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Title: Bob Steele In Strange Waters - or, Aboard a Strange Craft
Author: Grayson, Donald
Language: English
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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.

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[Illustration: The submarine battles with a gigantic bull cachalot.
Page 211.]



  BOB STEELE
  In Strange Waters

  OR

  Aboard a Strange Craft

  BY
  DONALD GRAYSON

  AUTHOR OF
  The Famous Motor-Power Stories

  [Illustration]

  PHILADELPHIA
  DAVID McKAY, PUBLISHER

  604-8 SOUTH WASHINGTON SQUARE



  Copyright, 1909
  By STREET & SMITH

  In Strange Waters

  All rights reserved, including that of translation into foreign
  languages, including the Scandinavian.



CONTENTS


   CHAPTER                                           PAGE

        I. In the Depths.                              5

       II. Out of the Jaws of Death.                  12

      III. Sealed Orders.                             18

       IV. The American Consul.                       25

        V. Timely Forbearance.                        32

       VI. On the Jump.                               37

      VII. The Landing Party.                         44

     VIII. Carl in Trouble.                           50

       IX. A Friend in Need.                          55

        X. Strange Revelations.                       62

       XI. One Chance in Ten.                         68

      XII. By a Narrow Margin.                        75

     XIII. Waiting for Something.                     81

      XIV. A Great Play.                              88

       XV. On the Way.                                94

      XVI. A Dash of Tabasco.                        101

     XVII. A Serious Serenade.                       106

    XVIII. Don Ramon Ortega.                         112

      XIX. The Shadow of Treachery.                  119

       XX. The Hidden Snare.                         125

      XXI. A Mutiny.                                 132

     XXII. A Lesson in “Who’s Who.”                  139

    XXIII. The Snare Tightens.                       146

     XXIV. The Don’s Proposal.                       152

      XXV. Unexpected Loyalty.                       159

     XXVI. A Favorable Opportunity.                  165

    XXVII. Exciting Work.                            172

   XXVIII. Capturing the General.                    178

     XXIX. Off for the Gulf.                         184

      XXX. Running the Battery.                       190

     XXXI. The “Seminole.”                           195

    XXXII. Matters Arranged.                         202

   XXXIII. A Submarine Battle.                       207

    XXXIV. In Quest of Documents.                    214

     XXXV. The Meeting in the Harbor.                220

    XXXVI. Ah Sin’s Clew.                            226

   XXXVII. Off for the Amazon.                       233

  XXXVIII. Villainous Work.                          240

    XXXIX. Rubbing Elbows with Death.                246

       XL. A Dive for Safety.                        251

      XLI. Putting Two and Two Together.             258

     XLII. Under the Amazon.                         264

    XLIII. Hand to Hand.                             270

     XLIV. Boarded!                                  276

      XLV. A Prisoner--and a Surprise.               283

     XLVI. The Old Slouch Hat.                       289

    XLVII. At Para.                                  295

   XLVIII. A Desperate Risk.                         301



IN STRANGE WATERS.

CHAPTER I.

IN THE DEPTHS.


“Bob Steele!”

“What is it, captain?”

“We are in St. George’s Bay, ten miles from the port of Belize, British
Honduras. Two days ago, while we were well out in the gulf, I opened
the letter containing the first part of my sealed orders. Those orders,
as you know, sent us to Belize. Before we reach there and open the
envelope containing the rest of our orders, I think it necessary to
test out the _Grampus_ thoroughly. Unless I am greatly mistaken, the
instructions yet to be read may call for work that will demand the last
ounce of preparation we can give the submarine. I have stopped the
motor, and we are lying motionless on the surface of the sea. The lead
shows that there are two hundred and twenty-five feet of water under
us. The steel shell of the _Grampus_ is warranted to stand the pressure
of water at that depth. Do you follow me?”

“Certainly, captain.”

“Now, Bob, I have been watching you for a long time, and I believe that
you know more about the gasoline motor than I do, and fully as much
about maneuvering the submarine. We are going to dive to two hundred
and ten feet--the deepest submersion by far the _Grampus_ ever made. I
wish you to take entire charge. If you get into difficulties, you must
get out of them again, for I intend to stand by and not put in a word
unless tragedy stares us in the face and you call on me for advice.”

A thrill ran through Bob Steele. The submarine, with all her
complicated equipment, was for a time to be under his control. This
move of Captain Nemo, junior’s, perhaps, was a test for him no less
than for the _Grampus_.

For a brief space the young man bent his head thoughtfully.

