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| Home | Reading Room Tom Swift And His Submarine Boat

Tom Swift And His Submarine Boat
or Under the Ocean for Sunken Treasure
by Victor Appleton

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Chapter Twenty-One

The Escape

Events had happened so quickly that day that the gold-

hunters could scarcely comprehend them. It seemed only a

short time since Mr. Swift had been discovered lying

disabled on the dynamo, and what had transpired since seemed

to have taken place in a few minutes, though it was, in

reality, several hours. This was made manifest by the

feeling of hunger on the part of Tom and his friends.

"I wonder if they're going to starve us, the scoundrels?"

asked Mr. Sharp, when the irate lieutenant was beyond

hearing. "It's not fair to make us go hungry and shoot us in

the bargain."

"That's so, they ought to feed us," put in Tom. As yet

neither he nor the others fully realized the meaning of the

sentence passed on them.

From where they were on deck they could look off to the

little island. From it boats manned by natives were

constantly putting off, bringing supplies to the ship. The

place appeared to be a sort of calling station for Brazilian

warships, where they could get fresh water and fruit and

other food.

From the island the gaze of the adventurers wandered to

the submarine, which lay not far away. They were chagrined

to see several of the bolder natives clambering over the


"I hope they keep out of the interior," commented Tom. "If

they get to pulling or hauling on the levers and wheels they

may open the tanks and sink her, with the Conning tower


"Better that, perhaps, than to have her fall into the

hands of a foreign power," commented Captain Weston.

"Besides, I don't see that it's going to matter much to us

what becomes of her after we're--"

He did not finish, but every one knew what he meant, and a

grim silence fell upon the little group.

There came a welcome diversion, however, in the shape of

three sailors, bearing trays of food, which were placed on

the deck in front of the prisoners, who were sitting or

lying in the shade of an awning, for the sun was very hot

"Ha! Bless my napkin-ring!" cried Mr. Damon with something

of his former gaiety. "Here's a meal, at all events. They

don't intend to starve us. Eat hearty, every one."

"Yes, we need to keep up our strength," observed Captain


"Why?" inquired Mr. Sharp.

"Because we're going to try to escape!" exclaimed Tom in a

low voice, when the sailors who had brought the food had

gone. "Isn't that what you mean, captain?"

"Exactly. We'll try to give these villains the slip, and

we'll need all our strength and wits to do it. We'll wait

until night, and see what we can do."

"But where will we escape to?" asked Mr. Swift. "The

island will afford no shelter, and--"

"No, but our submarine will," went on the sailor.

"It's in the possession of the Brazilians," objected Tom.

"Once I get aboard the Advance twenty of those brown-

skinned villains won't keep me prisoner," declared Captain

Weston fiercely. "If we can only slip away from here, get

into the small boat, or even swim to the submarine, I'll

make those chaps on board her think a hurricane has broken


"Yes, and I'll help," said Mr. Damon.

"And I," added Tom and the balloonist

"That's the way to talk," commented the captain. "Now

let's eat, for I see that rascally lieutenant coming this

way, and we mustn't appear to be plotting, or he'll be


The day passed slowly, and though the prisoners seemed to

be allowed considerable liberty, they soon found that it was

only apparent. Once Tom walked some distance from that

portion of the deck where he and the others had been told to

remain. A sailor with a gun at once ordered him back. Nor

could they approach the rails without being directed,

harshly enough at times, to move back amidships.

As night approached the gold-seekers were on the alert for

any chance that might offer to slip away, or even attack

their guard, but the number of Brazilians around them was

doubled in the evening, and after supper, which was served

to them on deck by the light of swinging lanterns, they were

taken below and locked in a stuffy cabin. They looked

helplessly at each other.

"Don't give up," advised Captain Weston. "It's a long

night. We may be able to get out of here."

But this hope was in vain. Several times he and Tom,

thinking the guards outside the cabin were asleep, tried to

force the lock of the door with their pocket-knives, which

had not been taken from them. But one of the sailors was

aroused each time by the noise, and looked in through a

barred window, so they had to give it up. Slowly the night

passed, and morning found the prisoners pale, tired and

discouraged. They were brought up on deck again, for which

they were thankful, as in that tropical climate it was

stifling below.

During the day they saw Admiral Fanchetti and several of

his officers pay a visit to the submarine. They went below

through the opened conning tower, and were gone some time.

"I hope they don't disturb any of the machinery," remarked

Mr. Swift. "That could easily do great damage."

Admiral Fanchetti seemed much pleased with himself when he

returned from his visit to the submarine.

"You have a fine craft," he said to the prisoners. "Or,

rather, you had one. My government now owns it. It seems a

pity to shoot such good boat builders, but you are too

dangerous to be allowed to go."

If there had been any doubt in the minds of Tom and his

friends that the sentence of the court-martial was only for

effect, it was dispelled that day. A firing squad was told

off in plain view of them, and the men were put through

their evolutions by Lieutenant Drascalo, who had them load,

aim and fire blank cartridges at an imaginary line of

prisoners. Tom could not repress a shudder as he noted the

leveled rifles, and saw the fire and smoke spurt from the


"Thus we shall do to you at sunrise to-morrow," said the

lieutenant, grinning, as he once more had his men practice

their grim work.

