rebuilt, and the old Incan route had been abandoned beyond its termination at the verge of the rushing torrent. From that point, the trail to Macapuy led almost straight up the steep slope of the mountainside. It was hard going. The trail was merely a llama path, it was choked with loose stones and boulders fallen from the slopes above, and, despite the altitude, the sun beat down mercilessly through the rarefied air. But at last we reached a little plateau—a small rock-strewn mountain desert or puna* with the narrow opening to the pass beyond. Once through the pass our way would be all down hill; we would be on the eastern slopes of the Andes, with the streams flowing to the Amazon instead of to the Pacific. And somewhere, between the snow-clad, glacier-sheathed peaks and the hot, jungle-covered lowlands, was the unknown territory referred to by the Indians as Achcacuna. Although the hardest of our travelling was over, the most difficult part of our undertaking lay ahead. We would have to go slowly, carefully. It would be necessary for us to spend days, perhaps weeks, searching for a feasible route to the unexplored area. No longer could we follow trails, no matter how faint or how bad. Beyond the pass we must leave the beaten path, the route that led southward, along the range to the little town of Yucay, a military outpost on the Rio Tigre, and must pick our way into the heart of that labyrinth of peaks, up-flung pinnacles, knife-edged ridges and tumbled mountains, that formed the supposedly impassable barrier to the unknown land we sought. Without some landmark, some bearing to guide us, our quest would have been hopeless. It would have been worse than trying to find the proverbial needle in the hay-stack. But the government aviators who had flown over one section of the district had accomplished something. They had taken aerial photographs and had made notes of the terrain they had seen, and it was upon these records that I depended for success. In each of the pictures three isolated peaks stood out prominently. But as the photographs had been taken from various positions of the planes, the peaks were visible from a different angle in each of the prints. Hence they served as cross-bearings, and by a simple method of elementary triangulation the position of the verdured valleys of the Achcacuna could be located. But first we had to locate the three peaks, and, having done so, and by their help having located the Achcacuna country, we would yet have to find a way to reach it. So, as we rested after our long, hard climb, I got out the maps, the aerial photographs, my compasses and scales, and began plotting our past route and planning the course we were to follow after we emerged from the llacapuy pass.
*Spanish- American term for a desert region.

SAUNDERSON stretched himself, yawned, lighted his pipe and glanced about at the austere, forbidding mountains gray, red and pink, with the dazzling glaciers crowning their summits. "Reminds one a bit of the Himalayas," he remarked. "Should be some sort of game here—wild goats, sheep. But—Hello, what's that?"
Seizing his glasses he focussed them on a portion of the mountain side above the pass.
"Funny, that I" he muttered as he swept the bare slopes. "I could have sworn I saw something up there. Not a bit of cover where even a rabbit could hide, and yet I can't see a bally, living thing."
"Probably a vacuñia," I suggested. "They're exactly the color of those rocks. If they stood still you couldn't see them."
"Not a bit of it, old top!" declared Saunderson, "What I saw was dark colored. But it has vanished—utterly!"
Red chuckled and cocked an eye skyward to where a condor was sailing in vast circles on broad motionless wings. "Reckon you seen one of them condors," he said. "Probably was settin' up yonder, an', when he seen you was a' lookin' at him, he got scairt an' flew off."
Saunderson grinned. "Can't spoof me that way, Red, my lad," he said. "I can jolly well tell a bird from a beast, even at that distance."
"Maybe Red's right," I observed without glancing up from my maps, "this clear, thin air distorts objects and magnifies them. I've seen a little bird that appeared as big as a deer at a distance of nearly half a mile. And a condor is a pretty big object, you know."
"Hmm, well, possibly I may have been mistaken," Saunderson admitted as he returned his glasses to their case. "And I imagine a condor perched on a rock would present something the appearance of a man—that's what I thought it was—an Indian."
"That settles it," declared Red with finality. "No Injun could never get up there. It'd take wings to climb them cliffs. An’ I've seen eagles squattin’ a-top the mesas* in Arizona that fooled the best of us. Yep, I recollect one time we was trailing some Apache cattle rustlers, an' along towards sundown one of us seen a Injun standin' on a mesa against the sunset. Yep, he was that plain we could see his fringed leg-gin's an' britch-cloth an’ a feather in his hair. Sort of half-stoopin' he was, as if looking for us a-trailin' of him. But shucks! After we'd crep' up for mebbe a quarter mile of the mesa, damned if that Injun didn't just flap his wings an' fly away!"
*A high plateau or terrace, characteristic of some Western regions.

SAUNDERSON laughed, "”Pon my word!" he ejaculated, "you're the most entertaining beggar I've ever met. Red. No matter what pops up you always have a story that fits the case. I—" At this moment Karen spoke to his master in low tones, using his native dialect.
"By jove, I was right!" exclaimed Saunderson. "Karen says he saw it and that it was a man. You can trust him not to be mistaken!"
I reached for my glasses and studied the mountain side. "He must have been— this time," I declared, "or else the person you saw possesses the supernatural ability to vanish in air. There's isn't a place where any human being could descend there without being in plain view, and I can't see a bush, a cactus plant or even a rock where he could hide."
Red was studying the mountain through half-closed eyes. "I dunno," he said at last. "I dunno about the Injuns up here, but an Apache or a Yaqui could hide out there—yep, a whole bunch of 'em could. It looks kinda flat an' bare from here, but I bet if we was up there we'd find it all rough an' cut up with cracks an' plenty of places where a Injun could hide out. An' how do we know they ain't some draw or gulley or quebrada* leadin' over the ridge and down 'tother side? If I was in Injun country where they was hostyles I'd mosey along mighty careful an' ready to shoot when we poke our noses into that pass."
*A ravine.
I laughed. "There aren't any Indians living up here," I told him. "And if there were any they'd be harmless, timid, peaceful Quichuas. They are the only mountain Indians in the country. You forget that this is all well known, well travelled country, and that people —Indians and white men—llama pack trains and burros, are constantly passing through here. Why, even Don Jaime makes monthly trips through the pass to Yucay and his ranch there." "Beggin' yo' pahdon. Chief," said Sam. "How 'bout tha bandits yo' was discussin'? Ah don't rightly know how bandits conduc' theyselfs, but Ah makin' tha suggestion."
We all laughed. "Better get that young cannon of yours ready for action!" Saunderson told him.
"Yep, load her plumb full of slugs an' keep her primed an' cocked," chimed in Red.
Sam grinned. "Ah done so, Mistah Red," he declared. "Ef Ah pulls he trigger an' he goes Bam! Ah boun' for hit somethin'."
"By Jove, I'll keep under cover when I see you draw that gun!" cried Saunderson. Then, as he strolled over, and thrusting hands in pockets peered down at my outspread maps! "What does 'Achcacuna' mean, old man?" he inquired.
"That depends," I told him. "It's Quichua, and in that language the exact meaning of a word depends a great deal upon how it is used and what other words are used with it. 'Cuna' is merely the plural ending—meaning literally, more than one, 'Achca' means many— a great many or a countless number."

THAT doesn't make sense," exclaimed Saunderson. " 'More than one a great many', you know!"
"Not if you interpret it that way— so literally," I said. "But it would be equivalent to 'Multitudes' or 'a great, great many’. Of course that doesn't sound sensible either. But if we knew the original Quichua name—the full name, it would probably mean something understandable. It may have been 'Chaco-achcacuna", a great multitude of forests, or something similar."
"Hmm, well, I hope it means great multitudes of game," he observed. "As a hunting expedition this has been a complete washout—so far. Not even a fox."
"Mebbe we'll run plumb into some big game into that cañon," remarked Red. "You better have your rifle handy." As I folded up my maps and rose I glanced at Red. An involuntary exclamation of surprise almost escaped from my lips. The thongs of his holsters were tied about his legs, and the flaps were unbuckled and turned back. The two six-guns were ready for instant use!
I was on the verge of asking him why he had unlimbered his artillery, but changed my mind. Instead of speaking I moved over to my packs, rummaged in them, as if restoring my maps and papers to their places, and finding a revolver dropped it into my own pocket. After all, I thought, it might be as well to be prepared for anything. And suddenly it dawned upon me that there had been a hidden warning, a hint, in Red's advice to Saunderson to have his rifle ready. I turned. Saunderson was shoving cartridges into the magazine of his heavy express rifle, while Karen stood near, the lighter rifle in the hollow of his arm. Saunderson had grasped the meaning of Red's casual remark, and was preparing to meet "big game" in the pass.

IN some past geological period a prehistoric river had cut a great gash through the mountains, to form Macapuy Pass. Eating deeply into the layers of softer rock, following the lines of least resistance, the ancient stream had carved and sculptured the stone and had left columns, pillars, pinnacles and outjutting shelves of the harder strata. At the bottom of the defile was the wide bed where the torrent had flowed before some upheaval of the continent had raised the pass thousands of feet in air. But now it was an area of smooth, water-worn stones with a tiny trickle of water, from the melting glaciers, flowing through the centre. Between this rivulet and the cañon walls, the debris that had fallen from above had decomposed to form a thin soil that supported a meagre growth of aspens and poplars, gnarled, stunted willows, "dwarfed conifers," a tangle of convolvulus, and tiny park-like areas of grass, starred with orange-yellow amaryllis lilies.
Sniffing and braying at sight of the greenery and the water, the burros rushed forward despite the efforts of the arrieros to control them, and halting at the first patch of grass commenced browsing avidly. Even the llamas, disdainful as always, broke into a trot and began to graze. Red halted and cast a speculative glance about the place.
'Too open for a hold-up here 'bouts," he muttered "And them critters sure are needin' fresh fodder and water. If I was you, Doc, I'd stop right here for a spell afore goin' on into the cañon. Unless them burros and llamas is fed up and watered it'll be plumb hard work handlin' 'em, with food an' water all about, an' like as not we may be needin' to hustle 'em through to beat all hell. 'Cordin' to my way of think-in' the faster we hit it through this pass the more likely we'll be to get outen it with whole skins."
"By Jove! Do you actually surmise that we may be attacked?" exclaimed Saunderson. "I 'got you', as you Americans say, when you suggested that we might meet ‘big game' in here. But 'pon my word I only half believed you actually foresaw trouble, you know."
Red bit off a man-sized chew from his plug of tobacco and slowly masticated it "I ain't sayin’ as we're head-in' for trouble," he said. "But I been scoutin’ an' runnin' down outlaws an’ cattle-rustlers an' bandits an' sech-like hombres for so long I got the habit of kinda expectin' somethin' to happen every time I put my head into a place like this. If the Lord A'mighty had a made it special an' to order for a holdup it couldn't have been better. An' if what you seen over on that hill was a man, an' if Doc's right an' there ain't no hostyle Injuns round these parts, then like as not the Commandante was right and there's a passel of bandits hangin’ about. Even if there be, mebbe they ain't aimin' to mess up with this outfit. An' then again, mebbe they be. Still an' all, it seems to me, if I was Doc here, I'd be ready for most anything! critters fed up, watered an' rested; an' then hustle through this cañon just as fast as we can make it."

I THINK you're right, Red," I told him. "Not that I really believe there is any danger of bandits; but just to be on the safe side. And even if for no other reason, to have the animals in good shape when we reach the other end of the pass. There'll be a lot of hard work for them soon."
So we spent the rest of the day there, camped there that night, with Red, Saunderson and myself taking turns at sentry duty, and prepared to go through the pass the next morning. Both men and beasts were much the better for the rest and change of food and water. Saunderson, unable to remain inactive for a moment, had insisted on going for a hunt, and had returned with a young deer which was the first fresh meat we had eaten in many days. He reported that he had seen no signs of any human beings near, and that Karen— who was almost superhuman in his trailing and scouting abilities—had penetrated far into the defile without finding a trace of bandits or other men. Even Red admitted that there was no real reason for his suspicions; but he didn't relax his vigilance as we started on our way and he kept his guns tied down and ready for use at any instant.
"Mebbe they ain't nary a bandit within a hundred miles," he growled as we proceeded. "But somehow or other I got a hunch there's some deviltry hangin' about, an' I'm proceedin' just as if I was plumb sure of it."
And while Saunderson professed to scoff at the idea of danger. I noticed that he held his rifle in readiness and that Karen kept by his side carrying the other guns. But as we marched steadily on, and the pass became narrower and narrower, and the silence was broken only by the patter of the feet of llamas, burros and men, and nothing happened, we began to feel that all our fears had been groundless and our precautions uncalled for. Red and I were in the lead. Behind us came the two Indians with the llamas. Then the burros with the Cholo arrieros, while Saunderson and Karen formed the rear guard. We had passed the narrowest part of the gorge. Ahead of us we could see the eastern end of the pass, when suddenly, startlingly, the sharp report of a rifle rang out.
Red's battered sombrero flew from his head. With a single motion he whipped out both his revolvers, threw himself behind his mount and fired at a tiny puff of smoke that had spurted from the face of the cliff.
The detonations of his heavy forty-fives drowned the sound of a second rifle shot; but one of the Cholos, frantically striving to control the burros, spun like a top and sank to the ground.
From the rear came the heavy crash of Saunderson's express rifle, and I caught a glimpse of a man's body hurtling down the cliffside.
"Got him, by love!" shouted Saunderson, "Come on, you beggars!"
"Run for it!" bellowed Red, wheeling his mount and dashing back to urge the frightened Cholos forward. "Vaya! Beat it! Vamoose! No place for fight-in' it out—here." he yelled to me. "Out in the open's our only chance!" By now sharp reports were echoing from every side and bullets were spattering on the rocks all about us. All was confusion. The arrieros, shouting, cursing, cracking their whips, strove to urge their burros into a run. The frightened creatures snorted, reared, and kicked, jostling and crowding one another. Only the presence of Saunderson and Karen yelling and waving their arms, prevented the beasts from dashing back whence they had come. But the Indians and their llamas remained calm. Placidly, unhurriedly, the Indians talked to their charges in Quichua, and the llamas —aloof, supercilious, dignified as ever —moved quickly, obediently forward, while their masters trotted behind them, never glancing to right or left, and calmly masticating the inevitable coca pellets in their cheeks. That was the last we ever saw of them.

WHY we were not all killed during those first few moments, when we were trying to get order out of chaos, will ever be a mystery to us three. But God knows it was bad enough. Burros squealed with fear and fell dead and wounded. One Cholo lay dead among the rocks and a second was writhing in his death throes. Red's face was covered with blood from a furrow cut by a bullet across his forehead. Saunderson's mount had been shot under him, and my own saddle-horn had been shattered by a rifle ball. But Saunderson seemed to be thoroughly enjoying it. With Karen beside him he stood there, loading, sighting and firing as calmly as though on the range at Bisley, one of the English rifle ranges, holding the bandits to their cover, while Red and I fought madly to control those fiendish burros and drive them onward to the safety of the open country beyond the cañon. But we might as well have tried to drive the stunted trees or solid rocks. And when the last Cholo dropped, and the burros stampeded across the gorge, we gave up, and shouting to Saunderson and Karen to follow, we dashed towards the exit of the pass.
Before we had gone fifty yards the shots from our unseen assailants ceased.
"Beat 'em!" panted Red by my side. "Didn't think we could make it! But damn them burros."
"Oh, I say, that was jolly!" exclaimed Saunderson, who came striding up with Karen running at his heels, like a faithful spaniel.
Suddenly I halted. "Wait, where's Sam?" I cried. "I haven't seen him since—"
"Me neither," declared Red. "Ain't—"
"I'm positive he wasn't back there— either alive, wounded or dead," said Saunderson. "I was the last one to leave and no casualties aside from the three Cholos, I'll swear. Possibly—"
"I'm going back!" I exclaimed. "He must be there—May have been hit and dropped among the bushes or rocks. I—"
My words were cut short by the roar of a gunshot just ahead.
"Damn 'em—they've headed us off!" cried Red. "Well have to make a dash for it—Sam or no Sam."
The next moment we rounded an out-jutting spur of rock and halted in our tracks. "Sam!" I shouted. "What the devil—"
Sam looked up from where he was seated on a bounder gazing ruefully at his pistol. A grin spread across his black face.
"Ah spec’ Ah put too much powder in he, an he bash up for true," he said as he rose and exhibited his ancient weapon with a burst barrel. "But jus' tha same, Chief, Ah did say true when Ah say as how when he go Bam! Ah boun' for hit somethin'. Yaas, sir, Chief, when Ah see tha' bandit snoopin' an' creepin' mongst tha rocks. Ah say, 'Sam,' Ah say, 'he goin' seek a place whereby he aimin' to shoot yo', Chief an' Mister Red an' Mister Saunderson when they comes along.' So Ah crep' up meself an' res' me pistol on rock an' shet me eyes an' arsk tha Lord fo' help an' pull he trigger. An' Bam! he goes an' bash he up." With a gesture of disgust he tossed the ruined pistol among the rocks.
"But the bandit?" I demanded. "Where is he? Where did he go? Is he ahead there?"
Sam's jaw gaped and he rolled his eyes in surprise. "Wha la! Didn't Ah say, Chief?" he exclaimed. "He over yander behin' that big stone. Yaas, sir, Chief, he daid, he well daid!"
"Well I’ll be damned!” ejaculated Red, who had sprung forward revolver in hand and had peered back of the rock Sam indicated. "Sam sure did hit somethin' when that there blunderbuss of his'n went 'Bam!’ Must have been near enough to have shook hands—Top of his head blowed clean off!"
"My word, lucky for us Sam was here!" exclaimed Saunderson. "We would have dashed right into the trap, by Jove!"
"Yes, but how did you happen to be here?" I demanded of Sam.
He grinned sheepishly, dug his toes into the sand and hung his head. "To tell tha truf, Chief, Ah was scared," he admitted. "When Ah fin' tha bandits shootin' at we. Ah say to me feet, 'Feet, tha Lord put yo' on me legs fo' to run, an' now feets do yo' duty.' Yaas, sir, Chief, Ah—"
The report of a rifle and the whine of a bullet reminded us that the bandits were still on hand and creeping nearer.
"Come on!" T shouted, "they'll head us off if we don't hurry like blazes!" But the bandits made no efforts to head us off in the cañon. No shot was fired as we raced on, and, dashing from the pass, came to a halt at a safe distance beyond the nearest cover. Before us stretched the stony puna, and far down the trail to Yucay a cloud of dust rose in the still air.
"Aha! Here we are!" cried Saunderson jubilantly.
Red spat. "Yeah, here we are, an' the hell of a nice fix we're in, Mister. Burros back in the cañon with our campin' outfit an' grub. Cholos dead, saddle mules gone—”
"And the llamas going full speed for Yucay," I added indicating the dust cloud in the distance. "Looks as if the Achcacuna trip must be abandoned."
Red hitched up his trousers and took another chew of tobacco. "Might as well be hoofin' it after them Injuns an' llamas," he said. "The sooner we get to Yucay the less hungry we'll be."
"Right-o!" agreed Saunderson cheerily. "Matters might be much worse, you know— Some of us shot and all that sort of thing. And we jolly well did bowl over some of those rotters in the cañon!"
There appeared no other course for us to follow, and turning towards the trail we trudged on.
The rocky plain or puna, where we had debouched from the pass, sloped steeply downward, for perhaps a thousand yards, to a rather deep gulley with a brawling mountain stream flowing over its rocky bed. To our right the rugged cliffs rose in a series of serried ridges to the peaks beyond, and with an outflung spur extending almost to the verge of the gorge. Hence, the puna, which was fully half a mile in width where we stood, was triangular in form, bordered on one side by the mountains, on the other by the river and ravine, and with its apex where gorge and mountain spur converged with the trail passing between the edges of the ravine and the rocky point.
As we reached the point, tongues of flame spurted from the rocks; from every side came the sharp reports of rifles; bullets whined past our ears like angry bees. The bandits had outwitted us. They had sneaked along the ridge from the pass, had led us to think ourselves out of danger, and had us ambushed in a veritable cul-de-sac between the rock-strewn hillside and the river. Only their impatience and the fact that they were execrable marksmen saved us from complete annihilation. Had they waited another two minutes we would all have been shot down. But by some seeming miracle their first volley left us unscathed. To stand there was to invite death; to attempt to dash along the trail within pistol-shot of their rifles would be suicidal. With one accord we wheeled and raced back towards the open puna, while all about us the rifle balls spatted against the rocks or flung up clouds of dust and sand about our feet. There was no cover, not a rock or boulder large enough to hide a rabbit, and the brigands had got our range and were firing more carefully. Red swung abruptly to the right. "Over the bank!" he shouted.

A MOMENT later we were crouching on the steep slope of the quebrada safe from the bandits' bullets.
"By Jove they are rotten marksmen!" exclaimed Saunderson.
"An' damn lucky for we all they be so," said Red.
"The question now before the house is what we are to do next," I said.
"It's obvious we can't follow the trail to Yucay. We can't retrace our way through the pass, for even if we could exist there until some other party comes along the bandits would beat us to it and would head us off. And we can't stay here indefinitely. If—" My words were cut short by the report of a rifle and a bullet ricochetted from a rock beside Sam.
With a terrified yell he leaped up, slipped and went sliding, rolling down the bank.
"After him!" cried Red. "That shot came from across the creek."
In a shower of stones, a miniature avalanche of sand and rocks, we reached the bottom of the gulley and stood knee-deep in the stream. "Now the beggars will pot us," declared Saunderson.
"Like hell they will," growled Red. "Look ahead, Mister."
Just beyond where we stood, the ravine bent at an acute angle, and the stream had cut deeply into the rocky walls leaving an outjutting shelf of strata affording perfect protection from above. A moment later we were standing in the recess.
"Can't touch us here." remarked Red. "And if they try to snipe us from the opposite bank they'll have to show 'em-selves, an' I reckon we can shoot a dam sight quicker'n an' straighter than them skunks."
"Undoubtedly," I agreed. "But are we any better off? Might as well be shot as to stay here and be starved out. And the river may rise at any time and then—."
"Beggin' yo' pahdon. Chief," said Sam, interrupting my words, "Ah been snoopin' 'roun' tha corner an' Ah fin' we able fo' to proceed on'ard 'neath tha rocks like we is here 'bout’."
"I say, Sam's right—distinctly right!" announced Saunderson, who had hurried forward to verify Sam's report. "Like a covered gallery, you know. We can toddle on and give these beggars the slip, absolutely."
"Yeah, but we gotta come out—some place." Red reminded him. "An' like as not when we want to come out well find we can't. Even Karen ain't monkey enough to climb up here. And farther on it may be worse."
"Or better," I said. "Anyway, there's no sense standing here. Let's go on and see if we can't find a spot where we can get out without being shot by those devils!" Then, as a new thought struck me. "Hold on. I've a pocket map of this district. Let's have a look and see where this stream flows."

"NOT very promisin'," observed Red as we studied the map. "Looks like she come outen a mountain an' ran every which way."
"No, not much information here," I agreed. "I imagine the greater part of the map was filled in by guess. The country's never been really surveyed. The worst of it is the farther we travel up the stream the farther we'll be from any settlement. And we've got to live."
Red tightened his belt. "If it comes to starvin' or bein' shot I'll be shot every time," he declared. "An’ if them coyotes would jus' come out in the open I'd take my chances shootin’ it out with 'em."
"So would I," I told him. "But they won't, and there isn't much glory in being shot by a man whom you can't see and can't shoot at."
"Isn't it possible there may be fish in the jolly old brook?" suggested Saunderson,
"Yeah, an' how you goin' to catch 'em?" demanded Red. "Shoot 'em with that elephant gun of yourn?"
Saunderson chuckled. "Aha! You don't know Karen," he said. "If there are fish here he'll get them, never fear."
"Seein's believin'," growled Red.
"That can wait," I declared. "Plenty of time to try fishing when we need food more than now. The thing for us to do is to go on. We've wasted too much time here already. Those damned scoundrels aren't fools. They may know of some place where they can head us off. Then we will be in a nice fix."
"I wonder," said Saunderson, as we picked our way onward ever keeping a sharp watch on the summit of the opposite bank, "I wonder why they are so terribly keen on getting us. They've got our burros with all the outfit, so why bother getting us?"
"If you was a bandit up here in these hills you'd be dead set on getting’ us, too," drawled Red. "We got guns an' ammunition; that's reason number one. And a damned good reason at that. Outlaws without shootin' irons might as well put up their hands. An' guns without shells is about as much good as cockleburrs. An' how the hell can they get shells less'n they hold up fellers like us? Injuns an' Cholos don't pack guns or cartridges. I'll bet we're the first passel of men with guns an' ammunition that's been thisaway in six months. An' reason number two is that they figger if we get through an' report, the Commandante over to Yucay’ll send a bunch of them Injun soldiers an' a airplane up here for to clean 'em out. Long as they just hold up llama trains an' Cholos an' natives the government won't bother 'em—not much. But just now the government ain't so everlastin' anxious for to have Uncle Sam an' King George askin' how come their folks ain't bein' protected down thisaway. So these coyotes, havin' horse sense enough to know dead men don't tell no tales, they're aimin' to wipe us out. Leastwise that's my way of lookin' at it."
"And mine, also." I told him.
"But, my dear man," exclaimed Saunderson, "even exterminating us won't prevent the officials learning of the state of affairs. Those Indians with our llamas will report matters."
"If they reach Yucay—perhaps," I said. "But I doubt if they escaped. Probably captured beyond the ridge where we last saw them vanish."

TALKING, discussing our future moves if we managed to elude the bandits and emerged from the gorge, we walked steadily on. The river wound in S-turns and sharp bends, and always on one side or the other the rock had been deeply undercut by the stream during floods, so that we were constantly sheltered from above.
But as the erosion was always deepest on the concave side of each bend we were forced to cross and recross the stream continually, and each time we did so we exposed ourselves to possible enemies above. Every precaution was taken at such times. First, one of us would dash quickly to the opposite shore. Then, while we watched the cliff-top on our side we would watch the summit on his side, until, one by one, all had crossed over. For this reason our progress necessarily was slow, and because of the erratic course of the river we had no idea as to how far we had traveled from our starting point. And with each mile we progressed the walls of the ravine became higher, more precipitous, and closer together, until only a narrow strip of sky showed between the outjutting ledges far above our heads.
"Looks like we was walkin' into a blind cañon," observed Red. "Less'n they's a side cañon or stream comin' in, or we come to a low spot, we ain't got no chance of gettin' outen here, far's I can see. I—"
"Hello, a natural bridge!" exclaimed Saunderson as we turned a bend.
At the same instant the cañon echoed to the report of a rifle, and Saunderson staggered back with a sharp cry of pain.
"Got me—that time!" he growled as we ducked under cover. "Nothing much, though—just through the shoulder.
As I ripped away the clothing to examine the wound, Red crept cautiously forward and his revolver roared. "No damned use!" he declared as he reappeared. "Just wastin' good ammunition, blazin' away at that rat. He's hid up there on that stone bridge an' can pick us off an' never show hide nor hair of himself. Reckon it's good night for us, boys. Hey, where you goin?"
His last words were addressed to Karen who slipped, like a brown shadow, past him and vanished among the rocks.
Saunderson, gritting his teeth to stifle a groan as I felt for broken bones in his wounded shoulder, gave a wry grin. "Don't worry about him," he muttered. "Little beggar knows his business. Goin' after that chap who winged his Tuan— his boss."
"Might as well shoot hisself an' be done with it," declared Red. "Ain't even taken a gun along."
"Wager a fiver to a shilling he gets him," said Saunderson. "Ouch! I say, that hurts like the devil."

"SORRY, but it's necessary," I told him. "I've finished now. No bones injured and bullet went clean through. Just a bad flesh wound. In—"
An ejaculation from Sam drew our attention. "Wha la!" he exclaimed.
"Tha’ boy Karen, he monkey. Yaas, sir, he monkey for true. Look he there, Chief!"
Risking a shot from the hidden bandit, we peered from behind the shelter of rocks towards the great stone arch spanning the gorge. Far up the face of the cliff was Karen, like a fly on a wall. It seemed incredible that any human being could scale the rock, yet he was moving steadily and fairly rapidly upward, following a narrow seam or crevice that effectually concealed him from the bandit hidden somewhere on the top of the natural bridge. With bated breaths we watched him. That is, Red, Sam and I held our breaths; but Saunderson seemed in no way surprised.
"Nervy little beggar," he commented. "Rather have a dozen bandits after me than to have a hill Malay on my trail."
The next moment Karen wriggled behind a jutting rock and disappeared. Slowly the minutes passed. And then, clearly outlined against the sky, we saw him leap forward, the sun flashing on his upraised kris. Thin and faint to our ears came the sound of a bloodcurdling scream, and the next instant a body came hurtling down through space to crash with a sickening thud among the jagged rocks at the bottom of the cañon.
"Got him, by Jove!" exclaimed Saunderson.
"I'm damned if he didn't," agreed Red.
Sam collapsed on a rock and shook his wooly head from side to side.
"Wha' la!" he muttered. "Ah don' never expectulate to see nothin' like so. No indeed. Chief! He not monkey like Ah say. No, sir. He devil, tha what he is, an' tha' tha truf. No, sir, ain't no mistaken' ‘bout tha fac's o' tha case!"