“Do you hesitate, Bob?” asked Captain Nemo, junior.

“Not at all, sir,” was the calm answer. “I was just running over in
my mind the things necessary to be done in making such a deep dive.
The pressure at two hundred and ten feet will be terrific. At that
depth, the lid of our hatchway will be supporting a weight of more than
thirty-two tons.”

“Exactly,” answered the captain, pleased with the way Bob’s mind was
going over the work.

“If there happened to be anything wrong with the calculations of the
man who built the _Grampus_, captain, she would be smashed like an
eggshell.”

“We are going to prove his calculations.” The captain seated himself
on a low stool. “Gaines is at the motor, Clackett is at the submerging
tanks, Speake has charge of the storage batteries and compressed
air, and Cassidy is here in the periscope room with us to drive the
_Grampus_ in any direction you desire.”

“Dick Ferral is with Gaines,” added Bob, “and Carl Pretzel is with
Clackett.”

“Exactly. Every man is at his station, and some of the stations are
double-manned. Now, then, go ahead.”

Bob whirled to a speaking tube.

“We’re going to make a record dive, Clackett,” he called into the
tube, “and Captain Nemo, junior, has placed me in charge----”

“Bully for the captain!” came back the voice of Clackett, echoing
weirdly distinct in the periscope room.

“Our submergence will be two hundred and ten feet,” went on Bob. “You
and Carl, Clackett, will put the steel baulks in place. I’ll have Dick
and Gaines help you.”

Another order was called to the engine room, and presently there
were sounds, forward and aft, which indicated that the metal props,
to further strengthen the steel shell, were being dropped into their
supports.

“Cassidy,” said Bob, “see that the double doors of the hatch are
secured.”

“Aye, aye, sir,” answered the mate, darting up the conning-tower ladder.

“Speake,” ordered Bob, through another tube, “see that the tension
indicators are in place.”

“Double doors of the hatch secured,” reported Cassidy a moment later.

“Pressure sponsons in place,” came rattling through the tube from
Clackett.

“Tension indicators in position,” announced Speake.

“Dive at the rate of twelve yards to the minute, Clackett,” ordered Bob.

A hiss of air, escaping from the ballast tanks as the water came in,
was heard. A tremor ran through the steel fabric, followed by a gentle
downward motion. Bob kept his eyes on the manometric needles. Twenty
yards, twenty-five, thirty, and forty were indicated. A pressure of ten
pounds to the square centimeter was recorded.

“Plates are beginning to bend, captain,” called Speake.

This was not particularly alarming, for the baulks would settle down to
their work.

“Close the bulkhead doors, Dick!” called Bob.

“Aye, aye!” returned Dick, and sounds indicated that the order was
immediately carried out.

“Sixty yards,” called Clackett; “sixty-five, seventy yards----”

“Hold her so!” cried Bob.

“What is the danger point in the matter of flexion, captain?” asked
Bob, turning to Nemo, junior, whose gray head was bowed forward on his
hand, while his gleaming eyes regarded the cool, self-possessed youth
with something like admiration.

“Ten millimeters,” was the answer.

“We still have a margin of three millimeters and are at the depth you
indicated.”

“Bravo! We are five yards from the bottom. Do a little cruising, Bob.
Let us see how the _Grampus_ behaves at this depth.”

The entire shell of the submarine was under an enormous pressure.

Bob gave the order to start the motor, and the popping of the engine
soon settled into a low hum of perfectly working cylinders. A forward
motion was felt by those in the submarine.

“Not many people have ever had the novel experience of navigating the
ocean seventy yards below the surface,” remarked the captain, with a
slow smile.

“It’s a wonderful thing!” exclaimed Bob. “The _Grampus_ seems equal to
any task you set for her, captain.”

The air of the periscope room was being exhausted by the breathing of
Bob, Nemo, junior, and Cassidy. Bob ordered the bulkhead doors opened,
in order that fresh oxygen might be admitted from the reservoirs.
Just before the doors were opened, Captain Nemo, junior’s, face had
suddenly paled, and he had swayed on his seat, throwing a hand to his
chest.

“You can’t stand this, captain!” exclaimed Bob, jumping to the
captain’s side. “Hadn’t we better ascend?”

The captain collected himself quickly and waved the youth away.

“Never mind me, my lad,” he answered. “I feel better, now that a little
fresh oxygen is coming in to us. Go on with your maneuvering.”