It seemed hotter than ever that day. The sun was fairly

broiling, and there was a curious haziness and stillness to

the air. It was noticed that the sailors on the San Paula

were busy making fast all loose articles on deck with extra

lashings, and hatch coverings were doubly secured.

"What do you suppose they are up to?" asked Tom of Captain


"I think it is coming on to blow," he replied, "and they

don't want to be caught napping. They have fearful storms

down in this region at this season of the year, and I think

one is about due."

"I hope it doesn't wreck the submarine," spoke Mr. Swift.

"They ought to close the hatch of the conning tower, for it

won't take much of a sea to make her ship considerable


Admiral Fanchetti had thought of this, however, and as the

afternoon wore away and the storm signs multiplied, he sent

word to close the submarine. He left a few sailors aboard

inside on guard.

"It's too hot to eat," observed Tom, when their supper had

been brought to them, and the others felt the same way about

it. They managed to drink some cocoanut milk, prepared in a

palatable fashion by the natives of the island, and then,

much to their disgust, they were taken below again and

locked in the cabin.

"Whew! But it certainly is hot!" exclaimed Mr. Damon as he

sat down on a couch and fanned himself. "This is awful!"

"Yes, something is going to happen pretty soon," observed

Captain Weston. "The storm will break shortly, I think."

They sat languidly about the cabin. It was so oppressive

that even the thought of the doom that awaited them in the

morning could hardly seem worse than the terrible heat. They

could hear movements going on about the ship, movements

which indicated that preparations were being made for

something unusual. There was a rattling of a chain through a

hawse hole, and Captain Weston remarked:

"They're putting down another anchor. Admiral Fanchetti

had better get away from the island, though, unless he wants

to be wrecked. He'll be blown ashore in less than no time. No

cable or chain will hold in such storms as they have here."

There came a period of silence, which was suddenly broken

by a howl as of some wild beast.

"What's that?" cried Tom, springing up from where he was

stretched out on the cabin floor.

"Only the wind," replied the captain. "The storm has


The howling kept up, and soon the ship began to rock. The

wind increased, and a little later there could be heard,

through an opened port in the prisoners' cabin, the dash of


"It's a regular hurricane!" exclaimed the captain. "I

wonder if the cables will hold?"

"What about the submarine?" asked Mr. Swift anxiously.

"I haven't much fear for her. She lies so low in the water

that the wind can't get much hold on her. I don't believe

she'll drag her anchor."

Once more came a fierce burst of wind, and a

dash of rain, and then, suddenly above the outburst of the

elements, there sounded a crash on deck. It was followed by

excited cries.

"Something's happened!" yelled Tom. The prisoners gathered

in a frightened group in the middle of the cabin. The cries

were repeated, and then came a rush of feet just outside the

cabin door.

"Our guards! They're leaving!" shouted Tom.

"Right!" exclaimed Captain Weston. "Now's our chance! Come

on! If we're going to escape we must do it while the storm

is at its height, and all is in confusion. Come on!"

Tom tried the door. It was locked.

"One side!" shouted the captain, and this time he did not

pause to say "by your leave." He came at the portal on the

run, and his shoulder struck it squarely. There was a

splintering and crashing of wood, and the door was burst


"Follow me!" cried the valiant sailor, and Tom and the

others rushed after him. They could hear the wind howling

more loudly than ever, and as they reached the deck the rain

dashed into their faces with such violence that they could

hardly see. But they were aware that something had occurred.

By the light of several lanterns swaying in the terrific

blast they saw that one of the auxiliary masts had broken

off near the deck.

It had fallen against the chart house, smashing it, and a

number of sailors were laboring to clear away the wreckage.

"Fortune favors us!" cried Captain Weston. "Come on! Make

for the small boat. It's near the side ladder. We'll lower

the boat and pull to the submarine."

There came a flash of lightning, and in its glare Tom saw

something that caused him to cry out.

"Look!" he shouted. "The submarine. She's dragged her


The Advance was much closer to the warship than she had

been that afternoon. Captain Weston looked over the side.

"It's the San Paula that's dragging her anchors, not the

submarine!" he shouted. "We're bearing down on her! We must

act quickly. Come on, we'll lower the boat!"

In the rush of wind and the dash of rain the prisoners

crowded to the accommodation companion ladder, which was

still over the side of the big ship. No one seemed to be

noticing them, for Admiral Fanchetti was on the bridge,

yelling orders for the clearing away of the wreckage. But

Lieutenant Drascalo, coming up from below at that moment,

caught sight of the fleeing ones. Drawing his sword, he

rushed at them, shouting:

"The prisoners! The prisoners! They are escaping!"

Captain Weston leaped toward the lieutenant

"Look out for his sword!" cried Tom. But the doughty

sailor did not fear the weapon. Catching up a coil of rope,

he cast it at the lieutenant. It struck him in the chest,

and he staggered back, lowering his sword.

