Off for the Treasure
Suddenly Tom, after a moment's pause, seized a wrench and
began loosening some nuts.
"What are you doing?" asked his father faintly, for he was
being weakened by the vitiated atmosphere.
"I'm going to take this valve apart," replied his son. "We
haven't looked there for the trouble. Maybe it's out of
He attacked the valve with energy, but his hands soon
lagged. The lack of oxygen was telling on him. He could no
longer work quickly.
"I'll help," murmured Mr. Sharp thickly. He took a wrench,
but no sooner had he loosened one nut than he toppled over.
"I'm all in," he murmured feebly.
"Is he dead?" cried Mr. Damon, himself gasping.
"No, only fainted. But he soon will be dead, and so will
all of us, if we don't get fresh air," remarked Captain
Weston. "Lie down on the floor, every one. There is a little
fairly good air there. It's heavier than the air we've
breathed, and we can exist on it for a little longer. Poor
Sharp was so used to breathing the rarified air of high
altitudes that he can't stand this heavy atmosphere."
Mr. Damon was gasping worse than ever, and so was Mr.
Swift. The balloonist lay an inert heap on the floor, with
Captain Weston trying to force a few drops of stimulant down
With a fierce determination in his heart, but with fingers
that almost refused to do his bidding, Tom once more sought
to open the big valve. He felt sure the trouble was located
there, as they had tried to locate it in every other place
"I'll help," said Mr. Jackson in a whisper. He, too, was
hardly able to move.
More and more devoid of oxygen grew the air. It gave Tom a
sense as if his head was filled, and ready to burst with
every breath he drew. Still he struggled to loosen the nuts.
There were but four more now, and he took off three while
Mr. Jackson removed one. The young inventor lifted off the
valve cover, though it felt like a ton weight to him. He
gave a glance inside.
"Here's the trouble!" he murmured. "The valve's clogged.
No wonder it wouldn't work. The pumps couldn't force the
It was the work of only a minute to adjust the valve. Then
Tom and the engineer managed to get the cover back on.
How they inserted the bolts and screwed the nuts in place
they never could remember clearly afterward, but they
managed it somehow, with shaking, trembling hands and eyes
that grew more and more dim.
"Now start the pumps!" cried Tom faintly. "The tanks will
be emptied, and we can get to the surface."
Mr. Sharp was still unconscious, nor was Mr. Swift able to
help. He lay with his eyes closed. Garret Jackson, however,
managed to crawl to the engine-room, and soon the clank of
machinery told Tom that the pumps were in motion. The lad
staggered to the pilot house and threw the levers over. An
instant later there was the hissing of water as it rushed
from the ballast tanks. The submarine shivered, as though
disliking to leave the bottom of the sea, and then slowly
rose. As the pumps worked more rapidly, and the sea was sent
from the tank in great volumes, the boat fairly shot to the
surface. Tom was ready to open the conning tower and let in
fresh air as soon as the top was above the surface.
With a bound the Advance reached the top. Tom frantically
worked the worm gear that opened the tower. In rushed the
fresh, life-giving air, and the treasure-hunters filled
their lungs with it.
And it was only just in time, for Mr. Sharp was almost
gone. He quickly revived, as did the others, when they could
breathe as much as they wished of the glorious oxygen.
"That was a close call," commented Mr. Swift. "We'll not
go below again until I have provided for all emergencies. I
should have seen to the air tanks and the expanding one
before going below. We'll sail home on the surface now."
The submarine was put about and headed for her dock. On
the way she passed a small steamer, and the passengers
looked down in wonder at the strange craft.
When the Advance reached the secluded creek where she had
been launched, her passengers had fully recovered from their
terrible experience, though the nerves of Mr. Swift and Mr.
Damon were not at ease for some days thereafter.
"I should never have made a submerged test without making
sure that we had a reserve supply of air," remarked the aged
inventor. "I will not be caught that way again. But I can't
understand how the pump valve got out of order."
"Maybe some one tampered with it," suggested Mr. Damon.
"Could Andy Foger, any of the Happy Harry gang, or the rival
gold-seekers have done it?"
"I hardly think so," answered Tom. "The place has been too
carefully guarded since Berg and Andy once sneaked in. I
think it was just an accident, but I have thought of a plan
whereby such accidents can be avoided in the future. It
needs a simple device."
"Better patent it," suggested Mr. Sharp with a smile.
"Maybe I will," replied the young inventor. "But not now.
We haven't time, if we intend to get fitted out for our
"No; I should say the sooner we started the better,"
remarked Captain Weston. "That is, if you don't mind me
speaking about it," he added gently, and the others smiled,
for his diffident comments were only a matter of habit
The first act of the adventurers, after tying the
submarine at the dock, was to proceed with the loading of
the food and supplies. Tom and Mr. Damon looked to this,
while Mr. Swift and Mr. Sharp made some necessary changes to
the machinery. The next day the young inventor attached his
device to the pump valve, and the loading of the craft was
All was in readiness for the gold-seeking expedition a
week later. Captain Weston had carefully charted the route
they were to follow, and it was decided to move along on the
surface for the first day, so as to get well out to sea
before submerging the craft. Then it would sink below the
surface, and run along under the water until the wreck was
reached, rising at times, as needed, to renew the air
With sufficient stores and provisions aboard to last
several months, if necessary, though they did not expect to
be gone more than sixty days at most, the adventurers arose
early one morning and went down to the dock. Mr. Jackson was
not to accompany them. He did not care about a submarine
trip, he said, and Mr. Swift desired him to remain at the
seaside cottage and guard the shops, which contained much
valuable machinery. The airship was also left there.
"Well, are we all ready?" asked Mr. Swift of the little
party of gold-seekers, as they were about to enter the
conning tower hatchway of the submarine.
"All ready, dad," responded his son.
"Then let's get aboard," proposed Captain Weston. "But
first let me take an observation."
He swept the horizon with his telescope, and Tom noticed
that the sailor kept it fixed on one particular spot for
"Did you see anything?" asked the lad.
"Well, there is a boat lying off there," was the answer.
"And some one is observing us through a glass. But I don't
believe it matters. Probably they're only trying to see what
sort of an odd fish we are."
"All aboard, then," ordered Mr. Swift, and they went into
the submarine. Tom and his father, with Captain Weston,
remained in the conning tower. The signal was given, the
electricity flowed into the forward and aft plates, and the
Advance shot ahead on the surface.
The sailor raised his telescope once more and peered
through a window in the tower. He uttered an exclamation.
"What's the matter?" asked Tom.
"That other ship--a small steamer--is weighing anchor and
seems to be heading this way," was the reply.
"Maybe it's some one hired by Berg to follow us and trace
our movements," suggested Tom.
"If it is we'll fool them," added his father. "Just keep
an eye on them, captain, and I think we can show them a
trick or two in a few minutes."
Faster shot the Advance through the water. She had started
on her way to get the gold from the sunken wreck, but
already enemies were on the trail of the adventurers, for
the ship the sailor had noticed was steaming after them.
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Room | Tom
Swift And His Submarine Boat