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´╗┐Title: The Submarine Boys on Duty - Life of a Diving Torpedo Boat
Author: Durham, Victor G.
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Submarine Boys on Duty - Life of a Diving Torpedo Boat" ***

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Note: This is book one of eight of the Submarine Boys Series.



THE SUBMARINE BOYS ON-DUTY

Life on a Diving Torpedo Boat

by

VICTOR G. DURHAM

1909



CONTENTS

CHAPTERS
    I. Two Boys Who Planned to Become Great
   II. The Fighting Chance
  III. Josh Owen Starts Trouble
   IV. The Trick of the Flashlight
    V. One Man's Dumfounded Face
   VI. Along the Trail of Trouble
  VII. When Thieves Fall Out
 VIII. A Swift Stroke for Honor
   IX. The Submarine Makes Its Bow to Old Ocean
    X. Under Water, Where Men's Nerves are Tried
   XI. The Try-Out in the Depths
  XII. The Discovery From the Conning Tower
 XIII. A High-Sea Mystery
  XIV. An Up-To-Date Revenge
   XV. The Courage That Rang True
  XVI. The Last Second of the Nick of Time
 XVII. In the Grip of Horror
XVIII. The Last Gasp of Despair
  XIX. Jack Strikes the Key to the Mystery
   XX. "One On" the Watch Officer
  XXI. The Man Who Dropped the Glass
 XXII. A Dive That was Like Magic
XXIII. Wanted, Badly--One Steward!
 XXIV. Conclusion



CHAPTER I

TWO BOYS WHO PLANNED TO BECOME GREAT


"So this is Dunhaven?" inquired Jack Benson.

"Ye-es," slowly responded Jabez Holt, not rising from the chair in which
he sat tilted back against the outer wall on the hotel porch.

"It looks like it," muttered Hal Hastings, under his breath.

"Doesn't look like a very bustling place, does it?" asked Jack, with
a smile, as he set down a black, cloth-covered box on the porch and
leisurely helped himself to a chair.

The box looked as though it might contain a camera.  "Tin-type fellers,"
thought Holt to himself, and did not form a very high estimate of the
two boys, neither of whom was more than sixteen years of age.

Just now, both boys were dusty from long travel on foot, which condition,
at a merely first glance, concealed the fact that both were neatly
enough, even if plainly, dressed.

"Huh!" was all the response Jabez Holt made to Jack's pleasant comment.
Hal, however, not in the least discouraged by a reception that was not
wholly flattering, set down a box not unlike Jack's, and also something
hidden in a green cloth cover that suggested a camera tripod.  Hal
helped himself to one of the two remaining chairs on the porch
of the little hotel.

"Takin' pictures?" asked Jabez Holt, after a pause spent in chewing at
a tooth-pick.

"Yes, some of the time," Jack assented.  "It helps out a bit when two
fellows without rich fathers take a notion to travel."

"I s'pose so," grunted Jabez.  He was not usually considered, by his
fellow-townsmen, a disagreeable fellow, but a hotel keeper must always
preserve a proper balance of suspicion when dealing with strangers,
and especially strangers who follow callings that do not commonly lead
to prosperity.  Probably "Old Man" Holt, as he was known, remembered
a few experiences with the tribe of itinerant photographers.  At any
rate he did not mean to make the mistake of being too cordial with
these young representatives of the snap-shot art.

"Is there any business around here?" asked Jack, after awhile.

"Oh, there's a Main Street, back uptown, that has some real pretty
homes," admitted the hotel keeper, "an' some likely-lookin' cross
streets.  Dunhaven ain't an awful homely town, as ye'll see after
you've walked about a bit."

"But is there any business here?" insisted Hal Hastings, patiently.

"I guess maybe you're business photografters, then?" suggested the
hotel keeper.

"What kinds of business are there here?" asked Jack.

Jabez Holt cast away a much-mangled toothpick and placed another in his
mouth before he replied, with a chuckle:

"Well, I reckon about the only business here that the town is doing any
talkin' about at present is one that don't want no photografters
around."

"And what may that business be?" persisted Jack.

"Well, down to Farnum's boatyard they're putting up a craft that's
known as 'Pollard's Folly.'"

"And why wouldn't they want that photographed?" demanded young Benson.

"Because it's one of them sure-death boats they hope to sell the
Government, and the United States Government don't care 'bout havin'
its war craft secrets snap-shotted," replied Jabez Holt.

"Didn't you speak of Pollard's boat?" demanded Jack, his eyes agleam
with sudden interest.

"Ye-es," admitted Mr. Holt, slowly.  "A boat that'll drown its score
of men, I reckon, an' then lay somewhere an' eat itself out with rust."

"A submarine boat, isn't it?" continued Jack, quickly.

"Yep; submarine torpedo boat: One of them crazy craft that men _will_
build against all sense of what's decent on salt water."

"Why, I've read about _that_ boat;" Jack ran on, eagerly.  "And, from
what the newspapers said, I've gathered the idea that David Pollard's
boat is going to put the United States completely ahead of all other
nations at sea."

"That's the way Dave Pollard talks," returned Mr. Holt, grimly.  "But
folks 'round Dunhaven, I must say, don't think over an' above of him
or his boat.  They--"

"Oh, bother the folks around Dunhaven!" broke in Jack Benson,
impatiently.  "If the place is the best they know how to do in the way
of a town, I don't care a heap about their ideas of boats.  And--but I
beg your pardon, Mr. Holt.  My tongue's running a bit ahead of my
manners, I guess.  So this is where that famous submarine torpedo boat
is being built?  And she's a diving boat, at that?"

"Well, I guess mebbe she'll dive, all right," chuckled Jabez Holt.  "But
as to her comin' up again, I reckon the 'Pollard' ain't goin' to be so
certain."

"Where are they building her? Farnum's shipyard, you said?"

"Right over yonder," explained Mr. Holt, pointing to a high board fence
that enclosed a space down by the water front.  Farnum's "boatyard,"
as thus seen, was about an eighth of a mile from the little hotel, and
looked as though it might be considerable of a plant.

"Who's in charge of the boat?" was Jack's next question.

"Well, now, that's a conundrum," replied Jabez Holt, pondering.  "Jake
Farnum owns the yard.  Jake is a young man, only a few years out of
college.  He inherited the business from his father, who's dead.  Jake
is considered a pretty good business man, though he don't know much
'bout boats, an' can't seem to learn a heap, nuther.  So Jake leans on
Asa Partridge, the superintendent, who was also superintendent under
old man Farnum.  However, old man Farnum's line was building sailing
yachts, small schooners, and, once in a while, a tug-boat.  That's in
Asa Partridge's line, but he won't have nothin' much to do with new
schemes like diving torpedo boats."

"Then--" hinted Jack.

"I'm a-comin' on with the yarn," replied Jabez Kolt, patiently.  "Now,
Dave Pollard, the inventor of the boat, is a powerful bright young man,
on theory, some folks says, but he ain't much use with tools in his
hands.  But he an' young Jake Farnum hang 'round, watching and bossing,
and they have a foreman of the gang, Joshua Owen, who knows he knows
most everything 'bout buildin' any kind of boat.  So, barrin' the
fussing of Farnum and Pollard, I guess Josh Owen is the real boss of
the job, since the riveters' gang came an' put the hull together, an'
went away."

"Then I suppose Mr. Owen--" began Jack.

"Ja-a-abez!  Jabez Holt!  Come here!" rang a shrill, feminine voice from
the interior of the hotel.

"Must be goin', for a few minutes, anyway," grunted Jabez, rising and
leaving the two boys.  But no sooner was he out of sight than Jack
Benson turned upon his chum, his eyes ablaze.

"Hal Hastings," he effused, in a low voice, "I had forgotten that
Dunhaven was the home of the Pollard boat.  But, since it is, and since
we're here--why, here we'd better stay."

"Do you think we can get in on that job?" asked Hal, dubiously.

"Not if we just sit around and wonder, or if we go meekly and ask for
a job, and turn sadly away when we're refused," retorted Jack Benson,
with a vim that was characteristic of him.  "Hal, my boy, we're simply
going to shove ourselves into jobs in that boatyard, and we're going
to have a whack at the whole game of building and fitting out a
submarine torpedo boat.  Do you catch the idea?  We're just going to
hustle ourselves into the one job that would suit us better than
anything else on earth!"

"Bully!" agreed Hal, wistfully.  "I hope you can work it."

"_We_ can," returned his chum, spiritedly.  "Team work, you know.
We've worked around machine shops, and at other trades, and we know
something about the way boats are handled.  Why shouldn't we be able
to make Farnum and Pollard believe we know something that will be of
use to them?"

"I guess the foreman is the one we want to see, first of all," suggested
Hal.

"Well, we'll camp right down here and go at the thing," almost whispered
Benson.  "And, as this hotel is right at the water front, and within
two jumps of the boatyard, I guess we'd better stay here until we
get settled."

While the two chums were discussing the whole matter in eager, low
tones, a few things may be told about them that will make their present
situation clearer.  Jack Benson, an only son, had been orphaned, three
years before, at the age of thirteen.  With the vigor that he always
displayed, he had found a home and paid for his keep and schooling,
either by doing chores, or by working at various occupations in his
native seaport town of Oakport.  He had kept at school up to a few
months before the opening of this narrative.  With marked genius for
machinery, he had learned many things about the machinist's trade
in odd hours in one of the local shops.  He was remarkably quick at
picking up new ideas, and had shown splendid, though untrained, talent
for making mechanical drawings.

Hal Hastings, of the same age, had a stepmother who did not regard him
kindly.  Hal, too, had worked at odd jobs, almost fighting for his
schooling.  His father, under the stepmother's influence, paid little
heed to his doings.

For two summers both boys had done fairly well working on yachts and
other boats around Oakport.  Both had learned how to handle sail craft,
to run motors and small marine steam engines.

During the spring just passed Hal Hastings had worked much of his
time for an Oakport photographer who, at the beginning of summer, had
failed.  Hal, with a considerable bill for unpaid services, had taken
some photographing material in settlement of his dues.

At the beginning of summer both boys decided that Oakport did not offer
sufficient opportunity for their ambitious hopes in life.  So they had
determined to take Hal's newly acquired camera outfit and "tramp it"
from town to town, earning their living by photographing and all the
while keeping their eyes open for real chances in life.  Both had some
money, carefully saved and hidden, from the previous summer's work, so
that in point of attire they presented a creditable appearance.

During these few weeks of tramping from place to place they had made
somewhat more money than their expenses had amounted to.  Jack Benson,
who was the treasurer, carried their entire hoard in a roll of one and
two-dollar bills.

"I tell you, Hal Hastings," Jack now wound up, "this submarine torpedo
boat business is already a great field.  It's going to be bigger and
bigger, for a lot of inventors are at work.  If we can hustle our way
into this Dunhaven boatyard, we may be able to--"

"Earn a very good living, I guess," nodded Hal, thoughtfully.

"Earn a living?" sniffed Jack, rather scornfully.  "Hal, I've got faith
enough in both of us to believe that we could make our fortunes in a
few years.  Look at some of the poor young men who had sense enough to
get into the automobile business early.   The prizes go to the fellows
who get into a field early and have ability enough to build up
reputations."

Jabez Holt came out upon the porch at this moment.

"Still here?" he asked, looking at the boys.

"We're going to be here a little while, I guess, if it's agreeable to
you, Mr. Holt," Jack answered; with a smile.

"What d'ye mean?  I don't want no tin-types taken."

"We haven't asked you to have any photos made, Mr. Holt," Benson ran
on.  "We're just talking about becoming guests here."

"For twenty-four hours," supplied Hal Hastings.

"For at least two days," Jack amended.

"But, see here," explained Landlord Holt.  "Rates here are two dollars
a day.  If ye hain't got no other baggage I'll have ter look into
them camera boxes before I take 'em as security for board."

"You can't have them as security, Mr. Holt," Jack laughed.  "I'm going
to pay our charges two days in advance.  For two persons it's eight
dollars, isn't it?"

Then young Benson carelessly produced the young partners' roll of
banknotes.  He quickly counted off eight dollars, handing the money
to Mr. Holt.

"Come right in an' register," said Landlord Holt, springing up and
leading the way.  The hotel sometimes prospered when yacht owners
or boat designers came this way, but at any season eight dollars were
eight dollars.  The boys were now in high standing with their host.
When matters had been settled in the office Holt led them to the wash
room.  Here the young men dusted themselves off, washed, polished
their own shoes, donned clean collars and cuffs, and, altogether,
speedily made themselves so tidy that they looked quite different
from the dusty travelers who had trudged into Dunhaven.

Jabez Holt then conducted them back to chairs on the porch, remarking:

"It's after four o'clock now, and supper'll be ready sharp at six."

"What time do they knock off work in the boatyard?" queried Jack.

"Five, sharp," the landlord informed him.

"Does that foreman on the submarine boat job ever come along this way?"

"Goes right by here on his way home," Mr. Holt informed the boys.

"I'd be glad if you'd introduce us to him," Jack suggested.

"I sartain will," nodded Jabez Holt.  "An', ye know, Dave Pollard is
stoppin' at this hotel."

"Oh, he is, eh?" Jack snapped up, eagerly.  "Then we'll certainly try
to make his acquaintance to-night."

Hal, too, looked pleased at this prospect.  Mrs. Holt again calling,
from the depths of the kitchen, the landlord was forced to hurry off.
He left behind two boys who suddenly fell to planning their futures
with all the rosy enthusiasm of youth.  The longer they talked about
the submarine boat, the more both Jack and Hal felt convinced that they
were going to succeed in getting into the work.  In fact, both planned
to become great in that special field.

It was a bright July day, one of the kind when the world looks at its
best to young, hopeful minds.  Absorbed in their vague but rosy plans,
both boys forgot the flight of time.

They were roused out of their talk, at last, by hearing heavy footsteps
on the gravel close at hand.  Looking up, they saw a heavy, broad
shouldered, dark-complexioned youth of about eighteen years.  He had a
swaggering way of carrying himself, and undoubtedly considered himself
of much importance.  His clothing proclaimed him to be a workman.  As
he caught sight of the two happy looking boys this older and larger
youth looked them over with a sneering expression which soon turned to
a scowl.

"Strangers here, ain't ye?" demanded the scowling one, as he halted on
the edge of the porch.

"Yes," nodded Jack Benson, pleasantly.

"Thought so," vouchsafed the other.  "Any body but a stranger hereabouts
would know ye were in my chair--the one I sit in when I come along
this way."

There was something decidedly insolent both the tone and manner of the
stranger.  But Benson, not quick at taking offense, inquired:

"Are you a guest of this hotel."

"None of your business," came the rough retort.

"Oh!" said Jack.

"Did ye hear me say ye were sitting in my chair?"

"Yes."

"Going to get up out of it?"

"Not until I know your rights in the matter," replied Jack.  "You see,
my board is paid in advance at this place."

"Huh!" growled the other, sneeringly.  "Reckon ye don't know much 'bout
Dan Jaggers's way of doin' things."

"Who on earth is Dan Jaggers?" demanded Benson, curiously.

"That's me!  It's my name," rejoined the swagger.  "An', sense ye're
so fresh--"

Jaggers didn't finish in words, but, taking a firm hold on the back of
the chair, he suddenly pulled it out from under Benson.  So swiftly was
the thing done that Jack went down on all fours on the porch.  But,
thoroughly aroused, and his eyes flashing indignantly now, that boy was
quickly on his feet.  Dan, however, with a satisfied grin, had dropped
into the chair.

"Going to get up out of that, Jaggers?" challenged Jack Benson.

"Not as I know of," rejoined Dan, with a broader grin.  "Why?"

"Because I'd hate to hit you while you're sitting down," replied Jack
so quietly that his voice sounded almost mild.

"What's that?" demanded Jaggers, with a guffaw of laughter.

"You heard what I said," Jack insisted.  "You'd better get up."

"Spoiling for a fight, are ye?" questioned the bully.

"Not at all," Jack replied, still keeping his temper in check.  "I never
go about looking for trouble.  I suppose you didn't know any better than
to do what you did."

"What's that?" scowled Dan Jaggers.

"If you want to apologize, and get out of the chair, I'll let it go at
that," pursued Jack, coolly.

"Hey?" demanded Dan Jaggers, aghast.  "_Me_--apologize?"

He sprang up suddenly, resting a broad paw heavily on Jack's shoulder.
But Benson, without flinching, or drawing back, returned the ugly look
steadfastly.

"You're behaving like a pretty poor grade of tough," spoke Jack, in deep
disgust.

"I am, hey?" roared Dan.  He drew back, aiming a heavy fist for Benson's
chest.  It was a mistake, as he quickly realized, for Jack Benson, from
much practice in boxing, was as agile and slippery as a monkey and an
eel combined.  Jack dodged, then came up under with a cleanly aimed
though not hard blow on Jaggers's chin.

"I'll learn ye!" roared Dan, returning two ponderous blows in quick
succession.  To his intense astonishment Jack wasn't in the way of
either blow, but came in with a neck blow on Jaggers's left side that
sent the bully reeling to the gravel beyond the porch.

"Come right down here!" challenged the bully, hoarsely.  "We'll find out
about this."

Jack Benson hesitated.  He did not care about fighting.  Yet, seeing
that Jaggers meant to have a final encounter, Jack dropped nimbly
down to the gravel.

Dan Jaggers rushed at him, both fists up on guard, his whole attitude
more cautious since he had had a taste of the smaller youth's quality.
Jack was about two inches shorter and fully thirty pounds lighter, but
he made one think of a dancing master as he skipped away before the big
fellow's rushes.

"Stand still, won't ye, drat ye?" roared Dan, driving in another heavy
blow.

But Benson dodged, then came in under the bully's guard, landing a
stinging blow on the tip of his nose.  Under punishment Dan let out a
noise resembling the bellow of an angry bull.  Glowering, he stood
uncertain, for a moment, but Jack was tantalizingly just out of his
reach, smiling confidently.  Then Jaggers leaped forward, hopeful of
winding his arms around this foe and crushing him into submission.
A second later, however, Dan fell backward, yelling with pain, for
Jack Benson had landed a left handed blow just under his opponent's
right eye, partly closing it.  Dan bent over double, still groaning.

"Well, I swan!" said the astonished Jabez Holt, in the doorway of his
hotel.

Jack stood his ground a few moments, watching until he felt sure that
his enemy did not intend to carry the affair further.  Then the younger
boy stepped lightly back to the porch, standing just before the chair
from which he had lately been evicted.

"Just bear in mind, I'll git square with ye for this!" uttered Jaggers,
wrathfully, glaring at young Benson with his undamaged eye.  Then he
turned and stalked away, muttering under his breath.

"Well, I swan!" remarked Jabez Holt again, now stepping out onto the
porch.  "I guess that sartain done Dan Jaggers some good.  He needs
some of that medicine, friends.  An' say, here's Josh Owen coming up
from Farnum's boatyard."

Jack and Hal both turned quickly to gaze down the road at a man just
coming out through the gate of Farnum's yard.

"He's the man we want to meet," cried Jack Benson, breathlessly.

"I dunno," replied Mr. Holt, shaking his head, ominously.  "I dunno
as it'll do ye much good, now.  Dan Jaggers is Josh Owen's nephew and
favorite!"



CHAPTER II

THE FIGHTING CHANCE


"My type of torpedo boat is going to rule the seas in naval warfare,"
declared David Pollard, his eyes a-kindle with the enthusiasm of the
sincere inventor.

"I'm sure of it," replied Jack Benson, quietly.  "That's why, Mr.
Pollard, Hal and I are so anxious to get into this work.  Mr. Pollard,
when your type of submarine diving torpedo boat is understood by the
United States Government you'll need some reliable and intelligent
experts.  Take us in now.  Let us learn the work with you.  Let us
go ahead, keeping pace with the progress in Pollard torpedo boats,
and you will never be sorry you have two young fellows you can depend
upon."

"That's so, if you can come near to making as good as you promise,"
admitted the inventor, thoughtfully.  "But you're pretty young."

"And that's the only fault with the Pollard submarine boat," rejoined
Jack Benson, artfully.  "You've got to buck your boat against all the
older types that the Government already takes an interest in.  Yet you
feel sure that you can do it.  You don't believe the Pollard diving
boat is too young.  Give us the same show you ask for your boat."

"Well, I've never seen any of your work--except these drawings,"
replied Mr. Pollard, indicating some sheets that lay on the table
before them.

The chums had succeeded in making the inventor's acquaintance through
the aid of the landlord.  It was now eleven o'clock at night.  Jack and
Hal had been in the inventor's room for the last three hours.  Benson
had done most of the talking, though Hal had now and then put in some
effective words.

David Pollard was now thirty years of age, tall, lean and of pallid
countenance.  He was a graduate of a technical school.  Though not a
practical mechanic, he had a rather good lot of theory stored away in
his mind.  He had inherited some money, soon after leaving school, but
this money had vanished in inventions that he had not succeeded in
marketing.  Now, all his hopes in life were centered in the submarine
torpedo boat that was nearly completed.  Pollard had had no money of
his own to put into the craft.  Jacob Farnum was his friend and
financial backer.

No one could grasp how much success with his submarine boat meant to
this wearied yet hopeful inventor.  For years all his schemes had been
laughed at by "practical" men.  It was success, more than mere fortune,
for which David Pollard hungered.  The officials of the Navy Department,
at Washington, had promised to inspect and try the boat, when finished,
but that was all the encouragement that had come from the national
capital.

If the "Pollard," as the new craft was at present named, should prove a
failure, then the inventor felt that he would be "down" indeed in the
world.  Also, he must feel that he had buried one hundred and fifty
thousand dollars of the money of his loyal friend, Farnum.

In his present anxious, worried frame of mind, with few real believers
in the possible success of his boat, it was little wonder that David
Pollard was grateful for any intelligent interest or faith in his plans.
These two friends were but boys, nor had they had any experience in
submarine boat construction.  Yet they had shown the inventor that they
knew much about machinery and marine engines in general, and Jack, with
his handy knack of sketching machinery, had made a decided hit with
poor Pollard.

"Just put us in as apprentices," begged Benson.  "We'll be just the
plainest sort of helpers, fetching and lifting, and that sort of thing,
until we learn how to do more."

"Well, you see, for one thing, boys," replied Pollard, "this building
of a submarine boat is very important and confidential work.  Now,
while I like the looks and talk of you both, I really don't know a thing
about either of you."

"Of course you don't," Jack Benson admitted, frankly.  "And it's highly
important that you should.  I know that.  But you can telegraph the
principal of the school we attended in Oakport, and you can telegraph
the minister of our church, too.  We'll abide by just what they say
about us.  And"-- here Benson brought his little roll of bills once
more into sight--"we'll pay for the telegrams and the answers."

"That looks right," nodded Mr. Pollard, with a slight smile.  "There
is just one more point.  The superintendent of the yard, Mr. Partridge,
isn't having anything to do with the building of the 'Pollard.' After
the steel workers and the riveters had finished on the hull, then
the inside work, including the fitting of the machinery, was turned
over to Mr. Owen, our present foreman.  Sometimes he's a crotchety
fellow, and he might take a dislike to you youngsters."

"I've got to tell you about something that I think _will_ make him
take a dislike to us," spoke up Jack Benson, candidly.  Then he recounted
the afternoon's affair with Dan Jaggers.

"Yes, that certainly will stir up some feeling," replied Mr. Pollard.
"In fact, it will make it very difficult for you to get along with
Owen, for he thinks a lot of that disagreeable, bullying nephew of his.
Yet, Benson, I like you a whole lot better for your honesty."

The inventor was silent for some moments, puffing slowly at a pipe, and
then he removed the stem from between his teeth and continued:

"You've made a good impression upon me, both of you, and particularly
with what you say about giving young fellows and young boats a chance
to prove themselves.  You talk like youngsters with some experience and
some ideas in the matter of machinery.  I admire your honesty.  I also
like what you say about the need Farnum and I will have, in the future,
of young men who will understand our boats thoroughly.  I don't know
what you can do until we try you out."

He took a few more thoughtful pulls at his pipe and resumed: "See here,
you come to the yard at eight o'clock in the morning, ready to do
anything that's wanted of you.  I won't wire, but I'll write, to-night,
to the references you've given.  If we find you're not of much use
we'll drop you.  If your references don't turn out to be unusually good,
out you go!  But, if you make good, you'll have your chance.  It's just
your fighting chance, you understand.  I'll fix the matter with Mr.
Farnum."

"And the foreman?" smiled Jack, wistfully.

Mr. Pollard looked grave as he answered:

"Look out not to invite any trouble with Joshua Owen, and avoid trouble
with Jaggers, who works in the boat-fitting crew.  I think we can get
over the effects of your little trouble this afternoon.  And now, boys,
give me the addresses of your references, and I'll write at once."

A few moments later the chums bade the inventor good night, then hurried
to their own room, though not to retire at once.

"Well!" demanded Jack Benson, his face radiant, as he thought of their
"fighting chance."

"It was the way you put the whole matter to Pollard," replied Hal
Hastings.  "Jack, you're a wonder with your tongue.  I believe you could
talk a hole through a thick board fence."

"We've got our chance, anyway.  And, oh, Hal!  I believe it's going to
be our real chance in life!"

"You'll soon be as wild about the 'Pollard' as the inventor himself,"
laughed Hastings, good-naturedly.

"It isn't going to be just the one boat, Hal," urged his chum, seriously.
"It's the whole big problem of submarine warfare.  It's going to be _the_
warfare of the future, old chum!  And, starting this early, we may
become Pollard's real experts--his leading men when he's famous,
successful and rich!  We may even become his partners, through getting
up improvements on his ideas.  Hal, boy, we may even put through our own
design of submarine boat one of these days."

"It'll be huge fun, anyway, if we can get a chance to cruise on a
submarine boat-under water and all!" glowed young Hastings.  "Say,
there must be a wonderful thrill to going down deep in the ocean."

Thus they talked for another hour.  It was very late when the two
turned in, nor did they go to sleep at once.  Yet, when the half-past
six call came in the morning, both boys turned out in a jiffy.  Excitement
took the place of rest with them.  They breakfasted with appetite.
Shortly after half-past seven, though the yard was so near, Jack and
Hal set out for their first day's work at boat building.

The gate was open, though the yard, as they stepped inside, had a
deserted look.  The partly finished hulls of two schooners lay on the
ways down by the water front.  There were half a dozen sloops in
various stages of completion.  There were two houses, close to the
water's edge in which, as the boys afterwards learned, motor boats
were built.  But it was a rough shed, more than twenty feet high, and
at least one hundred and twenty feet long, running down to the shore,
that instantly caught Jack Benson's glance.

"There's where they must be putting the 'Pollard' in shape," he cried,
eagerly, as he pointed.  Both youngsters hurried toward that shed.  As
they reached it the inventor came into sight around the end.  He was
hollow-eyed, though alert; he looked even more worried than he had looked
the night before.

"Ah, good morning, boys," was his greeting.  "Early on hand, I see."

"When a fellow's whole heart is set on a thing, he isn't likely to lie
abed until the last moment, is he, Mr. Pollard?" inquired Benson.

That speech impressed the inventor most favorably.  _He_ could appreciate
enthusiasm.

"Come inside, and I'll show you something," he said, producing a key and
leading the way to a door in the side of the shed.

Through the long, high windows of the shed an abundance of light fell.
But Jack, once inside the door, halted, looking with lips parted and
eyes wide open.

"O-o-o-oh!" he murmured.

"What is it?" inquired the inventor, curiously.

"The very, wonder of the thing," replied Benson, frankly, looking over
the whole length of the "Pollard" as she lay propped up on the sturdy
ways.

Nor did that simple speech make the inventor think any less of the
boy.  Though Hal Hastings remained silent for some time, his fascinated
gaze rested steadily on the strange-looking outlines of the cigar-shaped
bull of the boat.

The outer hull was of steel plates, carefully riveted into place.
The entire length of the boat was about one hundred and ten feet,
which in point of size placed her just about in the class of boats
of this type which are being constructed to-day.

Near the center of the boat, on the upper side, was the conning tower,
about nine feet in outside diameter, and extending some four feet
above the sloping deck of the craft.  Around the conning tower extended
a flat, circular "platform" deck.

At the bow of the boat the torpedo tube projected a short distance.  At
the stern the rudder was in place, and all was in readiness for placing
the propeller shaft and the propeller itself.  On the floor of the
shed, near the middle of this strange, dangerous boat, lay
miscellaneous small pieces of machinery and fittings.

At the starboard side of the boat stood a ladder that ascended to the
platform deck.  In the top of the conning tower a man-hole cover stood
propped up.  It was through this opening that the workmen entered or
left the boat.

From outside the shed several wires ran in.  In dark weather these
wires carried the current for electric lights in shed and boat.

"I won't ask you aboard until the foreman and other workmen arrive,"
explained Mr. Pollard.  "It'll be only a few minutes to wait."

While they were still examining the outer hull, and discussing the
submarine, Dan Jaggers, in his workman's clothes, reached the open
doorway of the shed.  One look inside, and he halted short.  He gathered
from the talk he heard that Jack Benson and Hal Hastings were to be
added to the "Pollard's" working gang.

"Not if I know myself--and the foreman--and I think I do!" growled
the Jaggers youth, backing away unseen.

The next of the workmen to arrive was Michael O'brien, red-haired and
about twenty-eight years of age.  He was good-humored and talkative, and
the two boys took an immediate liking to him.

Through the gate of the yard came Joshua Owen, a man of forty-five, of
medium height, broad-shouldered, black-haired and with a frame that
spoke of great physical power and endurance.  Yet he had restless,
rather evil-looking eyes.  He did not look like the sort of man whom
a timid fellow would want for an enemy.

"Hold on there, Unc," greeted Dan Jaggers, motioning his foreman-uncle
aside.  "Say, you know that cheeky young fellow I told ye about--the
tricky one that played the sneak on me, and gave me this black eye?"

"Haven't you met him and paid him back yet?" demanded Mr. Owen.

"Hadn't seen him again, until just now," complained Dan.  "What do you
think?  Pollard has engaged that feller and his friend to work on the
submarine."

"Has, eh?  Without speaking to me about it?" demanded Joshua Owen,
looking anything but pleased.

"Of course you'll let Pollard know that you're foreman and take on
and lay off your own gang," hinted Jaggers.

