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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-Three

Attacked by Sharks

For a few minutes after reaching the wreck, which had so

occupied their thoughts for the past weeks, the adventurers

did nothing but gaze at it from the ports of the submarine.

The appearance of the deep-water sharks gave them no

concern, for they did not imagine the ugly creatures would

attack them. The treasure-seekers were more engrossed with

the problem of getting out the gold.

"How are we going to get at it?" asked Tom, as he looked

at the high sides of the sunken ship, which towered well

above the comparatively small Advance.

"Why, just go in and get it," suggested Mr. Damon. "Where

is gold in a cargo usually kept, Captain Weston? You ought

to know, I should think. Bless my pocketbook!"

"Well, I should say that in this case the bullion would be

kept in a safe in the captain's cabin," replied the sailor.

"Or, if not there, in some after part of the vessel, away

from where the crew is quartered. But it is going to be

quite a problem to get at it. We can't climb the sides of

the wreck, and it will be impossible to lower her ladder

over the side. However, I think we had better get into the

diving suits and take a closer look. We can walk around


"That's my idea," put in Mr. Sharp. "But who will go, and

who will stay with the ship?"

"I think Tom and Captain Weston had better go, suggested

Mr. Swift. "Then, in case anything happens, Mr. Sharp, you

and I will be on board to manage matters."

"You don't think anything will happen, do you, dad?" asked

his son with a laugh, but it was not an easy one, for the

lad was thinking of the shadowy forms of the ugly sharks.

"Oh, no, but it's best to be prepared," answered his


The captain and the young inventor lost no time in donning

the diving suits. They each took a heavy metal bar, pointed

at one end, to use in assisting them to walk on the bed of

the ocean, and as a protection in case the sharks might

attack them. Entering the diving chamber, they were shut in,

and then water was admitted until the pressure was seen, by

gages, to be the same as that outside the submarine. Then

the sliding steel door was opened. At first Tom and the

captain could barely move, so great was the pressure of

water on their bodies. They would have been crushed but for

the protection afforded by the strong diving suits.

In a few minutes they became used to it, and stepped out

on the floor of the ocean. They could not, of course, speak

to each other, but Tom looked through the glass eyes of his

helmet at the captain, and the latter motioned for the lad

to follow. The two divers could breathe perfectly, and by

means of small, but powerful lights on the helmets, the way

was lighted for them as they advanced.

Slowly they approached the wreck, and began a circuit of

her. They could see several places where the pressure of the

water, and the strain of the storm in which she had

foundered, had 'opened the plates of the ship, but in no

case were the openings large enough to admit a person.

Captain Weston put his steel bar in one crack, and tried to

pry it farther open, but his strength was not equal to the

task. He made some peculiar motions, but Tom could not

understand them.

They looked for some means by which they could mount to

the decks of the Boldero, but none was visible. It was like

trying to scale a fifty-foot smooth steel wall. There was no

place for a foothold. Again the sailor made some peculiar

motions, and the lad puzzled over them. They had gone nearly

around the wreck now, and as yet had seen no way in which to

get at the gold. As they passed around the bow, which was in

a deep shadow from a great rock, they caught sight of the

submarine lying a short distance away. Light streamed from

many hull's-eyes, and Tom felt a sense of security as he

looked at her, for it was lonesome enough in that great

depth of water, unable to speak to his companion, who was a

few feet in advance.

Suddenly there was a swirling of the water, and Tom was

nearly thrown off his feet by the rush of some great body. A

long, black shadow passed over his head, and an instant

later he saw the form of a great shark launched at Captain

Weston. The lad involuntarily cried in alarm, but the result

was surprising. He was nearly deafened by his own voice,

confined as the sound was in the helmet he wore. But the

sailor, too, had felt the movement of the water, and turned

just in time. He thrust upward with his pointed bar. But he

missed the stroke, and Tom, a moment later, saw the great

fish turn over so that its mouth, which is far underneath

its snout, could take in the queer shape which the shark

evidently thought was a choice morsel. The big fish did

actually get the helmet of Captain Weston inside its jaws,

but probably it would have found it impossible to crush the

strong steel. Still it might have sprung the joints, and

water would have entered, which would have been as fatal as

though the sailor had been swallowed by the shark. Tom

realized this and, moving as fast as he could through the

water, he came up behind the monster and drove his steel bar

deep into it.

The sea was crimsoned with blood, and the savage creature,

opening its mouth, let go of the captain. It turned on Tom,

who again harpooned it. Then the fish darted off and began a

wild flurry, for it was dying. The rush of water nearly

threw Tom off his feet, but he managed to make his way over

to his friend, and assist him to rise. A confident look from

the sailor showed the lad that Captain Weston was uninjured,

though he must have been frightened. As the two turned to

make their way back to the submarine, the waters about them

seemed alive with the horrible monsters.

It needed but a glance to show what they were, Sharks!

Scores of them, long, black ones, with their ugly, undershot

mouths. They had been attracted by the blood of the one Tom

had killed, but there was not a meal for all of them off the

dying creature, and the great fish might turn on the young

inventor and his companion.

The two shrank closer toward the wreck. They might get

under the prow of that and be safe. But even as they started

to move, several of the sea wolves darted quickly at them.

Tom glanced at the captain. What could they do? Strong as

were the diving suits, a combined attack by the sharks, with

their powerful jaws, would do untold damage.

At that moment there seemed some movement on board the

submarine. Tom could see his father looking from the conning

tower, and the aged inventor seemed to be making some

motions. Then Tom understood. Mr. Swift was directing his

son and Captain Weston to crouch down. The lad did so,

pulling the sailor after him. Then Tom saw the bow electric

gun run out, and aimed at the mass of sharks, most of whom

were congregated about the dead one. Into the midst of the

monsters was fired a number of small projectiles, which

could be used in the electric cannon in place of the solid

shot. Once more the waters were red with blood, and those

sharks which were not killed swirled off. Tom and Captain

Weston were saved. They were soon inside the submarine

again. telling their thrilling story.

"It's lucky you saw us, dad," remarked the lad, blushing

at the praise Mr. Damon bestowed on him for killing the

monster which had attacked the captain.

"Oh, I was on the lookout," said the inventor. "But what

about getting into the wreck?"

"I think the only way we can do it will be to ram a hole

in her side," said Captain Weston. "That was what I tried to

tell Tom by motions, but he didn't seem to understand me."

"No," replied the lad, who was still a little nervous from

his recent experience. "I thought you meant for us to turn

it over, bottom side up," and he laughed.

"Bless my gizzard! Just like a shark," commented Mr.


"Please don't mention them," begged Tom. "I hope we don't

see any more of them."

"Oh, I fancy they have been driven far enough away from

this neighborhood now," commented the captain. "But now

about the wreck. We may be able to approach it from above.

Suppose we try to lower the submarine on it? That will save

ripping it open."

This was tried a little later, but would not work. There

were strong currents sweeping over the top of the Boldero,

caused by a submerged reef near which she had settled. It

was a delicate task to sink the submarine on her decks, and

with the deep waters swirling about was found to be

impossible, even with the use of the electric plates and the

auxiliary screws. Once more the Advance settled to the ocean

bed, near the wreck.

"Well, what's to be done?" asked Tom, as he looked at the

high steel sides.

"Ram her, tear a hole, and then use dynamite," decided

Captain Weston promptly. "You have some explosive, haven't

you, Mr. Swift?"

"Oh, yes. I came prepared for emergencies."

"Then we'll blow up the wreck and get at the gold."



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