TOM SWIFT AND HIS SUBMARINE BOAT
Under the Ocean for Sunken Treasure
I News of a Treasure Wreck II Finishing the Submarine III Mr. Berg Is Astonished IV Tom Is Imprisoned V Mr. Berg Is Suspicious VI Turning the Tables VII Mr. Damon Will Go VIII Another Treasure Expedition IX Captain Weston's Advent X Trial of the Submarine XI On the Ocean Bed XII For a Breath of Air XIII Off for the Treasure XIV In the Diving Suits XV At the Tropical Island XVI "We'll Race You For It!" XVII The Race XVIII The Electric Gun XIX Captured XX Doomed to Death XXI The Escape XXII At the Wreck XXIII Attacked by Sharks XXIV Ramming the Wreck XXV Home with the Gold
TOM SWIFT AND HIS SUBMARINE BOAT
News of a Treasure Wreck
There was a rushing, whizzing, throbbing noise in the air. A great body, like that of some immense bird, sailed along, casting a grotesque shadow on the ground below. An elderly man, who Was seated on the porch of a large house, started to his feet in alarm.
"Gracious goodness! What was that, Mrs. Baggert?" he called to a motherly-looking woman who stood in the doorway. "What happened?"
"Nothing much, Mr. Swift," was the calm reply "I think that was Tom and Mr. Sharp in their airship, that's all. I didn't see it, but the noise sounded like that of the Red Cloud."
"Of course! To be sure!" exclaimed Mr. Barton Swift, the well-known inventor, as he started down the path in order to get a good view of the air, unobstructed by the trees. "Yes, there they are," he added. "That's the airship, but I didn't expect them back so soon. They must have made good time from Shopton. I wonder if anything can be the matter that they hurried so?"
He gazed aloft toward where a queerly-shaped machine was circling about nearly five hundred feet in the air, for the craft, after Swooping down close to the house, had ascended and was now hovering just above the line of breakers that marked the New Jersey seacoast, where Mr. Swift had taken up a temporary residence.
"Don't begin worrying, Mr. Swift," advised Mrs. Baggert, the housekeeper. "You've got too much to do, if you get that new boat done, to worry."
"That's so. I must not worry. But I wish Tom and Mr. Sharp would land, for I want to talk to them."
As if the occupants of the airship had heard the words of the aged inventor, they headed their craft toward earth. The combined aeroplane and dirigible balloon, a most wonderful traveler of the air, swung around, and then, with the deflection rudders slanted downward, came on with a rush. When near the landing place, just at the side of the house, the motor was stopped, and the gas, with a hissing noise, rushed into the red aluminum container. This immediately made the ship more buoyant and it landed almost as gently as a feather.
No sooner had the wheels which formed the lower part of the craft touched the ground than there leaped from the cabin of the Red Cloud a young man.
"Well, dad!" he exclaimed. "Here we are again, safe and sound. Made a record, too. Touched ninety miles an hour at times—didn't we, Mr. Sharp?"
"That's what," agreed a tall, thin, dark-complexioned man, who followed Tom Swift more leisurely in his exit from the cabin. Mr. Sharp, a veteran aeronaut, stopped to fasten guy ropes from the airship to strong stakes driven into the ground.
"And we'd have done better, only we struck a hard wind against us about two miles up in the air, which delayed us," went on Tom. "Did you hear us coming, dad?"
"Yes, and it startled him," put in Mrs. Baggert. "I guess he wasn't expecting you."
"Oh, well, I shouldn't have been so alarmed, only I was thinking deeply about a certain change I am going to make in the submarine, Tom. I was day-dreaming, I think, when your ship whizzed through the air. But tell me, did you find everything all right at Shopton? No signs of any of those scoundrels of the Happy Harry gang having been around?" and Mr. Swift looked anxiously at his son.
"Not a sign, dad," replied Tom quickly. "Everything was all right. We brought the things you wanted. They're in the airship. Oh, but it was a fine trip. I'd like to take another right out to sea."
"Not now, Tom," said his father. "I want you to help me. And I need Mr. Sharp's help, too. Get the things out of the car, and we'll go to the shop."
"First I think we'd better put the airship away," advised Mr. Sharp. "I don't just like the looks of the weather, and, besides, if we leave the ship exposed we'll be sure to have a crowd around sooner or later, and we don't want that."
"No, indeed," remarked the aged inventor hastily. "I don't want people prying around the submarine shed. By all means put the airship away, and then come into the shop."
In spite of its great size the aeroplane was easily wheeled along by Tom and Mr. Sharp, for the gas in the container made it so buoyant that it barely touched the earth. A little more of the powerful vapor and the Red Cloud would have risen by itself. In a few minutes the wonderful craft, of which my readers have been told in detail in a previous volume, was safely housed in a large tent, which was securely fastened.
Mr. Sharp and Tom, carrying some bundles which they had taken from the car, or cabin, of the craft, went toward a large shed, which adjoined the house that Mr. Swift had hired for the season at the seashore. They found the lad's father standing before a great shape, which loomed up dimly in the semi-darkness of the building. It was like an immense cylinder, pointed at either end, and here and there were openings, covered with thick glass, like immense, bulging eyes. From the number of tools and machinery all about the place, and from the appearance of the great cylinder itself, it was easy to see that it was only partly completed.
"Well, how goes it, dad?" asked the youth, as he deposited his bundle on a bench. "Do you think you can make it work?"
"I think so, Tom. The positive and negative plates are giving me considerable trouble, though. But I guess we can solve the problem. Did you bring me the galvanometer?"
"Yes, and all the other things," and the young inventor proceeded to take the articles from the bundles he carried.
Mr. Swift looked them over carefully, while Tom walked about examining the submarine, for such was the queer craft that was contained in the shed. He noted that some progress had been made on it since he had left the seacoast several days before to make a trip to Shopton, in New York State, where the Swift home was located, after some tools and apparatus that his father wanted to obtain from his workshop there.
"You and Mr. Jackson have put on several new plates," observed the lad after a pause.
"Yes," admitted his father. "Garret and I weren't idle, were we, Garret?" and he nodded to the aged engineer, who had been in his employ for many years.
"No; and I guess we'll soon have her in the water, Tom, now that you and Mr. Sharp are here to help us," replied Garret Jackson.
"We ought to have Mr. Damon here to bless the submarine and his liver and collar buttons a few times," put in Mr. Sharp, who brought in another bundle. He referred to an eccentric individual Who had recently made an airship voyage with himself and Tom, Mr. Damon's peculiarity being to use continually such expressions as: "Bless my soul! Bless my liver!"
"Well, I'll be glad when we can make a trial trip," went on Tom. "I've traveled pretty fast on land with my motorcycle, and we certainly have hummed through the air. Now I want to see how it feels to scoot along under water."
"Well, if everything goes well we'll be in position to make a trial trip inside of a month," remarked the aged inventor. "Look here, Mr. Sharp, I made a change in the steering gear, which I'd like you and Tom to consider."
The three walked around to the rear of the odd-looking structure, if an object shaped like a cigar can be said to have a front and rear, and the inventor, his son, and the aeronaut were soon deep in a discussion of the technicalities connected with under-water navigation.
A little later they went into the house, in response to a summons from the supper bell, vigorously rung by Mrs. Baggert. She was not fond of waiting with meals, and even the most serious problem of mechanics was, in her estimation, as nothing compared with having the soup get cold, or the possibility of not having the meat done to a turn.
The meal was interspersed with remarks about the recent airship flight of Tom and Mr. Sharp, and discussions about the new submarine. This talk went on even after the table was cleared off and the three had adjourned to the sitting-room. There Mr. Swift brought out pencil and paper, and soon he and Mr. Sharp were engrossed in calculating the pressure per square inch of sea water at a depth of three miles.
"Do you intend to go as deep as that?" asked Tom, looking up from a paper he was reading.
"Possibly," replied his father; and his son resumed his perusal of the sheet.
"Now," went on the inventor to the aeronaut, "I have another plan. In addition to the positive and negative plates which will form our motive power, I am going to install forward and aft propellers, to use in case of accident."
"I say, dad! Did you see this?" suddenly exclaimed Tom, getting up from his chair, and holding his finger on a certain place in the page of the paper.
"Did I see what?" asked Mr. Swift.
"Why, this account of the sinking of the treasure ship."
"Treasure ship? No. Where?"
"Listen," went on Tom. "I'll read it: 'Further advices from Montevideo, Uruguay, South America, state that all hope has been given up of recovering the steamship Boldero, which foundered and went down off that coast in the recent gale. Not only has all hope been abandoned of raising the vessel, but it is feared that no part of the three hundred thousand dollars in gold bullion which she carried will ever be recovered. Expert divers who were taken to the scene of the wreck state that the depth of water, and the many currents existing there, due to a submerged shoal, preclude any possibility of getting at the hull. The bullion, it is believed, was to have been used to further the interests of a certain revolutionary faction, but it seems likely that they will have to look elsewhere for the sinews of war. Besides the bullion the ship also carried several cases of rifles, it is stated, and other valuable cargo. The crew and what few passengers the Boldero carried were, contrary to the first reports, all saved by taking to the boats. It appears that some of the ship's plates were sprung by the stress in which she labored in a storm, and she filled and sank gradually.' There! what do you think of that, dad?" cried Tom as he finished.
"What do I think of it? Why, I think it's too bad for the revolutionists, Tom, of course."
"No; I mean about the treasure being still on board the ship. What about that?"
"Well, it's likely to stay there, if the divers can't get at it. Now, Mr. Sharp, about the propellers—"
"Wait, dad!" cried Tom earnestly.
"Why, Tom, what's the matter?" asked Mr. Swift in some surprise.
"How soon before we can finish our submarine?" went on Tom, not answering the question.
"About a month. Why?"