"Now, you leave me alone, Dan, boy, to know what to do," retorted Mr.
Owen.  Then he stepped on toward the long shed, a very grim look on
his face.  Going inside the shed, the foreman looked the two boys
over briefly.

"If you young men haven't any business in here," he ordered, "get
out and on your way.  Work is about to begin here.  I'm the foreman."

"Oh, Mr. Owen," hailed the inventor, "these are two very bright young
chaps, with some experience, that I've engaged to help us out with
installing the machinery in the boat."

"Couldn't you have consulted me, sir?" asked the foreman, again looking
keenly at the youngsters.

"When you've found out what they can do, Mr. Owen," replied Pollard.
"I believe you'll be rather pleased with them.  They're hired only
on trial, you understand."

"I can tell whether we want 'em before we start work," grunted the
foreman.  With that he began to fire all manner of machine-shop questions
at both boys.  Yet Jack and Hal, paying respectful heed, answered in
a way that showed them to be quite well informed about this class
of work.

"They won't do Mr. Pollard--won't do at all," announced Foreman Owen,
turning to the inventor.  "I know their kind.  They're glib talkers,
and all that, but they belong to the know-it-all class of boys.  I've
had a lot of experience with that kind of 'prentices, and I don't want
'em bothering our work here.  So I say, sir, the only thing for you to
do is to send them about their business."

Foreman Owen spoke as though that settled the matter.  Jack Benson
and Hal Hastings felt their hopes oozing.

"I've told the boys they shall have a chance Mr. Owen," replied Pollard
quietly, yet in a tone of authority.  "So of course my word must be kept
with them."

"But I'm the foreman," exclaimed Joshua Owen, irritably, "and I'm
supposed to--"

"Exactly," interposed David Pollard.  "You're supposed to obey all
instructions from your superiors here, and to give your advice when it's
wanted.  I have much at stake in the success of this boat, and when I
find what looks like good material for our working crew I'm going to try
out that material."

"But I don't want to be bothered with boys, like these young fellows,"
retorted the foreman, angrily.  "This is no job for amateurs!"

"The boys remain until they've been well tried out," retorted Pollard,
firmly.  "If they can't do our kind of work, then of course we'll
let them go."

"I'll speak to Mr. Farnum about this business," muttered Foreman Owen,
turning on his heel.  Three other workmen had arrived during this talk.
Now, at the order from Owen all climbed the ladder to the platform deck,
thence disappearing through the manhole.  Electric light was turned on
inside the hull by the time that Jack and Hal appeared at the manhole
opening.

Owen looked upward, from the floor of the boat, to scowl at them, but,
as Mr. Pollard was right behind them, the foreman said nothing at that
moment.

Last of all came Dan Jaggers.  As he caught sight of the two newcomers
he shot at them a look full of hate.

"I thought ye said those fellers couldn't work here," he muttered
to his uncle.

"Keep quiet and watch out," whispered Joshua Owen.  "They're not going
to work here.  I'll fix that!"



CHAPTER III

JOSH OWEN STARTS TROUBLE


"Knock off!"

As the deafening din of hammers lessened David Pollard shouted that
order through a megaphone.

Confined in a limited space, inside that bull of steel, the clatter,
which outdoors would have been barely noticed, was something infernal
in volume and sharpness.  Human ear-drums could not stand it for any
very great length of time.

By this time Jack Benson and Hal Hastings had had a good chance to
see exactly what the interior of a submarine torpedo boat was like.

A level floor extended throughout the entire length of the "Pollard."
Below this floor, reached by hatchways, were various small compartments
for storage.  Under the level of this floor, too, were the "water tanks."
These were tanks that, when the craft lay or moved on the surface of the
ocean, were to contain only air.  Whenever it was desired to sink the
torpedo boat, valves operated from the central room of the boat could be
opened so that the water tanks would fill, and the weight of the water
would sink the boat.  In diving, the forward tanks could be filled
first, and then, when the desired depth was reached, the other tanks
could be filled entirely, or partly, in such a way as to control depth
and position.

With the boat below the surface, and the commander wishing to return to
the surface, compressed air could be forced into the water tanks,
expelling all the water in them, or a part of the water, if preferred.
The valves would then operate to keep more water from entering.

On the surface the "Pollard" was intended to be run by a powerful
six-cylinder gasoline engine.  When below the surface the boat was to
be propelled by electric power supplied from storage batteries.  Below
the waves the gasoline engine could not be used, as such an engine
consumes air and also creates bad vapors.

On the morning when our two young friends went to work the electrical
engine was fully installed, and had been tested.  The gasoline engine
was in place, but the fittings had yet to be finished.  In the course
of this latter work the necessary connections were to be made between
gasoline engine and dynamo.

The many strong-walled receivers for compressed air had been placed,
and were now being more securely fitted and connected by the workmen.
The final work on the compressed air apparatus was yet to be done by a
special crew of workmen who were soon to come down from New York.  A
powerful, compact plant for compressing air was a part of this outfit.

Right up in the bow of the "Pollard" was the tube through which a
Whitehead torpedo, fourteen feet in length, could be started on its
destructive journey by means of compressed air force.  One torpedo was
to be carried in the tube, six others in special lockers on either side.

Back of the torpedo room was the rather cramped engine room in which
were the gasoline and electric motors, other machinery and work-benches.
Then came the central cabin, some twenty feet long and about ten feet
wide.  Here was a table, while the seats at the side could be arranged
also as berths.  Out of the cabin, aft, led a narrow passageway.  Off
this, on either side, were a narrow galley, cupboards, ice-box and
toilet room.  Nearer the stern were two compact state-rooms, one
intended for two "line" or "deck" officers, the other for two engineer
officers.  There were other features about the "Pollard" that will be
described as need arises.

For more than an hour the entire gang had been at work, though Joshua
Owen had seen to it that Jack and Hal had nothing more to do than lift
or hold heavy articles, fetch tools, etc.  Still both boys stood this
good-humoredly, paying strict attention to orders.  David Pollard,
watching them at times, and guessing how they might feel under such
treatment, found his good opinion of the two newcomers still rising.

Stopping their work, when the order came, the workmen lighted their
pipes.  Jack and Hal, not liking the clouds of tobacco smoke, ran up
the spiral staircase to the manhole, stepping, out upon the platform.
As they did so they encountered a man of about thirty years of age who
had just reached the platform deck from the shed flooring.

"Hullo, what are you two doing here?" questioned the new arrival, looking
the boys over keenly.

"Are you Mr. Farnum?" asked Benson.

"Yes.  Well?"

"Mr. Pollard put us to work here, Mr. Farnum."

"Oh!  That's all right, then," replied the owner of the yard, amiably,
and entered the conning tower.

"Tumble down here, you two lazy young roustabouts!" sounded Owen's
voice a few minutes later.

"We seem to have made a hit with our foreman, don't we?" chuckled
Jack to his chum.

"Mr. Owen," Pollard was saying to the foreman, as the boys rejoined the
crew below, "we can't stand the ringing of hammers all the time, so,
for the next job, I think you'd better fit some of the feed pipes
connecting the gasoline tanks with the motor."

"All right, sir," replied Josh Owen, briefly.  He turned to order
Jaggers and O'brien to bring forward one of the longer pieces of feed
pipe.  This the foreman helped to fit in place.

"Mr. Pollard," reported Owen, soon, "this pipe is a small botch on
the part of the contractor."

"What's wrong" asked the inventor, quickly, springing forward and
bending over to examine.

"The pipe is about a half inch too long," replied Owen.

"But one of the superintendent's men over at the machine shop can cut
it to fit?" asked the inventor, looking uneasy.

"Oh, he can cut it all right, but there's the new thread to be cut,
too," explained the foreman, pointing.  "I'm sorry, sir, but if you
want a good job, without any danger of botch, you'll have to wire the
contractors to rush a new pipe, cut exactly to the specifications."

"But that will delay us at least forty-eight hours, and the launching
date is so near at hand," protested the inventor.

"You'd better put your launching off two days, Mr. Pollard, than take
any chances of having a bad connection in your fuel feed pipes," argued
the foreman.

"Confound such luck!" growled Pollard, turning away.  "Well, come over
to the office with me, and we'll wire a kick and a prayer to the
contractors."

Just as he turned, the inventor barely failed to overhear something that
Jack muttered in an aside to Hal.

"What's that you're saying, Benson?" demanded David Pollard.

"Oh, nothing much, sir," replied Jack, quickly.  "I'm not foreman here,
nor much of anything, for that matter."

"Were you expressing an opinion about this pipe business?"

"Ye-es, sir."

"You agree with me that the pipe can be cut properly at the machine
shop of this yard?" insisted the inventor.  It was strange to ask
such a question of a boy helper, but David Pollard, facing a delay
in the launching of his craft, was ready to jump at any hope.

Jack Benson hesitated.

"I want a reply," persisted Mr. Pollard.

"Why, yes," Jack admitted.  "I don't want to be forward, but I feel
pretty sure the pipe can be measured both for its own length and the
length it ought to be.  If there's a good metal saw over at the machine
shop, and a thread cutter, this pipe ought to be ready for safe fitting
in half an hour."

"That's the way it looks to me, too," broke in Mr. Farnum.  "Send the
pipe over, anyway, with the proper measurements, and Partridge can tell
you what's what."

"I won't make the measurements.  I won't have anything to do with
it, or be responsible for a botched job," snarled the foreman.

"You don't have to, then," replied Farnum, taking a spring steel tape
from his pocket.  "Benson, you seem to have a clear-headed idea of what
you're talking about.  Take the measurements.  This tape has been
standardized."

It was not a matter of great difficulty.  Jack, with his chum's aid,
soon had the measurements taken.

"Since you youngsters know so much about it," growled Joshua Owen,
"you two can carry the pipe over to the machine shop."

Other workmen sprang to help in passing the pipe up through the manhole
and down over the side of the hull.  When Jack and Hal got the pipe
up on their shoulders they staggered a bit under its weight.  But
they were game, and started away with it.

"That's a shame," growled Mike O'brien.  "Boss, leave me go 'an be
helpin' the b'yes with that load."

"Go ahead," nodded Mr. Farnum.  O'brien went nimbly down the ladder,
placing one of his own sturdy shoulders under the forward end of the
pipe, while Benson got back with Hal Hastings at the other end.  In
about three-quarters of an hour the trio were back, with the pipe cut
to the right length, and with a new screw-thread cut at the shortened
end.

"Now, you can demonstrate your own work, Benson," laughed Mr. Farnum.
"Fit the pipe yourself, and call on the men for what help you want."

At that, Joshua Owen folded his arms as he stepped back scowling.  Yet
when the crew, under Jack's direction, had finished fitting the pipe
in place, not even this angered foreman dared say that it was not
fitted properly.

The next work called for fitting some pipe-joints, and in this a red
lead cement was used.  One of these joint-makings fell to Benson and Hal.

"Here's yer cement," muttered the scowling Dan Jaggers, passing a rough
ball of the stuff to young Benson.

"Is this the best you have?" asked Jack, eyeing the cement with disfavor.

"Yes," growled Dan, "and it's plenty good enough."

"I'd call it too dry," replied Jack, quietly.

"Are you bossing this job all the way through?" demanded Joshua Owen,
angrily, stepping forward.  "Mr. Farnum, Mr. Pollard, if these boys are
to have charge of this work, I may as well stop."

"What's the matter?" asked Mr. Farnum, coining forward.

"This younker is grumbling about the red lead cement," snapped the
irate foreman.

"What's the complaint, Benson?" asked the boatyard owner.

"No complaint, Mr. Farnum," Jack answered, quickly.  "Only, I've got to
make the joint fast with red lead cement, and it seemed to me that this
stuff is too dry.  If I use it, it won't fill out smoothly enough.  It's
dry and crumbly, and I'm afraid the joint would be very defective."

"Nothing of the sort!" snapped Joshua Owen.  "Boy, you've no business
trying to do a man's work, anyway.  Give me that cement, and I'll make
the joint fast myself."

"All right," nodded Benson, stepping back.  He started to pass the
chunk of cement to the foreman, but Mr. Farnum quickly took it from
him, then cast a look upward.  Asa Partridge, the yard superintendent,
a man past fifty, stood on the platform deck, looking down through
the open manhole.

"Come down here, Mr. Partridge," hailed the yard's owner, while Joshua
Owen's scowl became deeper than ever.  "Mr. Partridge, Benson says
this cement is too dry to make a joint tight with.  Owen says it isn't.
Who wins the bet?" the owner finished, laughingly.

Asa Partridge, a man of long experience in steam-fitting, took the chunk
of cement, examining it carefully, then picked it to pieces before he
rejoined dryly:

"Why, the boy wins, of course.  Any apprentice ought to know that cement
as dry as this stuff can't make a tight joint."

"Isn't there some better cement than this around?" called out Mr. Farnum.

"If there isn't," volunteered the superintendent, "I can send you over
plenty.  But the use of such stuff as that would leave some joints
loose, and make a breakdown of the boat's machinery certain."

"You see, Owen," spoke the yard's owner, quietly, turning to the foreman,
"you're letting your dislike for these boys spoil your value here as
foreman."

"I've stood all I'm going to stand here," shouted Joshua Owen, in
a tempest of rage, as he snatched off his apron.  "You're letting
these boys run the job--"

"Nothing of the sort," broke in Farnum, icily.  "They haven't tried
to run anything.  But any workman is entitled to complain when he's
expected to perform impossibilities with poor material."

"There ye go, upholding 'em again," roared the foreman.  "I'm through.
I've quit!"

"I don't know as that's a bad idea, either, Owen," replied Mr. Farnum,
in the same cool voice.  "When you don't care how you botch a job
it's time for you to walk out.  You can call at the office this afternoon,
and Mr. Partridge will give you your pay."

Joshua Owen glared, amazedly, at his employer.  Then, seeing that
his threat had been taken at par, and that he was really through here,
the infuriated man wheeled like a flash, leaping at Jack Benson from
behind and striking the boy to the floor.  But Grant Andrews, O'brien
and others leaped at him and pulled him away.

Jacob Farnum pointed up the spiral staircase, as Jack Benson leaped
to his feet, hardly hurt at all.

"You can't get out of here too quickly, Owen!" warned the owner.
"If you linger, I'll have you helped out of this boat!  Grant Andrews,
you're foreman here from now on."

"First of all, see that that fellow gets out of here in double-quick
time."

"Come along, Dan!" called Owen, hoarsely to his nephew, as he started
up the stairway.

"Yes, run along, Danny," added Farnum, mockingly.  "You're no better
than your uncle!"

After the pair had departed it took all hands at least five minutes
to cool down from their indignation.  Then they resumed work, and
all went smoothly under the quiet, just, alert new foreman, Grant
Andrews.

That afternoon, as Jack crossed the yard, going on an errand from
Mr. Pollard to the office, he encountered Josh Owen and his nephew.
The pair had just collected their pay from the superintendent.  They
were talking together, in low, ugly tones, when they caught sight
of the boy.

Though Benson saw them in season to avoid coming close to them, he
neither dodged the pair nor courted a meeting.  He would have passed
without speaking, but Joshua Owen seized the boy by one arm.

"I s'pose ye feel me and you had trouble, and you got the best of it?"
leered the former foreman, then scowled.  "But listen to me, younker.
Ye're going to run into trouble, and quicker than ye think, at that.
That old cigar shaped death-trap won't float--not for long, anyway.
All I'm hoping is that ye'll go in for bein' one of the crew of that
submarine boat.  Then I'll be even with a lot of ye all at the same
time!"

With which enigmatic prophecy Joshua Owen let go of the boy's arm,
and tramped heavily away, followed by his precious nephew.



CHAPTER IV

THE TRICK OF THE FLASHLIGHT


"Have you seen anything of Owen, since he was discharged?"

It was David Pollard who put the question, while the crew, under the
new foreman, Andrews, was busy the next day with more work on the
motor fittings.

Then, for the first time, except to his chum, Jack Benson told of
his meeting in the yard.

"Making threats against you, and against the boat, is he?" smiled
Mr. Pollard.  "Well, he can't get near the boat.  Partridge took the
precaution of getting the keys back from Owen yesterday afternoon,
when the fellow went to get paid off.  But as for his threats against
you--"

"It will be just as well to look out for the fellow, Benson, and you,
too, Hastings," put in young Mr. Farnum, who happened to be aboard.
"Owen is an ugly fellow, and a powerful one, and I imagine he possesses
a certain amount of rough brute courage."

"I'm not afraid of him, sir," replied Jack, coolly.  "At the same
time, of course, I'll keep my eyes open."

"Owen probably can't hang around Dunhaven very long, anyway," continued
the owner of the yard.  "I don't believe he has very much saved.  Of
course, he can't get any work in his line in Dunhaven, now that this
yard is closed to him.  So look out for a day or two, and, after that,
I guess he'll be gone."

"I'll keep my eye open, but I shan't lose any rest," smiled young
Benson, confidently--too confidently, as the sequel proved.

Work was now proceeding at a rapid rate.  Andrews was an ideal foreman,
quiet, alert, watchful and understanding his trade thoroughly.  He was
something of a driver, as to speed, but workmen do not resent that if
the one in authority be just and capable.

"I wish we had had you as foreman from the start, Andrews," remarked
the inventor.

"Well, I was here, and ready to be called at any time," replied the
new foreman, with a smile.

"By the way, you don't seem to have any trouble with Benson or Hastings,"
pursued Mr. Pollard.

"Not a bit.  They're good helpers.  In fact, young as they are, they
are a long way on the road to being real mechanics."

"You don't find them forward, or--well, fresh?"

"They're not the least bit troubled that way," replied the new foreman
emphatically.  "Owen didn't get along with them, and couldn't have
done so, because he's a nagger, and no self-respecting workman will
stand for a nagger.  There were times when O'brien and I wondered
if we hadn't better pitch him out and then leave our jobs."

Thus matters went along most smoothly.  Jack Benson and Hal Hastings,
with a good general knowledge of mechanics, and willing to work hard
and tackle new problems, were learning much.  Even before the "Pollard"
was launched and sent on her trial trip these two boys showed remarkable
proficiency in equipping and handling this wonderful class of craft.

In the meantime the boys had left the hotel, taking up their quarters
at a comfortable boarding-house where Foreman Andrews lived.  Though
Farnum was paying them fair wages, they were thrifty enough to be
on the lookout for any outside work with their camera outfit.  So
it happened that, one evening after supper, Jack and Hal, carrying
their outfit, set out on a walk of more than two miles.  They had
secured an order to go to a wealthy man's summer "cottage," as the
great, handsome pile was called, there to make some flashlight photographs
of some of the large, expensively furnished rooms.

Time flew, and the owner of the cottage caused many delays by wishing
furniture shifted about before the photographs were made.  It was
after eleven o'clock at night when the two submarine boys left the
cottage to tramp back to Dunhaven.  As they neared the village they
heard the town clock striking midnight.  That was the only sound they
could hear besides the movement of their own feet.  Dunhaven was wrapped
in sound slumber.

Their way led the boys close to Farnum's boatyard.  As they came around
a corner of the fence, Hal, who was slightly in the lead, stepped
back quickly, treading on his friend's toes.

"Sh!" whispered Hastings.  "Keep quiet and take a sly peep around
the corner.  Look up along the fence and see what you make out."

Slipping off his hat, Jack took a hasty look, exposing very little
of his head, while Hal now crowded close to him from behind.

"Someone trying to scale the fence," whispered Jack.  "By Jove, there
he goes.  He has a good hold, and is going--now he's over in the
yard."

Such stealthy prowling could mean little else than mischief brewing.
To both the boys came instantly the same thought:

"The submarine boat!"

"Did you recognize him?" whispered Hal, quivering.

"No; too dark for that, and, besides, he was too quick.  But we must
hustle to alarm someone."

"There's a watchman in the yard," Hal replied.  "He ought to be getting
busy."

"I don't hear any hail, or any shot," Jack replied.  "Hal, old fellow,
we've got to do something ourselves."

"Well, we can climb the fence as well as that stranger did."

"We'd better.  Here, take the flashlight gun.  Pass that and the camera
up as soon as I get to the top of the fence.  We can't leave our outfit
outside--it's worth too much money."

With that Jack Benson swiftly found a knothole in which he could get
a slight foot-hold.  With that start he was quickly up on top of the
ten-foot fence.  Bending down he took camera and flashlight "gun."
Hal hurriedly followed.  Down in the yard, they started speedily
though softly forward, going by impulse straight toward the submarine's
shed, though keeping in the shadow of other buildings.

Arrived at one corner of the office building, young Benson, who was
in the lead, signaled a stop.  Hal halted just behind him.

"It's the submarine, all right, that the fellow's after," whispered
Jack excitedly, as he peeped.  "Make him out over there, at the door?
Gracious!  He's unlocking and throwing the padlock off.  And, blazes!
Can't you make out who it is, Hal?"

"Josh Owen!  But he gave up his keys."

"He had at least one duplicate, then," declared Jack, in a tremulous
whisper.  "There, he's gone inside.  Come on, Hal--soft-foot!  We'll
take a near look at what he's doing."

There was some distance to be traveled, and it had to be done with
the utmost stealth.  Whatever Josh Owen--if it was truly he--was
doing in the submarine shed, the young shadows did not wish to put
him on his guard until they had caught him red-handed.

"Where's the night watchman while all this is going on?" wondered
Jack as he tip-toed forward.  It was afterwards discovered that the
watchman, who sometimes drank liquor, was at this moment sound asleep
in one of the sheds.  There was no time to be squandered in looking
for him if Josh Owen was to be followed and foiled.

Creeping to the now open door of the submarine's shed, Jack, who was
in the lead, took a peep inside.

There was a dim light in there, though it came from the further side
of the hull.  Benson signaled, and his friend followed him, stealthily,
a step or two at a time, around to the stern of the "Pollard" as she
lay on the stocks.

By this time a noise that plainly proceeded from the use of tools
came to the ears of the boys.  Their nerves were on the keenest tension
as they reached the stern of the propped-up hull.

Then they came in sight of the quarry.  Almost in the same flash they
realized what the night's mischief was.

Depending wholly on the light of a dark lantern that lay on the floor
of the shed, Owen, with two or three tools, was swiftly, wickedly
tampering with one of the sea-valves belonging to one of the forward
water compartments of the submarine.

This valve, if leaking badly when the craft lay submerged, would let
in enough water to cause the "Pollard" to lurch and then go, nose-first,
to the bottom.  It was wholly possible, too, that a capable workman
could tamper with the valve so that, on casual inspection, the damage
would not be detected.

Hal Hastings's heart beat fast as he viewed this dimly illumined piece
of cowardly treachery.  His fingers itched to lay hold of Josh Owen,
uneven though the fight might be with both boys for assailants.

But Jack Benson, though his first impulse was to let out a Comanche
yell, and then dart forward into the fray, instantly conceived a plan
that he thought would work better.

Gripping his chum's arm for silence, Jack whispered in his ear:

"Can you set the camera for universal focus, here in the shadow?"

"I--I think so," came Hal's low, quivering reply.

"Do it--like lightning, then!"

In his hand Jack held the flashlight "gun."  It was one of those patent
affairs, arranged to fire a charge of magnesium powder by the explosion
of a cap when the trigger was pressed.

Dropping to one knee, Hal set the camera, half by instinct, half by
guess.  While he did so, Jack fixed a charge of the powder in the
firing pan of the "gun."

These preparations made hardly any noise; such as might have been
heard in a silent room was drowned by the tap-tap of a small hammer
that Josh Owen was at the moment using.

And now, without glancing back at the stern, the ex-foreman half-turned
his head, so as to give a profile view of his face.

Hal, kneeling, turned up quickly to nod the signal that the camera
was ready.

Pop!  Flare!

As the cap exploded, a blinding flash filled that side of the shed
for a brief instant.  It was as through a lightning bolt had plunged
into the place.

Wholly unprepared for any such happening, Josh Owen let out a yell
of fear, rose up and leaped back so that he upset and extinguished
his dark lantern.

"Wha-wha-what was that?" he faltered.

In the intense darkness that followed the flash Jack and Hal stole away.

Suffering all the terrors of a guilty conscience, increased by the
terror of the inky darkness under such circumstances, Josh Owen tremblingly
felt for his momentarily useless lantern.  It took him some moments
to find it.  Even then his fingers shook so convulsively that it needed
several trials before he got the light going.

By this time Jack and Hal were safely outside.  More than that, Jack
held in his hand the padlock of the door, with the false key in it.

"Why not slam the padlock shut over the door and lock him in there
until we can get someone here?" whispered Hal Hastings.

By this time the two boys were hiding behind the corner of a nearby
building.

"I thought of that," whispered Jack, "and I'd like to do it.  But Owen
has a fearful temper.  If we locked him in there, and he knew he had
to be caught, he'd do thousands of dollars' worth of damage.  As it is,
if you watch out, you'll soon see him quitting that shed and getting
away as fast as he can."

Not more than a few seconds later Josh Owen appeared at the door of the
shed.  He shut off the light from his dark lantern, then stole swiftly
towards the fence.  Going up and over, he vanished from sight.

"Now, we'll lock the shed, take this false key to Mr. Andrews, and let
him decide whether to rouse Mr. Pollard or Mr. Farnum," announced
Jack Benson.

Grant Andrews, as soon as he was aroused at the boarding house, and had
been made to understand, took the false key, saying:

"I'll go over to the hotel and call Dave Pollard.  Then I'll do whatever
he says."

The inventor was greatly excited over the news borne to him by the
new foreman.  Together they hurried to the Farnum yard, unlocked the
door to the submarine's shed, entered and made a hasty examination.

Thanks to the promptness of Jack Benson and Hal Hastings, Josh Owen
had not had time to inflict more damage to the forward sea-valve than
could be readily repaired.

"I guess that was what the infernal rascal meant when he told Jack
Benson that the 'Pollard' would dive to the bottom and stay there,"
exclaimed the inventor, in a shaking voice.  He smiled a ghastly smile.

"We'll put a stop to such pranks after this," replied the new foreman.
"Until your craft is launched, sir, I'll sleep here nights, beginning
with what's left of to-night."

Before the inventor left the yard, he hunted for and found the drunken
night watchman, who was still asleep.  That worthless guard was
discharged the following day.



CHAPTER V

ONE MAN'S DUMFOUNDED FACE


When the new foreman's gang started on the "Pollard," at eight in the
morning, there was no outward ripple to show that anything unusual had
happened.  True, Jacob Farnum arrived at the shed earlier than he was
accustomed to do, but those of the workmen who were not in the secret
thought nothing of that.

Half an hour later Josh Owen, a peculiar, gleaming look in his eyes,
showed his head at the manhole opening over their heads.

"Good morning, Mr. Farnum," he called.

"Good morning, Owen," answered the yard's owner.  "Come right down."

Owen came down the spiral staircase, looking curiously about him.

"I got your note, Mr. Farnum," began the ex-foreman.  "What's the
matter?  Find you need me here, after all?"

"Not for long," replied Mr. Farnum, coldly.  "Owen, before you gave your
keys in to Mr. Partridge you must have taken an impression of one of
them and must have fitted a key to the pattern.  Why were you here last
night?"

"Me? I wasn't here last night--nor any other night," Josh Owen made
haste to answer, though a look of guilty alarm crept into his face.  All
of the workmen had ceased their toil, and stood looking on at this
unusual scene.

"You say you weren't here last night?" demanded Mr. Farnum, sternly.
"And you didn't use any false key to get into this shed?"

"Of course I didn't," retorted the ex-foreman, defiantly.  "You wrote a
note to me that, if I'd come around here this morning, I'd hear of a job.
I didn't come here to be insulted."

"The job I mentioned in my note," rejoined Mr. Farnum, with a meaning
smile, "is over at the penitentiary.  Owen, you did come here last night.
You scaled the fence at the west side, crossed the yard, opened the door
of this building with this key--"

Here the yard's owner held out the false key, that all might see it.

"--and," finished Mr. Farnum, "you came in here and went to work to
damage a sea-valve forward on this craft.  The valve shows, this morning,
very plain traces of having been tampered with."

Josh Owen was summoning all his courage, all his craft.  Instead of
looking frightened, he glared boldly at his accuser.

"Who says I did such a thing?" he demanded, hotly.

"Benson and Hastings saw you at your rascally work, my man."

"Humph!" snorted the ex-foreman.  "Who?  Those boys?"

"Yes."

"Humph!  I wouldn't believe those boys under oath, and you'll make a
huge mistake if you do, Mr. Farnum," continued Josh Owen, hotly.

"Then you deny that you were here, and that you tampered with a sea-valve
last night?" insisted the yard's owner, looking his man keenly in the
eyes.

"I'll deny it with my dying breath," asserted the former foreman, boldly.
"As for those lying boys--"

"Do you believe _this_ can lie?" inquired Mr. Farnum, passing the
accused man a photograph print.

Josh Owen took the print, staring at it hard.  In an instant his eyes
began to open as wide as it was possible for them to do.  A sickly,
greenish pallor crept into the man's face.  Beads of cold perspiration
appeared on his forehead and temples.

"You see, your face shows up very clearly," went on the yard's owner,
in the same cold, crushing voice.  "Moreover, it shows you right at one
of the sea-valves, and in the very act of tapping with a hammer.  You
didn't know that Benson and Hastings are very fair photographers, did
you?"

"I don't care what they are," cried Owen, in a passionate voice, as
before the print to small bits.  "That isn't a photograph of me, even if
it does look like me, and I wasn't here last night.  I--"

"Any judge and jury will believe the evidence against you, my man,"
cried Farnum, sternly.  "As for the boys, maybe you don't like them,
nor they you.  They've reason enough for not liking you.  Besides,
they couldn't photograph anything that wasn't here to be photographed."

"Then it was that flash--" began Josh Owen.

He stopped instantly, biting his lips savagely.

"Yes, they took the picture by flashlight, and you've just admitted
remembering the flash that interrupted your rascally labor," exclaimed
Mr. Farnum, triumphantly.  "As for the print you've just torn up, Owen,
it doesn't make any difference.  There are other copies of it.  Now,
my fine fellow, you've been trapped just as nicely as the law requires,
and, in addition, you know you're guilty of the whole thing.  Now--"

But Owen leaped up the spiral staircase, shouting:

"I won't be taken alive!  I--"

Andrews, O'brien and another workman sprang forward to seize the fellow,
but Mr. Farnum called them back.  Josh Owen got down from the platform
deck, and out of the shed in a twinkling.

