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TOM SWIFT AND HIS UNDERSEA SEARCH OR The Treasure on the Floor of the Atlantic
"Tom, this is certainly wonderful reading! Over a hundred million dollars' worth of silver at the bottom of the ocean! More than two hundred million dollars in gold! To say nothing of fifty millions in copper, ten millions in--"
"It's all right, Tom! It's all right!" declared Ned, and it needed but a glance to show that he was more serious than was his companion. "I'm not suffering from the heat, though the thermometer is getting close to ninety-five in the shade. And if you want to know where I get 'that stuff' read this!"
"Oh, that stuff!" exclaimed Tom, with a smile of disbelief as he saw the source of Ned's information. "Seems to me I've read something like that before, Ned!"
"Well, what's that got to do with us, Ned?" asked Tom, as he looked over some blue prints and other papers on his desk, for the talk was taking place in his office. "You and I did our part in the war, but I don't see what all this undersea wealth has to do with us. We've got our work cut out for us if we take care of all the new contracts that came in this week."
"Authentic? What do you mean
Tom Swift did not seem to be at all surprised by the explosive emphasis with which Ned Newton conveyed this information. He gazed calmly at his friend and manager, and then handed the paper back.
"Yes!" exclaimed Ned. "It is! A company has been formed in Japan for the purpose of using a new kind of diving bell, invented by an American, it seems. The inventor claims that in his machine he can go down deeper than ever man went before, and bring up a lot of this lost ocean wealth."
"But this diving bell stunt isn't new, and it hasn't been successful. Of course a man can go down to a greater depth in a thick iron diving bell than he can in a diving suit. That's common knowledge. But the trouble with a diving bell is that it can't be moved about as a man can move about in a diving suit. The man in the bell can't get inside the wreck, and it's there where the gold or silver is usually to be found."
"Yes, they could do that, but usually they scatter it so far, and the ocean currents so cover it with sand, that it is impossible ever to get it again. I admit that if a wreck is blown apart a man in a diving bell can perhaps get a small part of it. But the limitations of a diving bell are so well recognized that several inventors have tried adjusting movable arms to the bell, to be operated by the man inside."
"After a fashion, yes. But I never heard of any case where the gold and silver recovered paid for the expenses of making the bell and sending men down in it. For it takes the same sort of outfit to aid the man in the diving bell as it does the diver in his usual rubber or steel suit. Air has to be pumped to him, and he has to be lowered and raised."
"Oh, yes, of course there is, in a way," was the answer of the young inventor. "Don't you remember how my father and I, with Mr. Damon and Captain Weston, went in our submarine, the Advance, and discovered the wreck of the Boldero?"
"Well," resumed Tom, "there was a case of showing how much trouble we had. An ordinary diving outfit never would have answered. We had to locate the wreck, and a hard time we had doing it. Then, when we found it, we had to ram the old ship and blow it apart before we could get inside. Even after that we just happened to discover the gold, as it were. I'm only mentioning this to show you it isn't so easy to get at the wealth under the sea as writers in Sunday newspaper supplements think it is."
"Well, a billion of dollars is a lot," Tom admitted. "And when you think of all that have been sunk, say even in the last hundred years, it amazes one. But still, all the gold and silver was hidden in the earth before it was dug out, and now it's only gone back where it came from, in a way. We got along before men dug it out and coined it into money, and I guess we'll get along when it's under water. No use worrying over the ocean treasures, as far as I'm concerned."
"That's why my father and I got you to look after our financial affairs," and Tom smiled. "You're just the one--with your interest-bearing mind--to keep us off the shoals of business trouble."
"How's that, Ned?" asked Tom, a new note coming into his voice. "Were you thinking of going to Japan and taking a hand in the undersea search?"
"That's just it!" exclaimed Tom. "If they find the wrecks! And let me tell you, Ned, that there's a mighty big 'if' in it all. Do you realize how hard it is to find anything on the ocean, to say nothing of something under it?"
"Well, you'd better think of it. You know on the ocean sailors have to locate a certain imaginary position by calculation, using the sun and stars as guides. Of course, they have navigation down pretty fine, and a good pilot can get to a place on the surface of the ocean and meet another craft there almost as well as you and I can make an appointment to meet at Main and Broad streets at a certain hour.
"And I'm not saying that a location on an ocean changes. I'm only saying that the least disturbance or error in calculation makes it almost impossible to find the exact spot. And if it's that hard on the surface, where you can see what you're doing, how much harder is it in regard to something on the bottom of the sea? So don't take any stock in these ocean treasure recovering companies. They may not be fakes, but they're mighty uncertain."
"Nothing doing, Ned. We've got other plans, my father and I. There's that new tractor for use in the big wheat-growing belt, to say nothing of--"
"No can go in! The Master he am busily! No can go in!"
"Mr. Damon!" murmured Tom Swift. "I wonder what he has on his mind now
"Hello, Tom Swift! Hello, Ned! Glad to see you both! Busy, as usual, I'll wager. Bless my check book! I never saw you when you weren't busy at some scheme or other, Tom, my boy. But I won't take up much of your time. Tom Swift, let me introduce my friend, Mr. Dixwell Hardley. Mr. Hardley, shake hands with Tom Swift, one of the youngest, and yet one of the greatest, inventors in the world! I've told you a little about him, but it would take me all day to tell you what he really has done and--"
"Hold on, Mr. Damon!" laughed Tom, as he shook hands with the man whom Mr. Damon had named Dixwell Hardley. "Hold on, if you please. There's a limit to it, you know, and already you've said enough about me to--"
Ned's eyes sparkled at the mention of the money. In truth he dealt in dollars and cents for the benefit of Tom Swift. Ned shook hands with Mr. Hardley and Tom motioned Mr. Damon and his friend to chairs.
At that moment there arose in the corridor outside Tom's private office a discord of voices, in which one could be heard exclaiming:
"Huh! Radicate him big stiff--dat's what! Big stiff! Too stiff for sweep Master's floor. Koku sweep one hand!"
"Excuse me a moment," said Tom, with a smile to his guests as he arose. "Eradicate and Koku are at it again, I'm sorry to say. I'll have to go out and arbitrate the strike," and he left the room.
Those who are familiar with the previous books of this series may skip this part. But it will give my new audience a better insight into this story if they will bear with me a moment and peruse these few lines.
Tom Swift lived in the city of Shopton with his father and their faithful housekeeper, Mrs. Baggert. It was so named because the Swift shops were an important industry there. Tom's father, as well as Tom himself, was an inventor of note, and employed many men in building machines of various kinds. During the Great War the services of Tom and his father had been dedicated to the government.
Sufficient to say here, that Tom invented and operated motor boats, airships, and submarines. In addition he traveled on many expeditions with Mr. Damon, Ned, and others. He went among the diamond makers and it was when he escaped from captivity that he managed to bring away Koku, the giant, with him. Since then Koku and Eradicate Sampson, the faithful colored man, had periodic quarrels as to who should serve the young inventor.
Of late his and his father's industries had become so important that a number of new buildings had been constructed and the plant greatly enlarged. Ned Newton, who had once worked in a Shopton bank, became financial manager for Tom and his father, and plenty of work he found with which to occupy himself.
The talk of Tom and his financial manager was interrupted by the arrival of Mr. Damon and the stranger he had introduced as Mr. Hardley.
Boomerang had, some time since, gone where all good mules go, though Eradicate declared he would get another and call him Boomerang II. But, so far, he had not done so.
"What was the matter, Tom?" asked Ned, when the young inventor came back into the room.
"What'd you do, Tom?" asked Mr. Damon.
"That's exactly it, my dear Mr. Swift!" broke in the man in question. "I have a wonderful offer to make you, and I'm sure you will admit that it will be well worth your while to consider and accept it. There will be at least a million in it--"
"So I did," was the rather nettled answer. "I was about to say, Mr. Damon, that there will be at least a million in it for Mr. Swift, and another million for myself. There may be more, but I want to be conservative."
"When our mutual friend, Mr. Damon, told me about you, my dear Mr. Swift," went on Mr. Hardley, "I at once came to the conclusion that you were the very man I wanted to do business with. I'm sure it will be to our mutual advantage."
"Have you a half hour to give me while it explain matters?" asked Mr. Hardley. "I may go farther and say I need considerable time to go into all the details. May I speak now?"
"I shall be glad to hear what you have to say, Mr. Hardley," said Tom, as courteously as he could. "I will not go so far as to say that my time is unlimited, but I will listen to you now if you care to go into details."
"He's a little bit too sure!" mused Ned.
Mr. Hardley settled himself comfortably in his chair and looked from Tom to Ned.
"You may," the young inventor answered. "Mr. Newton is my financial manager, and I do nothing of importance without consulting him. You may regard him as a member of the firm, in fact, as he does own some stock. My father is practically retired, and I do not trouble him with unimportant details. So Mr. Newton and I are prepared to listen to you."
"So I have heard. Well, would a million dollars clear profit appeal to you?"
"Then I am prepared to offer you that sum," went on Mr. Hardley. "But there are certain conditions, and I may say that this vast wealth is not easy to come at. However, with your inventive genius, I am sure you will be able to solve the mystery of the sea. Now then as to details. There lies, on the floor of the ocean--"
"FATHER, is that you?" asked Tom. "Father hasn't been feeling well, of late," he said to the assembled company, "and I told him to go to lie down. But he's hard to manage, and he won't rest more than ten minutes at a time. My father, I might explain, Mr. Hardley," Tom went on, "is actively associated with me in business."
"So I have understood," said the man who had been introduced by Mr. Damon.
"No you don't, Koku!" exclaimed the young inventor, with a laugh. "You keep away from Rad. You'll get to disputing again and interrupt me, and I have business on hand. Here, wait a minute. I'll find something for you to do," he went on, opening the door to disclose the immense man standing outside, a broom in his hand seeming like a toy.
Turning to the giant who apparently had not paid much attention to the talk over the wire, Tom said:
"Good!" exclaimed the giant, with a cheerful grin. "Koku like big work--no like sweep. Good for women and Rad, but not for Koku!"
"Well, he's disposed of," remarked Tom, as he closed the door. "And now, Mr. Hardley, I'm at your service, as far as listening to your proposition is concerned."
"Submarine work? Bless my hydrometer, I should say so!" exclaimed the eccentric man. "And not only in submarine, but in aeroplane! but you don't need any aeroplanes, my dear Mr. Hardley. It's the submarine end of it that you are interested in, as far as Tom Swift is concerned. Now go ahead and tell him what you told me, and how many millions there are in it."
"Yes," was the answer. "And it is curious that you should ask me that, for my friend here, Ned Newton, and I were just talking about that very matter. Here's what brought it up," and Tom showed the page from the Sunday paper.
"Exactly," said Tom.
"A good share of it would," answered Tom. "That is usually the chief difficulty--locating the wreck. Nearly always they are anywhere from one to five miles from where the persons seeking them think they are. And five miles, or even half a mile, is a good distance on the bottom of the ocean."
"I should want to hear more about it before I gave an answer," replied Tom. "As perhaps Mr. Damon has told you, I once went on a hunt for treasure in my submarine. We found it, but only after considerable trouble, and then I declared I'd never again engage in such a search. There wasn't enough net profit in it."
"I will," assented Mr. Hardley. "I can readily believe," he went on, "that the cost of hunting for undersea treasure is great. I have taken that into consideration. Now, in brief, my plan is this. I will join forces with you, and bear half the expense if I am allowed to share half the proceeds. That's fair, isn't it?" he asked Tom.
"Now then, to business!" exclaimed the visitor. "Will you join with me in searching for some of the wealth-laden wrecks that are rotting at the bottom of the sea, Mr. Swift?"
"I should want the understanding broad enough to include all wrecks we might discover," was the answer, "but I have in mind one in particular now. It is the wreck of the steamer Pandora which was sunk off the coast of one of the West Indian Islands about a year ago."
"No mention of the Pandora here," he said.
"Think of that, Tom! Think of that!" cried Mr. Damon. "Two million dollars in gold! Why bless my--bless my--"
"Excuse me for interrupting you," he said to his new friend. "But I just couldn't help it."
"It certainly sounds interesting," replied Tom, with a smile. "But are you sure of your facts?"
"And the location?" queried Tom.
"Why, yes," Tom had to agree, "it will be. but if you know it, then the captain and others must know it. And what is to prevent them from making a search for the Pandora if they have not already done so
"Now, here is my offer, Mr. Swift," went on the seeker after the ocean's hidden wealth. "I will bear half the expense of fitting out a submarine, or for any other kind of expedition to go in search of the wreck of the Pandora. I will furnish you with the exact nautical location, as I have it. And when the wealth is found and brought to the surface, I will give you half--in other words at least a million dollars! Does that appeal to you?"
"None can successfully," declared Mr. Hardley. "As I told you, the money was to finance a revolution. It was raised for an unlawful purpose, so to speak, and no one has a valid claim to it under the circumstances, so lawyers whom I have consulted have told me. But if that is not enough, I have papers to prove that those who might be called the owners have given up the search for it. More than a year has elapsed, and though I don't know just how long it takes to outlaw an under-ocean claim, I feel sure that we would have a legal and moral right to take this gold if we could find it."