All was silent in the submarine, save for the croon of the engine,
running as sweetly as any Bob had ever heard. Aside from a faint
oppression in the chest and a low ringing in the ears, the _Grampus_
might have been cruising on the surface, so far as her passengers could
know.

Cassidy was at the wheel, steering, his passive eyes on the compass.

Bob turned away from the manometer with a remark on his lips, but
before the words could be spoken there was a shock, and the submarine
shivered and stopped dead.

“Hello!” whooped the voice of Carl. “Ve must haf run indo vone of der
moundains in der sea.”

“Full speed astern, Gaines,” cried Bob.

The blades of the propeller revolved fiercely. The steel hull shook and
tugged, but all to no purpose.

Captain Nemo, junior, sat quietly in his seat and never offered a
suggestion. His steady eyes were on Bob Steele.

Bob realized that they were in a terrible predicament. Suppose they
were hopelessly entangled in the ocean’s depths? Suppose there was no
escape for them, and the shell of the _Grampus_ was to be their tomb?
These reflections did not shake the lad’s nerve. His face whitened a
little, but a resolute light gleamed in his gray eyes.

“How are the bow plates, Speake?” he demanded through one of the tubes.
Speake was in the torpedo room.

“Right as a trivet!” answered Speake.

After five minutes of violent and useless churning of the screw, Bob
turned to Cassidy. The mate, grave-faced and anxious, was looking at
him and waiting for orders.

“Rig the electric projector, Cassidy,” said Bob calmly.

“Aye, aye, sir,” replied the mate.

When the little searchlight was in position, a gleam was thrown
through one of the forward lunettes out over the bow of the _Grampus_.
Bob, feeling keenly the weight of responsibility that rested on his
shoulders, mounted the iron ladder to the conning tower and looked
through one of the small windows.

To his intense astonishment he found the bottom of the sea pervaded
with a faintly luminous light, perhaps due to some phosphorescence
given off by the marine growth. Through this glow traveled the brighter
gleam of the searchlight.

The _Grampus_ was lying in a dense forest of nodding, moss-covered
stems. The vegetation of the ocean bed, with its lianes and creeping
growth, twisted all about the submarine, fluttering and waving in the
currents caused by the swiftly revolving propeller.

A gasp escaped Bob’s lips, however, when he fixed his attention
forward. For a full minute he stood on the ladder, taking in the weird
and dangerous predicament of the _Grampus_.

Then an exclamation fell from his lips, and he looked down to see
Captain Nemo, junior, slowly mounting to his side.

“Look!” whispered Bob hoarsely, nodding toward the lunettes.

The captain pressed his eyes against the thick glass and then dropped
back.

“A ship!” he exclaimed. “We have rammed an old Spanish galleon and are
caught in her rotting timbers!”

He looked upward, his startled eyes engaging Bob’s, and the two staring
at each other.



CHAPTER II.

OUT OF THE JAWS OF DEATH.


What the captain had said was true. The _Grampus_, cruising in those
great depths, had had the misfortune to hurl herself bodily on into an
ancient wreck.

The wreck, which must have lain for centuries there on the bottom, was
covered with marine growth, yet, nevertheless, seemed wonderfully well
preserved. The high bow and poop, covered with serpentlike lianes and
creeping weeds, were erect in the water, for the galleon lay on an even
keel. The ship’s two masts and steep bowsprit had been broken off, and
the decks were a litter of weeds, shells, and sand.

The _Grampus_, cleaving the heavy submarine growth, had flung her sharp
prow into the galleon’s side and was embedded almost to the flagstaff.

The captain and Bob descended silently into the periscope room.

“We jammed into an old wreck, did we?” queried Cassidy, calmly but with
a look on his face which reflected the perturbation of his mind.

“Yes,” answered Bob. “Some Spanish ship went down here--perhaps loaded
with treasure for across the sea.”

“Hardly loaded with treasure, Bob,” spoke up the captain. “This is
the Spanish Main, and the reefs off Honduras offered shelter for many
a pirate in the old days. This galleon, I am inclined to think, was
stripped of her treasure by some buccaneer, and sunk. It is too bad
that she was sunk in the course we happened to be taking.”

The rack of the useless motor ceased on an order from Bob; in the
deep, deathlike silence that intervened, a wail came up from the tank
room.

“Vat’s der madder mit us, Bob? Dit ve run indo a cave in der ocean? If
ve can’t ged oudt, vat vill pecome of us?”

“We ran into an old Spanish ship, Carl,” answered Bob, “and we are so
jammed in the side of the hulk that we haven’t been able, so far, to
back out.”