"Why? Dad, why can't we have a try for that treasure? It ought to be comparatively easy to find that sunken ship off the coast of Uruguay. In our submarine we can get close up to it, and in the new diving suits you invented we can get at that gold bullion. Three hundred thousand dollars! Think of it, dad! Three hundred thousand dollars! We could easily claim all of it, since the owners have abandoned it, but we would be satisfied with half. Let's hurry up, finish the submarine, and have a try for it."
"But, Tom, you forget that I am to enter my new ship in the trials for the prize offered by the United States Government."
"How much is the prize if you win it?" asked Tom.
"Fifty thousand dollars."
"Well, here's a chance to make three times that much at least, and maybe more. Dad, let the Government prize go, and try for the treasure. Will you?"
Tom looked eagerly at his father, his eyes shining with anticipation. Mr. Swift was not a quick thinker, but the idea his son had proposed made an impression on him. He reached out his hand for the paper in which the young inventor had seen the account of the sunken treasure. Slowly he read it through. Then he passed it to Mr. Sharp.
"What do you think of it?" he asked of the aeronaut
"There's a possibility," remarked the balloonist "We might try for it. We can easily go three miles down, and it doesn't lie as deeply as that, if this account is true. Yes, we might try for it. But we'd have to omit the Government contests."
"Will you, dad?" asked Tom again.
Mr. Swift considered a moment longer.
"Yes, Tom, I will," he finally decided. "Going after the treasure will be likely to afford us a better test of the submarine than would any Government tests. We'll try to locate the sunken Boldero."
"Hurrah!" cried the lad, taking the paper from Mr. Sharp and waving it in the air. "That's the stuff! Now for a search for the submarine treasure!"
Finishing the Submarine
"What's the matter?" cried Mrs. Baggert, the housekeeper, hurrying in from the kitchen, where she was washing the dishes. "Have you seen some of those scoundrels who robbed you, Mr. Swift? If you have, the police down here ought to—"
"No, it's nothing like that," explained Mr. Swift. "Tom has merely discovered in the paper an account of a sunken treasure ship, and he wants us to go after it, down under the ocean."
"Oh, dear! Some more of Captain Kidd's hidden hoard, I suppose?" ventured the housekeeper. "Don't you bother with it, Mr. Swift. I had a cousin once, and he got set in the notion that he knew where that pirate's treasure was. He spent all the money he had and all he could borrow digging for it, and he never found a penny. Don't waste your time on such foolishness. It's bad enough to be building airships and submarines without going after treasure." Mrs. Baggert spoke with the freedom of an old friend rather than a hired housekeeper, but she had been in the family ever since Tom's mother died, when he was a baby, and she had many privileges.
"Oh, this isn't any of Kidd's treasure," Tom assured her. "If we get it, Mrs. Baggert, I'll buy you a diamond ring."
"Humph!" she exclaimed, as Tom began to hug her in boyish fashion. "I guess I'll have to buy all the diamond rings I want, if I have to depend on your treasure for them," and she went back to the kitchen.
"Well," went on Mr. Swift after a pause, "if we are going into the treasure-hunting business, Tom, we'll have to get right to work. In the first place, we must find out more about this ship, and just where it was sunk."
"I can do that part," said Mr. Sharp. "I know some sea captains, and they can put me on the track of locating the exact spot. In fact, it might not be a bad idea to take an expert navigator with us. I can manage in the air all right, but I confess that working out a location under water is beyond me."
"Yes, an old sea captain wouldn't be a bad idea, by any means," conceded Mr. Swift. "Well, if you'll attend to that detail, Mr. Sharp, Tom, Mr. Jackson and I will finish the submarine. Most of the work is done, however, and it only remains to install the engine and motors. Now, in regard to the negative and positive electric plates, I'd like your opinion, Tom."
For Tom Swift was an inventor, second in ability only to his father, and his advice was often sought by his parent on matters of electrical construction, for the lad had made a specialty of that branch of science.
While father and son were deep in a discussion of the apparatus of the submarine, there will be an opportunity to make the reader a little better acquainted with them. Those of you who have read the previous volumes of this series do not need to be told who Tom Swift is. Others, however, may be glad to have a proper introduction to him.
Tom Swift lived with his father, Barton Swift, in the village of Shopton, New York. The Swift home was on the outskirts of the town, and the large house was surrounded by a number of machine shops, in which father and son, aided by Garret Jackson, the engineer, did their experimental and constructive work. Their house was not far from Lake Carlopa, a fairly large body of water, on which Tom often speeded his motor-boat.
In the first volume of this series, entitled "Tom Swift and His Motor-Cycle," it was told how he became acquainted with Mr. Wakefield Damon, who suffered an accident while riding one of the speedy machines. The accident disgusted Mr. Damon with motor-cycles, and Tom secured it for a low price. He had many adventures on it, chief among which was being knocked senseless and robbed of a valuable patent model belonging to his father, which he was taking to Albany. The attack was committed by a gang known as the Happy Harry gang, who were acting at the instigation of a syndicate of rich men, who wanted to secure control of a certain patent turbine engine which Mr. Swift had invented.
Tom set out in pursuit of the thieves, after recovering from their attack, and had a strenuous time before he located them.
In the second volume, entitled "Tom Swift and His Motor-Boat," there was related our hero's adventures in a fine craft which was recovered from the thieves and sold at auction. There was a mystery connected with the boat, and for a long time Tom could not solve it. He was aided, however, by his chum, Ned Newton, who worked in the Shopton Bank, and also by Mr. Damon and Eradicate Sampson, an aged colored whitewasher, who formed quite an attachment for Tom.
In his motor-boat Tom had more than one race with Andy Foger, a rich lad of Shopton, who was a sort of bully. He had red hair and squinty eyes, and was as mean in character as he was in looks. He and his cronies, Sam Snedecker and Pete Bailey, made trouble for Tom, chiefly because Tom managed to beat Andy twice in boat races.
It was while in his motor-boat, Arrow, that Tom formed the acquaintance of John Sharp, a veteran balloonist. While coming down Lake Carlopa on the way to the Swift home, which had been entered by thieves, Tom, his father and Ned Newton, saw a balloon on fire over the lake. Hanging from a trapeze on it was Mr. Sharp, who had made an ascension from a fair ground. By hard work on the part of Tom and his friends the aeronaut was saved, and took up his residence with the Swifts.
His advent was most auspicious, for Tom and his father were then engaged in perfecting an airship, and Mr. Sharp was able to lend them his skill, so that the craft was soon constructed.
In the third volume, called "Tom Swift and His Airship," there was set down the doings of the young inventor, Mr. Sharp and Mr. Damon on a trip above the clouds. They undertook it merely for pleasure, but they encountered considerable danger, before they completed it, for they nearly fell into a blazing forest once, and were later fired at by a crowd of excited people. This last act was to effect their capture, for they were taken for a gang of bank robbers, and this was due directly to Andy Foger.
The morning after Tom and his friends started on their trip in the air, the Shopton Bank was found to have been looted of seventy-five thousand dollars. Andy Foger at once told the police that Tom Swift had taken the money, and when asked how he knew this, he said he had seen Tom hanging around the bank the night before the vault was burst open, and that the young inventor had some burglar tools in his possession. Warrants were at once sworn out for Tom and Mr. Damon, who was also accused of being one of the robbers, and a reward of five thousand dollars was offered.
Tom, Mr. Damon and Mr. Sharp sailed on, all unaware of this, and unable to account for being fired upon, until they accidentally read in the paper an account of their supposed misdeeds. They lost no time in starting back home, and on, the way got on the track of the real bank robbers, who were members of the Happy Harry gang.
How the robbers were captured in an exciting raid, how Tom recovered most of the stolen money, and how he gave Andy Foger a deserved thrashing for giving a false clue was told of, and there was an account of a race in which the Red Cloud (as the airship was called) took part, as well as details of how Tom and his friends secured the reward, which Andy Foger hoped to collect.
Those of you who care to know how the Red Cloud was constructed, and how she behaved in the air, even during accidents and when struck by lightning, may learn by reading the third volume, for the airship was one of the most successful ever constructed.
When the craft was finished, and the navigators were ready to start on their first long trip, Mr. Swift was asked to go with them. He declined, but would not tell why, until Tom, pressing him for an answer, learned that his father was planning a submarine boat, which he hoped to enter in some trials for Government prizes. Mr. Swift remained at home to work on this submarine, while his son and Mr. Sharp were sailing above the clouds.
On their return, however, and after the bank mystery had been cleared up, Tom and Mr. Sharp, aided Mr. Swift in completing the submarine, until, when the present story opens, it needed but little additional work to make the craft ready for the water.
Of course it had to be built near the sea, as it would have been impossible to transport it overland from Shopton. So, before the keel was laid, Mr. Swift rented a large cottage at a seaside place on the New Jersey coast and there, after, erecting a large shed, the work on the Advance, as the under-water ship was called, was begun.
It was soon to be launched in a large creek that extended in from the ocean and had plenty of water at high tide. Tom and Mr. Sharp made several trips back and forth from Shopton in their airship, to see that all was safe at home and occasionally to get needed tools and supplies from the shops, for not all the apparatus could be moved from Shopton to the coast.
It was when returning from one of these trips that Tom brought with him the paper containing an account of the wreck of the Boldero and the sinking of the treasure she carried.
Until late that night the three fortune-hunters discussed various matters.
"We'll hurry work on the ship," said Mr. Swift it length. "Tom, I wonder if your friend, Mr. Damon, would care to try how it seems under Water? He stood the air trip fairly well."
"I'll write and ask him," answered the lad. "I'm sure he'll go."
Securing, a few days later, the assistance of two mechanics, whom he knew he could trust, for as yet the construction of the Advance was a secret, Mr. Swift prepared to rush work on the submarine, and for the next three weeks there were busy times in the shed next to the seaside cottage. So busy, in fact, were Tom and Mr. Sharp, that they only found opportunity for one trip in the airship, and that was to get some supplies from the shops at home.