"Then you will undertake it?" eagerly exclaimed Mr. Hardley.
For a moment it seemed that Mr. Damon, as well as Mr. Hardley, felt disappointment at Tom's answer, for the eccentric man exclaimed:
"Bless my leather belt, Tom, but you aren't very keen on making a million dollars!"
"I'll say you don't!" added Ned, as he thought of some of Tom's perilous voyages, among the diamond makers and in the caves of ice.
"Because," answered Tom, "there are many things to be considered. Hunting for a treasure on the floor of the Atlantic isn't like going to some location on land, however wild or inaccessible it might be. Do you realize, Mr. Hardley, what a large difference in miles a small error in nautical calculations makes? We might go to the exact spot where you thought the wreck of the Pandora lies, only to find that we would have to hunt around a long time.
"Take him along!" exclaimed Mr. Damon. "He's gone with us before, Tom."
"I'm sure I hope you will, and also that you will consent to go," was the answer. "A million is not easily to be come at in these days after the Great War."
With this the visitor was forced to be content, and a little later he withdrew with Mr. Damon, the latter telling Tom that he would see him. again soon.
"What was?" asked Tom, as though his mind was far away, as indeed it was.
"Yes, it was quite a coincidence," Tom admitted.
"Well, to tell you the truth, I didn't take a great fancy to Mr. Hardley," Tom said. "I think he's altogether too cocksure, and takes too much for granted. Still I may misjudge him. Certainly he doesn't have a chance at a million dollars every day."
"Why, it's possible; yes. We proved that with the Boldero."
"No, I think I'd have to rebuild it, or make an altogether new one. Possibly I might get one of Uncle Sam's and add some improvements of my own."
"Really, Ned, I can't make up my mind yet. Now let's forget the Pandora and all the millions and get down to business. This Criterion company seems to me to want altogether too much, We'll have to trim their request down a bit. They owe the money and ought to pay it."
It was the next afternoon, when Tom, following a strenuous morning of work, leaned back in his chair at his desk, that Mr. Damon was announced.
"No, sir; he is alone."
"Then you haven't made up your mind about going for the treasure?"
"Bless my matchbox, Tom, but I'm glad to see you!" cried Mr. Damon, as he hastened forward with outstretched hand. "I was afraid you might be out. Now look here! What about my friend Hardley? He's very anxious to know your decision about going for that treasure, and I said I'd come over and sound you. I don't mind saying, Tom, that if you go I'm going too; if you'll take me, of course."
"What? Not going to pick up a million dollars off the floor of the ocean, Tom? Bless my bank balance! but that's foolish, it seems to me."
"What's your principal objection?" asked the eccentric man. "It isn't that you don't want the money, is it?"
"Then it must be that you object to Mr. Hardley personally." went on Mr. Damon. "I began to suspect that, Tom, and I want to say that you are wrong. Mr. Hardley is a friend of mine--a good friend. I have not known him long, but he strikes me as being all right. He had some good letters of introduction, and I believe he has money."
"I don't know, exactly. Seems to me I heard him mention silver mines, or it may have been gold. Anyhow, it had something to do with getting wealth out of the ground. Now, Tom, I don't mind saying that I stand to make a little money in case this thing goes through."
"Why, I agreed to bear part of the expense," was the answer. "I thought this was a pretty good scheme, and when Mr. Hardley came to me and told me of the possibilities I agreed to help him finance the expenses. That is, I have taken shares in the company he formed to raise his half of the expense money.
"Well," remarked Tom, slowly, "I must admit, Mr. Damon, that I didn't think you'd go into a thing like this. Not that it is more risky than other schemes, but I thought you didn't care for speculation."
"Yes, there is romance," agreed Tom. "And hard work, too. If I undertook this it would mean an extra lot of work getting ready. I suppose I could use my own submarine. I could get her in commission, and make improvements more quickly than on any other."
"Well, since you tell me you are interested financially, I believe I will," assented Tom, but he spoke reluctantly. "As a matter of fact, I am going against my better judgment. Not that I fear we shall be in danger," he hastened to add; "but I think it will prove a failure. However, as Mr. Hardley will bear half the expense, and as by using my own submarine that will not be much, I'll go!"
And as Mr. Damon hastened away to acquaint his new friend with Tom's decision, the young inventor remarked to Ned:
"Something bad?" asked the financial manager. "No, I wouldn't go so far as to say that. But I believe we'll have trouble. I'll start on the search for the sunken millions, but rather against my better judgment. However, maybe Mr. Damon's luck and good nature will pull us through!"
ONCE Tom Swift had made up his mind to do a thing he did it-even though it was against his better judgment. His word, passed, was his bond.
Not once did Tom Swift admit to himself that he was going into this scheme because he thought well of it. It was all for Mr. Damon, after Tom had learned that his friend had invested considerable money in a company Mr. Hardley had formed to pay half the expenses of the trip.
"Bless my gasolene tank, Tom! I'm in this thing as much for the love of adventure, as I am for the money. Now let's go on with it. You will like Hardley better when you know him better."
The young inventor insisted, before making any preparations for the trip, that all the cards be laid on the table. That is, he wanted to be sure there had been such a ship as the Pandora, that she was laden with gold, and that she had sunk where Mr. Hardley said she had. The latter was perfectly willing to supply all needful proofs, even though some were difficult, because of the nature of the voyage of the treasure craft. As a filibuster she was not trading openly.
And, with Ned's help, Tom did.
"Then you are satisfied, are you, Mr. Swift, that the ship, set out with over two millions in gold on board?" asked Mr. Hardley. "Yes, that seems to be proved," Tom admitted, and Ned nodded. "The next thing to prove is that she foundered in a storm about the position I am going to tell you," went on Mr. Damon's friend.
"I'm willing to agree to that proposition," Tom said. "But I want to be sure she really did sink."
Mr. Hardley repeated his story about having overheard the exact location of the ship a few minutes before she sank, and he also told of the captain and several members of the ship's company having been drowned. This, too, was confirmed.
"I believe that is all," returned Tom. "But, on my part, it will take some little time to fit the submarine out as I want to have her. There are some special appliances I want to take along which will aid us in the search for the gold, if we find the place where the Pandora is sunk."
Tom looked slightly incredulous, but said nothing.
"Tom, my boy," said the aged Mr. Swift, "I wish you weren't going on this trip."
"Because I fear something will happen. We don't really need this money, and suppose--suppose--"
"Well, of course, Tom, that's a worthy object, and I won't make any further objections. But take my advice, and strengthen the submarine."
The craft Tom Swift proposed to use in searching for the treasure ship Pandora was of the regular cigar-shape, but inside it had many special features. It was more comfortable than the usual submarine, not being intended for fighting, though it did carry guns and a torpedo tube. Tom intended renaming the craft, which had been called Advance, and one day, when there had been some discussion as to what the undersea craft ought to be called, Ned explained:
"After whom?" inquired Tom, in some surprise, looking up from a letter he was writing.
"That isn't such a bad idea," conceded Tom musingly. "The only thing about it is that I don't want Mary's name bandied about that way."
"How do you mean
"The M. N. 1." mused Tom. "Not so bad. If the N. C. 4 flew over the ocean the M. N. 1 ought to be able to navigate under it. I think I'll do that, Ned."
Busy and more busy were the days that passed. As the M. N. 1 had to be refitted some miles from Tom's home, where it was feasible to launch her for the trip, he had to make the journey between the drydock and his shop either by automobile or aeroplane. Often he choose the latter, since he had a number of small, speedy craft in his hangars. Sometimes Ned or Mr. Damon went with him, but Mr. Hardley could never be induced to ride in an airship.
"Tom, what's this?" asked Ned one day, when he and Tom had come to see how the work of remodeling the submarine was getting along. "It looks like something you used when you dug your big tunnel."
"Can't you use the special diving suits that you always used to carry?" the financial manager wanted to know.
A diving bell is shaped like its name. A common glass tumbler thrust down into a pail of water, with the open side down, will show exactly the principle on which a diving bell works. It illustrates the fact that two things cannot occupy the same place at the same time.
The two young men inspected the progress made in refitting the submarine, and Tom expressed himself as satisfied.
"In about two weeks," was the answer. "I'll want to get to the West Indies before the fall storms start. Not only will it be impossible to make a search then, but the very location of the sunken wreck may be changed."
"Because of undersea currents. They are strong enough, not only to sweep a wreck away from the place where it may have settled, but they may cover it with sand, and then it is hopeless to try to dig it out. So We've got to go soon, if we go at all."
"You're wanted on the telephone, Mr. Swift," said the messenger. "It's important, too."
"HELLO! Hello! Yes, this is Tom Swift. What's that? You've had an accident? Great Scott, Mary! I hope you aren't hurt."
Ned overheard these words as he stood outside the temporary office, from inside which Tom Swift was telephoning.
He was about to hurry in to offer his services when he heard Tom laugh, and then he knew it was all right. He heard his chum say:
Then followed a period of listening on the part of Tom, to be broken by the words:
With that Tom hung up the receiver and joined his chum.
Ned promised to do this, and at once put in a call for the home of his chum's fiancee, while Tom had one of his men run out the Air Scout. This was an aeroplane recently perfected by the young inventor which slipped through space with scarcely a sound. So silent was it that the craft had been dubbed "Silent Sam," and it stood Tom in good stead as those of you know who have read the volume just before the present book. This sky glider Tom would now use in going to the rescue of Mary Nestor was not, however, the same large craft that figured in the previous story. That airship had been given to the United States government for war purposes. But Tom had built himself a smaller one for his own use. It had the advantage of enabling him to carry on a conversation with his passenger when he took one aloft.
Now, when the Air Scout had been run out of the hangar, Tom climbed into it.
"Two's company and three's a crowd!" laughed Ned. "I know!"
"I know!" answered his chum. "On your way!"
Tom did not rise to a great height, as he would need only a few minutes to reach the place where Mary was stalled by the accident to her machine. Soon he was hovering over a level field, one of several that lined the country highways in that section. A small crowd on the turnpike gathered about an evidently disabled automobile gave Tom the clew he needed, and presently he made a landing. Instantly the throng of country people who had gathered to look at the automobile crash deserted that for a view of something more sensational--an airship.
"Are you sure you aren't hurt?" he asked her anxiously.
"But it was all my fault!" insisted a young fellow who had been driving the car that crashed into Mary's. "I'm all kinds of sorry, and of course I'll pay all damages. I wanted this young lady to let me drive her home and then send a garage man to tow her car, but she said she had other plans. I don't blame her for not wanting to ride in my jitney bus when I see what kind of car you have," and he looked over toward Tom's aeroplane.
"You must have made some large purchases," laughed Tom, looking critically at the small bag. "Yes, there'll be room for that, all right."
Of course a crowd gathered to see them start off, and this was not long delayed, as Tom was not fond of curiosity seekers. In a few minutes he and Mary were soaring aloft.
"Fine and dandy," she answered, smiling at him, for they were riding side by side and could converse with little difficulty owing to the silent running of Tom's latest invention. "I'm sorry to have called you away from your work," she added, "but when Mrs. Baggert told me you were at the submarine dock I thought perhaps you could run out and get me in your machine. I didn't expect you to fly to me."
"Not greatly. I saw it coming, and knew it was unavoidable. That chap hasn't been running autos very long, I imagine, and he lost his head in the emergency. But I had my brakes on and he just coasted into me. I was lucky in that it wasn't worse."
"I think I'd better. Mother and father may be a little worried about me. And they've had trouble enough of late."
"No, just family financial matters. Not ours she hastened to add, as she saw Tom look quickly at her. "A relative. I shouldn't have mentioned it, but father and mother are a little worried, and I don't want to add to it."
"Oh, I expected you to say that!" laughed Mary. "Thanks. If there is we'll call on you. But it may all be straightened out. Father was expecting a message from Uncle Barton today. So, though I'd like to take a cloud-ride with you, I think I'd better get home."
"I'll try," promised Mary, but it was obvious, even from the quick glances Tom gave her, that she was worried about something. Mary was not her usual, spontaneous, jolly self, and Tom realized it.
"Oh, I don't mind a little walk, especially as I didn't have to hike it all the way in from Bailey Corners," she said, referring to the place of the automobile accident. "I suppose the time will come when everybody who now has an auto will have an airship and a landing place, or a starting place, for it at his own door," she added.
Tom left his Air Scout in a field owned by Mr. Nestor, where he had often landed before, and walked up to the house with Mary.
"You weren't worried, were you, after Ned telephoned?" asked Tom.
Thereupon the girl related all the circumstances of the smash, and Tom added his share of the story.
"Yes," was the answer, in rather despondent tones, "he did, but the news was not encouraging. The papers cannot be found."
"I've heard you speak of him," Tom admitted.
"No, in Texas," corrected Mrs. Nestor.
"That's too bad!" exclaimed Tom. "How did it happen?"