"Let him go," ordered, the yard's owner.  "He won't be seen around
Dunhaven after this.  If he is, I can quickly enough put the law's
officers on his track.  But he'll vanish and stay vanished."

"I shan't soon forget the absolutely dumfounded look on his face when
he saw that photograph," laughed Mr. Pollard.  "It was a look of
complete, incredulous amazement."

"I'm sorry for the wretch's family," sighed Mr. Farnum.  "However, if
Owen clears out promptly, and stays away from this part of the country,
I'll give him an opportunity for a new chance."

Then the work went on again.  Even with the thorough examination of the
sea-valve that had been, tampered with, there was not so much to be
done, for this was the last day of the work.  On the morrow Dunhaven
was to be more or less alive, for the "Pollard" was to be launched
then.  Many visitors, including a swarm of newspaper men, were expected.
An officer of the United States Navy was also booked to be present, to
witness the launching, and to note how the "Pollard" might sit on the
water afterwards.

Before four o'clock the last stroke of work had been done.  Mr. Farnum,
the anxious, inventor, the foreman and the others went all over the
submarine marine craft, inside and out, locking for any detail of the
work that might have been slighted.

"It's all done--finished," cried David Pollard, nervously.

"And, Mr. Andrews, you'll have a real guard here to-night to help you
keep watch," announced Jacob Farnum.  "We've heard the last of Owen,
without a doubt, but we won't take a single chance to-night.  Now, men,
all be here at seven in the morning, ready for work.  The launching
is to be at ten o'clock, but at the last moment we may find that
something needs overhauling.  Now, you've all worked hard and
faithfully."  "Here's a little present for each of you, with much more
to come if the boat proves the success we hope."

As the men passed him, Jacob Farnum handed each a crisp ten-dollar
banknote.  Even Jack and Hal were thus remembered.

"But we haven't been here, sir, long enough to earn this present,"
protested Jack Benson.

"You haven't been here long, perhaps," smiled Mr. Farnum.  "But think
of what you did last night.  By the way, Benson, and Hastings, I want
to see you at my office at once."

Wondering somewhat, the youngsters followed their employer, and David
Pollard accompanied them.

"Now, then, boys," began their employer, seating himself at his desk,
"I want to say to you that my friend Pollard hired you on the strength
of your general appearance and the impression you both made.  At the
same time Pollard was careful to write to the references you gave in
your home town.  This noon he received letters from your former school
teacher and your minister.  Both speak in the nicest terms of you both,
as honorable, upright, hard-working young men."

"It's fine to know that one is remembered in that way," Jack replied,
his face, and Hal's, showing their pleasure.

"Now, to go on," continued Mr. Farnum, "as soon as the boat is in the
water there comes up the question of a crew for the 'Pollard.'
Some of our good hands, especially those with families, say very
frankly that their taste doesn't run to going down in diving boats,
on account of the possible chance that the Pollard might not be able
to get up to the surface again.  But Pollard tells me that you've
applied for a chance to belong to the crew of the boat."

"That's our biggest wish, gentlemen!" cried Jack Benson, his eyes
glowing.

"Nothing else could give us half the delight," confirmed Hal Hastings.

"Then we're going to give you the chance," announced Mr. Farnum, while
David Pollard nodded.  "But, of course, you're not blind to the fact
that, even on the most perfect submarine torpedo boat, there's some risk
to your lives."

"One isn't wholly safe, either," retorted Jack, coolly, "in crossing
a crowded city street."

"Then you're both alive to the danger, but not afraid to chance it?"

"We're ready for anything in the submarine boat line," declared Jack
and Hal, in the same breath.

"Then that's settled.  You're both engaged to serve aboard the 'Pollard'
when she floats--and dives," wound up Mr. Farnum, dropping back into
his matter-of-fact tone, and mopping his face, for the July afternoon
was exceedingly hot.  "By the way, boys, how do you feel about taking
a little pleasure trip to-night?  How'd you like to take one of my
horses and a buggy, after supper?"

"Fine and splendid," replied Jack, with enthusiasm.

"And, by the way, since your references are so good, I can give you a
chance to try to make a little extra money, if you like."

"Extra money is highly prized in the town where we come from, sir,"
laughed young Benson.

"Well, see here, over at Waverly Center, eight miles from here, is a
man named George Forrester.  Now, Forrester owes me, and has owed me,
for some time, eight hundred dollars for a little boat we built him
here.  Forrester was always considered a safe man, but for some reason
he has let this bill run.  If you care to, you may take the bill and
drive over to see him to-night.  I'll pay you a commission of five
per cent. on the whole bill, or any part that you can collect.  But I
warn you that you may find Forrester a bit shy about settling."

No matter!  A chance to get in forty dollars in an evening looked
extremely attractive to these young submarine boys.



CHAPTER VI

ALONG THE TRAIL OF TROUBLE


"I wonder if we shall find our man at home?" remarked Jack Benson, as
he and his chum drove over the road to Waverly Center in the early
evening.

"I wonder if he'll settle the bill!" rejoined Hal.

"If he has the money, and doesn't settle, it'll show what poor collectors
we are," laughed Jack.

"Very few men keep eight hundred dollars around the house," objected
young Hastings.

"And our man won't have that amount in cash, either.  I'd be almost
afraid to take that amount of real money, at night.  If Mr. Forrester
is willing to do something pleasant for us, it will be in the form
of a check, of course."

"I'd like to come out all right with Mr. Forrester, of course," Hal
admitted.  "But, to tell the truth, I haven't been thinking much about
Jack, old fellow, all my real thoughts are on our wonderful chance
to be part of the trial crew of the 'Pollard.'"

"Same here," admitted Benson.  "Say, money does look rather small,
compared with a chance like ours.  Now, doesn't it?"

So they hardly mentioned Mr. Forrester on the rest of that cool,
delightful drive.  Arrived at Waverly Center, however, they had to
inquire the way to the Forrester house.  They found it, a comfortable
though not pretentious house.  The owner was at home, and saw them at
once.

"May we see you alone, Mr. Forester?" asked Jack Benson, respectfully.

"Is it as bad as all that?" laughed their host, I a pleasant-faced,
rather bald man past forty.  "Come into my little den, then."

He conducted them to a small room that looked as though it served
partly the purposes of library and partly of office.

"Now, what can I do for you?" inquired Mr. Forrester.

"We represent Mr. Farnum, of Dunhaven," began Jack, slowly.

"Farnum?  Oh, yes, the boat-builder.  He must know that I don't want
anything new in his line, and on any other business I imagine he would
have sent someone--er--older."

"Mr. Farnum believed you would find it wholly convenient, now, to
settle the account for the last bill," Benson went on, slipping the
statement from an inner pocket and laying it on the desk before Mr.
Forrester.  That gentleman frowned slightly.

"I trust we haven't called at the wrong time, and that it will be
wholly convenient for you this evening," Jack continued.

"But, see here, young man, I know nothing about you.  You have the bill,
true, but it is not receipted."

"I will receipt it, in Mr. Farnum's name."

"All well and good," replied Mr. Forrester.  "But--pardon me--how do I
know that you have any authority to receipt for this account?"

"Then I think you will appreciate my painstaking care to make everything
regular and satisfactory," laughed Jack, very quietly.  "Here is a
paper, signed by Mr. Farnum, authorizing me to receipt this account
in his name.  You may keep this authorization along with the receipt.
Mr. Forrester, it is growing late, and we are obliged to be at business
early in the morning.  You will oblige us by letting us have your
check, won't you?"

Benson spoke as though he had not a doubt of immediate settlement.  Yet
his tone and his manner were such as not to give the least offense to
the man who was being "dunned."

"Why, this--er--is rather a late time in the day to collect bills,"
hinted Mr. Forrester, in an uncertain voice.

"Had the matter not been just a little pressing we wouldn't have ventured
over as late," Benson replied, softly.  "However, you understand what
I would say, don't you, Mr. Forrester?"

There was something about the young speaker's manner, his tone, the
look in his eyes, that proclaimed him to be anything but a "quitter."
Mr. Forrester began to feel that, if he succeeded in evading payment
this evening, he would only have to see these young men frequently.

"Well, you see, Benson," he said, at last, "I don't want to draw for
such a sum against my check account before to-morrow."

"I think we could come again to-morrow, if we _have_ to," responded
young Benson, as though thinking it over.

"I am going to make a deposit in my bank in the morning," continued
the man.

"Then we are to come again to-morrow evening?" insisted Jack.

"Why, hang it, no.  If you'll take cash, instead of check, I can let you
have the money to-night."

But that gentleman added, under his breath:

"I may as well settle to-night as have them coming again to-morrow."

"Why, certainly we'll take the cash, to-night," replied young Benson,
his face beaming at thought of how easily a fine commission was to be
earned as part of an evening's pleasure.

Mr. Forrester, having made the offer, began secretly to regret it.  He
was a man who meant to pay his debts, but just now he felt that he would
really like to have the money to use in other directions.

Jack, however; began to suspect that some such thought was in the
other's mind.

"With your permission, Mr. Forrester," said the boy, reaching over
the desk, "I'll borrow one of your pens."

In a firm, clear hand Jack Benson promptly receipted the bill, dating
the receipt as well, and affixing his own name as the collector.

"Now, that's all done," smiled Jack, pleasantly, putting back the pen,
blotting the fresh ink and passing the paper half forward.

Stifling a sigh, Mr. Forrester rose, going to his safe.  A few turns of
the combination lock and he pulled the steel door open.

"Nine hundred and fifty dollars that came in this afternoon.  I intended
to bank it in the morning," he said, then began to count "If a burglar
broke in to-night and cracked the safe," he added, with a laugh, "I'd
be glad, in the morning, that I had settled this bill with cash."

Jack received the bills with a rapidly beating heart.  He counted them,
found the amount correct, and passed half the money to Hal Hastings.

"For safety, Hal," he suggested, "I think we'd better divide the money,
and then each of us put half of his own pile in each shoe."

Mr. Forrester watched with something like an amused smile as the two
youngsters crossed the room, removing their shoes, and putting small
packets of bills down inside.

"I suppose that's in order that a hold-up artist would pass the money
by," he chuckled.  "Well, boys, I wish you a safe journey back with your
money.  We don't often have any hold-ups on these quiet roads, anyway."

Before leaving, Jack took pains to thank his host again, very
courteously, for the settlement of the account.  Then the boys went
outside, untied the horse, got into the buggy and drove away.

"Well, that's a pretty smooth profit for one evening," laughed Jack, as
he turned the horse's head into the highway.

"Forty dollars you make, in one evening," commented Hal.

"Twenty apiece, you mean, old fellow.  You were with me in this."

"But I didn't have to do any of the talking, or anything else."

"Just the same, Hal, you know we're still partners."

"Whew!" said Hastings, uneasily.  "I shall be nervous until we reach
Mr. Farnum's house and hand him the money.  Hold up a minute, Jack,
while we're near houses."

"What's the game?" inquired Benson, as his chum leaped down into the
road and began to rummage about.

"These may be of some use to us in the buggy; just possibly," replied
Hal, returning with a half dozen stones, the size of hens' eggs, which
he placed on the seat between them.  "It's the only form of arms we
have, Jack," he whispered, "and we're carrying a heap more money than
we could make good in a long time."

"We've got only a few miles to go," laughed Jack, easily.  "Besides
who'd ever think of holding up boys?  And no one but Mr. Forrester knows
that we have the cash."

In the first five miles that they drove from Waverly Center the boys
passed only two other horse-drawn vehicles and one automobile.  Then,
suddenly, the keen ears of both boys heard a sound as of some human being
wailing in acute distress.

A moment later they came in sight of the cause of the sounds.  A hatless,
dirty, illy-dressed youngster of perhaps ten years stood by the roadside,
howling and digging his soiled fists into his eyes as he blubbered.  At
sight of the horse and buggy this small sample of human misery looked up
to call, appealingly:

"Hey!  Oh, mister!"

"Well," demanded Jack, reining in the horse, "what's the matter?"

"Oh, mister, mister!  It's me mother!"

"What's the matter with her?  Where is she?"

"She's in there," pointing under the trees just off the road.  "We
was walkin' along, an' one o' them otterbubbles must ha' hit her.
She give a yell, then crawled inter them bushes.  She hain't said
nuthin' lately--an' oh!  I'm dreadful scared!"

"Poor little chap!" muttered Jack, handing the reins to his friend.
"I'll go in and see what's wrong."

But Hal also jumped out, hastily hitching the horse.  Then they followed
their youthful guide in under the trees, to a clump of bushes.  There in
the dark Jack and Hal saw a huddled mass of something lying on the
ground.  Benson was the first to bend over, but Hal, also peering
intently, was close at his side.

"Why, this isn't anything human," called Jack.  "It's just a--"

Thump!  A jarring blow fell upon him from behind, knocking the boy
nearly unconscious.  Hal, struck at the same moment, felt his head reel,
and then did lose consciousness for a few moments.

"Ha, ha!  Ho!  ho!" roared the elfin youngster, his tears suddenly giving
place to laughter as he fled.

It was Joshua Owen, aided by his bullying nephew, Dan Jaggers, who had
made this sudden, treacherous assault.  That both were well prepared for
the miserable trick was shown by the speed with which they tied the
hands of the helpless boys behind them.

"Now, bring _your_ prize along," directed Owen, jubilantly, as he picked
up Hal Hastings, bearing that youth on his shoulder.

Jaggers, though not a giant, was strong enough to do the same with Jack
Benson.  Further and further into the thicket they bore their captives,
pausing only once, to gag their charges as soon as the latter showed a
disposition to yell.

At last the rascally pair halted in the depths of the woods, dumping
their human burdens on the ground.

"You're not the lightest thing I ever carried," growled Josh Owen,
panting somewhat, as he reached for his pipe and filled it.

"Now!" clicked Dan Jaggers, shaking a dirty, heavy fist over Jack's face.
"I can pay you back for that black eye, and all the other mean things
you done to me, you sneak!"

"Oh, we'll pay ye both back," gritted Owen, lighting his pipe and puffing.
"An' say!  I hear ye're both slated for the launchin' of the 'Pollard'
to-morrow, and that ye're to have a try as members of the crew.  Well,
ye won't be at the launching!  Take it from me that, if ye ever git back
to Dunhaven, 'twon't be for many a day yet.  We've got a fine place to
hide ye, near here.  Nobody'll ever find ye, even if they take the
trouble t'look.  And, as the days go by, Dan and me will take plenty of
chance t'show ye just how we feel about ye.  We'll pay ye back, with
loads of interest, younkers, for the mean things ye've done to us!"

As if to emphasize his spite, Owen gave each of them a kick as he stood
over the boys, glaring down at them.

In the minds of Jack and Hal, torment was raging.  Ordinarily, it would
have been bad enough to be certain of missing the launching of the
submarine boat, and of possibly losing their places in the crew.  But
now, a far greater terror assailed them.  They had collected the eight
hundred dollars.  If they failed to appear and to turn it over, Jacob
Farnum would have the best reason in the world for believing them
defaulters.

"Wondering what I'm going to do t'ye, to square matters, ain't ye?"
demanded Dan Jaggers, bending over and glaring into Jack's eyes.  "Well,
go on guessin'.  My hate's that great that I'm goin' ter take plenty o'
time to think it over 'fore I do a thing t'ye."

"I guess, first-off, Dan," observed his uncle, "ye'd better go back t'
the road an' leave that horse somewheres further off.  Probably, if ye
do, it'll trot back into Dunhaven, and that'll be good enough."

"Got any money for licker?" demanded Dan.  "I can git some an' bring it
back."

"Go through the boys' pockets.  Ye ought to find some cash there,"
hinted Owen.

Dan looted a few dollars from the pockets of each captive.  Jack and Hal,
however, were satisfied that their captors knew nothing of the great sum
of money they had collected.

"And, while I think of it, Dan," continued Owen, "ye know where to leave
them boys' shoes.  Ye know who they'll fit."

Josh Owens started by unlacing Jack's shoes roughly and hauling them off.
As he did so, oven in the darkness, he saw something fall the ground.

"Money!" gasped Josh Owen, in evil delight.  "Look at the piles of it!
Hurry with _your_ younker, Dan.  Maybe ye'll have the same luck."

Almost in a twinkling, it seemed to the groaning captives, the rascally
pair had the whole sum of eight hundred dollars in their greedy hands.

Now, what would going back to Dunhaven be like for these two hapless
submarine boys?

Even though they returned, manfully, at the first chance, how would
their story of having been robbed sound?  What a thin, hollow mockery
it would seem, backed only by their own word!

To the two chums it almost seemed as though death would be sweeter!



CHAPTER VII

WHEN THIEVES FALL OUT


"By the great sledge-hammer!  Here's a whole bale of money!" gasped Dan
Jaggers, after having emptied Hal's shoes.

Wholly unmindful of the one he had just robbed, Jaggers sat down on the
ground, passing the banknotes between his fingers.

"I found a small hay-mow of money where I looked, too," observed Josh
Owen, with intense satisfaction, though his manner was calmer.

"How much did _you_ get?" demanded Dan, instantly prepared to be
suspicious that his rascally uncle had happened upon the lion's share.

Josh Owen thrust his findings deep down in a trousers pocket before
he replied:

"No one will see our light 'way in here.  Wait till I light the dark
lantern.  Then we can count up.  But--don't you try to hide any on me,
Dan!"

So keenly did the older man watch the younger one that the former burned
his fingers twice in attempting to light the lantern.  Yet at last the
lantern was lighted, the wick turned up not too high, and then the older
man invited:

"Sit down in front of me, Dan, sociable like, so I can keep track of yer
hands."

"D'ye think I'm the only one'll bear watching?" demanded Jaggers,
hoarsely.  "I ain't taken my eyes off that pocket o' your 'n.  Now, pull
out that money, an' be sure ye git it all out.  Turn the pocket inside
out.  That's right.  Now, you count your money, an' I'll watch.  Then
I'll count mine, an' you can watch, if ye wanter."

Mutual confidence being thus established between the rogues, the
counting proceeded.  Josh found that he had just four hundred dollars
in his "findings."  Dan Jaggers's count proved that that young bully
possessed an exactly equal sum.

"Then there ain't no need o' dividing," declared Dan, thrusting his
money into a trousers pocket and fumbling for a pin with which to close
the top of the pocket.  "Now, I'll go back to the road, find the hoss,
an' drive him most of the way into town.  Then I'll turn the hoss loose,
to do his home-findin' an' I'll keep on until I can buy something in
bottles."

"But ye ain't goin' t' take all that money with ye inter town?"
protested Josh Owen.

"Why not?  It's mine," declared Jaggers, with singular ideas of
ownership.

"But I know ye, Dan Jaggers.  If ye git inter Dunhaven with all that
money ye won't be able to keep from showin' it.  Then, if these boys
ever git loose, an' do their talkin', folks will remember that ye showed
such a lot o' cash on this night, an' the law'll have you caught in yer
own steel trap.  It'd help to put me in trouble, too.  No, no, Danny.
Ye can take five dollars, but ye'll have t' leave the rest of the money
with me."

"An' then I'd find ye here when I came back, wouldn't I?" sneered
Jaggers.

"Yes!" replied Josh Owen, stoutly, and doubtless meant it, for he was
really fond of this rough, shaggy young bully of a nephew of his.
"Don't ye see, Danny, it'd be foolish of me to light out with all the
money?  Then ye'd turn against me, an' help  the constables to catch me.
Looky here, Danny, you trust me, an' ye won't come far out.  Now, take
five dollars, an' leave the rest with me."

"No, I won't," retorted that youth, defiantly.

"Yes, ye will!" suddenly shot from between the lips of Josh Owen.  He
accompanied the words with a spring, bearing his nephew down to the
ground, and holding him there.

"I'm stronger than you, Danny, an' ye know it," growled the ex-foreman,
hoarsely.  "Now, will ye hand up that money, or will ye make me take it
from ye?"

With a reluctant grace, while still pinned down to the ground, Dan
Jaggers surrendered his half of the stolen money.

"Now, ye can git up, and go do what's laid out to be done," announced
Josh Owen, peeling a five-dollar bill from the roll and handing it to
his nephew.  "First, get the horse headed right, then go on into town
and get the liquor.  But don't ye stop to drink in Dunhaven, Danny.  If
ye do, ye'll be sure to git inter a fight, and ye might do some talkin'
too.  Hustle in, and hustle back, and ye'll find ye can trust me to hold
outer to-night's pickings safe for ye.  Don't ye worry a mite on the way
to town or back, Danny boy."

If a scowl could have killed, Dan would have triumphed, even now, at the
expense of his uncle's life.  But Josh paid no heed to black looks.  He
thought he knew this nephew of his.

"Hurry along, Danny," he coaxed.  "My throat is gittin' mighty dry for a
bit o' liquor."

"Give me another five-spot," begged Jaggers.

"Not another dollar till ye come back, Danny," rejoined his uncle,
firmly.  "The quicker ye start, an' return, the quicker ye'll have yer
share of the night's business.  Now, git!"

Using ugly language under his breath, Dan Jaggers turned and shuffled
off through the woods, well knowing that he would suffer from his
uncle's heavy hands if he did not.

Josh now extinguished the light by shutting off the slide of his dark
lantern.  Then, after taking a look at the boys, he seated himself near
them, filling his pipe once more while he muttered:

"Subsequent happenin's clean drove them shoes outer Danny's mind.  An'
I don't wonder!"

Having gotten his pipe comfortably lighted, Josh could not resist the
temptation to open the slide of his lantern ever so little; in order
that he might have another look at the money.

"Wonder how ye came to have it?" he muttered, looking at the boys, who,
being gagged as well as bound, could not have answered anyway. "I guess
likely Farnum must ha' been fool enough to let ye do some collectin' for
him," grinned Josh.  "In that case, younkers, Danny an' me are makin'
it pretty hard for ye all 'round, ain't we?"

That thought appeared to bring Owen around into a state of good humor.
He looked at the chuckling, and two or three times broke out into a
hearty guffaw.

Jack Benson's mental torment grew as the time passed.  Hal Hastings was
in no more enviable frame of mind.

"And we brought this upon us by being sympathetic.  We wanted to help
that infernal little boy out, and carry relief to his injured mother!"
thought Jack, squirming.  "Confound it, I feel, just now, as though I
would never caught trying to do another kind act!  All this fearful luck
just because we had to have more sympathy than brains!  What fools we
are!"

Later came this terrifying thought:

"Mr. Farnum won't believe us, of course.  The story will sound altogether
too absurd."  "What will he do--have us sent to jail as common thieves?"

"Ain't very comfortable in yer mind, are ye, younker?" leered Josh Owen,
hearing the muffled groan that escaped the boy.

Though Josh Owen smoked many pipefuls, time soon began to drag on that
worthy's hands.  Hours slipped by.

"I'd no business to let Danny go," growled Owen, uneasily, time after
time, often rising and pacing about, though never straying away from the
two boys.  "That young feller thinks a heap too much o' liquor for one
so young.  He's spendin' time, as well as money, over in Dunhaven.  It
won't be so bad if he don't take too much, and get talkative."

Two or three times Josh thought he heard someone moving in the woods.
Each time he called softly, or signaled, but there came no response.

Despite his inward suffering, Jack Benson dozed at last.  So, as he
afterwards learned, did Hal.  Yet these drowsings must have been short.
They were filled with horrible dreams of disgrace, imprisonment, and all
the misfortunes that healthy young minds in torment could bring up.

At last Jack awoke, with a start, to realize that it was daylight.

Josh Owen was on his feet, his taste for tobacco gone.  He was listening,
peering between the trees, and making many impatient remarks under his
breath.

"Hullo, uncle!  Gettin' weary, carryin' 'round my share of the money?"
chuckled the voice of Dan Jaggers.  Then that shaggy young bully stepped
out from behind a tree.

"Ye've been long enough," growled his relieved uncle.  "But I'm glad t'
see ye're in good enough shape."

"Oh, I'm all right," admitted Jaggers, serenely, as he came forward.
"I've been back here for hours."

"What are ye telling me?" demanded Josh Owen.

"The facts.  Ye see, Uncle Josh, I wanted to know whether ye'd forgit ye
had my money, an' stray off.  So I've been watchin' round, 'thout making
no noise, for hours."  Josh Owen had no means of knowing whether this
statement was the truth or not, but he growled:

"Then ye must know for sure, now, lad, that I'm square with my own nephew.
What'd ye bring back with ye?"

"Something to eat."

"And something to drink, hey?  I guess we'll eat first."

Dan retraced his way through the woods a few paces, returning with
packages.

"You younkers can see us eat, if you want to," said Josh Owen, with a
malicious leer, as he spread a piece of paper on the ground and began
to lay out the meal.  "When are you two going to eat?  I don't know.
Maybe not for a few days yet.  Ye see, it ain't so easy to make an
enemy of a man by sneaky tricks, and then get on his right side again."

This picnic breakfast lasted a long time, it seemed to watchful Jack
Benson.  But at last it was over.  Josh brought out his ill-smelling
pipe once more, settling himself, with his back against a tree-trunk,
to enjoy himself.

"Bring anything to drink, Danny boy?" inquired Owen, after a few minutes.

"Here's some beer," proposed Jaggers, passing over the bottle.

Josh opened it, took a long drink, then sat with the bottle poised
on one of his knees.

"I don't believe ye'd better have any of this, Danny, lad," declared
Owen, with a grin.

"Don't want any," responded Jaggers, in a rather sulky voice.

Dan got up and strolled about, his hands in his pockets, whistling
softly but cheerily.  Josh Owen finished his unwise beverage, and tossed
the bottle a few feet away.  Presently the man's eyes closed, but he
opened them as though with an effort.

"S'here, Danny," he demanded, thickly, drowsily, "watcher put in that
stuff?"

Dan Joggers did not reply, but he turned to watch his uncle, a look of
the lowest cunning in the young bully's eyes.  For a brief space of
time Owen fought against his drowsiness.   Then he lurched, falling over
on one side, unconscious--drugged.

In a twinkling, then, Dan Jaggers knelt beside his uncle, rifling the
other man's pockets until he had brought to light both their shares in
the evil-doing of the night.



CHAPTER VIII

A SWIFT STROKE FOR HONOR


For the space of a few moments Dan Jaggers stared at the money clutched
in his hands in a way that betrayed the extent of its fascinating hold
upon his mind.

Then he glanced down at his unconscious uncle.

"Ugh!" he grunted, giving that prostrate form a slight but contemptuous
kick.  "If I hadn't done something like this you would.  Oh, ye-eh,
there's honor among thieves, but it's no good trusting to that honor.
Every man for himself, in the woods!"

One more gloating look the shaggy young bully took at all that money,
before thrusting it deep down in a pocket and pinning the opening
securely.

"Don't ye wish ye was me, with all this money to have a good time on?"
he demanded, jeeringly, of Jack Benson.  "But maybe ye've framed up
some kind of a yarn that yer boss, Farnum, will be willin' to believe.
If ye hain't, then mebbe ye'd better never git close to him again."

Dan Jaggers again turned his attention to his overcome uncle, kneeling
beside the ex-foreman and watching his face closely.

And then a strange thing happened, or so it would have seemed, had Dan
Jaggers possessed eyes in the back of his head.  For Jack Benson
likewise his chum had striven many times through the night to free
their wrists of the cords that bound them.  Jack was the first to
succeed, at a cost of hours of effort and thinking.  He wriggled one hand
out from under the knots just as Dan turned for that last look at the
prostrate man.

How fearfully numbed Jack Benson's wrists were, after that long spell of
being tied up.  Yet the boy knew that he must quickly restore circulation
there and get his hands ready for use before it was all too late.

It must be one swift, decisive, conquering stroke for honor's sake.

Jack's trembling right hand went into one of his trousers pockets.  He
found his clasp-knife, yanked it out, opened one of the blades, and Hal
Hastings, who had been watching every move with breathless interest,
now rolled noiselessly so that his chum could reach the rope that held
him captive.

In another twinkling Hal was free.  Just then, Jaggers, fancying he
heard some noise in their direction, turned slowly.  By the time Jaggers
had them within his range of vision each boy was lying as before, his
hands behind his back.

With a heartless chuckle, Dan turned back for one last look at his uncle.
Jack rose, almost fearing to breathe.  Hal started to follow suit.
There was some swift stealthy toe-work.  Just as Dan Jaggers turned more
sharply Jack Benson hurled himself through the air, catching and
clutching at his enemy's neck.  Both rolled over together, Dan, with his
greater strength, fighting like a panther and bear in one.

It was Hal Hastings's chance.  As he darted forward he espied a
serviceable-looking stick on the ground.  He snatched it up with a
single breathless swoop, then poised himself over the struggling
fighters, stick uplifted.

Down came that slender cudgel, striking Dan a light blow squarely top of
his head.

"O-o-ow!  Help!  Quit that!" screamed Dan Jaggers.

"Lie still, then," commanded Hal, sternly.  "And let go of Jack, or I'll
use this stick for I'm worth."

Brave enough while he thought he had a good fighting chance, Dan cowered
under the menace of that club.  He submitted to being rolled on his back,
pleading:

"Don't club me!  I'll be quiet."

"See that you are, then," ordered young Benson, kneeling on his
opponent's chest.  "Remember, Dan, that there are two of us.  We mean
to win, no matter how ugly a fight we have to put up."

"Want the gag that you threw away when you jumped up, Jack?" asked Hal,
with a delighted grin.

"No; we don't need to gag him.  Jaggers, roll over on your face, and
don't you dare make any attempt to get up," ordered the submarine, boy,
rising from his prostrate foe, while Hastings stood ready to use the
stick.

Dan obeyed.  Jack took the slim cudgel from, his chum, who, at a silent
signal, slipped back and picked up some of the slashed cord.  There was
enough of it to accomplish the tying of Jaggers.

"See here," whined Dan, "you're not going to take me to Dunhaven?"

"We're going to get that money away from you, and take it to its rightful
owner," retorted Jack, tersely, as he commenced to tie the knots, while
Hal held the cudgel conveniently close to the bully's head.

Dan, however, had hardly a thought of making any fight.  Jack, alone,
was nearly a match for him.  The two churns, acting together, could
overcome him easily enough at any time.

"Oh, I'll give up the money," promised Dan Jaggers, willingly.

"Thank you," returned Jack, dryly.  "However, we'll take it
ourselves--and right now," he added, as he finished tying the knots
about Dan's wrists.