"Well," remarked Mr. Swift one night, at the close of a hard day's work, "another week will see our craft completed. Then we will put it in the water and see how it floats, and whether it submerges as I hope it does. But come on, Tom. I want to lock up. I'm very tired to-night."
"All right, dad," answered the young inventor coming from the darkened rear of the shop. "I just want to—"
Ne paused suddenly, and appeared to be listening. Then he moved softly back to where he had come from.
"What's the matter?" asked his father in a whisper. "What's up, Tom?"
The lad did not answer Mr. Swift, with a worried look on his face, followed his son. Mr. Sharp stood in the door of the shop.
"I thought I heard some one moving around back here," went on Tom quietly.
"Some one in this shop!" exclaimed the aged inventor excitedly. "Some one trying to steal my ideas again! Mr. Sharp, come here! Bring that rifle! We'll teach these scoundrels a lesson!"
Tom quickly darted hack to the extreme rear of the building. There was a scuffle, and the next minute Tom cried out:
"What are you doing here?"
"Ha! I beg your pardon," replied a voice. "I am looking for Mr. Barton Swift."
"My father," remarked Tom. "But that's a queer place to look for him. He's up front. Father, here's a man who wishes to see you," he called.
"Yes, I strolled in, and seeing no one about I went to the rear of the place," the voice went on. "I hope I haven't transgressed."
"We were busy on the other side of the shop, I guess," replied Tom, and he looked suspiciously at the man who emerged from the darkness into the light from a window. "I beg your pardon for grabbing you the way I did," went on the lad, "but I thought you were one of a gang of men we've been having trouble with."
"Oh, that's all right," continued the man easily. "I know Mr. Swift, and I think he will remember me. Ah, Mr. Swift, how do you do?" he added quickly, catching sight of Tom's father, who, with Mr. Sharp, was coming to meet the lad.
"Addison Berg!" exclaimed the aged inventor as he saw the man's face more plainly. "What are you doing here?"
"I came to see you," replied the man. "May I have a talk with you privately?"
"I—I suppose so," assented Mr. Swift nervously. "Come into the house."
Mr. Berg left Tom's side and advanced to where Mr. Swift was standing. Together the two emerged from the now fast darkening shop and went toward the house.
"Who is he?" asked Mr. Sharp of the young inventor in a whisper.
"I don't know," replied the lad; "but, whoever he is, dad seems afraid of him. I'm going to keep my eyes open."
Mr. Berg is Astonished
Following his father and the stranger whom the aged inventor had addressed as Mr. Berg, Tom and Mr. Sharp entered the house, the lad having first made sure that Garret Jackson was on guard in the shop that contained the sub marine.
"Now," said Mr. Swift to the newcomer, "I am at your service. What is it you wish?"
"In the first place, let me apologize for having startled you and your friends," began the man. "I had no idea of sneaking into your workshop, but I had just arrived here, and seeing the doors open I went in. I heard no one about, and I wandered to the back of the place. There I happened to stumble over a board—"
"And I heard you," interrupted Tom.
"Is this one of your employees?" asked Mr. Berg in rather frigid tones.
"That is my son," replied Mr. Swift.
"Oh, I beg your pardon." The man's manner changed quickly. "Well, I guess you did hear me, young man. I didn't intend to hark my shins the way I did, either. You must have taken me for a burglar or a sneak thief."
"I have been very much bothered by a gang of unscrupulous men," said Mr. Swift, "and I suppose Tom thought it was some of them sneaking around again."
"That's what I did," added the lad. "I wasn't going to have any one steal the secret of the submarine if I could help it."
"Quite right! Quite right!" exclaimed Mr. Berg. "But my purpose was an open one. As you know, Mr. Swift, I represent the firm of Bentley & Eagert, builders of submarine boats and torpedoes. They heard that you were constructing a craft to take part in the competitive prize tests of the United States Government, and they asked me to come and see you to learn when your ship would be ready. Ours is completed, but we recognize that it will be for the best interests of all concerned if there are a number of contestants, and my firm did not want to send in their entry until they knew that you were about finished with your ship. How about it? Are you ready to compete?"
"Yes," said Mr. Swift slowly. "We are about ready. My craft needs a few finishing touches, and then it will be ready to launch."
"Then we may expect a good contest on your part," suggested Mr. Berg.
"Well," began the aged inventor, "I don't know about that."
"What's that?" exclaimed Mr. Berg.
"I said I wasn't quite sure that we would compete," went on Mr. Swift. "You see, when I first got this idea for a submarine boat I had it in mind to try for the Government prize of fifty thousand dollars."
"That's what we want, too," interrupted Mr. Berg with a smile.
"But," went on Tom's father, "since then certain matters have come up, and I think, on the whole, that we'll not compete for the prize after all."
"Not compete for the prize?" almost shouted the agent for Bentley & Eagert. "Why, the idea! You ought to compete. It is good for the trade. We think we have a very fine craft, and probably we would beat you in the tests, but—"
"I wouldn't be too sure of that," put in Tom. "You have only seen the outside of our boat. The inside is better yet."
"Ah, I have no doubt of that," spoke Mr. Berg, "but we have been at the business longer than you have, and have had more experience. Still we welcome competition. But I am very much surprised that you are not going to compete for the prize, Mr. Swift. Very much surprised, indeed! You see, I came down from Philadelphia to arrange so that we could both enter our ships at the same time. I understand there is another firm of submarine boat builders who are going to try for the prize, and I want to arrange a date that will be satisfactory to all. I am greatly astonished that you are not going to compete."
"Well, we were going to," said Mr. Swift, "only we have changed our minds, that's all. My son and I have other plans."
"May I ask what they are?" questioned Mr. Berg.
"You may," exclaimed Tom quickly; "but I don't believe we can tell you. They're a secret," he added more cordially.
"Oh, I see," retorted Mr. Berg. "Well, of course I don't wish to penetrate any of your secrets, but I hoped we could contest together for the Government prize. It is worth trying for I assure you—fifty thousand dollars. Besides, there is the possibility of selling a number of submarines to the United States. It's a fine prize."
"But the one we are after is a bigger one," Cried Tom impetuously, and the moment he had spoken the wished he could recall the words.
"Eh? What's that?" exclaimed Mr. Berg. "You don't mean to say another government has offered a larger prize? If I had known that I would not have let my firm enter into the competition for the bonus offered by the United States. Please tell me."
"I'm sorry," went on Tom more soberly. "I shouldn't have spoken. Mr. Berg, the plans of my father and myself are such that we can't reveal them now. We are going to try for a prize, but not in competition with you. It's an entirely different matter."
"Well, I guess you'll find that the firm of Bentley & Eagert are capable of trying for any prizes that are offered," boasted the agent. "We may be competitors yet."
"I don't believe so," replied Mr. Swift
"We may," repeated Mr. Berg. "And if we do, please remember that we will show no mercy. Our boats are the best."
"And may the best boat win," interjected Mr. Sharp. "That's all we ask. A fair field and no favors."
"Of course," spoke the agent coldly. "Is this another son of yours?" he asked.
"No but a good friend," replied the aged inventor. "No, Mr. Berg, we won't compete this time. You may tell your firm so."
"Very good," was the other's stiff reply. "Then I will bid you good night. We shall carry off the Government prize, but permit me to add that I am very much astonished, very much indeed, that you do not try for the prize. From what I have seen of your submarine you have a very good one, almost as good, in some respects, as ours. I bid you good night," and with a bow the man left the room and hurried away from the house.
Tom is Imprisoned
"Well, I must say he's a cool one," remarked Tom, as the echoes of Mr. Berg's steps died away. "The idea of thinking his boat better than ours! I don't like that man, dad. I'm suspicious of him. Do you think he came here to steal some of our ideas?"
"No, I hardly believe so, my son. But how did you discover him?"
"Just as you saw, dad. I heard a noise and went back there to investigate. I found him sneaking around, looking at the electric propeller plates. I went to grab him just as he stumbled over a hoard. At first I thought it was one of the old gang. I'm almost sure he was trying to discover something."
"No, Tom. The firm he works for are good business men, and they would not countenance anything like that. They are heartless competitors, however, and if they saw a legitimate chance to get ahead of me and take advantage, they would do it. But they would not sneak in to steal my ideas. I feel sure of that. Besides, they have a certain type of submarine which they think is the best ever invented, and they would hardly change at this late day. They feel sure of winning the Government prize, and I'm just as glad we're not going to have a contest."
"Do you think our boat is better than theirs?"
"Much better, in many respects."
"I don't like that man Berg, though," went on Tom.
"Nor do I," added his father. "There is something strange about him. He was very anxious that I should compete. Probably he thought his firm's boat would go so far ahead of ours that they would get an extra bonus. But I'm glad he didn't see our new method of propulsion. That is the principal improvement in the Advance over other types of submarines. Well, another week and we will be ready for the test."
"Have you known Mr. Berg long, dad?"
"Not very. I met him in Washington when I was in the patent office. He was taking out papers on a submarine for his firm at the same time I got mine for the Advance. It is rather curious that he should come all the way here from Philadelphia, merely to see if I was going to compete. There is something strange about it, something that I can't understand."
The time was to come when Mr. Swift and his son were to get at the bottom of Mr. Berg's reasons, and they learned to their sorrow that he had penetrated some of their secrets.
Before going to bed that night Tom and Mr. Sharp paid a visit to the shed where the submarine was resting on the ways, ready for launching. They found Mr. Jackson on guard and the engineer said that no one had been around. Nor was anything found disturbed.
"It certainly is a great machine," remarked the lad as he looked up at the cigar-shaped bulk towering over his head. "Dad has outdone himself this trip."