Captain Weston leaped forward, and with a terrific blow

sent Lieutenant Drascalo to the deck.

"There!" cried the sailor. "I guess you won't yell

'Silenceo!' for a while now."

There was a rush of Brazilians toward the group of

prisoners. Tom caught one with a blow on the chin, and

felled him, while Captain Weston disposed of two more, and

Mr. Sharp and Mr. Damon one each. The savage fighting of the

Americans was too much for the foreigners, and they drew


"Come on!" cried Captain Weston again. "The storm is

getting worse. The warship will crash into the submarine in

a few minutes. Her anchors aren't holding. I didn't think

they would."

He made a dash for the ladder, and a glance showed him

that the small boat was in the water at the foot of it. The

craft had not been hoisted on the davits.

"Luck's with us at last!" cried Tom, Seeing it also.

"Shall I help you, dad?"

"No; I think I'm all right. Go ahead."

There came such a gust of wind that the San Paula was

heeled over, and the wreck of the mast, rolling about,

crashed into the side of a deck house, splintering it. A

crowd of sailors, led by Admiral Fanchetti, who were again

rushing on the escaping prisoners, had to leap back out of

the way of the rolling mast.

"Catch them! Don't let them get away!" begged the

commander, but the sailors evidently had no desire to close

in with the Americans.

Through the rush of wind and rain Tom and his friends

staggered down the ladder. It was hard work to maintain

one's footing, but they managed it. On account of the high

side of the ship the water was comparatively calm under her

lee, and, though the small boat was bobbing about, they got

aboard. The oars were in place, and in another moment they

had shoved off from the landing stage which formed the foot

of the accommodation ladder.

"Now for the Advance!" murmured Captain Weston.

"Come back! Come back, dogs of Americans!" cried a voice

at the rail over their heads, and looking up, Tom saw

Lieutenant Drascalo. He had snatched a carbine from a

marine, and was pointing it at the recent prisoners. He

fired, the flash of the gun and a dazzling chain of

lightning coming together. The thunder swallowed up the

report of the carbine, but the bullet whistled uncomfortable

close to Tom's head. The blackness that followed the

lightning shut out the view of everything for a few seconds,

and when the next flash came the adventurers saw that they

were close to their submarine.

A fusillade of shots sounded from the deck of the warship,

but as the marines were poor marksmen at best, and as the

swaying of the ship disconcerted them, our friends were in

little danger.

There was quite a sea once they were beyond the protection

of the side of the warship, but Captain Weston, who was

rowing, knew how to manage a boat skillfully, and he soon had

the craft alongside the bobbing submarine.

"Get aboard, now, quick!" he cried.

They leaped to the small deck, casting the rowboat adrift.

It was the work of but a moment to open the conning tower.

As they started to descend they were met by several

Brazilians coming up.

"Overboard with 'em!" yelled the captain. "Let them swim

ashore or to their ship!"

With almost superhuman strength he tossed one big sailor

from the small deck. Another showed fight, but he went to

join his companion in the swirling water. A man rushed at

Tom, seeking the while to draw his sword, but the young

inventor, with a neat left-hander, sent him to join the

other two, and the remainder did not wait to try

conclusions. They leaped for their lives, and soon all could

be seen, in the frequent lightning flashes, swimming toward

the warship which was now closer than ever to the submarine

"Get inside and we'll sink below the surface!" called Tom.

"Then we don't care what happens."

They closed the steel door of the conning tower. As they

did so they heard the patter of bullets from carbines fired

from the San Paulo. Then came a violent tossing of the

Advance; the waves were becoming higher as they caught the

full force of the hurricane. It took but an instant to

sever, from within, the cable attached to the anchor, which

was one belonging to the warship. The Advance began


"Open the tanks, Mr. Sharp!" cried Tom. "Captain Weston

and I will steer. Once below we'll start the engines."

Amid a crash of thunder and dazzling flashes of lightning,

the submarine began to sink. Tom, in the conning tower had a

sight of the San Paulo as it drifted nearer and nearer under

the influence of the mighty wind. As one bright flash came

he saw Admiral Fanchetti and Lieutenant Drascalo leaning

over the rail and gazing at the Advance.

A moment later the view faded from sight as the submarine

sank below the surface of the troubled sea. She was tossed

about for some time until deep enough to escape the surface

motion. Waiting until she was far enough down so that her

lights would not offer a mark for the guns of the warship,

the electrics were switched on.

"We're safe now!" cried Tom, helping his father to his

cabin. "They've got too much to attend to themselves to

follow us now, even if they could. Shall we go ahead,

Captain Weston?"

"I think so, yes, if I may be allowed to express my

opinion," was the mild reply, in strange contrast to the

strenuous work in which the captain had just been engaged.

Tom signaled to Mr. Sharp in the engine-room, and in a few

seconds the Advance was speeding away from the island and

the hostile vessel. Nor, deep as she was now, was there any

sign of the hurricane. In the peaceful depths she was once

more speeding toward the sunken treasure.



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