The rifling of Jaggers's pockets brought to light all of Mr. Farnum's
money except the five dollars Dan had spent in Dunhaven the night before.
However, the boys' own money, that had been taken from their pockets,
and which was now found in one of Owen's vest pockets, made up the
full sum of eight hundred dollars.

"You fellers win, and I lose a good time," muttered Dan, mournfully.
"But say, now you've got the cash again, set me free before ye start for
Dunhaven.  Don't leave me tied up like this."

"We won't," Jack promised him, grimly.  "We'll take you with us."

"Not to Dunhaven!" screamed the bully.

"Even to Dunhaven," mocked Hal.

"But they'll send me to jail," protested the scared wretch.

"Well," insinuated Benson, "can you imagine any other place that would
be as suitable for a fellow of your kind?"

"You fellers promised me ye wouldn't take me to Dunhaven, if I stopped
fighting," whined Jaggers.

"We promised you nothing of the sort," retorted Jack.  "Now, come.  Up
on your feet with you!"

The two submarine boys raised the now whitefaced bully, who was still
pleading and protesting.  Dan refused to start at the word, but a few
sharp cuts across his legs by Hal made the fellow change his mind.

"I reckon your uncle will stay until he's called for," laughed Jack, as
they started.  "Anyway, the matter of greatest importance is to deliver
the money to Mr. Farnum before it goes through any more mishaps."

"I tell ye, tain't right to make me go along an' be sent to jail,"
declared Jaggers, earnestly.  "Ye've already done me harm enough, and
got me outer my job."

"If you haven't head enough to know the difference between getting
yourself into all your troubles, and our doing it, there's no use
arguing the matter," retorted Jack, quietly.  "Get along, now, for we
don't mean to have any nonsense.  We've got to get through in time to
send someone back for your uncle.", Despite the vigilance of both boys,
Dan lagged all he could.  As he came nearer to the seaport village his
despair and rage increased so that he several times halted and flatly
refused to stir.  At such times Hal had to use the stick with
increasing severity.

At last, with a violent wrench, Jaggers, with his strong wrists, managed
to snap the cords upon which he had already made many efforts.

"Now, see here," he defied them, waving his fists in the air, "mebbe ye
think ye're goin' to take me with ye, but ye won't take me inter town
alive!"

Retreating, he crouched against a tree, waving his fists before him.
Jack and Hal lost no time closing in with the bully, but he drove them
back.  The boys were not prepared to do their enemy serious bodily harm;
Dan, on the other hand, didn't care what he did, so the odds seemed
almost in his favor.

"Clear out, an' leave me to take to my heels, an' I'll call it square,"
he shouted, hoarsely.  "But, if ye try to fight, then don't blame me
for anything that happens to ye.  I won't go to jail, I tell ye!  I'll
die, sooner!"

Jack, with his fists up, worked in as close as he could, trying to get
in under the big bully's guard for a clinch, so that Hal Hastings could
finish the work of successful attack.  Dan, fighting with the fury and
strategy of desperation, kept them both off fairly well.

While the opposing forces were so occupied there came down a path out
of the woods, behind the tree against which Jaggers was backed, a third
boy.  About sixteen years old he appeared to be.  He wore patched
overalls, a frayed flannel shirt and a much-used straw hat of the field
variety.  His hair, once brown, had many streaks of reddish tint in it,
from long exposure to the sun.  His face was brick-red from the same
cause.  His rather large hands looked rough enough from hard labor.  But
he had frank, laughing eyes and a homely, honest look.  Moreover, he
had the air of one who could be swiftly alert.

All this Jack Benson noted as soon as he caught sight of the newcomer.

"Hullo, there!" called Jack, pausing.  "This fellow is a thief, and
we're trying to get him to town.  Help us to get him, will you?"

"Want me to look behind me, an' then ye'll jump me, hey?" leered Dan
Jaggers.  "That won't work."

The newcomer grinned broadly, then shot forward.  Ere Jaggers could
change his mind he felt himself clasped from behind, a pair of strong
hands joined over his windpipe, his body thus bound securely to the
tree.

"He--help!" sputtered the victim of this attack.

"We're bringing it to you," laughed Jack, leaping forward.  In a
twinkling, now, the three boys had Dan Jaggers down, and held so closely
that he could not stir.  Benson produced another length of cord, and Dan
had to submit to having his wrists lashed, this time in most workmanlike
manner.

"Thank you, ever so much," acknowledged Jack, looking up at the new boy.

"Oh, you're welcome," laughed the young stranger.  "I know Dan Jaggers,
and I'm willing to believe anything against him."

"I'll live to get square with ye for this, one o' these days, Eph
Somers!" growled the captive.

"Oh, take your time about it, Dan," laughed Eph, unconcernedly.  "I'm
patient, you know, about such things.  In fact, I come of a patient
family."



CHAPTER IX

THE SUBMARINE MAKES ITS BOW TO OLD OCEAN


"Which way were you headed when you happened along?" inquired Jack
Benson.

"Dunhaven way," responded Eph Somers.

"Good enough.  That's where we're going, too."

"It's me for the submarine launching today," Eph remarked, rather
ungrammatically.  "I wouldn't miss that for the world."

"Nor would we, either," added Hal.  "Especially, as we've helped in the
work on her.  And, gracious, what time is it?"

"Just about eight o'clock," replied Somers, consulting his watch.

"And the launching is at ten o'clock.  Come; we must hustle along.  What
will Mr. Farnum be thinking of us?"

"He probably believes _we_ stole the money, and he must have officers out
looking for us by this time," hinted Jack; with a wry face.

Jack thought, to be sure, of Josh Owen, back there in the woods, but
clearly it would be out of place to ask Eph Somers to go back and
attend to the ex-foreman.  Besides, they could all soon be in Dunhaven,
and then a constable or two could be sent out to search.

At first, Dan tried his old tactics of balking, but a few energetic,
rough-and-ready punches from Eph caused the bully to change his mind.
After that he went along in sullen silence.  It was not long before
the quartette turned down into the shore road that led up to the boatyard.

As they came near the big gate, still closed to the public, the boys
beheld a crowd of several Hundred people.  There were many vehicles and
automobiles there, also.

"Here come those boys!  Hey, young fellows, the officers are looking for
you!" shouted someone.

"I guess so," admitted Jack, dryly.  "However, they won't want us.  Let
us through this crowd, please.  We want to find Mr. Farnum without
delay."

The new watchman, at the gate, admitted them without question.  Eph
Somers, being of the party, got into the yard also, without any
difficulty.

It being, now, less than two hours before the time set for the launching
of the "Pollard," both the yard's owner and the inventor were with the
gang of workmen that was busy removing the water end of the submarine
craft's construction shed.

"Here come Benson and Hastings," called Grant Andrews, catching sight of
the boys.

Jacob Farnum turned to look at them, then came on the run.

"I hear you have put officers out, after us, and I don't blame you,"
smiled Jack, rather grimly.  "However, we didn't run away with your
money, and we would have been back last night had that been possible."

"I could hardly bring myself to believe that you had absconded," cried
Mr. Farnum, ruefully.  "I sent officers out on the trail as much to
learn what had happened to you as for any other reason.  The horse came
in with the buggy last night, and I knew something was wrong.  But this
fellow, Jaggers--"

"He and Owen tricked us and got us last night," explained Benson.  "I
don't, believe they knew anything about the money.  They just wanted to
beat us to their heart's content.  But they found the money, and--but
I'd better begin at the beginning."

This Jack did, soon putting Mr. Farnum in possession of the whole story.

"I'll send two men with Jaggers, to turn him over to the constable,"
remarked Mr. Farnum.  "I'll also send the alarm out so that Josh Owen
may be caught.  Both these fellows must have their full deserts."

"Perhaps, first of all, you'll take this money," urged Jack, producing
the roll of banknotes.  "Count it over, will you please, sir?"

Mr. Farnum rapidly counted.  "Just eight hundred," he nodded.  "But,
according to your story, it ought to be five dollars short, on account
of what this rascal, Jaggers, took out to spend."

"We've made that good out of some of our own money that the pair took
away from us, and which we got back with yours."

"You won't do anything of the sort," retorted Mr. Farnum, thrusting
the money down in one of his pockets.  "I owe you that five, besides
your commission of forty dollars.  And I'll settle with you just as
soon as we get our rush off.  But now--you haven't had any breakfast.
Rush up to the hotel and get it at my expense.  Then be sure to be
back here before ten o'clock.  And say, boys, you're the right kind
of material--both of you.  I hope to keep you with us."

Two men being dispatched to convey Dan Jaggers to the lock-up, Jack
and Hal hurried away for some sort of a meal.  Eph Somers, being inside
the yard, and no one paying him any heed, that young man concluded
that he might as well remain where he could see the most.

While the two submarine boys were at breakfast a constable and a deputy
appeared at the hotel, to get precise directions as to where to find the
drugged Joshua Owen.  Then they departed in haste.

"There's the band playing over at the yard!" cried Hal, seated at the
hotel dining table.  "Great Scott!  We'll be late."

"I hardly see how that can happen," replied Jack.  "It isn't quite nine
o'clock yet."

Nevertheless, the martial strains caused both boys to hurry through
their breakfast.  Then, full of eagerness, they all but ran down the
short stretch of road to the yard.

"I wish we had a little better clothes," muttered Hal, regretfully, as
they neared the gate.

"What's the odds?" replied young Benson.  "We're workmen, anyway."

"But most folks will be dressed up mighty well to-day," objected Hal.
"Even Grant Andrews has his best suit on."

"Well, we haven't any other clothes," murmured Jack, like a young
philosopher.  "Folks won't be looking at us, anyway.  They'll all have
their eyes on the boat."

The watchman at the gate had been reinforced by another man, to hold
the crowd back.  When the would-be spectators found that only work men
and invited guests would be admitted to the yard the disappointed ones
made a scurry for the nearest portions of the shore outside the big
fence.

Inside, the noise of hammers had stopped.  The entire front of the
submarine's shed had been removed, and much of the underpinning structure
that held the "Pollard" in place.  All that remained, to send the steel
craft into the water, were the command and a few lusty sledgehammer
strokes.

The band was playing again, a lively strain.  Jacob Farnum was bustling
about, although, as far as could be seen, his only impulse was sheer
excitement.

David Pollard, silent and more anxious than anyone could know, stood
apart with Grant Andrews, while Eph Somers stood solitary at a little
distance.

Even the coming of the boys caused Pollard a bit of relief.  They were
to be of the crew at the launching, and their early arrival showed the
inventor that there ought not, now, to be the faintest hitch.

"I thought there was going to be a naval officer here, Mr. Pollard,"
whispered Jack.

"Looking for a uniform, eh?" laughed the inventor.  "There is a naval
officer here--Lieutenant Jackson.  There he is, over there, in the gray
suit and straw bat."

"Does he go on the boat with us?"

"Oh, no.  He's simply to watch the launching, and see how the craft sits
on the water after she goes in.  Some time in the near future there'll
be a board of naval officers here, when we're ready to show them what
the boat can do."

With everything in readiness, the nerves of all the interested persons
present began to suffer from the suspense.  Only the tireless band saved
the day.

"Come along," said Jacob Farnum, at last.  "It's a quarter of ten.  We'll
get up in our places."

Those who were going made a rush for the shed.  The band leader, catching
the enthusiasm, led his musicians, with a crash, into a triumphal march.
Eph Somers slid, unobtrusively, into the shed.  David Pollard turned to
look at him keenly.

"I want to be on hand to help just a bit, if I can," murmured Eph,
pleadingly, "and to wish the boat good luck as she strikes the water.
My father used to work in this yard, and I worked here last summer."

"He's all right," nodded Mr. Farnum, so Eph got inside the shed.

The ladder rested against the hull; this was to be the last time that
it would be used.  David Pollard ascended, first, to the submarine's
platform deck Farnum followed Then Grant Andrews went up.  Last of all
came Jack Benson and Hal Hastings.  These were all who were scheduled
to slide down the slippery ways with the "Pollard."  But Eph was there,
close at hand, consumed by an unquenchable desire to go, too.  Nor was
he wholly convinced that he wouldn't.

Outside, at one side of the shed, stood Lieutenant Jackson and the
invited guests.  On the other side were the members of the band.

On the platform deck, near the conning tower, were an outside steering
wheel and the engine controls.  Back of all were the funnels of the
ventilators.

"Are you going to take the wheel, sir?" whispered Grant Andrews, to
the inventor.

"I--I'm afraid I'm too nervous to," replied David Pollard, in an
undertone.  "You'd better take the wheel, Andrews."

So the foreman stationed himself there, for the craft might need guidance
during the headway that the launching would give her.

Pollard turned to the yard's owner, to whisper imploringly:

"Better give the word and start things, Farnum.  The suspense will floor
me if it lasts much longer."

So Farnum gave tho first signal, and the workmen below began their last
duties.  In a twinkling it was known that something was wrong with one
of the ways.  Grant Andrews moved quickly away from the wheel to look
below and give an order.

Jack Benson moved up to the wheel, that there might be someone there
in case the "Pollard" made an unexpected leap into the water.  In
the confusion, just as one of the workmen below was about to remove
the ladder, Eph Somers swiftly pushed it back against the hull, ascending
almost on the run to the platform deck, where he stood pointing out
to Andrews the cause of the trouble below.  As he did so, Eph slyly
but authoritatively signaled to the men to remove the ladder, which
was done.  Eph Somers had won his wish.  He was aboard--safe unless
someone discovered him at the last second and threw him over.

Now, with a fearful clattering, the last supports of the substructure
were knocked away by lustily wielded sledge-hammers.

The leader of the band, accustomed to launchings, held his baton aloft.
At the downward stroke of that implement the band would crash out into
"See, the Conquering Hero Comes!"

In the midst of the clatter another gang of workmen, at a silent signal,
began to push against the hull on either side.

Hats off, the men among the guests began to cheer, the women to wave
handkerchiefs.

Farnum was the coolest of all, now.  As the "Pollard" _might_ sink to
the bottom of the harbor, no woman was aboard to do the christening.
Instead, the yard owner clutched the bottle, ready to smash it over the
forward rail of the platform deck.

A creak, a yell, and the "Pollard" started.  How the cheering redoubled
and made the shed's rafters shake.  Lieutenant Jackson, of the Navy,
tried to look unconcerned, but he couldn't, wholly.  A launching of
any kind of important craft is a mighty exciting thing.

Jack's hands took firm clutch on the steering wheel.  He was throbbing
from head to foot.

Another creak!  The "Pollard" began to move in good earnest.  All on
the platform deck felt the exhilarating thrill of motion.

Down came the baton, the band crashed out, its music almost drowned by
the frantic cheers of the beholders.  Down off the ways shot the
submarine torpedo boat.  Oh, the glory of it!

There was a gigantic splash.  Everyone on the platform deck was,
drenched, yet holding on and happy.  For many rods out over the waters,
Jack steering straight and true, the boat dashed, then slowly stopped.
The "Pollard" was launched--for what adventures, what fate?



CHAPTER X

UNDER WATER, WHERE MEN'S NERVES ARE TRIED


After that first stop, after that first feeling of exhilaration was
over, the anxious thought of all on the platform deck was:

"Is there any fault in her construction?  Is she going to sink?"

Not that any of these six human beings would have been in much danger, for
all were where they could free themselves and swim.

It was the defeat of months of hopes that would have been terrible.

A few moments of tension, then David Pollard's gaze lighted on Eph
Somers, unconcernedly smiling.

"Hullo!" muttered the inventor.  "How do you happen on board?"

"Me?" grinned Eph.  "Why, you see, I'm the mascot."

But Jack Benson, fearful that, under the strain, something unpleasant
might be said to his newly-found friend, asked, quietly:

"Going to drop the anchor?"

Grant Andrews, Hal and Eph quickly attended to this.

The flag at the short pole had become wrapped around its short staff.
Jacob Farnum noted this just in time and hastily shook it out, for the
band had suddenly begun to play "_The Star Spangled Banner_," and on
shore the crowd was hushed, hats off and at attention.  On board the
submarine hats were quickly doffed, all turning with reverent gaze
toward the Flag!

For a long time the crowd on shore remained, staring with fascinated
gaze at the craft from which wonders were expected.  Presently a small
boat put off from shore.  Mr. Farnum and Mr. Pollard were taken off and
went ashore to talk over matters with Lieutenant Jackson.

The "Pollard" now sat jauntily on the water.  Only the upper two feet of
her oddly-shaped hull were out of water, neither the bow nor stern
showing.  In rough weather the platform deck would be a wet place,
indeed; but now, with little wind, and the water only slightly rippling,
the deck was drying rapidly under the glare of the hot summer sun.

"I guess we might as well go below and get on dry clothing," hinted
Grant Andrews.

"Is there any such thing aboard?" queried Jack, in surprise.

"Yes, thanks to Mr. Farnum's thoughtfulness.  Come on; I'll show you."

So the four piled below, and, in one of the state-rooms aft, Andrews
pointed to a goodly store of clothing, much more than would be needed
for the present, and of different sizes, even to shoes.  There were
also rough bath towels with which to rub down dry.

"I wonder do I come in on these?" murmured Eph, doubtfully.

"Well, since nothing has been said to the contrary," laughed Andrews,
quietly, "I think I'd be brave enough to try it.  You're surely as wet
as any of us."

The four were quickly in undershirts and linen.  But the outer suits
made the boys wonder a bit.  These suits were dark blue uniforms, the
coats braided, and the front buttons hidden by another band of braid.
The caps were of visored naval pattern.

"Say," asked Eph, looking about him, "I'm only a common sailor, at most.
Ain't there any common sailor togs lying about?"

"I don't know where," smiled Andrews.  "I judge, from the togs, that
we're all to be captains."

So Eph, with a comical sigh, fitted himself to a uniform and donned it.

"Maybe I'll have a chance to strut about in this for an hour, until the
owner comes aboard and throws me into the water, after stripping me,"
murmured Eph, wistfully.

Then, as young Somers caught a glimpse of himself in one of the state-room
mirrors, he stood up unaccountably straight, inflating his chest and
bulging it out.

They had to go up on deck again.  It all seemed so much like a dream
that all hands wanted to get up where they could stare at the hull, the
water and at anything else that could make them realize that the
"Pollard" was launched and they were aboard.

A boat-load of men soon put out.

"They're special workmen, coming to finish up on the air-compressors,"
explained Grant Andrews.  "We have nothing to do with their work.  All
we've got to do is to take things easily for the present."

"I'm going to get busy, if they'll let me help at anything," declared
Eph.  "When the two bosses come aboard I'm mighty anxious to have them
think I look natural here."

"Are you going to try to join the crew, Eph?" asked Jack, in an undertone.

"Well, I'm not going to be put ashore, except by force," declared young
Somers, wistfully.  "I've been dreaming about this old boat for three
months back.  Say, I'd give anything I had, even if it was a lot, to
stay aboard this craft for good and all."

"I know how you feel," nodded Jack Benson.  "And I don't blame you.
It's going to be a grand old life, and, Eph, I hope you're to be in it."

As soon as the special workmen were aboard Eph followed them below.  He
hung about until he saw a chance to help, then joined in the work.  He
was as industrious as the proverbial beaver when Messrs. Farnum and
Pollard at last came aboard and went below.

"Hm!  Does that new boy figure that he belongs aboard with us?" asked
David Pollard, of Jack, when the pair came on deck again.

"He's frightfully anxious to be of the crew, sir," Benson answered.
"And he seems like a splendid fellow."

"We might as well let him stay aboard, Dave," proposed Mr. Farnum.  "He's
a good, straightforward young chap, and comes of good water stock.  I
know what it is to be a youngster and to have ambitions."

"All right, then," nodded the inventor.  "Let him stay.  I dare say we
can use his time."

"May I, as a great favor, go below and tell him he may stay?" asked Jack,
eagerly.

"Why, you seem to take a personal interest in young Somers," laughed the
yard's owner.

"I do.  And he was useful in your interests this morning, Mr. Farnum."

"Run along and tell him, then," nodded the yard's owner.

When Eph heard the news he stopped work long enough to dance an exultant
jig on the cabin floor.

"Oh, Jack Benson, if ever you want a favor--a great, big one, with
trimmings--come to me!" begged young Somers, imploringly as soon as
he caught his breath again.

Then, to keep his rising spirits down, Eph returned, to work as soberly
as he could.

Later Grant Andrews, with Eph's help, cooked a meal at the galley fire,
and this all hands ate while the special workmen kept at their task.

When they were on deck again Mr. Pollard said, in a low voice:

"Boys, I may as well tell you what Mr. Andrews already knows.  Work on
the interior of this boat is much further along than we've allowed to
leak out.  In fact, when the men below finish with the air-compressors,
in a few hours, we're all ready to put out to sea on a stealthy trial
trip of our own."

"Wow!" sputtered Eph, enthusiastically.

"Now," continued Mr. Pollard, earnestly, "of course we believe most
thoroughly in this boat, but, until the actual trial is made, we don't
know how she'll behave.  If any of you feel like backing out, why, go
ashore before we start, but keep your tongues behind your teeth."

"Reminds me of what my Dad once did in the hen-yard," remarked Eph,
in a low voice.  "He went out with a couple of quarts of corn, looked
at the hens, and said: 'Now, biddies, I'm going to toss your supper
down.  But any of you critters that want can go in and roost for the
night before I do it.'"

"Well?" asked David Pollard, a bit puzzled.

"Would you believe it?" asked Eph, with a comical twist of his mouth,
"Every blessed hen stayed.  Fact, sir!"

Just before dark the special workmen went ashore.  Again Andrews and Eph
prepared a meal, which was eaten.

Then followed a restless two hours, waiting until the town was asleep,
for the gasoline tanks were filled, and all was ready for the first turn
of the drive-wheel below.

It was after half-past ten when Pollard at last said:

"Go below and get the gasoline engines started, Andrews."

The boys followed him below to watch the work.  Messrs.  Farnum and
Pollard, too, were soon below, for they wanted to observe the work of
the air compressors and the dynamos.  The work had to be started by
lantern light, but, within ten minutes, it was possible to turn on
electric lights below.

"Everything is working as perfectly as though the boat had been in
commission a year," remarked the inventor, hoarsely.  His suspense was
almost painful to watch.

"Everything is all ready for a start, isn't it.  Andrews?" inquired
Mr. Farnum.

"Everything appears to be, sir, so far as the power's concerned,"
replied Andrews.  "But I'm going to stay by the engine.  I want to be
on hand to watch whatever might happen."

Power was applied to raise the anchor.

"You take the wheel, Benson, since you had it during the launching,"
said the yard's owner.  "Somers, stand by on deck.  Hastings, you
go below and stand with Mr. Andrews."

"Give the go-ahead at slow speed," directed David Pollard, nervously.

So Jack gave the speed wheel a small turn, then rested both hands
on the steering wheel.  Without an unnecessary sound, and with no
outer lights showing, as yet, the "Pollard" was headed for the mouth
of the little harbor, Mr. Farnum standing by as pilot.

Just as they passed out on to the edge of the ocean Farnum himself
turned on the electric sailing lights.

"She rides the water easily," remarked Pollard, almost in a whisper. "I
wonder how she can go at speed?"

"We'll find out, now we've got clear seaway ahead," replied Mr. Farnum.
"Benson, turn on a few miles more."

Quickly obeying the impulse of her twin-propellers, the "Pollard." began
to dance over the waves.

"Say, but she's the fine, light-riding boat!" cried the builder, joyously.
"Just as I thought she would be.  Give her more speed, Benson."

So the speed was turned on, more and more.  The "Pollard," as far as
those aboard, could see, had the whole of that part of the ocean to
herself.  She was still headed due east, and was moving at last at the
rate of seventeen of the twenty-one miles an hour of which she was
believed to be capable.

Even at this rapid gait the semi-immersed "Pollard" rode splendidly,
with hardly any vibration noticeable.

As he watched, instead of feeling the thrill of triumph that influenced
the crew, David Pollard's face was whitening with anxiety.  His face,
almost ghastly in its look, was deeply furrowed.

"We're doing well enough on top of the water," he muttered, hoarsely,
at last, to the builder.  "But will the boat dive?  How will she run
under water?  I must--know!"

"Good enough!  We'll soon know, then," replied Jacob Farnum.  He passed
the word for Andrews, who came on deck.  The ventilators were quickly
shipped.  Jack Benson shifted to the steersman's seat inside the conning
tower.  Sailing lights were turned off; the manhole cover was battened
down securely.  They were dependent, now, on the air-compressing
equipment whenever the air aboard became unfit to breathe.

Wedged on either side of Jack Benson in that little conning tower stood
the builder and the inventor.

"You attend to the first submerging, Farnum," begged the inventor.
"I--I'm afraid I'm too nervous."

The gasoline motor had just been shut off, the submarine now running
at less speed under power from the electric motor.

Handling the controls in the conning tower, Mr. Farnum, not without a
swift, shooting thrill of dread, opened the sea-valves to the water
tanks.  As the tanks filled the "Pollard" settled lower and lower in the
water.  They were beginning to go down.  All who were aboard felt the
keen, apprehensive quiver of the thing, shut in, as they were, as though
soldered inside a huge metal can.

The platform deck was quickly level with the water's surface, though
Jacob Farnum was not rushing things.  Then the deck outside, as shown by
the steady glow of the lights in the conning tower, went out of sight,
the water rising around the tower.

They continued slowly to sink until the top of the conning tower was
less than three feet above the waves.

"Now, just a little dive!" pleaded David Pollard.  "Oh, merciful heaven!"

"Pass the word to brace yourselves for the dive!" bawled Mr. Farnum
below, and Eph, stationed at the bottom of the spiral stairway, yelled
the word to the engine room.

Now, the sea-valves of the forward diving tanks were opened.  As the
water rushed into them, changing the balance of the boat, the bow shot
downward, making it difficult for all to keep their footing.  It was as
though they were sliding down an inclined plane.

Another lurch, and down they shot under the water, where men's nerves
may well be tried!



CHAPTER XI

THE TRY-OUT IN THE DEPTHS


Pollard clutched at the stairway railing with both hands, his face
hard-set, his eyes staring.

He was not afraid.  In that supreme moment he could not know physical
fear.  It was the inventor's dread of failure that possessed him.

Jacob Farnum stood as one fascinated as he felt the boat plunging into
the depths.

"Aren't you going to put us on an even keel, sir?" Jack called.

The warning was needful.  In the exhilaration of that plunge Farnum was
in danger of forgetting.

In a twinkling, now, however, he threw open the sea-valves of other
tanks, amidships and aft, until the gauge showed that they were running
on an even keel and forty feet below the surface.  Their speed was now
about five miles an hour, but could be increased.

Gradually, the ghastly lines on David Pollard's cheeks began to soften.
His eyes gleamed.

"There's nothing wrong!  We can run anywhere!" he shouted.

Yet there was something of hysteria in his voice.  Nor was it long
before the others began to feel themselves similarly affected.

It was an eerie feeling that all hands had, running along like this,
blind and guessing, in the depths.  Pollard was the only one aboard who
had ever been below before in a submarine boat.  Though the rest had
faced the chances coolly enough, they now began to feel the strain.

Even when it is broad daylight on the surface, with the sun shining
brightly, the submarine boat, when a few fathoms below, is simply a
blinded, groping monster.  There is no way of illuming the depths of
the ocean.  Naval officers have suggested the placing of a powerful
electric light at the bow of the submarine craft, but, when tried, it
has been found quite useless.  The light will not project far enough
ahead, through the dense water, to do any more than make the surrounding
darkness all the more trying to brave men's nerves.

"Take the wheel, Dave; it will steady you to have something to do,"
spoke the builder to the inventor.  "As soon as you get the wheel, turn
the course to due south.  Follow it to the line."

Jack Benson slid out of the helmsman's seat, giving way to the inventor,
and stepped down the stairway.

At the foot he came upon Eph and Hal, standing there, their faces
presenting a strange look.

"How do you find it?" asked Benson.

"Startling," replied Hal Hastings.

"Yet nothing is happening to us," contended Eph Somers, somewhat shaky
in his tones.  "It's just thinking what might happen--if we were to
strike a water-logged old hull of some vessel, say."

"Or collide with a blue-fish," suggested Hal, with a short, nervous
laugh.

"I suppose we'll be used to this, after a few more trips," laughed Jack,
with an effort.

"Are _you_ scared, too?" asked Eph, keenly.

"Well, I can't say I feel wholly comfortable," admitted Jack Benson,
candidly.

"Then you're sitting down on your fears pretty well," declared young
Hastings, with an admiring look at his chum.

"We've got to," returned Jack, stoutly.  "If we're to go into the
submarine boat line we've got to learn to look as though we liked
_anything_ under water."

"Let's take a look-in and see how Andrews likes it," proposed Eph.

Peeping through the door of the engine room they beheld the man there
sitting bolt-upright on one of the leather-cushioned seats, staring hard
at the wall opposite.  He turned his head, however, as soon as he became
aware of the presence of the submarine boys.

"Rather creepy, ain't it?" hailed Grant, his voice not as steady as
usual.

"Think you're going to learn to like it?" demanded Benson.

"Well, I may get so I'll think this sort of thing the greatest going,"
drawled Andrews, "but I'm afraid a good, soft bed on land will always
be a close second for me."

"Wonder how far the bosses are going to run under water?" pondered Eph,
sliding into the engine room and seating himself on the cushion
opposite Andrews.

"Till they've tried the boat out all they want to under water, I guess,"
ventured Jack.

"I'll slip back, so I can pass any order that may come," proposed Hal,
who, truth to tell, felt an undefinable something that made him too
restless to like the idea of sitting down.

As the "Pollard" continued to glide along, almost without perceptible
motion at that depth, these members of the crew became somewhat
accustomed to the feeling.  They began to have a new notion, though,
that they would take it all much more easily after they had once seen
proof of the new craft's ability to rise.

"Say, I wonder if it would be too fresh of me to ask Mr. Farnum when he
means to try the rising stunt?" wondered Eph, aloud.

Grant Andrews looked up with interest, then shook his head.

"Better not," he advised.  "We knew what we were coming to, and took all
the chances.  Now, we'd better keep quiet.  Any nervousness might bother
Mr. Pollard or Mr. Farnum."

"Well, she's a dandy boat, anyway," declared Eph, a bit jerkily.  "So
far, she's done everything she's been told to.  So I reckon she can
rise when the time comes."

"Who's below?" cried Mr. Farnum.