“Meppy ve von’t nefer be aple to pack oudt! Meppy ve vas down here for
keeps, hey? Nexdt dime I go down in some supmarines, you bed your life
I make a vill before I shtart.”

Carl, white as a sheet and scared, came rolling into the periscope
room. Dick likewise showed up from forward.

“Well, here we are!” said he; “I hadn’t any notion this was to be our
last cruise.”

“It’s not,” answered Bob. “We’ll get out of this.”

He turned to Captain Nemo, junior, who was again seated quietly, his
calm eyes on Steele.

“The power of the screw, unaided, will not serve to get us clear of the
wreck,” said the captain. “What are you going to do, Bob?”

Bob thought for a moment. “Am I to have my way, captain?” he asked.

“Certainly. I want to see what you can do.”

“Speake! Gaines! Clackett!” called Bob. “Come up here, at once.”

From the engine room, the torpedo room, and the ballast room came the
rest of the submarine’s crew. Their faces were gray with anxiety, but
they were men of pluck and determination, and could be depended on to
fight for life until the very last.

“Men,” said Bob, “we have rammed an old hulk that has been lying for
centuries in the bottom of St. George’s Bay. The nose of the _Grampus_
is caught and held in the wreck’s side, and the full power of the
engine is not sufficient to pull us out. We shall have to try something
else--something that will put a great strain on the steel shell of the
submarine, considering the pressure the boat is under at this enormous
depth. I am going to give some orders, and on the swiftness with which
they are carried out our lives may depend. You will all go back to your
stations, Carl with Clackett and Dick with Gaines; and when I shout the
word ‘Ready!’ the engine will be started with all power astern. At the
same instant, Clackett and Carl will open the pipes and admit air into
the ballast tanks, and open the valves that let out the water. We may
have to do all this several times, if necessary, but you fellows have
got to be prompt in doing what you are told.”

Admiration was again reflected in Captain Nemo’s pale face. Leaning
back against the steel wall of the periscope room, he settled himself
quietly to await developments.

“Count on me,” said Clackett, as he and Carl disappeared.

“And on us,” said Gaines, leaving the periscope room with Dick.

Cassidy merely gave a nod and turned to his steering wheel. Bob went up
into the tower and placed himself at one of the lunettes. His heart was
beating against his ribs with trip-hammer blows, but his brain was cool
and clear. When he had given the crew sufficient time to gain their
stations, he lifted his voice loudly.

“Ready!”

The word rang through the periscope room and echoed clatteringly
through the steel hull.

The propeller began to whirl like mad, and the sudden opening of the
ballast tanks depressed the free rear portion of the submarine.

For a full minute the wild struggle went on, and so shaken was the boat
that it seemed as though she must fly in pieces. Then, abruptly, the
_Grampus_ leaped backward and upward, clearing the forestlike growth of
seaweed at a gigantic bound.

The upward motion was felt by every one in the boat, and cries of
exultation came to Bob’s ears in clamoring echoes.

Slipping like lightning down the ladder, he shouted to Gaines to stop
the madly working engine and reverse it at a more leisurely speed.

Like a huge air bubble, the _Grampus_ swung up and up, and when she
emerged above the surface, and Bob could see sunlight through the
dripping lunettes, he turned off the electric projector, opened the
hatch and threw it back, and gulped down deep breaths of the warm,
fresh air.

Once more slipping down the ladder, he saluted the captain.

“I turn the ship over to you, sir,” said he, and collapsed on a stool,
mopping the perspiration from his face.

“You’re a brick!” grunted Cassidy, picking up the course for Belize.

“Hooray for Bob!” came a thrilling shout from somewhere in the bowels
of the craft. For an instant, the steel walls echoed with the jubilant
yells of Carl, Dick, Gaines, Speake, and Clackett.

“It came near to taking the ginger all out of me, captain,” breathed
Bob. “The novelty of the thing was mighty trying.”

Captain Nemo, junior, still strangely pale, was regarding the youth
fixedly. For some moments after the cheering ceased he said nothing;
then, leaning abruptly forward, he caught Bob’s hand. The captain’s
own hand was as cold as ice.

“Captain!” the young fellow exclaimed, starting up, “there’s something
wrong with you! Do you feel faint or----”

The captain waved his hand deprecatingly, and the calm, inscrutable
smile hovered about his thin lips.

