On the Ocean Bed
Lower and lower sank the submarine. There was a swirling
and foaming of the water as she went down, caused by the air
bubbles which the craft carried with her in her descent.
Only the top of the conning tower was out of water now, the
ocean having closed over the deck and the rounded back of
the boat. Had any one been watching they would have imagined
that an accident was taking place.
In the pilot house, with its thick glass windows, Tom, his
father and Captain Weston looked over the surface of the
ocean, which every minute was coming nearer and nearer to
"We'll be all under in a few seconds," spoke Tom in a
solemn voice, as he listened to the water hissing into the
"Yes, and then we can see what sort of progress we will
make," added Mr. Swift. "Everything is going fine, though,"
he went on cheerfully. "I believe I have a good boat."
"There is no doubt of it in my mind," remarked Captain
Weston, and Tom felt a little disappointed that the sailor
did not shout out some such expression as "Shiver my
timbers!" or "Keel-haul the main braces, there, you lubber!"
But Captain Weston was not that kind of a sailor, though his
usually quiet demeanor could be quickly dropped on
necessity, as Tom learned later.
A few minutes more and the waters closed over the top of
the conning tower. The Advance was completely submerged.
Through the thick glass windows of the pilot house the
occupants looked out into the greenish water that swirled
about them; but it could not enter. Then, as the boat went
lower, the light from above gradually died out, and the
semi-darkness gave place to gloom.
"Turn on the electrics and the searchlight, Tom," directed
There was the click of a switch, and the conning tower was
flooded with light. But as this had the effect of
preventing the three from peering out into the water, just
as one in a lighted room cannot look out into the night, Tom
shut them off and switched on the great searchlight. This
projected its powerful beams straight ahead and there, under
the ocean, was a pathway of illumination for the treasure-
"Fine!" cried Captain Weston, with more enthusiasm than he
had yet manifested. "That's great, if you don't mind me
mentioning it. How deep are we?"
Tom glanced at a gage on the side of the pilot tower.
"Only about sixty feet," he answered.
"Then don't go any deeper!" cried the captain hastily. "I
know these waters around here, and that's about all the
depth you've got. You'll be on the bottom in a minute."
"I intend to get on the bottom after a while," said Mr.
Swift, "but not here. I want to try for a greater distance
under water before I come to rest on the ocean's bed. But I
think we are deep enough for a test. Tom, close the tank
intake pipes and we'll see how the Advance will progress
when fully submerged."
The hissing stopped, and then, wishing to see how the
motors and other machinery would work, the aged inventor and
his son, accompanied by Captain Weston, descended from the
conning tower, by means of an inner stairway, to the
interior of the ship. The submarine could be steered and
managed from below or above. She was now floating about
sixty-five feet below the surface of the bay.
"Well, how do you like it?" asked Tom of Mr. Damon, as he
saw his friend in an easy chair in the living-room or main
cabin of the craft, looking out of one of the plate-glass
windows on the side.
"Bless my spectacles, it's the most wonderful thing I ever
dreamed of!" cried the queer character, as he peered at the
mass of water before him. "To think that I'm away down under
the surface, and yet as dry as a bone. Bless my necktie, but
it's great! What are we going to do now?"
"Go forward," replied the young inventor.
"Perhaps I had better make an observation," suggested
Captain Weston, taking his telescope from under his arm,
where he had carried it since entering the craft, and
opening it. "We may run afoul of something, if you don't
mind me mentioning such a disagreeable subject." Then, as he
thought of the impossibility of using his glass under water,
he closed it.
"I shall have little use for this here, I'm afraid," he
remarked with a smile. "Well, there's some consolation.
We're not likely to meet many ships in this part of the
ocean. Other vessels are fond enough of remaining on the
surface. I fancy we shall have the depths to ourselves,
unless we meet a Government submarine, and they are hardly
able to go as deep as we can. No, I guess we won't run into
anything and I can put this glass away."
"Unless we run into Berg and his crowd," suggested Tom in
a low voice.
"Ha! ha!" laughed Captain Weston, for he did not want Mr.
Swift to worry over the unscrupulous agent. "No, I don't
believe we'll meet them, Tom. I guess Berg is trying to work
out the longitude and latitude I gave him. I wish I could
see his face when he realizes that he's been deceived by
that fake map."
"Well, I hope he doesn't discover it too soon and trail
us," went on the lad. "But they're going to start the
machinery now. I suppose you and I had better take charge of
the steering of the craft. Dad will want to be in the
"All right," replied the captain, and he moved forward
with the lad to a small compartment, shut off from the
living-room, that served as a pilot house when the conning
tower was not used. The same levers, wheels and valves were
there as up above, and the submarine could be managed as
well from there as from the other place.
"Is everything all right?" asked Mn Swift as he went into
the engine-room, where Garret Jackson and Mr. Sharp were
busy with oil cans.
"Everything," replied the balloonist. "Are you going to
"Yes, we're deep enough for a speed trial. We'll go out to
sea, however, and try for a lower depth record, as soon as
there's enough water. Start the engine."
A moment later the powerful electric currents were flowing
into the forward and aft plates, and the Advance began to
gather way, forging through the water.
"Straight ahead, out to sea, Tom," called his father to
"Aye, aye, sir," responded the youth.
"Ha! Quite seaman-like, if you don't mind a reference to
it," commented Captain Weston with a smile. "Mind your helm,
boy, for you don't want to poke her nose into a mud bank, or
run up on a shoal."
"Suppose you steer?" suggested the lad. "I'd rather take
lessons for a while."
"All right. Perhaps it will be safer. I know these waters
from the top, though I can't say as much for the bottom.
However, I know where the shoals are."
The powerful searchlight was turned, so as to send its
beams along the path which the submarine was to follow, and
then, as she gathered speed, she shot ahead, gliding through
the waters like a fish.
Mr. Damon divided his time between the forward pilot-room,
the living-apartment, and the place where Mr. Swift, Garret
Jackson and Mr. Sharp were working over the engines. Every
few minutes he would bless some part of himself, his
clothing, or the ship. Finally the old man settled down to
look through the plate-glass windows in the main apartment.
On and on went the submarine. She behaved perfectly, and
was under excellent control. Some times Tom, at the request
of his father, would send her toward the surface by means of
the deflecting rudder. Then she would dive to the bottom
again. Once, as a test, she was sent obliquely to the
surface, her tower just emerging, and then she darted
downward again, like a porpoise that had come up to roll
over, and suddenly concluded to seek the depths. In fact,
had any one seen the maneuver they would have imagined the
craft was a big fish disporting itself.
Captain Weston remained at Tom's side, giving him
instructions, and watching the compass in order to direct
the steering so as to avoid collisions. For an hour or more
the craft was sent almost straight ahead at medium speed.
Then Mr. Swift, joining his son and the captain, remarked:
"How about depth of water here, Captain Weston?"
"You've got more than a mile."
"Good! Then I'm going down to the bottom of the sea! Tom,
fill the tanks still more.
"Aye, aye, sir," answered the lad gaily. "Now for a new
"And use the deflecting rudder, also," advised his father.
"That will hasten matters."
Five minutes later there was a slight jar noticeable.
"Bless my soul! What's that?" cried Mr. Damon. "Have we
"Yes," answered Tom with a smile.
"What, for gracious sake?"
"The bottom of the sea. We're on the bed of the ocean."
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Room | Tom
Swift And His Submarine Boat