Mr. Berg is Astonished
Following his father and the stranger whom the aged
inventor had addressed as Mr. Berg, Tom and Mr. Sharp
entered the house, the lad having first made sure that
Garret Jackson was on guard in the shop that contained the
"Now," said Mr. Swift to the newcomer, "I am at your
service. What is it you wish?"
"In the first place, let me apologize for having startled
you and your friends," began the man. "I had no idea of
sneaking into your workshop, but I had just arrived here,
and seeing the doors open I went in. I heard no one about,
and I wandered to the back of the place. There I happened to
stumble over a board--"
"And I heard you," interrupted Tom.
"Is this one of your employees?" asked Mr. Berg in rather
"That is my son," replied Mr. Swift.
"Oh, I beg your pardon." The man's manner changed quickly.
"Well, I guess you did hear me, young man. I didn't intend
to hark my shins the way I did, either. You must have taken
me for a burglar or a sneak thief."
"I have been very much bothered by a gang of unscrupulous
men," said Mr. Swift, "and I suppose Tom thought it was some
of them sneaking around again."
"That's what I did," added the lad. "I wasn't going to
have any one steal the secret of the submarine if I could
"Quite right! Quite right!" exclaimed Mr. Berg. "But my
purpose was an open one. As you know, Mr. Swift, I represent
the firm of Bentley & Eagert, builders of submarine boats
and torpedoes. They heard that you were constructing a craft
to take part in the competitive prize tests of the United
States Government, and they asked me to come and see you to
learn when your ship would be ready. Ours is completed, but
we recognize that it will be for the best interests of all
concerned if there are a number of contestants, and my firm
did not want to send in their entry until they knew that you
were about finished with your ship. How about it? Are you
ready to compete?"
"Yes," said Mr. Swift slowly. "We are about ready. My
craft needs a few finishing touches, and then it will be
ready to launch."
"Then we may expect a good contest on your part,"
suggested Mr. Berg.
"Well," began the aged inventor, "I don't know about
"What's that?" exclaimed Mr. Berg.
"I said I wasn't quite sure that we would compete," went
on Mr. Swift. "You see, when I first got this idea for a
submarine boat I had it in mind to try for the Government
prize of fifty thousand dollars."
"That's what we want, too," interrupted Mr. Berg with a
"But," went on Tom's father, "since then certain matters
have come up, and I think, on the whole, that we'll not
compete for the prize after all."
"Not compete for the prize?" almost shouted the agent for
Bentley & Eagert. "Why, the idea! You ought to compete. It
is good for the trade. We think we have a very fine craft,
and probably we would beat you in the tests, but--"
"I wouldn't be too sure of that," put in Tom. "You have
only seen the outside of our boat. The inside is better
"Ah, I have no doubt of that," spoke Mr. Berg, "but we
have been at the business longer than you have, and have had
more experience. Still we welcome competition. But I am very
much surprised that you are not going to compete for the
prize, Mr. Swift. Very much surprised, indeed! You see, I
came down from Philadelphia to arrange so that we could both
enter our ships at the same time. I understand there is
another firm of submarine boat builders who are going to try
for the prize, and I want to arrange a date that will he
satisfactory to all. I am greatly astonished that you are
not going to compete."
"Well, we were going to," said Mr. Swift, "only we have
changed our minds, that's all. My son and I have other
"May I ask what they are?" questioned Mr. Berg.
"You may," exclaimed Tom quickly; "but I don't believe we
can tell you. They're a secret," he added more cordially.
"Oh, I see," retorted Mr. Berg. "Well, of course I don't
wish to penetrate any of your secrets, but I hoped we could
contest together for the Government prize. It is worth
trying for I assure you--fifty thousand dollars. Besides,
there is the possibility of selling a number of submarines
to the United States. It's a fine prize."
"But the one we are after is a bigger one," Cried Tom
impetuously, and the moment he had spoken the wished he
could recall the words.
"Eh? What's that?" exclaimed Mr. Berg. "You don't mean to
say another government has offered a larger prize? If I had
known that I would not have let my firm enter into the
competition for the bonus offered by the United States.
Please tell me."
"I'm sorry," went on Tom more soberly. "I shouldn't have
spoken. Mr. Berg, the plans of my father and myself are such
that we can't reveal them now. We are going to try for a
prize, but not in competition with you. It's an entirely
"Well, I guess you'll find that the firm of Bentley &
Eagert are capable of trying for any prizes that are
offered," boasted the agent. "We may be competitors yet."
"I don't believe so," replied Mr. Swift
"We may," repeated Mr. Berg. "And if we do, please
remember that we will show no mercy. Our boats are the
"And may the best boat win," interjected Mr. Sharp.
"That's all we ask. A fair field and no favors."
"Of course," spoke the agent coldly. "Is this another son
of yours?" he asked.
"No but a good friend," replied the aged inventor. "No,
Mr. Berg, we won't compete this time. You may tell your firm
"Very good," was the other's stiff reply. "Then
I will bid you good night. We shall carry off the
Government prize, but permit me to add that I
am very much astonished, very much indeed, that
you do not try for the prize. From what I have
seen of your submarine you have a very good
one, almost as good, in some respects, as ours.
I bid you good night," and with a bow the man
left the room and hurried away from the house.
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Room | Tom
Swift And His Submarine Boat