"It looks all right," commented Mr. Sharp. "Whether it will work is another question."
"Yes, we can't tell until it's in the water," con ceded Tom. "But I hope it does. Dad has spent much time and money on it."
The Advance was, as her name indicated, much in advance of previous submarines. There was not so much difference in outward construction as there was in the means of propulsion and in the manner in which the interior and the machinery were arranged.
The submarine planned by Mr. Swift and Tom jointly, and constructed by them, with the aid of Mr. Sharp and Mr. Jackson, was shaped like a Cigar, over one hundred feet long and twenty feet in diameter at the thickest part. It was divided into many compartments, all water-tight, so that if one or even three were flooded the ship would still be useable.
Buoyancy was provided for by having several tanks for the introduction of compressed air, and there was an emergency arrangement so that a collapsible aluminum container could be distended and filled with a powerful gas. This was to be used if, by any means, the ship was disabled on the bottom of the ocean. The container could be expanded and filled, and would send the Advance to the surface.
Another peculiar feature was that the engine-room, dynamos and other apparatus were all contained amidships. This gave stability to the craft, and also enabled the same engine to operate both shafts and propellers, as well as both the negative forward electrical plates, and the positive rear ones.
These plates were a new idea in submarine construction, and were the outcome of an idea of Mr. Swift, with some suggestions from his son.
The aged inventor did not want to depend on the usual screw propellers for his craft, nor did he want to use a jet of compressed air, shooting out from a rear tube, nor yet a jet of water, by means of which the creature called the squid shoots himself along. Mr. Swift planned to send the Advance along under water by means of electricity.
Certain peculiar plates were built at the forward and aft blunt noses of the submarine. Into the forward plate a negative charge of electricity was sent, and into the one at the rear a positive charge, just as one end of a horseshoe magnet is positive and will repel the north end of a compass needle, while the other pole of a magnet is negative and will attract it. In electricity like repels like, while negative and positive have a mutual attraction for each other.
Mr. Swift figured out that if he could send a powerful current of negative electricity into the forward plate it would pull the boat along, for water is a good conductor of electricity, while if a positive charge was sent into the rear plate it would serve to push the submarine along, and he would thus get a pulling and pushing motion, just as a forward and aft propeller works on some ferry boats.
But the inventor did not depend on these plates alone. There were auxiliary forward and aft propellers of the regular type, so that if the electrical plates did not work, or got out of order, the screws would serve to send the Advance along.
There was much machinery in the submarine There were gasolene motors, since space was too cramped to allow the carrying of coal for boilers. There were dynamos, motors and powerful pumps. Some of these were for air, and some for water. To sink the submarine below the surface large tanks were filled with water. To insure a more sudden descent, deflecting rudders were also used, similar to those on an airship. There were also special air pumps, and one for the powerful gas, which was manufactured on board.
Forward from the engine-room was a cabin, where meals could be served, and where the travelers could remain in the daytime. There was also a small cooking galley, or kitchen, there. Back of the engine-room were the sleeping quarters and the storerooms. The submarine was steered from the forward compartment, and here were also levers, wheels and valves that controlled all the machinery, while a number of dials showed in which direction they were going, how deep they were, and at what speed they were moving, as well as what the ocean pressure was.
On top, forward, was a small conning, or observation tower, with auxiliary and steering and controlling apparatus there. This was to be used when the ship was moving along on the surface of the ocean, or merely with the deck awash. There was a small flat deck surrounding the conning tower and this was available when the craft was on the surface.
There was provision made for leaving the ship when it was on the bed of the ocean. When it was desired to do this the occupants put on diving suits, which were provided with portable oxygen tanks. Then they entered a chamber into which water was admitted until it was equal in pressure to that outside. Then a steel door was opened, and they could step out. To re-enter the ship the operation was reversed. This was not a new feature. In fact, many submarines to-day use it.
At certain places there were thick bull's-eye windows, by means of which the under-water travelers could look out into the ocean through which they were moving. As a defense against the attacks of submarine monsters there was a steel, pointed ram, like a big harpoon. There were also a bow and a stern electrical gun, of which more will be told later.
In addition to ample sleeping accommodations, there were many conveniences aboard the Advance. Plenty of fresh water could be carried, and there was an apparatus for distilling more from the sea water that surrounded the travelers. Compressed air was carried in large tanks, and oxygen could be made as needed. In short, nothing that could add to the comfort or safety of the travelers had been omitted. There was a powerful crane and windlass, which had been installed when Mr. Swift thought his boat might be bought by the Government. This was to be used for raising wrecks or recovering objects from the bottom of the ocean. Ample stores and provisions were to be carried and, once the travelers were shut up in the Advance, they could exist for a month below the surface, providing no accident occurred.
All these things Tom and Mr. Sharp thought of as they looked over the ship before turning in for the night. The craft was made immensely strong to withstand powerful pressure at the bottom of the ocean. The submarine could penetrate to a depth of about three miles. Below that it was dangerous to go, as the awful force would crush the plates, powerful as they were.
"Well, we'll rush things to-morrow and the next day," observed Tom as he prepared to leave the building. "Then we'll soon see if it works."
For the next week there were busy times in the shop near the ocean. Great secrecy was maintained, and though curiosity seekers did stroll along now and then, they received little satisfaction. At first Mr. Swift thought that the visit of Mr. Berg would have unpleasant results, for he feared that the agent would talk about the craft, of which he had so unexpectedly gotten a sight. But nothing seemed to follow from his chance inspection, and it was forgotten.
It was one evening, about a week later, that Tom was alone in the shop. The two mechanics that had been hired to help out in the rush had been let go, and the ship needed but a few adjustments to make it ready for the sea.
"I think I'll just take another look at the water tank valves," said Tom to himself as he prepared to enter the big compartments which received the water ballast. "I want to be sure they work properly and quickly. We've got to depend on them to make us sink when we want to, and, what's more important, to rise to the surface in a hurry. I've got time enough to look them over before dad and Mr. Sharp get back."
Tom entered the starboard tank by means of an emergency sliding door between the big compartments and the main part of the ship. This was closed by a worm and screw gear, and once the ship was in the water would seldom be used.
The young inventor proceeded with his task, carefully inspecting the valves by the light of a lantern he carried. The apparatus seemed to be all right, and Tom was about to leave when a peculiar noise attracted his attention. It was the sound of metal scraping on metal, and the lad's quick and well-trained ear told him it was somewhere about the ship.
He turned to leave the tank, but as he wheeled around his light flashed on a solid wall of steel back of him. The emergency outlet had been closed! He was a prisoner in the water compartment, and he knew, from past experience, that shout as he would, his voice could not be heard ten feet away. His father and Mr. Sharp, as he was aware, had gone to a nearby city for some tools, and Mr. Jackson, the engineer, was temporarily away. Mrs. Baggert, in the house, could not hear his cries.
"I'm locked in!" cried Tom aloud. "The worm gear must have shut of itself. But I don't see how that could be. I've got to get out mighty soon, though, or I'll smother. This tank is airtight, and it won't take me long to breath up all the oxygen there is here. I must get that slide open."
He sought to grasp the steel plate that closed the emergency opening. His fingers slipped over the smooth, polished surface. He was hermetically sealed up—a captive! Blankly he set his lantern down and leaned hopelessly against the wall of the tank.
"I've got to get out," he murmured.
As if in answer to him he heard a voice on the outside, crying:
"There, Tom Swift! I guess I've gotten even with you now! Maybe next time you won't take a reward away from me, and lick me into the bargain. I've got you shut up good and tight, and you'll stay there until I get ready to let you out."
"Andy Foger!" gasped Tom. "Andy Foger sneaked in here and turned the gear. But how did he get to this part of the coast? Andy Foger, you let me out!" shouted the young inventor; and as Andy's mocking laugh came to him faintly through the steel sides of the submarine, the imprisoned lad beat desperately with his hands on the smooth sides of the tank, vainly wondering how his enemy had discovered him.
Mr. Berg is Suspicious
Not for long did the young inventor endeavor to break his way out of the water-ballast tank by striking the heavy sides of it. Tom realized that this was worse than useless. He listened intently, but could hear nothing. Even the retreating footsteps of Andy Foger were inaudible.
"This certainly is a pickle!" exclaimed Tom aloud. "I can't understand how he ever got here. He must have traced us after we went to Shopton in the airship the last time. Then he sneaked in here. Probably he saw me enter, but how could he knew enough to work the worm gear and close the door? Andy has had some experience with machinery, though, and one of the vaults in the bank where his father is a director closed just like this tank. That's very likely how he learned about it. But I've got to do something else besides thinking of that sneak, Andy. I've got to get out of here. Let's see if I can work the gear from inside."
Before he started, almost, Tom knew that it would be impossible. The tank was made to close from the interior of the submarine, and the heavy door, built to withstand the pressure of tons of water, could not be forced except by the proper means.
"No use trying that," concluded the lad, after a tiring attempt to force back the sliding door with his hands. "I've got to call for help."
He shouted until the vibrations in the confined space made his ears ring, and the mere exertion of raising his voice to the highest pitch made his heart beat quickly. Yet there came no response. He hardly expected that there would be any, for with his father and Mr. Sharp away, the engineer absent on an errand, and Mrs. Baggert in the house some distance off, there was no one to hear his calls for help, even if they had been capable of penetrating farther than the extent of the shed, where the under-water craft had been constructed.
"I've got to wait until some of them come out here," thought Tom. "They'll be sure to release me and make a search. Then it will be easy enough to call to them and tell them where I am, once they are inside the shed. But—" He paused, for a horrible fear came over him. "Suppose they should come—too late?" The tank was airtight. There was enough air in it to last for some time, but, sooner or later, it would no longer support life. Already, Tom thought, it seemed oppressive, though probably that was his imagination.
"I must get out!" he repeated frantically. "I'll die in here soon."