CHAPTER III Beneath the Andes
FIFTY yards beyond the natural bridge, the cañon swung sharply to the left, and rounding the bend, we came to the end of the gorge. Before us and on either side rose sheer rock-walls, and at the base of the cliff the river issued from a black, tunnellike rift in the stone.
"Just like I said," observed Red as we gazed about, seeking for some spot where we might possibly escape from the place. "Blind cañon. No way of gettin' out of here. Nothin' to do but go back. Mebbe we can climb up there where Karen done so."
"Bilked, by Jove!" exclaimed Saunderson. "I say, how long do you suppose a chap could survive here, if there are fish in the river, you know? Possibly, if we could stick it out here for a time, the outlaws might get fed up and retire, don't you think?"
I shook my head. "Even if there are enough fish to supply food for us, we have no fuel for a fire," I reminded him. "And if the river should rise—if there should be a heavy rain back in the mountains— Well, there's the flood-water mark about twenty feet above your head. No, we've simply got to go back and risk the bandits—or fight it out with them."
Satisfied that there was no other course to follow, we turned to retrace our way. But too late. As we came in view of the natural arch we were greeted by a fusillade of bullets, and hastily ducked back around the corner. Yet in the momentary glimpse we had had of the bridge I had noticed something else.
Cut deeply into the stone, just over the centre of arched opening, were the following characters (See inscription below.)
"Did you see them?" I cried, seizing Saunderson's arm.
"Can't say that I did," he replied. "But the beggars are up atop the bally old bridge. They have us—"
"I don't mean those damned bandits," I told him. "I mean those symbols— that inscription on the stone."
Saunderson chuckled. "My word!" he ejaculated. "Imagine, noticing a jolly old inscription with those bullets peppering us! What did it say?"
"Neither I nor anybody else knows," I replied. "It's an inscription that occurs in various places in Peru—extremely ancient. Some archaeologists consider it Phoenician, others think it Hebraic, others declare it post-Columbian. But—"
"Don't help us none, far as I can see," growled Red. "What I want to know is how the hell we're goin' to get outen here. We either got to chance gettin' killed by bullets or starve to death in here, and I'm for the bullets. If we separate an' run for it we can mebbe get under that bridge where they can't hit us and—"
"Be shot in the back on the further side," I added. "No, Red, there isn't a chance of any of us getting out alive that way. And—"
"While there is life there is hope, you know," Saunderson reminded us. "I say—I have an idea. Isn't it possible we might manage to crawl out of the bally old hole through that tunnel back there—where the river comes forth, you know? Remember that chap Haggard's story? Where they wriggled through such a place and came out, quite fit, in a strange land on the other side of a jolly old mountain? No end of a lark, that would be, don't you think?"

"NOT much of a lark if we got caught in there by rising water or came to a hole or crevice and tumbled into it" I replied. "Still there is a chance. If the river flows out of the hole it must flow in on the further side of the mountain. Very probably the rock is honeycombed with caves and passages. But it's a chance and we can try it. How many matches have we altogether?"
"Nice place to be in if the river rose," commented Red as we crawled into the tunnel on hands and knees.
"No worse being drowned in here than out in the cañon," I replied. "in fact probably a quicker and more merciful end."
" 'Where Alf the sacred river ran through caverns measureless to man,'" hummed Saunderson cheerily, quoting Coleridge's "Kubla Khan."
"Not 'down to a sunless sea,' let us hope," I said.
For the first few yards there was barely room for us to crawl on all fours; some of the time in the water, some of the time on the narrow strip of rock beside the stream. Then the roof of the cavernous hole became lower, until it became necessary to wriggle forward on our stomachs in order to proceed farther.
"Time to light a match," I announced, "and see what's ahead. No use getting into a place where we can't turn and get back if we can't go on."
Lighting a match I held it as far ahead as possible, peering into the crevice faintly illuminated by the flickering flame. But the match was almost instantly extinguished by a strong draught of air blowing towards us.
"Must be an opening ahead," I announced. "I can't see that this place becomes any larger nor can I see that it gets lower. Perhaps—"
"I say, let's send Karen on ahead," suggested Saunderson. "He's a tiny beggar and can squirm about like a snake. He can shout back the good news, you know."
"More likely bad news," muttered Red.
Acting on Saunderson's suggestion, the little Malay left us and vanished in the blackness. Minutes passed as we listened, the silence broken only by the soft tinkling of the water flowing over its rocky bed. Then from the darkness, faint and weirdly distorted, came Karen's voice speaking in his native dialect.
"Beggar says it's quite all right," announced Saunderson. "Reports that it opens out—regular cave, you know."

IT was slow, nerve-racking and difficult work, squirming through that black hole. Flat on our stomachs in the cold water, we wriggled foot at a time forward. Saunderson went first, for with his wounded shoulder we had to suit our progress to his. Following him came Red, Sam and myself. We couldn't carry the guns. It was impossible to squirm our way forward with them in our hands. So, placing them as far ahead as he could reach, Saunderson and the others would inch past them until I came abreast of the weapons. Then I would shout, the others would cease moving, and I would pass the rifles forward to Saunderson and the whole process would be repeated over and over again. But all things have an end, and at last, after what seemed hours, we crept forth into an immense cavern faintly illuminated by light striking through a crack in the mountain hundreds of feet above our heads. I glanced about at the dripping, glistening rock walls of the huge chamber. "We're inside an extinct volcano," I announced. "That light comes down through the old crater."
"And we've entered the old furnace via the ash-chute, by Jove!" chuckled Saunderson. "Now if we can only find where they dumped the coals in we'll pop out again by the coal hole. Oh, I say! Where's that beggar, Karen?"
"Ah 'spect he gone on ahead to' to spy out tha road, sir," said Sam. "Ah see he prospeculatin' round' as we arrive here 'bout, sir."
"Appears to be only one exit," I said as I glanced about. "Over there where the stream enters. He must have gone that way." The water tumbled into the cave in a miniature cataract from a narrow fissure ten feet above the rough, lava floor of the cavern. But there was ample room for a man to stand upright in the orifice, and scrambling up the slope beside the little waterfall we peered into the "coal hole" an Saunderson called it. Cupping his hands, Saunderson shouted, calling Karen by name. As the echoes of his voice died away an answering cry came from far ahead, and without hesitation we hurried forward. For what seemed an interminable distance we stumbled along, splashing through the water that filled the crevice from wall to wall, feeling our way with outstretched hands. And then suddenly, unexpectedly we saw light ahead, and a moment later were again in the open air.
But the shouts of relief that rose to our lips died in our throats as we glanced about. On either side rose stupendous walls of rock, sheer precipices soaring upward in dizzy heights for thousands of feet to where a narrow strip of sky showed between their summits.
Sam dropped to a rock beside Karen who was staring upward, head cocked on one side, eyes half-closed as if calculating his chances of climbing up the unscalable ramparts that hemmed us in.
"Wha la!" Sam lamented. "We out tha fry-pan into tha skittle, Chief. 'Pear like to me we boun' for die fore we reach out. Yaas, sir. Chief, takin' tha fac's of tha case in consid'ation that what we boun' for do."
"Shut up!" I snapped. "Pick up that gun and come along. We haven't come to the end of the cañon yet."
Red spat. "Naw, but it's gettin' all-fired late for lunch. Afore we mosey-on I vote we see if Karen can rustle any fish outen this here river. I'm that hungry I can eat 'em raw."
"Ain't no call for do that, Mister Red," declared Sam, suddenly brightening up at the mere mention of food and cooking. "They's drif-wood here. Look see, over yander. Ah goin’ fotch he an' cotch fire, an' we all goin' eat, yaas, sir. Ain't no mistakln' 'bout that."
"Counting your fish before they're caught, Sam," I warned him. "Well. Saunderson, it's up to you and Karen whether we dine or not."

“RIGHT-O, old thing!" he chortled, "If the fish are here, little old Karen will have a mess in a jiffy."
Turning to his servant, he spoke in Malay, and Karen nodded. Wading into the water, he began placing stones across the stream to form a rough wall or dam a few inches in height. A few feet further down the rill he then built a second dam, leaving a narrow opening in the centre and placing rows of stones leading from the opening at an angle to the bank of the stream on either side. This done he stepped on to the shore, hurried to the spot where the rivulet vanished in the cliff, and leaping into the water came splashing with feet and hands up stream.
"Damned if there ain't fish here!" exclaimed Red as we caught glimpses of flashing, silvery bodies darting ahead of the Malay. "But what the—"
The Malay had reached the lower dam he had made, and quickly dropping stones into the opening, he closed it. Stripping off his waist-cloth he spoke to Saunderson in Malay, and placing the strip of cotton on the ground filled it with pebbles and gave the cloth a deft twist.
Stepping forward, Saunderson grasped one end of the weighted cloth, and with Karen holding the other end, he crossed the stream. Lowering the cloth into the water just below the upper dam, the two men dragged it down stream toward the second miniature dam.
"Wha la!" cried Sam open-eyed as he watched. "He cotched tha fish! Yaas, sir, he cotch he plenty!"
"Well, I'll be damned!" was Red's comment as hardly able to credit our eyes we saw scores of fish flashing and struggling to escape as the two men dragged the weighted cloth nearer and nearer to the stone barrier until only a few inches separated the improvised drag from the dam. Then, having secured the ends of the cloth by means of heavy stones. Karen commenced dipping out the fish with his hands.
"Deucedly clever, don't you think?" exclaimed Saunderson as we waited while Sam, grinning from ear to ear, broiled the fish over his fire. "Not so sporting and all that sort of thing, you know. But a bit of all-right for the jolly old tummy at a time like the present."
"What I'm a wonderm'," mused Red, "is why he chased them fish up the creek 'stead of down it. Don't seem like sense to me."
Saunderson chuckled. "Aha!" he exclaimed, "that's because you are no fisherman, Red, old top. Matter of fact, fish always swim up stream when frightened. If Karen had chased the little beggars down the stream they would have wriggled up past him. Trick worth knowing, what?"
"Well, It ain't never too late to learn somethin'—good or bad,' as the preacher used to say. But I reckon 'taint likely I'll be called on for to earn my keep by catchin' fish. Hey, Sam, ain't none of them trouts ready to eat yet?"
Meagre as the meal was—for half a dozen smelt-like fish are not much for a hungry man—we felt better and more cheerful after our lunch. And even if we couldn't dine sumptuously, there was the satisfaction of knowing that we wouldn't actually starve. And aside from Red, who seemed to be obsessed with the idea of blind cañons, we felt confident that we would soon find a spot where we could clamber out of the gorge. But I admit, as we walked on, the chances didn't seem very promising. Not until we had traveled fully a mile did we come to a spot where the towering walls decreased in height. There, above our heads, a great rift cut deeply into the cliffs; a second cañon at right angles to the one we were in but with its floor fully one hundred feet above us. But I scarcely noted this, for there, on the face of the wall opposite the opening of this second defile, the strange symbols I had seen at the bridge were cut deeply into the rock.
"There's that old inscription again!" I cried.
" Pon my word, so 'tis," agreed Saunderson. "Writing on the wall and all that!"
"Don't see as how it helps us none," said Red pessimistically. "Now if—"
"I'm not so sure about that," I declared. "It proves men have been here —up there. It proves the same men who have been there were on the natural bridge. I'm willing to wager almost anything that there is a way of getting from one to the other. I—"
"Sure," growled Red, "ain't we jus' come that way?"
"I don't mean by the route we came” I said. "but I've a hunch that there's a direct trail up there. If—"
"'Oh, for the wings of a dove!" quoted Saunderson. "But without such angelic appendages I fear our feet may never tread the bally old trail."
Stepping forward for a better view of the sculptured characters I made a second discovery.
"Look there!" I exclaimed, "what do you make of that?" I pointed to a tangle that appeared like trailing vines dangling from the verge of the cliff above the carved symbols.
"Dunno, vines, I reckon," said Red.
"Looks like— By Jove, I have it!" cried Saunderson. " Pon my word, it's one of those suspension bridges these Indian beggars put across the cañons!"
"Right!" I told him. "Once upon a time it spanned this ravine. But one end has given way. That proves there must be an old road up there."
Suddenly Saunderson slapped me on the back. "I say!" he cried, "I've an idea, really! Can't we climb up by the old thing? Let Karen go first—he's a regular monkey for climbing, you know, and he's the lightest weight. If he makes it he can look to the fastenings up there, see that the ropes aren't rotten, and if it appears to be quite all right, rip we'll go, one at a time, like jolly sailor-lads, you know."
"If you want to risk Karen's life, and if he's willing, I don't see why I should object," I told him. "But even if the strands support his weight they might give way under your weight or mine. That old bridge may be thousands of years old—it certainly has been there for centuries—and it is probably as rotten as punk. And if Karen gets up there and the thing breaks when we try it, how will he get down again?"
"He won't," observed Red. "He'll be stuck up there for life—less'n he can find a way outen the place. I ain't pinin' to be in no such fix."
"Nothing ventured, nothing gained, Red my lad!" cried Saunderson gaily.
"But we can readily eliminate the possibility of such an eventuality. Before we attempt to ascend, the little beggar can come down, you know."
"Why not test the thing by putting our weight on it?" I suggested. "If it doesn't give way Karen will be safe enough, and if it does we'll know we couldn't have climbed up anyway."
"Dunno as that's a good idea, neither," objected Red. "Mebbe them ropes ain't fastened any too good up above even if strong enough to hold us themselves. I reckon Mister Saunderson's right 'bout Karen goin' up first."

SAUNDERSON turned to the Malay and gave rapid instructions in his own language. Karen grinned, gave his waist-cloth an extra tug, shifted his kris to his back, and approaching the dangling remains of the old bridge, seized the trailing ends and drew himself a foot or two above the ground. Then, satisfied that it would bear his slight weight, he went rapidly up handover-hand, his bare toes against the rock aiding him in the ascent. In a few moments he drew himself up on the ledge above and shouted some unintelligible words to his master.
"Right you are, old top!" cried Saunderson, slapping me on the back. "He says there is a pathway up there—leading along the cliffside. And the ropes are all to the good and fastened through holes in the rock. Really awfully thoughtful of the old Incas leaving their bridge hanging, dangling down-o, as jolly old Mother Goose has it, just to help us out of here, don't you think! My turn next, you know. I'm the heavy-weight of the party. If it holds me it's safe for you others. Confound this shoulder, it's going to hurt like Hades!"
With remarkable agility for a man of his weight and size he climbed, and though he must have endured unspeakable agonies from the fresh wound in his shoulder no groan came from him, and we saw him draw himself over the ledge beside Karen.
"You're next," I told Sam.
"Wha la!" he cried, his eyes rolling wildly as he gazed upward at the sheer wall and slender ropes of twisted fiber. "Ah can' never do so, Chief. No, sir, Ah boun' fall 'fore Ah get harf way. Ah—"
"Shut up and try it!" I commanded him. "Either you go up or you stay here. Now hop to it!"
But Sam collapsed utterly at the mere thought of making the ascent.
"Reckon we’ll have to haul him up," said Red. "He ain't never goin’ to make it himself. You go along Doc, an' I’ll hitch Sam onto one of the ropes an' you three can haul him up, I reckon."
"Not a chance of it," I told him. "I'm the last. You go ahead and I’ll send Sam up to you."
"Damned if I will," he declared.
"Who's boss of this outfit?" I demanded. "I'm running this expedition, and you do as I say. Now up with you, pronto!"

“ORDERS is orders," growled Red, but I hate like pizen to leave you here. If the damn thing should bust—"
"You'd be down here with me," I reminded him with a laugh. "Go ahead, Red, the sooner you're up there the sooner well get Sam up."
A few moments later Sam was being hauled aloft, blindfolded at his own request, and if possible more terrified than he had been at the thought of the climb.
"Ready to haul up the guns?" I shouted when Sam's inert body had been lifted safely onto the ledge. Then, when the fire arms had been drawn up I began my own upward ascent. Handover-hand I went up the swinging cable that ages before had supported the Incans bridge and which had served us so providentially. I was within a few feet of my goal when a half-suppressed cry from above caused me to glance up. And sheer terror almost caused me to release my grip and fall to certain death. Between me and the ledge the cable was giving way! The strain put upon it had been too much for it. Several of the frayed strands had parted, and as I stared horror-stricken upward, hanging motionless above the abyss, another strand snapped and I felt myself drop back an inch or two. I dared not move, dared not attempt to climb farther. The least jar, the slightest motion of my body might snap the woefully small portion of the cable that remained intact. Yet to remain there motionless, waiting for the end that must come, watching with numb terror as the strands parted one by one, was torture beyond words to express; torture made even more terrible by my nearness to safety and the others above. I was almost within reach of their outstretched hands. Two feet more and I would have passed the weak spot and would have been safe beside them. The horror on the others' faces peering down at me told only too well that they, too, realized that I was doomed. There was no hope for me. No chance of aid from my friends above. Nothing to be done but to hang there waiting for the final strand to snap, waiting for the headlong plunge to an awful death. Rather than endure such torture it would be better to release my grip and end the agony of suspense. Striving to control my voice, I called to my horrified comrades above.
"So long, Red," I shouted, "I'm going to let go—no use waiting. Good bye, Saunderson, old pal. Behave yourself, Sam, you black rascal. If you get back to—"
"Hold on. Doc!" cried Red interrupting my words. "I got a idea! You ain't cashed in your checks yet an' you ain't goin' to, neither. Hold hard, shut your eyes so there won't be no grit tumblm' into 'em, an' for God's sake don't lose your nerve."

A NEW hope rose within me at Red's words. What he had in mind I could not even guess. But there must be something, some chance, and gritting my teeth, shutting my eyes, I put all my will power into retaining my grip on the cable. My strength was ebbing fast. It seemed as if I had been hanging there for hours. My muscles felt numb, my arms seemed being dragged from their sockets. My fingers ached almost beyond endurance. Even if the rope held another minute my muscles must give way. From above came a scraping sound, bits of rock, pebbles, dirt rained down upon me. I felt myself slipping. With an almost superhuman effort I forced my tortured hands to close more tightly on the cable. I felt another strand part, felt the sickening half-inch drop. Another ten seconds and— Something brushed against me. I felt my wrists seized, gripped as if with bands of iron, and then everything went black.
I regained consciousness to find myself lying on a narrow shelf of rock.
"Ha, 'Richard is himself again!'" exclaimed Saunderson as my eyes opened.
"All's well that end's well, as the jolly old saw has it, you know."
"Wouldn't never have happened if I'd dumb up last, like I wanted," growled Red. "Feelin' all right now, Doc?"
"Quite—I guess," I replied, "I—"
"Wha la!" exclaimed Sam. "Ah ain't never been expectin' to cook food for yo' no more, Chief. Ah convince yo' boun' for be kill. But Ah arsk tha good Lord for to save me chief an' He done so. Yaas, sir. Chief, 'tha Lord He move in myster'ous ways His wonders to pafo'm.' An' He sen' Mister Red fo' save yo'. Ah—"
"Ripping of him—of Red, not the Lord, I mean!" cried Saunderson. "Made us lower him over, you know, holding him by his heels, actually! Grabbed you just as the bally old rope popped. By Jove, 'some job' as you Americans say, hauling you both up! Kept fearing Red's jolly old boots might slip off and then where would you be? Pon ray word—"
"You mean you lowered Red over the edge of the cliff and he grabbed me and you fellows pulled us both up?" I asked.
"Hell, it didn't amount to shucks," grumbled Red, spitting into the depths of the cañon. "Wasn't nothin' else to be done. An' my feet was tied to the rocks. I couldn't have dropped."
I rose and gripped his hand. "Don't tell me it wasn't a heroic act, "I said, "I owe you my life, Red. I only hope—"
"Forget it, Doc," he interrupted. "I'd have done the same for any of us—even for Sam or Karen. An' you'd have done it for me, I reckon. I—"
Saunderson drew the kris from Karen's waist cloth and touched Red's shoulder. "With this sword I knight thee Sir Red!" he cried.
"Aw hell!" growled Red, trying to hide a grin. "Stop foolin' an' let's be driftin’ along!"


Through the Andes
From Amazing Stories Magazine 1934 October; digitized by Doug Frizzle 2007

In this second part of the story the reader should observe the way in which the characters of the members of the party are pictured. The author shows great skill here with a Southern negro and a Western cowboy and a typical English sporting man as objects of his description. The reader must not miss either the little Malay, who is a marvel in his way.

What Has Gone Before: A very interesting party of travelers, one bent on exploration, another one a great hunter, and a Western cowboy, with their attendants, start into the wild region of the unexplored area of the Andes. In the party there is as attendant a negro and a Malay, the latter in the service of the great hunter. They progress quietly until reaching some defiles where they are attacked by concealed brigands, their pack animals are dispersed with their drivers, there is some loss of life among them, but they give a very good account of themselves, killing some of the brigands. What is left of the party, the five, who have been mentioned above, manage to go ahead on their way and have a strange beginning of adventure.
There is an inscription on the rock which none of the party can read, hut which is familiar to the chief of the expedition, an accomplished archaeologist. A further attack upon them is frustrated by the strange little Malay, who climbs up the face of the rock and drives his serpentine dagger or kris into the brigand who has been attacking them from the height of an almost inaccessible natural bridge.

CHAPTER IV The Valley of Chameleon Men
THE spot where we stood was a mere shelf of rock, perhaps ten feet square, formed by a shallow cave or hollow in the cliff, and evidently partly natural and partly artificial. Tool marks were plainly visible upon the surface of the stone, and holes for fastening the cables of the ancient bridge had been cut through two projecting ribs on buttresses of rock. On the opposite side of the cañon we could see similar holes, and fragments of rotted cables, beside the opening of the narrow defile leading into the mountains. And from the rocky platform we had reached at so much risk, a narrow trail wound around the face of the precipice. I say trail, but it was not worthy of the name, for it was merely a crack or crevice, a fault in the strata, that had been roughly smoothed and in places widened by human hands. No doubt an Indian or a llama would have found it an easy and safe pathway; but to a white man it appeared woefully narrow, and perilous in the extreme, and Sam shuddered and almost wept at the thought of treading it. But at last, after much urging, a deal of swearing, some sharp commands, and a threat to leave him behind if he didn't brace up, we got him started.
It was a nerve racking, a terrifying experience to walk along that ten-inch footway with the sheer precipice above, the perpendicular cliff below. In many places the rock overhung and we were compelled to stoop low. In other places bits of rock had fallen from above, and with bated breaths and tingling toes we picked our way over the debris, fearful that a misstep or a loose stone might hurl us into space. And in more than one spot the edge of the shelf had crumbled
away, leaving such a narrow ledge that we were forced to place our backs against the wall and with outstretched arms edge inch-by-inch along the cliff with toes projecting over the abyss. Karen alone appeared oblivious of the danger of that nerve-trying trail. As easily and nonchalantly as though it had been a broad highway he trotted along, carrying the guns, as sure-footed and immune to dizziness as a mountain goat or a structural steel worker.
"Oh, I say!" cried Saunderson, after we had been following the awful pathway for half a mile or more "What happens if we meet other chappies coming along? Deucedly inconvenient, don't you think? No traffic signals, and all that sort of thing."
"Reckon you push 'cm off if they don't push you off first," said Red, "This is a one-way street, Mister."
"Not much chance of meeting anybody," I told them. "No human being has been this way for hundreds of years, in my opinion."
"Can't precisely be called 'the broad highway'," observed Saunderson, as we came to a particularly bad spot.
But all things have an end, and at last we came suddenly and quite unexpectedly to a gap in the cliff with a flight of rougly-hewn stone steps leading upward.
"MUST be the famous 'golden stairs'!" exclaimed Saunderson, gazing upward. "Seem to lead to the sky, positively."
"Wha la! Tank tha good Lord we t'ru wif that," exclaimed Sam. "Chief, Ah don' never set me foots on such road again an' no mistakin' 'bout it- No, sir, Chief, Ah remains right here an' die 'fore Ah does so, Chief."
"Like hell you would," scoffed Red. "Soon's ever we went off an' left you, you'd come lopin' along after us like a houn' pup. I ain't sayin' as I'd choose that trail for a evenin' stroll, but 'tain't nothin' to starvin' to death or bein' left alone up in this country what God forgot."
As the others had been speaking I had been moving about, examining the evidences of man's ancient handiwork. Here and there were traces of carvings or sculptures, so badly eroded by the elements through countless centuries, as to be scarcely distinguishable, and in one spot was a little niche with sculptured human figures on either side. Apparently the place had been used as a sort of shrine by travellers along the route. As I raised myself on a fragment of rock, the better to peer into the opening, something was dislodged and fell with a tinkling sound to the stones. An ejaculation of mingled surprise and delight came from my lips as I picked it up. It was a metal disk about two inches in diameter, and with a perforation near one edge obviously for the purpose of suspending it by a string about the owner's neck. And by the dull brownish-yellow color of the pendant, and its weight, I knew instantly that it was gold. But I scarcely noticed this at the time, for my interest was focused on the embossed design upon the surface of the disk. A design showing a figure of the sun with a humanized jaguar head in the centre, and around the edges the same symbols that we had seen cut into the rock above the natural bridge and on the cliff where we had clambered up to the ancient trail.
"Oh, I say, what have you found?" queried Saunderson, strolling over to where I stood examining my discovery. "'Pon my word, it's an amulet!" he exclaimed as he peered over my shoulder. "Some chappie must have dropped it here. Rather a jolly bit of junk, really!"
"More than that—priceless," I said, handing it to him. "Do you see those characters They would tell the whole story, if—"
"By Jove it's gold!" he ejaculated. "Oh, I say, let's search about a bit. May be treasure-trove here, don't you think?"
"No, I do not," I told him. "This was lost; fell from some person's neck when the cord wore through. It's a wonderful specimen—unlike anything I've ever seen. And as far as I am aware the only Incan or pre-Incan object bearing an unquestionable inscription."

"LOOKS like money to me," declared Red, who had joined us. "Mebbe them old Injuns what used this trail had a store or a lunch counter here and used these things for buyin' grub. Me, I wish to blazes there was a hot dog stand right here this minute. I'd give more'n that's worth for a couple of franks an' a dash of mustard or a hot tamale, right now."
As we reached the topmost stair we found ourselves upon the summit of a high ridge. Behind us vast peaks soared upward to gleaming, white summits three miles or more in air. To right and left the serried ramparts of the Andes hemmed us in. In the distance stretched a range of lower mountains, while beyond these were still more peaks like a solid wall against the sky. But in the foreground, extending from the base of the ridge whereon we stood, was a green and verdant valley. A valley of grassy meadows and patches of woodland, with the silvery glint of water between the trees, and marvelously beautiful to our eyes after so many days of bare, forbidding mountain sides and dismal cañons.
"The Achcacuna!" I exclaimed. "We've found it! Got into it by accident!"
"I don't reckon them bandits was a accident," said Red. "An' they was what herded we-all into here. Damned if 'taint purty though. An' looks as if there'd be game there. Ain't much danger of us starvin' as long as we stay here. But how the blazes are we goin' to pull up stakes an' get out when we decide to vamoose?"
"My dear man," exclaimed Saunderson, "why weary your brain and shatter the joy of the present by pessimistic forebodings of the future? Sufficient unto the day and all that sort of thing, you know! 'Pon my word, yes! And necessity is the mother of invention, and where there's a will there's a way, et cetera, et cetera! Let your jolly old nut have a vacation, my lad. Here we are and with a perfectly ripping little park to run about in and hunt the red deer in the merry greenwood. By Jove, yes, and we may even find nymphs or lovely woodland sprites, and you can play satyr—I say, Doctor, Red would make a perfectly ripping saytr, don't you think?" Red couldn't suppress a grin at Saun-derson's irrepressible nonsense. "More chances of findin' a bunch of lousy hos-tyle Injuns," he muttered. "An’ me, I ain't pinin' to play with no squaws. hostyle or 'totherwise."
Saunderson chortled with glee, and slapped the Texan on the back. "You've missed your vocation. Red, my lad!" he declared. "Should be on the stage of a music hall, absolutely yes! You're better than Will Rogers, really! But if there be nympths or dryads in yonder woodland dells, far be it from me to disappoint them should they desire a frolic. By the rood, yes! Putting aside the weapons of the chase I will take up the pipes of Pan. Think you not that I will prove a satyr worthy of the name?"
Placing an imaginary pipe to his lips, he began dancing and prancing about, until Sam collapsed with merriment and even Karen's parchment-like features wrinkled in a grin. "Well, don't go a Iayin' down them guns an' doin' no rumba with the girls, afore you shoot enough meat for grub," said Red. "Long as I can eat, you're right welcome to play the goat with Injun squaws or nymphs or any other skirts. But you'd better watch your step, Mister. Most Injuns what I've run acrost ain't partial to white men monkeyin' around their women."
"Come on, boys!" I exclaimed. "Let's get down there before it's any later. I don't see any signs of inhabitants—no villages, no houses, no cultivated land, no smoke. But there must be game, and I feel as if I could eat steadily for a week."
"Righto!" agreed Saunderson. "But we can't clambor down here, you know. It's a sheer drop of a hundred feet at least to that debris-slope below. And—" he added as he peered over the verge of the cliff—"the bally old hill appears to be the same as far as one can see in cither direction. I say; do we jump or fly down to the valley?"
Saunderson was right. The hill upon which we had debouched after ascending the stone steps from the cañon rose in a sheer wall above the valley.
"Wish to blazes I had my rope," muttered Red. " Tears like to me we come to the end of our trail. Can't go back an' can't go for'ard. Afore 111 starve to death sittin' up here I’ll jump off an' have done with it."
"My dear man," exclaimed Saunderson, "Why attempt to commit quite justifiable suicide in this spot? You might not be killed you know. Go back in the cañon by all means and make a certain and clean job of it, absolutely." As we had been speaking we had been wandering aimlessly along the rocky hilltop, and Karen—who always reminded me of a faithful and inquisitive spaniel by his actions—had hurried on ahead, running this way and that, pausing now and then to peer over the precipice as if calculating the possibilities of climbing down.
Suddenly he halted, stooped down and the next instant vanished.