"No," said Mrs. Nestor. "My brother thought sure he had a trace of the man he believes has the papers, or who had them, but he lost track of him. If we could only find him--"
"THIS is my busy day!" announced the young inventor as he went into the Nestor sitting room, where the telephone was installed.
"Perhaps it is some one else who wants you to come to their rescue," suggested Mary.
"Just a business matter," he announced to Mary and her mother, when he rejoined them. "A gentleman with whom I expect to make a submarine trip is at the house, and wants to consult with me about details. He is getting anxious to start. Mr. Damon is there, too."
"Yes, and some things he doesn't see," agreed Tom. "He is going with us on this submarine trip."
"Well, I don't know that they are particularly dangerous," replied Tom, with a smile. "But we expect to make a search for a sunken treasure ship in a submarine. That's the vessel I'm working on now," he added. "We're rebuilding the Advance, you know, making her more up-to-date, and adding some new features, including her name--M. N. 1."
"Then aren't you friendly with the other man?" asked Mary.
"Well, I'm glad they found you, but I'm sorry you have to go," Mary said with a smile.
"Oil wells are queer, anyhow," mused Tom.
Musing on the possibilities in this field, Tom, having left Ned at the latter's home, soared down from aloft, and a little later, having told Koku to look after the Air Scout, much to the delight of the giant and the discomfiture of Rad, the young inventor was closeted with Mr. Damon and Dixwell Hardley.
"Well, it won't be long now," was the answer. "The men are working hard to get the submarine in shape, and I should say that in another week, or two weeks at the most, we could set off!"
"That sounds encouraging," replied Tom. "It only remains to find the sunken ship now. But what interests me greatly is whether, after we have gotten this gold, supposing we are successful, we shall be allowed to keep it."
"Not always," answered Tom. "There are certain rules and laws about treasure, and it might happen that after we got this--if we do--it could be taken away from us."
"Well, perhaps you are right," assented Tom. "We'll make a try for it, anyhow."
"She will be ready for a trial trip at the end of this week," said Tom, "and be fitted up for the voyage within another seven days, I hope. Then for the great adventure!" and he laughed, though, truth to tell, he had no real liking for his task. The more he saw of Mr. Hardley the less he liked him.
"Yes, there always is some danger," admitted Tom. "But then there is danger walking along the street."
"And I'll try to do the same this time," said the young inventor.
Mary blushed as she gave the boat her new name, and there was a little cheer from the group of workmen gathered at the dock. There was no launching in the real sense of the word, since as the Advance that ceremony had been gone through with for the undersea craft.
In addition to using the submarine herself in a search for the gold on the Pandora, Tom had installed on board some new kinds of diving apparatus and also a diving bell. If one would not serve, the other might, he reasoned.
"Yes; and I think she's a much better craft, too, Father."
"No, I didn't," replied Tom. "If I had left that installed it would have meant carrying a smaller diving bell, and I think that last will be more useful than the gyroscope. I put in a set of double-acting depth rudders instead."
"I'm sorry for that, Tom," he remarked. "There's nothing like the gyroscope rudder in a tight pinch--say when there's a storm. And for holding the boat steady, if you have to make a sudden turn under water, to avoid an obstruction you come upon unexpectedly, a gyroscope can't be improved on. It holds you steady and prevents your turning turtle."
But still his father was not satisfied.
But it was too late to make the change now, and so, with more than usual confidence in his own designing abilities, the next day the young inventor and his friends went aboard the M. N. 1 for the trial trip.
"No, I'm considered a good sailor."
"I can imagine so," returned Mr. Hardley. "But I'll be thinking of the millions in gold on the Pandora, and that will keep my mind off being seasick."
He gave the word, they all descended, the hatch covers were closed down, and the M. N. 1 was ready to start on a trial trip.
"WHAT'S that noise?" asked Mr. Hardley.
"That's water being pumped into the tanks," explained Tom. "We are now going down. If you'll watch the depth gauge you can note our progress."
"Bless my hydrometer, but he's got nerve for a first trip in a submarine! He's all right, isn't he?" whispered Mr. Damon to Tom.
"Well, I think you'll find Mr. Hardley all right," said Mr. Damon, who seemed to have taken a strong liking to his new friend.
"We are going down now," Tom explained, as he pointed out to Mr. Hardley the various controlling wheels and levers, "by filling our ballast tanks with water. We can rise, when needful, by forcing out this water by means of compressed air. When we are on the ocean we can go down by using our diving rudders, and in much quicker time than by filling our tanks."
"Filling the tanks is slow work in itself," replied Tom, "and they have to be filled very carefully and evenly, so we don't stand on our stern or bow in going down. We want to sink on an even keel, and sometimes this is hard to accomplish. But we are doing it now," and he called attention to an indicator which told how much the M. N. 1 might be listing to one side or to one end or the other.
A submarine moves under water by means of electric motors, the current of which is supplied by storage batteries. On the surface when the hatches can be opened, oil or gasolene engines are used. These engines cannot be used under water because they depend on a supply of air, or oxygen, and when the submarine is tightly sealed all the air possible is needed for her crew to breathe. While cruising on the surface a submarine recharges her storage batteries to give her motive power when she is submerged.
Tom Swift's reconstructed craft compared favorably with the best and largest ever made, though she was not of exceptional size. She was very strong, however, to allow her to go to a great depth, for the farther down one goes below the surface of the sea, the greater the pressure until, at, say, six miles, the greatest known depth of the ocean, the pressure is beyond belief. And yet is possible that marine monsters may live in that pressure which would flatten out a block of solid steel into a sheet as thin as paper.
"Very well, so far. But it isn't very exciting yet."
"I'm used to it," was the answer. "The more there is the better I like it."
He turned a lever, and those on board the submarine became conscious of a forward motion. She was no longer sinking.
"We'll go into the forward pilot house and give Mr. Hardley a view under water," he announced. "Of course, you'll see nothing like what you'll view when we're in the ocean," added the young inventor, "but it may interest you."
"Here you are!" exclaimed Tom, as he switched out the lights in the cabin. For a moment they were in darkness, and then, with a click, steel plates, guarding heavy plate glass bull's-eyes, moved back, and Mr. Hardley for the first time looked out on an underwater scene. He saw the murky waters of river down which they were proceeding to the bay moving past the glass windows. Now and then a fish swam up, looking in, and, with a swirl of its tail, shot away again, apparently frightened well-nigh to death.
"I can imagine not," said Mr. Hardley. "But it is interesting. I shall be anticipating more wonderful sights."
"Yes, indeed," answered the young inventor. "That gave us a scare for the time being."
"There isn't much of interest in the river," said Tom. "No big fish, or anything else of moment. Even in the bay we won't see much to attract our attention. But I want to make sure everything is working smoothly before we start for the West Indies."
He remained at the glass bull's-eyes, now and then exclaiming as some shad or other fair-sized fish came into view. Suddenly, however, his exclamation was sharper than usual.
Ned, Mr. Damon, and Tom looked out and saw, sweeping past them, the ribs and worm-eaten timbers of some craft, lying on the bottom of the river.
As he spoke they all became aware of a sudden swerve in the course of the submarine. The helmsman had, doubtless, noted the "water-mark," as Tom termed it, and as an automobilist on land might swing at the cross-roads, the steersman was changing the course of his craft.
"He is your captain?" asked Mr. Hardley.
They talked of various matters, Tom relating to Mr. Hardley how a tug had rammed the brick scow some years ago, and sunk it in the river.
"Guess he's going to give the motors a good try-out," observed Tom. "I think I'll go back to the engine room. You may remain here, if you like, and you'll probably see--"
"Bless my rubber boots, Tom! Look!" cried the eccentric man. "We're going to ram a mud bank!"
Characteristic it was of Tom Swift to act calmly in times of stress and danger, and he ran true to form now. Only for an instant did he show any sign of perturbation. Then with calmness and deliberation the young inventor quickly did a number of things to the controls within his reach.
First of all he signaled to the engine room that he was going to take charge of the boat. This meant that the navigator in the conning tower was to keep his hands off the various levers and wheel-valves. It was possible to operate the M. N. 1 from three positions, but Tom wanted no triplicate handling of his craft now.
"Backing her up, Tom?" asked Ned, in a low voice.
For perhaps a minute this vibration continued, showing that the powerful electric motors were turning over the twin propellers at the blunt stern of the craft. But she did not change her position.
"Bless my postage stamps, Tom! what has happened?" exclaimed Mr. Damon. "Has a giant squid attacked us, as one did some time ago, and is he roiling up the water?"
Ned looked toward Mr. Hardley to see how he was taking it. The seeker after gold apparently had good control of his nerves, or else he was ignorant of what was going on. For he asked, casually enough:
"We have," answered Tom. "I thought I'd give you a view of the scenery."
"Well, if this is a fair sample of underwater scenery I prefer something up above, though I appreciate that this may be needful."
"Yes, Master," was the answer. Koku had implicit faith in Tom.
"Bless my hammock hooks, Tom! are you standing her on her head?" cried Mr. Damon.
The submarine was indeed in a peculiar position. She was on a slant in the water, her nose held fast in the soft mud bank, and it was Tom's idea that by making the stern buoyant it might help to pull her free.
But it all seemed to no purpose. Aside from the slanting position, there was no change in the M. N. 1. Ned, looking out into the murky water, which had cleared slightly, saw that the craft was still held fast. And then, for the first time, Mr. Hardley seemed to become aware that something serious was the matter. Up to now he seemed to think that all that had occurred was done for the purpose of testing the newly outfitted underseas boat.
"I suppose so," agreed Tom. "But we have had an accident, and--"
"We have run into a mud bank," said Tom. "The steersman must have become confused, or else, since we last used the submarine, there has been a shift of the mud banks in this river and one exists where there was none before. At any rate, we ran our nose deep into it, and here we are--stuck!"
"I'm trying to bring that about," announced Tom calmly. "So far her engines haven't been able to pull her loose."
"Now wait a minute!" calmly advised Tom Swift. "You haven't any more at stake than the rest of us. None of us wants to be drowned, and there is only a remote possibility that we shall be. I haven't played all my cards yet. We can live on this boat for a week, if need be."
"Yes. I always keep the boat provisioned and with plenty of air and water for a long stay, if need be," replied Tom. "And I did not overlook the fact that we might have an accident on the trial trip."
"He is very careful," explained Tom. "But we have not used the craft for some time, and, meanwhile, there have been changes in the river, due, I suppose, to heavy tides. But we may get out of the grip of the mud bank soon."
"Then there is always the torpedo tube," said Tom calmly. "And we are not very deep down. I think I can save you all."
Tom did not answer. But as he looked out of the observation windows to see if possible the conformation of the mud bank, the young inventor whispered to Ned one word. And that word was:
"You said it!" was Ned's whispered rejoinder.
"What are you going to try, Tom?" asked Ned.
"Bless my apple pie, Tom!" cried Mr. Damon, "doesn't that seem a foolish thing to do?"
"But you haven't any right to shove our nose further in!" cried Mr. Hardley. "I won't allow it! I demand to be put on the surface! I won't be drowned down here before I get the gold that's coming to me--the gold and--"
Mr. Hardley stared at the young inventor a moment, seemed about to say something, and then changed his mind.
She appeared to be acting like a corkscrew. While her bow was comparatively steady, her stern described a circle in the water which was churned to mud by the two propellers, each being revolved in a different direction.
And indeed the motion was unpleasant. Tom, veteran airman and sailor that he was, began to feel a trifle seasick, and Hr. Hardley was in very evident distress.
"Are we free?" cried Mr. Hardley.
His announcement was received in momentary silence, and then Ned exclaimed:
"Bless my accident policy!" voiced Mr. Damon.
"I want to apologize, Mr. Swift, for my actions and words," said Mr. Hardley frankly. "I admit that I lost my head. But it's my first trip in a submarine."
"Try me!" exclaimed the adventurer. "You won't find me acting so like a baby again."
"Maybe I've misjudged him," Tom said to Ned, when they were getting ready to go back.
About a month later all was ready for the trip to the West Indies to look for the ill-fated Pandora. Tom's affairs were put in shape, the submarine was laden with stores and provisions, the new diving bell and other wonderful apparatus were put aboard, and the crew and officers picked. Ned, Mr. Damon, Koku, and Tom were, of course, together, and though Mr. Hardley was a stranger, he seemed to become more friendly as the days passed.
"Give her my regards," requested Ned, and Tom said he would.
"OH, Tom! And so you are really ready to start on that perilous trip!" exclaimed Mary Nestor, a little later that same evening, when Tom called at Mary's house in his speedy electric runabout, a car in which he had once made a sensational ride.
"Didn't you tell me you were stuck in a mud bank away down under the river and had hard work to get loose?" asked the young lady, as she made a place for Tom on the sofa beside her.
"It would have been if you hadn't come up."
"Suppose you get in a similar position when you find the wreck of the Pandora? You won't get up so easily, will you?"