Again he tried to shove back the steel door. Then he repeated his cries until he was weary. No one answered him. He fancied once he could hear footsteps in the shed, and thought, perhaps, it was Andy, come back to gloat over him. Then Tom knew the red-haired coward would not dare venture back. We must do Andy the justice to say that he never realized that he was endangering Tom's life. The bully had no idea the tank was airtight when he closed it. He had seen Tom enter and a sudden whim came to him to revenge himself.
But that did not help the young inventor any. There was no doubt about it now—the air was becoming close. Tom had been imprisoned nearly two hours, and as he was a healthy, strong lad, he required plenty of oxygen. There was certainly less than there had been in the tank. His head began to buzz, and there was a ringing in his ears.
Once more he fell upon his knees, and his fingers sought the small projections of the gear on the inside of the door He could no more budge the mechanism than a child could open a burglar-proof vault.
"It's no use," he moaned, and he sprawled at full length on the floor of the tank, for there the air was purer. As he did so his fingers touched something. He started as they closed around the handle of a big monkey wrench. It was one he had brought into the place with him. Imbued with new hope be struck a match and lighted his lantern, which he had allowed to go out as it burned up too much of the oxygen. By the gleam of it he looked to see if there were any bolts or nuts he could loosen with the wrench, in order to slide the door back. It needed but a glance to show him the futility of this.
"It's no go," he murmured, and he let the wrench fall to the floor. There was a ringing, clanging sound, and as it smote his ears Tom sprang up with an exclamation.
"That's the thing!" he cried. "I wonder I didn't think of it before. I can signal for help by pounding on the sides of the tank with the wrench. The blows will carry a good deal farther than my voice would." Every one knows how far the noise of a boiler shop, with hammers falling on steel plates, can be heard; much farther than can a human voice.
Tom began a lusty tattoo on the metal sides of the tank. At first he merely rattled out blow after blow, and then, as another thought came to him, he adopted a certain plan. Some time previous, when he and Mr. Sharp had planned their trip in the air, the two had adopted a code of signals. As it was difficult in a high wind to shout from one end of the airship to the other, the young inventor would sometimes pound on the pipe which ran from the pilot house of the Red Cloud to the engine-room. By a combination of numbers, simple messages could be conveyed. The code included a call for help. Forty-seven was the number, but there had never been any occasion to use it.
Tom remembered this now. At once he ceased his indiscriminate hammering, and began to beat out regularly—one, two, three, four—then a pause, and seven blows would be given. Over and over again he rang out this number—forty seven—the call for help.
"If Mr. Sharp only comes back he will hear that, even in the house," thought poor Tom "Maybe Garret or Mrs. Baggert will hear it, too, but they won't know what it means. They'll think I'm just working on the submarine."
It seemed several hours to Tom that he pounded out that cry for aid, but, as he afterward learned, it was only a little over an hour. Signal after signal he sent vibrating from the steel sides of the tank. When one arm tired he would use the other. He grew weary, his head was aching, and there was a ringing in his ears; a ringing that seemed as if ten thousand bells were jangling out their peals, and he could barely distinguish his own pounding.
Signal after signal he sounded. It was becoming like a dream to him, when suddenly, as he paused for a rest, he heard his name called faintly, as if far away.
"Tom! Tom! Where are you?"
It was the voice of Mr. Sharp. Then followed the tones of the aged inventor.
"My poor boy! Tom, are you still alive?"
"Yes, dad! In the starboard tank!" the lad gasped out, and then he lost his senses. When he revived he was lying on a pile of bagging in the submarine shop, and his father and the aeronaut were bending over him.
"Are you all right, Tom?" asked Mr. Swift.
"Yes—I—I guess so," was the hesitating answer. "Yes," the lad added, as the fresh air cleared his head. "I'll be all right pretty soon. Have you seen Andy Foger?"
"Did he shut you in there?" demanded Mr. Swift.
"I'll have him arrested!" declared Mr. Swift "I'll go to town as soon as you're in good shape again and notify the police."
"No, don't," pleaded Tom. "I'll take care of Andy myself. I don't really believe he knew how serious it was. I'll settle with him later, though."
"Well, it came mighty near being serious," remarked Mr. Sharp grimly. "Your father and I came back a little sooner than we expected, and as soon as I got near the house I heard your signal. I knew what it was in a moment. There were Mrs. Baggert and Garret talking away, and when I asked them why they didn't answer your call they said they thought you were merely tinkering with the machinery. But I knew better. It's the first time we ever had a use for 'forty-seven,' Tom."
"And I hope it will be the last," replied the young inventor with a faint smile. "But I'd like to know what Andy Foger is doing in this neighborhood."
Tom was soon himself again and able to go to the house, where he found Mrs. Baggert brewing a big basin of catnip tea, under the impression that it would in some way be good for his. She could not forgive herself for not having answered his signal, and as for Mr. Jackson, he had started for a doctor as soon as he learned that Tom was shut up in the tank. The services of the medical man were canceled by telephone, as there was no need for him, and the engineer came back to the house.
Tom was fully himself the next day, and aided his father and Mr. Sharp in putting the finishing touches to the Advance. It was found that some alteration was required in the auxiliary propellers, and this, much to the regret of the young inventor, would necessitate postponing the trial a few days.
"But we'll have her in the water next Friday." promised Mr. Swift.
"Aren't you superstitious about Friday?" asked the balloonist.
"Not a bit of it," replied the aged inventor. "Tom," he added, "I wish you would go in the house and get me the roll of blueprints you'll find on my desk."
As the lad neared the cottage he saw, standing in front of the place, a small automobile. A man had just descended from it, and it needed but a glance to show that he was Mr. Addison Berg.
"Ah, good morning, Mr. Swift," greeted Mr. Berg. "I wish to see your father, but as I don't wish to lay myself open to suspicions by entering the shop, perhaps you will ask him to step here."
"Certainly," answered the lad, wondering why the agent had returned. Getting the blueprints, and asking Mr. Berg to sit down on the porch, Tom delivered the message.
"You come back with me, Tom," said his father. "I want you to be a witness to what he says. I'm not going to get into trouble with these people."
Mr. Berg came to the point at once.
"Mr. Swift," he said, "I wish you would reconsider your determination not to enter the Government trials. I'd like to see you compete. So would my firm."
"There is no use going over that again," replied the aged inventor. "I have another object in view now than trying for the Government prize. What it is I can't say, but it may develop in time—if we are successful," and he looked at his son, smiling the while.
Mr. Berg tried to argue, but it was of no avail Then he changed his manner, and said:
"Well, since you won't, you won't, I suppose. I'll go back and report to my firm. Have you anything special to do this morning?" he went on to Tom.
"Well, I can always find something to keep me busy," replied the lad, "but as for anything special—"
"I thought perhaps you'd like to go for a trip in my auto," interrupted Mr. Berg. "I had asked a young man who is stopping at the same hotel where I am to accompany me, but he has unexpectedly left, and I don't like to go alone. His name was—let me see. I have a wretched memory for names, but it was something like Roger or Moger."
"Foger!" cried Tom. "Was it Andy Foger?"
"Yes, that was it. Why, do you know him?" asked Mr. Berg in some surprise.
"I should say so," replied Tom. "He was the cause of what might have resulted in something serious for me," and the lad explained about being imprisoned in the tank.
"You don't tell me!" cried Mr. Berg. "I had no idea he was that kind of a lad. You see, his father is one of the directors of the firm by whom I am employed. Andy came from home to spend a few weeks at the seaside, and stopped at the same hotel that I did. He went off yesterday afternoon, and I haven't seen him since, though he promised to go for a ride with me. He must have come over here and entered your shop unobserved. I remember now he asked me where the submarine was being built that was going to compete with our firm's, and I told him. I didn't think he was that kind of a lad. Well, since he's probably gone back home, perhaps you will come for a ride with me, Tom."
"I'm afraid I can't go, thank you," answered the lad. "We are very busy getting our submarine in shape for a trial. But I can imagine why Andy left so hurriedly. He probably learned that a doctor had been summoned for me, though, as it happened, I didn't need one. But Andy probably got frightened at what he had done, and left. I'll make him more sorry, when I meet him."
"Don't blame you a bit," commented Mr. Berg. "Well, I must be getting back."
He hastened out to his auto, while Tom and his father watched the agent.
"Tom, never trust that man," advised the aged inventor solemnly.
"Just what I was about to remark," said his son. "Well, let's get back to work. Queer that he should come here again, and it's queer about Andy Foger."
Father and son returned to the machine shop, while Mr. Berg puffed away in his auto. A little later, Tom having occasion to go to a building near the boundary line of the cottage property which his father had hired for the season, saw, through the hedge that bordered it, an automobile standing in the road. A second glance showed him that it was Mr. Berg's machine. Something had gone wrong with it, and the agent had alighted to make an adjustment.
The young inventor was close to the man, though the latter was unaware of his presence.
"Hang it all!" Tom heard Mr. Berg exclaim to himself. "I wonder what they can be up to? They won't enter the Government contests, and they won't say why. I believe they're up to some game, and I've got to find out what it is. I wonder if I couldn't use this Foger chap?"
"He seems to have it in for this Tom Swift," Mr. Berg went on, still talking to himself, though not so low but that Tom could hear him. "I think I'll try it. I'll get Andy Foger to sneak around and find out what the game is. He'll do it, I know."
By this time the auto was in working order again, and the agent took his seat and started off.
"So that's how matters lie, eh?" thought Tom. "Well, Mr. Berg, we'll be doubly on the lookout for you after this. As for Andy Foger, I think I'll make him wish he'd never locked me in that tank. So you expect to find out our 'game,' eh, Mr. Berg? Well, when you do know it, I think it will astonish you. I only hope you don't learn what it is until we get at that sunken treasure, though."