GOOD Lord, what's happened to Karen?" I cried, breaking into a run. "He must have fallen into a hole or crack."
"Confound the beggar," exclaimed Saunderson, "he had my guns. Can't afford to lose those, you know."
But before we had taken a dozen strides the Malay reappeared waving his arm and shouting.
"By Jove, that is a bit of luck!" cried Saunderson. "Says he's discovered a rope!"
"Ridiculous!" I declared. "How could there be a rope here? He must have found an old root or vine or something. I—"
But my words were lost to Saunderson, for he had sprinted at Karen's announcement and, reaching his servant's side, had vanished together with the Malay. A moment later we came to the spot and the mysterious disappearances were explained. Cut into the rock was a sort of well with a flight of steps leading downward, and from somewhere below we could hear Saunderson's voice. Followed by Red and Sam, I leaped down the steps. In the opposite side of the well was an arched passage ending at the face of the cliff. And bending over some object on the floor of the tunnel were the two men.
"Oh, I say!" cried Saunderson when he looked up at my approach. "Karen has made a discovery!"
I hurried forward. Saunderson was busy unrolling what at first glance appeared like a bundle of old chains.
"Found it tucked away in that little niche," he explained. "Called it a 'rope,' the beggar! But the jolly old thing's a ladder! Here, Sam, give me a hand, old
chap, and well be popping down into the valley in no time."
There was no question that Saunderson was right. It was a ladder formed of chains and metal rungs, and Red and myself, as well as Sam, lent a hand to untangle it.
"Damned funny it ain't rusted none," observed Red, as he worked.
"Can't rust, you know," said Saunderson. "It's made of bronze."
Drawing my knife I scraped away some of the black sulphide that covered the metal. "Not bronze," I told him— "silver!"
Red straightened up with a jerk. "Is that straight, Doc?" he demanded. "Holy catfish! If this thing's silver it's worth a heap of good money. Must weigh near half a ton."
"Very nearly," I replied, "and worth about five or six thousand dollars as bullion. But not worth a cent here. You'd have to carry it out and you'd need a motor truck or a string of llamas to do that even if there were a good road. I—
"My dear man," exclaimed Saunder-son, "it's worth a million to us here. It's absolutely priceless. It has saved our lives, actually. Righto 1 It's all clear. Now to drop it over the edge and down we'll go."
"How you goin' to hitch this end to hold it?" asked Red. "Ain't nothin’ here to tie to."
I was examining the contrivance and I glanced up. "I think we can solve that problem," I told him. "See these hooks on the end of the chains? I think well find eyes or holes to receive them if we look about."
"HERE they is, Chief!" announced Sam, who had been peering out over the valley.
Just within the opening were two metal bars set firmly in the rock, and hooking the end of the ancient ladder over these we lowered it down the face of the cliff.
"Better send Karen down first," I suggested. "When he reaches the bottom he can hold the lower ends steady. We'll each have to carry a gun."
Five minutes later we stood in the valley beneath the cliff.
"Well, that's that," observed Red as he examined his beloved six-guns. "Now if we don't run acrost no hostyle Injuns, I reckon we'll be sittin' pretty for a spell."
"Not much need to worry over Indians," I declared confidently. "If there are any here they would have seen us coming down and would have appeared by this time. Let's get started. You'd better go first, Saunderson, so you can shoot anything edible that appears."
"And don't you go missin'," Red admonished him. "My stummick's that empty I can hear the two sides of it knockin' together every step I take."
We had not gone two hundred yards when a small deer sprang from its bed in the low brush, and Saunderson bagged it with his first shot.
"Looks like we was goin' to eat," observed Red. "How about makin' camp over beside the creek. Doc? 'Pears to me we all want a mighty good rest afore driftin' on, an' a good feed."
"And a jolly good bath, too!" declared Saunderson.
"Good idea," I agreed. "We're in no hurry, and this is as good a spot as any."
A dip in the clear cool water of the stream, and a satisfying meal of broiled venison made us feel like new men. And it was pure delight to rest there under the trees with greenery on every side, with birds chirping and singing in the thickets, and squawking parrots winging overhead, while ever in our cars was the musical tinkling of the river.
"I ain't never felt no more peaceful-like nowhere," remarked Red as he stretched himself on the grass and yawned contentedly. "If I only had a few more plugs of tobacco I'd feel like this was pretty plumb near Heaven. I—"
"Perfectly top-hole!" exclaimed Saunderson. "Only one fly in my ointment, as one might express it. My supply of tobacco is beastly low, by Jove!"
I laughed. "So is mine," I said. "But doesn't it strike you as a queer bit of psychology that we are only thinking of that deficiency now? All the time we were in the cañon it never occurcd to us. However, if we find Indians they probably will have tobacco."
"Reckon we won't need it—after we meet up with 'em," muttered Red.
"My word, Red my lad, you are a confirmed pessimist," Saunderson told him, "Don't you ever look upon the bright and cheerful side of anything, really?"
"I dunno," replied the Texan. "I done so once an' damn near got killed 'cause of so doin'. Sence then I've been lookin' for trouble. If you get the idea everything's goin' to be on the up-an'-up, and things break wrong it's mighty disappointin'. But if you're expectin’ trouble an' things break 'tother way round, why it's a damned pleasant surprise."
"Your philosophy is past my comprehension," declared Saunderson. "But—" with an assumed sigh—"there may be something in it. Yes, by Jove, I believe there is. If I hadn't hoped to meet wood nymphs in this dell I would have chortled with joy when they appeared. But because I looked forward to a frolic with the darling creatures, and none have greeted me, I am in the depths of despair. I—"
Red half rose and shied a stick at the other. "Thought you was along for to hunt game, and not to chase skirts," he said.
Saunderson grinned. "My dear man," he exclaimed, "are you not aware that nymphs in this dell I would have distinctly do not wear skirts? I—"
His sentence was cut short by the arrival of Sam, who had been bathing a few rods down stream, and now appeared, a dripping black figure, wild eyed and terrified.
"WHA la!" he cried. "Ah see a jumbie. Chief! Ah see a jumbie for true!"
"Reckon he seen one of your girlfriends, Mister Saunderson," grinned Red. "Mebbe they're lookin' for you. Better go meet 'em afore Sam gets ahead of you in that Satyr stunt. If—"
"What do you mean—a jumbie?" I demanded of Sam. "Who or what did you see or thought you saw?"
Despite Red's bantering words he had leaped to his feet, and with hands resting on his revolver butts he was moving cautiously towards the river.
Sam's teeth were chattering so he scarcely could speak. "Ah-Ah was comin' out tha water when Ah see he," he stammered. "Ah see he standin' on tha san' beach peerin' at me, an' Ah peer at he, an' whilst Ah peerin', Bam! he gone, Yaas, sir, Chief, he clean gone like he blow up like to soap bubble. Tha' wha' he do, Chief, an' tha' the truf. An' he jumbie, he sure jumbie. Chief, fo’ he green, he all green like parrot. An' Ah scairt. Chief, Ah sure am scairt, an' Ah not stop to put on me clo's, but Ah jus' run. An' look me here!"
"Extraordinary!" exclaimed Saunderson. "A green jumbie! My word, but I must bag that fellow!"
"Utter nonsense!" I declared. "Possibly you saw an Indian, Sam—though I doubt if you saw any human being— and he may possibly have been clothed in green. But if he vanished it was
when he ducked into the bushes when you weren't looking."
"By Jove, I don't wonder he vanished —when he saw Sam á-la-nudist!" said Saunderson, as we followed after Red, with Sam fairly quaking with fear in the rear.
"Don't see no signs of hide nor hair of no jumbie nor nothin'," Red announced when we reached the spot where Sam had seen his "jumbie." "Reckon Sam's been scein' things. If—"
At this instant Karen said something in a low tone to his master.
"I say," ejaculated Saunderson. "Karen .says there has been a man here. Found his tracks over wonder in the sand."
"Didn't I tell you we'd be runnin' acrost hostyle injuns?" growled Red.
"And didn't I suggest dryads?" grinned Saunderson. "No more evidence of one than of the other. If the beggar had been hostile he would have attacked Sam. Probably the chap's frightened out of his wits at finding us here. Must have thought he'd seen a devil when, he saw Sam naked."
"No, sir, Mister Saunderson," protested Sam. "He debbil hese'f. Ah don't 'fraid Buckman, but Ah 'fraid jumbies, an' Ah know jumbie when Ah see he."
"Really! In that case, my boy, will you kindly describe the ear marks by which you distinguish your jumbie friends from ordinary Indians?" Saunderson asked him.

BEFORE Sam could reply an arrow sang through the air within an inch of his head. With a terrified yell he turned and ran, and the rest of us followed as the arrows from invisible enemies fell all about us-
"Damned nice, friendly outfit—them dryads of yourn," was Red's comment as, out of range of the savages’ missiles, we crouched in an open space with no cover near. "But me, I ain't aimin' to do no frolickin' with 'em, Mister."
Saunderson, carefully adjusting the sights of his rifle, winked and grinned. "My dear Red," he said, "yonder archers are not my friends, but yours. You sought for hostile natives and your fondest desires have been fulfilled. Really, my lad, you should .feel quite elated at the accuracy of your predictions."
Red spat. "Hell, let's quit kiddin' an' talk sense," he growled. "Here we be with them Injuns hidin' in the brush an* just achin' to lift our scalps. The question is: how we goin' to get outen here with whole skins?"
Saunderson shook his head. "Red," he said, "your ignorance of the South American aborigines is absolutely appalling. They do not follow the playful custom of removing scalps. Ask the Doctor—he knows! It is far more probable that our Indian friends are aching to lift our heads. As to how we are to escape from our present predicament with epidermis entire, that, my dear Red. is a mooted question well worthy of consideration, don't you think?"
"Say, can't you never talk English an' common sense?" demanded Red.
Saunderson chuckled. "Ah, that is the question!" he exclaimed. "If I speak the King's English it does not appeal to you as common sense. And if I use common sense I do not speak the King's English. So to save time and get down 'to brass tacks' as you would express it, let us all talk American. Now what's your idea, Doctor? Do you—" The roar of his rifle interrupted his words. At its report a chorus of wild terrified cries came from the woods across the stream.
"Reckon you must have got one of 'em," commented Red. "But them screeches didn't sound like there was such a all-fired lot of 'em."
"Probably not," I said. "And as they
have never before heard the sound of a gunshot they may be so filled with terror that they will not try to molest us further. My suggestion is that we keep to the open, out of arrow-shot, as much as possible and try to placate rather than fight these people, whoever they may be."
"You mean make palaver with 'em?" Red queried. "Not me, I don't. How the hell you goin' to talk with 'em when first time you get near enough to holler they'll fire an arrer through you?"
"By Jove, why didn't I bring along a suit of my knightly ancestors' armor!" cried Saimderson. " 'Pon my word, the old Dons had the right idea, absolutely, yes! If and when I join another expedition into the Achcacuna I shall come clad, cap-a-pie, in mail. 'They carved at the meal with gloves of steel and drank the red wine through the helmet barred,' and all that sort of thing, you know."
"Thought you was goin' to talk United States," barked Red. "This ain't—Hell an' damnation! Gorrimighty, what's that bit me?"
He had leaped up and was staring wildly about, rubbing his left arm, a strange expression of mingled pain and puzzlement on his face.
I stopped and picked up the object which, seemingly, had fallen from the skies and had struck Red a resounding blow just above his elbow.

"SLING stone," I announced, exhibiting the spherical missile. "And made of cassiterite—stream tin—as heavy as lead. If—" A scream from Sam interrupted my words. "Wha la!" he blubbered, "Ah shot! Ah shot, Chief! Ah shot in tha back fo' true. Ah—"
"Down!" I shouted. "Flat on our stomachs! Stuff your hats with grass and pull them low. If one of those stones hits a man's head he's finished."
"Kven Sam's?" grinned Saimderson, "Ouch! By the Lord Harry, they do hurl! Keel as if I were back in the trenches again- And, I say, where are the damnable beggars?"
"Stones is comin' from over in that patch of pa'raettoes," replied Red. "Meb-be if we—"
Saunderson did not wait for him to finish his sentence, but as fast as he could pull trigger, fired a volley of steel-jacketed bullets into the thicket of palm trees.
Yells, screams, strange animal-like cries followed, but no more sling stones fell.
"What we really require is a machine-gun," observed Saunderson as he reloaded his rifle, "or grenades."
"Why not wish for gas projectors or an aeroplane with bombs," I said. "We've got to get out of here while those devils are in a panic, or we'll never get out alive."
"Yeah, an' where we goin' to head for?" demanded Red. "Back up that cliff an' starve to death atop there? Me, I'm for rushin' 'em an' wipin' out as many as we can. May get a few arrers into our hides, or bones bust by these damn rocks; but some of usl! come through. I—" An arrow struck quivering in the ground beside him and Red wheeled and fired with a single motion.
"He won't make no more trouble," he announced grimly. "They're pizen— pizen as rattlers. An' Sam was right. They're green- Painted, I reckon. I just cotched a glimpse of him movin' and let go. If—" " "Good Lord!" exclaimed Saunderson. "Look, look there, Doctor! On that sand bar! Do you see anything?"
As I turned and peered at the spot he indicated, a gasp of utter amazement came from my lips. No sign of a human being was visible upon the pebbly sand bar, but clearly outlined against the lighter background of beach was a bow, and just beyond it was what appeared to be a dark colored rock.
"What the—" Red's exclamation was drowned in the explosion of Saunder-son's rifle.
We stared speechless, astounded. At the report, the bow had flow-n to one side, a portion of the sand bar had appeared to rise and fall convulsively, and now, as we gazed, we could see a slight motion, like the twitching of a lizard's tail, among the pebbles.
Consumed with curiosity, filled with wonder, and oblivious of our danger, we hurried to the spot. Stretched upon the sand was the strangest creature human eyes had ever seen.
" 'Taint no Injun, it's a overgrowed horned-toad!" exclaimed Red.
"Extraordinary!" cried Saunderson. "Is it human or reptilian? Ton my word, it's a nightmare, absolutely!"

THE creature, for it could scarcely be called a man, was barely three feet in height. The head, out of all proportion to the body and limbs, was elongated, sloping upward from the monkey-like face to a high peaked crown covered with a mop of brownish-black hair. The limbs, hands and feet were those of a human being, and the nude body was that of a man. But the skin, instead of being brown, black, yellow or of any other color of the human race. was a mottled grayish and so covered with warty excrescences and so rough that it gave the weird being the appearance of a toad and blended perfectly with the surface and color of the sand bar.
"He's human, all right," I declared in reply to Saunderson's question, "A dwarf or pygmy. A horribly repulsive little beast. But he's suffering. Your bullet broke his neck. Hell die in a few
minutes, but we can't leave him here to die. Too bad—"
"Reckon it'd be sort of a mercy to put a forty-five through his head," said Red, his hand moving towards his revolver.
"It would," I agreed. "But could you? After all, he's a man. No, hell be dead in a few moments more. Let's carry him over to the bank where there's some shade."
Lifting the strange freak, who couldn't have weighed over seventy-five pounds, we carried him to the bank of the stream and placed him on the grass. And then an amazing, an absolutely incredible thing happened. There, under our astounded, unbelieving eyes, the dying creature was changing color!
Slowly at first, then more rapidly, the gray mottled skin took on a shade of green, until, within perhaps thirty seconds, the uncanny being was the color of the grass and weeds whereon he gasped out his last breath.
"My God!" ejaculated Saunderson in hushed awed tones. "Oh, my sainted aunt! Is such a thing possible or am I going mad?"
"Taint possible but we seen it," muttered Red. "He's a damned chameleon, that's what he is."
I grasped Saunderson's arm. "Look!" I whispered.
Peering at us from the thicket were a dozen or more of the strange beings, only their malformed heads and apelike faces visible.
Red's hand moved towards his holster, but I checked him. "No!" I commanded. "Don't shoot! They haven't made a hostile move all the time we've been here within easy range of their weapons. I don't think "they will. I believe the death of this one has saved us. They're probably filled with abject terror, now they have seen one of their number killed by our strange weapons.
Come on. We'll move off quietly and see what happens."
Rejoining Sam and Karen, who had remained in the open space where we had left them, we waited, eyes fixed on the dead body and the thicket just beyond.
"Sssh! There they come!" I whispered. Then, as tiny figures emerged from the patch of jungle and cautiously approached their stricken comrade—
"Good heavens!" I ejaculated. "They're all pygmies!"
"My word, yes. and all green!" cried Saunderson.
"Wha la!" moaned Sam. "They is tha jumbies. We boun' fo' die now, Chief. We—"
"Shut up!" I ordered him. "They're men. Pygmies."
"Shucks," muttered Red, "they ain't no bigger'n kids. I could pick up three of 'em an' carry 'em off with one hand. Say, it makes me sick to think of bein' scared of them midgets."
"Their size has nothing to do with the deadliness of their arrows and slings," I reminded him. "How many can you count there.''
"Eighteen," announced Saunderson.
"Don't make it but seventeen," declared Red.
"I make it eighteen," I said. "If that is all there are we—Hello! They're examining the dead body—looking at the wound made by the bullet. They're—"

WITH a wailing cry the pygmies threw themselves flat on their faces. Then, leaping up, they scurried off across the stream. And once again we felt as if we must be taking leave of our senses or were dreaming, for as they fled across the shingle beach and the pebbly sand bar the impossible green pygmies became instantly gray!
"Jumbies!" chattered Sam. "They jumbies fo' fac', an' tha' tha truf!"
"Jumbies nothin'," exclaimed Red. "They're just human 'chameleons, like I said afore. An' plumb pizen!"
Saunderson chuckled. "Oh, I say, old chap, what's the Quichua for 'marvels'?" he asked me.
"Lakatona," I told him. "Why ask?"
"Aha, now I've made a discovery!" he cried. "That's the name of this place, I'll wager: Aclicacuna Lakato-na. A great multitude of marvels. 'Pon my word, yes!"
"Say, Mister, if we don't start driftin' it'll be more'n a 'multitude of marvels' if we get outer here alive. I'm for hittin' the trail for somewhere else afore them lizard-skinned pygmies get over their scare an' remember they ain't finished us off yet. What do you say. Doc?"
"It's our chance, now," I replied. "No knowing when they may muster up courage to come after us."
"Righto!" agreed Saunderson. "On our way, but whereaway?"
"Towards the other end of the valley," I replied. "No use in turning back. There should be a way out of here other than by way of that chain. If the civilized men who made that passed through here, there must be another exit from the valley. It's up to us to find it."
"Right you are!" cried Saunderson as he shouldered his rifle. "Fine old slogan that: 'Look forward not backward,’ and all that sort of thing, don't you think?"
"Me, I'm lookin' front, back and both sides," declared Red. "With savages what can camouflage theirselves better'n a doodle-bug you gotta have eyes like a Injun's an' keep 'em on the job."

CHAPTER V The Inca's Treasure House
WE marched on across the valley, keeping a sharp watch for lurking pygmies and avoiding the patches of jungle and the thickets as much as possible. But there was no sign of the strange chameleon men, as we now called them, although we actually stumbled upon one of their villages. I use the word stumbled in its literal sense, for our first warning of the place was when Sam sank into the earth to his armpits. Screaming with terror, he struggled to draw himself free, and as we hurried to his aid, Red and Saunderson suddenly dropped into the ground.
"By Jove there must be aardvarks here!" cried Saunderson as he clawed his way from the pit into which he had fallen. "Never knew the beast inhabited this part of the world."
"Ain't no such critters," declared Red as he heaved himself free. "Just a giant prairie dog's town, that's what 'tis. Damned queer we ain't seen none of the critters, though."
I had been peering into the cavernous hole into which Sam had stumbled. "You're both wrong," I told them. "It's a town, but no four-footed creatures live here. These are human habitations, the homes of those chameleon men! Look here—"
Stooping down, the others peered into the dark underground chamber. The sides and top had been reinforced by roughly-woven twigs and canes, on the floor of the recess were bones and charcoal. At one side were several very crudely-made baskets and several gourd utensils, and stuck in the wattling of the walls were partly finished arrows.
"By the Lord Harry, you're right!" exclaimed Saunderson. "But, my word, what a place to live!"
"Not much worse'n a Piute wickiup or a Navajo hogan," declared Red. "How in blazes do them savages get in an' out? Ain't no doors nor nothin'. "There must be, somewhere," I told him. "Probably a single entrance that is carefully concealed, with tunnels leading to the various chambers. It's like an immense rabbit warren or, no—more like a mole's burrow. It's a discovery almost as amazing as the people themselves. Why, just to have seen those pygmies and this subterranean village is ample reward for the trip. I never dreamed of finding such astonishing ethnological conditions."
"You're welcome to 'em," growled Red. "Me, I'd rather be findin' some place where I can sleep an' eat without havin' arrers shot into me."
"Nobody at home, I assume," said Saunderson, rising and surveying the little clearing, whose surface gave no indication of the strange village beneath. "Isn't it rather remarkable, don't you think, that such beastly primitive beings should possess a knowledge of making fire and baskets?"
"They're not so very primitive," I replied. "Their bows and arrows prove that. They are of a type usually associated with quite highly cultured aborigines. Because they have adopted this remarkable form of residence isn't necessarily proof of primitive conditions. The hogans of the Navajos, which Red mentioned, and the rucas of the Araucanians of Chile are only a degree better than these dwellings, yet the Araucanians and Navajos are most intelligent and even cultured races. What puzzles me is their amazing ability to change color—that and their use of slings."

MEBBE them pygmies shiftin' their color stumps you, Doc, but me, I don't see nothin' so everlastin'ly funny about it. Ain't they plenty of critters does the same? Don't lizards an' tree frogs an' toads an' sech things change color 'cordin' to where they be? An' if the Lord A'mighty fixed it for them to do the same, why the blazes shouldn't he have fixed it for these pygmies likewise? 'Specially, as 'cordin' to my way of thinkin', they ain't much more'n pizen repryles anyhow."
"Pon my word!" cried Saunderson, "Red, my lad, you are a never ending source of wonder and a constant surprise to me. Actually you are! I never dreamed you were a philosopher, my boy."
"Ain't nothin' of the sort," declared the Texan, "Just use common horse-sense. What's more wonderfuller about a Injun turnin' color than a damned lizard doin' the same?"
I smiled. "Perhaps you're right, Red," I said. "After all, I don't know as there is any scientific or biological reason why a human being shouldn't change color. It's merely a question of pigment cells being controlled by nerves which react to certain rays of light. But—"
"By Jove, Doctor, I never thought of it before, but do you know this isn't the first time I've seen human beings change color according to their environment."
"What?" I exclaimed, "You mean you've actually witnessed this phenomenon elsewhere?"
"Absolutely!" declared Saunderson. "I've repeatedly seen a perfectly white skin turn scarlet—when a lady blushed!"
"Yeah, an’ I'll bet she had a hell of a good reason to—with you around," Red remarked. "Didn't you say how 'twas 'cording to her environment? An' wasn't you that same?"
"Sir, you do me a grave injustice!" laughed Sanderson. "Yet may I observe that never have I seen a young lady blush green at my appearance, as did those savages when they saw you, me lad!"
"Aw dry up," growled Red. "An' come along."
Saunderson, again serious, turned to me as we cautiously picked our way around the subterreanean village. "You said the slings puzzled you," he remarked. "May I ask why?"
"Because slings are not known to primitive races, as a rule," I told him.
"Among the American aborigines only the Andean tribes—those who are commonly classed as Incan races, used the true sling of Biblical days. But I think I know the explanation. At some period in the past these astonishing chameleon men have been in contact with the highly civilized pre-Incan people. Unquestionably this valley was traversed by the pre-Incans, and very probably by the later Incans. The chain ladder proves that. Whether these pygmies were hostile or friendly with their civilized neighbors makes no particular difference. In the one case they doubtless acquired a knowledge of the sling when they found the weapon on the bodies of slain pre-Incans; in the other case they were probably taught their use. All of which goes to prove—"

"HEY, look here, Doc," Red shouted, interrupting my discourse. I hurried forward wondering what the Texan had seen.
He was gazing fixedly at the ground before him. "Am I seein' things or is that there a cartroad?" he queried as I reached his side.
"My sainted aunt! It is a road, absolutely!" cried Saunderson before I could recover from my surprise sufficiently to speak.
There was no question about it. Extending across a little open space was a section of paved roadway about ten feet in width. I dropped to my knees to examine it. "Pre-Incan," I announced, as I recognized the typical form of the cut stones. "Boys, we're on the verge of big discoveries, I believe." "Hurrah! We'll follow the King's Highway to Lunnon Town!" cried Saunderson. "More likely the road to nowhere," muttered Red. "Same an' all, I reckon it does go to prove they's a way outen this valley up ahead somewhere, like you said, Doc. An' the valley's gettin' narrower. Looks like we might be comin' to another cañon or somethin'."
As Red said, the valley was decreasing in width. Where we had descended by the chain ladder it had been fully four miles wide and now the mountains on either side were barely a mile apart, and were rapidly converging. As we moved onward along the centre of the now narrow valley, we were following the ancient road which here and there was visible.
"The jolly old highway must lead somewhere," remarked Saunderson, "even if it began nowhere in particular. Never knew a road to lead from nowhere to nowhere, you know."
"Unquestionably it does," I agreed. "I expect to find extensive ruins—probably a ruined city, at the end of the old road."
"An’ I'm hopin' to find a way out of this country," said Red. "Me, I'm pinin' for two things—a-plenty of good plug tobacco an' a town of Christian white folks. I—here's your old ruins, Doc!"
The valley had narrowed to a mere defile between the precipitous mountains, and stretching across the bottle-neck was a massive stone wall. That it was very ancient was obvious, and the enormous stones of which it was built, their numerous angles and the mathematical precision with which they were fitted together, marked it as of pre-Incan workmanship. Unquestionably, it had once effectually barred the pass, for no human being could have scaled its slightly-sloping, smooth surface that stretched upward for fifty feet above the earth; and half a dozen men, protected by the ramparts on its summit, could have held the narrow gateway in its centre against an army. But the massive gate that once had closed the opening had crumbled to dust ages ago, no guard or sentry challenged us, and treading the smooth pavement of the forgotten road we passed through the brush-choked portal, above which were carved the characters that were on the golden disk. Beyond the wall the mountains receded on either hand, and we found ourselves in a second and smaller valley. Flocks of wild fowl rose with frightened cries as we moved onward. Herds of deer and wild alpacas browsed on the lush grass. Gaudy macaws and parrots screamed raucously at us from the tree tops, and the balmy air was filled with the scent of wild heliotrope and jasmine. Everywhere, half-hidden amid the weeds and brush, were remnants of stone walls, buildings and houses. As we proceeded, the ruins became more and more numerous, until presently we were passing through what once must have been a good sized city. But even the ornately sculptured facades of the ancient buildings and the carved columns that rose amid the vines and trees could not draw my attention from what we saw ahead. Far up on the steep mountainside was an immense fortress, its stupendous walls and battlements cut from the living rock, which had been hollowed out until the cliff overhung the fortress, so that the latter filled a gigantic niche.

BY JOVE! What a piece of engineering!" cried Saunderson.
"Beats them cliff dwellers' ruins all to blazes!" exclaimed Red.
"It's the most marvellous thing in America—if not in the entire world!" I declared. "And to think we've reached it by chance—by accident!"
"Don't think there's anyone livin' there, do you, Doc?" asked Red. "If there is, I dunno about getting no closer, afore we know whether they're hostyle or not."
"No fear of that," I told him confidently. "This place has been deserted for centuries—probably thousands of years."
Fascinated, awed at the size and grandeur of the citadel and at the thought of the stupendous labor that must have been involved in its making, we hurried on. Presently, in the shadow of the great rock curtain hundreds of feet above our heads, we came to a second massive wall with an opening barely wide enough to permit a single man to pass. Beyond, a steep pathway zigzagged upward, a mere groove hewn from the rock, and at each abrupt turn was a miniature fort commanding the passageway.
"Great Scott! Why one man could hold this place against a regiment!" exclaimed Saunderson. "And even modern artillery couldn't smash down this mountain."
But no man disputed our way. There was no sign of life other than the lizards that scuttled over the rocks and gazed at us with their unwinking jewel eyes. And then suddenly, as we turned one of the corners, our way was barred by a massive gate set in the low and narrow tunnel where the pathway entered the fortress. On either side were narrow-slits some ten feet or more above our heads, like the arrow-slits in mediaeval forts of Europe.
"Reckon we've come to the end of the road," remarked Red. "Don't look to me like we could bust in that door. An' even Karen couldn't squeeze through them windows up there."
"Look!" I exclaimed, pointing to the rock above the gateway. "There are those same symbols or characters again."
"Aha, now I have it!" cried Saunderson. "An advertisement—that's what! Typically American, you know, putting up signs all along the highway. And that gadget you picked up: Advertising, old chap, advertising! And here we are with the name of the emporium over the door! Must be off on a holiday though, or taking a siesta. We'll have to rouse them up—"
Stepping forward, he hammered on the door vigorously with a lump of rock.
The next instant we sprung back as if struck. From one of the slits above our heads came a human voice!
Thin, high-pitched, a wraith of a voice; such a voice as one might expect from a ghost. It was incredible, uncanny, as if the spirit of some long-dead inhabitant of the place had spoken from the tomb. I felt a strange prickling of my scalp, a tingling of my spine. Saunderson stood staring, mouth agape, and Sam's teeth were chattering like castanets. Only Karen and Red appeared unaffected by the sepulchral voice issuing from the depths of that fortress that I felt sure had been untennated for centuries. The Malay, squatted on his haunches, was whetting his kris upon a stone, and the Texan, his six-guns half-drawn, was squinting at the narrow aperture, whence the words appeared to issue.
"Hell, I thought you said there wasn't no one here, Doc," he muttered. "What's the guy sayin' ? Can you savvy his lingo, Doc?"
I silenced him with a gesture. All my attention was concentrated upon the strange, incredible voice from within the fortress, for the words coming from out of the dead past were in the Hualla dialect, the mother tongue from which the Aimara and Quichua languages were derived, the Sanskrit of America, the most ancient language in the New World. Many of the words were unintelligible to me, but I knew enough of the dialect to get the meaning of what the spirit voice was saying.
"Who art thou, the five who come unto Achcaruna-sapi?" the invisible one demanded. "Why dost thou come unto the Place of the Dead made sacred by the footsteps of Wira Kocha, the Creator? Speak and utter only words of truth ere the wrath of the gods descends and destroys thee!"

