Directed by Captain Weston, who glanced at the compass and
told him which way to steer to clear the outer coral reef,
Tom sent the submarine ahead, signaling for full speed to
the engine-room, where his father and Mr. Sharp were. The
big dynamos purred like great cats, as they sent the
electrical energy into the forward and aft plates, pulling
and pushing the Advance forward. On and on she rushed under
water, but ever as she shot ahead the disturbance in the
phosphorescent water showed her position plainly. She would
be easy to follow.
"Can't you get any more speed out of her?" asked the
captain of the lad.
"Yes," was the quick reply; "by using the auxiliary screws
I think we can. I'll try it."
He signaled for the propellers, forward and aft, to be put
in operation, and the motor moving the twin screws was
turned on. At once there was a perceptible increase to the
speed of the Advance.
"Are we leaving them behind?" asked Tom anxiously, as he
glanced at the speed gage, and noted that the submarine was
now about five hundred feet below the surface.
"Hard to tell," replied the Captain. "You'd have to take
an observation to make sure."
"I'll do it," cried the youth. "You steer, please, and
I'll go in the conning tower. I can look forward and aft
there, as well as straight up. Maybe I can see the Wonder."
Springing up the circular ladder leading into the tower,
Tom glanced through the windows all about the small pilot
house. He saw a curious sight. It was as if the submarine
was in a sea of yellowish liquid fire. She was immersed in
water which glowed with the flames that contained no heat.
So light was it, in fact, that there was no need of the
incandescents in the tower. The young inventor could have
seen to read a paper by the illumination of the phosphorus.
But he had something else to do than observe this
phenomenon. He wanted to see if he could catch sight of the
At first he could make out nothing save the swirl and
boiling of the sea, caused by the progress of the Advance
through it. But suddenly, as he looked up, he was aware of
some great, black body a little to the rear and about ten
feet above his craft.
"A shark!" he exclaimed aloud. "An immense one, too."
But the closer he looked the less it seemed like a shark.
The position of the black object changed. It appeared to
settle down, to be approaching the top of the conning tower.
Then, with a suddenness that unnerved him for the time
being, Tom recognized what it was; it was the underside of a
ship. He could see the plates riveted together, and then, as
be noted the rounded, cylindrical shape, he knew that it was
a submarine. It was the Wonder. She was close at hand and
was creeping up on the Advance. But, what was more
dangerous, she seemed to be slowly settling in the water.
Another moment and her great screws might crash into the
Conning tower of the Swifts' boat and shave it off. Then the
water would rush in, drowning the treasure-seekers like rats
in a trap.
With a quick motion Tom yanked over the lever that allowed
more water to flow into the ballast tanks. The effect was at
once apparent. The Advance shot down toward the bottom of
the sea. At the same time the young inventor signaled to
Captain Weston to notify those in the engine-room to put on
a little more speed. The Advance fairly leaped ahead, and
the lad, looking up through the bull's-eye in the roof of
the conning tower, had the satisfaction of seeing the rival
submarine left behind.
The youth hurried down into the interior of the ship to
tell what he had seen, and explain the reason for opening
the ballast tanks. He found his father and Mr. Sharp
somewhat excited over the unexpected maneuver of the craft.
"So they're still following us," murmured Mr. Swift. "I
don't see why we can't shake them off."
"It's on account of this luminous water," explained
Captain Weston. "Once we are clear of that it will be easy,
I think, to give them the slip. That is, if we can get out
of their sight long enough. Of course, if they keep close
after us, they can pick us up with their searchlight, for I
suppose they carry one."
"Yes," admitted the aged inventor, "they have as strong a
one as we have. In fact, their ship is second only to this
one in speed and power. I know, for Bentley & Eagert showed
me some of the plans before they started it, and asked my
opinion. This was before I had the notion of building a
submarine. Yes, I am afraid we'll have trouble getting away
"I can't understand this phosphorescent glow keeping up so
long," remarked Captain Weston. "I've seen it in this
locality several times, but it never covered such an extent
of the ocean in my time. There must be changed conditions
For an hour or more the race was kept up, and the two
submarines forged ahead through the glowing sea. The Wonder
remained slightly above and to the rear of the other, the
better to keep sight of her, and though the Advance was run
to her limit of speed, her rival could not be shaken off.
