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"I don't see anything of them, do you?"
"No, and yet this is the place where they said they'd meet us."
It was Tom who asked the question, and Ned who answered it. It was the day after their sensational escape from the giants' prison, and they were circling about in the aeroplane which had been the means of getting them away from giant land. For they were safely away from that strange and terrible place, and they were now seeking the two giant brothers who had promised to meet them at a certain big hill.
For an hour that night Tom and his friends had traveled on the wings of the Lark and when a rising moon showed them a level spot for a landing, they had gone down and made a camp. They had provisions with them, and plenty of blankets and it was so warm that more shelter was not necessary.
The next day, leaving Mr. Damon, Eradicate and the circus man in the temporary camp, Tom and Ned had gone aloft to see if they could pick up the giant twins, who were to meet them and have some mules ready for the journey back to civilization.
"Well, we're in no great hurry," went on Tom, after vainly scanning the ground below. "They may not have traveled as fast as we thought they could, and the mules may have given trouble. We'll stick around here a day or so, and--"
"Look!" suddenly exclaimed Ned. "Didn't you see something moving then."
"By that big dead tree."
Tom took a look through a pair of field glasses, while Ned steered the aeroplane. Then the young inventor cried:
"It's all right. It's one of the giants, but I can't tell which one. Ned, I believe they're hiding because they're afraid of us. They've never seen an aeroplane in action before. I'm going down."
Quickly and gracefully the Lark was volplaned to a level place near the dead tree. No one was in sight, and Tom, after looking about, called:
"Tola! Koku! Where are you? It is I, Tom Swift! We have escaped! Where are you? Don't be afraid!"
There was a moment's silence, and then two big forms rushed from the dense bushes, one of them--Koku--advancing to Tom, and catching him up in what was meant for a loving hug.
"Oh, I say now, Koku!" cried the young inventor, with a laugh. "I've got ribs, you know. Easy on that squeeze!"
The two giant twins laughed too, and they were immensely pleased to see their friends again, both talking at once and so fast that not even the circus man could catch what they said.
"Have you got the mules?" asked Tom, for he knew that much depended on the animals. "Is everything all right?"
"All right," answered Koku, the talk being conducted in the language of the giants of which Tom was now fairly a master when it was spoken slowly. Then the brothers explained that they had gotten safely away, had gathered up the mules, and with a supply of food, had hidden the beasts in a nearby valley. The giant twins were waiting for Tom to arrive, but, though they had seen the areoplanes in the hut they had no idea that it could fly so nearly like a bird, and when they saw it hovering over them they had become frightened, and hidden, until Tom's voice had reassured them.
"Well, get the animals," advised Tom, after he had told of the fight of the night before, and the escape. "I'll go find the others and we'll start from here. Then we'll hike for the United States as fast as we can."
Mr. Damon, Eradicate and the circus man were soon brought to the place where the giant brothers had made their camp, and it was decided to remain there a few days until the aeroplane could be taken apart for transportation, for Tom had no idea of abandoning it. Of course it could not be packed up very well, as there were no boxes or bales at hand. But it was made small enough so that the parts could be slung across the backs of several mules, there being a number of the pack animals available, some being the same ones Tom had purchased after his native escort had deserted him.
It was the morning they had decided to begin their march for the coast. Everything was in readiness, they had some food, and with the shotguns and the electric rifles which they had brought along, they could get game. All their other things, save a few necessaries, had been left behind. Eradicate, as he had always done, rode his mule up beside Tom, to look after his young master.
Suddenly Koku, who seemed to have become very fond of Tom, strode forward and took his place on the other side of the mule ridden by the young inventor.
"Me stay by you," he said with a grin on his big face. "Me like you! Me take care of you, Tom--be your servant. Him too old," and he motioned to Eradicate.
"Eh! What's dat yo' done said?" gasped the colored man. "Me too old? Looky heah, giant man, I'd hab yo' know dat I's been in de Swift fambly a good many years, an' I's jest as spry as I eber was. I kin look after Massa Tom as good as eber. Now yo' git back where yo' belongs, giant man, an' doan't let me heah no mo' ob dat foolishness talk. Nobody waits on Massa Tom Swift but me. Does yo' heah dat, giant man?"
"Me Tom's man!" exclaimed the big fellow, and in fairly good English. Tom laughed. He had no idea the giant had picked up any words.
"Go on away!" cried Eradicate.