"WITH a tremendous effort I got my nerves under control, and moistening my lips, I spoke in the Quichua.
"We are wanderers from afar," I replied. "For many days we have been lost. We have been near to starving, near to death at the hands of the little men of the valley whose skins are like those of the chameleon. We have come hither by chance, our steps led by the gods and by Fate. We seek only food and shelter and a road whereby we may return unto our fellow men."
For a space no words came from the unseen being within the fortress and rapidly and in whispers I translated what had been said. "You asked what Achcakuna meant," I said to Saunderson. "I can tell you now. He spoke of this place as Achcaruna-sapi. That means the "Origin or birthplace of the multitudes of men." The Indians have corrupted it to Achakuna. Good Lord, do you know what we've stumbled on? The original centre of all the civilizations of Ancient America, in my opinion! If only—"
—The mysterious almost supernatural voice interrupted my words.
"It is well," said the speaker, now using the Quichua tongue. "Thy words are true, for beside thee I see the Red-haired One, and for long have I known that thus events would transpire even as foretold in the prophecy of old. But with thee, also, comes one who is black of skin like that of Supay, the god of evil, and another who is brown like the savages of the Chaco, and their presence was not foretold, O Man of the Beard. So show unto my eyes the sacred talisman that I may know that all is well, and the gate shall then swing wide that thou mayest pass within."
His meaning was incomprehensible to me. That he claimed to have expected us, that our coming had been foretold, did not surprise me. That was no doubt merely a pose, a gesture to make me think he was not surprised at our presence. Nor did I wonder that Sam's skin aroused suspicion. But what on earth did he refer to as the "sacred talisman?" As I hesitated, wondering what I should say, how I could overcome the seeming impasse, my fingers touched the golden disk in my pocket. What impelled me I do not know. Perhaps it was an inspiration, perhaps one of those inexplicable flashes of a sixth sense which we call hunches or intuition. But whatever the cause, I drew the golden pendant from my pocket and held it up. And instantly, as if by some magical effect of the disk, the gate swung open, and in the dark entrance of the fortress a man stood revealed. His appearance was as spectral as his voice had seemed. Tall and emaciated, his back was bent by the weight of many years. His white hair hung in plaits about his stooped shoulders. His face was wrinkled, creased and the color of leather, while his eyes, so deep-set that they were scarcely visible, gleamed and burned with the brilliancy and fire of youth. Upon his head was an elaborate headdress of silver and feathers. He was clad in a long robe of black and red, covered with embroidery depicting the jaguar-god and other beings of pre-Incan mythology. Over his shoulders was a short poncho, while about his scrawny neck was a string of immense black and red onyx beads separated by beads of gold. And he leaned upon a carved wooden staff decorated with mosaic work in gold and turquoise. But I scarcely noticed these details of costume. My eyes were focussed upon his face, for he possessed a drooping gray moustache and a long gray beard. He was the living counterpart of the strange, puzzling effigies of the bearded god—the Wira Kocha or Creator—of the pre-Incan races! Saunderson's words broke the spell.
"By Jove, that gew-gaw you picked up is a genuine open-sesame!" he explained. "No, by gad! It's an Aladdin's lamp! Just rub it and the genii appears!"
"Reckon money talks down here behind God's back same as back home," said Red. "What's Santa Claus sayin' now, Doc?"

"HE wants to know why the 'Red-headed One' doesn't speak to him," I told him. "You appear to be a rather important personage in his estimation."
"Shucks, I can't jabber his lingo," growled Red. "Tell him I ain't got nothin' to say—only I'm pinin' for a square meal an' a plug of tobacco."
The ancient being in the doorway bowed low and extended his arms towards us in obesiance as I translated the Texan's words. "The will of the Red Haired One is law unto his servant, Sarayaccu, priest of the holy city of Achcaruna-Sapi," he said. "Great is his wisdom and great shall be his power. Even the one of the black skin may follow, if he be the servant of the Red-haired One."
Turning, the priest led the way within the fortress.
"I think I'm beginning to see light," I told the others as we followed the bent figure carrying a flaring torch he had taken from a socket in the stone wall. "There is an ancient tradition that centuries ago—during the reign of the Inca—Tupak Yupanqui—it was foretold that, after the conquest, a stranger would one day appear who would become the leader of the remnants of the Incans and would rebuild their empire. And in the old prophecy it was stated that this Messiah of the race would be a man with red hair. Red, how would you like to become a king?"
"Hell, I ain't cravin' to be no king, nor no president, neither, 'specially when they's only a old granddaddy like him to be king to."
"I don't think you need worry over a scarcity of subjects," I told him. "The priest—for he is a high priest of Wira Kocha, the supreme God—spoke 'of the people.' I'm afraid I was away off when I said this place was deserted. I think we'll find quite a population here somewhere."
"Ah, Red, my lad, let me be the first to congratulate you!" cried Saunderson. "King Red the First! Better than being a satyr, don't you think—especially if there are lovely ladies, or—by Jove, yes!—a royal harem."
"Yeah, well, I'll make you the king's jester—or mebbe chief eunuch!" Red retorted. "That'll hold you for a spell, I reckon."
Deeper and deeper into the very heart of the mountain the priest led the way, the flickering light of his torch reflected from the crystalline walls in prismatic colors, and revealing ornate carvings everywhere cut deeply into the stone. Down long flights of steps he guided us, along narrow winding passages and vaulted corridors, until finally, entering a huge chamber with frescoed walls, he paused before a mass of sculptured stone in the center of the room. Bowing before the monolith, he swung the mass of rock to one side as though it were on rollers and revealed a trap-door set in the stone floor.
"Pon my word, he's about to take us into his wine cellar!" ejaculated Saunderson. "I—"
Our strange guide was speaking. "He wants us to lift the door," I told them.
"I dunno about doin' that," demurred Red. "How we goin' to know there ain't some monkey business about this? Mebbe it's a trick to get rid of us."
"Nonsense!" I exclaimed. "He didn't have to admit us, did he? Come on, give a hand and don't be a fool, Red."
As we raised the trap-door we saw a flight of stone steps vanishing in the blackness below. Stepping forward, the priest descended the stairs, and wondering whither we were bound, we followed at his heels. The next instant we stood gasping, speechless with amazement, gazing in wonder at what the light of the torch revealed. On every side were stacks and piles of yellow gold! Blinding rays of green, crimson, blue and violet were flashing at us from myriads of gems. Ranged about the walls were rows of sacred golden vessels and utensils. There were life-sized figures of men and beasts wrought in solid gold. Carved stone chests overflowing with rough golden nuggets stood about; and piled to the ceiling were dull ingots of the precious metal.

"GREAT jumpin' gorrimighty!" exclaimed Red in awed tones. "There must be a million dollars worth of gold here!"
"Many millions," I told him. "If—"
"My sainted aunt!" cried Saunderson, for once abandoning his flippancy. "I never would have believed there was so much gold in the world, and I've seen the bullion in the Bank of England!"
I had been listening to the priest's words, and now I turned to the others.
"There probably isn't this amount of gold anywhere else on earth—in any one place," I said. "He says that the riches intended for the ransom of Atahualpa are here—the seven-hundred-foot gold chain made to commemorate the birth of the Inca Huascar, the twelve gold statues of the former Incas, the jewelled golden trees and images of the garden of the Temple of the Sun in Cuzco, and the seven thousand carriers' loads of gold dust and nuggets. That treasure alone has been estimated at over one hundred and fifty million dollars! And there are tons of gold that were placed here ages before that. Roughly I should say there are fully one thousand tons of gold here!"
"Shades of Croesus!" gasped Saunderson. "One thousand tons! Hold me up, someone! My sainted aunt, that' that's—"
"About half a billion dollars—as bullion," I told him. "But worth many times as much as archaeological specimens. And don't forget the gems!”
Red was staring wide-eyed, open-mouthed about the treasure chamber. "Say, Doc," he said at last. "I reckon I'll change my mind about that king business. If all this goes with it, it must be a damned good racket. But shucks. You was just kiddin', of course. An'—oh hell—there ain't that much money in the world!"
"If the Red-haired One is satisfied that the treasures of those who have gone before have been safely guarded by me, his servant to command, let us go," said the high priest. Turning, he ascended the stone stairs, and with our minds in a turmoil, silenced at thought of that immeasurable hoard of gold, trying to convince ourselves that it was not all a dream, we followed in his footsteps.
Still dazed, we replaced the trap door. The priest swung the monolith into place, bowed low before it, and tap-tapped along the labyrinth of passages, until we saw the gleam of sunlight and a moment later stood once more in the open air.

CHAPTER VI In the Forgotten Valley
TO our amazement we had emerged at the summit of the fortress. Above our heads arched the overhanging curtain of the mountainside, as if ready to fall at a touch. Far below us was the narrow, winding way leading from the gate to the pass, where the cyclopean wall seemed merely a gray thread, as we viewed it from our lofty perch. In the distance was the green valley of the Chameleon Men, and beyond all were the jagged, upflung summits of the Andean ranges.
The gray-bearded priest moved slowly across the parapet and led us into the shadows of the caverous hollow cut deeply into the face of the mountain. Filled with wonder at such a stupendous work of man, I gazed about. It seemed incredible that any human beings could have carved such a gigantic artificial cavern; yet to have done so must have been mere child's play compared to the engineering skill and labor involved in the hewing of the entire fortress from the living rock. Saunderson voiced my own feelings when he spoke.
"By Jove!" he exclaimed. "I never felt so deucedly small in my life. ‘Pon my word, makes one realize what an insignificant thing a man is, after all."
"You said it, Mister," declared Red. Me, I know just how a hop-toad feels when he tumbles into a cyclone cellar."
Turning aside, we followed old Sarayacu down a narrow descending pathway, until rounding an abrupt turn, and ascending a sharp rise, we looked down upon a tiny bowl-like valley hidden in a gigantic rift in the mountain.
Again we stared in wonder, for the entire area of the valley was covered with tilled fields and growing crops separated by stone walls and dotted with countless houses. Here was no dead and deserted stop, but a valley teeming with life and industry and hidden from all but the soaring condors in the sky. My emotions were too overwhelming to be adequately described. I had hoped to find traces of unknown ancient civilizations in this unexplored district. Instead, I had found an unknown, immeasurably ancient civilization still flourishing. I had come upon some forgotten, isolated community of the pre-Incans. I felt like a naturalist who, in some untrodden jungle, had come face to face with living breathing dinosaurs. Columbus, seeing the shores of a new-found world looming above the horizon, could not have known the wonder, the elation that filled me, as I gazed down from the mountain heights upon that tiny secret valley. It was unreal, dreamlike. Even the gray-bearded priest beside me seemed a vision, a figure out of the dim, immeasurably distant past. I had stepped back for countless centuries, for thousands of years. I had outdone Mark Twain's famous "Yankee at King Arthur's Court!"
I think that Saunderson felt more or less the same, although of course even he did not fully appreciate the marvel of our surroundings, not being an archaeologist. And even Red, who could not have distinguished a pre-Incan from a Cholo, was visibly impressed with the wonder of coming upon a civilization here in the heart of the Andes, "behind God's back" as he expressed it.
Of course all these sensations swept over me in an instant—in that instant that we stood there gazing at the valley. The next moment old Sarayacu was speaking.
"Behold that which no other eyes than those of the gods have looked upon for twice ten centuries!" he cried, raising his staff and pointing dramatically towards the oasis-like valley. "Behold all that remains of the race whose kings ruled Achcaruna-sapi and the four corners of the earth in the long ago. Behold the homes of the chosen people of Wira Kocha; the descendents of those Chavins who, of all in the great city of Urkon, survived! Look upon thy people, O Red-haired One. Long have I awaited thee, O Chosen One. Yea I and my father before me, for we of the priest clan of Achcaruna-sapi have known that the ancient prophecy would be fulfilled. And now thou hast come, thou and thy emblem-bearer and He of the Hair of the Sun, yea and thy black servant and thy brown spear-bearer. Mighty are the gods and helpless is man in the hands of Destiny, for that which is to be will be. Unto Achcaruna-sapi thou hast come. Here thou wilt abide with us and be our king, to have thy children and their children's children sit upon the throne of Wira Kocha until the end of time, as was foretold in the prophecy."
I gasped. It was as I had suspected. The old priest, possessing implicit faith in the fabulous prophecy, no doubt had watched and waited for years for the promised arrival of the god-like being who was to become his king according to tradition. And when we had appeared, and he had seen Red's flaming thatch of hair, he had jumped to the conclusion that the promised savior of his race had arrived. Unless I was vastly mistaken we had got ourselves into something of a jam, and we would have our hands more than full in trying to get us out of the mess. Personally, of course, I shouldn't have objected to dwelling in the place for several years. No living scientists had ever had such an opportunity for studying the pre-Incans. But neither Saunderson nor Red, I felt sure, would consent to remaining there for long.
And as for Red—rough, restless adventurer that he was, and ignorant of everything pertaining to the aborigines, unable to speak or understand Quichua —why, the thought of him becoming a native king was too preposterous for words.
"What's he lecturin' about now?" the subject of my thoughts enquired. "The old padre's been preachin' a regular sermon, 'pears to me. What's it all about, Doc?"
"Yes, indeed, do tell us the story, that's a good chap," put in Saunderson. No end of a bother, not being able to gather a word that he says. Wish I had learned Quichua or whatever he speaks, really I do."
I repeated what Sarayacu had said, but in less flowery words.
A strange expression crossed Red's face as I spoke. An expression in which incredulity, wonder, anger, amusement and self-satisfaction were struggling for supremacy.
"Shucks, the old padre's just plumb nutty!" he exclaimed when I had finished. "I ain't no answer to his old moth-eaten prophecy, an' I ain't aimin' to stop here no longer'n I have to, neither. I come along with you, Doc, an' I'll stick with you, long as you're wantin' me. But I didn't sign on to this expedition for nothin' else. And if old granddaddy here thinks I'm cravin' to settle down here an' rear up a bunch of half-breeds, he's got—another guess comin' to him. Just tell him that for me, will you, Doc? An'—Oh hell, what's the use? I was goin' to ask you to ask him about that damned gold he showed us—why he showed it, if he ain't goin' to let us have none of it."

I HAD never before known Red to make such a long speech. I smiled. "I'm afraid if I repeated all you've said that we would be worse off than we are now," I told him. "I'll handle your abdication of the throne a little more diplomatically. And I don't think it would be advisable to mention the gold. That, as I understand it, goes with the crown. And if these people should once get the idea that we are merely white men, that we place any intrinsic value on gold, we wouldn't be alive an hour later. Remote and unknown as these people are, they have heard of the Spanish conquest—undoubtedly the news was brought here by the carriers of Atahualpa's ransom —and they would never permit a white man to see this hidden colony and escape to carry word of its existence to the outside world. The priest regards us as semi-divine beings. As long as we are revered and respected as such we are safe. But if we are to continue to live, if we expect ever to get away, we must keep up that delusion. So if you'll leave the matter in my hands I'll try to find some safe and sane way to solve our problem. But I can assure you both of one thing. Regardless of what the final result may be, we might just as well make up our minds to remain here for a considerable period. It—”
"Right-o!" exclaimed Saunderson. "You're distinctly right, old man. I can quite understand that we are teetering on a tight-rope with complete oblivion on one hand and the life of demigods and kings on the other, and with negligible expectations of being able to maintain our balance until we reach the end of our rope which is represented by our own ideas of civilization. As our esteemed and elderly clerical friend observed, 'man is helpless in the hands of Destiny and that which is to be will be.' Positively yes! I'm a bit of a fatalist myself, you know, and after all this isn't such a beastly sort of place to be confined in. It might prove no end of a lark to be potentates for a bit; and seriously speaking, of the two I should much prefer being a king—or even a court jester—to being a corpse."
Sarayacu had been listening attentively to our conversation and I could see that he was beginning to get impatient and slightly peeved.
"Why does the Red-haired One not speak to his servant Sarayacu in the tongue of his people?" he demanded. "Why does he converse in strange words with Him of the Hair of the Sun, and with the Bearded One?"
"O priest of Achcaruna-sapi," I said —and my mind was working swiftly to find a means of satisfying him and allaying his suspicions—"It is the wish of the Red-haired One to speak through the mouth of his friend. The exalted ones speak directly only to their kind. Not until the Red-haired One is seated on the throne will he deign to speak other than through me, who am his amautu (councillor). Have you not faith in my words, O Saracayu, priest of Achcaruna-sapi? Have you not faith in the one to whom the Red-haired One entrusts the keeping of the sacred emblem?”
The priest bowed low. "I am but the servant of the mighty ones who have come hither bearing the sacred emblem of Wira Kocha and in the company of the Red-haired One," he said. "His will shall be the, law of his people. None shall question his wisdom nor the words of the Bearded One who is his Amautu."
The old man turned and stretched his arms toward the valley where tiny dots of human beings could be seen moving about.

“THY people await thee, O Red-haired One!" he exclaimed. "Let us not keep them waiting longer."
Following the aged priest, we descended toward the valley where strange and amazing events were destined to take place.
"See here," I said as we walked slowly after the priest. "You fellows will have to learn Quichua. I've managed to explain why you don't speak the language now, but that won't serve for very long. Sooner or later you'll have to speak it or there'll be trouble. If you don't, if the people—and especially this priest, Sarayacu discover that you are ignorant of the language they'll be suspicious, and suspicions will grow to certainties. Don't forget that we're here under false pretenses. Because those pretenses were practically forced upon us doesn't alter the case in the least. Now we're here we've got to see it through, and the sooner you two can speak some Quichua the better for all of us. Even if you could only say a few words, such as 'it is well’ 'yes' and 'no’ and some common forms of salutations it would be a tremendous help. And you'll find Quichua a fairly easy language to learn."
"Right-o!" agreed Saunderson. "Whatever you say, old chap. 'Mine not to question why, mine not to make reply, mine but to do or die’ and all that sort of thing, you know. But seriously, I'm not such a duffer at picking up a language. I speak Malay and Hindustani, and a bit of Burmese, et cetera. When does the first lesson begin?"
"Reckon I can manage it," declared Red. "Mebbe I won't never get to sling the lingo grammatic-like, but I savvy Spanish an' Apache an' some Navajo, an' I don't reckon this Quichua's no harder than them."
"Fine!" I exclaimed. "Better start right now. If Sarayacu overhears us all the better. He won't know I'm teaching you the words, but hearing you speak them he'll think you're familiar with Quichua as I am."
So for the next fifteen minutes I drilled the two in the proper use and pronunciation of a few simple phrases and words.
"How in blazes we goin' to know when to use 'em?" asked Red. "If I don't savvy what they're sayin' to me how in hell can I answer 'em right?"
"Don't try," I told him, "unless I'm with you. Then I can tip you off what to say."
Saunderson chuckled. "My word!" he exclaimed. "I don't envy you your job, old man. Really, you know, you should be the Prime Minister. You have your hands full; interpreter-in-chief, mouthpiece of His Majesty King Red the First, prompter extraordinary, contact man, advisory committee, bearer of the royal seal or whatever it is, master of ceremonies, et cetera, et cetera."
"Say, Mister, quit that line of talk about me being a king," growled Red. "I ain't no king an' I ain't goin' to be one, neither. Not less it's goin' to save our skins bein' one."
"Rabid republican!" grinned Saunderson. "Doesn't all that vast treasure tempt you to become a monarchist, my lad? By Jove, if I had hair that was rufus I'd jump at the opportunity, positively."
We were now approaching the valley and were moving along a smooth, well-kept road that led down the foothills by an easy gradient. On every side were orchards of fruit trees and neatly terraced gardens; and here and there a stone or adobe hut stood embowered by climbing vines and ornamental trees. Everywhere, too, were the people, men and women, toiling in the fields and gardens, spinning or weaving in their door-days, or tending flocks of alpacas, llamas and immense long-haired goats. As we approached the first of these herds Saunders gripped my arm.

GREAT Scott, Doctor, do you see those?" he cried, indicating the dun-colored goats. "Don't you recognize them? They're those mythical Andean goats of the Indians' tales! By Jove, yes! No doubt about it! Oh, my sainted aunt! To think I've hunted all over the Andes trying to get a shot at one of the beasts and here they are by the hundreds—domesticated!"
"Well, you ain't got no kick comin', far as I can see," grinned Red. "You can shoot all you want of 'em here, an’ no trouble neither."
Saunderson for once could find no adequate words with which to reply.
But I realized how he must feel at finding the almost fabulous creatures were merely domestic animals here, for I felt much the same in regard to the people who were hurrying forward from all directions as we proceeded on our way. They might have been painted figures from pre-Incan pottery come to life. All were dressed as the aborigines had dressed centuries before the conquest. The men in sleeveless tunics reaching to the knees, and short-legged drawers, the women in loose full skirts of knee length and with poncho-like capes over their bare shoulders and breasts. All were gay with color, all wore ornaments of silver and gold, and all differed amazingly from any Andean Indians I had seen. Instead of being short and stocky, they were tall and splendidly proportioned. Their features were clear cut, their foreheads high and broad, their noses high-bridged and slightly aquiline, and their eyes alert, keen and hazel-gray. And not a single brown-skinned individual could I see. Mostly they were a light olive, some were what we would call swarthy, but many were as fair as any European brunette. Never have I seen a more universally happy and contented-looking lot, and with obeisances and salutations, with showers of flowers and shouts of gladness they welcomed us. Rapidly news of our coming had spread, and soon we were surrounded by the laughing, joyous but slightly-awed throng. And like a triumphal procession we moved onward between the neatly-walled fields of alfalfa and maize, potatoes and peanuts, toward a group of larger buildings now visible in the shelter of a grove of towering Mapoya trees ablaze with crimson blooms,
"By Jove, isn't this perfectly ripping?" cried Saunderson. "It's as jolly as the Lord Mayor's Show I And the ladies! My word, some of them are beauties! Oh, I say, Red, my lad, if you decide to abdicate just do me a favor, old top, and name me as your successor to the throne!"
Red, secretly as much surprised and pleased at the ovation and the people as any of us, grinned. "I dunno about that, Mister Sun Hair," he said. "Some of these nice little girlies might be sorta disappointed if they didn't have a red-head for a king."
Sarayacu's voice stopped further conversation. "Behold, O Red-haired One, we draw near unto thy home. Behold how thy people welcome thee. Great is the joy of the people of Achcaruna-sapi this day."
I nudged Red's elbow. "Now's your chance," I muttered. "Tell him it is well."

AS Red uttered the simple phrase he had just learned, the priest's face beamed. At last the Red-haired One had spoken directly to him. He felt tremendously honored, and it suddenly dawned upon me that Red's inability to converse in Quichua had helped rather than hindered matters.
My thoughts were interrupted by our arrival at the group of buildings in the grove. I could have shouted with joy, for, at my first glance at the imposing structures, a thousand problems and puzzles that hitherto had confronted archaeologists were instantly solved. Scores, hundreds of times I had studied the crumbling ruins of pre-Incan buildings, striving to recreate them, to picture them as they had been when occupied, but in vain. And now before me were exactly similar buildings complete, in perfect repair, tenanted. Behind the wall of titanic stones, rose structures that might have been those of Tiahuanaco in the heyday of that immeasurably ancient city. To the right the severely plain but massive citadel; to the left the elaborately-sculptured, magnificent palace, and in the background, on its pyramidal mound, the imposing temple. There before us, as we passed through the outer portal, was a monolithic arch, the counterpart of the "Gateway of the Sun" of Tiahuanaco. And beyond it the level stone-paved Concha or plaza surrounded by hundreds of carved stone columns, each capped with a symbolic figure wrought in solid gold. What stupid fools we modern archaeologists had been! I thought. Always we had assumed that the tenonlike tops of the Tiahuanco columns had been designed to receive lintels of wood or stone. Never had it occurred to us that they were made to support golden images. But another revelation was to come. Men clad in gorgeous ceremonial costumes debouched up on the plaza and quickly took positions, one before each of the gold-topped columns. Another puzzle was solved. The monoliths marked the stations of the nobles of the community. The gold figures were the totems of the "Great Ones." Strange that such a simple explanation had never occurred to any scientist! And now a hushed silence fell over the assembled throng, and Sarayacu, taking a step forward, held high his hands, and with such a gesture as the Prophet Moses might have used, he blessed the multitude. Then: "Behold, O people of Ashcaruna-sapi thy prayers have been answered and the ancient prophecy has been fulfilled. This day unto us has come the Red-haired One to take his seat upon the sacred throne of Wira Kocha. With him has come his Amautu, the Bearded One, and his warrior chieftain, the One with the Hair of the Sun; and to serve them have come one with the black skin of Supay and one of brown. Blessed are we of Achcaruna-sapi, favored are we by the gods. No more shall we of the Chavins be without a king. No longer shall the Amaruhuay beset us and exact the tribute of virgins. No longer shall we fear the powers of darkness and of evil, for the Red-haired One has come from beyond the barriers of the great mountains. He has come with the Bearded One and the One of the Hair of the Sun through the valley of the little men, and he and his trusted ones are immortal and indomitable. And great indeed is their wisdom. Aye, and they bear with them the sacred symbol of Wira Kocha that no man has looked upon for twice ten centuries. Behold, my people, the Amautu of the Red-Haired One will hold aloft the emblem that all may see."
I did not need to be prompted. Stepping to the priest's side, I held high the golden disk and turned it about so that all might see it. A deep, indrawn breath of awe that was almost a sigh arose from the hundreds of people. I nudged Red. "Say something!" I commanded him. "Let them hear your voice. "Tell them it is well, jabber some Apache or Navajo or anything else afterwards, and put in all the Quichua words I've taught you. Its—"
"Speech!" shouted Saunderson, clapping his hands, "Speech, Red my lad! Iba ishti kampisjinallactac ama, and all that sort of thing, you know! "Speech!"
The effect of his meaningless gibberish, his string of Quichua words and incomprehensible English and his hand-clapping, was astounding. The people fairly roared with approbation, and, thinking no doubt that hand-clapping was some important mystical ceremony, they instantly followed suit and the applause was deafening.

BUT as Red stepped forward all sounds were instantly hushed. All eyes were focussed upon him, all ears were strained to catch his words. "Matapacuy pakunarem ka aamuy—Oh hell, what's next Doc? O. K. Ra-ama Inga kaicho, tengo much gusto, señores y señoritas. Yo soy hombre muy. Shucks you don't none of you know what I'm tryin' to say, nohow, kacharpani."
Amid a thunder of applause, in which the newly acquired custom of hand-clapping almost drowned the shouting, Red stepped back, wiping the beads of perspiration from his flushed face.
"Whew!" he ejaculated. "Damned if that wasn't the hardest thing ever I been called on for to do. Holy catfish, I hope I ain't gotta make no more speeches. Any speeches as has to be made you go ahead an' say 'em. Doc. What the blazes did I say, anyhow?"
"Balderdash!" replied Saunderson. "Not even a lot of tommy-rot. You started off gloriously, you know—so delighted to be here, and all that sort of thing. But after that—by Jove, it's lucky they don't know what you did say. Absolutely, yes!"
"Yeah, well I bet you didn't say noth-in’ any more sensible when you begun to shoot off your mouth," growled Red. "How about it, Doc?"
“Far be it from me to become involved in the controversy," I replied. "But I'm beginning to think that a little knowledge is a most valuable, rather than a dangerous thing, here. If these people can understand a word here and there, but can't make head or tail of the rest of the words, they're a lot more impressed than if you spoke perfectly intelligible Quichua or even Hualla. It's a queer psychological quirk, but perfectly natural. Anything they can't understand savors of mysticism. And every mother's son of them is going to pretend he understands for fear of others thinking him ignorant."
"My word, I do believe you're right," agreed Saunderson. "Human nature is much the same the world over, you know. Yes, by Jove, it's precisely the same way with an audience in a lecture-hall in jolly old England or the States. Catch any of them permitting their neighbors to suspect they don't grasp the lecture chap's meaning! But—Oh, I say, here comes the chorus!"
At the opposite end of the plaza a procession of girls appeared, all dressed alike in garments of scarlet and black and ablaze with gold. Chanting a song and scattering flowers they advanced four abreast, knelt and made obeisance before us, and then, rising, turned to right and left and took positions around the sides of the open space.
Saunderson touched my arm. "I say, old chap, who are they?" he asked. "Ladies of the harem or the royal ballet?"
I shook my head. "I'm not sure," I told him. "Probably Virgins of the Temple or merely feminine members of the nobility. "I—"
An exclamation from Red that was almost a gasp, drew our attention. He was staring, almost reverentially, at one of the girls who was approaching him. There was no denying that she was a very lovely creature. Her skin was the color of old ivory; her figure, revealed by the turned-back cape was that of a nymph rather than a Venus; her large lustrous eyes were shaded by long thick lashes; her brows were perfect arches. Her lips parted in a provocative smile, showed even, pearly teeth, and she walked with the regal tread of a queen. But it was not her glorious young beauty that held our eyes. Beneath the llantu that encircled her head her hair fell in two long plaits of deep Titian red!"