"Hastings, sir," Hal answered.

"Tell the crew we're going to run below the surface until the air
becomes noticeably bad.  We want to test out the compressed-air devices
for purifying the atmosphere."

So Hal stepped forward with the message.

"Don't you think the air begins to smell queer already?" demanded Eph,
looking up.  "I'm willing to have some compressed air turned on right
now."

The others laughed, which was all they could do.  Jack Benson, of them
all, probably, was getting most rapidly over the first bad touch of
"submarine fright."  He was now almost as well satisfied as he would
have been on the porch of the little hotel at Dunhaven.  Only he was
anxious to know just how the boat would behave when it became time to
rise.  That was all.

"How would you feel if we were running along like this, bent on driving
a torpedo against the hull of a big battleship?" questioned Eph.

"Curious," Jack answered.

"What about?"

"Wondering if we were going to succeed in the job."

"Put it another way," laughed Grant Andrews, shortly.  "How would you
feel about being aboard a battleship in wartime, and suspecting that a
boat like this was nosing down in the water after you?"

Jack Benson made a little grimace.

"Serious business, this fighting on the ocean, isn't it?" he replied.

"It's stranger to think about than it is to be doing it," replied
Andrews, musingly.  "I know.  I was in the war with Spain."

"How did you feel?" asked Eph, quickly.

"Tired, most of the time," replied Andrews.  "Sick some of the time, and
hungry the rest."

"But about being scared?" insisted Eph.

"I was kept too busy, generally, to have any time to give to being
scared.  I was a soldier, and a soldier is a good deal like any other
workman.  He does his work by habit, and soon gets over thinking much
about it."

There was a long pause, broken by Eph, saying:

"I wonder when they're going to let the boat rise?"

"When they're going to try to make it rise, you mean," corrected Jack
Benson.

"Same thing, I hope," muttered Eph Somers.

After some minutes more Jacob Farnum stepped down below.

"Why, it looks cozy here at night, doesn't it?" he called.

At sound of his voice the boys stepped out of the engine room into the
cabin.

"Mighty comfortable sort of place," continued the yard's owner, looking
around him.  "We'll have to put in some books, won't we, so you young men
can read when you're doing nothing under water?"

"Maybe the time will come when we _can_ read," laughed Hal.  "Just
now, sir, I'm afraid we're too busy with thinking and wondering."

"I'll confess to being a bit nervous myself," responded Mr. Farnum.
"Somehow, there's something uncanny about rushing through the depths of
the ocean in this fashion, not having any idea what danger you may be
close by."

"Such as running into the hull of some big liner that draws more than
forty feet of water," hinted Jack.

"We're fifty-eight feet below, now," remarked Mr. Farnum.  "You didn't
guess that, did you?  We sank eighteen feet more, on an even keel."

"Gracious!  You meant those eighteen feet, didn't you?  It wasn't
accident?" gasped Eph.

"We meant it," smiled the builder.  "But say, the air is getting a bit
foul here, isn't it?  We'll have to try the compressed air equipment,
now."

By an ingenious mechanical contrivance the present air was forced, by
compressed air draught, into compartments from which the bad air was
expelled through sea-valves.  An instant change for the better in the
atmosphere was noted.

"That's another thing about this good old new craft of ours that works
all right, so far," remarked the builder.  "Boys, I'm beginning to have
confidence that we're going to see the surface again all right.  Hullo,
there's Pollard hailing us."

"The air purified all right, didn't it?" called down the inventor.

"Yes; couldn't have been better," declared the builder heartily.

"Then I'm going to make the supreme test," came down from the man at
the wheel.  "We'll proceed to find out whether we can rise to the
surface and stay there."



CHAPTER XII

THE DISCOVERY FROM THE CONNING TOWER


"Go up slanting, or on an even keel?" called up Mr. Farnum.

"On the even keel," came the answer.

"All right, then; we'll know soon."

For this purpose the largest compressed air container of all was to be
employed.  It distributed great volumes of compressed air to all the
water tanks, forcing open the valves and driving out the water.

"Any of you youngsters know where the proper wrench is?" inquired the
builder, looking keenly at the boys.

There was an instant start, followed by widespread pallor.

"Oh, it's not right to keep you in torment," laughed the builder.  "I
have kept the wrench in my pocket, all along."

He drew it out, holding it up before their gaze.  Though technically
a wrench, it looked more like a very large key.  It was of curious
construction, intended to supply the greatest amount of force with the
least amount of exertion.

"Watch me," commanded Jacob Farnum.  "Any one of you may have to use
this wrench at any time."

Little did any of them guess the tragedy that was destined to center
around that life-saving wrench later on.  Now, with the boys gathered
about him, Mr. Farnum fitted the wrench with great care and deliberation.

"See how easily it's intended to turn?" asked the builder, giving it a
slight turn.

All three of the boys nodded.

"Now, we'll give it more," continued Mr. Farnum.  He swung the wrench
well around in order to release compressed air with a rush and great
force into the water tanks.

Then he stood there, waiting.  There was no perceptible motion or
other change that the boys could note about the boat.

"Wha--what makes it act so slowly?" asked Eph Somers, in a queer
voice.  "Or isn't it going to act?"

For some seconds more the four stood there looking at one another.
Andrews came to the doorway of the engine room, looking anxious.

"We've released a lot of compressed air," uttered Mr. Farnum.  "More
than half of the force in the receiver is gone."

A few seconds more passed.  Then restless Eph sprang to the stairway.

"Mr. Pollard," he cried, nervously, "when on earth--under the sea,
I mean--are we going up?  What's wrong?"

"Going up?" called down the inventor.  "This isn't an airship."

"When are we going to strike the surface?" Eph insisted.

"Why, we're awash already.  Don't you notice I've just shut off the
electric motor?"

That was true, although none of the quartette had yet realized that the
propeller shafts were stilled.

"Awash, are we?" cried Eph, in an incredulous voice.

"If you can't believe it," replied David Pollard, calmly, "come up and
see for yourself."  Eph accepted that invitation with such alacrity that
he tripped and barked his shins against one of the iron steps, but
recovered and darted up in no time.

"Glory!" he shouted, jubilantly.  "It's true.  I can see the stars."

At that moment the bell rang for turning on the gasoline motor.  Within
a few seconds the big engines were throbbing.  Again the propeller
shafts began to turn.  Now, all hands could feel the motion as the
"Pollard" skimmed lazily along over the ocean's surfaces.

As Eph came down, Jack Benson stepped up, with a light heart, now that
the submarine had responded to the last and most important of its
tasks.  He stood beside the wheel, ready to take it whenever Mr.
Pollard should give it up.

Yes, indeed; there was the sky overhead.  And, with this glimpse of
heaven's arch Jack Benson found himself forever done with submarine
fever in the matter of the ordinary risk and dreads.

As yet only the conning tower was out of water.  The platform deck would
not emerge until Mr. Farnum, below, employed much of the remaining
compressed air for expelling the last gallons of sail water from the
tanks.

"What's that off the starboard bow?" wondered Jack.  "Stop, Mr. Pollard.
Reverse!  I'm sure there's something over yonder worth stopping to
look into."

David Pollard stopped the speed, then reversed sufficiently to correct
the headway, although he replied:

"I don't see anything, Benson.  You've been below so long that up
here, in less light, you're a victim of shadows."

But Jack, who had snatched the marine glasses from the rack, and was
using them, retorted:

"The shadows I see, Mr. Pollard, are human shadows, clinging to something
in the water, and that something must be an overturned craft of some
sort."

"Let me have the glasses," requested Mr. Pollard.

After taking a long look the inventor replied, excitedly:

"Benson, you're right.  There are some human beings in distress over
yonder.  Thank heaven, we didn't go by them."

For the first time that night David Pollard turned on the powerful
searchlight, projecting abroad, brilliant ray off the starboard bow.
The bottom of a hull about forty feet long, presumably that of a sloop,
was what David Pollard now saw.  Clinging to it were two men.  One of
them appeared to be middle-aged, the other much younger.  The overturned
boat was some three hundred yards distant.

"What have you stopped for?  What's up?" called up Mr. Farnum.

"Wreck, sir.  Two men in distress," Jack answered.

"We'll go close and contrive to take them off," announced the inventor.
Turning on slow speed, he swung the "Pollard's" prow about, making for
the wreck.

"You youngsters had better get out on deck, with lines to heave,"
suggested Mr. Pollard.  So Jack called up Hal and Eph.  After Benson
had stepped out on the platform deck Hal passed out three long, light
lines.

Up to within a hundred feet of the wreck ran the submarine boat, then
stopped, lying parallel with the capsized craft.

"Can you catch a line, if we throw it?" hailed Jack.

"Yes," came the answer.  The voice was dull.  There was no enthusiasm
about it.

"They don't seem very glad to see us," muttered the submarine boy to
the inventor, who had stepped out to the deck wheel.  "I wonder if
they're dazed and weak?"

Then to the wrecked ones Jack called:

"How long since you capsized?"

"Since just after sundown," replied the younger of the pair clinging
to the hull.  Again his voice was sulky.

"There's something queer about this," whispered Benson to Mr. Pollard.
"They don't seem a bit glad to be pulled off that hull.  Besides, they
must have been the worst sort of lubbers to capsize a boat in any breeze
that has been blowing this day.  I don't see how they managed it."

"Throw them a line," directed Mr. Farnum, who had just come out on deck.

Jack made the cast, doing it cleverly.  The long, light rope lay across
the overturned hull.  But the younger man of the wet pair, in reaching
for the line, pushed it off into the water.

"Clumsy!" muttered Jack, under his breath.  "And look there!  They have
life preservers on.  It must have been a leisurely capsizing to give them
time for that."

"It _does_ look queer," agreed Jacob Farnum.

Having rapidly hauled in the line, Jack made another cast.

"Try to get that," he shouted.  Yet once more, in some unaccountable
way, the younger man on the capsized boat managed to bungle so with
the line that it went overboard into the water.

"I can put a stop to that," muttered Jack Benson, pulling off cap
and coat and dropping them down through the manhole.  "I'm going to
swim over there.  When I get there, Hal, throw me a line."

With that the young submarine boy stepped over the rail, poised his
hands at the side and dived.  An excellent swimmer, it was not long
before he touched the overturned hull.  Neither of those whom he sought
to rescue offered him a hand.  But Jack climbed up out of the water,
seated himself on the keel between the strange pair, and stared hard
at them, each in turn.

The older man appeared to be about fifty years of age.  He wore a
closely-cropped beard that had in it a sprinkling of gray.  The younger
man, who appeared to be about twenty-five years of age, was smooth-faced
and sulky-looking.  Both were dressed well, and looked like people of
means.  Jack guessed that they must be father and son.

"Well, have you got through looking at us?" demanded the younger man.

"I guess so," nodded Benson.  "I was thinking that your boat must have
taken several minutes in doing the capsizing trick.  You both had time
to adjust life-preservers nicely, and you, sir," turning to the older
man, "must have found time to pack the satchel that you're holding so
carefully."

The older man's jaw dropped.  He looked haggard.  But the younger
one demanded, fiercely:

"Is all this any of your business?"

"Not a bit," admitted Jack Benson.  "All I'm here to do is to rescue
you, or help in it."

"Humph!" grunted the younger man.

"Heave a line, Hal!" shouted the submarine boy, signaling with one
hand.  "Drive it straight.  I'll get it."

Swish!  Whirr--rr!  It was a splendid cast.  As Jack leaped to his
feet the slender rope fell over one shoulder.  Benson caught it with
both hands.

"I'll help you," called the younger stranger with startling suddenness,
reaching forward.  He grabbed at the submarine boy.  The next instant
Jack Benson lost his footing on that wet, slippery sloop bottom.  He
pitched, threw up his hands in an effort to regain his balance, then
toppled, disappearing beneath the waves.

"They're trying to drown Jack!" rang Hal Hastings's excited voice.
"That was a deliberate trick!"



CHAPTER XIII

A HIGH-SEA MYSTERY


Splash!  Without a word as to his intentions Hal Hastings went overboard.
His head showed above the waves almost immediately, as he swam toward
that other craft of mystery.

Jack Benson did not immediately reappear.  When he did come up, it was
under the over turned hull.  He was obliged to make a half-dive in
order to come out and up in the open.

By the time he did appear, his chum was close to him.

"Hurt?" hailed Hal.

"Not a bit," responded Jack, after blowing out a mouthful of water.

"Then climb aboard with me, and see what these prize lunatics mean by
their behavior," requested Hal, not caring who heard him.

The sulky young man made no effort to oppose their boarding the hull.
Probably he feared to make too plain an opposition, with that
dark-hulled, sombre, ugly-looking submarine torpedo boat lying so close
at hand.

"Now, heave us a line, Eph!" hailed Hal.  The line came, and was caught.
Hal slipped over the further side with it, vanishing under water
long enough to make it fast to one of the submerged cleats of the
sloop's rail.

"That will hold," he reported, clambering back on to the bottom of
the sloop.  "Now, sir," turning to the older man, "since you have
a life preserver on, you can easily get over to the submarine boat
by holding to the line and pulling yourself along."

"I'm afraid I can't get across and keep my satchel," whined the older
man, nervously.

"I'll take that and swim over with it," proposed Hal, briskly, reaching
out his hand for the bag.

"Oh, no, no!" protested the man.  "I'd sooner stay here.  The satchel
doesn't go out of my hands."

"Better take to the water, father, and do the best you can," advised
the younger man in a growl.  "These fellows belong to the United States
Navy, and they're determined to rescue us.  Trust yourself to the
water, and I'll keep along with you.  These people will take us by
force if we refuse any further."

If mistaking the crew of the "Pollard" for members of the United States
Navy would make matters move any more quickly, there was no need to
disabuse the mind of either of these queer men.  But Jack and Hal gave
each other a queer, amused look.

The old man took to the water, without difficulty.  Buoyed up by his
life preserver, he was able to hold to his satchel with one hand,
pulling himself along the slightly sagging rope with the other.  His
son swam along lazily beside him, Eph, outside the rail, but holding
to it with one hand, employed his other in helping the father and son
up to the deck.  When this had been accomplished, Hal threw off the
line, after which he and Jack swam back.  Eph drew them up to the
platform deck.

"Go down below, and hear their account of themselves, if you want to,"
said David Pollard, leaning against the wheel.  "For myself, I'm sick
of that pair already."

Jack and Hal had quite enough boyish curiosity to go below.  Eph soon
followed.  The father, dripping wet and still clutching his satchel with
one hand, sat on one of the long seats of the cabin, while the son,
scowling, paced back and forth.

"It seems to me that I know you," Farnum was saying, to the elder man.

"I--I am very sure you don't," replied the one addressed, uneasily.

"Don't you know who I am?" pursued the boat-builder.

"N-no; I'm very certain I don't."

"Let's see.  Did you ever hear of a man named Arthur Miller, of Sebogue?"

The elder man started, paling a trifle.  The younger man stopped his
walk, his face settling into a black scowl.

"No-o; I don't know Arthur Miller," replied the older man; with an
effort.

"Queer," mused Mr. Farnum.  "It just came to me that you were Mr.
Miller.  However, of course you know best about that."

"Thank you," nodded the older man, with an attempt at a smile.  "I
started to tell you that my son started out late this afternoon, in
the sloop that lies overturned yonder, intending to put me aboard
the yacht of friends who are passing down the coast.  I have most
pressing business with those friends.  The business is to be finished
on the coming trip.  It seems that our friends are late; still, I
know they must be on their way down the coast."

"As they haven't shown up, at least, not close enough," proposed Jacob
Farnum, "we'll put you ashore at Dunhaven, and doubtless you can catch
up with your friends in some way."

"Dunhaven?  Then you must be Mr. Farnum," cried the older man, eagerly.
"This must be the torpedo boat you were building.  And these young
men belong to the Navy?  Midshipmen, no doubt?"

"There are no Navy men on board," replied the builder.  "These young
men are my employes.  But we are losing time drifting about on the
high seas.  We will put back to Dunhaven, and you can tell us your
story, if you choose, on the way."

"But my father does not care to go ashore," interposed the son.  "It
is vitally important to him that he find the schooner and join his
friends aboard.  In fact, I may add that a very considerable sum in
the way of a profitable business deal depends upon his going aboard the
schooner."

"But as that craft isn't here, how can we put your father aboard?"
Mr. Farnum asked.

"We are right in the path that is to be taken by our friends' yacht,"
replied the son.  "Since this is not a naval vessel, and you are not
under Government orders, I take it you can as well wait here for two or
three hours, if need be.  My father will pay suitably for your time,
and the service, if you will consent to wait until the yacht appears."

"I do not need any pay for extending the ordinary courtesies of the
sea to those who have suffered wreck," replied Mr. Farnum, a bit stiffly.

"Whether you take pay or not, sir, will you wait and put my father
aboard the yacht?" demanded the son eagerly.  "A vast interest, believe
me, sir, is at stake."

"Oh, there is a very great stake in this," cried the older man,
tremulously.  "I appeal to you, Mr. Farnum, since that is your name, to
help me out in this.  And, if you will accept handsome compensation, I
shall be very glad to offer it."

David Pollard, who had heard some of this talk through the open manhole
as he lounged by the wheel, now called down to report: "There's some
kind of a craft on the northern horizon throwing up searchlight signals."

"That's our friends' yacht--it must be!" proclaimed the young man,
darting forward and resting one hand on the rail of the spiral stairway.
"Now, you see, if you will be good to us, we shall not very long
trespass on your patience."

"A schooner--a sailing craft--equipped with a searchlight?" asked
Jack, wonderingly.

The son flashed upon the submarine boy a look in which there was something
of a scowl, but he explained quickly:

"The boat has auxiliary power, and a complete electric light plant.  Mr.
Farnum, you'll steam toward that searchlight, won't you?  I tell you, I
am positive it is the boat of our friends."

"Well, I'll put you where you want to be, of course," agreed the
boatbuilder, though he spoke with some reluctance, for he realized
that some great mystery underlay this whole affair.

"Come up, Benson, and take the wheel," called Mr. Pollard.  So Jack
went up and out on the deck, Eph following him, while Hal went to the
engine room to watch more of Grant Andrews' work there.  Jack threw on
the speed wheel, then steered north, while Eph threw the searchlight
skyward in the path of the approaching vessel.

Within fifteen minutes the two craft were in sight of each other.
Five minutes later they were within hailing distance.  The other
craft was a schooner of some eighty or ninety tons, and was using
an auxiliary gasoline engine.

It was Jack who sounded a signal on the auto whistle for the other
craft to lay to.  Then Benson steered in closer, the two who had been
rescued standing not far from him on the platform deck.  The older
man still clutched his satchel.

"Submarine, ahoy!" came a hail from the schooner's deck.  "Is that
you, Mr. Miller?"

"Ye-es," hesitatingly admitted the older man, at which Jacob Farnum
smiled grimly, though he said nothing.  "Put off a boat and send it
alongside, will you?"

In a trice a boat was lowered from the schooner.  Manned by two sailors
and steered by a deck officer, the boat came alongside the sloping hull
of the torpedo boat.

"You weren't expected in such a craft as this, Mr. Miller," called the
deck officer in the stern of the small boat, touching his cap.

"Never mind any conversation, my man," broke in young Miller, testily.
"Lay right alongside, and help get my father into your boat."

Hal and Eph helped in piloting Mr. Miller over the side and getting him
into the boat alongside.  Immediately afterwards the younger man jumped
into the small boat.

"Oh, you're going with your father, are you?" hailed Mr. Farnum.

"Yes," replied the son, coolly, though with another scowl.  "A thousand
thanks for your kindness to us.  Good-bye!"

The small boat put off, making rapidly for the schooner.

"Well, full speed ahead for Dunhaven," muttered Jacob Farnum.  "But
that's the queerest crowd I ever ran into.  It's uncanny, all the way
through.  Somehow, I can't shake off the impression that I've been
engaged in some stealthy or nasty work."

The run back to port was without incident, the submarine behaving
perfectly on the surface.  Indeed, all aboard were highly delighted
with the new boat.  Jack was still at the wheel as they glided into the
little harbor.  Anchor was dropped and power shut off for the night.

"You three boys may as well stay aboard for the night," suggested Mr.
Farnum, as the night watchman of the yard appeared, coming out in a
row-boat.  "In fact, you may as well live aboard, and use the pantry
and galley for all your meals."

"Shall we keep watch through the night, sir?" asked Jack.

"No need.  Let the yard watchman do that.  It isn't far from daylight.
Get yourselves some coffee in the galley, have a good rub-down, spread
your clothing to dry, and turn in in the state-rooms."

Grant Andrews went ashore with the builder and the inventor.  The first
thing the submarine boys did was to start coffee in the galley.
Next they rubbed down, got into dry underclothing, then sat down
over their coffee.

For some minutes they discussed the mystery of the night, making all
manner of guesses.  At last, however, they lay down in the berths of
the state-rooms, and were soon sound asleep.

Nor did any of them wake until Jack opened his eyes in the forenoon,
when he heard someone coming down the spiral stairway.

"You boys awake?" bellowed the wrathful voice of Mr. Farnum.  Instantly,
almost, two state-room doors were yanked open, while the builder went
on:

"Oh, that was a fine trick that was played on us last night.  As soon
as I opened my eyes this morning I telephoned to Sebogue.  I got the
whole story.  Arthur Miller is a defaulter to the tune of a very large
fortune.  He must have had the cash in that satchel.  And he made us
tools of his!  Made us aid him in his flight, and put him beyond the
reach of the law!  Oh, if I should ever get my hands on that rascal
again!"

It was plain that the boatbuilder was angry all the way through.  He
stamped in a temper.  As quickly as the boys could get on their clothing
they came out to hear the rest of the story.

"Arthur Miller," resumed Mr. Farnum, angrily, "was supposed to be a
rich man, and at one time no doubt he was.  But he got into speculation.
He was guardian of the fortune of his orphaned niece, Grace Desmond, a
very sweet girl whom I've seen.  Miller must have lost some of her
fortune in his mad speculations.  At any rate, he tried fearfully hard
to marry his son, Fred, to her.  I suppose he felt that if Miss Desmond
became his daughter-in-law she couldn't very well prosecute her
faithless guardian.  But Miss Desmond, who will be of age in a few days,
would have none of her Cousin Fred for a husband.  She must have
suspected much, too, for she had engaged lawyers and accountants to go
over the state of her affairs.  The whole party were at the house
yesterday, when Miller and his son slipped out and got away in the
son's sloop.  It is believed that Arthur Miller converted all the rest
of his niece's fortune into cash, and arranged with the schooner to
pick him up in the night."

"Then I think I understand, sir," broke in Jack, quietly, "how that
sloop came to capsize.  I couldn't understand that before.  But the
Millers, father and son, must have figured that the overturned sloop
would be found, and that they would be believed to have drowned.  That
would shut off pursuit.  So whichever of the pair is a good sailor--"

"That's the son, Fred," interposed Mr. Farnum.

"Then Fred Miller, after fixing life preservers on both of them, must
have watched for his chance at a good puff of wind, close-hauled on the
sheet and sent the boat over.  That explains why they weren't very
cordial with us last night.  Our overhauling them prevented their being
reported drowned accidentally."

"Oh, confound them!  Drat them!" roared Mr. Farnum.  "Making me, and the
rest of us, accomplices of a dastardly defaulter.  If I ever run afoul
of that crowd again--if I ever get my hands on them--won't I make them
smart for their trick!"

Nor were the submarine boys much less angry over the part they had all
been made to play.



CHAPTER XIV

AN UP-TO-DATE REVENGE


In the days that followed, the need of work drove away thoughts of the
trick played by the Millers.

Trip after trip was made out to sea, and under the sea, in the "Pollard."
That fine little craft was tested under every condition that could be
imagined, except that, of course, no torpedoes were fired through her
business-like bow tube.  The firing of torpedoes at sea belonged to
the Navy exclusively.  Such a test could not be made by a civilian trial
crew.

By degrees the submarine boys outgrew every trace of dread at finding
themselves well under the surface of the sea.  Their confidence in the
abilities of the "Pollard" made them daring to the point of recklessness.

Just once the boys did have strong occasion to remember the Millers.
That was when they were ashore one night.  Grace Desmond, the despoiled
heiress, who, as events proved, was left without a dollar of her own,
came to Dunhaven to live with friends until she could plan what she was
to do to earn her living.

The three boys were walking, in uniform, with Mr. Farnum when that
gentleman suddenly asked them, in low tones:

"Do you see that young lady in white, walking with the two old people,
coming toward us?"

"Yes," Jack answered.

"That's Miss Desmond.  I feel like going into a rage every time I see
that poor girl.  She was heiress to eight hundred thousand dollars.  The
lawyers believe that Arthur Miller carried off than half a million in
cash belonging to Miss Desmond.  And we helped start him on his journey.
Confound the rascal!"

Grace Desmond was a beautiful girl, above medium height, slender and
dark.  The simple white gown that she wore displayed her beauty at its
best.  Despite her fearful loss, when the boys first caught sight of
her, she was smiling cheerily as she chatted with her elderly friends.

Mr. Farnum and his young friends came to a street corner just before
they encountered Miss Desmond and her companions.  The builder would
have turned down the side street, but Miss Desmond called to him.  So
he was obliged to lift his hat and stand waiting until the girl reached
him.

"I want just a word with you, Mr. Farnum," began Miss Desmond.  "It has
come to me that you are very much upset over having helped my uncle to
escape.  I want to tell you how foolish it is for you to be unhappy
about it.  You weren't in the least to blame.  You did what any other
good-natured man would have done under the circumstances.  The only
ones who can be blamed for any part in the affair are the two men from
whom I had a right to expect the most considerate treatment.  But as
for you, Mr. Farnum, I beg that you will give my misfortune no further
thought."

"That would be impossible," protested the builder.

"At least, never allow a thought of self-blame to creep in again.
Please don't," she added, appealingly.  Then, as though to change the
subject abruptly, she inquired:

"Are these the young men who handle the 'Pollard?'  Present them to
me, please."

The boys were introduced, also, to Mr. and Mrs. Scott, the elderly
couple.

"Some time, Mr. Farnum, if it could be arranged, I wish very much that
you would invite us to take a short trip aboard the submarine boat.
It will be the only chance of the kind we'll ever have."

"I certainly shall invite you," replied the builder.  "But," he added,
bitterly, "going aboard the boat that played the strong part in your
undoing will be the nearest you will ever come, I fear, to a trail of
your missing money.  Pardon me"--Mr. Farnum choked suddenly--"I can't
think of that night with patience."

"And that is just what I want you to forget, please," begged the girl,
softly.  Then she added, with a laugh: "I'll call a trip on the 'Pollard'
settlement in full for any claim you may think I have against you."

"I'll pay," groaned Farnum, "but it won't be settlement even in part."

When Miss Desmond and her friends had gone on again Farnum clenched his
hands, muttering:

"The girl's kindness only makes my savage disgust with myself all the
greater."

"Why, she's right in saying that you're not responsible in any way,"
urged Jack.

"Boys, if you ever happen up with that rascal, or his scowling son, and
if you choke either one, and give him a sound beating, draw on me for a
thousand dollars.  If you can ever do anything that leads to the
recovery of Miss Desmond's money, draw on me for anything you please!"

Two days later the promise to give Miss Desmond a trip on the "Pollard"
was kept.  Mrs. Scott would not go, but her husband did.  The girl even
begged for a brief run under water, and stood it bravely, though with
some pallor until she saw the sun once more shining in through the
conning tower.

By the time that trip was over the submarine boys would have gone
cheerily in the "Pollard?" through a sea of ink, blood or fire to serve
the unfortunate young woman.

Very soon after that Miss Desmond plucked up sufficient courage to ask
for the vacant position of typewriter in Mr. Farnum's office, and
obtained it.  She rapidly mastered the machine, and, in the meantime,
gave all her spare time to the study of shorthand.  She also learned
to do much work on the books.  Jacob Farnum would've made her post an
easy one, but Grace Desmond insisted that she had her way to make in
the world, and that she wanted to obtain a business training in the
shortest time possible.

Although the "Pollard" went out every day, ever night she lay in the
little harbor that formed the sea-board part of the yard.  At her
anchorage was a depth of seventy-five feet of water.

The three boys now lived wholly aboard, but it was dull there evenings,
so after dark they spent much of the earlier hours of the night ashore.

"Going ashore with us to-night!" asked Hal, one evening, after the meal
had been disposed of and the dishes washed and put away.

"Not to-night," replied Jack Benson, with a shake of his head.  "I'm
too much in earnest about wanting to know all about the handling of a
submarine to waste all my leisure in fooling.  See this book on
mechanics?  I'm going to stay aboard and study it to-night, and see
how much of it I can get into my head."

"Good luck to you," laughed Eph.  "If you succeed, maybe we'll stay on
board to-morrow night and let you be schoolmaster.  But this was
pay-day, and the ice-cream soda up in the village fizzes good to me."

As soon as they had gone, Jack placed his book on the cabin table and
drew up to it.  Until dark he plodded through the pages, then turned on
the electric light.  Finding the book more difficult of comprehension
than he had expected, he crouched over the volume, devoting his whole
attention to the first few pages.  Nine o'clock came and went.
Half-past nine went by.  Had Benson heeded the time he would have
concluded that his comrades had found village life unusually alluring
to-night.

Through the dark, quiet boat yard prowled a man, pausing and listening
every few steps, as though bent on trying to keep out of the sight of
the night watchman.

It was Jack's old enemy, Josh Owen, who, so far, had cleverly kept out
of the way of the officers seeking him.

In some way Josh had learned that the other two submarine boys were up
in the village.  The lights shining from the interior of the submarine
proved that someone was aboard.  Hence it must be Jack Benson.

Down at the water's edge lay the "Pollard's" rowboat tender.  A final
survey satisfied Josh Owen that the watchman was nowhere about.  An
instant later the former foreman was in the rowboat, handling the oars
so quietly as to make hardly any sound.  Two or three minutes later he
was alongside the "Pollard," stealthily making the painter fast to the
deck rail.  Then, in his bare feet, Josh went softly up over the side.
At the manhole he crouched to peer below.  He could not see the boy,
but the shadow told him that Benson was sitting with his back to the
stairway.

A gleam of insane wickedness in his eyes--for brooding had somewhat
unbalanced the former foreman's mind--Josh Owen started softly down
the stairway.