For some time Tom Swift and Mary talked of mutual friends and happenings in which they were both interested. Mr. and Mrs. Nestor stepped into the room for a minute, to wish the young inventor good luck on his voyage, and when they had gone out, promising to see Tom before he left for the night, the latter remarked to Mary:
"No," was the answer, "he never did. And we feel very sorry for him. Just think, he had a fortune in his grasp, and now it is slipping away."
"Well, I don't exactly understand it all," she replied. "Father says I'll never have a head for business. But as nearly as I can tell, my uncle, Barton Keith, went into partnership with a man to prospect for oil in Texas. My uncle has been in that business before, and he was very successful. He supplied the working knowledge about oil wells, I believe, and the other man put up the money. My uncle was to have a half share in whatever oil wells he located, and his partner supplied the cash for putting down the pipe, or whatever is done."
"Well, anyhow," went on Mary, "my uncle spent many weary months prospecting in Texas. In fact, he made himself ill, being out in all sorts of weather, looking after the drilling. At last they struck oil, as I believe they call it. They drilled down until they brought in what my uncle called a 'gusher,' and there was a chance of him and his partner getting rich."
"Because he lost the papers showing that he had a right to half the oil well," answered Mary. "At least my uncle thinks he lost them, but he was so ill, directly after the well proved a success, that he says he isn't sure what happened. At any rate, his partner claims everything and my uncle can do nothing. He has been hoping he might find the papers somewhere, or that something would happen to prove the rights of his claim."
"Not yet. My father and mother have been trying to help him, and dad engaged a lawyer, but he says nothing can be done unless my uncle recovers the partnership and other papers. As it stands now, it is my uncle's word against the word of his partner, and both are equally good in a court of law. But if Uncle Barton could find the documents everything would come out all right. He could claim his half of the oil well then."
"Yes, better than ever. But that's all the good it does my uncle. He is ill, discouraged, and despondent. All his fortune was eaten up in prospecting, and he depended on the gusher to make him rich again. And now, because of a rascally partner, he may be doomed to die a poor man. Of course we will always help him, but you know what it is to be dependent on relatives."
"The only way you or any one could help, would be to get back my uncle's missing papers," said Mary. "And as he himself isn't sure what became of them, it seem hopeless."
"I wish you weren't going," sighed Mary.
Mary sat bolt upright on the couch.
"Dixwell Hardley," repeated Tom. "That's he name of the man who claims to know where the wreck of the Pandora lies. He says she has two millions or more in gold on board, and I'm to get half."
"What do you mean?" asked the young inventor. "What has the oil well to do with recovering gold from the wreck?"
"What same man?"
"Is he the man who cheated your uncle?" cried Tom.
"Whew!" whistled the young inventor. "This is news to me! I can say one thing, though. Mr. Hardley doesn't take a dollar out of that wreck unless I get one to match it. I think I hold the best cards on this deal. But, Mary, are you sure it's the same man?"
"What's this Mary tells me, Tom?" asked Mr. Nestor, as he followed his daughter back into the room.
"You mean about Dixwell Hardley?"
"I wouldn't want to say, Mr. Nestor, until you describe to me the Mr. Hardley you know. Then I can better tell. But from what little I have seen of the man to whom I was introduced by my friend Mr. Damon, I'd say, off hand, that he was capable of such action."
"I wouldn't say that he did," Tom replied. "I don't know just how Mr. Damon met this chap--I think it was in a financial way, though."
This the young inventor did, and when this description had been compared with one given of the Mr. Hardley with whom Mr. Keith once was associated, Mrs. Nestor said:
"It does seem so," Tom agreed. "Dixwell Hardley is not a usual name; but we must be careful In spite of its unusualness there may be two very different men who have that name. I think the only way to find out for certain is to see Mr. Keith. He'd know a picture of the Dixwell Hardley who, he claims, cheated him, wouldn't he?"
"No, I don't own him, and I don't want to," was Tom's answer. "But I happen to have a picture of him. I made him furnish me with proofs that he was on the Pandora at the time she foundered in a gale, and among the documents he gave was his passport. It has his picture on. I have it here."
"It looks like the same man my brother described," said Mrs. Nestor, "but of course I couldn't be sure."
"Ill at his home in Bedford," answered Mrs. Nestor.
"But it's a hundred miles from here!" exclaimed Mary. "And you are leaving on your submarine trip the first thing in the morning, Tom!"
"But it will take longer than that," said Mr. Nestor. "Bedford is a small place, and there's only one train a day there. You'll lose at least three days Tom, if you go there."
"Mary, will you go with me to see your uncle? We'll start the first thing in the morning and I'll show him this picture. Will you go?"
"Good!" cried Tom. "Then I'll make preparations. I don't want to form any rash judgment, so we'll make certain; but it wouldn't surprise me a bit to have it turn out that the Dixwell Hardley who wants me to help him recover the Pandora treasure is the same one who is trying to cheat Mr. Keith."
"Well, Tom," began the eccentric man, "we have good weather for the start. Bless my rubber boots! Not that it much matters, though, what sort of weather we have when we're in the submarine. But I always like to start in the sunshine."
"We'll go to the dock in the auto, as usual, shall we not?" he asked.
"Not going to start this morning!" exclaimed Mr. Hardley. "Why --why--"
"Oh, no," was the easy answer. "We'll go, as arranged, but not today. I had some unexpected news last night which necessitates making a trip this morning. I expect to be back tonight, if all goes well, and we'll start tomorrow morning instead of this. It's a matter of important business."
"To Bedford, to call on a Mr. Barton Keith," answered Tom quickly, looking the adventurer straight in the eyes.
"Oh, Bedford," he remarked. "Don't know that I ever heard of the place."
"No, certainly not. Why should I?" he asked, boldly.
Tom made a hurried meal, and then, giving Ned a hint of what was in the wind, but cautioning him to say nothing about it, Tom had the small Air Scout brought out, and in that he flew over to Mary's home.
"You haven't heard anything from your uncle since last night, have you?" asked Tom, as they flew along.
"That's too bad!" sympathized Tom. "I hope we can make it turn out that way. If the two Dixwell Hardley chaps are the same it may be that I can do something for your uncle. If not--we'll have to wait and see."
An explanation to the housekeeper and an inspection on the part of the nurse, brought forth permission for Tom to see the patient. Though he had never known Mr. Keith he could see that the man's health was indeed fast waning.
"Is that the man who cheated you on the oil-well deal?" asked the young inventor.
"How did he get the best of you?" asked Tom.
"He isn't going under a false name, that's sure," agreed Tom. "He must be a bold chap."
"I'm not exactly working with him," replied Tom. "As a matter of fact, I'm sorry I ever agreed to look for this wreck."
"But, so far, Mr. Damon is quite taken with him," Tom went on. "Now, Mr. Keith, if it isn't too much for you, I should like to hear all the particulars."
"We are actually partners," declared Mr. Keith. "I agreed to do the work, and he agreed to furnish the money. I must say this for him, that he kept to that end of the bargain. He supplied the money to locate and drill the wells, but I got very little of it personally. And I fulfilled my end of it. I discovered the wells. Then, when the break came, and I wanted to be rid of the man--for I caught him in some crooked transactions--he surprised me by telling me to get out. I asked for my share of the oil-well stock, and was told I was not entitled to any.
"Where was he during the trial?" asked Tom.
"A South American revolution!" exclaimed Tom, and a great light came to him.
"Did he have the papers that would prove you were entitled to a half share in the oil wells?" asked Tom.
Mr. Keith fell back in a faint on the bed, and, in great alarm, Tom summoned the nurse.
Mary Nestor, as well as Tom Swift, felt great alarm over the condition of Mr. Keith. But the nurse, after reviving him, said:
"Then will he get well?" asked Mary.
"Oh, if we only could do something!" murmured Mary.
Mr. Keith opened his eyes, and smiled at his niece.
"You didn't dream it, Uncle," Mary answered. "You were talking to Tom Swift. Here he is," and Tom came forward.
"It may not be, Mr. Keith!" exclaimed Tom.
"I mean," replied the young inventor, "that I am much interested in what you have told me. Now that I have proved that the Dixwell Hardley who is to sail with me is the same one who has treated you so shabbily, I think I understand the truth. I don't want to make a promise that I may not be able to carry out, but I am going to watch this man while he's on the submarine with me."
"I shall have to," he said. "I have entered into an agreement with this man and I'm not going to break my contract, no matter what he does. But I think I know what his game is. Mr. Keith, I'm going to ask you to keep quiet about this matter until I come back from the treasure search. I may then have some news for you."
"Well, he may not have them, but perhaps he knows where they are," said Tom. "And I'm going to make it my business to watch him and see if I can find out his secret. I won't let him know I've heard from you. I'll apply the old saying of giving him plenty of rope, and I'll watch what happens.
Mary added a few words of comfort and encouragement to her uncle, and then she and Tom took leave of him, flying back to Shopton in the speedy Air Scout.
"I'm going to start on the submarine voyage tomorrow," was the answer of the young inventor.
"Well, I've satisfied myself that a ship named the Pandora sunk about where Hardley says it did, and she had some treasure on board. Whether it's just the kind he has told me it was I don't know. But I'm going to find out."
"Oh, it may not be for so very long," and Tom tried to speak cheerfully. "I'll bring you back some souvenirs from the bottom of the sea," he added with a laugh.
By appointment Tom met Mr. Damon and Mr. Hardley at the submarine dock the next morning. Everything had been made ready for the start, postponed from the day before. Mr. Hardley's estimated share of the expenses had been deposited in a bank, to be paid over later.
"Oh, were going this time!" exclaimed Tom. "And I hope everything turns out the way I want it to," he added meaningly.
"And I'll find her if she's where you say she went down," answered Tom. "Now then, as soon as Ned comes we'll start."
"All aboard!" called Tom, when he saw his financial manager coming down the pier. "We're ready to start now."
"We'll sing a song of victory when we come back," replied Tom, with a laugh. "Everything all right at home, Ned?" he asked, for his chum had just come on from Shopton.
"It's too late for that now," said Tom. "He attaches, I think, too much importance to that device. I shan't need it with the improvements I have made to the craft. Get aboard!"
"Though we will go down to the bottom when we get to the Atlantic for the purpose of testing her in deep water," decided Tom. "Most of the time we'll steam on the surface, for we'll save our batteries that way, and it's more comfortable breathing natural air."
"Rad, him be plenty mad he not come," said Koku to Tom, as the giant moved about the cabin, putting things to rights.
"Rad no laugh," declared Koku. "Rad him too mad dat I come on trip."
The first part of the trip was without incident of moment. No mishap attended the voyage of the M. N. 1 down the river, out into the bay, and so on to the great Atlantic.
"What's up?" asked Ned, hearing the instructions passed around.
A little later, by means of her diving rudders, aided also by the tanks, the M. N. 1 began to sink. Down, down, down she went.
Ten minutes later the depth gauge showed that they were down about three hundred feet, and that is pretty deep for a submarine. But Tom's boat was capable of even greater depths than that.
Mr. Hardley, however, was fascinated, and kept close to the observation windows.
"Possibly," was the answer. "Though they do not contain any treasure, I imagine--brick schooners or cargo boats would be about all."
Suddenly Mr. Hardley, who was now alone at the window on the port side, uttered a cry of alarm.
Tom Swift, who had been making readings of the various gauges, taking notes for future use, and otherwise busying himself about the navigation of his reconstructed craft, turned quickly from the instrument board at the cry from Mr. Hardley. The goldseeker, with a look of terror on his face, had recoiled from the observation windows.
"Bless my hat band!" cried Mr. Damon. "Look, Tom!"
"Are we well protected against sharks, Mr. Swift?" demanded the adventurer. "Are these sea monsters likely to break, the glass and get in at us?"
"Not sharks?" cried Mr. Hardley. "What are they, then?"
"Oh!" exclaimed Mr. Hardley, and he seemed a little ashamed of the exhibition of fear he had manifested. "Well, they certainly seem determined to follow us," he added.
"They do look as though they'd like to take a bite or two out of us," observed Ned. "Are they dangerous, Tom?"
"Bless my toothbrush!" exclaimed Mr. Damon. "Still, between a horse mackerel and a shark there isn't much choice!"
"We'll have trouble with him before this voyage is over," declared the young inventor to his chum, a little later.
"Because he's yellow; that's why. I thought him that once before, and then I revised my opinion. Now I'm back where I started. You watch--we'll have trouble."
"I'm going a little deeper," announced Tom, toward evening on the first day of the voyage on the open ocean. "I want to see how she stands the pressure at five hundred feet. I feel certain she will, and even at a greater depth. But if there's anything wrong we want to correct it before we get too far away from home. We're going down again, deeper than before."
But Tom Swift and his men had done their work well. The M. N. 1 stood the strain, and when the gauge showed four hundred and ninety feet Mr. Damon gave a faint cheer.
"Oh, we've been deeper than this," replied the young inventor, "but under different conditions. I'm glad to see how well she is standing it, though."
"What's that?" suddenly and nervously cried Mr. Hardley. "Have we struck something?"
And there, as calmly and easily as some of the masses of seaweed growing on the ocean floor around her, rested the M. N. 1. It was a test of her powers, and well had she stood the test, though harder ones were in store for her.