"BY Jove, what a beauty!" exclaimed Saunderson under his breath. "And red haired! Where on earth did she come from? I say—"
The girl was kneeling almost at Red's feet. With bated breath, as if in a trance, he was staring at her as if she had been a vision or a goddess. The next instant she rose, cast one quick sidelong glance at him from under her lowered lids, and moved aside to make room for the next four girls.
Red reached a shaking hand and touched me while still keeping his eyes fixed upon the girl. "Did you see her, Doc?" he gasped. "I ain't never fell for no woman afore, but she got me. There ain't no other on earth like her! Who the blazes is she, Doc? Ask the old padre what her name is an' where she lives. I gotta see her again, if I have to shoot up the whole damned place to do it."
I turned to Sarayacu. "The Red-haired One wishes to know the name of the virgin with hair like unto his own," I told him.
The priest's face fairly beamed. "Favored indeed is the house of Sarayacu," he exclaimed. "She of the red hair is Cherisona, the daughter of my daughter. Her father was the noble Kopa Cahuana of the royal clan of Urkon. Long have I prayed unto the gods that when the Red-haired One came to Achcaruna-sapi even he might look with favor upon Cherisona, and that she might sit by his side upon the throne of her fathers' fathers, and that their children might rule forever over our people."
"The young lady is named Cherisona," I told Red. "She is Sarayacu's granddaughter, a princess of royal blood, and a candidate for the position of queen. It appears—"
"Is that straight, Doc?" demanded Red, interrupting my words. "You mean if I'm king of this place I can—Oh, shucks, she wouldn't never marry me!"
"Don't worry over that," I said. "I can assure you that you have merely to ask her and she'll jnmp at the chance. If I'm any judge of human nature and femininity she's aching for the chance to say 'Yes.'"
Saunderson chuckled. "Ah, but don't forget, Red, my lad, that you can't converse with the young lady or ask her hand and heart until you have acquired a more comprehensive knowledge of her language. But, honestly, my boy, you are a deucedly lucky dog, you know!"
"The hell of a lot you know about it," snapped Red. "Makin' love's the same in all lingos."
"Right, distinctly right!" agreed Saunderson. "I've had some little experience myself, you know, and I can assure you that jolly little Cupid has evolved the most perfect Esperanto ever devised. But—"
"Doc!" exclaimed Red, ignoring the other's flippancy. "I changed my mind. I'm just cravin' to be made king. Tell the padre that I'm just r'arin' to go. I'm ready to be initiated into this king business any time he's ready. Hell, I'd be king of a bunch of lousy Piutes if I could get spliced to that Cherimoya girl." "Not Cherimoya, Cherisona," I corrected him. "O. K. Doc, Cherisona," he continued. "I—"
"Don't forget that if you go through with this you'll probably be here for life," I reminded him. "There may be a way out for us without sacrificing your liberty."
"Sacrifice, hell!" he cried. "Great jumpin’ jimminy! Do you call it a sacrifice to be hitched to that Cherimoya— no, Cherisona—girl? An' as for livin' here; I ain't got no kinfolk back home, an' I been thinkin' of settlin' down some place, an' I ain't never seen no place better'n this. 'Pears to me I'd a heap rather be a king here than a rollin' stone in God's country,"

CHAPTER VII The Palace of the King
"'THERE'S something I don't understand yet," I said as the crowd dispersed and Sarayacu led us across the plaza to the palace. "There's, some mystery I haven't been able to fathom."
Saunderson laughed. "Everything here is no end of a mystery, to me," he declared. "That amazing great fortress, the treasure, how these people have survived here without being discovered, that stunning princess with the Titian hair and most of all, why they should desire Red for their king."
"All astonishing, but scarcely mysteries," I told him. "Even the red hair of Cherisona is not mysterious—it is not uncommon to find Incan and pre-Incan mummies with red hair. What I had in mind is something entirely different, a mystery—or perhaps better, several mysterious things which, taken together, lead me to think there is something deeper, something hidden that we haven't hit upon yet."
"Really! What is this jolly old mystery of yours?" he asked. "I'm fearfully keen on mysteries myself—read all those silly old mystery magazines, you know."
"Doesn't it strike you as rather strange that these people are without a ruler— a king or queen—when there are plenty of men and women of royal blood, if we are to believe Sarayacu?" I asked him. "Then again, isn't it something of mystery that I should have picked up that gold disk which proved to be the sacred symbol of these people? How did it happen to be there? Surely any one, possessing such a priceless all powerful talisman, would never have dropped it and failed to search for it. Another mystery to my mind is the presence of that chain by which we entered the valley. If it was designed to enable people to scale the cliff why was it drawn up so that no one could reach the canyon from here, but people approaching by the trail could get here? Whoever carried that symbol I found was either going from this place, or, if coming toward it, he never reached the chain ladder. I—"
"I ain't no detective," said Red, interrupting my words, "but I reckon I know the answer to that one. Didn't you say that gold was brought here by a bunch of Injuns so the Spaniards wouldn't get their hands onto it? Well, did them Injuns stay here? I'll bet they didn't. 'Cordin' to my way of thinkin', they cleared out an' went home, an’ 'twas them fellows hauled the chain up after 'em an' most likely lost that emblem you found. They must ha' had one with 'em to get in here in the first place, an' if they wasn't aimin' to come back they wouldn't bother much if they lost it. An' someone cut down that old bridge what we climb up on. Them ropes was sound an' hadn't rotted through. 'Pears like to me them fellers aimed to fix things so nobody else could get in here an' grab the gold, an' so the folks here couldn't get out to tell about it bein' hid here."
"By the Lord Harry, I never thought it of you, Red!" exclaimed Saunderson. "Why, my lad, you're a second Sherlock Holmes, absolutely, yes! By Jove, do you know I actually think you have hit upon the solution of that mystery!"
"I think it quite probable that does explain some of it," I agreed. "And I can quite see how Saracayu, knowing that the treasure carriers were to close the trail behind them, should be all the more convinced of our semi-divine characters because we reached here. But there is another thing which the priest mentioned which puzzles me. When he was addressing the people here in the plaza he said, 'No longer shall the Amaru-huay beset us and exact the tribute of virgins. No longer shall we fear the powers of darkness and evil.' Those were no idle words, I am sure. These people have some very terrible enemy, either real or imaginary. He spoke of it as the Amaru-huay. That means a dragon as nearly as it can be translated. But of course that was a figure of speech signifying something terrifying and unconquerable. Whatever it is, it calls for human sacrifices—for the 'tribute of virgins.' It may be that girls are sacrificed to some evil deity, or again it may be that some savages must be propitiated by giving them young girls. Just as soon as I feel we are firmly established I'm going to find out."

"YEAH, an if I'm king of this bunch you can bet there won't be no sacrificing of girls to heathen gods nor nothin' else," declared Red. "If I'm boss I'm goin' to run things 'cordin' to my ideas, an' they're a-goin' to stand for it an' like it."
"Bully for you!" cried Saunderson, slapping him on the back. "I'm all for you, Red, my lad. And if Your Majesty requires assistance call on me. Nothing I love better than a good fight, you know. No end of a lark—knocking the blighters about in a righteous cause."
"Fightin's all right," agreed Red, "but what I'm cravin' right now is grub and tobacco. Say, Doc, ask the padre if he can't rustle some. I seen some of them men smokin' when we was standin' in the plaza. Sufrerin' cats, what's this, a hotel?"
We had reached the palace, and passing between the intricately-sculptured columns flanking the doorway, on whose lintel were cut the same mystic inscription I have already described, we found ourselves in a corridor or collonade that extended around an immense patio or garden. It was, I think, the most beautiful patio I have ever seen. The beds of flowering plants, the ornamental shrubs, the neatly kept hedges, the vines clamboring over the palm trees, all were ablaze with color. The air was heavy with the odor of thousands of blossoms and vibrant with the music of bright-plumaged songbirds. Paths, paved with mosaics of jade, lapis lazuli, jasper, onyx, malachite, cinnabar, amethyst and other semi-precious stones, were shaded by flowering trees. Here and there were arbors of summer houses enbowered in vines. Gorgeous butterflies and jewel-throated humming birds hovered over the flowers. And in the centre of the garden was an immense bathing pool of sea-green serpentine, filled with running water flowing from a tilted urn held by a nude female figure wrought of solid gold.
Of course I did not note all these details at that time. We had scarcely more than a glimpse of the patio as we passed down the corridor, and followed Saracayu through a doorway closed by a magnificent tapestry, and found ourselves in an immense room. Evidently word had been sent that we were to dine, for a meal had been prepared for us and food in golden and silver dishes was being served by white-clad women as we entered.
"By Jove, makes me think of Lyons' Pop, on dear old Piccadilly!" exclaimed Saunderson. "All these waitresses in white, you know. But my word! Even Frascati's isn't so gorgeous."
"If the grub eats as good as it smells, it's all right by me," was Red's comment. "Say, Doc, how in blazes we goin' to eat without no knives an' forks?"
"Fingers, my lad, fingers. Saunderson told him. "When a man has an opportunity to dine from dishes of solid gold he shouldn't be particular about the cutlery."
As was the custom with the Incans, each person had a separate table, or rather a bench, and seating ourselves on the low stools provided, we lost no time in satisfying our truly ravenous appetites. But despite my hunger I found my attention was more upon my surroundings than upon the food. And I scarcely could keep my eyes from the elaborate frescoes in red and black which completely covered the walls of the dining hall. But the attentions of the others were entirely upon the food served them by the demure sandal-shod girls. It was a really excellent meal. There were luscious fruits—the native peaches or durasnos, the pale pink Andean strawberries, cherimoyas, and bananas. There was a soup with paltas or as we call them, alligator pears. Boiled green corn, lima beans, potatoes and some sort of greens formed the vegetable course. For entrees there were roasted cavy or guinea pig and broiled quail, and for desert there were fried corn-cakes with honey. And of course there was the cider-like, corn chicha as a beverage.
"Pon my word I never dined more sumptuously in my life," declared Saunderson when at last he had finished. "Now if only I had an after dinner Havana, I—"
"Me, I ain't cravin' no seegar," said Red. "I want a good chaw. Say, Doc, ask the padre if he can't rustle some tobacco."
The priest nodded and gave an order when I asked him, and, a moment later, a servant appeared carrying what looked like a section of cylindrical black wood.

RED sniffed at it suspiciously. "Damned if 'taint tobacco!" he cried, and drawing his knife he hacked off a piece and stuffed it into his mouth. A satisfied grin spread over his features as his jaw worked. "Whoopee!" he exclaimed. "There ain't nothin’ more I'm wantin'. Nice friendly lot of people, good grub, plenty of tobacco, a swell hotel and—"
"Don't forget a crown and a queen!'" Saunderson reminded him.
Red leaped to his feet. "Holy smokes!" he exclaimed. "I'm goin' for to look her up. Now if there was only a movie we could go to—"
"Hold on!" I admonished him. "Don't be precipitate. Remember you are a semi-divinity, that you—all of us—are revered, and that our lives depend upon maintaining our present status. If you behave like an ordinary mortal we'll lose prestige even if we don't lose our lives. And don't think I'm exaggerating. These people are aware of the fate of their race at the hands of the Spaniards. They have cut themselves off from the world and have remained hidden away here, to avoid a similar fate, and they would never permit a white man to carry word of their existance to the rest of the world. Aside from all this is the outstanding fact that as king-elect you could scarcely wander about looking for a young lady, regardless of her social status."
"I reckon I gotta do as you say, Doc," growled Red. "But, hell, can't a king do what he wants to?"
"He cannot," Saunderson told him. "Most distinctly not. That's the penalty for being a king, you know. 'Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown,' and all that sort of thing! In return for the privilege of sitting on a throne one has to make concessions. Can you imagine good old King George wandering about Buckingham Palace in a bath robe and slip-slops with a pipe in his mouth, or sitting on a bench in Hyde Park and holding hands with a flapper? No, it simply isn't done, Red, my lad. But I'll wager a quid to a sixpence jolly old Georgie would give the Kohinoor to be able to chuck the whole show and be just a man, 'even as you and I.' Absolutely, yes."
Red sighed. "Ain't there no way I can get to see that Cheri— Cherisona girl again, an' have a chance to get acquainted?" he asked. "Can't I throw a party or a dance or something an' invite her? I'm takin' on this king job account of her. Can't you ask the padre if he can't fix it up?"
"No, I will not," I told him, rather annoyed at his insistence. "I'm handling this matter as I think best for all of us. Sarayacu is as anxious as you are to arrange a match with you and his granddaughter. But these people have their conventions and customs like every other race. You've got to abide by them. I don't know any more about such matters than you do, but I don't propose to make a mess of everything by saying or doing anything that will reveal our ignorance. Now—"
Sarayacu, suggesting that if we had satisfied our appetites we should follow him, interrupted our conversation. Sam and Karen, who had been served with food in the patio, awaited us in the corridor.
"Wha la!" exclaimed Sam. "How we goin' arrange, Chief? Ah can't comprehen' wha' these people says an' they can't comprehen' me. An' Ah—"
"We'll fix that." I assured him. "I'll see that you and Karen are near us at all times."

THE priest led us through a second doorway, opening on to the patio and we found ourselves in a spacious chamber with walls completely covered with magnificent tapestry hangings. Never had I seen such textiles. Even the famed robes of the Parakas' tombs would have appeared cheap and tawdry by comparison. Thick soft rugs of viscacha and alpaca covered the floor. There were stools and benches of richly carved dark wood inlaid with precious metal and turquoise. A wisp of sweet-scented smoke drifted from a silver incense burner resting on a stand of carved jadeite; and at one side was a couch with coverings of textiles as fine and light as silk."
"May the Bearded One make this humble chamber his own," said Sarayacu. "If there is anything lacking, which he may require, it shall be his if he but speaks his wishes."
"My word, they do you rather well, you know!" exclaimed Saunderson. "Oh, I say, what jolly pajamas!" He was examining garments that filled a carved wooden chest.
"I laughed. "Not pajamas, full dress," I told him. "Apparently we are expected to follow conventions even in clothing."
"Sufferin’ snakes, you goin' to wear them things?" cried Red. "Me, I—"
"You'll wear whatever they give you, and like it," I told him. "In the first place we'll be less conspicuous. In the second place it will save wear and tear on our own garments which are perilously near the end of their usefulness already. And in the third place the more we fall into the natives' ways the better. Clothes may not make the man, but they make a big impression on other men."
"Well, I'm a-goin' to tote my six-guns no matter what duds I wear," he declared.
"No harm in that," I told him. "These people don't know what a gun is, so they will probably think yours are ceremonial objects or some sort of insignia."
I turned to Sam. "This is my room," I told him. "You can stay here. No sense in trailing; along after us."
The priest conducted us to another chamber almost the counterpart of the first, which he informed us was for the use of "The Lord of Hair of the Sun," or, as he expressed it, Inchukespi.
Saunderson gave an order to Karen, who squatted in the doorway, as we left the room and followed the priest across the patio to where two men, clad in sky-blue and white, and armed with long-handled bronze axes, stood guard outside a curtained door way. The sentries lowered their weapons in salute as we approached, and dropped to one knee as we passed between them through the portal. And the end of a short hallway Sarayacu paused before a heavy drapery. "May this chamber find favor in the eyes of the Red-Haired one," he said as he parted the arras.
The room we entered was indescribably magnificent. The walls, bare of hangings, were completely covered with mosaic pictures wrought in semi-precious stones and gold. Upon the floor of exquisite tiles were beautiful rugs and the skins of Andean bears, jaguars, ocelots and panthers. The incense burner and its stand were of massive gold ablaze with diamonds and the stools and benches were richly inlaid with gold, and encrusted with emeralds, garnets, topaz' and sapphires. And in the centre of the chamber was a fountain in the form of a golden lily, with a bowl cut from a single immense block of translucent, pale, green fluorspar. To the right was a door closed by a curtain of gorgeous feather work. "By Jove, the royal bedchamber!" cried Saunderson, as he lifted the drapery and peered within.
This room was, if anything, more regal than the other. Deep rich rugs of white and blue covered the floor. The walls were completely hidden under feather-work tapestry. The stools were of gold set with gems, and the couch of richly-carved and inlaid wood was covered with robes made entirely of the irridescent feathers of humming birds.
"Suffurin' snakes, have I gotta sleep in here?" exclaimed Red, staring about in awed bewilderment. "Hell, it ain't no sort of a room for a he-man. I feel like I was sleepin' in a bank vault or a jew'lry shop. Say, Doc, am I seein' tilings or is all this real honest-to-goodness gold? Holy smoke, if I had just one of these tables back home I'd be fixed for life!"
"You'll be fixed for life—here, if you become king," I reminded him. "No backing out of the job once you are crowned. Sure you want to go ahead with it?"
He wheeled on me. "Look a-here, Doc!" he cried vehemently. "I ain't never went back on nothin' I said yet. As long as that Cherisona girl is here you couldn't pry me loose, short of a blast of dynamite."

"MY word, what a wardrobe!" exclaimed Saunderson, who was examining the contents of a sculptured lapis-lazuli chest. "My sainted aunt, it would make an Indian rajah green with envy! Red, my lad, you'll be perfectly gorgeous when you appear arrayed in these togs; every girl will be running after you, positively, yes!"
"Yeah," retorted Red, "Well, you can have the job of roundin' 'em up, an' mebbe that'll keep you busy for a spell."
"Thanks, awfully, Your Majesty," grinned Saunderson. "But far be it from me to prevent the dears from gazing upon their king arrayed unto the lilies of the field and with forty-fives strapped to his cute little panties."
"Say, Mister," exclaimed Red "If there wasn't no other reason, I'd take this king job so I could tell you where you get off. Savvy?" But all this meant "Come along, boys." I said. "We're keeping Sarayacu waiting. He has other wonders to exhibit."
"Pon my word he's missed his vocation, absolutely," declared Saunderson. "He should be with Cooks or Lunds, you know; one of those conductor chaps who show tourists about the old churches and palaces, and all that sort of thing."
Opposite the door, through which we had entered the main room, was an imposing portal flanked by columns of red onyx, sculptured to represent entwined serpents, and supporting a lintel of black agate showing the condor-god in high relief. Drawing aside the curtain, heavy with gold embroidery, the priest ushered us into an enormous hall or open court, for only a portion of one end of the place was roofed over. In the shelter of the roof, upon a raised stone dais, was a massive chair or throne of deep-blue lapis with the arms ending in jaguar heads of gold. To the right of this was a smaller throne of rich green jadeite, while on the left was a third throne of rose quartz. Above the central throne a golden condor spread its broad wings like a canopy. Back of the green throne was a great golden sun, and behind the throne of pink was a conventionalized moon of silver. And the magnificence of the three thrones in their setting of gleaming gold was heightened by the fact, that elsewhere the vast room was absolutely devoid of ornamentation. The walls, of immense many-angled blocks of pale-gray diorite were without a trace of carving or sculpture with one exception. Cut deeply into the wall above the soaring condor was the mysterious inscription of eighteen strange characters or symbols.

"BY Jove, it's the most imposing throne-room I've ever seen," declared Saunderson in lowered voice.
"But why the three thrones? That perfectly gorgeous blue and gold one for the king, of course; one of the others for the queen, don't you think? But who occupied the third, I can't imagine."
"The symbols behind each answers that question," I told him. "The pink throne with the moon is that of the queen, the green one with the sun is for the high priest—our friend Sarayacu."
Saunderson chuckled. "Pon my word!" he explained, dropping his serious manner and reverting to his irrepressible flippancy. "I don't envy good, old Red his job. The parson on one side and a woman on the other—Jolly well between the devil and the deep sea, as one might say!"
"Well, I ain't worryin' none long as I don't have you settin' alongside me," Red told him.
I turned to Sarayacu. "Tell me, O priest of Urkon, why no ruler sits upon the throne of Wira Kocha? Awaiting the coming of the Red-haired One, has Achcaruna-sapi had no king nor queen to guide the people?"
The old priest shook his head sadly. "For half a thousand years no man of Chavin blood has been crowned king of Achcaruna-sapi," he replied. "And no woman may sit upon the sacred throne of Wira Kocha. When Manko Kelendin went forth with his warrior hosts to serve beneath the rainbow standard of the Inca, and met his death, the line of Chavin kings came to an end. Yet was it so foretold in the ancient prophecy. And knowing that what is to be will be, we of Achcaruna-sapi have awaited the day when Huata Piclu, the Red-haired One, should arrive to sit upon the sacred throne and mate with a woman of Chavin blood and beget a man-child, with red hair of the royal line, that their children and their children's children might forever be kings in Urkon."
My thirst for knowledge was getting the better of my caution, and heedless of the fact that I might be expected to possess knowledge of such matters, I questioned him further.
"You speak in riddles, O Sarayacu," I told him. "You speak of Urkon and of Achcaruna-sapi and of the Chavins. Though I am the Amautu of the Red-haired one yet I come from afar, and there is much that I do not understand. Are Urkon and Achcaruna-sapi and Chavin but different names for this one valley and this one people?"
The priest smiled. "There is much that I may tell you, O Bearded One," he said. "That you know naught of these matters is not strange. Nay, even the Red-haired One himself understands them not. Nor docs he speak our tongue with ease, for so it was ordained and foretold in the long ago. And now it is the hour of rest, and my lords have journeyed far and are wearied."
"There's one thing we needn't worry about," I told the others as we left the throne-room and paused for a moment in Red's quarters. "Sarayacu knows that Red doesn't speak the language— says it was foretold by the prophecy that he would be a stranger. So we need not be afraid to ask questions or let the priest and the others know we are ignorant of many things. That makes it much easier. As soon as I can manage it I'll have a long talk with Sarayacu and find out all I can."'
"Clever beggar, the parson," declared Saunderson. "No end of a sly old fox, I should say. Shouldn't be surprised if he knows us for what we are and is just spoofing the public with his prophecies and all that sort of thing."
"Possibly," I agreed, "but I'm inclined to think he actually believes in it all. It is almost impossible for a white man to understand the mental attitude or psychology of the aborigines. Superstition, a belief in the occult, intelligence, intuition and keen perception and common sense are all inextricably blended in their brains."
Red yawned. "Anyhow, that Cherisona girl ain't no fake," he declared. "An' there ain't nothin' phoney about this room or this bed. Me, I'm for hit-tin' the hay an' takin' a good, long snooze."


Through the Andes by A. Hyatt Verrill Part 3 of 3 from Amazing Stories 1934 November, digitized by Doug Frizzle 2007

This is the conclusion of Mr. Verrill's story of South American archeology, sprinkled with considerable adventure and with some admirable depictions of character. We are sure that our readers will be sorry to part with the explorers in this story, so well described that we feel that we have lived with them.

CHAPTER VIII Red's Courtship
THERE is no need to describe in detail all that occurred during the day which followed our arrival at Achcarunasapi. We were shown over the temple and the citadel, and while Red and Saunderson were filled with admiration and wonder at the magnificence, the immensity and the beauty of the state buildings and the high state of culture revealed by them, their emotions were nothing compared to my own. Here were structures, similar to those which hitherto I had known only as deserted crumbling ruins, with all their contents, their furnishings and their treasures intact, with their mosaics, their frescoes and their tapestries untouched by time or vandals' hands. An intense fury filled my heart at the thought of the Spaniards having looted, and stripped scores, yes hundreds, of such buildings in their ruthless wanton campaign of destruction, leaving them but empty, forsaken shells. To me, the buildings with their contents were far more than imposing, richly furnished structures. They were archaeological treasure-houses, and I realized that weeks, months, even years might be profitably devoted to studying and investigating them. Indeed, all desire to leave the valley was forgotten in the enthusiasm and interest aroused by my surroundings. Never again would I have such an opportunity, and, I reflected, why should I not remain indefinitely? When I had set out on my expedition with the hope of finding traces of a pre-Incan civilization in the district, I had planned to be gone at least six months. And now, instead of traces, I had found the lost civilization itself; alive, thriving, vibrant, beyond all my dreams. I made up my mind to make the most of the opportunity, to remain until I had learned all it was possible to learn regarding the history, the life, the traditions and the arts of the people. And with Sarayacu's cooperation and his knowledge to aid me I should be in a position to write a monograph which would astound the scientific world. But would Saunderson be willing to remain? In as few words as possible I outlined my position and asked him.
"You're right, distinctly right—in regard to stopping here, I mean," he declared. "By all means seize the opportunity by the tail and hang onto it, old chap! 'There's a tide in the affairs of men,' and all that sort of thing, you know. And don't worry over me. I can kill time here as well as elsewhere. Must be game about, and if nothing else offers I might follow Red's suggestion and pot some of these Andean goats— have them turned loose on the mountain and stalk them, you know. When all's said and done it wouldn't be much worse than shooting pheasants in jolly old England. And it doesn't make a penny's worth of difference whether I'm away for six months or six years. I never bother my poor old nut over business matters anyway—my solicitors attend to all that sort of thing, and they are quite accustomed to my erratic behavior. By Jove, yes, go to it, old man, stop on as long as you wish. I fancy Red is a permanent fixture here—though really I can't picture him as a king—and I'm frightfully keen on seeing how matters develop under his sceptre. I suppose there will be a sceptre, don't you think? Besides—" he added with a grin and a chuckle—"it's a really delightful place. Excellent food, luxurious accommodations, charmingly friendly people, a salubrious climate, and plenty of lovely ladies! What more can a mere man ask?"
The citadel, where our conversation had taken place, was more in the nature of a government storehouse, arsenal and barracks than of a fortress. Great rooms were filled with grain, maize, dried meat and vegetables and other food stuffs, others were full of bales of llama, alpaca and vicuna wool, others with textiles, tools and various essentials, enough to have supported the entire population during a siege of months. Though only a scant dozen armed men were in charge, there were accommodations for housing a force of fully a thousand warriors, and the immense quantity of weapons—bronze battle-axes and spears, bows and arrows, stone-headed maces, bronze daggers; slings and sling-stones, and quilted cotton armor were proof that at one time a real standing army had been maintained. No doubt, I thought, the legions had gone forth with Mank Keledin never to return, when as Sarayacu had told me, he had been called upon by the Inca. And with such a comparatively small population in the hidden valley, and with no militant ruler, an army never had been required. But these thoughts at once raised other problems in my mind. Why had the community dwindled? Why had that stupendous fortress with its vast, secret treasures been abandoned? What had become of the teeming inhabitants who must have existed, to account for their construction of such titanic works? I would have to wait, would have to question Sarayacu, to learn the answers to these riddles.
All that we had seen of rich magnificence was as nothing compared to the interior of the temple. And the fact that we were admitted within its sacred portals, and were treated like equals by the high priest, convinced me that Sarayacu was sincere in his reverent attitude towards us.
Red, who was still unable to believe that there were such treasures in the world, almost collapsed when we were ushered into the vast, circular hall scintillating with gold and ablaze with gems.
"Say, Doc, just kick me an' wake me up!" he exclaimed. "If this is where they go to church—"
"On your knees!" I commanded him, as following the priest's actions I knelt, and Saunderson did the same.
When Sarayacu again rose, and we had the opportunity to gaze about, Saunderson drew a long deep breath. "I wouldn't have missed this for anything," he declared. "I've seen most of the famous churches of the world, but 'pon my word, all of them together couldn't even approach this for beauty or wealth. Do you know when I read Prescott, I thought the old boy was letting his imagination run wild when he described the Temple of the Sun at Cuzco. But, my sainted aunt! Why, the Cuzco temple must have been merely a tuppence ha'penny little chapel beside this."
"I think," I said, "that I'm beginning to see some light Achcarunasapi— the birthplace of the multitudes of men! If I'm right, all the pre-Incan and Incan colonies were offshoots of this place. It must be the supposedly fabulous 'Navel of the World' of the old traditions. No wonder this temple is far ahead of even the one at Cuzco. It is what St. Peter's is to Roman Catholics, what Westminister is to the Church of England."
"I say, where did they secure such quantities of gold, do you suppose?" Saunderson asked me as we stood gazing at the enormous golden sun with its jewelled rays gleaming above the altar of polished marcasite.
"That," I told him, "has always been a puzzle, "but if my deductions are correct they must have had a, secret and incredibly rich mine not far from here. And very probably most of the gold that was distributed through the country came from here. If—"
"Sufferin' catfish, let's find that mine!" cried Red. "I've done a heap of prospectin' in my time, an' we can stake our claims an' all be rich."
Saunderson guffawed. "Red, my lad, as a prospective sovereign you're a complete washout!" he exclaimed. "You're a second Oliver Twist, really you are. Always wanting more. My word, don't you realize that the mine is yours, that the contents of this temple are yours, that every bally tiling in the valley belongs to Your Majesty! You're richer than Croesus or Henry Ford or the Shah of Persia. Yes, by Jove, and yet you couldn't purchase a box of matches or a package of cigarettes, regardless of how much you wanted them!"
Red's face fell. "Hell, what's the use of bein' a millionaire if you can't buy nothin'?" he grumbled.
"Wealth," I informed him, "is merely a relative term; Where there is no poverty there can be no riches. Where there arc no riches there can be no poverty. That was why, under the old Incas, gold had no intrinsic value, any more than it has here. It is merely ornamental, prized for its color, symbolic of the sun, and because it is readily worked and does not tarnish. But what difference does it make? After all, a millionaire in the world we know cannot purchase any more than you possess here. Food, clothing, a home, friends, luxuries—"

"DON'T forget the charming Cherisona!" cried Saunderson.
Sarayacu had been patiently waiting as we talked, listening intently, perhaps hoping to partly understand us by our tones of inflection. At the mention of Cherisona his face brightened.
"I have spoken unto the daughter of my daughter," he informed me. "I have told her that the Red-haired One has looked with favor upon her. Greatly is she honored, and most gladly will she be his queen. If it pleases the Red-haired One I, Sarayacu, priest-king of Urkon, will unite Cherisona to my lord on the day when he becomes our king."
"There you are!" cried Saunderson, when I had translated the priest's words. "Everything arranged for you, Red, my lad! No trouble about courting, no need to pop the jolly old question and all that sort of thing. Nothing like being a potentate and having a grand-daddy-in-law to act as a proxy in making love to one's enamorata, you know!"
"Yeah, well the padre's got another guess comin'," Red growled. "Me, I ain't lettin' no one do my love-makin' for me. If I can't get next to that Cherisona girl an’ ask her will she team up with me, the king business is off, an’ you can tell that to the old padre for me, Doc.
Knowing Red's character I felt sure that complications would ensue if I did not arrange matters. So I spoke to the priest, and as diplomatically as possible I explained that Huata Pilcu— The Red-haired One—had barely seen the girl; that while she found favor in his eyes, he wished to meet her and see more of her before the matter went further. But I added—as I saw a slight frown on Sarayacu's winkled face —"as the Red-Haired One's councillor and Amautu, I could assure him that this was merely a formality, a custom of our own people, and that Cherisona was as good as queen already."
The priests's face cleared and he smiled. "The will of the Red-haired One is law," he said. "that very day, within the hour, his daughter's daughter would be conducted to the palace and the presence of her future husband."
"Array yourself like Solomon in all his glory, my lad!" grinned Saunderson when I told them of Saracayus promise. "Nothing like making a stunning appearance, you know! And the ladies are fearfully keen on raiment. Do you require a valet? If so I’ll loan you Karen for the occasion."
"Aw, shut up!" barked Red. "Maybe you can't put on your duds less'n you have a man to help you." Then, turning to me. "How about it, Doc? Have I gotta dress up in them fool duds for to see her?"
"I think it is advisable to do so," I told him. "I intend to wear the native garments from now on myself. And if Saunderson also uses the clothing provided for him you won't feel self-conscious. When in Rome do as the Romans do, you know."
I admit that as I donned the costume I selected from the assortment in the chest in my room, I felt as if I were about to attend a masquerade ball.
When, clad in tunic and shorts of tan and blue with a Uantu or head-band of crimson topped by a black and white plume, and by a happy inspiration wearing the golden talisman suspended by a cord about my neck, I appeared before Sam, his eyes rolled in wonder and admiration.
"Wha la!" he cried. "Ah didn't scarcely know yo’, Chief. Yo' is look like a king fo' sure. Yassar, takin' the fac's of the case in consid'ation, yo' is absolutely grandificant. Yassar, tha’ what yo' is! An' no mistakin' 'bout it."
Entering Saunderson's room, I found him wearing a costume of blue and white with a necklet of gleaming sapphires and a plume of white egrettes. The costume was most becoming and I told him so.
"Really?" he exclaimed. "Thanks awfully, old chap. I feel the perfect fool, you know. Dash it all, why don't they have a mirror in the place? But you're actually quite splendid yourself, you know! By Jove, I am keen on seeing how dear, old Red will appear. Let's toddle over and surprise him."
We found Red trying to get an idea of his appearance by his reflection in the golden incense burner. Apparently he had taken Saunderson's advice literally, for neither Solomon nor the lilies of the field had ever been arrayed more gorgeously than he. His costume, of buff with black and orange figures, was rich with gold embroidery. His sandals were embellished with gold and fire-opals. And on his fiery red hair he wore a circlet of gold with ear coverings set with emeralds, and with a scarlet and black plume above his forehead. He turned as we entered, and despite my efforts I could not suppress a laugh as I saw the cartridge belt about his waist and the two heavy revolvers resting against his thighs.
“OH, I say I" cried Saunderson, striving to control his merriment. "One doesn't go courting 'with heavy artillery, you know! Or do you plan to force the young lady to yield at point of pistol, old thing? But otherwise, my lad, you're perfectly stunning. Absolutely gorgeous, yes, really you are, You're— "
"Cut it out," barked Red. "You ain't took a squint at yourself yet, Mister. Say Doc, have I gotta put on them things? Jew'lry! Hell!"
He indicated a heap of glittering gold and gems.
I touched the gold disk on my own chest. "I'm wearing some and Saunderson is wearing a sapphire necklace worth a king's ransom," I told him. "As long as you are dressing the part you had better wear some of the ornaments. They are not only decorative but are insignia of rank."
"O. K.," he agreed reluctantly as he picked up a heavy gold wristlet and a collar of emeralds with a scapular of gold, "I'll wear the junk, but next thing you'll be sayin' I gotta use per-fum'ry. Why the blazes can't these Injuns wear shirts an' pants an' hats like other folks?"
"But, my dear Red," cried Saunderson, "just stop to consider! Can you picture the lovely Cherisona attired like 'other folks' as you put it? My word, no! Just think what you'd miss. Really— "
Red shied a gold bracelet at his head which, fortunately, the other dodged.
"Come on," I said, "It's time we left. I hear Sarayacu's voice. The princess is approaching."
"Toodlyoo, old top!" cried Saunderson as we stepped through the doorway. "Best of luck to you. Oh, by Jove! say, don't forget to have a ring ready!"
Sarayacu was standing with Cherisona by his side in the hallway. "By jove, she is perfectly stunning!" whispered Saunderson as we passed. "But poor Red will throw a lit if the grandfather is going to act as chaperone."
"He isn't I said." as I glanced back and saw the priest emerging from the doorway. I chuckled. "Honestly," I said, "I'd give a good deal to see and hear how Red acts when he finds himself alone with the girl."
Saunderson grinned. "Leave it to him!" he said.
We didn't see Red again until we met at dinner, and for once Saunderson fore-bore from teasing him. In fact neither of us even referred to the matter of his tryst, by common consent waiting for him to broach the subject first. And I could tell by his face and his preoccupation that he was aching to confide in us. But it was not until the meal was over and I lit my pipe that he spoke.
"Well, we're a-goin' to team up," he announced at last. "I reckon she's as much stuck on me as me on her. Yep, it's all fixed. And say, Doc, I got you to thank for it. If I hadn't come along on this expedition I wouldn't never have met up with her. Holy smoke! It makes me get cold feet to think of what I'd have missed."