But alas for Tom's hopes. Mr. Berg did learn of the object of the treasure-seekers, and sought to defeat them, as we shall learn as our story proceeds.
Turning the Tables
When the young inventor informed his father what he had overheard Mr. Berg saying, the aged inventor was not as much worried as his son anticipated.
"All we'll have to do, Tom," he said, "is to keep quiet about where we are going. Once we have the Advance afloat, and try her out, we can start on our voyage for the South American Coast and search for the sunken treasure. When we begin our voyage under water I defy any one to tell where we are going, or what our plans are. No, I don't believe we need worry about Mr. Berg, though he probably means mischief."
"Well, I'm going to keep my eyes open for him and Andy Foger," declared Tom.
The days that followed were filled with work. Not only were there many unexpected things to do about the submarine, but Mr. Sharp was kept busy making inquiries about the sunken treasure ship. These inquiries had to be made carefully, as the adventurers did not want their plans talked of, and nothing circulates more quickly than rumors of an expedition after treasure of any kind.
"What about the old sea captain you were going to get to go with us?" asked Mr. Swift of the balloonist one afternoon. "Have you succeeded in finding one yet?"
"Yes; I am in communication with a man think will be just the person for us. His name is Captain Alden Weston, and he has sailed all over the world. He has also taken part in more than one revolution, and, in fact, is a soldier of fortune. I do not know him personally, but a friend of mine knows him, and says he will serve us faithfully. I have written to him, and he will be here in a few days."
"That's good. Now about the location of the wreck itself. Have you been able to learn any more details?"
"Well, not many. You see, the Boldero was abandoned in a storm, and the captain did not take very careful observations. As nearly as it can be figured out the treasure ship went to the bottom in latitude forty-five degrees south, and longitude twenty-seven east from Washington. That's a pretty indefinite location, but I hope, once we get off the Uruguay coast, we can better it. We can anchor or lay outside the harbor, and in the small boat we carry go ashore and possibly gain more details. For it was at Montevideo that the shipwrecked passengers and sailors landed."
"Does Captain Weston know our object?" inquired Tom.
"No, and I don't propose to tell him until we are ready to start," replied Mr. Sharp. "I don't know just how he'll consider a submarine trip after treasure, but if I spring it on him suddenly he's less likely to back out. Oh, I think he'll go."
Somewhat unexpectedly the next day it was discovered that certain tools and appliances were needed for the submarine, and they had been left in the house at Shopton, where Eradicate Sampson was in charge as caretaker during the absence of Mr. Swift and his son and the housekeeper.
"Well, I suppose we'll have to go back after them," remarked Tom. "We'll take the airship, dad, and make a two-days' trip of it. Is there anything else you want?"
"Well, you might bring a bundle of papers you'll find in the lower right hand drawer of my desk. They contain some memoranda I need."
Tom and Mr. Sharp had become so used to traveling in the airship that it seemed no novelty to them, though they attracted much attention wherever they went. They soon had the Red Cloud in readiness for a flight, and rising in the air above the shop that contained the powerful submarine, a craft utterly different in type from the aeroplane, the nose of the airship was pointed toward Shopton.
They made a good flight and landed near the big shed where the bird of the air was kept. It was early evening when they got to the Swift homestead, and Eradicate Sampson was glad to see them.
Eradicate was a good cook, and soon had a meal ready for the travelers. Then, while Mr. Sharp selected the tools and other things needed, and put them in the airship ready for the start back the next morning, Tom concluded he would take a stroll into Shopton, to see if he could see his friend, Ned Newton. It was early evening, and the close of a beautiful day, a sharp shower in the morning having cooled the air.
Tom was greeted by a number of acquaintances as he strolled along, for, since the episode of the bank robbery, when he had so unexpectedly returned with the thieves and the cash, the lad was better known than ever.
"I guess Ned must be home," thought our hero as he looked in vain for his chum among the throng on the streets. "I've got time to take a stroll down to his house."
Tom was about to cross the street when he was startled by the sound of an automobile horn loudly blown just at his side. Then a voice called:
"Hey, there! Git out of the way if you don't want to be run over!"
He looked up, and saw a car careening along. At the wheel was the red-haired bully, Andy Foger, and in the tonneau were Sam Snedecker and Pete Bailey.
"Git out of the way," added Sam, and he grinned maliciously at Tom.
The latter stepped back, well out of the path of the car, which was not moving very fast. Just in front of Tom was a puddle of muddy water. There was no necessity for Andy steering into it, but he saw his opportunity, and a moment later one of the big pneumatic tires had plunged into the dirty fluid, spattering it all over Tom, some even going as high as his face.
"Ha! ha!" laughed Andy. "Maybe you'll get out of my way next time, Tom Swift."
The young inventor was almost speechless from righteous anger. He wiped the mud from his face, glanced down at his clothes, which were all but ruined, and called out:
"Hold on there, Andy Foger! I want to see you!" for he thought of the time when Andy had shut him in the tank.
"Ta! ta!" shouted Pete Bailey.
"See you later," added Sam.
"Better go home and take a bath, and then sail away in your submarine," went on Andy. "I'll bet it will sink."
Before Tom could reply the auto had turned a corner. Disgusted and angry, he tried to sop up some of the muddy water with his handkerchief. While thus engaged he heard his name called, and looked up to see Ned Newton.
"What's the matter? Fall down?" asked his chum.
"Andy Foger," replied Tom.
"That's enough," retorted Ned. "I can guess the rest. We'll have to tar and feather him some day, and ride him out of town on a rail. I'd kick him myself, only his father is a director in the bank where I work, and I'd be fired if I did. Can't afford any such pleasure. But some day I'll give Andy a good trouncing, and then resign before they can discharge me. But I'll be looking for another job before I do that. Come on to my house, Tom, and I'll help you clean up."
Tom was a little more presentable when he left his chum's residence, after spending the evening there, but he was still burning for revenge against Andy and his cronies. He had half a notion to go to Andy's house and tell Mr. Foger how nearly serious the bully's prank at the sub marine had been, but he concluded that Mr. Foger could only uphold his son. "No, I'll settle with him myself," decided Tom.
Bidding Eradicate keep a watchful eye about the house, and leaving word for Mr. Damon to be sure to come to the coast if he again called at the Shopton house, Tom and Mr. Sharp prepared to make their return trip early the next morning.
The gas tank was filled and the Red Cloud arose in the air. Then, with the propellers moving at moderate speed, the nose of the craft was pointed toward the New Jersey coast.
A few miles out from Shopton, finding there was a contrary wind in the upper regions where they were traveling, Mr. Sharp descended several hundred feet. They were moving over a sparsely settled part of the country, and looking down, Tom saw, speeding along a highway, an automobile.
"I wonder who's in it?" he remarked, taking down a telescope and peering over the window ledge of the cabin. The next moment he uttered a startled exclamation.
"Andy Foger, Sam Snedecker and Pete Bailey!" he cried. "Oh, I wish I had a bucket of water to empty on them."
"I know a better way to get even with them than that," said Mr. Sharp.
"How?" asked Tom eagerly.
"I'll show you," replied the balloonist. "It's a trick I once played on a fellow who did me an injury. Here, you steer for a minute until I get the thing fixed, then I'll take charge."
Mr. Sharp went to the storeroom and came back with a long, stout rope and a small anchor of four prongs. It was carried to be used in emergencies, but so far had never been called into requisition. Fastening the grapple to the cable, the balloonist said:
"Now, Tom, they haven't seen you. You stand in the stern and pay out the rope. I'll steer the airship, and what I want you to do is to catch the anchor in the rear of their car. Then I'll show you some fun."
Tom followed instructions. Slowly he lowered the rope with the dangling grapple. The airship was also sent down, as the cable was not quite long enough to reach the earth from the height at which they were. The engine was run at slow speed, so that the noise would not attract the attention of the three cronies who were speeding along, all unconscious of the craft in the air over their heads. The Red Cloud was moving in the same direction as was the automobile.
The anchor was now close to the rear of Andy's car. Suddenly it caught on the tonneau and Tom called that fact to Mr. Sharp.
"Fasten the rope at the cleat," directed the balloonist.
Tom did so, and a moment later the aeronaut sent the airship up by turning more gas into the container. At the same time he reversed the engine and the Red Cloud began pulling the touring car backward, also lifting the rear wheels clear from the earth.
A startled cry from the occupants of the machine told Tom and his friend that Andy and his cronies were aware something was wrong. A moment later Andy, looking up, saw the airship hovering in the air above him. Then he saw the rope fast to his auto. The airship was not rising now, or the auto would have been turned over, but it was slowly pulling it backward, in spite of the fact that the motor of the car was still going.
"Here! You let go of me!" cried Andy. "I'll have you arrested if you damage my car."
"Come up here and cut the rope." called Tom leaning over and looking down. He could enjoy the bully's discomfiture. As for Sam and Pete, they were much frightened, and cowered down on the floor of the tonneau.
"Maybe you'll shut me in the tank again and splash mud on me!" shouted Tom.
The rear wheels of the auto were lifted still higher from the ground, as Mr. Sharp turned on a little more gas. Andy was not proof against this.
"Oh! oh!" he cried. "Please let me down, Tom. I'm awful sorry for what I did! I'll never do it again! Please, please let me down! Don't You'll tip me over!"
He had shut off his motor now, and was frantically clinging to the steering wheel.
"Do you admit that you're a sneak and a coward?" asked Tom, "rubbing it in."
"Yes, yes! Oh, please let me down!"
"Shall we?" asked Tom of Mr. Sharp.
"Yes," replied the balloonist. "We can afford to lose the rope and anchor for the sake of turning the tables. Cut the cable."
Tom saw what was intended. Using a little hatchet, he severed the rope with a single blow. With a crash that could be heard up in the air where the Red Cloud hovered, the rear wheels of the auto dropped to the ground. Then came two loud reports.