Fancying he heard some slight, unusual sound, Jack Benson turned.  Too
late!  The powerful ex-foreman leaped, upon him, bearing the boy to the
floor and holding him there helpless.

"You little sneak, I've waited for this time!" snarled Owen, hoarsely.
"But now--"

Josh rolled the boy over, yanked a pair of steel handcuffs from a rear
pocket, and quickly, despite Benson's struggles snapped them onto the
Submarine boy's wrists.

"Now, I've got ye!" he finished, his flaming eyes close to Jack's.

"For a little while," jeered Benson, as calmly as he could force himself
to speak.

It was an unfortunate speech.

"Thank ye for warnin' me that the time's short," chuckled the brute.
With that he lifted the boy, bore him back to a stanchion, and swiftly
tied him to it in a standing position.

"That's all but the last thing I've got to do," pursued Josh Owen,
drawing back.  "Boy, ye did yer worst for me, when ye had the chance.
And ye was the means of havin' Danny locked up.  Mebbe Dan Jaggers did
give me some sleepin' stuff, an' maybe he did worry my own share of the
money from me; but, boy, ye never knew how much store I set by Danny
in spite o' some things.  And now, he's locked up tight, thanks to you,
an' the constables are chasin' me from cover to cover, lookin' for me
everywhere.  Howsomever, this settles the account!"

Jack Benson's heart seemed to stop beating as he realized what the
rage-crazed fellow was up to.

Josh Owen deftly handled the mechanism that opened the sea-valves to
let water into the diving tanks.

"I'm turnin' the water in slow," he announced.  "That'll give me time
to git away.  This is a divin' boat.  _Well, Dive in her!_"



CHAPTER XV

THE COURAGE THAT RANG TRUE


In that first awful moment after he was left alone, Jack Benson's first
feeling was that it must all be an unbelievable dream.

Yet he knew that it was not.  In his frenzy he tugged at the handcuffs,
fought with the cords that bound him to the stanchion, but all in vain.

The sea-valves had been opened only enough to let the water in slowly.
Almost at the outset, however, the keel slanted downward, for most of
the water was coming into the tanks the bow of the boat.

"Help!  Help, quick!" roared Benson at the top of his voice.  The side
ports were not open, but the manhole was, and the ventilators were
in place.  The submarine boy shouted in the hope that the night
watchman might hear and reach the scene in time to effect a rescue.

The keel was still more slanting.  At the instant when the diving
tanks held water enough to overbalance the buoyancy of the craft the
"Pollard" was bound to take a sudden lurch and go below.

Still fighting uselessly though frantically at the bonds that held him
helpless in this terrible crisis, Jack also kept up his yells.

The watchman did not hear.  He was not near enough.  Josh Owen, having
gained the shore and hauled the rowboat up, fled a short distance, then
crouched in hiding, waiting to see the effects of his terrible deed.

Only one other person was in the yard.  Grace Desmond, unknown to her
employer, had come to the office in the evening, bent on posting up a
set of books that were in her care.

She had finished her work, and was stepping out into the yard, adjusting
her hat, when she heard one of those muffled appeals for help.

At the first sound she was not even sure of the word, but something in
the faintly-heard accent claimed her attention.  She stopped short,
listening intently.

"Help!  Aboard the submarine!"

This time, though the appeal seemed to come from a great distance, she
distinguished the words.

"Something wrong with the diving boat, and someone aboard!" she thought,
with a tugging throb at the heart.  Turning, she sped down to the
water's edge.

"Help!  help!  The boat is sinking, and I'm helpless aboard."

She could see the bow slanting forward in the water, and realized that
all was wrong with the torpedo boat, and with some hapless human being
aboard.  In that instant Grace Desmond's courage rang true.

Espying the rowboat, she bounded into it, snatching up an oar and
pushing off.  At home on the water and skilled with oars, she pulled
a strong, rapid stroke until she lay alongside the "Pollard."

"Keep cool.  Help is coming!" called the girl, as she ran alongside.
She caught at the lower portion of the deck rail and drew herself up.
It was but an instant later when she went gliding down the spiral
stairway.

Then, all in a flash, she caught sight of Jack Benson, lashed to the
stanchion.  She comprehended, also, that whoever had tied the boy in
this fashion must have thrown the sea-valves partly open.  That floor
was fast becoming an unsteady platform.

"You turn on the compressed air with a wrench, don't you?" she demanded,
swiftly.

"Yes," nodded the submarine boy.  Then added, instantly:

"But you're a woman.  These risks are not for you.  Rush up through the
manhole and escape.  There may be time."

"Where's the wrench?  Tell me quickly," commanded Grace Desmond.  "I can
turn on the air more quickly than I can set you free to do it."

"Yes," breathed the boy, rapidly, "because I'm manacled, anyway.
But save yourself, Miss Desmond."

"We must both go down if you don't tell me quickly where to find the
wrench," cried the girl, stamping her foot with impatience.

Then Jack told her, only when he realized that she would not save
herself at his expense.  Fortunately, Josh Owen had overlooked securing
that wrench and throwing it overboard.  In another moment Miss Desmond
had the implement.

"The forward compressor, first," Jack directed.

With a quick comprehension that asked only bare details, Miss Desmond
fitted the wrench just where it should go.

"A hard turn forward," called Benson.

The girl gave the twist, as directed, as hard a turn as she could make.
To her horror she fancied the muscles of her wrist not quite equal to
the need of that dread movement.  The floor was slanting so that she
was obliged to throw out her left hand to clutch at a support in order
to hold herself up.

"Don't try it any longer.  Get overboard, Miss Desmond, if there's yet
time.  In heaven's name do!" begged Jack, in a horrified tone.  "I can
stand going to the bottom if I don't have to drag you down with me.
Escape!"

"Not and leave a fellow human being here in your plight," retorted the
girl quietly, though with sublime heroism.

"But you can't save me, anyway."

"Then I'll go down at my post, just as a man would," she retorted,
throwing all her frantic strength into her task.  How she blamed herself
that her muscles were so weak!

"Please go!  There may be time."

"I'm not thinking of that.  Oh, for a man's strength!"

Jack's breath was bated.  His dread for himself was forgotten now, as
he watched the efforts of this splendid girl.

"We'll take the last plunge at any instant, now!" screamed Jack Benson.
"There may be time for _you_--"

"Then there'll be time for us both," came the undaunted answer.  Grace
Desmond did not turn her head as she spoke, but Jack, his intense
gaze upon her, knew the light that was flashing in her eyes at this
moment.

A sound above told the submarine boy the worst.  The water was gently
rippling against the edges of the platform deck.  That told him, all
to plainly, how near the diving boat was to doing the work for which
it had been built.

Could Jack have been close enough to see just why Grace was failing
in her effort he might have told her better just what to try to do.
Now, he tried to explain, rapidly.  The fault was not with her strength;
there was an exact knack needed in the use of the wrench.

On shore, in the yard, Josh Owen crouched low in his place of
concealment.  He had failed to prevent Grace from starting in the
rowboat because, until it was too late, he did not believe the plucky
young woman had any such intention.

"It's too bad for the gal to go to the bottom, too," half sighed the
raging one.  "But she shouldn't meddle."

Hal came swinging along down the street, having left Eph Somers behind
in the village.  Through the yard came young Hastings, whistling.  By
instinct he turned to look at the boat, and what he saw made him gasp,
then leap forward in the start of a sprint.

Straight down to the harbor's edge he raced.  Then, seeing the rowboat
adrift, Hal, after one more look at the sinking submarine, leaped into
the water without stopping even to shed jacket or cap.

Splash!  In the same instant that he sprang, Josh Owen jumped up.

"Come back here, or ye'll wish ye had!" raged the ex-foreman.

Hal Hastings heard, though he did not even take the trouble to answer,
but struck out frenziedly, for his chum's calls for help now rang in
his ears.

There was the sound of a discharge, a sharp split of fire from a weapon
that Owen held in his hand.  A bullet struck the water just before
Hal's nose, dashing the spray back in his face.

"Come back here, I tell ye!" raged the ex-foreman.

"Josh Owen's voice!" throbbed Hastings, but he swam on with the strongest
strokes of which he was master.  Then a succession of shots rang out.
Hal Hastings was in the gravest danger he had ever been in.



CHAPTER XVI

THE LAST SECOND OF THE NICK OF TIME


Despite the whistle of lead, minding only the spray that dashed into
his eyes, Hal Hastings swam on.

His one idea, at present, was to reach that submarine boat if it were
within human power to do so ere the boat, now nearly all submerged,
took the final plunge below the waves.

Grace Desmond did not quit her post, nor cease her heroic efforts to
turn on the compressed air.  Yet she added her shrill shrieks to Jack
Benson's lusty yells for help.

The sounds of the shots from the shore gave them a momentary hope that
help of some sort was really on its way.

"It's the last second or two, if you mean to save us!" yelled Jack,
at the top of his voice.

Bang!  bang!  Josh Owen fired two more shots from his dangerous automatic
revolver as Hal caught at the rail of the boat.

"The last chance to save us!" repeated Jack.

"I know it," came, breathlessly, as the dripping Hal dropped down
the manhole.  He did not even wait to make use of the stairs.

By a fortunate impulse Grace Desmond fell back as young Hastings appeared.
Hal's right hand shot out, gripping the wrench.  The "Pollard" gave
a surge that all aboard believed to be her final one.

Yet Hal hung to his post, resolved to go down trying.

There was a hiss of compressed air.  The "Pollard" didn't quite make
the death plunge.  Then she seemed to go, ever so little, toward a
more level keel.

"I--believe--I've got her!" cried Hal Hastings.

A moment or two later he felt sure of it.  He gave a cheer to ease
his pent-up feelings, then suddenly gasped:

"Jack, do you know how much compressed air there is?"

"No," replied Benson, blankly.

"Heaven grant there's enough for what we must do," prayed Hal, aloud.

There were two shots over in the yard just now.  The three young people
heard the discharges, though they paid no heed to them at this critical
instant.

Slowly the "Pollard" continued to regain evenness of keel.

Then Hastings, shifting the wrench to another part of the compressed
air apparatus, opened the sea-valves of the amidships water tanks
to expel water.

Briefly, now, they knew that the "Pollard" had risen.  Also, she was
resting on an even keel.  Hal, bedewed with cold perspiration, darted
up the stairs to the conning tower.  He looked out, and the first
glance told him the "Pollard" was riding the water as she should.

"It's all right--now," he called down, with a strong effort at calmness.
"Jack, what on earth happened that you had to call for help!"

Then he caught sight of his chum, lashed to the stanchion.  Hastings's
mouth went wide agape with astonishment.

"Jack--how on earth--did Josh Owen--"

"Yes," nodded Benson, quickly.  "This was his work.  Get me free from
this stanchion, won't you?"

Despite his elaborate effort at calmness Hal Hastings shook so that it
was some seconds before he could get his knife from a pocket.

"Wait till I steady down," Hal muttered, grimly.  "I'm afraid of stabbing
you."

At last, however, Hastings controlled his right hand enough to feel
safe in slashing the cords.  Jack, weak-kneed, stepped away from the
stanchion, though he was still handcuffed.

"Thanks, old fellow.  That's enough for the moment," said Jack, whose
face was still ashen gray.  "Miss Desmond--"

Both boys wheeled together to speak to that splendid young woman.  They
paused with their lips open.  Grace Desmond could not have heard them;
she had fainted, lying inert across one of the seats.

"She's a brick--a wonder--clean grit," broke from Jack, softly,
admiringly.

When Josh Owen saw Hal drop through the manhole, and then saw the
submarine's dive arrested, he realized that it was time for instant
flight.  Yet, as he turned to dash away, he found himself confronting
the muzzle of a revolver held by the night watchman, who had been
outside the yard at a little distance, but whom Josh's firing had
brought back on the run.

"Throw up your hands, Owen.  You're my prisoner," said the watchman,
crisply.

But the ex-foreman much preferred being shot to taken.  Flourishing
his weapon, he turned, making a dash for the street gate.

Then it was that the foreman fired the two shots heard by the young
people on the "Pollard."

Both shots missed.  Thereupon, the watchman lowered his weapon and
dashed after the fugitive.

Eph Somers, coming down the street to go aboard, heard, the shots.

"Me for a high roost, if there's trouble," uttered Somers, dryly.  He
climbed the fence, close to the gate.  An instant later Josh Owen darted
out.  As he passed, Eph, with a fine eye, measured the time, and
dropped fairly a-straddle of the fleeing one's shoulders.

"Whoa, you big draft-horse!" chuckled Eph, holding on to Owen's head
for grim life.  Under the weight and the unexpected shock the ex-foreman
sank to the sidewalk.

Had the night watchman continued the chase they would have had Josh
Owen then and there.  But the watchman, knowing that he was a poor
sprinter, and that Josh was a fast one, turned, just inside the gate,
to rush to the telephone and notify the constable.

So Josh, on his hands and knees, after he recovered from his first
astonishment, found he had only Eph to fight.  Young Somers was all
grit when aroused, nor was he lacking in muscle.  But he was no match
for Josh.  There was a brief, heated contest.  Then Eph, dizzy from a
blow in the chest that winded him, staggered back.  Owen swiftly
vanished in the darkness, but Eph, when he got to his feet again,
clutched the empty revolver that he had twisted from Owen's hand.

So much racket of firearms on a still night had aroused many people.
It was not long before there was a crowd at the yard.  Mr. Farnum was
quickly on the scene.  Soon after him came David Pollard.

The rowboat was recovered and those on the submarine brought ashore.
Grace Desmond's faint had been a short one; at the first dash of water
in her face she had come out of her swoon.  The handcuffs were quickly
filed off Jack's wrists.

In the yard office as many persons as were admitted heard a tale that
made them feel creepy.

"You splendid, brave girl!" cried Jacob Farnum, patting Miss Desmond's
shoulder.  Then he sent a man after a carriage to take the young woman
to the home of her friends.

That night the yard's owner made announcement of a reward of one thousand
dollars for Josh Owen's capture--dead or alive.

"That fellow has proved himself more dangerous than an ordinary lunatic,
and he knows too much about submarine boats for my comfort.  He's
even capable, some dark night, of putting a mine under the 'Pollard'
big enough to destroy her at anchorage."

"We'll have to keep deck watch through the night, then," proposed Jack
Benson.

"Very well, Captain.  I put you in command," smiled Mr. Farnum.

"I can keep a sharp lookout without the title of captain," responded
the submarine boy.

"But you are going to be in charge of the boat--at least until she's
sold to the Government or consigned to the junk-heap.  So why not be
captain from now on?"

Thus it was settled, off-hand.  Jack flushed with delight.  Had it been
possible for him to be more loyal, or devoted to the interests of the
builder, he would have been from that moment.

Jack took his own first deck-watch that night, dividing the remaining
time up to six o'clock between Hal and Eph.

In the morning captain and crew had hardly more than finished breakfast
when Jacob Farnum and Mr. Pollard came off from shore in the tender.
Both looked highly pleased about something.

"I haven't mentioned anything about this before," announced the builder,
"but I've been pulling some strong wires at Washington for some time.
As a result I've just received orders from the Navy Department to
attend the summer manoeuvres of the fleet at Cape Adamson.  We're
to have our trial by the Government there."

"How soon do we start?" cried Jack, eagerly.

"We'll start this afternoon, so as to be in plenty of time.  It's only
about a seven hours' run for us, though, and we're not expected at
Cape Adamson before to-morrow evening.  Can you be ready, Captain?"

"Why, there's nothing to do, sir, but to take aboard more gasoline
and water.  We can do that in an hour."

"We'll drop out to sea, then, about five o'clock this afternoon,"
decided Mr. Farnum, as he and the inventor rose.  "Don't get flurried
about anything, Captain Benson."

"Be very sure I won't, sir," replied Jack, earnestly.  "And we'll be
ready to start at the stroke of five.  But I've been thinking, sir,
and there's one question I want to ask.  Does Grant Andrews go with us?

"No," replied Mr. Farnum, dropping his voice.  "I need Grant for other
work.  The first hint I get at Cape Adamson that we have a winner
in the way of a submarine, I'm going wire Andrews to start laying
the keel for another.  He has his orders, and knows what may be coming."

"We really ought to have a fourth member of the crew, sir," explained
Captain Jack, "if we're to keep watch and perhaps run on long trips."

"I'll see if I can get someone who'll be any good to us," nodded Mr.
Farnum, seriously.  Then he and the inventor went ashore, leaving
the young captain to the leisurely task of fitting for sea service.

The news that the "Pollard" was going to attend the naval manoeuvres
at Cape Adamson soon became noised about Dunhaven, for Mr. Farnum
saw no reason for holding back the nature of his orders from Washington.
It was not long before groups of people gathered on the shore, on
either side of the boat yard, to gaze with increased interest at the
grim, mysterious looking submarine.

Before one o'clock Mr. Farnum put off in the tender with a stranger,
a swarthy, stalwart, almost gigantic looking man of about forty.

"I've got you just the man you want, Captain," called the builder,
joyously, as he came aboard.  "Captain, this is Bill Henderson, late
boatswain's mate, of the United States Navy.  He knows all about our
line of work, for his papers show that he has served aboard various
submarine torpedo craft belonging to the Government.  He's a crack
helmsman, a navigator, and knows all about our kind of machinery."

During this introduction Henderson had saluted and scraped.  He now
stood at attention.

"The youngest captain I've ever sailed under, sir," he said to Jack.
"But I'm satisfied you know the business, or Mr. Farnum wouldn't have
given you the berth.  At your orders, sir."

After Mr. Farnum had returned to shore Benson put his new hand through
a searching quiz.  If there was anything Boatswain's Mate Henderson did
not know about submarine boat work, then the young captain was not able
to find out what it was.

"Bill Henderson ought to be captain, not I," whispered Jack to his chum.

"If Mr. Farnum didn't find that out for himself," replied Hal, dryly,
"don't tell him."

"This man Henderson is certainly a jewel for us," murmured Captain Jack.

At the moment the three boys were standing on the platform deck, while
Henderson was stowing his limited baggage away below.

"Now, Cap, take this from me," muttered Eph, with the air of a wiseacre.
"When a man seems a crackerjack at anything, and doesn't have as good
a position as you think he ought to have, keep your eye on him."

"For what?" asked Captain Jack, smilingly.

"Oh, just to see what turns out to be wrong with the fellow."

"What can be, wrong with Henderson?"

"I didn't say anything was, did I?" queried Eph Somers.

"And I don't believe anything can be," responded Jack Benson, hopefully.
"Mr. Farnum has looked over the man's Navy discharge papers, and
Mr. Farnum isn't an easy one to take in."



CHAPTER XVII

IN THE GRIP OF HORROR


Before five o'clock that afternoon Dunhaven lined the water front.  That
is to say, fully five hundred people of the little seaport town were
on hand.  The "Pollard" was a local enterprise.  If the great United
States Government expected to buy the boat, the people of the village
wanted to be on hand and give a rousing send-off to a homemade craft
that might yet be destined to become famous.

Cheer after cheer went up.  Hats, parasols and handkerchiefs were waved.

"I don't know," growled one old salt in the shore throng.  "If it was
a human sort of craft, meant to ride the waves as a good ship should,
I'd have more faith in her.  I'm afraid that boat'll go to the bottom
one o' these days, an' forgit to come up again."

The old salt was promptly voted a croaker.  Hadn't the "Pollard" been
given abundant tests by her crew?  Had she failed to come up yet?  So
the cheering redoubled when Captain Jack came up on the platform deck,
followed by the builder and the inventor.

"Thank you, my friends!" shouted Jacob Farnum, making a trumpet of
his hands.  "We all thank you!  Now, Captain Benson, make as handsome
a flying start as you can."  Jack already stood by the wheel, where
he could reach all the controls.  Down below the gasoline motor throbbed,
making the hull vibrate.  Power had been ready for the last ten minutes.

Captain Jack moved the speed wheel around to the six-mile notch.  The
twin propellers aft began to churn the water lazily, causing the
"Pollard" to slip away from her moorings.  Ere they had gone a hundred
yards Jack swung on much more speed.  By the time that the submarine
reached the mouth of the little harbor she was traveling at eighteen
miles an hour, her bow nosing into the waves and throwing up a fine
spray, some of which reached the platform, deck.  Astern, her propellers
were tossing the water into a milky foam.  Truly, she made a gallant
sight!

For half a mile Captain Jack kept out to sea.  Then he turned the
craft's nose northward.  For another hour the "Pollard" was kept at
the same speed, behaving handsomely.  Then Captain Jack turned the
wheel over to big Bill Henderson, going below to have his supper with
builder and inventor.

"As soon as the other watch have had supper," proposed Mr. Farnum,
"I think, Captain, we'll drop fifty feet below the surface and run
for an hour or more.  The Navy men will want an even sterner test
than that.  We want to make sure that everything about the craft is
running at the top notch of perfection.  A fortune for Pollard, and
another for myself, are at stake on what we show the Navy in the next
three days."

"Oh, we can easily show them anything that any submarine craft can do,"
smiled Jack Benson, confidently.  "And I'm certain we can show the
Navy officers an ease of handling that isn't reached by any other
submarine in the world."

"It's a good thing to have a confident captain," smiled David Pollard.
"A confident captain, aboard a reliable boat, spells victory."

When the meal was over Captain Jack went back above to the wheel.  There
was no moon this night, but the stars shone brightly over the water.
It was a warm night, with a gentle breeze, and only the gentlest swell
to the water.  The "Pollard" had been slowed down to twelve miles an
hour, but there was still speed enough for the motion to be exhilarating.

"Oh, it's great to be captain of probably the most powerful and dangerous
sea-terror in the world!" throbbed the boy, looking up at the stars.
"How little I dreamed of this, a few months ago!"

"Going to be ready, now, for the dive and the hour's run under water,
captain?" inquired Mr. Farnum, coming up on deck.

"In about ten minutes, sir," replied Jack, pointing forward over the
port bow, "we'll be abreast of Point Villars light.  Why not dive
just abreast of that light?  It will give us a starting point to reckon
our run from."

"A good idea," nodded Mr. Farnum, and just then David Pollard came up
from below.  Both stood watching the young commander for some moments.

"Captain," remarked the inventor, "you handle the boat as easily as
though you had been doing this sort of thing for years.  You must have
had some practice aboard rather goodsized craft?"

"Never anything much bigger than a thirty-foot gasoline boat," Jack
replied.  "In the old days, sir, a young sailor had to begin with a
rowboat, go on to a cat-boat, and so work on up until he could handle
a full-rigged ship.  That's where the change has come with to-day's
gasoline boats.  A fellow who learns to run a twenty-foot gasoline
launch can just as easily handle a big gasoline yacht of any size.  The
new style of power saves a heap of time in the learning, sir."

Captain Jack was now nearing a line abreast of the Point Villars light.
He watched keenly.  At last, when just abreast, he shouted down through
the manhole:

"Shut off the gasoline power.  Stand ready to turn on the electric power.
Get ready to dive.  Henderson, take the steering wheel in the conning
tower."

Less than sixty seconds later the ventilators had been taken in, the
manhole cover was made fast, and all were below, save Bill Henderson,
who sat at the tower wheel, before him an electric lighted compass.

"Henderson," called Captain Jack, "steer north by northeast, one point
off north."

"Aye, aye, sir," came from the seaman in the conning tower.

"Hold fast!  Make ready to dive!" called the young captain.

Then, at the signal, Hal Hastings turned open the sea-valves into the
diving tanks.  Down shot the "Pollard," the young captain standing by
the gauge to watch until they were fifty feet below.

"On even keel!" he shouted.  Quickly the submarine regained her even
keel, and ran along at eight miles an hour.  Captain Jack Benson read
the gauge once more, to make sure that they were fifty feet below
the surface.

"And now, we've nothing to watch but the clock, until our hour is up,"
he laughed, dropping onto one of the seats and stretching.  "Somehow,
I notice none of us are as nervous as we were the first time this
diving machine went down with us."

With the electric fans running it was cool and comfortable there, and
the air, as pure as that above the ocean until the point of diving,
would last for some time without renewing.

With no wind or, wave to buffet, and the steady electric power running
the propeller shafts, the sensation was almost that of being aboard a
boat at rest.

After they had run along thus, for a few minutes, Eph went up to take
the wheel.  As Bill Henderson came down below the young skipper noticed
a bright gleam in the seaman's eyes, though he thought little of it.

Henderson went forward into the engine room, stretching himself out on
the leather cushion of one of the seats.

"Ever run on a smoother boat than this below the surface, Henderson?"
inquired Captain Jack, looking in through the engine room door.

"All submarines are alike to me, sir," replied Henderson, rather shortly.

"I guess he's been too long at the business to have any enthusiasm left,
if he ever had any," muttered Benson to himself, and returned to the
group in the cabin.

When one is accustomed to the life, and there is confidence in the boat,
the main sensation when running along below the water's surface is one
of great monotony.  All one can possibly see is the interior of the
boat and the persons of his comrades.  The longer the run below water
is continued the more pronounced does the feeling of monotony become.
A well equipped submarine torpedo craft should be easily capable of
running twenty-four hours continuously below the water, but the long
continued monotony of such a length of time below would be almost
certain to drive the officers and crew to a high pitch of nervous
tension.  Indeed, it is doubtful whether men of ordinary nervous
powers could stand such a strain.

Before fifteen minutes had passed Jacob Farnum began to tell funny
stories to make the time seem to pass more quickly.  After ten minutes
he gave this up, for he realized his hearers were becoming bored.

"Whew!" sighed Pollard.  "An hour below the surface is certainly as long
as twenty-four hours can be anywhere else!"

"I shall be glad when the hour is up," admitted Captain Jack, candidly.
Yet no one proposed cutting the time short by returning to the surface
sooner.

Hal Hastings climbed up into the conning tower to take the trick at
the wheel for the last twenty minutes.  Indeed, occupation of any
sort helped to kill some of the time.

"I believe," laughed Jacob Farnum glancing about him, "we all feel
just about as though we had lost confidence in the 'Pollard's' ability
to rise when the time comes."

From the engine room came a burst of seaman's song.  Bill Henderson
was loudly crooning some ditty.  Although the listeners could not
mike out the words, the song had a gruesome sound that made one's
flesh want to creep.

"Shall I tell him to stow that noise?" asked Captain Jack.

"No," replied Mr. Farnum, though he made a grimace.  "If it cheers the
fellow any let him have his melody."

Presently Henderson was singing another song.  Those in the cabin paid
little heed until the sailor's voice roared out the couplet:

_Down below went the good brig Mary!

She was heard from again--nary!_

"Say, that's fine!" muttered Eph Somers, in an undertone loaded with
sarcasm.

The seaman's voice reached them now in a hushed undertone of murmured
song.  Later it swelled out into this gruesome forecastle refrain:

_Where the sharks go to pray,

And the dead men lay--

Where the crabs crawl to bite,

And the eels--_

"Henderson!" rang the young captain's voice sharply.

"Aye, aye, sir!" came a growl from the engine room.

"Save that song for the deck watch.  We want to hear the clock tick."

"Aye, aye, sir."

The seaman was as good as his word.  No more of the awesome ditty
floated back from him.

The time yet to remain below surface narrowed down to ten minutes, then
to five.  At last, tick by tick, the time wound by until the full hour
of submergence had been finished.

"Henderson!" shouted Captain Jack, leaping to his feet, "stand by to
empty the water tanks!"

"Aye, aye, sir!" responded the big sailor, coming out of the engine
room.  He went to the proper rack, then turned to ask:

"Where's the wrench, sir?"

"Why, there in its rack, of course," cried Captain Benson, leaping
forward.  "You're looking at it."

"I'm looking at the rack, sir, but I don't see no wrench, sir," replied
Henderson, calmly.

"What's that?  The wrench mislaid?" demanded Jacob Farnum, also leaping
forward and staring with dismayed eyes into the rack.  "Oh, it has
dropped--somewhere--or--been mislaid."

In another instant there was a frenzied search for that invaluable
wrench, without which the "Pollard" could not be brought to the surface.
So frantically did they search that they frequently got in each other's
way.  Hal Hastings shut off the speed and came tumbling down below to
aid.

"Don't get excited, friends," begged Jacob Farnum, in a voice that shook.
"Of course we're going to find the wrench.  It's aboard--somewhere--of
course it is.  Now, let's begin a systematic search."

In a short time every conceivable nook and corner had been explored.
Though it seemed absurd that the wrench should be lost, yet a fearful
conviction began to settle down over the startled ones that it would
not be found in time.

Even the breathing air of the "Pollard's" interior could not be renewed
without the wrench.  Though each strove to conceal his feelings from
the others, grim horror soon had them all in its grip.



CHAPTER XVIII

THE LAST GASP OF DESPAIR


"I can't realize it yet, or believe it.  It can't be true," shuddered
David Pollard.

"We surely did," asserted Captain Jack.

"Could you swear that you have seen the wrench since we sailed?" asked
Jacob Farnum, white-faced but cool.

"I--I can't quite say as to that," replied Benson, slowly.  "But I
will swear that I remember having seen it just a few minutes before we
started."

"A _few minutes_--only?" insisted the builder.

"Yes, sir.  I'm positive."

"For that matter," continued the builder, "there has been no one on
board to-day save those who belong aboard."

"No; no one but ourselves has been on the boat to-day."

"None of us would throw it overboard, knowing how precious a tool it
is," declared Mr. Farnum, glancing about him bewildered.  "It was
hardly possible to mislay such a thing by accident.  Where on earth
_can_ it be, then?"

Again all hands started to hunt.  Henderson was the first to sink to
a seat as a sign that he gave up the search.  The others barely glanced
at him, so intent were all on the hunt that meant their only chance
for life.

Yet at last they all sat down, panting, perspiring.

"Good heavens!" quivered the inventor.  "We must soon begin to think of
our very breath here.  We can't exert ourselves as we have been doing.
Whoever moves now, let him remember that he is using up the very life
of others in the act of breathing!"

All but devoid of hope, they all remained sitting.  At first they
studied the floor, gloomily.  At last they looked up, to read each
other's faces.  No hope was to be seen in any countenance.

"Thank heaven the electric light doesn't eat up air," shuddered Hal
Hastings, at last.  "It would be fearful to be alive--conscious--after
it had become dark!"

"Don't!" shivered David Pollard, convulsively.

"Come, come, old chap," urged Farnum, laying a hand on his friend's arm,
"_you_ are not going to lose your courage?"