"CONGRATULATIONS, my lad!" cried Saunderson. "Really, I mean it. No spoofing, Red. You've picked a winner, honestly you have. Dash it all, if you hadn't got ahead of me I'd have gone after her myself, absolutely yes! Dammit, we should have some champagne to drink a toast to your future happiness. Deucedly poor substitute— this chicha. But here's to you both!" He rose to his feet and raised his silver cup.
Red grinned, and flushed even more scarlet than usual, as we clinked the goblets and drank. "Mebbe you'll be meetin' up with some nice girl yet," he said to Saunderson. "There's a heap of 'em here."
Saunderson shook his head. "Ah, that is the rub!" he exclaimed. "There are too many of the darlings. It's like trying to pick out a shirt at a haberdashery, but a jolly sight worse. One can purchase the whole bally stock of shirts, but one can't take on all the young ladies, you know!"
"How did you manage to understand one another?" I enquired. "That is—" I hastened to add—"if it isn't too intimate a question."
Red grinned. "I don't mind tellin' you, Doc," he said. "An’ mebbe it'll help Mister Saunderson when he starts makin' up to one of these girls. It was dead easy. I just pointed to myself and then to her and smacked my lips like I was kissin'. An' she blushed an' pointed to me an’ then to herself an' put out her lips an'—Oh hell—you know the rest!"
"Simplicity itself!" declared Saunderson. "Idyllic! How I have wasted my time and talents in the past! Pon my word, Red, you've simplified life for me in the future. Really, you know, you're a genius, positively you are!"

CHAPTER IX An Epochal Discovery
FOR the next few days we saw little of Sarayacu, for the priest was more than busy with preparations for the coronation and royal wedding soon to be celebrated. But time did not hang heavily on our hands. Red, of course, chafed at the delay, but Saunderson, who was rapidly acquiring a working knowledge of the Hualla dialect, enjoyed himself thoroughly. His easy, flippant manner and good nature won the smiles and friendship of the people wherever he went, and his blonde skin and yellow hair brought open admiration from the girls and women. And when he discovered that there were bears and wild goats on the neighboring hills, he at once became again the ardent, big game hunter. The first time that the natives of the valley heard a gunshot they were filled with terror and came rushing to the temple in dismay. In fact there came near being a riot, and even Sarayacu was so terrified that he grovelled at our feet, although I had explained beforehand that Saunderson was going to kill the beasts by thunderbolts from his strange weapons. Nothing I could say could calm them or allay their fear, and then Red came to my rescue and by homeopathic treatment completely cured the people of their aboriginal terror of firearms.
"Say, Doc, try to make 'em savvy that there ain't no danger of gettin' hurt, lessen we aim to hurt 'em," he said. "Tell 'em if I'm goin' to be king they gotta trust me. An' tell 'cm I'm goin' to show ‘em. Hell, I've seed many a hoss that was gun-shy, but I ain't never seen one couldn't be cured by shootin' alongside of him till he got over bein' scairt, an' I don't reckon these folks has got less sense than a bronc. So here goes!"
Whipping out his revolvers, Red fired into the air as fast as he could pull trigger. At the crashing reports of his pistols the people fell flat on their faces fairly paralyzed with terror. But as the detonations continued and nothing happened, curiosity and wonder overcame fear, until presently, all their terror had fled and they were merely gazing at Red with reverent awe. 'But the Texan wasn't satisfied.
"Reckon it's a mighty good time to show 'em a gun ain't all noise," he muttered. "Tell 'em to keep their eyes onto that buzzard up there." As the people, not knowing what to expect, gazed at the circling vulture, Red fired. And as the big bird came like a plummet to the earth, a deep sigh of awe came from the assembled throng. But they neither yelled with terror, nor did they run. They were no longer "gun shy" as Red put it; but they had learned that while the report of a fire arm was harmless, yet in the hands of the Red-haired One and his comrades swift death could be dealt by the weapons when desired.
But I have digressed. As I said, Saunderson found plenty to amuse himself with, and as for me, I was never more busily and more pleasantly occupied in my life. Not an hour, no, not a minute of the day passed that I did not make some new discovery or solve some long-vexed question that had puzzled archaeologists for years. But how I longed for a camera! How I missed the ability to secure photographic records of the people, the buildings, the occupations of the inhabitants! But most fortunately I had a small notebook, and being familiar with shorthand, I could record a great deal in a very limited space. And then I made a discovery compared to which all the others seemed trifling.
I had wandered across the valley, and approaching a dyke of rock which appeared to have been quarried, I came to a group of sheds which was obviously a stone cutters' yard. All about were great piles of many-angled blocks of stone, sculptured columns and lintels, intricately cut monuments, and figures of human beings and beasts. But something was lacking about the place. Then, suddenly, I realized that although a number of men were busily at work there was no appreciable noise, no ringing of hammers on chisels, no tapping on stone. For a moment I was puzzled. Had I become suddenly deaf? I wondered. Then my eyes became fixed upon the artisans plying their trade, and I stood speechless, thunderstruck. The men were using wooden tools! They were not tapping with hammers or chisels. Instead, they were hewing, cutting, carving the stone with as much apparent ease as if the flint-hard diorite had been damp clay. It was incredible, impossible, inconceivable! I felt dazed, unable to credit my senses, as if in some weird dream. I stepped forward, stretched out my hand, and half-expecting to wake up, I touched the stone. I leaped back as if struck. My finger had sunk into the surface of diorite as readily as though the rock had been putty!

FAIRLY trembling with excitement I drew my knife and placed the point of the blade against the spot where the impression of my finger was clearly visible. With scarcely an effort I pushed the blade for a depth of perhaps half an inch into the stone. Then it stopped as if it struck against a bar of iron. Something told me I was on the verge of a momentous discovery, but another lobe of my brain assured me that I was going mad. Regardless of the curious stares of the workmen about me, I began digging into the rock with my knife blade. In a moment I had removed several square inches of the surface and had revealed a core of hard solid rock. What did it mean? Had the surface of the stone decomposed leaving the central part intact? I examined one of the carved monoliths. The surface was harder than granite. Yet there, within a few feet of where I stood, a man was whittling, gouging, carving a mass of the same stone with wooden implements! My brain was in a turmoil. I turned to the fellow. "Tell me what wonder is this?" I demanded. "How is it that the stone you cut is soft, yet those about you are hard?"
He gazed at me, a puzzled look upon his face, and shook his head. "Forgive me, my lord," he said, "but I understand you not. Truly there is no wonder. If the stone were not soft how then could it be carved into the shape desired ? And the others are hard because they have been completed and Inti, the sun, has smiled upon them. No man might cut them now; they will endure forever."
Evidently the man did not grasp my meaning. I strove to control my impatience, to make myself more clearly understood, to put the query in more simple words. "But you do not understand!" I told him. "What I wish to know is why the stone is soft."
A light of understanding spread over his features. "But my lord!" he replied. “Of a truth it is soft so that we may cut and carve it."
Another man, who had been examining some of the cut stones now approached. He was a more intelligent looking fellow, a sort of foreman, I decided.
"My lord is interested in our work?" he enquired. "What is it that my lord wishes explained?"
"I wish to learn by what magic these stones are soft," I told him. "How it comes to pass that while those which are finished are as hard as the cliffs whence they were quarried, those upon which the men labor are cut with wood?"
He appeared vastly surprised at my question. "There is naught of magic, my lord," he declared. "It is the will of Wira Kocha, the Creator of all things, that it should be so. Does not the rain fall upon the parched earth and render it mud, yet when the sun shines forth does the mud not become the hard earth once more? Is not dampened clay moulded by the potter's hands to form whatsoever he desires, yet when the sun smiles upon the vessels he has wrought, and they are heated in the fire, do they not become as hard as the stone? Yet there is no magic in the one or the other, my lord. It is the way we and our fathers and our fathers' fathers have ever worked in stone. Truly there is no other way, for no man might cut the stone to form were it to remain hard. As the potter damps his clay that he may mould it, so we damp the stone that it may be cut and moulded to shape. But the potter needs naught but water while we must use the Winipacha."
I understood him well enough. He had made his meaning perfectly clear— that the stone was softened and after being cut was again hardened. But I refused to credit any such ridiculous statement. Yet, there were the men gouging off the stone with wooden tools. Unless . . . the foreman's words broke into my train of confused thoughts.

"PERCHANCE my lord would care to see the stone softened by the Winipacha," he suggested. Would I! Only the evidence of my eyes would convince me such a thing was possible. He led me to a larger shed nearer the quarry. In the centre was a great trough filled with a milky-looking liquid or rather semi-liquid resembling the fresh latex from the rubber tree. All about were workmen. Some were piling roughly-cut stones, fresh from the quarry, but most of them were busily coating the surfaces of stones with the viscid, dirty-white material from the trough. Tense with suppressed excitement I stepped close to one of these laborers. With my knife blade I tested a portion of the stone untouched by the strange material. It was hard, flinty. As the man gazed at me in amazement I drew the steel blade along the surface towards the area the man had treated. I almost yelled. As the blade reached the spot that had been coated with the liquid the point sank for an eighth of an inch into the diorite! I felt almost faint. Unless I had taken leave of my senses I had seen a miracle wrought! Unless I were bewitched or dreaming or mad, that thick white material possessed the power of softening the rock as readily as water softens clay! For a space I was too overcome with wonder, too dazed by the momentous discovery to think coherently. But gradually my brain cleared and commenced to function in normal fashion. After all, I reasoned, was it so incredible, so beyond the bounds of reason? Chemically, the stone and clay were very similar. Clay was merely decomposed rock, largely composed of silica and feldspar, derived from massive rocks. And diorite was igneous, a combination of soda-lime feldspar and hornblende. And if ordinary water could soften clay, which would again harden when exposed to the sun, why shouldn't there be some solvent that would have the same effect upon the rock itself before it had become decomposed? I could see no scientific reason why such a thing was not only possible but reasonable. No, the more I thought of it, the more I wondered that archaeologists had not suggested such a solution of the mystery of the Incan and pre-Incan stone works. And the more I marveled that some of our scientists or chemists had not discovered such a simple means of working refractory stone. But it was none the less an epochal discovery I had made, none the less intensely interesting. And what was the composition of the solvent? Was it of mineral or vegetable origin? And how had these people, or rather their ancestors, discovered it? Sudden recollection came to me; memory of an incident I had almost completely forgotten.
On one of my expeditions into Guiana, I had camped near an outcrop of fine-grained granite, and casually examining it, had found a most curious condition. Although the exposed upper surface was flinty hard, a layer of the rock strata beneath was as soft as wet clay, although indistinguishable from the rest of the rock in outward appearance. Interested in the phenomenon, I had searched about until I had found a crack leading from the softened, decomposed layer to the surface of the ledge covered with several feet of earth. A huge tree grew above the spot, and its roots, seeking a firmer hold, had penetrated the crevices of the rock, even extending into the soft, clay-like portion. It had not occurred to me that there was anything really remarkable about the incident. Water seeping down for countless ages had gradually caused decomposition, I decided. It hadn't even occurred to me to wonder why one portion and not another had been affected.
But now, that I stood there watching the men softening the surface of the diorite blocks sudden realization dawned upon me. Unquestionably, I decided in my mind, the granite strata in Guiana had been softened by the same means, by some unknown but powerful solvent produced by a combination of rain water, salts and acids in the earth, and the sap or juices of the tree roots, for—now that I recalled the matter—I remembered that the softened granite had occurred only where the roots of the tree had been present in the cracks.

I SIGHED as I realized how close I had been to making a discovery that would have astounded the world. But I had made it now. I turned to the foreman. "Tell me," I said, "is that within the tank the Winipacha you mentioned? How is it made, of what magic things is it composed?"
"There is no magic, my lord," he assured me. "Magic is ever the work of evil spirits, but the Winipacha is the gift of the gods. To make it we but brew the sap of the Kosca-Camayoc tree with the white rock from the Cave of the Bats and add thereto the waters from the Spring of the Smoke, and being blessed by Surayacu it is ready to be used."
The Kosca-Camayoc tree—literally the "Stone-cutter!" I would make it my business to find and identify that. The white stone from the Cave of the Bats; probably fossilized guano rich in nitrates and phosphates. The waters from the Spring of the Smoke; unquestionably a hot mineral spring! How simple after all! But there were many other details of the process 1 wished cleared up. I plied the foreman with questions. Did the Winipacha injure the human skin or clothing? How was its action controlled. How long did the rock remain soft after its application? And a score of similar queries. Patiently, clearly he explained everything. The solution softened the rock to a depth of about half an inch at each application. As rapidly as the softened surface was cut away more of the solvent was applied to the hard interior, and more of the softened rock was cut and dug away, until the desired depth had been reached. Meanwhile, the portions in relief, being left untreated, had hardened somewhat. And by placing the finished stone in the sunshine it would become restored to its original state in a few weeks.
How ridiculously simple it was! No wonder the people had been able to carve that tremendous fortress from the solid mountain side. No wonder they had been able to cut and fit immense blocks of stone with such mathematical precision. Time was required of course, for the effect of the Winipach was superficial; but not so much time as might be imagined. The foreman showed me the quarry where his men were cutting masses of stone from the cliff-side, and I was amazed to find how very rapidly they worked, far more rapidly in fact than our own quarrymen with machine-driven tools. The form of a block was marked out. The solvent was applied along the markings, and in a few moments a groove half an inch in depth had been dug out. By the time the workman had cut around to his starting place a helper had applied a second coat of the Winipach. As a result, the cutting was continuous, and the quarry-men's wooden tools bit into the surface of the cliff like steam-drills. Most of the stones were quarried in the particular form and size required, and needed only to be faced and smoothed in order to be ready for use. And as this was the simplest job of all, boys or apprentices were employed at the work.
It was a strange, an astounding sight to see them shaving or planning down the irregular surfaces by means of wooden implements much like giant drawknives. And I smiled at the thought of how the world had marvelled at the smooth, even surfaces of the stones in the Cuzco walls, when in reality they were the work of unskilled labor—of mere boys.

I HAD indeed made an epochal discovery, for now that I had learned how the pre-Incans cut their stone, a thousand problems were solved. Beyond any question the stupendous stones of Tiahuanaco had been cut and carved by the same means. The gigantic blocks forming the Cuzco fortress of Sac-sayuaman, the endless walls and buildings, the gigantic images—all had been made by this easy, simple process. And no doubt, I mentally decided, as I left the stone cutters' yard, the youngsters of pre-Incan days had filched some of the Winipacha and had amused themselves by cutting ridiculous, meaningless figures and recesses in the cliffs and boulders, just as our boys of to-day find amusement by daubing paint on walls and fences. And I chuckled to think how we archaeologists had puzzled our brains and had written countless monograms in our endeavor to explain what really had been but the idle pranks of pre-Incan youths!

CHAPTER X The Monster of the Sacrifice
WITH all the ancient rites and reverence of the Chavins, our friend Red and Cherisona were married. Arrayed in gorgeous robes and ablaze with gold and jewels, the two had stood within the temple, and, before the great golden image of the sun above the high altar, they had taken the required vows. Red repeating the words of the high-priest. At his right had stood Saunderson, looking like the sun-god in the magnificent costume he had donned for the occasion, while I had been honored above all others by being selected by Sarayacu to act as his proxy and give the bride away.
Following the service, which was so simple and short that it seemed entirely out of proportion to the elaborate preparations and rites with which the wedding was surrounded, Red and his bride had been crowned King and Queen of Urkon.
With as much pomp and pageantry and ceremony as though they were to be the monarchs of a great empire, instead of rulers of a little valley with scarcely one thousand inhabitants, they had been placed upon their thrones as the successors of the line of Chavin kings who had claimed direct descent from the semi-divine Wira-Kocha.
Wearing garments woven of viscacha fur softer and finer than silk, and heavy with gold embroidery, with a collar of fifty-two immense emeralds, each carved to symbolize one of the moon's phases, laden with the jewel-encrusted insignia of royalty, and with the quadruple golden crown of the Chavin emperors upon his flaming head, Red had repeated the oath which, after hours of tutelage, he had learned by heart. Holding in his hand the triple-headed sceptre with its golden figures of the condor, the jaguar and the serpent— symbols of power over earth, air and water—he had publicly declared Cherisona to be his queen. And seated on their thrones the two had received the homage of their happy subjects. Despite of his regal raiment, Red seemed a highly incongruous figure, as he sat on the great lapiz-lazuli throne, but Cherisona on her throne of rope-pink crystal was every inch a queen.
"By Jove, blood will tell!" exclaimed Saunderson in lowered tones. "Anyone would know she has royal blood in her veins. Really, old man, I don't know whether to be sorry for Red or to envy him. He's a deucedly lucky beggar to get Cherisona for a wife, but I fancy he'll not find being a king a real sinecure."
"I don't know," I replied. "Red's got a will of his own like most redheads and he's not the kind to stand for any hen-pecking, even by a redheaded queen."
"Righto!" agreed Saunderson. "But how about the old parson? I don't fancy that self-satisfied smirk on his dried-apple face. Somehow I imagine the old beggar looks forward to being real king here, with Red little more than a figure-head."

I SMILED. "If he does he'll come a cropper," I declared. "He doesn't know Red."
Saunderson himself had taken a most important part in the coronation ceremonies. Several days before the coronation was scheduled to take place, Sarayacu had come to me and had explained that according to immemorial custom certain high dignitaries must be present at the coronation. It was absolutely essential to have an Apuy-Ticuy or Prime Minister and a War-Lord or Minister of War at the very least. In my capacity as councillor and Amautu of the Red Haired One, I could take the place of Apuy-Ticuy for the occasion, but there must be a War Lord. For many years, he went on to explain, there had been no real fighting force maintained, and hence no great captains or generals. But even if there were no enemies to fight, there must be a royal guard with an exalted officer in command. Would I ask the One of the Sun Hair to become the War Lord?"
Rather to my surprise Saunderson was quite pleased with the idea. "My word, yes, of course, by all means!" he exclaimed enthusiastically. "By Jove, no end of a lark! Fancy me being a Minister of War! But seriously, old chap—" abandoning his flippant manner—"I think there are great advantages to be gained. I'm not expecting trouble, of course, but if any difficulties should arise, why the chap who has the army back of him will be top-dog, you know."
I laughed. "From what I've seen of the army that wouldn't amount to much," I told him.
"Right, distinctly right!" he agreed. ''But don't imagine that if I become commander-in-chief, the army will remain in its status-quo, old top. Indeed no, not a bit of it. I'll have a ripping time organizing a force, drilling the beggars, making real soldiers out of them —takes me back to dear, old Aldershot, you know. And with you as Prime Minister—my word, why, we'll control the whole bally place.
As a result of all this, Saunderson and I were participants, instead of mere onlookers, at the coronation ceremonies.
Arrayed in the full regalia of the War-Lord of the Chavins, wearing a tunic of blue and white with an elaborate, plumed helmet of gold, with a golden breastplate covering his chest, and carrying a mosaic-studded shield of burnished bronze and a great silver-headed battle-axe, Saunderson presented a truly heroic-looking figure, his blonde hair and beard making him appear more like some Viking king than like a warrior-chief of Andean Indians. To his left, back of the thrones, was the royal guard; a dozen stalwart, deep-chested fellows in blue uniforms, with polished bronze shields, caps and weapons, who had been put through such a course of intensive training by their new commander, that they regarded him as a hero-god rather than as a mortal man.
My own part was not so conspicuous. True, I was most richly dressed in the garments which tradition and custom had decreed as the ceremonial costume of the Apuy Ticuy. And 1 was rather surprised to find that the predominating colors were red and black —the colors of the priesthood and religious branch of the government; although the blue and white of the royal household appeared in my plume and head band. Obviously the Prime Minister was allied to both church and state— a sort of intermediary as it were—and I realized what a far-sighted and crafty fellow was Sarayacu in securing my services as a go-between for himself and the new king.

OF course it was a gala day for everyone. No work was done. A great feast had been spread just outside the palace grounds, there was dancing, singing, feats of strength and skill, and of course unlimited quantities of chicha to be imbibed. The celebration lasted all day and well into the night, and both Saunderson and myself were bored and weary when at last we retired. As for Red—well, he was as pleased and happy and found everything as entertaining and delightful as should be expected of a man who had acquired a crown and a queen the same day.
Saunderson, with the nucleus of his army, was as happy as a child with a new toy. Red was fully occupied with affairs of state and his newly wedded bliss, and between acting as interpreter, advising Red on problems that confronted him, teaching him the language, and my own studies, I had no time to spare.
Any doubts which might have lingered in our minds as to the sincerity of the priest had been swept away. He treated us with the utmost respect and esteem and his attitude towards his new king was one of real veneration.
So the days and weeks slipped by. Then one day Red—for we never thought or spoke of him as "The King" or as "Huata Pilchu"—sent for me. There was a worried, troubled expression on his face, and I knew he was facing some problem which he could not solve.
"What's up now, Red?" I asked him. "No domestic troubles so soon, I hope."
"Naw," he said. "Me an' Cherisona, we're gettin' on fine. Just like a couple of goofy love-birds. Naw, it's some-thin' else. I been learnin' to talk an' savvy her lingo pretty good, 'tween her an' you teachin' me, but now an' again she says somethin' that I don't get the meanin' of. This mornin' she says to me: 'Soon will come the time of sor-rowin' an' sadness to my people. Soon will come the day of sacrifice.' An’ when I asked what did she mean she said somethin' about the 'thing of evil' an' virgins, an' what she called the 'Amaruey,' near as I could get it. An' all of a sudden I remembered about how the padre told you somethin' about sacri-ficin' girls to some devil or other, an' that bein' the same word you said meant a dragon. Hell, Doc, what's it all mean anyhow? All this damned talk of dragons an' evil an' sacrificin' girls, an' all?"
"I don't know, but I intend to find out," I told him. "Is Cherisona here?"
"Naw, she's went up to the temple to pray," he replied. "I never did see folks that are so all-fired given to prayin'. Seems like they pray for most everything there is. Funny thing, too he added, 'seem' they's only one padre here."
"I'll go up there and talk with her,” I said. "And I'll have a talk with Sarayacu at the same time. I'm afraid. Red, there's some sinister mystery here, but I'll know the truth mighty soon, never fear."

AS I crossed the plaza on my way to the temple, Saunderson came hurrying toward me. He was greatly excited —for Saunderson—and his first words told me that something most unusual must have occurred.
"Oh, but I say!" he exclaimed. "I was just going to hunt you up, old chap. My whole bally army has mutinied!"
"Mutinied!" I cried. "You mean they've revolted?"
"No, no, my dear man, nothing like that—yet!" he assured me. "But they've refused to obey orders, absolutely. Took them for a hike and a practice drill over at the old fortress—jolly fine place for drilling the beggars—nothing to distract their minds, and military atmosphere and all that sort of thing. Then I started to lead them down a little trail I spotted that appeared to lead into the ravine beyond, but the rascals refused, positively. I argued with them, commanded them, threatened them. Yes, by Jove, I even swore at them, but they wouldn't budge an inch along that trail. And do you know what the beggars said? Told me the most extraordinary tale. Said it led to the home of the 'evil one,' the "Amaru Huay”. My sainted aunt! that recalled to my jolly old nut what Sarayacu told you the day we arrived, and what you said about there being a mystery. All rot, of course I just plain funk on the part of those superstitious beggars of mine. Laughed at them, of course, and to restore their morale I started to go down alone. My word, they actually chattered with fear! Fell on their faces and begged me not to do so. Deucedly contagious — their panicky fear, you know, and as I didn't have a weapon other than my battle-axe I decided discretion to be the better part of valor and refrained. But they told me a most extraordinary tale, actually! Said this Amaruey beast, or whatever it is, appears at regular intervals—something to do with the moon and stars, they believe —and that the only way it can be appeased is by sacrificing three lovely virgins to it. Deucedly like the old Greek myths, don't you think, or Grimm's fairy tales, or such silly nonsense. Not one of the beggars had ever seen the thing, so I decided to come back here, find you, secure my rifle and go back and play St. George. Thought maybe you'd wish to be present—if there is any beast there. Queer yarn, don't you think?"
"Decidedly," I replied, "but not so Queer as the coincidence of meeting you and hearing your story. Not ten minutes ago Red sent for me and told me Cherisona had mentioned something about the time of sadness being near and had spoken of the sacrifice and the Amaruey; and I was on my way to the temple to question her and Sarayacu in regard to the matter when we met."
"Pon my word, that is strange, extraordinary, really I" he exclaimed. "Possibly not so remarkable as it may appear —at first thought," I said. "If periodical sacrifices are held—whatever the
Amaruey may be, and if it is near the time for them, it would not be such a surprising coincidence. But regardless of that, I'm going to learn the truth of the matter. I'm going to question the priest."
"Righto!" agreed Saunderson. "I'll toddle along and get my guns and rout out Karen and meet you here in fifteen minutes. You hunt up the parson and fetch him along to witness the slaying of the Minotaur."
Sarayacu, however, could not be found, and Cherisona was not in the temple. After all, I decided, it didn't really matter. Whatever the mysterious 'evil one' might prove to be—whether real or imaginary, Saunderson and I could solve the mystery by ourselves. So, abandoning my search for the priest, I retraced my way to the plaza, and a moment later was joined by Saunderson and Karen.