"Are you going to stay here long?" asked Mr. Hardley, when Tom had spent some time making accurate readings of the various instruments of the boat. "Of course, I realize that you are the commander, but if we don't get to the treasure ship soon some one else may loot her before we have a chance. She's been given up as a hopeless task more than once, but the lure of the millions may attract another gang."
"Oh, I'm game!" exclaimed the young financial manager. "Get out the suit, Tom, and I'll put it on. I'll go for a stroll on the bottom of the sea. Who knows? Perhaps I may pick up a pearl."
"Not this time, Tom," answered the eccentric man. "My heart action isn't what it used to be. The doctor said I mustn't strain it. At a depth not quite so great I may take a chance."
"I--I don't believe I've had enough experience," was the hesitating answer. "I'll watch the others first."
Those who have read of Tom Swift's submarine boat know how his special diving outfit was operated. Instead of the diver being supplied with the air through a hose connected with a pump on the surface, there was attached to the suit a tank of compressed air, which was supplied as needed through special reducing valves.
Thus Ned and Koku could leave the submarine, walk about on the floor of the ocean as they pleased, and return, unhampered by an air hose or life line. In dangerous waters, infested by sea monsters, weapons could be carried that were effective under water. The diving suit was also provided with a powerful electric light operated by a new form of storage current, compact and lasting.
"Give me axe!" exclaimed Koku, as some of the sailors were about to put his helmet in place.
"Maybe so one them cow fish come along," explained the giant. "Koku whack him with axe."
Two keen axes were handed to the divers, their helmets were screwed on, and they immediately began breathing the compressed air carried in a tank on their shoulders.
To leave the submarine the divers had to enter a steel chamber in the side of the craft. This craft contained double doors. Once the divers were inside the door leading to the interior of the submarine was hermetically closed. Water from outside was then admitted until the pressure was equalized. Then the outer door was opened and Ned and Koku could step forth.
"If you'll come around to the observation windows you can see them," said Tom, when a look at the indicators told him Ned and Koku had stepped forth.
"Bless my pickle bottle!" cried Mr. Damon, "there they are, Tom."
Ned and the giant moved slowly, for it was impossible to progress with any speed wader that terrific pressure. They looked toward the submarine and waved their hands in greeting. They had no special object on the ocean floor, except to try the new diving dress, and it seemed to operate successfully. Ned made a pretense of looking for treasure amid the sand and seaweed, and once he caught and held up by its tail a queer turtle. Koku stalked about behind Ned, looking to right and left, possibly for a sight of some monster "cow fish."
Suddenly Koku was seen to glide to the side of Ned, and point at something which none of the observers in the M. N. 1 could see. The giant was evidently perturbed, and Ned, too, showed some agitation.
"I don't know," answered Tom. "Perhaps they have sighted a wreck, or something like that."
As he spoke all in the observation chamber saw a great, black form, as if of some monster, move close to the two divers.
"What is it, Tom? What is it?" cried Mr. Damon, not stopping in this moment of excitement to bless anything. "What is going to attack Ned and Koku?"
He gave a quick glance through the observation windows. Ned and the giant were moving as fast as they could toward the side of the craft where they could enter. The black, shadowy form was nearer now, but its nature could not be made out.
A little later, as they all stood waiting in tense eagerness, there came a signal that the two divers had entered the side chamber. Quickly Tom turned the lever that closed the outer door.
"Bless my cake of soap, Tom!" cried Mr. Damon, "what in the world is that?"
The young inventor gave one look at the irate man who was coming out in his true colors. But it was no time to rebuke him. Too much yet remained to be done. Ned and Koku were still in the chamber and protected from some unknown sea monster by only a comparatively thin door. They must be inside to be perfectly safe.
The submarine had not ceased rolling from the force of the blow she had received when there came another, and this time on the opposite side. Once more she rolled to a dangerous angle.
"I don't know," was the low-voiced answer, "unless a pair of monsters are attacking us on both sides alternately. But we'll soon learn. There goes the last of the water!"
"What was it, Ned?" cried Tom.
"Two monster whales!" gasped Ned. "We barely got away from them! They're ramming the sub, Tom!"
"Both at the same time!" cried Ned. "The two whales are coming at us both at once!"
"What are you going to do?" asked Mr. Hardley. "You ought to do something! I'm not going to be killed down here by a whale. You've got to do something, Swift! I've had enough of this!"
"Are we in any danger, Tom?" asked the eccentric man.
He paused as he pulled over the lever that would send the M. N. 1 to the surface.
"Then we'll have to use some weapon, and I have several," finished the young inventor.
"We're puzzling them!" cried Tom.
"Whales!" cried Tom Swift. "And the largest I've ever seen
But the motion of the undersea ship, the bright lights, and possibly the feel of her steel skin was evidently not to the liking of the sea monsters. One, indeed, came so close to the glass that he seemed about to try to break it, but, to the relief of all, he veered off, evidently not liking the look of what he saw.
"They've gone!" exclaimed Mr. Damon, as the whales vanished from the sight of those in the forward cabin.
He had dropped the formal "Mr." and seemed to treat Tom as an inferior.
And Tom was right. When the surface was reached and the main hatch opened, the sea was calm and there was no sight of the whales. They evidently had had enough of their encounter with a steel fish, larger even than themselves.
"Koku was for attacking them with his axe," went on Ned, "but I motioned to him to beat it. We wouldn't have stood a show against such creatures. They were on us before we noticed their coming, but I presume the big submarine attracted them away from us."
Mr. Hardley seemed to recover some of his former manners, once the peril was passed, but his conduct had been a revelation to Mr. Damon.
"I don't, either," replied Tom frankly. "But we're in for it now. We've agreed to do certain things, and I'll carry out my end of the bargain. However, I won't put up with any of his nonsense. He's got to obey orders on this ship! I know more than he thinks I do!"
Not until the gauge showed a hundred fathoms, or six hundred feet, did the craft cease descending, and then she came to rest on the bottom of the sea--a greater depth than she had yet attained on this voyage.
Well might he say that, for they were resting on pure white sand, and about them, growing on the bottom of this warm, tropical sea were great corals, purple and white, of wondrous shapes, waving plants like ferns and palms, and, amid it all, swam fish of queer shapes and beautiful colors.
"Perhaps I may try that some day," said Tom with a smile. "But just now I have something else to do. Ned, are you game for another try in the diving dress? I want to see how it operates with a new air tank I've fitted on. Want to try?"
A little later he and one of the sailors were outside the submarine, walking around in the diving dress, while Tom and the others watched through the glass windows. The new air tank seemed to be working well, for Ned, coming close to the window, signaled that he was very comfortable.
"An octopus!" cried Mr. Damon. "Bless my soul, Tom, an octopus has Ned!"
And he hurried toward the diving chamber, while the others, in fascinated horror, looked at the diver who was in such strange peril.
Mr. Damon came to a pause in the compartment from which the diving chamber gave access to the ocean outside. Tom, standing before the sliding steel door, had summoned to him several of his men and was rapidly giving them directions.
"I'm going out there to save Ned!" was the quick answer. "He's in the grip of some strange monster of the sea. What it is I don't know, but I'm going to find out. Koku, you come with me!"
"Barnes, the electric gun!" cried the young inventor to one of his helpers, while others were getting out the diving suits.
"No, the largest. The improved one."
"Do you mean to say you are going out there, where that monster is, and attack it with a gun?" asked Mr. Hardley.
"But you may be attacked by the monster! You may be killed! You are risking your life!" cried the gold seeker.
"But hold on!" cried Mr. Hardley. "If you are killed there will be no one to navigate this boat to the place of the wreck! You can't desert this way!"
"Bless my apple cart, Tom, that's the way to talk!" exclaimed Mr. Damon, and he, too, for the first time, seemed ready to break with Hardley. "If I were a bit younger I'd go out with you myself and help save Ned."
"Yes, and doubly charged," was the answer. "Good! I may need it. Koku, take a gun also!"
"Well, perhaps that will be better," Tom agreed. "If two of us get to shooting under the water we may hit one another. Quick, now! The helmets. And, Nash, you work the big searchlight!"
The helmets were now put on, and any further orders Tom had to give must come through the telephone, and it was by that same medium that he must listen to the talk of his friends. It was possible for the divers to talk and listen to one another while in the water by means of these peculiarly constructed telephones.
"All ready, Master," answered the giant, as he grasped his keen axe.
While this was going on Mr. Damon, the gold-seeker, and some of the crew and officers went into the forward chamber to observe the undersea fight against the monster that had attacked Ned.
"What makes it possible to see better?" asked Mr. Damon.
"It's a good thing he did!" exclaimed the eccentric man. "Now he can see what he's doing! Poor Ned! I'm afraid he's done for!"
This was so. Ned's companion, armed with a lone pole to which he had lashed a knife, was stabbing and jabbing at the black form which almost completely hid Ned from sight. But the efforts of the sailor seemed to produce little effect.
No one answered him. The powerful searchlight continued to glow, and in the gleam Ned could be seen trying to break away from the grip of the Atlantic beast. But his efforts were unavailing. It was as if he was enveloped in a sort of sack, made in segments, so that they opened and closed over his head. About all that could be seen of him was his feet, encased in the heavy lead-laden boots. The form of the other sailor, who had gone out of the submarine with him, could be seen moving here and there, stabbing at the huge creature.
So desperately was Norton engaged in trying to kill the sea beast that had attacked Ned, that for the moment he was unaware of the approach of Tom and Koku. Then, as a swirl of the water apprised him of this, he turned and, seeing them, hastened toward them.
"A giant starfish!" answered Norton, speaking into his mouthpiece and the water serving as a transmitting medium instead of wires. "I never knew they grew so big! This one has its five arms all around Mr. Newton!"
Small starfish, or even large ones, two feet or more in diameter, may be seen at the seashore almost any time. Nearly always the specimens cast up on the beach are in extended form, either limp, or dead and dried. In almost every instance they are spread out just as their name indicates, in the conventional form of a star.
And it was a gigantic starfish, a hundred times as large as any Tom had ever seen, that had Ned in its grip. The creature had doubtless taken the diver for a new kind of oyster, and was trying to open it. An octopus has suckers on the inner sides of its eight arms. A starfish has little feelers, or "fingers," arranged parallel rows on the inner side of its armsÄthousands of little feelers, and these exert a sort of sucking action.
"Come on, Koku, and you, too, Norton!" called Tom through his headpiece telephone. "We'll all attack it at once. I'll fire, and then you begin to hack it. The electric charge ought to stun it, if it doesn't kill the beast!"
Bracing his feet on the white sand, which gleamed and sparkled in the glare of the searchlight, Tom aimed at the gigantic starfish which had enveloped Ned. Standing on either side of him, ready to rush in and attack with axe and lance, were Koku and Norton.
"But the rubber suit ought to insulate and protect him," mused the young inventor. "Here goes!"
For an instant after the electrical charge had been fired nothing seem to happen. The giant starfish still enveloped Ned Newton in its grip, while Tom and his two companions stood tensely waiting and those in the submarine looked anxiously out through the thick glass windows.
Then, as the powerful current made itself felt, those watching saw one of the arms slowly loosen its grip. Another floated upward, as a strand of rope idly drifts in the current. Tom saw this, and called through his telephone:
They needed no second urging.
Pushing with their weapons, the giant and the sailor now freed Ned from the bulk of the creature, which floated away. It was almost immediately attacked by a school of fish that seemed to have been waiting for just this chance. Ned Newton was freed, but for a moment he staggered about on the floor of the sea, hardly able to stand.
"Yes, I'm all right," came back the reassuring answer. "I'm a bit cramped from the way he held me, but that's all. Guess he found this suit of rubber and steel too much for his digestion."
"There'll be sharks along soon," said Tom to Ned through the telephone. "They're not going to miss such a gathering of food as these small fry present. And sharks will present a different emergency from starfish."
"What did you think was happening to you out there?" asked Tom, when the diving suits had been put away.
"Nor I," added Tom. "Well, you've had an experience, to say the least."
They cruised in the open the rest of that day, recharging the storage batteries and getting ready for the search which, Tom calculated, would take them some time. As he had explained, it would not be easy to locate the Pandora in the fathomless depths of the sea.
"When are we going to begin the real search for the gold?" asked Mr. Hardley that evening.
"Of course I am sure of my figures," declared Mr. Hardley. "I had them directly from the first mate, who gave them to the captain."
"And I hope there will be no more taking chances," went on the gold-seeker. "I don't see any sense in you people going out in diving suits to fight starfish. We need those suits to recover the gold with, and it's foolish to take needless risks."
"Tom will you ever forgive me for introducing you to such a pest?"
Not wishing to navigate in the darkness, for fear of not being able to keep an accurate record of the course and the distance made Tom submerged the craft when night came and let her come to rest on the bottom of the sea. He calculated that two days later they would be in the vicinity of the Pandora.
The ballast tanks were emptied, the rising rudder set, and the M. N. 1 began to ascend. She was still several fathoms from the surface when all on board became aware of a violent pitching and tossing motion.