Clearly the Wonder was a speedy craft.
"It's too bad that we've got to fight them, as well as run
the risk of lots of other troubles which are always present
when sailing under water," observed Mn Damon, who wandered
about the submarine like the nervous person he was. "Bless
my shirt-studs! Can't we blow them up, or cripple them in
some way? They have no right to go after our treasure."
"Well, I guess they've got as much right as we have,"
declared Tom. "It goes to whoever reaches the wreck first.
But what I don't like is their mean, sneaking way of doing
it. If they went off on their own hook and looked for it I
wouldn't say a word. But they expect us to lead them to the
wreck, and then they'll rob us if they can. That's not
"Indeed, it isn't," agreed Captain Weston, "if I may be
allowed the expression. We ought to find some way of
stopping them. But, if I'm not mistaken," he added quickly,
looking from one of the port bull's-eyes, "the
phosphorescent glow is lessening. I believe we are running
beyond that part of the ocean."
There was no doubt of it, the glow was growing less and
less, and ten minutes later the Advance was speeding along
through a sea as black as night. Then, to avoid running into
some wreck, it was necessary to turn on the searchlight.
"Are they still after us?" asked Mr. Swift of his son, as
he emerged from the engine-room, where he had gone to make
some adjustments to the machinery, with the hope of
increasing the speed.
"I'll go look," volunteered the lad. He climbed up into
the conning tower again, and for a moment, as he gazed back
into the black waters swirling all about, he hoped that they
had lost the Wonder. But a moment later his heart sank as he
caught sight, through the liquid element, of the flickering
gleams of another searchlight, the rays undulating through
"Still following," murmured the young inventor. "They're
not going to give up. But we must make 'em--that's all."
He went down to report what he had seen, and a
consultation was held. Captain Weston carefully studied the
charts of that part of the ocean, and finding that there was
a great depth of water at hand, proposed a series of
"We can go up and down, shoot first to one side and then
to the other," he explained. "We can even drop down to the
bottom and rest there for a while. Perhaps, in that way, we
can shake them off."
They tried it. The Advance was sent up until her conning
tower was out of the water, and then she was suddenly forced
down until she was but a few feet from the bottom. She
darted to the left, to the right, and even doubled and went
back over the course she had taken. But all to no purpose.
The Wonder proved fully as speedy, and those in her seemed
to know just how to handle the submarine, so that every
evolution of the Advance was duplicated. Her rival could not
be shaken off.
All night this was kept up, and when morning came, though
only the clocks told it, for eternal night was below the
surface, the rival gold-seekers were still on the trail.
"They won't give up," declared Mr. Swift hopelessly.
"No, we've got to race them for it, just as Berg
proposed," admitted Tom. "But if they want a straightaway
race we'll give it to 'em Let's run her to the limit, dad."
"That's what we've been doing, Tom."
"No, not exactly, for we've been submerged a little too
much to get the best speed out of our craft. Let's go a
little nearer the surface, and give them the best race
they'll ever have."
Then the race began; and such a contest of speed as it
was! With her propellers working to the limit, and every
volt of electricity that was available forced into the
forward and aft plates, the Advance surged through the
water, about ten feet below the surface. But the Wonder kept
after her, giving her knot for knot. The course of the
leading submarine was easy to trace now, in the morning
light which penetrated ten feet down.
"No use," remarked Tom again, when, after two hours, the
Wonder was still close behind them. "Our only chance is that
they may have a breakdown."
"Or run out of air, or something like that," added Captain
Weston. "They are crowding us pretty close. I had no idea
they could keep up this speed. If they don't look out," he
went on as he looked from one of the aft observation
windows, "they'll foul us, and--"
His remarks were interrupted by a jar to the Advance. She
seemed to shiver and careened to one side. Then came another
"Slow down!" cried the captain, rushing toward the pilot
"What's the matter?" asked Tom, as he threw the engines
and electrical machines out of gear. Have we hit anything?"
"No. Something has hit us," cried the captain. "Their
submarine has rammed us."
"Rammed us!" repeated Mr. Swift. "Tom, run out the
electric cannon! They're trying to sink us! We'll have to
fight them. Run out the stern electric gnu and we'll make
them wish they'd not followed us.
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Room | Tom
Swift And His Submarine Boat