"Both tires busted!" commented Mr. Sharp dryly, and Tom, looking down, saw the trio of lads ruefully contemplating the collapsed rubber of the rear wheels. The tables had been effectually turned on Andy Foger. His auto was disabled, and the airship, with a graceful sweep, mounted higher and higher, continuing on its way to the coast.
Mr. Damon Will Go
"Well, I guess they've had their lesson," remarked Tom, as he took an observation through the telescope and saw Andy and his cronies hard at work trying to repair the ruptured tires. "That certainly was a corking good trick."
"Yes," admitted Mr. Sharp modestly. "I once did something similar, only it was a horse and wagon instead of an auto. But let's try for another speed record. The conditions are just right."
They arrived at the coast much sooner than they had dared to hope, the Red Cloud proving herself a veritable wonder.
The remainder of that day, and part of the next, was spent in working on the submarine.
"We'll launch her day after to-morrow," declared Mr. Swift enthusiastically. "Then to see whether my calculations are right or wrong."
"It won't be your fault if it doesn't work," said his son. "You certainly have done your best."
"And so have you and Mr. Sharp and the others, for that matter. Well, I have no doubt but that everything will be all right, Tom."
"There!" exclaimed Mr. Sharp the next morning, as he was adjusting a certain gage. "I knew I'd forget something. That special brand of lubricating oil. I meant to bring it from Shopton, and I didn't."
"Maybe I can get it in Atlantis," suggested Tom, naming the coast city nearest to them. "I'll take a walk over. It isn't far."
"Will you? I'll be glad to have you," resumed the balloonist. "A gallon will be all we'll need."
Tom was soon on his way. He had to walk, as the roads were too poor to permit him to use the motor-cycle, and the airship attracted too much attention to use on a short trip. He was strolling along, when from the other side of a row of sand dunes, that lined the uncertain road to Atlantis, he heard some one speaking. At first the tones were not distinct, but as the lad drew nearer to the voice he heard an exclamation.
"Bless my gold-headed cane! I believe I'm lost. He said it was out this way somewhere, bet I don't see anything of it. If I had that Eradicate Sampson here now I'd—bless my shoelaces I don't know what I would do to him."
"Mr. Damon! Mr. Damon!" cried Tom. "Is that you?"
"Me? Of course it's me! Who else would it be?" answered the voice. "But who are you. Why, bless my liver! If it isn't Tom Swift!" he cried. "Oh, but I'm glad to see you! I was afraid I was shipwrecked! Bless my gaiters, how are you, anyhow? How is your father? How is Mr. Sharp, and all the rest of them?"
"Pretty well. And you?"
"Me? Oh, I'm all right; only a trifle nervous. I called at your house in Shopton yesterday, and Eradicate told me, as well as he could, where you were located. I had nothing to do, so I thought I'd take a run down here. But what's this I hear about you? Are you going on a voyage?"
"In the air? May I go along again? I certainly enjoyed my other trip in the Red Cloud. What is, all but the fire and being shot at. May I go?"
"We're going on a different sort of trip this time," said the youth.
"Under water? Bless my sponge bath! You don't mean it!"
"Yes. Dad has completed the submarine he was working on when we were off in the airship, and it will be launched the day after to-morrow."
"Oh, that's so. I'd forgotten about it. He's going to try for the Government prize, isn't he? But tell me more about it. Bless my scarf-pin, but I'm glad I met you! Going into town, I take it. Well, I just came from there, but I'll walk back with you. Do you think—is there any possibility—that I could go with you? Of course, I don't want to crowd you, but—"
"Oh, there'll be plenty of room," replied the young inventor. "In fact, more room than we had in the airship. We were talking only the other day about the possibility of you going with us, but we didn't think you'd risk it."
"Risk it? Bless my liver! Of course I'll risk' it! It can't be as bad as sailing in the air. You can't fall, that's certain."
"No; but maybe you can't rise," remarked Tom grimly.
"Oh, we won't think of that. Of course, I'd like to go. I fully expected to be killed in the Red Cloud, but as I wasn't I'm ready to take a chance in the water. On the whole, I think I prefer to be buried at sea, anyhow. Now, then, will you take me?"
"I think I can safely promise," answered Tom with a smile at his friend's enthusiasm.
The two were approaching the city, having walked along as they talked. There were still some sand dunes near the road, and they kept on the side of these, nearest the beach, where they could watch the breakers.
"But you haven't told me where you are going," went on Mr. Damon, after blessing a few dozen objects. "Where do the Government trials take place?"
"Well," replied the lad, "to be frank with you, we have abandoned our intention of trying for the Government prize."
"Not going to try for it? Bless my slippers! Why not? Isn't fifty thousand dollars worth striving for? And, with the kind of a submarine you say you have, you ought to be able to win."
"Yes, probably we could win," admitted the young inventor, "but we are going to try for a better prize."
"A better one? I don't understand."
"Sunken treasure," explained Tom. "There's a ship sunk off the coast of Uruguay, with three hundred thousand dollars in gold bullion aboard. Dad and I are going to try to recover that in our submarine. We're going to start day after to-morrow, and, if you like, you may go along."
"Go along! Of course I'll go along!" cried the eccentric man. "But I never heard of such a thing. Sunken treasure! Three hundred thousand dollars in gold! My, what a lot of money! And to go after it in a submarine! It's as good as a story!"
"Yes, we hope to recover all the treasure," said the lad. "We ought to be able to claim at least half of it."
"Bless my pocketbook!" cried Mr. Damon, but Tom did not hear him. At that instant his attention was attracted by seeing two men emerge from behind the sand dune near which he and Mr. Damon had halted momentarily, when the youth explained about the treasure. The man looked sharply at Tom. A moment later the first man was joined by another, and at the sight of him our hero could not repress an exclamation of alarm. For the second man was none other than Addison Berg.
The latter glanced quickly at Tom, and then, with a hasty word to his companion, the two swung around and made off in the opposite direction to that in which they had been walking.
"What's the matter?" asked Mr. Damon, seeing the young inventor was strangely affected.
"That—that man," stammered the lad.
"You don't mean to tell me that was one the Happy Harry gang, do you?"
"No. But one, or both of those men, may prove to be worse. That second man was Addison Berg, and he's agent for a firm of submarine boat builders who are rivals of dad's. Berg has been trying to find out why we abandoned our intention of competing for the Government prize."
"I hope you didn't tell him."
"I didn't intend to," replied Tom, smiling grimly, "but I'm afraid I have, however He certainly overheard what I said. I spoke too loud. Yes, he must have heard me. That's why he hurried off so."
"Possibly no harm is done. You didn't give the location of the sunken ship."
"No; but I guess from what I said it will be easy enough to find. Well, if we're going to have a fight for the possession of that sunken gold, I'm ready for it. The Advance is well equipped for a battle. I must tell dad of this. It's my fault."
"And partly mine, for asking you such leading questions in a public place," declared Mr. Damon. "Bless my coat-tails, but I'm sorry! Maybe, after all, those men were so interested in what they themselves were saying that they didn't understand what you said."
But if there had been any doubts on this score they would have been dissolved had Tom and his friend been able to see the actions of Mr. Berg and his companion a little later. The plans of the treasure-hunters had been revealed to their ears.
Another Treasure Expedition
While Tom and Mr. Damon continued on to Atlantis after the oil, the young inventor lamenting from time to time that his remarks about the real destination of the Advance had been overheard by Mr. Berg, the latter and his companion were hastening back along the path that ran on one side of the sand dunes.
"What's your hurry?" asked Mr. Maxwell, who was with the submarine agent. "You turned around as if you were shot when you saw that man and the lad. There didn't appear to be any cause for such a hurry. From what I could hear they were talking about a submarine. You're in the same business. You might be friends."
"Yes, we might," admitted Mr. Berg with a peculiar smile; "but, unless I'm very much mistaken, we're going to be rivals."
"Rivals? What do you mean?"
"I can't tell you now. Perhaps I may later. But if you don't mind, walk a little faster, please. I want to get to a long-distance telephone."
"I have just overheard something that I wish to communicate to my employers, Bentley & Eagert."
"Overheard something? I don't see what it could be, unless that lad—"
"You'll learn in good time," went on the submarine agent. "But I must telephone at once."
A little later the two men had reached a trolley line that ran into Atlantis, and they arrived at the city before Mr. Damon and Tom got there, as the latter had to go by a circuitous route. Mr. Berg lost no time in calling up his firm by telephone.
"I have had another talk with Mr. Swift," he reported to Mr. Bentley, who came to the instrument in Philadelphia.
"Well, what does he say?" was the impatient question. "I can't understand his not wanting to try for the Government prize. It is astonishing. You said you were going to discover the reason, Mr Berg, but you haven't done so."
"What is it?"
"Well, the reason Mr. Swift and his son don't care to try for the fifty thousand dollar prize is that they are after one of three hundred thousand dollars."
"Three hundred thousand dollars!" cried Mr. Bentley. "What government is going to offer such a prize as that for submarines, when they are getting almost as common as airships? We ought to have a try for that ourselves. What government is it?"
"No government at all. But I think we ought to have a try for it, Mr. Bentley."
"Well, I have just learned, most accidentally, that the Swifts are going after sunken treasure—three hundred thousand dollars in gold bullion."
"Sunken treasure? Where?
"I don't know exactly, but off the coast of Uruguay," and Mr. Berg rapidly related what he had overheard Tom tell Mr. Damon. Mr. Bentley was much excited and impatient for more details, but his agent could not give them to him.
"Well," concluded the senior member of the firm of submarine boat builders, "if the Swifts are going after treasure, so can we. Come to Philadelphia at once, Mr. Berg, and we'll talk this matter over. There is no time to lose. We can afford to forego the Government prize for the chance of getting a much larger one. We have as much right to search for the sunken gold as the Swifts have. Come here at once, and we will make our plans."