"Has anything gone wrong?" demanded Mr. Hardley.
Tom's explanation of the cause of the pitching and rolling of the submarine proved correct. When they reached the surface and an observation was taken from the conning tower, it was seen that a terrific storm was raging. It was out of the question to open the hatches, or the M. N. 1 would have been swamped. The waves were high, it was raining hard and the wind blowing a hurricane.
He gave the orders, and soon the craft was sinking again. The deeper she went the more untroubled the sea became, until, when half way to the bottom, there was no vestige of the storm.
"That is my plan," said Tom quietly. "We will proceed presently--just as soon as navigating calculations can be made and checked up. If we travel under water we want to go in the right direction."
A little later, after having floated quietly for half an hour or so, the craft was put in motion, traveling under water by means of her electric motors. All that day she surged on through the salty sea, no more disturbed by the storm above than was some mollusk on the sandy bottom.
"What's that?" cried Mr. Damon.
"Perhaps we have struck the wreck!" exclaimed Mr. Hardley.
Tom's words were choked off by a sudden swirl of the craft. She seemed about to turn completely over, and then, twisted to an uncomfortable angle, so that those within her slid to the side walls of the cabin, the M. N. 1 came to an abrupt stop. At the same time she seemed to vibrate and tremble as if in terror of some unknown fate.
"What's the matter, Earle?" asked Tom of his chief assistant.
"The gyroscope!" cried Tom. "I didn't bring it. I didn't think we'd need it!"
"Well, perhaps we can make a shift if we can repair the broken rudder. We must have struck a powerful cross current, or maybe a whirlpool, that tore the main rudder loose. We've rammed a sand bank, or stuck her nose into the bottom in some shallow place, I'm afraid. We can't go ahead or back up."
"Yes," answered Tom, and Earle nodded to confirm that version of it.
All night long they worked, but when morning came, as told by the clocks, they were still in jeopardy.
Earle, coming from the crew's quarters, spoke to Tom quietly in the main cabin.
"Very well, do so," ordered Tom.
"The extra tank hasn't an atom of air in it, sir!"
"I mean that the valve has been opened in some way--broken perhaps by accident--and all the air we have is what's in the submarine now. Not an atom in reserve, sir!"
Already the atmosphere was beginning to be tainted, as it always becomes in a closed place when no fresh oxygen can enter. Without more fresh air the lives of all in the submarine were in imminent peril. And even as Tom listened to the report of his officer, he and the others began gasping for breath.
"Down on your faces!" called Tom to those with him in the cabin. "Lie down, every one! The freshest air is near the floor; the bad air rises, being lighter with carbonic acid. Lie down!"
"Is every bit of our reserve air used?" asked Tom, speaking to Earle.
"No one is to blame," said Tom in a low voice. "It is one of the accidents that could not be foreseen. If there is any blame it attaches to me for not installing the gyroscope rudder. If we had had that when we were caught in the cross current, or the whirlpool swirl, our equilibrium would have been automatically maintained. As it is--"
"Bless my soda fountain, Tom!" murmured Mr. Damon, "but isn't there any way of getting fresh air?"
They started to crawl on their hands and knees, to take advantage of the purer air at the floor level. The situation of the M. N. 1 was exactly the same as it had been when she ran into the mud bank in the river, with the exception that now she was in graver danger, for the supply of air for breathing was almost exhausted.
"Are the tanks completely emptied?" asked Tom.
"Then that's the thing to try to do!" exclaimed Tom, his head beginning to feel the heaviness due to the impure air. "We'll move every stationary object over to the port side, and we'll all stand there, or lie there, ourselves. That may heel her over, and help loosen the grip of the sand."
Tom crawled back to the main cabin and told Mr. Damon and the others what was to be attempted.
"Me move anything!" boasted the giant, who, because of his great strength and reserve power did not seem as greatly affected as were the others.
One thing after another was shifted, and still the M. N. 1 maintained the dangerous angle.
"Is there anything to try?" asked Earle, in a faint voice. He was on the point of fainting for lack of air.
"Let's try to move that!" said Tom faintly, pointing to it.
"Koku!" gasped Tom, pointing to the heavy apparatus. "See if-see if you--"
"Koku do!" murmured the big man. Striding to the piece of machinery, the legs of which were bolted to the floor, Koku got his arms under it. Bending over, and arching his back, so as to take full advantage of his enormous muscles, the giant strained upward.
"Him must come!" gasped the giant. "One more go!"
Then, suddenly, there was a loud, breaking sound, and something tinkled on the steel floor of the submarine engine room. It was the heads of the bolts which Koku had torn loose. Like hail they fell about the giant, and in another instant the big man had pulled loose the machine, weighing several hundreds of pounds. In another moment he shoved it across the floor, toward the elevated side of the craft.
"She's turning!" some one gasped.
It was the work of only a few seconds for the man nearest it to open the hatch, and then in rushed the life-giving air. Tom and his companions were saved, and by Koku's strength.
"Yes, you certainly did it," said Tom, and due credit was given to Koku.
"No, don't!" exclaimed the gold-seeker. "We are almost at the place of the wreck."
This was done, after the broken valves had been repaired, and then, when the machine Koku had torn loose was fastened down again, and the submarine restored to her former condition, a consultation was held as to what the next step should be.
For two days they made progress, sometimes on the surface, and again submerged, and, finally, on the second noon, when the sun had been "shot," Tom said:
"You mean at the place of the wreck?" asked Mr. Hardley.
"Well, if this is the place of which I gave you the longitude and latitude, then it's down below here, somewhere," and the gold-seeker pointed to the surface of the sea. It was a calm day and the ocean was the proverbial mill pond.
The orders were given, the tanks filled, the rudders set, and, with hatches closed, the M. N. 1 submerged. Then, with the powerful searchlight aglow, the search was begun. Moving along only a few feet above the floor of the ocean, those in the submarine peered from the glass windows for a sight of the sunken Pandora.
But when three days had passed and the Pandora had not been seen, nor any signs of her, there was a feeling of something like dismay.
"Mr. Hardley," began Tom calmly, as he took a seat in the main cabin, "when we started this search I told you that hunting for something on the bottom of the sea was not like locating a building at the intersection of two streets."
"Well, what if you did?" snapped the gold-seeker. "You're supposed to do the navigating, not I! You said if I gave you the latitude and longitude, down to seconds, as well as degrees and minutes, which I have done, that you could bring your submarine to that exact point."
"Then why isn't she here?" demanded the unpleasant adventurer. "We went down to the bottom at the exact spot, and we've been cruising around it ever since, but there isn't a sign of the wreck. Why is it?"
"Then what's to be done?" asked Mr. Hardley.
"Covered by sand!" exclaimed the gold-seeker.
"Maybe not. But I am!" snapped out Mr. Hardley.
"Just what I said," was the quick answer. "I'm not going to stay down here, cruising about without knowing where I'm going. It looks to me as if you were hunting for a needle in a haystack."
"Then do you know what I think?" the gold-seeker fairly shot forth.
"I think that you don't understand your business, Swift!" was the instant retort. "You pretend to be a navigator, or have men who are, and yet when I give you simple and explicit directions for finding a sunken wreck you can't do it, and you cruise all around looking for it like a dog that has lost the scent! You don't know your business, in my estimation!"
"Then why don't you admit you're incompetent?" cried Mr. Hardley.
"What do you mean?" stormed the other.
"All right then! Do it! Do it!" cried Mr. Hardley, shaking his fist, but at no one in particular. "I'm through with you! But this is your own decision. You broke the contract--I didn't, and I'll not pay a cent toward the expenses of this trip, Swift! Mark my words! I won't pay a cent! I'll claim the money I deposited in the bank, and I won't pay a cent!"
"You mean that--"
"Bless my silk hat, Tom, of course I'll stay with you!" broke in the eccentric man.
"All right--have it that way!" snapped the adventurer. "Set me ashore as soon as you can--the sooner the better. I'm sick of the way you do business!"
"This is final," announced Tom. "If we separate we separate for good, and I'm on my own. And I warn you I'll do my best to discover that wreck, and I'll keep what I find."
No one paid much attention to his words then, but later they were recalled with significance.
"Where are you going to land me?" asked Mr. Hardley. "I have a right to know that?"
He consulted a chart, made a few calculations and then spoke.
"Very well," murmured the malcontent. "But I don't consider that I owe you a cent, and I'm not going to pay you."
The other answered nothing. Nor from then on did he hold much conversation with Tom or any others in the party. He kept to himself, and a day later he was landed, at night, at a dock, and if he said "good-bye" or wished Tom and his friends a safe voyage, they did not hear him.
"What's on now, Tom?" asked Ned, as he saw his chum prepare to go up on deck with some of the craft's officers.
Using the sextant and other apparatus, some of which Tom had invented himself, the exact position of the submarine was calculated. As the last figure was set down and compared with their previous location, one of the men who had been doing the computing gave an exclamation.
"Look!" was the answer, and he pointed to the paper. "There's where a mistake was made before. We were at least two miles off our course
All waited eagerly for Tom Swift to verify the statement of the other mathematician, and the young inventor was not long in doing this, for he had what is commonly known as a "good head for figures."
"Yes, I see the mistake," said Tom. "The wrong logarithm was taken, and of course that threw out all the calculations. I should say we were nearer three miles off our supposed location than two miles."
"That's about it," Tom said. "No wonder we couldn't find her."
"Get to the right spot as soon as possible and begin the search there," Tom answered. "You see, before we submerged as nearly as possible at the place where we thought the Pandora might be on the ocean bottom. From there we began making circles under the sea, enlarging the diameter each circuit.
"Just a moment," said Ned, as the conference was about to break up. "Is it possible, Tom, that in our first circling that we covered any of the ground which we may cover now? I mean will the new circles we propose making coincide at any place with the previous ones
"I guess intersect is the word I wanted," admitted Ned.
"I'm thinking of Hardley," answered his chum. "He might assert that we purposely went to the wrong location with him to begin the search, and if we afterward find the wreck and the gold, he may claim a share."
"Bless my check book, I should say not!" exclaimed Mr. Damon.
"He has put me to considerable expense and trouble, not to say danger. He was aware of that, and yet he refused to pay his share. He accused me of incompetence. Very well. That presuggested that I must have made an error, and it was on that assumption that he said I did not know my business. Instead of giving me a chance to correct the error, which he declared I had made, he quit--cold. Now he is entitled to no further consideration.
"That's right!" asserted Mr. Damon.
"What's that?" asked the young inventor.
"Well, he has that right and privilege," said Tom coolly. "But I don't believe he will. Anyhow, if he does, we have the same chance, and a better one than he has. We're right here, almost on the ground, you might say, or we shall be in half an hour. Then we'll begin our search. If he beats us to it, that can't be helped, and we'll be as fair to him as he was to us. This treasure, as I understand it, is available to whoever first finds it, now that the real owners, whoever they were, have given it up."
"And there isn't one chance in a hundred that Hardley can get another submarine here to start the search," went on Tom. "Of course it's possible, but not very probable."
"Not many ordinary divers would take a chance going down in the open sea to the depth the Pandora is supposed to lie," Tom said. "But, with all that, we have the advantage of being on the ground, and I'm going to make use of that advantage right away."
As all know, to get to a certain point on the surface of the ocean, where there is no land to give location, a navigator has to depend on mathematical calculations. The earth's surface is divided by imaginary lines. The lines drawn from the north to the south poles are called meridians of longitude. They are marked in degrees, and indicate distance east or west of the meridian of, say, Greenwich, England, which is taken as one of the centers. The degrees are further divided into minutes and seconds, each minute being a sixtieth of a degree and each second, naturally, the sixtieth of a minute.
The place where any two of these imaginary lines, crossing at right angles, meet may be exactly determined by the science of navigation. It is a complicated and difficult science, but by calculating the distance of the sun above the horizon, sometimes by views of stars, by knowing the speed of the ship, and by having the exact astronomical time at hand, shown on an accurate chronometer, the exact position of a ship at any hour may be determined.
It was after about an hour of rather slow progress on the surface of the calm sea, no excess speed being used for fear of over-running the mark, that Tom and his associates gathered on deck again to make another calculation.
"Well, we're here!"
"No doubt of it," said his chum.
"I mean to say that we're at exactly the spot Where Hardley said she went down," corrected Tom, "and we weren't there before --that is not so that we actually knew it. Now we are, and we're going down. But that doesn't guarantee that we'll find the wreck. She may have shifted, or be covered with sand. All that I said before in reference to the difficulty in locating something under the surface of the sea still holds good."
"How deep will it be, Tom?" asked Ned, as he stood beside his chum in the forward observation cabin and watched the needle of the gauge move higher and higher.
"Now to look for the wreck!" exclaimed Tom. "And it will be a real search this time. We know we are starting right."
"No, that would take too long," answered Tom. "We'll just cruise about, beginning with small circles and gradually enlarging them, spiral fashion. We'll have to go up a few feet to get off the bottom."