"I feel as if I ought to bear the whole punishment," groaned the
inventor, covering his eyes with his hands.  "It was I who invented
this wretched boat!"

"But you didn't lose the wrench, or mislay it," broke in Eph Somers,
with the intention of consoling.

"Who _did_ mislay it?" pondered Captain Jack aloud.  "If we could only
settle that point, it might start us on the right track to finding the
thing yet.  For, of course, it's on board."

The certainty that the wrench must be _somewhere_ on the boat brought
all to their feet, though this time they rose slowly, almost painfully.

After a few minutes the search became listless.  At Hal's suggestion,
made with a wan smile, each even searched through his own baggage.
Pantry and galley were patiently ransacked.

"I've heard of such things being lost before, in the simplest way, and
defying all search for a long time," mused Hal, aloud.  "It may be the
same with that precious wrench.  But the difference, this time, is that
we shan't be here long to wait for it to turn up unexpectedly."

Farnum dropped into a seat again, and that started the rest, until all
had taken seats.  From one to another, dumb, moody looks were passed.
Each was wonderingly asking himself the same question that none would
have thought of framing in words.  How much longer could the air last
in a pure enough condition to sustain six lives?

Eph Somers chuckled, absently, then looked up, startled and ashamed.
The others gazed at him, comprehendingly.  Each knew that Eph was
thinking how idiotic it was for six human beings to sit, in perfect
health, waiting until the soiling of the air about them killed them all.
It was a terrible thought; Eph's mirth was of the hysterical kind.

Finally, after some minutes had passed, Jack Benson dragged himself
to his feet.

He was amazed, at first thought, to find out how every joint and muscle
in his body ached.  He felt as weary as though he had been without
sleep for a month.

Then he understood.  The dreadful lassitude was caused by the withdrawing
of the life-giving oxygen from the air.  The oxygen was still there, but
combined with the carbon from lungs and blood to form carbonic acid gas,
which, in large quantities, is fatal to life.

When Jack moved about now, feeling, dully, as though a cane on which to
lean would be a great boon, the others got to their feet with evident
effort and joined in one more despairing search.

This hunt ended as the others had done, only more quickly.  The only
places into which they had been able to look for the missing wrench
were the same places that had been vainly examined twice before.

This time it seemed to cause pain even to sit down.  How much longer
could the torment last, ere death came mercifully to their relief?

"It seems as though I ought to reach out my hand and lay it on the
wrench," muttered Captain Jack Benson, to Henderson, next to whom he
found himself sitting.

The former boatswain's mate smiled a ghastly smile, his eyes glowing
bright like coals.  Jack turned, with a shiver, away from the strange
glint in the big fellow's eyes.

"Friends," said Mr. Farnum, presently, "we may as well realize the
whole situation, and agree to face it like men.  We can't find the
wrench.  Wherever it is, we are not going to find it.  The little
breathable air that is left us here is not going to last more than a
few minutes.  We will not waste any more of that air in getting up to
make useless searches.  Let us be as calm as possible.  Perhaps each
man had better look down at the floor, and so continue to look.  At
the end--the end!--let no one, I beg of you, raise his eyes to
witness the final sufferings of any comrade."

There was an awed pause.

"Is that agreed to?" asked Farnum, huskily.

"Yes," came in hoarse whispers.  There was another long silence--long as
time must now be measured, for a breath, now, was as long as an hour on
the surface.

It was big Bill Henderson who spoke next.

"Gentlemen," he announced, "the lord of battles and of spring flowers
and breezes is displeased with us.  He is taking this method to punish
us as we deserve.  Yet in that punishment we shall find pardon, too.
Though we suffer now, we shall know joy when this life is ended."

Somehow, the speech stirred up resentment in the minds of the hearers.

"Could any death be more glorious?" demanded the seaman.  "We are
blessed with the privilege of serving as our own sacrifices!"

"The poor chap's mind is going first," whispered Mr. Farnum, pityingly,
to Captain Jack.

"I don't understand what he's talking about," whispered Benson.

"Don't be surprised at that.  Neither does he know," muttered Jacob
Farnum.

"Are you jesting or mocking," broke in Henderson, half-angrily, "at the
very moment when you should be getting ready for the glory of giving
the last gasp of despair?"

"Give the last gasp, if you want to," retorted Eph, with savage irony,
"and let us sit here in peace."

"Can anyone think," suggested Jack, "of any possible place in which
we have not yet looked for that wrench?"

"I'm--too--tired to--think," drowsed Hal.

His voice startled the others.  Now, that they came to examine their
own conditions a bit more keenly, they began to understand that they,
too, were fast sinking into a drowsy state.

Was the coming end, too, to be painless?

"There's no use looking," replied Jacob Farnum, in answer to Jack's
question.  "There isn't a single place left to explore.  We--"

Whether Mr. Farnum thus broke off because he had lost his thought,
or whether he dreaded to say the omitted words, none of the others
even troubled to guess.

Bill Henderson started in to sing.  There were a few angry gasps of
protest until the others slowly realized that the air sounded like
that of some hymn.  The words, however, were in a foreign tongue,
picked up in the course of the seaman's wanderings over the world.

Then their resentment softened.  If Bill preferred to meet the end with
a hymn on his lips, perhaps that was the best thing for all of them.

It crept over them, now, that they felt choking sensations, with pain
and buzzing in their ears.  Then the end must be near.  Unconsciousness,
at any rate.  That loss of the senses would be the end, so far as any
of them could know.

"Now, give thanks with your last real thoughts," cried Bill, hoarsely.
"Gentlemen--this is--glorious!  We're going fast!  The
last--croak--is upon us!  Good--bye!"



CHAPTER XIX

JACK STRIKES THE KEY TO THE MYSTERY


"Down below!  Down, down, down!" croaked Bill Henderson.

He pointed below, with one forefinger, laughing wildly.  The others,
sure that the seaman had lost his mind under the crushing force of the
catastrophe, felt pity for him, though the man's actions and words also
helped to increase their own terror.

To cap the climax Henderson got painfully to his feet and tried to dance
a jig.  That was carrying things too far in the then state of mind of
the rest of the company.

"Henderson, confound you," cried Captain Jack, half savagely, as he
rose, "keep quiet and sit down!  Act like a man.  You--"

To emphasize his order the young captain pushed against the seaman's
breast, intent on shoving him into a seat.  Just as he did so, Captain
Jack paused aghast, for an instant.  Then he shouted hoarsely:

"Friends, _I've found the wrench!_"

That brought them all to their feet, while Bill Henderson snarled in
sudden rage.

"This man has it hidden away in the inside pocket of his coat!" cried
the young captain of the "Pollard."  "Help me to take it away from
him while we've enough life left to act!"

With another snarl Bill Henderson crouched, in the attitude of a football
player, to meet the impending assault.

Five of them swarmed upon him, from all sides.  Had not all of them
been near to dying from air starvation the conflict would have been
a savage one.  As it was, the fight, although a relatively weak one,
was as strenuous as any of the combatants could make it.

Henderson, ordinarily a powerful brute capable of fighting three or four
ordinary men, still endeavored to do his very best.

Back and forth they fought, rolling over each other, and every moment
burning up more and more of the air that was left to them.

Yet at last Captain Jack, aided by the others, succeeded in snatching
the wrench from the seaman's inner pocket.

"Hold him," cried Benson, getting weakly up, tottering over to one of
the compressors.  "Give me a minute--and some--strength--and I'll
give us a taste--of real air."

Desperately he fitted the wrench, tried to give it a sufficient turn,
and could not.

"I'll help you," hoarsely croaked dying Hal, reaching out and getting
the weight of his hands also on the wrench.  Never before had either
boy struggled so desperately hard for anything.  At last it yielded, ever
so little.  There was a hiss of escaping compressed air.

Then they got a taste of it.  Oh, how nectarlike that air was!  Renewed
strength began to course through their arteries and to creep into
their muscles.  Two deep breaths apiece, and then Jack and Hal succeeded
in making a good turn.  A moment later they were able to make another
twist, that set the pneumatic apparatus in operation to expel the
bad air through sea valves.

But Bill Henderson, too, was reviving.  Uttering hoarse cries of rage
that sounded wonderfully more powerful, now, he fought his three captors
to get upon his feet.

There was no help for it.  Captain Jack had to dart over and tap the
fellow on the head with the wrench.  Then Bill was quiet long enough
to make it possible, for Mr. Farnum to hurry after a pair of the handcuffs
that were a part of ship's stores.  These were snapped over the seaman's
wrists just before he came to.

"Now, we won't have to hurt him," muttered Jack, compassionately.  "He's
a maniac, poor chap, or he'd never have done such a thing as try to
condemn us all, himself included, to death in the depths by
asphyxiation."

"He's a maniac, sure enough," commented Mr. Farnum.  "But how on earth
did I ever get trapped into hiring such a fellow as one of the crew?
Confound him, he seemed sane enough until after we came below the
surface."

"And now, sir," nudged Captain Jack, "I think we'd all of us be thankful
enough for a glimpse of the surface--for a look at the stars--a breath
of real ocean breeze."

"Good enough," nodded the boat-builder.  "Travel right to it!"

Though all were weak and trembly from the shock of their late experience,
there was strength enough in their combined force to handle the "Pollard"
promptly.

While Messrs. Farnum and Pollard sat over the prostrate Henderson,
handcuffed on the floor, Hal hurried to the engine room, while Captain
Jack climbed up into the conning tower.  Eph Somers stood near the
two men and their captive, ready to respond to any call.

But Henderson, now that his maniacal rage had passed, was sobbing
quietly.  He seemed spent, exhausted.

It was with a thrill that the young captain of the submarine touched
the control for speed ahead from the electric equipment.  Then he looked
at his compass, finding that the boat, from a northerly heading, had
veered around almost east.  As the boat went ahead, softly, Benson
put the course around to north.  Then he called to Hal and Eph to empty
the diving tanks by degrees.

"Going up on even keel!" asked young Hastings.

"Surest thing I know," replied the young captain.

Though there was not much motion, all felt the boat gradually rising.
Then Captain Jack suddenly caught the greater comparative light of the
night above the water.  Next, he caught sight of the blessed stars.  But
he did not stop the work of Hal and Eph until the boat rode well up out
of the water.

"Now, come up and get the manhole open," called the young skipper.
"Let's all have a notion again of how it feels to stand in the open air."

Messrs. Farnum and Pollard had, by this time, completed the captivity
of Bill Henderson by wrapping around him and securing many and many a
turn of half-inch rope.

As the manhole was opened Captain Jack stepped out, taking the deck
wheel.  The others, all except the prisoner, crowed out after him.  Thus
they ran along for a mile or two, under the slower electric power.

"That crazy fellow," uttered Jacob Farnum, "had some mania on his mind
that we were all great sinners, and that he'd save the whole lot of us
by killing us under water."

"It seems strange," muttered Hal, "for even a crazy man to have the
nerve to destroy himself slowly in such a way."

"Humph, no; nothing new in that line," returned Mr. Farnum.

"What are we going to do with him, sir?" inquired Captain Jack.

"Well, we're not going to turn in at any of the coast towns to give
him up," replied the builder.  "We'll keep right along until we join
the fleet, and then we'll ask the advice of some naval officer."

When, at last, all had become accustomed to the world to which they
had returned, Hal and Eph went below, to turn on the gasoline power a
short time the "Pollard" was kicking the water at the exhilarating gait
of eighteen miles an hour.

"How did it come, sir, that you made it eighteen miles, instead of
knots?" asked Captain Jack, after a while.

"Why, that's the basis on which gasoline engines are built," replied
Mr. Farnum.  "For that matter, captain, when we've had more practice
with this boat we'll tune the engine up to eighteen full knots an hour.
In the second boat we are going to try for an assured speed of
twenty-two to twenty-four knots."

"It seems to me," said Jack, musingly, "that the ideal submarine torpedo
boat ought to have a speed of from twenty-eight, to thirty-five knots."

"Why?"

"So that the speed of the submarine boat shall always be ahead of the
speed of any battleship afloat."

"Again, why?"

"Why, so that the submarine can give effective chase to a battleship."

"But submarines are intended only to go with fleets of their own country,
or else to remain on station at or near the mouths of harbors to be
defended."

"All well and good," argued Captain Jack, nodding.  "In future wars a
battleship fleet is likely to keep away from any harbor known to be
defended by the enemy's submarine boats.  But, if a submarine torpedo
boat could have speed enough to give chase to a fleeing battleship, and
sink when within range of the battleship's guns, yet still be able to
pursue, under water, and destroy the battleship, that would mean the
day when battleships wouldn't be of any further use, wouldn't it?"

"Undoubtedly," admitted Mr. Farnum.  "But you see, captain, so far
as present human ingenuity goes, a boat can't be built to sail as
fast under water as another can be made to go on the surface."

"But that's the problem I'm going to tackle, as soon as I get our plans
a little further along," murmured David Pollard, eagerly.  "Benson is
right.  When we get a submarine boat that can pursue the fastest
battleship, on the surface or below it, then the United States, with
a hundred such submarines, could defy the combined naval powers of the
world.  If the United States can own a large fleet of such boats, then
we can control the seas of the world."

No more attempts at diving were made on the trip.  The horror of that
last dive remained with all, safe as they now were.

All the way the "Pollard," though well out from shore, ran within sight
of the light-houses.

Shortly before two o'clock in the morning Captain Jack Benson, again
at the deck wheel, steered in for the light at Cape Adamson.  He was
going at slow speed as he rounded the point and headed in for the bay.

"Be careful how you go, captain, and be on the alert to obey signals,"
cautioned Mr. Farnum.  "We've got to thread our way into a perfect
hornet's nest of war craft.  A dozen battle ships, several cruisers
and a flotilla of torpedo boats are at anchor over yonder."

It wasn't long before the searchlight of one of the battleships picked
up the "Pollard" with its broad ray.  Then, from the flagship the
colored lights that blazed out and faded spelled the signal:

"Who are you?"

"Pollard, submarine," replied the little craft's signal lights.

"Expected.  Come in close for orders," came the signaled answer.

There was something sombre, grim, awesome about this great fleet of
mighty fighting craft as the young captain stole his boat in among them.
These craft represented much of Uncle Sam's fighting strength, a
bulwark of safety, to our coasts and commerce.

Close up within megaphone-hailing distance Captain Jack ran his boat.
The watch officer of the "Columbia," the battleship that served as
flagship to the fleet, stood with megaphone ready.

"Ahoy, 'Pollard'!" he called.

"Ahoy, flagship!" Captain Jack answered through a megaphone.

"Fleet patrol boat will show you to your anchorage.  Are your owners
aboard?"

"Yes, sir."

"Then, in the morning, they will hear from the admiral."

"One moment, sir," Captain Jack shouted back.  "We have aboard a maniac,
a man who tried to destroy us on the trip down.  He has naval discharge
papers."

"His name?"

"William Henderson."

"Henderson?  Wait a moment!" came back from the flagship's rail.

Those on the "Pollard's" deck saw a younger officer leave the watch
officer and hurry away.  This younger officer soon returned with a
paper which he handed to the watch officer.

"'Pollard' ahoy!" came from the latter.

"Flagship ahoy!"

"William Henderson was an inmate of a naval hospital, where he had been
sent to be watched on a suspicion of lunacy.  A few days ago he
escaped.  We'll take him off your hands and see he is sent back where
he belongs."

"Thank you, flagship."

The fleet patrol boat, which had been hovering near, a small cabin
launch, now steamed in alongside the submarine.  An ensign and four
men came aboard.  Captain Jack led them below, pointing out Henderson.
The four sailors lifted him, carrying him up and over the side to
their own boat.

"Now, follow us, captain," directed the ensign, "and we'll lead you
to your anchorage."

Five minutes later the "Pollard" rode snugly at anchor, with all made
trim and secure.  But Captain Jack and his two boy friends, despite the
lateness of the hour, were in no hurry to turn in below.

It was the first glimpse any of the trio had ever had of such an imposing
war fleet, and all wanted to stay on deck drinking in the glory of
the sight.



CHAPTER XX

"ONE ON" THE WATCH OFFICER


At nine o'clock the next morning Messrs.  Farnum and Pollard were sent
for to report aboard the flagship, where they had a long talk with
Admiral Bentley.

The result was somewhat disappointing.  During the manoeuvres a board
of naval officers would be sent aboard the "Pollard" to observe what
she could do in surface running, diving, etc.  The "Pollard," however,
was not to be included in any of the deep-sea manoeuvres of attack and
defense, as there were already two Government submarines with the fleet,
and the work of these had been mapped out.

"However, that's the best we can do, and we must be satisfied," sighed
Jacob Farnum to Captain Jack.  "We'll find plenty of chance to show
what we can do, and I know the Navy officers will see that we get a
fair show at Washington."

"Of course," nodded Captain Benson, loyally.  "When they see just what
a handy craft the 'Pollard' is at all times, they'll be wild to have
a few 'Pollards' in the Navy."

"That's the way to talk," beamed the anxious inventor, all of whose
hopes of the future were based on the developments of these few days.

"It's the way to talk, sir," replied Captain Jack, "because it's the
truth.  We'll show these Navy folks so much about the 'Pollard' that,
being men of good sense, they'll see the point."

In the afternoon several delegations of naval officers visited the
little submarine from the different craft in the fleet.  The tiny cabin
was crowded with visitors, the air being thick with cigar smoke much of
the time.  What astounded many of the visitors was the extreme
youthfulness of captain and crew, but Jacob Farnum assured the naval
callers that these young men had accomplished all that had been done
with the 'Pollard' up to date.

"And I'm going to be wholly satisfied, gentlemen," added the builder,
"with the impression that will be made upon you by what my crew of boys
can show you."

"Why, your boy crew is your strong point," laughed Captain Carew.
"You're building a type of submarine so simple that any child can
handle it above or below water."

All present joined in the laugh at this sally, but Mr. Farnum took
it in good part declaring:

"That is just the idea, Captain Carew.  We have the simplest, most
effective submarine boat that it is possible to build."

All of the visitors were inclined to take this view, from an inspection
of the simple running methods of the boat.  Of course, none of the
visitors had seen the "Pollard" dive or run beneath the surface, but
they were willing to accept the statements of builder and inventor.

One naval officer, however, was sceptical on the whole subject of
submarine torpedo boats.  That gentleman was Lieutenant McCrea, of the
huge battleship "Luzon."

"Of course," remarked Lieutenant MeCrea, "there's a whole lot of good
theory about what submarine torpedo boats can do.  In different naval
evolutions, I admit, the submarines have made an excellent theoretical
showing.  As far as can be determined in peaceful evolutions it looks
as though the submarine might really be a source of great danger to
a hostile battleship.

"But, in actual war, conditions are different from anything that can
be planned during mere evolutions.  In war time the nerves of both
officers and men are more keenly attuned.  So, in actual war, I think
it very doubtful whether a submarine could succeed in getting up close
to a big battleship, unseen, and delivering the mortal blow."

That started a good deal of lively discussion.  A few of the Navy
officers present favored Lieutenant McCrea's view.  More, however, were
inclined to the belief that, as time went on, the more and more
perfected submarine torpedo boat would become a greater and greater
danger to the battleship, very likely in the end driving the battleship
from the navies of the world.

"Humph!" muttered Lieutenant McCrea.  "Lying here in the bay I am
willing to admit that a submarine can sail under the hull of the vessel
I'm stationed on.  But I'd like to see the submarine that could creep
up alongside, showing ever so little of itself, even on the darkest
night, without being detected."

"You think, sir," interposed Captain Jack, quietly, "that, if you were
in command of the deck at the time, you'd detect any submarine boat
that showed any portion of itself above the water?"

"Think?" retorted Lieutenant McCrea, with warmth.  "No; I don't think
anything of the sort.  I'd detect any such trick in time to turn a
rapid fire gun loose on the venturesome submarine!"

"Every time, sir?" asked Jack, calmly.

"Every time!" retorted the lieutenant, with emphasis.

Young Benson was wise enough not to attempt to take too much of a part
in the conversation with so many experienced naval officers present.
Yet he remained, listening, for the talk was highly instructive.

"I'll have to go up and signal for my boat," declared Lieutenant McCrea,
rising, at last.  "I want a bit of sleep, for I'm watch officer on the
'Luzon' to-night, from dog watch to midnight."

After the lieutenant had gone, Captain Jack suddenly rose, hastening to
the platform deck, where Hal Hastings stood on watch.

"What's the matter?" demanded Hal, looking keenly at his chum.

"Why?"

"Why, your face is nearly all one broad grin."

"Oh, I'm thinking a bit," Jack answered, evasively.

"Happy thoughts, then," mocked Hastings, amiably.  "I can tell by the
grinful look of your face."

"Yes, it's something lively that I'm thinking about," laughed young
Benson.

Over the supper table, that evening, Captain Jack announced the scheme
that had entered his mind while listening to Lieutenant McCrea.

Jacob Farnum listened, at first, somewhat thunderstruck.  Then, of a
sudden, he laid down his knife and fork, bursting into a roar of
laughter.

"It sounds like a fearfully cheeky thing to do, I know," confessed the
young captain.

"It surely is," confirmed David Pollard, nervously.

"Yet," pursued young Benson, "if the trick should succeed, how it
would take the conceit out of some people who don't believe in
submarines."

"Wouldn't it?" rejoined Mr. Farnum, his eyes twinkling with merriment.

"Yet you don't intend to try it, do you?" asked the inventor.

"I don't know," confessed Mr. Farnum.  "But I'll admit this much--I'm
certainly thinking hard over the scheme that Captain Benson has
proposed."

"It would be unfortunate if we did the thing, and only succeeded in
offending the officers of the Navy," pursued the inventor, an extremely
thoughtful look on his pallid, thin face.

"Oh, of course, as far as the mere expense goes, I'd pay the bill for
the trick," Farnum went on.  "To tell the truth.  Dave, the point I'm
considering most now is, whether we can really successfully play the
trick that Captain Benson has sprung on us."

"I believe we can; don't believe there'll be any difficulty whatever,"
declared the young captain, his eyes glowing.

"Well, I'm going to think it over a while," announced the builder,
as he finished his meal.

He went directly up to the platform deck, seating himself on a folding
chair.  From the loud chuckles that came, from time to time, from the
platform deck, it was plain that the boatbuilder had had his sense of
humor mightily tickled.

Presently, the hail came:

"Benson, come up here, won't you?"

As Jack reported to the builder Farnum stood looking across the bay.

"Captain, how are we going to get at the exact distance between our
boat and the 'Luzon'?"

"It's a question of mathematics, isn't it?" asked Jack, slowly.  "Mr.
Pollard is the expert in that line, isn't he?"

"Oh, I say, Dave," bawled the builder down the stairway.  "Come up
here, won't you?  Now, how far is it from our moorings to those of
the 'Luzon'?"

There being still enough daylight for the purpose, Mr. Pollard brought
up a small transit.  Measuring a base-line on the deck of the submarine,
he took two observations, then went below to do some rapid figuring.

"Exactly 1,142 feet, from mooring to mooring," he called up through the
manhole, presently.

"If you've got the distance down as fine as that," laughed back Mr.
Farnum, "good enough!"

"Are you going to try to play Benson's trick, then?" asked the inventor,
reappearing on deck.

"I'm inclined to think," replied the boatbuilder, "that I am.  It seems
like too good a thing to miss."

On board the "Pollard" the cabin lights burned late that evening.  Once
the plan invented by Captain Jack was explained to the others all hands
turned to, in great glee, to make preparations.

Ships of any size always carry, as a part of the cruising supplies, a
stock of paints and brushes.  The submarine craft was so provided.

Jack caused to be brought from one of the lockers a can of prepared
white paint.  This was thinned with oil and tested for the business in
hand.  Then the best brush for the purpose was picked out.  To this was
fitted a long handle.  Two short sticks had to be spliced to make a
handle of sufficient length.

"How are you on lettering, Captain?" guffawed Mr. Farnum, while
preparations were thus being made.

"Nothing extra," Jack admitted.  "But I guess I can at least make
legible letters."

All was in readiness long before need came.  At about quarter past
eleven o'clock that night the "Pollard" noiselessly slipped from her
moorings.  At that time none of the searchlights of the fleet at anchor
happened to be turned toward the submarine boat.

Ventilators were taken in, the manhole cover was closed, lights were
extinguished, and, the next instant, the "Pollard" began to sink.
Only one light burned aboard, and that came from a small lantern in
the engine room, where Hal Hastings crouched over the electric motor,
keeping strict track of the revolutions.  While Jack Benson steered
strictly to compass, Hal counted the revolutions until the number had
been reeled off to carry the submarine the estimated distance under
water.  Then Hal shut off speed, while Eph Somers passed word to the
young captain.

"Let her come up slowly, until I give the word," called down Captain
Jack.  "Don't rush with the raising."

So compressed air was turned into the diving tanks, slowly expelling
the water therefrom.  Very slowly the "Pollard" rose.  Jack, watching
intently, knew the instant that the conning tower's top was above waves.

"Stop," he called down.  Just ahead, about sixty feet, lay the seaward
side of the battleship "Luzon's" great gray hull.  With his hand on the
electric speed control Captain Jack moved the submarine in until she lay
alongside the big battleship.

With the greatest stealth the manhole cover was raised by Hal and Eph.
Captain Jack, in the meantime, was rapidly shedding his clothing, until
he stood forth in a bathing suit only.  Clad in this garment he slipped
out over the top of the conning tower.  The platform deck was under
water, but Benson touched it with his feet.

"No hail from the deck above," he whispered to Hal.  "Now, pass me
the paint and brush like lightning."

The brush was passed out, the paint can being rested on the edge of
the manhole, where Hal steadied it.  Taking up a good sopping of paint
on the brush, Captain Benson rapidly sketched, on the gray side of
the battleship a letter "P" some six feet long.

Then, with rapid strokes, he swiftly finished the entire word:

"Pollard."

As the "Luzon" lay on the outer edge of the anchored fleet, and the
submarine lay alongside on the seaward side, there was no danger of any
betraying searchlight being turned on the perpetrators of this huge
joke.

"It's all done," whispered Jack, chuckling softly, "and that wonderful
watch officer above hasn't hailed us or passed the word for the marine
guard!"

"That man McCrea will claim it wasn't done during his watch," whispered
Eph.  "Paint on the exact present time.  It's just 11.33."

So Captain Jack, again chuckling, and with a fresh brushful of paint,
wrote the present time on the battleship's gray side.

All in a twinkling, afterward, the submarine, her manhole closed,
dropped down beneath the waves.  She was soon back at her anchorage,
lying on the surface of the water as though this handy little craft had
not just been engaged in perpetrating the biggest naval joke of the year!



CHAPTER XXI

THE MAN WHO DROPPED THE GLASS


Early the next morning there was, as might be imagined, a big stir of
excitement in the fleet.

First of all, one of the fleet patrol launches discovered the legend
lettered in white, on a gray background, on the Lizon's side.

As soon as the matter was reported aboard, the executive officer, after
ordering a side gangway lowered, and going down close to the water's
edge for a look, sent for the different watch officers of the night.

Each was emphatic in the belief that the thing did not happen during his
watch.  Lieutenant McCrea was one of the most positive.

"But, Mr. McCrea," urged the "Luzon's" executive officer, "the time,
'11.33 P.M.,' has been lettered on the ship's side with great
distinctness."

Still, that lieutenant was positive that the outrage hadn't been
perpetrated during his deck watch.  He had kept much too vigilant a
watch for that.

While the questioning of the watch officers was going on the "Luzon's"
captain appeared.  He quizzed Mr. McCrea unmercifully, and that officer
of the early night watch began to look and feel most uncomfortable.

"There's but one thing to be done, first of all," stated the "Luzon's"
commander, Captain Bigelow.  "Send a boat over to the 'Pollard' to ask
the people there if _they_ have any explanation to offer."

When the "Luzon's" launch came alongside, Mr. Farnum, expecting the
visit, assured the ensign in charge that he would go to the battle ship
at once to explain matters.  Mr. Farnum did go.  Captain Bigelow
listened with an intensely grave face.  Lieutenant McCrea seemed to be
in the depths of mortification, and his face was very red.

"There is but one thing to be done, now, Mr. Farnum," declared Captain
Bigelow, severely.  "We shall have to appear before Admiral Bentley, on
his flagship, as soon as he will receive us.  You must repeat your
explanation to him."

This Mr. Farnum was quite willing to do.  Before the boatbuilder finished
with his explanation to the fleet's commander there was a very decided
twinkle in Admiral Bentley's sharp old eyes.

"I accept your explanation, Mr. Farnum, that it was all a joke," smiled
the admiral.

"Of course," Jacob Farnum made haste to add, "having perpetrated such
a hoax, I shall charge myself with all the expense of painting out the
objectionable lettering."

"But I am not sure that that will be necessary," Admiral Bentley laughed.
"The truth is, Mr. Farnum, your hoax on Mr. McCrea has taught us a most
excellent and valuable lesson about the sort of other work that a
submarine might do against a battleship at anchor.  The lesson is worth
far more than the cost of the paint.  Indeed, I shall not have the
lettering on the 'Luzon's' side painted out until other officers of
the fleet have been able to examine such a striking proof of the value
of submarines.  Yet I am extremely sorry for the feelings of Mr. McCrea
this morning."

In truth, Lieutenant McCrea was in for a most unmerciful tormenting by
his brother officers.  If there was one thing on which the lieutenant
prided himself, it was upon the strictness of his deck watch.  So the
jest, jibes and quips of his brother officers stung him deeply.

"Was the hoax your idea, Mr. Farnum?" asked Admiral Bentley.

"No, sir; I am sorry to say that I am not often as brilliant as that."

"Then whose joke was it?"

"It was the scheme of Captain Jack Benson, the 'Pollard's' present
commander."

"I have heard of your boyish captain," smiled Admiral Bentley.  "He
must be a very resourceful young man."

"You're right in saying that," replied Farnum, with warmth.  "Benson
is altogether about the brightest boy I've ever met.  For that matter,
all three of the boys are unusually keen."

Admiral Bentley consulted a memorandum book that lay on his desk, before
he went on:

"Mr. Farnum, if you've nothing in the way, I shall be extremely glad to
have Mr. Pollard and yourself at luncheon at one o'clock this afternoon.
But I shall feel much disappointed if you do not also bring with you
your youthful captain, Benson."

Farnum promptly accepted, with great delight.  This all looked as though
the "Pollard" would figure handsomely in the admiral's forthcoming
reports to Washington.