"All right," agreed the agent with a smile as he hung up the receiver. "I guess," he murmured to himself, "that you won't be so high and mighty with me after this, Tom Swift. We'll see who has the best boat, after all. We'll have a contest and a competition, but not for a government prize. It will be for the sunken gold."
It was easy to see that Mr. Berg was much pleased with himself.
Meanwhile, Tom and Mr. Damon had reached Atlantis, and had purchased the oil. They started back, but Tom took a street leading toward the center of the place, instead of striking for the beach path, along which they had come.
"Where are you going?" asked Mr. Damon.
"I want to see if that Andy Foger has come back here," replied the lad, and he told of having been shut in the tank by the bully.
"I've never properly punished him for that trick," he went on, "though we did manage to burst his auto tires. I'm curious to know how he knew enough to turn that gear and shut the tank door. He must have been loitering near the shop, seen me go in the submarine alone, watched his chance and sneaked in after me. But I'd like to get a complete explanation, and if I once got hold of Andy I could make him talk," and Tom clenched his fist in a manner that augured no good for the squint-eyed lad. "He was stopping at the same hotel with Mr. Berg, and he hurried away after the trick he played on me. I next saw him in Shopton, but I thought perhaps he might have come back here. I'm going to inquire at the hotel," he added.
Andy's name was not on the register since his hasty flight, however, and Tom, after inquiring from the clerk and learning that Mr. Berg was still a guest at the hostelry, rejoined Mr. Damon.
"Bless my hat!" exclaimed that eccentric individual as they started back to the lonely beach where the submarine was awaiting her advent into the water. "The more I think of the trip I'm going to take, the more I like it."
"I hope you will," remarked Tom. "It will be a new experience for all of us. There's only one thing worrying me, and that is about Mr. Berg having overheard what I said."
"Oh, don't worry about that. Can't we slip away and leave no trace in the water?"
"I hope so, but I must tell dad and Mr. Sharp about what happened."
The aged inventor was not a little alarmed at what his son related, but he agreed with Mr. Damon, whom he heartily welcomed, that little was to be apprehended from Berg and his employers.
"They know we're after a sunken wreck, but that's all they do know," said Tom's father. "We are only waiting for the arrival of Captain Alden Weston, and then we will go. Even if Bentley & Eagert make a try for the treasure we'll have the start of them, and this will be a case of first come, first served. Don't worry, Tom. I'm glad you're going, Mr Damon. Come, I will show you our submarine."
As father and son, with their guest, were going to the machine shop, Mr. Sharp met them. He had a letter in his hand.
"Good news!" the balloonist cried. "Captain Weston will be with us to-morrow. He will arrive at the Beach Hotel in Atlantis, and wants one of us to meet him there. He has considerable information about the wreck."
"The Beach Hotel," murmured Tom. "That is where Mr. Berg is stopping. I hope he doesn't worm any of our secret from Captain Weston," and it was with a feeling of uneasiness that the young inventor continued after his father and Mr. Damon to where the submarine was.
Captain Weston's Advent
"Bless my water ballast, but that certainly is a fine boat!" cried Mr. Damon, when he had been shown over the new craft. "I think I shall feel even safer in that than in the Red Cloud."
"Oh, don't go back on the airship!" exclaimed Mr Sharp. "I was counting on taking you on another trip."
"Well, maybe after we get back from under the ocean," agreed Mr. Damon. "I particularly like the cabin arrangements of the Advance. I think I shall enjoy myself."
He would be hard to please who could not take pleasure from a trip in the submarine. The cabin was particularly fine, and the sleeping arrangements were good.
More supplies could be carried than was possible on the airship, and there was more room in which to cook and serve food. Mr. Damon was fond of good living, and the kitchen pleased him as much as anything else.
Early the next morning Tom set out for Atlantis, to meet Captain Weston at the hotel. The young inventor inquired of the clerk whether the seafaring man had arrived, and was told that he had come the previous evening.
"Is he in his room?" asked Tom.
"No," answered the clerk with a peculiar grin. "He's an odd character. Wouldn't go to bed last night until we had every window in his room open, though it was blowing quite hard, and likely to storm. The captain said he was used to plenty of fresh air. Well, I guess he got it, all right."
"Where is he now?" asked the youth, wondering what sort of an individual he was to meet.
"Oh, he was up before sunrise, so some of the scrubwomen told me. They met him coming from his room, and he went right down to the beach with a big telescope he always carries with him. He hasn't come back yet. Probably he's down on the sand."
"Hasn't he had breakfast?"
"No. He left word he didn't want to eat until about four bells, whatever time that is."
"It's ten o'clock," replied Tom, who had been studying up on sea terms lately. "Eight bells is eight o'clock in the morning, or four in the afternoon or eight at night, according to the time of day. Then there's one bell for every half hour, so four bells this morning would be ten o'clock in this watch, I suppose."
"Oh, that's the way it goes, eh?" asked the clerk. "I never could get it through my head. What is twelve o'clock noon?"
"That's eight bells, too; so is twelve o'clock midnight. Eight bells is as high as they go on a ship. But I guess I'll go down and see if I can meet the captain. It will soon be ten o'clock, or four bells, and he must be hungry for breakfast. By the way, is that Mr. Berg still here?"
"No; he went away early this morning. He and Captain Weston seemed to strike up quite an acquaintance, the night clerk told me. They sat and smoked together until long after midnight, or eight bells," and the clerk smiled as he glanced down at the big diamond ring on his little finger.
"They did?" fairly exploded Tom, for he had visions of what the wily Mr. Berg might worm out of the simple captain.
"Yes. Why, isn't the captain a proper man to make friends with?" and the clerk looked at Tom curiously.
"Oh, yes, of course," was the hasty answer. "I guess I'll go and see if I can find him—the captain, I mean."
Tom hardly knew what to think. He wished his father, or Mr. Sharp, had thought to warn Captain Weston against talking of the wreck. It might be too late now.
The young inventor hurried to the beach, which was not far from the hotel. He saw a solitary figure pacing up and down, and from the fact that the man stopped, every now and then, and gazed seaward through a large telescope, the lad concluded it was the captain for whom he was in search. He approached, his footsteps making no sound on the sand. The man was still gazing through the glass.
"Captain Weston?" spoke Tom.
Without a show of haste, though the voice must have startled him, the captain turned. Slowly he lowered the telescope, and then he replied softly:
"That's my name. Who are you, if I may ask?"
Tom was struck, more than by anything else, by the gentle voice of the seaman. He had prepared himself, from the description of Mr. Sharp, to meet a gruff, bewhiskered individual, with a voice like a crosscut saw, and a rolling gait. Instead he saw a man of medium size, with a smooth face, merry blue eyes, and the softest voice and gentlest manner imaginable. Tom was very much disappointed. He had looked for a regular sea-dog, and he met a landsman, as he said afterward. But it was not long before our hero changed his mind regarding Captain Weston.
"I'm Tom Swift," the owner of that name said, "and I have been sent to show you the way to where our ship is ready to launch." The young inventor refrained from mentioning submarine, as it was the wish of Mr Sharp to disclose this feature of the voyage to the sailor himself.
"Ha, I thought as much," resumed the captain quietly. "It's a fine day, if I may be permitted to say so," and he seemed to hesitate, as if there was some doubt whether or not he might make that observation.
"It certainly is," agreed the lad. Then, with a smile he added: "It is nearly eight bells."
"Ha!" exclaimed the captain, also smiling, but even his manner of saying "Ha!" was less demonstrative than that of most persons. "I believe I am getting hungry, if I may be allowed the remark," and again he seemed asking Tom's pardon for mentioning the fact.
"Perhaps you will come back to the cabin and have a little breakfast with me," he went on. "I don't know what sort of a galley or cook they have aboard the Beach Hotel, but it can't be much worse than some I've tackled."
"No, thank you," answered the youth. "I've had my breakfast. But I'll wait for you, and then I'd like to get back. Dad and Mr. Sharp are anxious to meet you."
"And I am anxious to meet them, if you don't mind me mentioning it," was the reply, as the captain once more put the spyglass to his eye and took an observation. "Not many sails in sight this morning," he added. "But the weather is fine, and we ought to get off in good shape to hunt for the treasure about which Mr. Sharp wrote me. I believe we are going after treasure," he said; "that is, if you don't mind talking about it."
"Not in the least," replied Tom quickly, thinking this a good opportunity for broaching a subject that was worrying him. "Did you meet a Mr. Berg here last night, Captain Weston?" he went on.
"Yes. Mr. Berg and I had quite a talk. He is a well-informed man."
"Did he mention the sunken treasure?" asked the lad, eager to find out if his suspicions were true.
"Yes, he did, if you'll excuse me putting it so plainly," answered the seaman, as if Tom might be offended at so direct a reply. But the young inventor was soon to learn that this was only an odd habit with the seaman.
"Did he want to know where the wreck of the Boldero was located?" continued the lad. "That is, did he try to discover if you knew anything about it?"
"Yes," said Mr. Weston, "he did. He pumped me, if you are acquainted with that term, and are not offended by it. You see, when I arrived here I made inquiries as to where your father's place was located. Mr. Berg overheard me, and introduced himself as agent for a shipbuilding concern. He was very friendly, and when he said he knew you and your parent, I thought he was all right."
Tom's heart sank. His worst fears were to be realized, he thought.
"Yes, he and I talked considerable, if I may be permitted to say so," went on the captain. "He seemed to know about the wreck of the Boldero, and that she had three hundred thousand dollars in gold aboard. The only thing he didn't know was where the wreck was located. He knew it was off Uruguay somewhere, but just where he couldn't say. So he asked me if I knew, since he must have concluded that I was going with you on the gold-hunting expedition."