As was generally the case, the light attracted hundreds of fish of various shapes, sizes, and, since the waters were tropical, beautiful colors. They swarmed in front of the glass windows, and Ned was glad to note that there were no large sea creatures, like horse mackerel or big sharks. Somehow or other, Ned had a horror of big fish. There were sharks in the warm waters, he well knew, but he hoped they would keep away, even though he did not have to encounter any in the diving suit.
"Look, Tom!" he cried.
"Snakes!" whispered his chum. "Millions of 'em! Out there in the water! Look how they're writhing about!"
"Those aren't snakes!" he said. "That's serpent grass--a form of very long seaweed which grows on certain bottoms. It attains a length of fifty feet sometimes, and the serpent weed looks a good deal like a nest of snakes. That's how it got its name. I didn't know there was any here. But we must have dropped down into a bed of it."
"Not that I know of, only it may make it more difficult for us to see the wreck of the Pandora."
"I wonder what's the matter!" exclaimed Tom. "We can't have come upon the wreck so soon."
"Trouble, Mr. Swift!" he reported.
"Our propellers are tangled with a mass of serpent weed," was the answer. "They're both fouled, and we can't budge."
It was true. The long sinuous strands of ocean grass, known under the name of "serpent weed," had caught around the whirling propellers and there had been wound and twisted very tightly. Just as sometimes the stern line gets so tightly twisted around a motor boat propeller as to require hours of work with an axe to free it, the seaweed was twisted around the blades of the M. N. 1.
Slowly the undersea craft came to a stop, and there she remained, floating freely enough, but a few feet above the bottom of the ocean. There was a look of alarm on the faces of Ned and Mr. Damon, but Tom Swift smiled.
"How are we to get free from the weed?" asked Mr. Damon. "We can't move if it's wound around our propellers, can we?"
"I'll go with you," said Ned. "As long as we haven't seen any sharks I don't mind."
"We might try reversing the propellers," suggested the man from the engine room, who had come in with the information about the serpent weed. "The chief didn't like to try that. We saw the weed from our observation windows and stopped as soon as we felt we had fouled it."
He went to the engine room himself to see that everything was properly attended to. Slowly the motors were reversed, and only a slight current was given them, as, with the resistance of the tightly wound weed, too powerful a force might burn out the insulation.
"Shut off the current!" cried Tom. "It's of no use. The propellers are held as tight as a drum! We've got to go out and cut loose the serpent weed!"
"Start the engines as soon as we give the signal," Tom told the machinist. "Two knocks on the hull with an axe will mean go ahead, and three will mean reverse."
"That will be enough," Tom said. "But better make it half speed in either case. My idea is that if we can partly cut the weed off, starting the propellers, either forward or in reverse, will finish the trick."
Armed with axes and sharp steel bars, Tom, Ned, and Koku were soon ready to step outside the submarine.
The powerful searchlight had been turned so that the beams were diffused toward the stern. In addition to this Tom and his two companions carried, attached to their suits, small, but brilliant, electric torches. Of course they had their air tanks with them, and also the telephones, by means of which they could communicate with one another.
"Nice place here," said Ned to Tom, as they walked along, Koku coming just behind them.
They were walking on the pure, white, sandy floor of the ocean, some seven hundred feet below the surface, protected from the awful pressure of the water by means of the specially constructed suits which Tom had invented. About them, growing as if in a garden, were great masses of coral, some so thin and sinuous that it waved as do palms and ferns in the open air. Other coral was in great rock masses.
And it had been the misfortune of the M. N. 1 that she poked her tail into a mass of this long, tough grass, which was now wound about her propellers.
"Well, let's get busy," called Tom to Ned through the telephone. "We want to free the propellers and find the wreck of the Pandora. She may be a hundred feet from us, or a mile away, and in that case it's going to take longer to locate her."
Wound around both propellers was a mass of the serpent weed, tightly bound because the machinery had whirled it around and around after the grass had once been caught. It was almost as bad as though manila cable had been thus accidentally fastened.
"Me do," said the giant, as he got his axe ready for work.
It was this way with Tom and his friends. Nearly half of Koku's great strength was wasted. But they knew they could take their time, though they did not want to waste many hours.
Instinctively he looked up, and as he did so he could not repress a start of horror. Tom, too, as well as Koku, saw the menacing shadow. Ned grasped more tightly his sharp, steel bar and spoke through the telephone to his companions.
To a large number of people the name devil fish brings to mind a conception of an octopus, squid, cuttle fish, or a member of that species. This is, however, a mistake.
The true devil fish of the tropics is a member of the sting ray family, and the common name it bears is given to it because of two prongs, or horns, which project just in front of its mouth. His Satanic Majesty is popularly supposed to have horns, together with a tail, hoofs and other appendages, and the horns of this sting ray fish are what give it the name it bears.
A whale rushes through a school of small sea animals with open mouth, takes in a great quantity of water, and the fringe of whalebone acts as a strainer, letting out the water and retaining the food. In like manner the devil fish feeds, except that it has no whalebone. Its "horns" help it to get a meal.
It was two or three of these devil fish that were now floating in the water above Tom and his companions, who were grouped about the stern of the disabled submarine.
All might have gone well had not Koku acted precipitately. One of the devil fish, the smallest of the trio, measuring about ten feet across, swam down near the giant. It was an uncanny looking creature, with its horns swirling about in the water and its bone-tipped tail lashing to and fro like a venomous serpent.
The devil fish was able to observe under water better than its human enemies, and it was in no doubt as to its assailant. In an instant it attacked the giant, seeking to pierce him with the deadly tail.
The beast Koku had wounded was trying to sting the giant, and the latter, aware of his peril, was striking out with the axe.
In another instant all three divers were fighting the terrible creatures, that, knowing by instinct they were in danger, were using the weapon with which nature had provided them. They lashed about with their sharp-pointed tails, and more than one blow fell on the suits of the divers.
There was danger, though, that the slender tip might slip through the steel bars across the windows in the helmets and shatter the glass. And that would be as great a danger as if the suits themselves were penetrated.
As if realizing that it had lost its power to harm, the devil fish at once swam off, grievously wounded. Then Koku turned his attention to Tom's enemy. Ned, too, lent his aid, and they succeeded in wounding the creature in several places, so that it sank to the bottom of the sea and lay there gasping.
"Thank goodness that's over!" said Ned to Tom. "I don't want to see any more of them."
This plan was followed. Koku, not being tired, did not need to stop working, and he was the first to free his shaft partially of the entangling weeds. Tom rapped a signal, the blades were slowly revolved and then came free. A little later the second was in like condition.
"Nor see any more devil fish," added Ned.
Luck seemed to be with the gold-seekers after that, for as the submarine was sent ahead, no more of the long, entangling grass was encountered.
No immediate sign of her was found. But Tom and his friends hardly expected to be as lucky as that. They were willing to make a search. For, as Tom had said, a current might have shifted the position of the wreck.
"There's a wreck, Tom!" he cried. "Maybe it's the Pandora!"
"That isn't the Pandora!" said the young inventor.
"Yes, it's a sunken vessel, all right," Tom assented. "But it's a reminder of the Great War. Look! She has been blown up by a torpedo!"
There was no question about Tom's statement. They had approached close to the side of a small, sunken and wrecked steamer, and in her side was torn a great hole. In the light from the submarine it could be seen that the plates bent inward, indicating that the explosion was from outside.
"Going to investigate," was the answer. "We might as well take the time. We may learn something of value."
"There might be," answered Tom. "We'll put on the diving suits and go outside."
"Same here," Tom agreed. "But I don't believe we'll meet with any. Will you take a chance, Ned?"
He spoke truly, for indeed the torpedo had created fearful havoc. The full extent of it was not observed until Tom, Ned, Koku and two of the crew had put on diving suits and approached the hulk. She lay on her side on the sandy bottom, heeled over somewhat, and when the investigators had walked around her, as they were able to do, they saw a second, and even larger hole in the opposite side.
"Either that, or else one sent a torpedo into her, dived, came up on the other side and sent another."
"More queer than likely," Tom answered. "We've got to be careful going inside her."
"No, but part of the wreckage might be loosened if we climbed over it, and we might fall and be pinned down. I've read of divers being caught that way. We must be careful."
"I think very likely," Tom answered. "Maybe we can tell if we can discover the nationality of this craft."
Standing near the wound in the steel skin, Tom and his companions tried to see what was inside. Their portable torches did not give light enough to make out clearly the character of the cargo carried, and it was too risky to venture into the mass of wreckage that must be the result of the explosion of the torpedo.
"That's the vessel that disappeared so mysteriously!" exclaimed Ned, speaking through his instrument. "I remember reading about her. She sailed from New York for Brest, but was never heard of. At last we have solved the mystery!"
"Not one of her crew or passengers was ever heard of," went on Ned. "It was surmised that a German sub attacked her, and that she was either sunk 'without a trace' or else her survivors were taken aboard the submarine and carried to Germany."
It was comparatively easy to enter by this wound in the side of the Blakesly, and, proceeding cautiously, Tom and Ned made the attempt. They found they could not penetrate far, however, because of the mass of wreckage scattered about by the explosion. They could see through into the engine room, and there the machinery was in every stage of destruction, while below the boilers were disrupted.
"Yes, and with part of her crew," added Ned, as he pointed to where a heap of white bones lay--grim reminders of the Great War. The engine room forces had been trapped and carried down to death.
"It wouldn't be down here if she did," asserted Tom. "And if she was a treasure ship, and the huns knew it, they wouldn't leave any on board."
"Granted," assented the young inventor. "Well, we can take another look around outside. Maybe there's a way of getting on deck, and so going below from there. I wouldn't chance it from here."
They looked around a little more, a further view showing how dangerous it would be to attempt to enter the shattered engine room, where a misstep or a sudden change of equilibrium might cause disaster.
"Rope by up go him stern," said Koku, motioning toward the after part of the wreck.
"Oh, he went walking around outside while you were inside, sir," was the answer, "and he seems to have found a rope ladder or a chain, or something hanging from the stern."
"Are we going to spend much time here?" Ned wanted to know.
"Well, I was thinking we'd better keep on looking for the Pandora. I don't want that fellow Hardley to get the bulge on us."
The party of divers, led by Koku, who wanted to point out his discovery, walked slowly along on the bottom of the sea, around to the stern of the Blakesly.
Koku pointed to several ropes and chains that were dangling from the stern of the sunken craft. Evidently they had been used by those who sought to escape from the sinking ship after she had been torpedoed.
"Koku go up!" said the giant.
"Well, if it will hold him it will hold us," asserted Tom. "Ned, we'll go up. You two stay here," he said to the members of his crew. "We can't take any chances of all getting in the same accident if there should be one."
"Let's take a look!" said Tom.
"Let's see if we can find the log book," proposed Ned.
Using the iron bars they carried, they forced open some of the lockers, but aside from pulp, which might have been charts or almost anything in the way of documents, nothing was come upon that would tell anything.
"I suppose so," agreed Ned. "But I would like to know whether she carried treasure."
Later, however, when they had returned home, Tom and Ned made a report of what they had seen, and so cleared up the fate of the vessel. They learned that she carried no treasure, and they were glad they had not risked their lives looking for it. What had happened to her crew was never learned.
Several fruitless days followed, and though a careful search was made in the vicinity of the true location given by Mr. Hardley, nothing was discovered.
"Oh, another week, anyhow. I have a new theory, Ned."
"Ocean currents. I believe there are powerful currents in these waters, and that they may have shifted the position of the Pandora considerably. I'm going to study the currents."
And the next day they began observations which were destined to have surprising results.
Under the warm, tropical sun the submarine floated idly on the surface of the calm sea. She had risen from the depths, her hatches had been opened, and now the crew, the owner, and his guests were breathing free air. The men were taking advantage of the period above water to wash out some of their garments, hanging them on improvised lines stretched along the deck. For Tom Swift had said he would remain above the surface all day.
For the time being the search under the sea for the treasure ship Pandora had been abandoned. But it was not given up entirely. As Tom had announced to Ned, a new theory would be worked out. So far, cruising about in the place where the fillibuster ship was supposed to have gone down had resulted in nothing.
"I think mine is going to beat yours, Ned!"
"Bless my beefsteak!" exclaimed Mr. Damon, "what's this, Tom Swift? I thought we came on a treasure-hunting expedition, and here I find you and Ned playing some childish game! I hope you aren't laying any wagers on it!" Mr. Damon did not approve of gambling in any form.
"We are trying to arrive at some valuable scientific facts, Mr. Damon."
"It isn't play," said Tom, turning to remark to Ned: "I think we've settled it. The current has a decided twist to the north."
"If you don't mind explaining," began Mr. Damon, "I should like to know--"
"So we'll know better where to look for the Pandora," added Ned.
"By no means!" exclaimed Tom. "It's this way, Mr. Damon. We went down at as nearly the exact spot where the treasure-ship was sunk as we could determine by means of calculations. She wasn't there, nor could we find her by going around in circles. Then it occurred to me, and to some of the others also, including Ned, that the ocean currents might have shifted the position of the craft after she had sunk. There are powerful currents in the ocean, as you know, the Gulf Stream being one and the Japan Current another. Now there may be smaller ones in these waters that would produce a local effect.