“DID you tell Red where we were going?" I asked as we took the road leading to the old fortress.
"Didn't see him," Saunderson replied. Then, with a chuckle, "Fact is, I endeavored to avoid doing so," he confessed. "If the King came along the entire population would follow. I'm going on a hunt, you know—really big game. I hope—and I don't fancy a safari of spectators."
"Perhaps it's just as well," I agreed "But I'm rather afraid you’ll be disappointed in your search for game. In my opinion the dreaded monster is wholly imaginary—a demoniacal spirit supposed to dwell in the ravine."
Without attracting any particular notice, we reached the deserted fortress, and crossing the immense, level summit, Saunderson led the way to the hidden trail he had discovered. It was scarcely more than a crevice in the rock, and with Saunderson, carrying his heavy express rifle, in the lead, and with Karen bringing up the rear, we proceeded carefully and silently along the narrow pathway under the overhanging cliff. The way descended at quite a steep grade for several hundred feet. Then, turning abruptly, it debouched upon a platform cut in the rock and protected by a low parapet except in one spot where a narrow opening had been left. Stepping forward, expecting to find a stairway leading downward, Saunderson leaped back with a sharp cry. "Look out!" he warned me as I approached. "It's an absolute death-trap!" I peered over and shuddered. From the narrow opening in the parapet a stone gutter or chute led downward at an acute angle, like a toboggan slide, to the bottom of the dark ravine fully two hundred feet below. But I scarcely noticed this, for my eyes were focussed upon innumerable white objects scattered over the floor of the chasm. Saunderson gripped my arm as he saw them. "My God!" he exclaimed. "They're skeletons and skulls —human skulls!"
"All that remain of the sacrificed virgins," I said. "I'm afraid I'll have to take back what I said about the monster being immaterial. I—"
"Good Lord, what a terrible death— to be shot down that slide to the beast!" cried Saunderson. "What do you—"
Suddenly he stiffened. "Look! Do you see anything—there in that cave?" he exclaimed, his voice husky with excitement.
I peered steadfastly at the yawning black hole in one of the cliffs. For an instant I could distinguish nothing. Then —I held my breath, there was something —something moving, moving slowly, deliberately, within the entrance of the great cavern. And then—my heart seemed to cease beating, cold chills ran up and down my spine—out from the eerie black hole there slowly emerged a great misshapen head, such a head as one sees in a nightmare or the delirium of a fever. A head indescribably horrible. A head scaly, with three great, crooked horns, with drooling, slathering jaws, with gleaming foot-long, dagger-like teeth. A head which living, moving, weaving slowly from side to side, gave the impression of immeasurable age, of belonging to some other world, to another planet. For a brief moment it remained there, as if watching, sniffing the air, striving to locate our presence. I felt as if in an hypnotic spell. The thing was too impossible, too incredible. And then the roar of Saunderson's rifle thundered in my ears. I distinctly saw the tiny blurr as the bullet struck the monstrous thing. I could almost have sworn I heard it hit. But except for a slight twitch—such a twitch as a horse might give to rid itself of a troublesome fly—the fearsome thing gave no indication of feeling the bullet. Again and again Saunderson fired. The ravine reverberated to the echoes of the explosions. Some bullets went wild—I saw slivers of rock fly as they struck— but more went true. But the steel-jacketed missiles that would bring down an elephant or a charging rhino made no impression upon that awful, horrifying head. Not until the last echo of the gunshots had died away did it move. Then slowly, deliberately, it withdrew and vanished in the black recesses of its lair.

SAUNDERSON leaned back against the rock wall, wiping his forehead. His face actually white.
"God in heaven, is such a monster possible?" he muttered.
“Ten minutes ago I should have said 'no,'" I told him taking a deep breath. "Now, I must say 'yes.' It's real; it actually exists. It's a left-over from some past age, a surviving saurian of some sort."
He gave a short, dry, harsh laugh. "No wonder they call it a dragon!" he exclaimed. "My sainted aunt! St George would have thrown a fit if he'd seen that—that monstrosity. By Jove, I can't believe it! Can't believe my bullets didn't even tickle the thing! Why, damme, it would require artillery to destroy that nightmare! And—" he shuddered—"to think of human beings— young girls, being dropped down that chute to the monster! God, Doctor, it's too beastly horrible to contemplate!"
"Possibly they are mercifully killed first," I suggested, "But it must stop. Neither you, nor Red, nor I, will stand for any such unspeakable crimes. Sarayacu expects Red to kill the monster —he said so when he made his speech when we arrived. But even if it cannot be destroyed there'll be no more sacrifices. To put a stop to them may mean trouble. If the people, if Sarayacu, believe their dragon possesses supernatural powers—as they probably do— and must be appeased by sacrifices— there's no telling what trouble we may have. It all depends upon the amount of faith they have in us—in Red. He's their King. They may be willing to obey him in everything. On the other hand, they may feel that he's fallen down on his job, if he can't destroy the monster. I'm afraid, Saunderson, we're in for more than we bargained for."
He grinned. "By Jove!" he exclaimed, "Really, you know, I haven't felt so pepped up, as you Americans say, since the jolly old war. Feel just as I did when we were planning to make a raid on the Huns' trenches. Pon my word, I may have occasion to use my soldiers yet! But, I say, let's toddle along and tell old Red what we've seen and map out our campaign."
"I think I understand why that other valley and the fortress were deserted," I said as we left the place.
"Because of that monster's presence, eh?"
"Exactly," I told him. "There may have been several—perhaps numbers— of the terrible creatures, thirty or forty centuries ago. The one we saw is probably the sole survivor. He may be hundreds, thousands of years old. Don't forget that it's a reptile, and reptiles are the longest-lived of all creatures. If turtles, snakes, crocodiles live to be several hundred years of age, a saurian might well live to be several thousand years old."
"Right, I can credit that," said Saunderson. "By Jove, the damnable thing looked to be a million. But how has he survived ? There's no food in that little ravine, you know."
"You forget the virgins," I reminded him.
"Ye gods! You mean he's actually kept alive by feeding him girls?" cried Saunderson.
"So I believe," I assured him. "There were hundreds—many hundreds, of skeletons down in that hell-hole. We don't know, yet, how often these sacrifices take place. But if three girls are fed to the monster each time, and the sacrifices are fairly frequent, it might serve to keep him alive. After a full meal he probably sleeps for a long period, as do other carnivorous reptiles. Moreover, how do we know that there are not llamas, alpacas and goats fed to the creature?"
"By the Almighty, I'd like to shove that crafty old priest down that slide!" declared Saunderson savagely. "He's the scoundrel who is responsible for the atrocities, you know."

RED listened with amazement to our story. He was a man of action, a staunch believer in the efficacy of "getting the drop on the other man," and I had great difficulty in controlling his inclination to "make things hot" for his grand father-in-law.
"Hell fire an' damnation!" he exploded. "Think I'm a-goin' to stan' for them kids bein' fed to that devil? I ain't! I'm king, ain't I? You bet your boots I am, an' what I say's goin' to go if I have to shoot daylights outen the padre and half the town. Holy smoke! who'd ever guess such nice, pleasant-spoken, decent-seemin' folks could be such hell-fiends? But I reckon Injuns is all the same—just scratch their hides an' you'll find a devil!
"Let's get the old padre down here an' tell him where he gets off and that them damned sacrifices is done with an' over, once an' forever," said Red. "Let me do the talking," I said as we awaited Sarayacu's arrival. "Let me first hear what he has to say. Then we can state our ultimatum."
The others agreed to this, and when the priest appeared and asked in what way he might serve us, I went directly to the point. Without any preamble I told him what we had seen, and asked why sacrifices were made to the monstrous reptile in the ravine. "Why," I demanded, "was the 'evil one' not left to starve and die?"
There is no necessity of repeating the priest's words verbatim. He declared that failure to propitiate the monster would result in the most dire calamity. So it had been prophesied, so said ages-old tradition. Ages ago, he informed me, the people who had dwelt in the great valley had failed to make sacrifices to the Amaruhuay, and from nowhere had come the "little men" and the earth had opened and had spewed forth other Amaruhuays, and all in the valley, save a few who sought refuge in the fortress, had perished. But, he added, the prophecy of old had foretold that with the coming of Huata Pilcu, the Red Haired One, who was to be the King, the Amaruhuay would be destroyed. All in the valley would rejoice if this came to pass—as it must—but until the 'evil one' had been slain the sacrifices must be made. And—he announced—the time for the next sacrifice drew near. Within three days the Amaruhuay must be destroyed or three lovely virgins must be delivered to the monster.

CHAPTER XI In the Den of the Dinosaur
"RED, my lad, it's distinctly up to you to become a second St. George!" exclaimed Saunderson when Sarayacu delivered his ultimatum. "Gird up your loins, old top, strap on your six-guns, don your coat of mail and take my advice and send for a dynamite bomb or a six-inch gun before you enter the dragon's lair."
Red ignored the other's words completely. Forgetting all caution, disregarding my warnings, and heedless of the priest's position in the community, he leaped to his feet and advanced threatening towards the old man. Then, in a torrent of words, he gave free rein to his ideas and feelings. His command of the language was limited, but he made up for lack of fluency by emphasis, and filled in missing words with oaths, curses and border English of which he was a past-master.
An expression of surprise swept over the wrinkled face of the priest, but he was not one to be cowed or browbeaten, even by Red. He drew himself up with dignity. "My lord is my king," he said calmly. "In all matters of state my lord's word is law unto his people and unto me. But though my lord is king he knows nothing of the duties of a priest of Urkon. Even the King cannot interfere with the priest-clan or the sacred matters. Joyful, indeed, would I be were the Amaruhuay destroyed. Great would be the rejoicing of the people. But until the thing of evil is destroyed the sacrifice of the virgins must be made. I Sarayacu, priest of Urkon, have spoken."
With an obeisance to Red the priest turned and left the room.
"What do you know about that?" exclaimed Red who was too surprised to do more than stare at the retreating figure of Sarayacu.
"Precisely what I knew before you delivered your Dutch Uncle address. Red, my lad," grinned Saunderson.
"Well, what the blazes are we gonna do then?" he demanded. "I swear I ain't goin' to stand for no sacrifice, an' that old piece of crowbait swears he's goin' ahead with it."
"Heads he wins, tails you lose!" exclaimed Saunderson. "But really, now, you know, all frivolity aside, we do appear to have reached a deadlock as one might say. By Jove, yes, an actual impasse. 'Pon my word, it's a jolly fine example of what my old master in physics at dear old Oxford referred to as an irresistible force meeting an immovable object, and all that sort of thing! Now let's put our jolly old heads together and see can we hatch out some scheme to checkmate our sacerdotal opponent. Three heads should be better than one, really you know."

"ME, I’ll chuck this job if he doesn't do like I say," Red declared. "That wouldn't save the victims of the sacrifice," I told him. "Moreover, you can't 'chuck' the job as you say. You have been crowned king, and king you'll be, as long as you live or until some aspirant to the throne deposes you. And if you repudiated the sacred vows you made you would doubtless be most unpleasantly disposed of as a traitor. And don't forget that Cherisona will share your fate. No, as far as I can see, there are only two courses we can follow. One is to appeal to the people, try to win the public over to our side, induce them to rebel against the priest's decision. The other is to try to postpone the day of sacrifice by promises to destroy the monster. Then, if nothing dire occurs, the people and the priest may lose faith in their ridiculous fears."
"Right, absolutely right, in-so-far as it goes," said Saunderson. "But one can't carry out a campaign of speechmaking and enlightenment in three days, you know. And I fear the eminent ecclesiastic would propound a somewhat embarrassing question were we to suggest a delay in order to permit us to do away with the Minotaur. Why, he might well ask, do we not destroy the beast at once and put an end to the matter?"
"Well, why in hell don't we?" demanded Red. "I ain't never seen no critter yet what couldn't be killed."
"Ah, but you haven't seen this critter,' my lad!" the other reminded him. "Far be it from me to declare the creature immortal. Artillery, gas bombs, aerial torpedoes, even a few pounds of dynamite or a liberal dose of cyanide would doubtless cause its demise. But without such lethal weapons and means, where are we? as one might say."
"What's the matter with kidnappin' the parson?" demanded Red. "All we gotta do is to get him down here again, grab hold of him an' lock him up till the time for the sacrificin' is past or till he signs on the dotted line. We needn't hurt him none."
I shook my head. "That would never do," I asserted. "In the first place he would be instantly missed. In the second place we couldn't keep his whereabouts a secret. In the third place we would have to release him eventually, and when we did—Well, personally, I would prefer to take my chances with the dinosaur, I think."
"We ain't gettin' nowhere," growled Red. "Ain't there no way we can stop them girls bein' fed to that critter, short of killin’ him?"
"Oh yes, yes indeed!" grinned Saunderson. "We might kill the girls, you know."
"Damned sight better did we kill that old coyote of a priest," snarled Red. "Mebbe he's Cherisona's granddaddy, but I reckon she'd get over mournin' of him after a time. An' he wouldn't be no loss to the world. 'Pears to me that's the easiest way to settle it. 'Sposin' it does stir up a hornets' nest for a spell? We got guns, an' these Injuns are scairt stiff of 'em. Soon's ever we started shootin' they'd cut an' run, an' the whole show'd be over."
"Possibly, but hardly probably," I declared. "Even with our superior weapons we five could scarcely control more than a thousand Indians, especially when animated by religious fervor, determined to avenge the murder of their priest. They easily could starve us out here."
"By Jove, I have an idea!" exclaimed Saunderson. "Suppose we block up the trail leading to the place of sacrifice! Then they jolly well couldn't reach it within the proper time, and the whole bally show would be off!"
"That's the most sensible suggestion we've had yet," I admitted. "But the barricade would be discovered and removed in time for the ceremony, I am certain."
Saunderson sighed. "It would appear that all suggestions are futile," he said. "The public and the priest hold all the cards, as one might say. Pon my word, I fear me the virgins will have to go the way of their many predecessors." Then—with sudden animation—"By Jove, imagine what my knightly ancestors would have done under like circumstances! The trouble is, my lads, we've been thinking too bally much about our own skins. We've been weighing and measuring our own chances regardless of the fate of the ladies in the case. When I led my squad across No Man's Land did I say to myself, 'Sandy, old top, you're running a bally risk, the Huns may get you.' My word, no, not a bit of it! All we considered was our objective. I say, old things, let's focus our jolly old minds on our objective and let the rest rip, what say?"
"By glory, I didn't never think you could talk that much horse sense!" cried Red. "Me, I'm with you, Mister. Let's shake on it!"

"I'M willing to stand by you, regardless of what may follow," I told them, gripping their hands in turn. "But," I added, "don't forget that there is a vast difference between your raids on a German machine-gun nest and the present affair. In the one case, carefully laid plans had been made, in the other we will be compelled to act on the spur of the moment, to let events shape themselves,"
"Righto!" agreed Saunderson. "Still and all, my jolly old nut is really commencing to function properly. 'Pon my word, I actually am beginning to see light. There are two ways we can go about it. Rescue the maidens from the priest and defy him and the mob in the citadel, where there are ample means for withstanding a siege, or take possession of the place of sacrifice and, like Horatius, hold the bridge, as one might say —rescue the victims at the very brink of the abyss, and all that sort of thing, you know."
I clapped him on the back. "Either scheme might succeed," I exclaimed. "Sometimes the most desperate deeds are the safest."
Red grinned. "Sounds like old times on the border," he remarked. "Looks like it might come to shootin' it out. An' if it comes to handlin' a six-gun I reckon old Red'll be right there to deliver the goods. Yep, me, I always aimed for to die with my boots on and —" he glanced ruefully at his feet—"I reckon these sandals’ll do just as well. Not that I'm cravin' to kick off," he added hastily—"I got a wife for to look after, an’ I ain't pinin' to leave her a lone widder."
For the next half hour we discussed ways and means, made and abandoned innumerable plans, and at last decided to leave all to chance and to circumstances as they arose to confront us. Afterwards it occurred to me that it was rather remarkable that we should have been so deeply and vitally concerned with the matter. Why we should have been obsessed with the determination to prevent the time-honored, traditional custom of an alien race is something of a mystery. If the people wished to sacrifice three of their young girls to the monster in the ravine, why should we three white men have interfered? I admit I cannot say. Possibly it was that spark of chivalry that ever burns in the Anglo-Saxon breast. Possibly it was merely the abhorrence that civilized man holds for human sacrifices and cruelty. But I prefer to think that it was the hand of Destiny, that Fate or Providence guided us and filled us with the determination to save the prospective victims regardless of all hazards and imminent risks of losing our own lives.
Our plans were of necessity somewhat indefinite and subject to a change at any moment. But we endeavored to prepare for any eventuality that we could foresee. For this reason we made a careful examination of the citadel wherein, if worst came to worst, we might be forced to take refuge.
"I'm rather inclined to feel I can depend upon the loyalty of my troops," Saunderson announced on the day after our decision had been made. "I've sounded them a bit, you know, and most of them appear to be strongly anti-sacrificial. Several of the beggars have had members of their families fed to the monster in the past, and my sergeant lost his daughter a few months ago. I'm quite positive that if it came to hostilities they would stand by us."
"Fine!" I told him. "Probably many others would swing to our side if it came to an issue. I've been thinking over matters, and I've come to the conclusion that we will have far greater chances of success if we act at the last moment. If we are too precipitate we may fail entirely. We may either be forced to retire to the citadel, where we will be helpless to do anything, or, if we save the girls, others may be substituted for them. On the other hand—"

SAM'S appearance on the scene interrupted me. "Beggin' yo' pardon, Chief, Ah come to repo't a matter what Ah feel yo' desiah to know, sir," he said. "Ah been 'quirin' the manner of talkin' wif tha people, yo' know, Chief, an' Ah can hear wha' they says more better than Ah can talk wif he. An' Ah hear how tha priest aim fo' mek sac'ifice to-morrer, an' how he been take tha girls a'ready, an' they up to tha temple. An' Ah knows yo'all plottin' an' complot-tin' to save 'em, so Ah think bes' to a'quain' you wif tha fac's of tha case, Chief."
"Come on!" cried Red. "Let's go on up an' get 'em."
I shook my head. "To attempt that would be suicidal," I told him. "We can't force our way into the temple. To do so would be desecration, and every man and woman would turn against us. As long as those girls are within the sacred precincts of the temple they are safe, and we are powerless. When or how they will be taken from there to the place of sacrifice we don't know. But we can keep a constant vigil and be ready to act at a moment's notice. They may be conducted under a strong guard, they may be accompanied by a procession of hundreds of people or they may be led secretly and alone to the ravine."
"I say!" ejaculated Saunderson. "I've been thinking over what you said a few moments ago—about waiting until the last moment, you know. I do believe you're right, distinctly right. If we can appear on the scene at the psychological moment and wrest the fair maidens from the very brink of the grave as it were, it will be a jolly sight more dramatic. And we'll have the old dominie and his minions at a decided disadvantage over there, also, don't you think?"
"Exactly," I agreed. "I suggest that you divide your men. Place a strong guard here at the citadel in case we are forced to fall back on it, and have the others mobilized and ready. We can't use them at the scene of action. The trail is barely wide enough for two men to pass abreast, and we don't want our line of retreat blocked. But if they are near at hand—concealed somewhere about the old fortress—they will be very useful when we fall back, whether we are successful or fail."
"My eye!" exclaimed Saunderson. "Why, my dear chap, as an archaeologist you're a military strategist, absolutely yes! But you're right, distinctly right. I can quite see your point. I'll select some picked men—who have personal feelings in the matter—for our reserves."
There was now nothing more we could do but to wait and watch for the appearance of the doomed girls and the priest. We took turns at this, with one of us always on duty during every hour of the day and night, but it was not until just before dawn that our vigil was rewarded. Then, from the temple gates, a little procession appeared wending its way silently through the semi-darkness. Securely hidden in the dark shadows of the citadel we watched it pass. First came the six stalwart temple guards. Then, borne on golden litters, the three virgins, bound and gagged and swathed in robes of purple. And, bringing up the rear, Sarayacu, hobbling along, the tap-tapping of his staff the only sound that broke the silence of the hour that precedes the dawn.

A MOMENT later we crept from our hiding places and followed silently after, while, a hundred paces in our rear, the grim, armed warriors marched noiselessly towards the ancient fortress. Fortunately a pall of gray mist hung low across the valley and visibility was limited to a scant fifty yards. In fact we could see no sign of those we were trailing and were guided solely by the sound of the priest's staff, ceaselessly tapping upon the stones of the road. Never had I felt so keyed up, so filled with suppressed excitement. For the first time I realized fully the meaning of that term "zero hour." So, I mused, must the men have felt when creeping from their trenches on some desperate sortie across the shell torn battlefields of France. Yet we were in no danger. Even had our presence been suspected, had it come to hostilities, the odds would have been in our favor. I don't think the element of fear entered into my sensations in the least. Rather, it was the silence, the mysterious grave world in which we moved, the regular eerie tapping of the priest's cane, and the nervous tension.
It seemed hours, ages, until we reached the ancient fortress. Dawn was breaking, a faint pink flush showed above the mountains to the east, and the mists were lifting. Crouching out of sight we watched those we were following, as, like spectral wraiths rather than beings of flesh and blood, they moved across the summit of the fortress and vanished in the deep shadows of the trail.
The time had come for swift and decisive action. Saunderson gave a few sharp, curt commands to his men, and together we hurried towards the pathway that led to the place of sacrifice.
"Remember," I warned the others in a whisper. "No violence unless it becomes absolutely necessary. We are here to save lives, not to take them. If resistance is offered shoot over their heads. If the guards attempt to use their weapons wing them if necessary; but don't shoot to kill except as a last resort."
The next moment we were in the black shadows of the cliffs, picking our way along the narrow trail, revolvers in hand. Suddenly, Saunderson, who was in the lead halted. "Listen!" he whispered.
From ahead came the sound of singing, the cadence of a chant.
"Hurry!" I exclaimed in lowered tones. "The ceremony has begun. We've no time to lose!"
Almost recklessly we dashed forward. The next moment we were at the end of the trail. Beyond the ravine the mountain tops glowed with red and gold where touched by the rays of the rising sun, but at our feet the chasm yawned black and forbidding with the monstrous beast lurking in its depths. Halting within the shadows of the narrow trail we peered cautiously from the shelter of the rocks. Upon the narrow platform of stone stood the actors in the tragic drama we were about to interrupt.
Against the wall of cliff stood the guards, grim, silent, motionless, their accoutrements and weapons of polished bronze gleaming dully in the half light. Before them rested the three litters with their helpless human burdens. Still bound and gagged, the victims of the sacrifice had been stripped of their coverings, and lay like statues awaiting the moment when they would be hurled to a terrible death. And standing by the narrow opening in the parapet was Sarayacu, with hands upraised and face uplifted, a strangely exalted expression on his features, as he intoned the ancient chant to the rising sun.
I felt Red's muscles tighten. I heard a long, indrawn breath that was almost a groan from Saunderson.

HOLD hard!" I whispered. "He's waiting for the sun. The moment the light falls upon him—go!"
Slowly the light increased. Lower and lower the golden glow crept down the mountain sides beyond. Little by little the black shadows of the ravine were dissipated. Tense, with pounding hearts, we waited, as the monotonous crooning voice of the priest alone broke the vast silence. Then suddenly, as if conjured by his words, his white head glowed with a halo of light. In a crescendo that was almost a scream the chant ended and the priest sprang towards the nearest litter. With a quick motion he seized the recumbent form, and at that instant we rushed from our hiding place.
In a dozen strides Saunderson was beside the priest. Taken completely by surprise, momentarily terrified by our sudden apparition, the guards cowered back, and as Red covered them with his six-guns and they gazed into the muzzles of the dreaded weapons, spears and axes fell clattering from the nerveless hands of the soldiers. But Sarayacu, surprised and amazed as he must have been, was no coward, nor did he intend to be prevented from fulfilling what he deemed a sacred duty. As Saunderson sprang toward him he lifted the girl bodily, and as if suddenly possessed of superhuman strength, he raised her above his head to hurl her down the chute. Saunderson's fist shot out, and dazed by the blow Sarayacu staggered back. As Saunderson caught the limp body of the girl the priest reeled, and with a blood-curdling scream plunged headlong down the slide!
Forgetting all else, we sprang to the parapet and gazed into the abyss. Far down the gutter-like chute Sarayacu was speeding to the awful death he had planned for the sacrificial virgins. The next instant he dropped from the slide and lay, a huddled, inert bundle upon the faintly-lit bottom of the ravine.
Awed, horrified at this unexpected tragedy, we stood gazing speechless, helpless, at the motionless form below. And then a shudder ran through us as from the black opening of the cavern that awesome, monstrous head appeared. "My God!" gasped Red. Before we realized his intention he snatched up Saunderson's rifle and flung himself into the chute. Feet first, flat on his back, with hands grasping the rifle above his head, he shot downward.
Had he gone suddenly mad? Why had be made such a hare-brained self-sacrifice? He would be injured, stunned, probably killed outright, to lie helpless, until devoured before our eyes! But, as forgetting all enmities, the guards and ourselves watched fascinated, Red's speed suddenly slackened. Holding the rifle crosswise of the slide he was using it as a brake to check his swift descent. Slower and slower he moved, until within a hands-breadth of the bottom he came to a full stop. Leaping lightly to the ground, he stood for a brief moment staring at the gigantic dinosaur lumbering towards him. Words cannot describe nor imagination picture how transcendingly terrifying the monster must have appeared to him. Even to us, two hundred feet above, and safely far beyond its reach, the immense repulsive, ferocious thing thrilled us with fear and horror. But to Red, standing there alone, alone save for the unconscious form of the priest and the grisly skeletons with no means of escape, with the awful man-eating beast within a few rods of where he stood, the monster was enough to have driven a man raving mad with terror.

WE held our breaths. Utterly unconscious of her presence Saunderson still clasped the bound girl in his arms, as oblivious of all else we stared with bulging eyes at our comrade beneath us. The monstrous beast was waddling near and nearer to its victim. Was it capable of suddenly accelerating its pace? Could it leap or spring? I wondered dimly. If so, there was no hope for Red. It seemed minutes that he had been standing there, yet it could have been but a few seconds. Stooping quickly, he lifted the body of the priest, carried it to the partial protection of the recess beneath the end of the slide, and ran nimbly to one side. The monster was barely fifty feet from him. The gigantic jaws dripped with saliva, the huge snake-like tongue darted in and out. Slowly, like a serpent preparing to strike, the neck was upraised, the immense head swayed from side to side. Two spurts of flame, two puffs of smoke sprang from Red's guns, and the ravine echoed to the heavy detonations. With a hiss like the steam escaping from a locomotive, the great beast reared upon its hind legs. With its enormous clawed forefeet it pawed at its throat where streaks of crimson stained the livid white skin.
"By the Lord, he got him!" shouted Saunderson, breaking the tense silence.
But the wounds merely served to infuriate the gigantic reptile. With incredible speed it wheeled and its head darted with wide opened jaws at its puny foe. Red sprang aside, dodging the viciously-snapping fangs, and as he leaped, his revolvers roared out again. He couldn't have been six feet from that nightmarish head when he fired, and Red was the most remarkable revolver shot I have ever seen. Small as it was, the dinosaur's eye was a good sized mark compared to the pip on a playing card, and I have seen Red shoot one pip after another from a ten of spades at twenty paces. As the soft-nosed bullets crashed through eye and skull, the gigantic beast seemed heaved upward as if by an earthquake. Convulsively it twisted, turned, writhed. Its stupendous tail with its crest of immense upright scales thrashed the rocks and threw showers of stones and sand twenty feet in the air. The titanic jaws opened and closed, biting at the air, at the surrounding rocks, at the dying creature's own body and legs, and the roar of Red's 'six-guns,' the crashing of the snapping jaws, the thrashing of the armored tail against the stones came to us in a confused bedlam of sound. Then slowly the terrible head sank to the earth, the tail gave a final convulsive twitch, and the monster lay motionless, dead!
Red glanced up, waved his hand and stepping forward sprang onto the dinosaur's head. And at that moment a shaft of sunlight flashed downward through a rift in the mountain side, and striking Red's hair transformed it to an aureole of flame.
A mighty sigh arose from the throats of the watching guards. Dropping to their knees, they knocked their foreheads against the stone. No longer was Red merely their king. He was a god, a divinity. The prophecy had been fulfilled. Huata Pilcu, the Red-haired One, had destroyed the 'Evil One,' the Amaruhuay! The sacrifice of the virgins was forever at an end.