Ere the morning was over all the officers and men of the great war fleet
were laughing at Lieutenant McCrea.  The newspaper correspondents with
the fleet got hold of the yarn, of course, and sent stories to their
journals that helped to make the fame of the "Pollard" and of those who
handled her.

As for McCrea, he kept out of sight all he could.  It was months before
his brother officers in the Navy would let him hear the last of the joke
that had been played upon him.

"Has it hurt us any?" repeated Jacob Farnum, when he returned to the
submarine.  "It has helped us wonderfully.  And, Jack, my boy, you're to
lunch with the admiral to-day!"

In fact, that joke of Jack's was heard of in the halls of Congress later
on.  The significant fact of it all was that, while the "Pollard" had
been manoeuvred for the successful perpetration of the joke, neither of
the other two submarines with the fleet was "handy" enough to be used
in quite such a neat trick.

When a United States rear-admiral entertains guests at luncheon aboard
his flagship, the affair is a stately one.  When our three friends
appeared at table there were several naval officers in attendance.

"I have been laughing a good deal to-day, Captain Benson, over the joke
sprung on us last night," was Admiral Bentley's greeting.  "It was
cleverly carried out, and with a great deal of skill in seamanship as
well."

"It wasn't intended, sir, to be so much a joke as a demonstration of
what our boat can accomplish," Jack replied, modestly.

"I haven't lost sight of the practical side of the affair, I assure you,"
rejoined the admiral.  "But I am afraid I have wounded one
heart--McCrea's."

"Then I am very sorry," replied Jack, quickly.  "I had hoped he would
feel as much like laughing as anyone."

"Mr. McCrea might feel more like laughing, if it weren't for the fact
that his brother officers insist on doing his laughing for him," chuckled
the admiral.

The talk now turned upon the "Pollard's" construction, which the inventor
explained, while Jacob Farnum threw in a few words now and then.
Captain Jack had the good taste to remain silent during this discussion.
Admiral Bentley asked many questions, appeared deeply interested, and
promised to make a thorough trip of inspection aboard the submarine.

"The time may come, of course," said the admiral, musingly, "when a flag
officer will have to make his headquarters aboard such a little craft,
for the day may not be far distant when battleships will be too
cumbrous and too costly to be risked any more at sea when a nation is
engaged in war."

"That's our captain's view of the possibilities," nodded Mr. Farnum.

"It will be a sad blow to some of us old salts," laughed the admiral.
"It isn't likely to strike me, of course.  I shall be retired, and done
with the service, before the big battleship becomes as useless in war
as a ferryboat.  But you, Captain Benson, will very likely live to see
the day when the battleships will be sold for freight steamers.  By the
way, my young friend, what is your age?  Sixteen.  Why, you are young
enough to enter Annapolis.  With your bent for things naval, why don't
you try to interest your home Congressman in appointing you as a cadet?"

"If the battleship is to go, sir," replied the youngster, "or even
if the submarine is to become a vastly more important craft, it seems
to me that I shall be seizing the biggest chance by staying right
with Mr. Farnum and Mr. Pollard.  The greatest naval man of the future
may be the all-around submarine expert."

"There, again, I am inclined to think you are right, Captain Benson,"
nodded the old admiral, thoughtfully.  "My, but I often wish I could
look forward, as you may, to being alive fifty years from now--living
to see what sea warfare will be like _then_!"

While Jack Benson was listening or talking, he became conscious that one
of the noiseless stewards waiting at table was eyeing him keenly, even
if covertly, at such times as he approached.

The steward in question was brownhaired and smoothly shaven, a man of
about fifty years of age who carried himself with much dignity.  When
Jack got his first good look at this man, the submarine boy felt
certain that the steward's hair was dyed to its present color.  There
was something altogether familiar about the man's look, too, that
puzzled young Benson.

Now, during a lull in the conversation, and between courses, this
steward approached the table to replace young Benson's water-glass,
which he had just filled.

As the steward reached out to set the glass down Jack wheeled, looking
straight into the man's eyes.

The steward returned the look and paled, then--

Crash!  The glass dropped from the man's fingers, breaking to fragments
on the cabin floor.

With a softly-muttered word, the luckless steward bent, picked up the
pieces of glass and beat a hasty retreat, followed by a heavy frown
from the chief steward.

Then, all of a sudden, it flashed through the boy's mind where he had
seen this man before.

Leaning toward Jacob Farnum, the submarine boy whispered:

"You've been trying hard to find Grace Desmond's fugitive guardian."

"I don't know what I wouldn't give to come up with that rascal!" muttered
the boatbuilder fervently, his eyes blazing.

"Then I guess you're going to have your wish," continued Jack Benson.
"The man who dropped the glass is--Arthur Miller."

Uttering an eager cry, his fists clenched, Jacob Farnum started up
from his chair.



CHAPTER XXII

A DIVE THAT WAS LIKE MAGIC


"What's wrong?" demanded Admiral Bentley, looking up quickly.

"I--I beg your pardon, sir," cried Mr. Farnum, though lowering his
voice, "but I want a good look at the steward who has been attending to
this end of the table."

"Nothing will be more simple," replied the admiral.

Just at that moment another steward entered the room.

"Ask that new steward to come here," directed the admiral.

The man hastened away in search of his mate.

"Pardon me, but is there any unusual reason why you wish to see that
particular steward?" asked the admiral, in a low voice.

"The only reason, sir," replied Mr. Farnum dryly, "is that my friend,
Benson, is certain the fellow is identical with the defaulting guardian
of a young woman at present employed in my office.  He is believed to
have taken the last half-million dollars remaining of her fortune away
with him into hiding."

"A half million dollars!" gasped the admiral.

"If this steward is the man we think he is, then his right name is
Arthur Miller," finished the boatbuilder.

"Why, I remember that case.  I read of it in the newspapers," replied
Admiral Bentley.  "Jove, gentlemen, but I hope your guess is a correct
one.  There must always be a satisfaction in catching so great a rogue
so easily."

Only those at the admiral's end of the table had heard this dialogue.
Other guests present continued eating, or chatting with their neighbors.
Other stewards were entering and leaving in the discharge of their
duties.

Some time passed.  Farnum was fidgeting, though he strove to conceal the
fact.  Jack looked quiet, but his heart was thumping.

"Steward Dugan!" called the admiral, rather sharply, and the man stepped
over quickly.

"I sent Hecht after that new steward," declared the admiral.  "Hecht
hasn't come back.  Find him on the jump and learn his reason for the
delay."

In something like a minute more both Dugan and Hecht returned.

"I couldn't find Dudley, sir," reported Hecht.  "I've looked for him
everywhere that he ought to be."

"Then find the first officer on duty that you can, and, with my
compliments, ask him to report instantly," ordered Admiral Bentley.

In barely more than a jiffy a young lieutenant of marine stepped into
the room, saluting the admiral.

"Lieutenant, a new steward known as Dudley is being sought for.  Order
the guard at the side gangway to let no one overboard, unless he is
certain that the one seeking to pass is not Steward Dudley.  Then have
the ship searched thoroughly for Dudley.  When found, bring him just
outside that door, under guard, and send in word to me."

Again the lieutenant saluted, then hurried from the room.  The whole
thing had been, ordered so quickly that few of the lunchers guessed that
anything out of the ordinary was taking place.  Admiral Bentley took up
knife and fork, turning his attention to a dish that had just been laid
before him.

The marine lieutenant was soon back.

"I regret to report, admiral," he murmured, in a low voice, "that the
sentry at the side gangway states that Steward Dudley went over the
side and started off in a shore boat at least five minutes ago.  He
displayed a paper which he said was a telegram you had ordered sent in
a rush."

"Great Scott!" uttered Jacob Farnum, laying down knife and fork in a
tremble.  "Then, by flight, the fellow confesses his identity.  Admiral,
we feel that we simply must get ashore without the loss of an instant.
That rascal must be found."

"Certainly," agreed Admiral Bentley, rising.  "Do not lose an instant."

Turning to the marine lieutenant, he added:

"My compliments to the officer of the deck, and ask him to see that
these gentlemen have a shore boat placed at their disposal without
any loss of time.  Or, that they have any facilities they may wish
for going to any part of the fleet.  No thanks, gentlemen.  I appreciate
your need of haste and wish you every success."

The half-curious eyes of many persons followed these three guests, as
the boatbuilder, the inventor and the young submarine captain hastily
left the room, followed by the marine lieutenant.

As soon as the admiral's order had been transmitted to him, the
lieutenant in charge of the deck ran to the side gangway, looking for a
shore boat.

"Just our confounded luck when we're in a hurry," he muttered.  "The only
boat I can get is the one that just took Steward Dudley ashore.  See,
there it is over yonder, leaving the pier.  It will be here within five
minutes."

"Then I thank our lucky stars," cried Captain Jack, pointing, "for here
comes our own good boat, and we can take it, instanter, if you'll permit
it to come alongside, Lieutenant.

"Certainly," replied that officer.

Hal Hastings was at the deck wheel, in charge of the boat.  He had just
taken a party of sightseeing naval officers back to their ship, and was
on his way to the "Pollard's" moorings.  He caught sight of Benson's
signals, and, slowing down the speed, ran neatly in alongside of the
battleship's gangway platform.

In another twinkling the trio in haste were aboard their own boat.

"Better hurry below," advised Captain Jack.  "Ship the ventilators and
I'll get inside, close the manhole cover and handle the boat from
the conning tower.  Then, if Arthur Miller is watching us from the
shore, he'll think we have officers aboard and are manoeuvering to
show off the boat."

"Arthur Miller?" gasped Hal, in astonishment.

"Down below with you, Hastings," replied Jacob Farnum, pushing him
gently.  "When we've time to talk we'll tell you."

When, therefore, within sixty seconds, the "Pollard" left the flagship's
side, she was equipped for diving.  A casual observer would have believed
she was about to do so with some inspecting party of naval officers.

As he sat in the conning tower Captain Jack steered the most direct
course for the pier to which the supposed Miller had gone in the
flagship's shore boat.

In order to do this, the young captain had to cut across the bow of
a battleship that had just gotten under way.  There was plenty of
searoom for this manoeuvre, so Captain Jack did not hesitate.

Once past the bows of that battleship, however, the young submarine
captain's heart gave a mighty bound.

For, just beyond, was another battleship, also under good headway.  The
"Pollard" was between the two.  To go ahead meant a collision with the
second battleship, while to reverse speed meant to back into the
battleship just passed.

To turn and run between them in either direction might have been feasible,
but the battleships, seeing the trouble of the little submarine, were
sounding conflicting signals.

It was a situation that had to be met and solved in a second.

Jack Benson's heart seemed to stop beating; he felt ill, and a cold
perspiration beaded his face all at once.

"Hold fast!" he roared down the stairway.

Then he did the only thing that could be done in a second.

Without waiting to shut off the gasoline power, he reached out for the
conning tower controls.  Like a flash, and with high nervous energy, he
operated the mechanism that would fill the diving tanks in an instant.

In rushed the water, faster than it had ever done before.  Down dived
the "Pollard" like a lump of lead.  To the startled onlookers on other
ships she seemed almost to stand on her nose.  Those on the decks of
the two nearest battleships saw the "Pollard's" propellers uppermost
of all, and revolving fast.

Then out of sight went the little submarine.  Those below in her cabin
and engine room had been pitched forward on their faces.  Captain Jack
fairly sprawled over the wheel.

Down went the little boat to a depth of some seventy feet.  Then Captain
Jack had the presence of mind to bring her to an even keel.  A couple
of hundred yards he ran under water.  Then, shutting off the motive
power, he called below to turn the compressed air slowly into the water
compartments.

"For I want to rise mighty gently," he called down, in explanation.
"Then, if we come up under some craft's keel, we won't hurt them
or ourselves."

By this time the deck rails and rigging of many a naval vessel were
crowded with officers and men, all anxious to know the fate of the
plucky, or foolhardy, crew of the submarine.

A few moments passed.  Then the conning tower emerged from the water.
Next, the boat appeared, and rode at her proper amount of freeboard
over the water.

What a deafening din of cheers filled the air.  Men, everywhere, were
waving uniform caps.  Four of the big ships blew their whistles in harsh
salute to this latest dash of Yankee bravery.

"Let us up on deck," cried David Pollard, excitedly.  "We want to
acknowledge some of that applause as modestly as possible."

The submarine's entire crew were speedily on the platform deck, while
Captain Jack was busily explaining to his friends the necessity that had
arisen for such a prompt, deep dive.

"Oh, but that was magnificently done, Jack!" cried the inventor, in a
transport of enthusiasm.  "Hear them yell!  See them wave!  The din of
the whistles!  It was the best thing we've done or could do in the way
of compelling advertising!"

"Advertising be--will keep!" rasped Jacob Farnum.  "But, for now,
Captain Benson, hustle over to that pier as fast as the speed of the
boat will allow.  Advertising--with Grace Desmond's fortune and
happiness at stake!"

So the young captain turned on speed, and steered on through the lanes
of Naval vessels.  Even on those craft from which his dashing, daring
performance had not been witnessed the news was known, now, passed from
ship to ship by the wig-wagging of signal flags.

All the way into the pier the "Pollard" was greeted with tempestuous
volleys of applause, for there is nothing the American naval tar loves
as he does sheer, wild grit.

"Advertising, is it?" demanded Mr. Farnum, in raging disgust.  "We're
getting plenty and to spare.  No one within five miles of here can
possibly be ignorant of the fact that the 'Pollard' is making a hustle
to the dock!"



CHAPTER XXIII

WANTED, BADLY--ONE STEWARD!


As the "Pollard" slipped in at a vacant berth on one side of the pier,
there was a rush of civilians, and of sailors and marines on brief shore
leave.

Many of those who crowded down to look over the boat and her crew had
witnessed Captain Jack Benson's difficult manoeuvre from the distance.

"Take the wheel, Hal," Jack murmured to his chum.  "You and Eph had
better stay aboard, and slip out into the stream before a swarm of folks
rushes aboard."

Jacob Farnum leaped to the pier, the inventor following.  Jack leaped
to the string-piece last of all.  Then Hal veered easily off, turning
the boat's nose about and making out again.

"Aw!" went up a murmur from the crowd.  "We wanted to see that craft."

"There she is," smiled Benson.  "She won't go far away.  She'll be
on view, all right."

Jacob Farnum made straight for two marines who had been standing a little
distance away.  Neither had joined in the rush for the submarine.

"My men, to what ship do you belong?" he asked, quickly.

"Flagship 'Columbia,' sir," replied one of the men.

"Do you know the new steward, Dudley, of the 'Columbia'?"

"I think he came ashore lately, sir, in one of the shore boats."

"Then you saw him land?"

"Yes, sir."

"Which way did he go?"

"I think he headed straight for the railway station, sir.  Had something
in his hand that looked like a telegram."

"That's enough.  Thank you," cried Farnum, as he hurried away.

"One moment," interrupted Jack.  "How was Dudley dressed?"

"He had on the white duck uniform of a steward, and cap to match,"
replied the marine.

"Thank you," nodded Jack, then turned and ran after Farnum and Pollard.

The railway station was not far away.  Over there the trio hastened.
No train had left for half an hour, as they quickly learned, but one
was due to leave in about fifteen minutes.

The operator assured the questioners that no one in a naval steward's
dress had attempted to send a telegram.

"That was only a ruse, then," said Farnum.  "The fellow went through
here, and by here."

Jack hastily devoted himself to questioning other employes about the
station.

"Why, yes, I saw a man who looked like that," replied the baggage-master.

"What did he do!  What became of him?" asked Jack, swiftly.

"He went through here, and down that street," replied the baggage-master
promptly.

"Is that all you saw, or know about him?"

"Yes."

Jack hastily reported to his two friends.  Just then a policeman
approached.  Farnum learned that he was stationed here during the naval
week.  So the boatbuilder gave the officer a hasty description of the
fugitive and asked that the steward, in case he returned to the station,
and attempted to board a train, be arrested.

"I'll certainly nab him," promised the officer.

"Now, come along up that street, yonder," called Farnum to his
companions.  "Confound it, it's like hunting a needle in a hay-stack!"

"And we forgot to ask that officer to report to the police of the town,"
Jack reminded his employer, after they had gone a little way.

"Run back to the station, get the police station on the 'phone, and send
word to the chief, will you?" begged Mr. Farnum.

Captain Jack returned on the run.  He secured 'phone connection with
the chief of police, and was able to give a graphic description of the
steward who was wanted so badly.

"Of course," Jack hinted to the police chief, "the fellow we want so
badly may have friends on shore, or some other way of changing his
white uniform for other clothes."

"I won't overlook that," promised the chief of police.  "And I'll send
out a general alarm at once."

By the time that the submarine boy left the railway station again
Farnum and Pollard were out of sight.  Nevertheless, Benson hurried
off up the same street they had taken.

He walked quickly for two blocks, then, coming to a larger street that
crossed at right angles, he started to turn and go east.  Just as he
rounded the corner he thought he heard something strike the sidewalk,
as though it had dropped from his pockets.

Wheeling quickly, the submarine boy returned to the corner.  He was
just in time to see something that took his thoughts like a flash from
everything else.

Near the doorway of a small clothing store, two doors from the corner,
a man had been looking stealthily out.  Just as Jack turned the corner,
out of sight, this man darted out, then slowed down to a deliberate
walk in the direction of the railway station.

It was this man at whom Jack Benson found himself staring with all his
eyesight.  The man was dressed in a rather fastidious-looking summer
weight frock coat suit.  On his head rested an expensive straw hat of
the latest sort.  Over his eyes were light blue goggles.  His hair was
jet black.

"But that's a wig!" flashed Jack Benson, inwardly, almost at once.
"That's Arthur Miller, just the same.  He has the same walk as the
steward!"

Though the other had had a brief chance for a glimpse at Benson just
as he turned, the well dressed one did not increase his pace--that is,
not until he heard Captain Jack's swift steps behind him.

"Oh, just a minute, if you please!" called Benson, in a voice that
was ironically pleasant.

One look over his shoulder the other took, then broke into a run.

But Jack was younger, more agile, with better wind.  Realizing this, the
fugitive wheeled around the corner into an alley.

It was a short one, leading to some sort of a stable yard.  Yet, though
Jack Benson reached that yard in about record time, he gave a gasp of
dismay.  For the well-dressed fugitive was already out of sight, nor
did noise from any quarter show the line of his further flight.

"Confound him, I'm not going to lose him as quickly and easily as
that!" raged young Benson.

"Looking for your pop?" demanded a laughing, broad-faced woman,
appearing at a back door that opened into the yard.

"Yes," declared Jack, pulsing.  "Which way--"

"He went in there," nodded the woman, pointing to the nearly closed door
of a small barn.

It might have been that the woman was purposely deceiving him, to aid
the fugitive, but to that suspicion Jack had no time to give thought.
He sprang into the barn to find it empty.  He stood there, panting,  for
a moment, growing sick at heart with disappointment.

Then he heard a slight rustling on a haymow overhead, that was reached
only by a ladder.  Up that ladder rushed the submarine boy, springing
into the hay.

As he did so, the well-dressed fugitive darted out from cover at another
point in the mow, leaping straight down to the floor.  After him sprang
Jack Benson, and landed full upon him.

But the fugitive, by a supreme effort fear, rose, shaking off the boy,
and started to dart out into the open.

"No, you don't--Mr. Arthur Miller!" roared the submarine boy, making
a bound after him.

So much force did Jack put into that leap that, missing, he fell to the
floor on his hands and knees.  The moment thus gained for the fugitive
was enough to give the latter time to dart out, slamming the door shut
after him.

"This chase doesn't stop until it turns out my way!" muttered young
Benson, doggedly.  He had expected to find the door secured, but it was
not.  He yanked it open.

The fugitive was crossing the yard, just reaching the alley, when the
same woman who had first spoken to Jack again opened her door.  In one
hand she held a mop.  This she threw with such aim or luck that it
passed between the running man's legs, tripping him.

And then Jack Benson piled upon him in earnest, first snatching up the
mop and brandishing it over the fugitive's head.

"I don't want to hurt your cranium any," flared up Captain Jack.  "But
I'm going to do it if I have to."

"Confound you, woman!" roared the discomfited rascal.

"Arthur Miller's voice!" cried Jack, joyously.  "Now, I know what we
had only guessed so far!  Now, see here, my fine fellow, you might as
well give in, for I'm not going to quit until I land you--"

Miller had been lying quietly enough for a few moments.  Now, however,
he suddenly squirmed about, catching Jack by the ankles with both hands.
Down went the submarine boy, flopped by a trick that he had little
expected.

"We'll see whether you've got me!" clicked the scoundrel, leaping to
his feet and making for the street.

"Thank you for your mop, ma'am," Jack called back, pantingly, as he
gave chase.  It annoyed him to have Miller prove so slippery, and he
was filled with dread lest the defaulter should wind up by getting
clean away.

Singing snatches of song, two sailors passed on the sidewalk, just
at the head of the alleyway.

"Look what's coming," roared one, goodnaturedly, catching at his mate's
hand.  Thus, halted, they formed an effective barrier of brawn in the
way of the first runner.

"Let me through!  That wretch wants to kill me!" gasped Miller.

"We won't let him," replied one of the sailors, reassuringly.

"Hold him!  The police want him!" implored Jack.

"Hold on, both of you," admonished one of the sailors, grabbing at
Miller, while the other sailor placed himself so as to prevent the
submarine boy from a possible attack.  "One of you is lying.  Which one
is it?"

"Well," grinned Jack, reassured, "I'm not afraid to have you take
us both before the nearest officer of the law.  But I guess that man
is afraid of such a test."

"Sounds like a straightforward answer," observed the other Jack Tar.

"This man," declared young Benson, "is Arthur Miller, wanted by the
law for looting part of his ward's fortune and running away with the
rest."

"It's a lie!" challenged Miller, hoarsely.

"Then ask him," proposed Jack, crisply, "why he's wearing a black wig,
and under that has iron-gray hair that has been dyed brown?  Why he
shaved his beard oft?"

"Do you know the answer?" demanded the sailor who held Miller.  The
other sailor lifted Miller's new straw hat, snatching off the wig.

"Guilty, as charged," he grinned.

"Now, hold on to him, and march him along until you meet the first
policeman," urged Jack Benson.  "If you do that, I'm very certain that
my employer, Jacob Farnum, builder of the 'Pollard' submarine boat,
will remember you both handsomely."

"That sounds good," laughed one of the seamen.

"And here comes an officer now," cried Captain Jack, looking down
the street as far as the next corner.  "See how your prisoner trembles.
Would an innocent man act so?"



CHAPTER XXIV

CONCLUSION


Within three minutes Arthur Miller stood before the desk at a station
house.  In less than twenty minutes Messrs. Farnum and Pollard had
been found.  They hurried to the police station, confirming the
identification of Arthur Miller.  He was locked up.

"It's a big thing you've helped to do, lads," Jacob Farnum assured the
two strong young sailors.  "You're entitled to some of the fruits of
your work.  How will this do?"

Whereupon he pressed upon each Jack Tar a couple of twenty-dollar bills.

"We've a couple of hours of shore leave left to us," grinned one of
the sailors.  "Is there anyone else you want caught, friend?"

By the time that Farnum, Pollard and Captain Jack had returned to the
pier they found a midshipman awaiting them.

"Admiral Bentley's compliments, gentlemen," said the midshipman.  "He
begs you to go to him aboard the flagship.  He has information of
importance to communicate to you concerning the missing steward."

"By the way," laughed Mr. Farnum, contentedly, "that steward is no
longer missing.  We've just had the pleasure of seeing him placed under
lock and key, where he'll keep until he's wanted."

"Will you come aboard the flagship in our launch?" asked the midshipman.

"Yes, thank you," replied Farnum.  Thereupon Jack signaled to Hal
Hastings, aboard the "Pollard," which lay to, not far off, to return
to moorings.

"Catch your man?" yelled Hal, through a megaphone.  His chum nodded in
the affirmative.

"Toot!  toot!  toot!" sounded the "Pollard's" auto-whistle, in three
long, triumphant blasts.

Arrived at the flagship, the midshipman conducted the visitors at once
to the admiral's office.

"Did you catch the rascal?" asked that fine old officer.

"Yes, sir," nodded Farnum, and gave a quick, brief account of the
capture.

"Captain Benson appear's to be your lucky star to-day," laughed the
admiral.  "By the way, captain, I must congratulate you most warmly on
that daring, magic dive.  Your boat is surely in a new class.  But now
to other interesting business.  After you had gone it occurred to me
to make a most thorough investigation into the whole matter of that
steward.

"Your man Miller certainly displayed considerable originality in his
attempt to hide from the law.  He had been aboard for some time.  He
plainly realized that about the last place detectives would ever think
to look for criminals would be among the crew of a battleship.  We
always require references for any man we enlist, and always look up
the references.  I have yet to satisfy myself as to how the fellow
Miller managed to get around the matter of references.  However, he
got aboard, and was all but safe from pursuit.  Moreover, this flagship
is scheduled to sail for the European station as soon as the manoeuvres
are over.  Miller, I imagine, intended to desert when in European
waters.  By that time, as police pursuit would have cooled, he must
have figured that he would be rather safe from the law.

"I have investigated his doings aboard this boat.  Among other things I
have learned that he deposited with our paymaster, taking a receipt for
the same, an iron box--a small affair--which, the fellow said,
contained papers regarding the history of his family.  He had been years
in getting the papers together, he explained to the paymaster, and
wanted them put in a place of safe-keeping."

Jacob Farnum sprang to his feet, a great light of suspicion shining in
his eyes.

"I have had that box taken from the paymaster's safe and forced open,"
continued Admiral Bentley with a smile.  "It is a right that we exercise
over any package at need.  It was opened in the presence of three
officers of this fleet, and it was found to contain, probably, close
to a half million dollars in bills of large denominations.  The paymaster
will be able to give you more exact figures.  He has the money in his
safe again.  It will be transferred to the custody of civil authorities
ashore until the courts have issued an order for its further
disposition."

"It's Miss Desmond's money," cried Farnum.  "Only a little while to wait,
and then that splendid young woman will come into her own."

Tears glistened in the boatbuilder's eyes.

"If you think I am unusually affected over this matter," explained Mr.
Farnum, presently, "let me, with your permission, sir, tell you of the
fine, brave conduct of the girl in saving Captain Benson and the
submarine boat."

Admiral Bentley was greatly interested in the recital that followed.

In due time the flagship's shore boat carried the three to land again.
With fingers that shook Jacob Farnum penned a most exultant telegram
to Grace Desmond.

That sent, they engaged a boatman to put them aboard the "Pollard."  It
was now the turn of Hal Hastings and Eph Somers to share in the
excitement and the joy.

In the days that followed the "Pollard" did not take any official part
in the naval manoeuvres, though whenever there was time for officers
to get leave from their ships Captain Jack and his friends were busy
enough showing all the workings of the fine boat to their visitors.

Admiral Bentley and his naval staff spent one entire forenoon aboard
the natty little submarine.  They were delighted with all that they
were shown.

"Mr. Pollard," exclaimed the admiral, just before leaving, "it is my
unofficial opinion, from what I have seen to-day, and from what you
have already shown at this rendezvous, that your boat is miles and
miles ahead of any other type of submarine torpedo boat yet constructed.
I shall undoubtedly also make that the text of the official opinion that
I shall furnish to the Navy Department.  I must also tell you, what you
already know, that, in your captain and crew of youngsters, you have the
best possible material for showing your boat off to the best possible
advantage."

It was with light hearts indeed that the crew and passengers of the
"Pollard" turned her nose toward the home port.  Grant Andrews had
already been instructed, by wire, to begin the preliminary work for
laying the keel of a sister submarine torpedo boat.

If Dunhaven had turned out well for the launching, she did herself more
than proud in the wildly cheering crowd that lined the shores on the
return of that adventurous little boat, which was no longer known as
"Pollard's Folly," but as "Pollard's Marvel."

It was a happy day for both inventor and builder.  The press of the
country had been talking for some days of the new era that had dawned
in submarine boat building.

Grace Desmond was among the first to welcome the returning voyagers.
She had promptly answered Farnum's telegram, and that boatbuilder had
subsequently received from her two letters that he did not take the
trouble to read fully to his companions.

As if to celebrate the return of the splendid boat, Dunhaven, in the
persons of two of her constables, captured Josh Owen that same night
when he tried to return by stealth to his home.

Yet the constables did not get their man handcuffed before that same
elfin ten-year-old son of Owen's had tried desperately to fight the
officers into letting his father go.

Arthur Miller was placed on trial, and pleaded guilty, and Grace
Desmond's claim was established to the money found in the iron box
aboard the flagship.  She tried hard to make Jack and Hal and Eph
accept a handsome reward, but all three boys steadfastly refused her
offer.  Jacob Farnum, in his own quiet way, was a bit more successful,
however, and started for each of them a very substantial little bank
account.

One day, shortly after the return of the submarine boys to Dunhaven,
while the hammers of the riveters were ringing out merrily on the hull
of the second Pollard boat, Jacob Farnum sent for Captain Jack Benson
and his friends.

"I want to talk business with you," said the builder, motioning to
chairs.  "You've been working for me for a sort of pay, but now I want
to make a definite and regular arrangement with you.  I'm willing to
provide your keep aboard the boat, and furnish your uniforms.  In
addition, I am willing to pay Captain Benson a hundred and fifty
dollars a month, and Hastings and Somers each a hundred."

That offer brought the three boys to their feet.  "It's--it's too
much!" Jack managed to gasp.

"First time I ever had an employe tell me he was being paid too much,"
laughed the builder.  "Now, see here, young men, Pollard and I are
going to make fortunes out of building these boats--huge fortunes, we
believe--and we want to attract loyal young men to us by paying them
at least fair wages.  Think it over, and you'll soon agree you're not
being paid too much."

What could the young men do but accept the wonderful good fortune that
was offered them?  Then Farnum, laughing, rose and opened a nearby door.
There stood Grace Desmond smiling.

"Captain," announced the builder, as he took one of the girl's hands in
his own, "I shall want you to decorate the 'Pollard' handsomely next
Thursday.  On that day Miss Desmond will become Mrs. Farnum.  Captain
and crew of the 'Pollard,' we shall look for you to be at the wedding,
and wearing new uniforms that have already been especially ordered for
the occasion."

What could the young men do but congratulate the happy couple?  And
they did it most heartily.





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