"And what does that indicate?" asked Mr. Damon.
"How far north?" the eccentric man wanted to know.
"And play with bits of cork there?" asked Mr. Damon.
The remainder of the day was spent in various ways aboard the submarine, which continued to float idly on the waves.
"There is a smudge of smoke dead astern, sir."
He took them from the lookout and made a long and careful study of the slight, black smudge which was low down on the horizon.
"What's up, Tom?" asked Ned, as his chum gathered up the papers on which he had been figuring on an improvised table set under an awning on deck.
"You mean she might interfere with our search for the treasureship?"
"But, Tom, no one knows of the wreck! At least, no one is supposed to but our party and--"
"And you think he is coming?"
Ned peered through the glasses, but his eyes not being trained in sea interpretation, as were Tom's, he could make out nothing but a black smudge, now larger and darker.
"Well, it's a steamer all right, and she's under forced draft, too, if I'm any judge. We'll go below before she sights us."
"No, we lie too low in the water for that. Well, now we can start our underwater observations of current trends."
On this trip Tom did not go to any such depths as he did on his former voyage in the Advance. Not that the reconstructed submarine was not capable of it, for she was even stronger than when first built. But the wreck they were seeking did not lie in so great a depth of water, and there was no need of running useless risks.
"Not an ordinary diver, at any rate," Tom agreed. "And after supper I'm going to have another go at the currents."
The big searchlight was set aglow, and, going out on the ocean bed in diving suits, Tom and his friends dropped on the sand various weighted objects.
"Now," remarked Tom, as they all went into the submarine again, "we'll let them drift until morning. Then we'll make new calculations. I think we'll arrive at some results, too."
"See how far each one of those weighted objects drifts," Tom replied. "We have planted them in different spots on the ocean bed. Some will drift farther than others. Some are large and some are small. By striking an average we may be able to tell about how far from the supposed location of the Pandora we ought to look for her."
The distance each object had drifted from the iron bar marker was considered in reference to its size and shape. Also the elapsed time was computed. The results were then compared, an average struck, and then the size and weight of the Pandora, as nearly as they could be ascertained, were figured. The resultant figures were compared, and Tom announced:
"Do you think she has drifted that far?" asked Ned.
A moment later Tom gave the order to rise to the surface.
"Yes, I want to make some observations to determine our exact nautical position."
"We'll have to take a chance. We can submerge quickly if we have to, and I don't believe she's able to do that."
"So far so good," murmured Tom. "Now we'll 'shoot the sun,' and after we submerge we'll begin our search in earnest. I think we are on the right track now."
"Down we go!" exclaimed Tom, and down they went.
If the voyagers had expected to locate at once the treasureship, they would have been disappointed. For the first day gave no signs. But Tom had not promised immediate results, and no one gave up hope.
Ned had just suggested that he and Tom might go out and try the current-setting experiments again, when suddenly they were both thrown off their feet by a terrific jar and concussion. The M. N. 1 seemed to reel back, as if from a great blow.
"I think we've had a collision!" was the answer. "I must see how badly we are damaged!"
Sudden and forceful had been the underwater collision in which the M. N. 1 had participated. Either the lookout, aided though he was by the focused rays of the great searchlight, had failed to notice some obstruction in time to signal to avoid it, or there was an error somewhere else. At any rate the submarine had rammed something--what it was remained to be discovered.
"It didn't feel like a whale," answered the young financial man.
Following the collision there had been considerable confusion aboard the vessel. But discipline prevailed, and now it was necessary to determine the extent of the damage. This, Tom and his officers and crew proceeded to do.
But Tom had sensed that the collision was almost a head-on one, and in that case it was likely that the plates might have started in several sections at once. This he wanted to discover, and take means of safety accordingly.
"Only a slight leak in compartment B 2," he answered, as Tom's eyes rapidly scanned the tell-tale gauges. "The pumps and air are taking care of that."
"Yes, but a glancing one, I think, sir."
The lookout came in, very much frightened, it must be admitted. Only by a narrow margin had all escaped death.
"Into what?" asked Tom.
"That's good," murmured Tom. "I thought that must have been the explanation. But what's that about a sudden swirl of water?"
"I can very easily imagine something like that happening," admitted Tom. "Well, as long as we're not badly damaged I think we'll go outside and take a look. If we hit a wreck--"
"That's too good to be true!" cried Ned. "Anyhow, let's get out and take a look."
Shortly after the collision, which had missed being a disaster by a narrow margin, Tom and his companions were outside the submarine, walking on the white, sandy bottom of the sea. Around them was a myriad of fishes, some of large size, but seemingly harmless, as they scudded rapidly away after a glance at the strange creatures who appeared to have come to dispute with them for possession of Father Neptune's element.
"The Pandora!" exclaimed Tom, speaking into his helmet telephone transmitter, the others all hearing him. "We've found the treasure-ship at last!"
"Yes, that's the Pandora," said Ned. "And now the thing to do is to find out if she really has any treasure on board."
"Yes, we had better be careful," said one of the officers.
"This is far enough!" said Tom. "Don't get out beyond the protection of the hull. I see what it is. The steamer has drifted here from where she was originally sunk. And here two currents meet, forming a very strong one. It was that which threw us off our course. As long as we remain behind the wreck we'll be safe. But beyond her we may be in danger. She's firmly held in the sand, or, at best, is drifting only slightly. She'll be a sort of undersea breakwater for us. And now to see if we can get on board!"
The Pandora was a typical tramp steamer. She was high in the bows and stern and low amidships, and it was evident that the quarters of the officers and passengers, if any of the latter were carried, were in the stern. Tom was glad to find the vessel thus comparatively easy of access.
"Well, here's for it," said Tom to the others. "Let's go in.
"Captain's cabin or the purser's strong room, I imagine," Tom answered. "Hardley didn't actually see it, but he said those two places were constantly guarded. I'm inclined to think the purser would have charge of the gold. But we'll try both places."
"I guess the captain took as much with him as he could when he got into his boat," commented Tom.
"That wouldn't have held two million dollars in gold," Tom retorted. "I believe the purser's cabin is the place to look."
"Nothing there," Tom reported. "Did any of you locate the purser's strong room?" One of the men pointed to an open door to the left.
It needed but a look to show them that they had at last reached the place of the treasure. The great safe stood open, and piled inside were a number of small boxes, such as are generally used to ship gold in. Ned, from his bank experience, recognized them at once.
"They tried to take some of it with them," said one of the submarine officers, pointing to some opened boxes which were floating near the cabin ceiling. They were caught on some projections which had prevented them from being washed out.
He tried to pull out one of the many boxes set in tiers in the safe, but it was beyond his strength.
It was easy for the giant to pry out one of the boxes with his iron bar, and with another blow from his bar he opened the cover.
There was a table in the purser's cabin, made fast to the floor so it had not floated away. At a sign from Tom, the giant turned the box bottom side up on this table.
"A fake!" exclaimed Tom Swift. "If all the boxes are like this there isn't enough gold on the treasure ship to pay the expenses of this trip! Somebody has been fooled! Open another box, Koku!"
Perhaps the least of all affected by what had taken place was the giant. Gold meant nothing to him. To serve Tom Swift was his whole aim in life. Born in a savage country, he had not acquired an overwhelming desire for wealth.
A pressure of the giant's iron bar broke the sealed lid. On top was the same layer of gold pieces, but when the box was emptied the same trick was discovered. Iron disks made up the remainder of the contents.
"I'm inclined to agree with you," said Tom. "Unless it transpires that not all the boxes have been thus camouflaged. We must take time to examine."
"Well, Tom, what do you think of it?" asked Ned of his chum, when they had returned to the cabin of the submarine, leaving some members of the crew to complete the examination. For this the diving bell was used, as well as the suits.
"Do you think Hardley knew that the gold had been changed to iron--that is, all but a small part of it?"
"Just how much did she really have in gold?" asked Mr. Damon, looking at the double eagles on the table of the M. N. 1.
"And Hardley said two millions!" exclaimed Ned. "Whew, what a difference!"
"No," replied Tom. "I guess it was like a good many of these filibustering plots. Somebody put up good money to be used to gain control of a country--perhaps for the country's good. But somebody else made the substitution, and the patriots were left. I don't believe Hardley knew this."
"Nothing worth while," was the answer. "But I'm not disappointed; that is, very much. Of course I could use the money, but I don't really need it. The trip has been a wonderful experience, and I have learned something I didn't know before. I'm sorry for you, though, Mr. Damon. You invested considerable with Hardley, didn't you?"
Tom privately made up his mind to see that his old friend did not suffer financially, for the gold discovered on the Pandora, while it was far from the amount hoped for, would almost reimburse Mr. Damon. But the young inventor did not say anything about that just then.
"What's that?" asked Tom, when they had their helmets off.
"Maybe it has jewels in it!" exclaimed Ned. "If it has--"
"What is it?" asked the young inventor.
"It must be Hardley!" cried Tom. "He's come back with another ship, as he half threatened to do, and, instead of diving for the wreck, which he can't get ordinary men to do in this depth, he's trying to grapple for it. Come on, we'll have a look!"
"He's struck it uncommonly near," remarked Tom. "I guess it's time for us to be leaving."
"I don't doubt but it is."
"I wouldn't give ten dollars for the chance of searching for any more gold!" Tom exclaimed. "We'll take this steel box--it may contain something of value. The rest we'll leave to Hardley."
Tom's craft broke water with gentle undulations of the waves. The top of the hatch was thrown back, admitting the bright sunshine on those who had been long in the shadow of the underseas. And, as the young inventor and his friends went out on deck, they saw a small steamer riding on the ocean not far away.
Some one must have called his attention to the M. N. 1, for he hurried to the rail of the craft which he had evidently chartered to seek the Pandora, and he exclaimed:
"The same thing you are, I believe," coolly answered Tom. "Cleaning up the treasure ship. You might as well save your money though, for we have all the gold there is!"
"That's just what we did, though," answered Tom. "And, for your information, I'll say that we took all the gold we found, though it was considerably less than you stated."
"I guess you forget," replied Tom, "that we parted company at your request and that I told you I was on my own. Finding is keeping. I didn't find what I expected to, and, on the other hand, I got something I didn't look for."
"The Pandora was rightly named," went on Tom. "If you recall the old story, Pandora had a box of treasures. They all flew out except Hope, which remained in the bottom. Well, most of the gold seems to have flown away, but we found a box on the Pandora. What's in it I don't know yet, as I haven't opened it. Still, if it doesn't contain more than Hope I shall be disappointed."
"Give me that box! Give me that box!" he cried, shaking his fist at Tom.
Tom waved his hand, gave orders to close the hatches and submerge the M. N. 1, and a few moments later the sea closed over her, leaving the other vessel to grapple uselessly for the treasure-ship.
"Head for home as soon as we can. I've had enough of this, and I want to get at something else I have in mind. But first I'm going to see what's in this box."
"What are they?" asked Ned of his chum.
"We've struck it!"
"The very thing Hardley was after. These are the missing papers in the oil-well deal--the papers that prove Barton Keith has a half share in property worth many millions of dollars. It was these papers that Hardley was after. He may have thought he could get the gold, too, but he wanted most these oil shares. Boys, we've found the fortune anyhow, in spite of the fellows who looted the gold boxes!"
"How do you account for Hardleys acts?" asked Ned of his chum.
"He either knew then, or found out later, that the vessel carried, or was supposed to carry, a large amount of gold. He may have been honestly mistaken in thinking it was two millions. In any case he was playing safe, for he only promised me half if the treasure was found. He could have claimed this box as his property, and that is probably what he was after from the beginning. He was using me as a cat's paw, so to speak."
"Bless my necktie, I should say so!" agreed Mr. Damon. "Do you think he really expected to find the gold?"
The M. N. 1 made good time back to her home port, nothing except a terrific storm occurring to mark the voyage. And as she submerged when that was on she did not feel it. After greeting his father, Tom lost little time in going to Mary's house with the box of securities and other papers.
"Not very well," Mary answered, after she had got over her surprise at seeing Tom. "But this good news will restore him, I think."
"Tom Swift, I'm going to share half with you!"
"Then, Mary, you shall take half!" exclaimed Mr. Keith. "I have more money now than I'll ever spend. Mary, half of it is yours, and if you don't let Tom Swift have a say in the spending of it-Say, Mary, have you thanked him yet?" he asked with a twinkle of his eyes. "Well, Uncle Barton, I--I don't know--"
Tom took Mary in his arms and--But I refuse to betray any secrets. Anyhow, some time later when Ned asked his chum if he felt entirely satisfied with the result of his undersea search, the young inventor replied: "I certainly do!"
"I'll take it on my next submarine trip," the young inventor promised.
Dixwell Hardley made no further trouble. He could not, for he was so entirely in the wrong. He sold out his shares in the oil property, and a company took possession which gave fair treatment to Mary's uncle.
End of Project Gutenberg's Etext of Tom Swift And His Undersea Search