Koku gave the colored man one look, then, with a good natured grin on his face, he reached over one hand, calmly lifted Eradicate from his mule and set him on the ground. Then, with a push, he shoved the mule galloping ahead, and took his place at the side of the young inventor.
"Well, what do you know about that?" gasped Ned.
"Bless my coffee cup!" cried Mr. Damon.
Eradicate stood still for a moment, gazing first at his master and then at the big being who had so ruthlessly plucked him from the mule's back, as easily as he would have lifted a child. Then Eradicate, with a trace of tears in his eyes, stretched forth his hands toward Tom, and turned aside. That was too much for our hero.
With one leap he was off his animal, and the next minute he had his arms around the faithful old colored man.
"By Jove, Rad!" cried Tom, and his own eyes were not dry. "I'm not going to be deserted by you in that way. You're just the same as ever to me, giant or no giant, and don't you forget it!" and he patted the old man on the back affectionately.
"Praise de Lord fo' heahin' yo' say dat, Massa Tom," gasped Eradicate. "Praise de dear Lord!"
And then, knowing that he still held a place in his young master's heart, the colored man was content. And from then on he rode on one side of Tom, while the giant, Koku, strode along on the other. He had established himself as Tom's bodyguard and even though Eradicate insisted on remaining, Koku would not go away.
"I guess I'll have to keep 'em both," said Tom, with a grin, "but I'm going to change Koku's name."
"What are you going to call him?" asked Ned.
"Let's see, what month is this?"
"August," said Mr. Damon.
"Then August is his name!" exclaimed Tom. "Koku sounds too much like a cocoanut cake. Here, August, shift that package on the white mule," he called, "it's cutting her back," and the giant, with a pleased grin, did as he was bid. And August he was called from then on.
But my story is getting too long, so I must bring it to a close. And really there is not much to tell. The march back to the coast was full of hardships, danger and difficulties, but they accomplished it. The two giants seemed glad that they had left their own country behind and they were simple and affectionate beings. Tom made up his mind he would let the circus man have one and keep the other for his personal attendant.
They traveled by day, and slept at night, shooting game as they needed it. Several times they narrowly escaped getting mixed up in the native conflicts. Tom had one striking evidence of his giant servant's usefulness. One day he was stalking a small beast, like a deer, when, from a tree overhead, a jaguar sprang down at him. But Koku--I beg his pardon--August was at hand, and, like Sampson of old, the giant slew the beast bare-handed, choking it to death.
In fine time our friends reached a native town and the wonder caused by the giants was no less than the amusement of the big men at the things they saw. They wondered more when they got to a city, and saw more marvels of the white man's progress.
Then Tom and his friends reached the coast, and took a steamer for New York. The giants created a great sensation, the more when it was known that Tom intended to keep one for himself. With this arrangement Mr. Preston agreed, for he only wanted one as an attraction.
"Couldn't have done it better myself!" the circus proprietor said to Tom when he heard the story, and this was high praise from Mr. Preston.
"And you rescued old Jake, too! Well, well! Couldn't have done it better myself! I really coudn't!"
"I wonder how our old enemy Delby made out?" asked Mr. Poddington. They heard later that he was driven from giant land, not even being allowed to take a boy as a specimen. He had worked on the "tip" Andy Foger had given Mr. Waydell, but it failed. When Tom escaped, the king confiscated all the things in the hut, and he was so taken up with the novelties that he paid no more attention to the circus agent, who had all his trouble, plotting and scheming against Tom for his pains.
"A giant in the house!" cried Mrs. Baggert, when Tom got home with August. "I never heard of such a thing in all my life! Where will he sleep? Not a bed is big enough!"
"We'll give him two beds then," laughed Tom.
And so they did, and August was immensely pleased with his new life. He proved to be very useful, and readily adapted himself to civilized ways.
Tola, the other giant, made a big sensation when exhibited, and Mr. Preston said he was well worth the fifteen thousand dollars he had cost.
"Well, Tom, what next?" asked Ned one day, when they had been home several weeks and had told their story over and over again.
"No where!" exclaimed Tom. "I'm going to take a long rest."
But Tom Swift wasn't that kind of a young man, and he was soon active again. If you care to learn more of his doings you may do so in the next volume of this series, to be called, "Tom Swift and His Electric Camera; Or Thrilling Adventures While Taking Moving Pictures."
And now, for a time, we will take leave of the young inventor and his new giant servant, to meet them again a little later.
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