“Let that pass for a moment, my lad,” said he. “I was testing the
_Grampus_, but, more than that, I was likewise testing you. Since we
picked up Carl and Dick, off the _Dolphin_, and before that, while
we were cruising about trying to find them, you have been serving
your apprenticeship on the submarine. I have always had the utmost
confidence in you, Bob Steele, and I have now, I think, tested your
knowledge of the _Grampus_ in a manner which leaves no room for
doubt. You are able to run the boat, and to extricate her from any
difficulties in which she might become entangled, as well, if not
better, than I could do myself.”

Bob, from the captain’s manner, had suspected that the gray-haired
inventor of the craft had tried to bring out all that was in him.
Captain Nemo, junior, of course, had not been able to forecast the
trouble that was to overtake the submarine in the bottom of the
bay, but this dangerous experience had served only to show Bob’s
resourcefulness to better advantage.

“You are cool-headed in time of danger,” proceeded the captain, “and,
no matter what goes wrong, your ability is always on tap and can be
brought to bear instantly upon anything you desire to accomplish.”

The red ran into Bob’s face, and he waved a hand deprecatingly.

“I’m not a particle better than a lot of other fellows,” said he, “who
try to use their eyes and hands and brains.”

“I expected you to say that, Bob,” continued the captain. “The test,
in your case, was hardly necessary, for I have watched your work in
a lot of trying situations--and it has always been the same, steady,
resourceful, reliable. Just now, we are going to Belize, British
Honduras, to carry out some work for our government. As I have already
told you, I don’t know what that work is. Two sealed envelopes were
given me by Captain Wynekoop of the U. S. cruiser _Seminole_. The first
one told us to proceed to Belize. The next one, which I have here in my
pocket, will instruct you relative to the work in prospect, and----”

“Instruct _me?_” broke in Bob startled.

The captain nodded.

“I have not recovered from the strange illness which overtook me in
New Orleans, as a result of inhaling the poisonous odor given off by
the head of that idol. I feel that another attack is coming upon me--I
have felt it for several hours--and, inasmuch as the government is
watching the work of the _Grampus_ with the intention of buying her at
a good round price if she makes good, our sealed orders must be carried
out. For this work, Bob, you are my choice; you are to command the
_Grampus_, do everything that you think--that you think----”

Captain Nemo, junior, paused, struggled with the words for a space,
then drooped slowly forward and fell from his seat to the floor of the
room. There he lay, unconscious, and breathing heavily.



CHAPTER III.

SEALED ORDERS.


For a brief space Bob Steele and Cassidy stood looking down at the
prostrate form crumpled at their feet. The captain had been stricken so
suddenly that they were astounded.

Cassidy took a look through the periscope and lashed the wheel; then
he hurried to help Bob, who was lifting the unconscious man to a long
locker at the side of the room.

“He ain’t never been right since he was sick in New Orleans,” muttered
Cassidy. “He jumped into work before he was well enough.”

The captain’s former illness had been of a peculiar nature. An idol’s
head, steeped in some noxious liquor that caused the head to give off
a deadly odor, was, according to his firm belief, the cause of his
sickness. Carl had also come under the influence of the poisonous odor,
but it had had no such effect upon him. However, no two persons are
exactly alike, and sometimes a thing that will work havoc with one may
have no effect upon another.

“His heart action is good, Cassidy,” said Bob.

“He’s a sick man for all that,” replied the mate. “I’ve noticed for
several hours he was nervous like. We’ll have to take him ashore at
Belize, and you’ll have to be the captain while we’re doing the work
that’s to be done.”

There was an under note in Cassidy’s voice that caused Bob to give him
a keen look. The mate was a good fellow, but he was second in command,
aboard the _Grampus_, and it was quite natural for him to expect to be
the one who stepped into the captain’s shoes.

“You heard what Captain Nemo, junior, said?” asked Bob.

“Sure, I did,” returned the mate gruffly.

“I had not the least notion he was picking me for any such place.”

“He’s a queer chap, the cap’n is,” said Cassidy, averting his face and
getting up from the side of the locker. “I’ll go get him a swig of
brandy--maybe it’ll bring him round.”

When Cassidy returned from the storeroom with the brandy flask, Bob
could hardly avoid detecting that he had himself sampled the liquor.
Bob was disagreeably surprised, for he had not known that the mate was
a drinking man.

While they were forcing a little of the brandy down the captain’s
throat, Dick and Carl came into the periscope room.

“Vat’s der madder mit der gaptain?” asked Carl, as he and Dick crowded
close to the locker.

Bob told of the illness that had so suddenly overtaken the master of
the submarine.

“Well, that’s queer!” exclaimed Dick.