CHAPTER XII The Mummy of the Room of Gold
FOR the first time Saunderson appeared to be aware of the girl in his arms.
"My sainted aunt!" he exclaimed, his face scarlet. "I say, this won't do, you know!"
Snatching up one of the discarded robes, he wrapped it about the girl, and placing her tenderly on her litter, quickly removed the gag from her mouth and freed her from her bonds. In the meantime the guards had freed and clothed the other two maidens. At the time I scarcely noticed this, for my thoughts were on how we were to get Red and the body of the priest out of the ravine. There seemed no other way than to send to the valley for a rope, and I was on the point of telling Sam to hurry back and bring a line when he solved the problem for me.
"Beggin’ yo' pardon, Chief," he said, "takin' tha fac's of this case in conside'ation Ah sugges' we ties tha slings of tha soldiers en' to en' an' hauls Mister Red out. 'Pears to me min' they be plenty long 'nough fo' to reach he."
"You're a genius!" I told him. "Run to the men, get all their slings and get back as fast as you can.
I shouted down to Red. "Just a minute or two, an we'll lower a rope for you."
He waved his hand, spat, and calmly seated himself upon the carcass of the slain dinosaur.
I turned to speak to Saunderson, and gasped. He was still holding the rescued girl in his arms, but in quite a different manner. In fact it would have been difficult to have said whether he was holding her or she him, for her arms were about his neck, her head was nestled on his shoulder, and from the motions of his lips I felt safe in assuming that he was whispering words other than of comfort and reassurance into her ears. He glanced up and saw me staring at him. He blushed furiously, but I noticed he did not relax his arms about the young woman's waist.
"Oh, I say!" he exclaimed. "Don't be a peeping Tom, old chap. Really, you know, it's quite all right. Fact of the matter is I've fallen head over heels in love. By Jove, yes, actually! Congratulate me, old man—that's a good chap!" I grinned. "You will play the knight-errant," I said. "Well, I suppose you're merely following out the traditions of your ancestors. I believe it was customary for knights who rescued damsels fair to marry them and live happily ever after. But just now, if you don't mind and the young lady can spare you, I should like your help for a few minutes. We must get Red and Sarayacu out of the pit."
When Sam returned with the slings, and we quickly knotted the strong alpaca-hair cords together, we had a line amply long enough to reach the bottom of the chute. Weighting the end with a stone we dropped it down. A moment later we were hauling Sarayacu upward. The priest had regained consciousness and was not badly injured, a fracture of one arm and a broken rib or two being the extent of his casualties. Again we lowered the rope, and a few moments later Red was once more with us and we gathered about, congratulating him, praising him, complimenting him for his heroic and magnificent feat.
"Hell!" he exclaimed. "'Twasn't nothin'. Didn't I tell you I ain't never seen no critter what couldn't be killed with a six-gun?"
The effects of our victory and Red's heroic bravery were far-reaching and remarkable. We were regarded as veritable hero-gods, the people literally worshipped Red as the mortal incarnation of a divinity, and old Sarayacu, who fully realized that his king had risked his own life to save him from a terrible and certain death, fairly grovelled at Red's feet. Even Sam and Karen, as servants of such exalted beings, were made much of and were looked upon with a certain amount of awe and respect.
AS far as Saunderson was concerned the adulation and near-veneration meant little, for his entire existence now centered on Mahawilla, for that was her name. Despite his habitual flippancy, his raillery and his bantering manner, he was no inconsequential trifler, but was at heart a most sincere and serious man, and one who never did anything by halves. So, having, as he expressed it, "fallen head over heels in love" with the really charming young thing whom he had literally snatched from the jaws of death, he was all impatience to marry her and chafed at the enforced delay imposed by the priest's injuries.
And when I suggested that a wife might prove a serious impediment when the time came for us to leave the valley, and that he would find her woefully out of place and miserable among his own people, he utterly astounded me by stating that he had no intention of ever leaving the place.
"Nothing doing, as you Americans say," he declared. "I've knocked about and seen a bit of the world in my day, you know, and I've never found a locality that was altogether such a bit of all right as this. 'Pon my word, what more can a man ask? Delightful climate, wonderful scenery, charming people, an abundance of food, fine raiment, game in the hills, a career, plenty of interesting work to occupy one's hands and mind, all the luxuries one requires, a top-hole position in the community, and nothing to worry about. No, by Jove, not even a stock market or a newspaper."
"But—but," I objected, scarcely able to believe him serious. "How about your people? A man of your position, of your wealth and family can't just drop out of sight—vanish as it were. You—"
"Can't he? Aha, little you know how readily he can, old thing!" he chortled. "Really, you know, you'd better follow the example of Red and myself and take unto yourself a lovely lady and establish yourself as a member of the community. My word, yes, think of the years of research before you, imagine what a glorious time you could have digging up the bones of your wife's respected ancestors! No end of an opportunity, you know, and—by Jove, yes! We might establish a museum and have Red appoint you the royal archaeologist-in-chief!"
I grinned. "A must alluring future," I told him. "But it does not appeal to me. I am a confirmed bachelor, and a wife—even if as wholly charming as your Marawilla or Cherisona—has no place in my life. And, to be frank, with you, there is small satisfaction in making epochal, scientific discoveries in solving archaeological problems unless one can make them public. I'm afraid the average man fails to realize what a conceited and selfish lot we scientists really are. Our greatest delight is derived from creating envy and jealousy in our confreres. No, my friend, I shall leave eventually. But I am in no hurry to go. There is an enormous amount of work to be done here, and I expect to remain for a year at least. But once my researches are completed, off I go."

SAUNDERSON chuckled. "Man proposes but God disposes," he quoted. "When, in due season, you prepare to depart, what route do you intend to follow, old chap? Don't forget that the way by which we arrived is closed, and I fear that no detour has been provided."
"I'm not so sure about that," I said. "There may be more than one way of entering or leaving this place. But only insurmountable obstacles, and forces quite beyond my control, will keep mc here after my work has been completed."
To me, the greatest and most important result of our altered status, in the minds of people and priest, was that it gave me unlimited opportunities for investigations and researches. Just as anyone familiar with aboriginal psychology might have foreseen, our interference with and termination of a ceremony of a semi-religious or sacred character, and the destruction of a monster credited with being an evil spirit and immortal, had caused all three of us to be regarded as semi-divine or sacred ourselves. Even the priest felt that way, and, as a result, I was free to explore the temple, to rummage about wherever I desired, and to do things which, previously, would have been deemed desecration. Hence it was directly the result of our humane and chivalrous desire to save three girls from sacrifice that I made the most momentous discovery of my entire career, I might even say, without qualification, the most momentous-discovery ever made in America, the discovery that forever set at rest the innumerable vexed questions and solved the greatest problems and mysteries of America's ancient civilizations. Having practically completed my work in the temple, the citadel and the occupied portion of the valley, I turned my attention to the deserted and immeasurably ancient fortress. Here if anywhere, I felt sure, I would find a vast amount of new material. Here, within the labyrinth of passages, rooms, hallways and great chambers rich with sculptures and frescoes, filled with images, idols, and symbolic figures; within this immense structure which had served as a fortress, a temple, a treasure-house and as a dwelling-place, there should be untold stores of archaeological riches. Yet all my expectations and hopes fell far short of the results, and in my most optimistic moments never did I dream that I would be rewarded as I was.
With only Sam to help me and to light the way with torches through the darkest passages and chambers, I commenced a systematic exploration of the vast structure. From the very first I was elated at the things I found. But my heart sank as I realized how woefully inadequate were my means to record or preserve my discoveries. Dozens, scores of note books, might have been filled with written records, measurements and sketches. Hundreds of squeezes might have been made of the ornate and marvellous carvings and sculptures. In some of the rooms, many of the old furnishings still remained. There were carved stone and magnificent mental benches, stools, tables and utensils. Here and there were shreds of glorious textiles, and I might have gathered a collection of pottery, ornaments, weapons and implements that would have filled a museum.
The farther I penetrated into the maze of rooms and corridors the more numerous, the more interesting, the richer were my finds. But I soon realized that to thoroughly explore and study the place would require not months, not a year, but many years. And as, after the first few days, I became somewhat familiar with the plan of the structure and found that, broadly speaking, there was an obvious similarity and sameness about certain sections, which classified them as belonging to the same period, I mentally mapped out a definite procedure to be followed.

ROUGHLY, my plan was to explore the most ancient portions first, the portions which, I judged, dated back for at least four thousand years, for there, if anywhere, I might expect to find evidences of the earliest inhabitants of the Achcarunasapi, with remains which might solve some of the mysteries of their origin and culture.
It was, I think, during the third month that I had been working in the ancient fortress, that I discovered a cleverly-concealed doorway in the wall of a small but ornately-frescoed and sculptured chamber.
Obviously the portal had been sealed up, and it was only because portions of cement-like clay had broken away that I discovered the doorway, for the material, plastered over the crevices between door and wall, had been moulded so perfectly that it appeared a portion of the rock carvings. Filled with curiosity to learn what lay beyond the hidden portal, I labored at it, with Sam's help, and presently succeeded in moving the slab aside.
Before us was a narrow vaulted passage barely high enough to permit me to walk upright, and, as we moved along it, presently to my nostrils came that peculiar pungent, rather musty smell which, to an experienced archaeologist, is infallible evidence of the presence of mummies. Somewhere close at hand were tombs. Tombs of the ancient people who had hewn the immense citadel from the mountain side. My heart fairly pounded with excitement. Within the stone chambers in the bowels of the mountain the bodies should have remained well preserved, all their wrappings, their apparel, their personal possessions intact. I was about to see what no archaeologist had ever before seen. I was about to look upon the actual beings, the members of an unknown race, who had reached a high state of civilization fully thirty centuries before the birth of Christ!
Stronger and stronger became the unmistakable odor. Abruptly the passageway gave into a circular chamber, and I gazed about. Everywhere about the circumference of the walls were low, arched niches, resembling ovens more than anything else, and in every niche there was a bulky, richly decorated mummy bundle. By the wealth of ornaments, the splendid cloths in which they were wrapped, I knew them to be mummies of most exalted persons—nobles, princes, priests, perhaps. The false heads were provided with masks of gold or silver. Upon them were gorgeous, feather headdresses or golden crowns bearing magnificent plumes. Draped upon the squat, fat bundles were strings of precious and semi-precious stones, ornaments of gold, and breastplates of the precious metal. And resting against several, lashed in place as if held by invisible hands, were carved staffs heavy with gold ornamentation, ceremonial axes with heads of jade, lapis lazuli or other stone, or sceptres of richly-chased gold.

NEVER, I felt sure, had any scientist gazed upon such a wealth of mummies. Never, I knew, had another scientist seen even one mummy of the race whose revered dead were there before me. No one could guess, no one could possibly prophecy what priceless archaeological treasures might be hidden under the wrappings of those bulky, shapeless figures in their burial niches.
Yet, strangely enough, for the first time in my life, the thought of disturbing them was inexpressibly repugnant to me. Why, I cannot even now explain. I had unwrapped hundreds of mummies, never had I considered them as anything more than scientific specimens. But for some inexplicable reason the idea of unwrapping one of those bundles seemed to be like rank, unpardonable desecration. Then, as I swept my eyes about the burial chamber, my gaze fell upon a door opposite the entrance. In itself it was a marvellous, a unique object, wrought of bronze and silver, decorated with mosaics in turquoise, onyx and agate. And above the lintel were inscribed those same mysterious characters I had seen so many times.
What, I wondered, was concealed behind that door. Was it a treasure-vault filled to overflowing with the surplus possessions of those whose mummified bodies were ranged in their niches about the wall? Did the portal lead to a second burial-chamber, to another passageway, or did it close the tomb of some ancient king?
I stepped forward and examined the door. Never had I seen such a splendid example of metal and mosaic art. What a treasure, if only it could be transported to one of our great museums!
I sighed. Why, I wondered, had Fate played me such a trick? Why had I been destined to come upon such archaeological treasures as no other man had dreamed existed, and yet be unable to collect a single specimen to carry back to my wondering fellow scientists, unable to make a single cast, a single photograph of the marvels I had seen, unable even to make full notes and descriptions of my amazing discoveries?
To my astonishment the door was hinged. To my greater astonishment it was unfastened. It yielded to my tug, it swung open. I started back, speechless, blinking, half blinded by the blaze of light, by the shimmering, flashing scintillating glory revealed by the opening of the door.
Before my wondering, astounded eyes was an octagonal chamber completely sheathed in overlapping plates of gold. And seated on a gem-encrusted, golden throne was the mummy of a man. A mummy wrapped in a shroud of gold. From somewhere far above, through some shaft cut in the rock, the sun streamed down and filled the chamber with dazzling light that was reflected from the golden walls in a million blinding, flashing points of fire.
Blinking my eyes to the sudden blaze of light after hours of semi-darkness illuminated only by a flickering torch, I gazed transfixed at the silent, gold-swathed figure on the jewelled throne. Here was no grotesque formless bundle topped with a false head and an expressionless mask.
The mummy upon the throne was that of an aged man, a man whose shrivelled, shrunken feet covered by jeweled sandals rested upon the mosaic floor, whose dessicated hands were resting upon his lap, and whose parchment-like face was half-hidden by a luxuriant, white beard that fell to his waist. So natural was his pose that had it not been for the tightly-drawn skin stretched across the bones, and the sightless eyes, he might have been mistaken for a living being. Aside from the gem-studded sandals and the sheet of paper-thin gold wrapped about the body, there were no ornaments, no jewelry upon the mummy. Covering his shoulders was a cape or shawl of deep purple, and upon the head rested a purple cap with upright points or "ears." Something about the figure seemed strangely familiar to me. I puckered my brows and strove to concentrate my thoughts. Where had I seen that peculiar eared headdress, that shoulder cape, that bearded face which, shrivelled, distorted, mummified though it was, yet bore a calm benign expression on its dessicated features? Suddenly, almost as a shock, realization came to me. It was the same figure, the same costume, the same face I had seen on sculptures and on pottery effigies, the puzzling, mysterious figure of "The Bearded One" of Incan and pre-Incan mythology!

“WIRA KOCHA,” I exclaimed beneath my breath. "is it possible, can it be possible?"
Softly, as if fearing I might awaken him from his thousands of years sleep, as reverently as though I were before a holy altar, I approached the silent figure on the ancient throne. Then, for the first time, I noticed that, resting upon his lap beneath the bony fingers of his hands, were fragments of pottery, and that before him, scattered about his feet, were broken shards. Obviously, when first the body had been seated there the objects had been placed upon his lap under his clasped hands. Something, however, had dislodged them. Perhaps it had been the gradual shrinking of tissues through centuries, perhaps some slight earth tremor, had caused the things to slip from his dead fingers and be shattered to fragments upon the floor. I stooped and picked up one of the shards. And at what I saw a thrill of elation such as I had never known ran through me. The fragment of burned clay was covered with inscribed characters! It was part of a written record, part of a tablet; the first real writing ever discovered among the remains of American civilization!
That in itself was enough to have caused me to become almost delirious with joy. But at my first glance I knew that I had made an even more amazing, more epochal discovery. I had recognized the characters instantly. They were cuneiform! They were familiar to me, as easily read as Greek!
Forgetting everything, oblivious of my surroundings, of the presence of the strange mummy of the bearded man, I fell upon my knees and feverishly, tense with excitement, I gathered the bits of shattered tablets and with the utmost care began fitting them together. Many pieces were missing altogether—ground to dust by their fall; others were too badly defaced to decipher. But little by little, patiently, like fitting together an intricate jig-saw puzzle, I arranged the fragments until the last piece had been added to the whole.
And there upon the mosaic floor beside the throne, at the feet of the golden-swathed mummy, I read the amazing story revealed to my marvelling brain by the rows of angular characters inscribed on the ancient tablet. Several lines were missing, but that which was legible read as follows:

"AND having been driven towards the setting sun for the space of twenty days we came unto a land where dwelt strange people, naked and unashamed and savage. And from these we learned of a great river and of * * * So after many days, passing ever through forests where no men dwelt, we came unto a spot where many strange men who looked upon our faces and our beards with wonder * * * And by these through signs we learned * * * dwelt in this new land and gathered about us some scores of the people whom we had taught to worship Jehovah and to speak our tongue and to cover their bodies with garments like unto our own * * * Crossing the mountains we came unto a fair valley and therein builded houses and a fortress and a temple wherein to worship Jehovah and His Prophets. It is a goodly land and the people are like unto the Sons of Israel. Yea, verily do I believe that they be of our race * * * but gone astray to become idolators * * * So we have spread the Faith and have won them back to become the Chosen Ones of God, and have taught unto them our arts and our wisdom that when our lives be spent they may forever follow in our footsteps * * * So we named the valley Ab-Ur-Keni in memory of that Ur whence we came. And the city we called Ish-Ka-Ur- Saba for verily it is the womb which shall bear and bring forth the multitudes who shall carry the faith of our fathers and the name of the Great Jehovah throughout this land. * * * So wheresoever we have carried the word of Israel we have cut deeply into the rocks these Holy words:
* * * all who pass and see them may know that the * * * Jehovah shall forever endure * * * and may kneel and give prayers and offer sacrifices unto the Lord God of Hosts. * * * feeling that death is near I have set all this down * * * being the last of the score who set forth from * * * to sail into the west where * * * Prophet Elijah had * * * the hand of God directed us. * * * these tablets I shall order to be placed within my tomb * * * to us and through us unto them have been revealed many things. Yea, verily, such wonders as no man hath before seen * * * And it has come to pass, that they have surpassed all the tribes of Israel, the craftsmen of Egypt and the artizans of the Hitites and of Babylon * * * never have they become scribes. Nay, neither those who have risen to become priests and teachers * * * the hand of Jehovah has set His seal saying: 'Thus far shalt thou go and no farther.' * * * shalt not perish from the earth nor be forgotten in the minds of men, unto these tablets I, T'cha Ben Nephi Lehi of the House of Cora-ancha, have set my * * *"

THE world seemed to reel about me. I was in a daze. Here beneath my marvelling, incredulous eyes was the evidence of the origin of the lost civilizations of America. Broken, fragmentary as they were, with great gaps in the narrative inscribed upon them, yet the tablets were the indisputable proof that men of Semitic blood, Israelites, had come over seas and had established the religion, the civilization, the arts of the pre-Incans. Everything was clear to me. Even the mystery of the names was solved. Wira Kocha, the Creator! Why had it never occurred to me that it was but a slightly garbled and corrupted form of Jehovah? And the priest of Israel who had inscribed the tablets— T'cha Ben:—Chavin, of course! He had been of the "House of Cora-ancha! What more natural than that his disciples should have named their temples in his honor—the Kori-Canchas.
Even the origin of the name of the valley was solved—Ish-Ka Ur-Saba— The birthplace of multitudes! How similar to Achcarunasapi, now that I had the key. Yet during the countless centuries that had passed since the city had been founded, the names of town and valley had been transposed, for Sarayacu—Ye gods! even the priest bore a Semitic name, merely a slight variant of Sara-a-Akur—had called the valley Achcaruna-Sapi and the city Urkon-Ab-Ur-Keni: The New Ur. And the broken tablet, written more than thirty centuries ago, forever set at rest all controversy, all theories and suppositions in regard to the strange inscription. It was a prayer, the equivalent of the beginning of our own Lord's Prayer!
Had I not already solved the mystery of the cyclopcan masonry and the incredible stone-cutting feats of the pre-Incans, the tablet would have revealed that secret also, for the long-dead T'cha Ben Hephi Lehi had written that "the rock was made soft unto clay to be moulded by the potters' hands."
With a deep indrawn breath, I gathered up the shattered tablet, and reverently restored it to its original resting place beneath the yellow, shrivelled hands of the mummy. And as I did so, and glanced at the shrunken face with its patriarchal white beard, I could have sworn that a gratified smile hovered for an instant on the fleshless lips.

A YEAR and more had passed since we had entered the hidden valley of Achcaruna Sapi; a delightful pleasant year of happiness and contentment and of marvelous scientific achievement on my part.
Within the palace there was now a princeling, a tiny scion of royalty whose red hair gave assurance that the dynasty of Huata Pilcu would be perpetuated. And in the home of Inchukeespi, the War Lord, there was a wee lassie with her father's sunny hair who, so Mara-willa and Cherisona both agreed, would one day become the bride of the heir to the throne. Old Sarayacu, who fairly adored his great-grandson—and who, so Cherisona laughingly declared, neglected his religious duties to be with the kiddy—had changed greatly. From an austere, fanatical high-priest and steeped in legendary superstition and mysticism, he had been transformed to a gentle, kindly old man, quite broad-minded and ready to live and let live, and much preferring to bask in the sun or frolic with the kiddies, rather than to fast and pray within the temple. Our presence in the valley, and the events which had taken place, had rudely shaken his implicit belief in the mythology and sacrosanct traditions of his religion, and his blind faith in the infallibility of prophecies had received a severe jolt on that day when Red had saved him from death in the jaws of the dinosaur. Even though the Red Haired One had arrived as foretold, and had been crowned King of Urkon; even though he had destroyed the monster as scheduled, there had been nothing in the ancient prophecy which had warned the priest that he would be cast into the pit and would come within a hair's breadth of serving as a substitute for a victim of the sacrifice. It had been a most unpleasant and terrifying experience, and had served to arouse Sarayacu's resentment which he had manifested by repudiating the prophecy altogether.
More, Cherisona had avidly adopted Christianity—or at least Red's particular version of the Faith, while Marawilla had become a staunch convert to the Church of England. Naturally, Sarayacu had been properly scandalized by this straying from the fold of two of the most prominent members of his flock. But when I had talked with him, and had pointed out the striking similarities between our religion and his own; that we both worshipped a Supreme God or Creator, that we both believed in an immortal soul and a resurrection, in a Heaven and a Hell and in a Divine Son of God born of woman, and that, after all the only real differences in our faiths were those of creeds rather than fundamentals, he appeared to be quite mollified and content. But I must admit that I was tremendously surprised—and not a little amused—when I visited the temple a few days later and discovered that he had placed a cross beside the golden image of the sun.
Though there was still a great deal left to be done, I had worked industriously and had accomplished amazing results in my archaeological researches. And despite the fact that I well knew how hard the parting would be, and though I hated the thought of leaving, yet I felt that it was high time that I should attempt to return and give to Science and the world the results of my discoveries.
I had expected protests and opposition from my companions, and when I broached the subject, and announced that I intended to make my departure in a few days, I was flabbergasted by Red's reply.
"O. K.," he said. "Me and you've been pardners long enough for me to learn there ain't no use tryin' to argue with you, once you've set your mind to anything. You're as stubborn as a Missoury mule, Doc. If you're boun' to go, you'll go, an' it's just wast-in' time an' breath to try an' stop you. Mebbe I'm king here, but you're still my boss and what you say goes with me. But hell! we sure will miss you a heap. 'Twon't seem like 'twas the same place without you around. Still an' all, me an' Sandy, we've savvied you'd be pull-in’ stakes an’ driftin' some of these days, so we kinder prepared for it, like."
"Rath-er!" exclaimed Saunderson. "We can't have you wandering about through the mountains aimlessly, you know, and never getting anywhere. By Jove, no, not a bit of it! In that case the world would never know what you have discovered, and the jolly old scientific chaps wouldn't have an opportunity to quarrel over what you told them and call you no end of a liar. So we hatched out a scheme to see you through, as one might say. The main object is that beastly old bridge where we clambered out of the cañon. But these beggars here could throw a bridge across that chasm in a jiffy. They are really marvellous at that sort of thing, you know. We'll call the standing army to escort you across the valley where those horrible little camouflaged savages dwell—I don't fancy they will attack a large force—and I'll send on a party with you to bridge the cañon and accompany you until you are within easy reach of settlements or a road. Then when my men return they can destroy the bridge, tear down the old ladder and we'll be quite safe from being overrun with beastly tourists and missionaries and all that sort of thing. You see, Doctor, we trust implicitly in you not to reveal the precise location of our little Eden, not even in the cause of science."
"You appear to have made complete arrangements to speed the parting guest," I said. "I certainly appreciate your thoughtfulness. But, honestly, you needn't send as escort with me beyond the bridge. I'm quite sure the old trail will be practical beyond that point."
"Ah, but you'll require carriers, old dear!" exclaimed Saunderson. "An eminent archaeologist and his faithful Man Friday can't be expected to carry their own luggage, you know."
I laughed. "What luggage we have could be carried in our pockets," I reminded him.
Red winked and Saunderson grinned.
"Not by a damn sight, it couldn't," declared the former. "Hell, you don't reckon to go out of here without nothin' to show for your time an' work do you? Nothin' doin', Doc. You're a-goin' to pack out all of that junk what you've got over there to your place. Yep, an' me an' Cherisona an' her grandad an' Sandy an' the rest of us is aimin' to give you a sort of good-bye present like. Me, I'm a settin' pretty with more damn gold an' jools knockin' about than Henry Ford an' old man Rockefeller could buy between 'em, an' just so much junk up here. So why the blazes shouldn't you have some of it?"

BUT—but," I stammered, really too overcome and surprised to speak coherently. "Really—"
"Red's right, distinctly right!" declared Saunderson without waiting to hear what I was trying to say. "My sainted aunt! Do you fancy any of your scientific friends would believe your extraordinary statements unless you possessed concrete proof? No indeed, not a bit of it, old top! And really, you know, the jolly old pelf is no end of a convenience in the so-called centres of civilization, absolutely, yes!"
"Now you're talking horse-sense, Mister," agreed Red. "Shucks, what's the sense in bein' a king if you can't hand out a million or two to an old pardner?"
"Righto!" chuckled Saunderson. "And 'pon my word, what's the sense in being an archaeologist if one cannot produce the proofs of one's prehistoric pudding, as one might say."
When, a few days later, I bade farewell to Cherisona and Marawilla and the two kiddies, and started on my journey, the entire population of the valley had gathered along the roads and in the plaza to see me off. With the miniature army of warriors as an escort, we marched across the valley, Saunderson and Red walking by my side, old Sarayacu borne in a litter accompanying us, and a dozen stalwart yanaconas or carriers laden with my specimens and my riches bringing up the rear.
At the lower portal of the ancient fortress the priest bade me an affectionate farewell and called upon all the divinities of both his own and the Christian faith to safeguard me on my journey.
Onward through the narrow pass we marched, and into the valley of the Chameleon men, the soldiers with ready weapons forming a hollow square about us and the carriers. But there was no sign of the amazing pygmies, and without opposition or molestation we reached the cliff where the chain ladder still dangled from above. Hours were required for the carriers and my escort to climb, one at a time, to the summit of the cliff. But at last it was accomplished.
"Good bye and good luck, old man!" cried Saunderson gaily, though I noticed a strange huskiness in his tones. "If you ever change your mind and decide you'd like to return and settle down in Achcaruna Sapt, just radio to me, you know! By Jove, yes, I almost forgot! When you arrive at your destination just slip this into an envelope and paste a stamp on it and post it to my solicitors, that's a good chap!"
He handed me a sealed packet with the address of his London solicitors scrawled across it.
"Just a note to the old coves to put their minds at rest and prevent them from starting undesirable enquiries as to my whereabouts, you know," he explained. "Cheerio, old dear!"
"Well, so long, Doc," exclaimed Red as he gripped my hand. "I'm damned sorry you ain't stayin' on with us. But shucks, mebbe you wouldn't be so all-fired content just to let things slide, like I be. Hell, who'd ha' thought when I signed up for your expedition that 'twas a-goin’ to end by me bein' a king an' gettin' hitched up to a wife, an' havin' kids an' all?"
He spat, swallowed hard and scratched the back of his neck. "Well, I reckon there ain't nothin’ more I can say," he muttered. "I gotta be gettin' along back or some hombre'll be grabbin’ the throne away from me. Hey, look after Doc, Sam, you black rascal. Adios, Doc!"
Without incident we traversed the narrow trail to the cañon where the remnants of the ancient bridge hung from the verge of the abyss. One of the men scrambled like a lizard up the cliff, to reappear, standing upright on a jutting pinnacle with a coil of rope in hand. For an instant he poised there, fully fifty feet above our heads. Then he leaped into space!

I CAUGHT my breath. The fellow was deliberately plunging to his death. But no! The next moment he alighted safely on the narrow ledge across the gorge. It seemed impossible, incredible. No human being could have jumped directly across the gap before us, but from his higher elevation he had sprung outward and downward and had made it.
Quickly the men beside me knotted larger ropes to the line he had carried across. Rapidly he hauled them in and made them fast to the perforated rocks which had served to secure the original bridge. Then, as readily as though the sagging, swaying ropes had been a solid footway, half a dozen men swarmed over and joined their comrade on the further side. Rope after rope was pulled across, and in an incredibly short time a crude suspension bridge once again spanned the chasm. It seemed a frail, cobwebby thing, too flimsy a structure to support a man's weight, but the porters with their burdens passed unhesitatingly over it, and though it rocked and swayed horribly as we stepped upon it, and Sam, clutching the sagging ropes, inched his way along flat on his stomach, we crossed in safety.
Beyond the bridge the way was comparatively easy. True, in a few spots, landslides had blocked the old trail and we were forced to clamber perilously over the loose debris where a misstep or a dislodged stone would have hurled us to death, but there were no insurmountable obstacles. Slowly, gradually, our way led upward, until at last we skirted the foot of a vast glacier and commenced to descend. Around and about the trail wound, following the contours of the ranges, until, late one afternoon, we came to the head of a triangular gently-sloping puna. The leader of the yanaconas declared it was too late to go farther, and there in the shadows of the mountain side we camped for the night.
Sam's shout awakened me. "Wha la, Chief!" he exclaimed. "They gone! They clean gone. Yaas, sir, Chief, they desarted we!"
I leaped to my feet. The sun was rising back of the mountain range, and it was bright daylight. But not a man of our party was risible!
Suddenly Sam grasped my arm. 'Look. Chief! Look see there!" he cried.
A mile or so from where we stood, moving across the puna toward us, was a motor truck!
There is little more to relate. Dashing forward, shouting, waving our arms to attract the attention of those on the truck, we halted suddenly in amazement. Not one hundred yards from where we had camped a smooth Macadam highway crossed the puna.
Ten minutes later, with our belongings stowed in the body of the lumbering vehicle, we were rumbling over the road toward San Isidro, and twenty-four hours later, were back in Lima with its electric lights, its motor cars and concrete buildings, its busy thoroughfares and hurrying crowds, its trolley cars and motion picture theatres.

THE disappearance of the Honorable Ian Saunderson, created no comment, no stir in the world, such as I had expected. Those who knew him and took an interest in his affairs were accustomed to his wanderings and his habit of vanishing from the haunts of civilized man for months or years at a time. No doubt, in the missive he gave me and which I mailed to his lawyers, he stated that he might not return for a long time. Perhaps he even informed them that he never intended to return. But he had no near relatives, his financial and business affairs had been conducted by his solicitors for many years, and his continued absence did not in the least detract from the income they derived from that source. And as they were accustomed to being entrusted with secrets which they deemed nobody's business, there was no reason for proclaiming their client's absence from the housetops, as it were.
Of course no one bothered about Red. Ever a rolling stone liable to appear or disappear anywhere, it was assumed—by the few who gave him more than a passing thought—that he had merely followed his erratic inclinations and had parted company with me somewhere "in the interior".
But I have often thought—and have chuckled at the thought—of how shocked and surprised the "old coves" of London solicitors would be did they but know that the Honorable Ian Saunderson was the War Lord of Urkon, and was dwelling in happiness and contentment with a native wife in the valley of Achcaruna Sapi. And how dumbfounded would be those who had known Red, had they learned that the ex-ranger, the devil-may-care, easy-going chronically "broke" Jimmy Neil, was a reigning king possessing countless millions in treasure; the richest potentate in all the world!

The End

No comments:

Blog Archive

Countries we have visited

About Me

My photo

As an armed forces brat, we lived in Rockcliff (Ottawa), Namao (Edmonton), Southport (Portage La Prairie), Manitoba, and Dad retired to St. Margaret's Bay, NS.
Working with the Federal Govenment for 25 years, Canadian Hydrographic Service, mostly. Now married to Gail Kelly, with two grown children, Luke and Denyse. Retired to my woodlot at Stillwater Lake, NS, on the rainy days I study the life and work of A. Hyatt Verrill 1871-1954.