“For the last hour,” went on Bob, “the captain’s hands have been like
ice and his face pale. I knew he didn’t feel well, but I hadn’t any
idea he was as bad as this.”

“Tough luck!” growled Cassidy.

“Shall we need a pilot to take us into Belize?” asked Bob.

“We can’t get very close to the town, but will have to lay off and go
ashore in a boat. I know the place well enough to take the _Grampus_ to
a safe berth.”

“Then you’d better go up in the lookout, Cassidy, and see to laying us
alongside the town.”

A mutinous look flickered for an instant on Cassidy’s weather-beaten
face. He hesitated, and then, without a word, turned away and climbed
into the conning tower.

A moment more and the captain revived and opened his eyes.

“How are you feeling, sir?” queried Bob.

“Far from well, my lad,” was the answer, in a weak voice. “Are we off
Belize?”

“Not yet, sir, but we are drawing close.”

“We are close enough so that we can read the second half of our sealed
orders.”

The captain lifted a hand and removed from the breast pocket of his
coat a sealed envelope, which he handed to Bob.

“Open it, Bob,” said he, “and read it aloud.”

The young motorist paused. “Captain,” said he, “wouldn’t Cassidy be the
right man for carrying out the work that brought us into these waters?
He is the mate, you know, and I think he expects----”

“Cassidy is here to obey orders,” interrupted the captain. “Cassidy has
a failing, and that failing is drink. No man that takes liquor is ever
to be depended on. As long as I’m around, and can watch him, Cassidy
keeps pretty straight, but if I’m laid up at Belize, as I expect to be,
I prefer to have some one in command of the _Grampus_ whom I can trust
implicitly. Read the orders.”

Bob tore open the envelope and removed the inclosed sheet.

                        “On Board U. S. Cruiser _Seminole_, at Sea.

  “CAPTAIN NEMO, JUNIOR, Submarine _Grampus_.

  “SIR: Acting under orders from the secretary of the
  navy, I have the honor to request that the _Grampus_ lend her aid
  to the rescue of United States Consul Jeremiah Coleman, who has
  been sequestered by Central American revolutionists, presumably
  under orders from Captain James Sixty, of the brig _Dolphin_,
  who is now a prisoner in our hands. Mr. Hays Jordan, the United
  States consul at Belize, will inform you as to the place where
  Mr. Coleman is being held. This is somewhere up the Rio Dolce, in
  a place inaccessible even to gunboats of the lightest draft, and
  it is hoped the _Grampus_ may be able to accomplish something.
  Present this letter to Mr. Jordan immediately upon reaching
  Belize, and be guided in whatever you do by his knowledge and
  judgment. I have the honor to remain, sir, your most obedient,

                                             “ARTHUR WYNEKOOP,
                                      “Captain Cruiser _Seminole_.”

A movement behind Bob caused him to look around. Cassidy had descended
quietly from the conning tower and was steering the ship entirely by
the periscope.

“We are off Belize, sir,” announced Cassidy, “and two small sailboats
are coming this way. We are to anchor at the surface, I suppose?”

Bob did not know how long the mate had been in the periscope room, but
supposed he had been there long enough to overhear the instructions.

“Certainly,” said the captain.

Cassidy touched a jingler connected with the engine room. The hum of
the motor slowly ceased.

“Get out an anchor fore-and-aft, Speake,” the mate called through one
of the speaking tubes.

“Aye, aye, sir,” came the response through the tube.

A little later a muffled rattling could be heard as a chain was paid
out through the patent water-tight hawse hole. Presently the rattling
stopped, and the _Grampus_ shivered and swung to her scope of cable.
More rattling came from the stern, and soon two anchors were holding
the submarine steady in her berth.

“I want you to go ashore, Bob,” said Captain Nemo, junior, “and see
the American consul. Find a place where I can be taken care of; also,
show that letter to the consul and tell him you are my representative.
Better take Dick with you.”

“All right, sir,” replied Bob.

A blueish tinge had crept into the pallor of the captain’s face. Bob
had been covertly watching, and his anxiety on the captain’s account
had increased. The captain must be taken ashore as quickly as possible
and placed in a doctor’s hands.

“Come on, Dick,” called Bob, starting up the conning-tower ladder.

With his chum at his heels, Bob crawled over the rim of the
conning-tower hatch and lowered himself to the rounded steel deck.

The port of Belize, nestling in a tropical bower of coconut trees,
was about a mile distant. Owing to her light draft, the _Grampus_ had
been able to come closer to the town than other ships in the harbor.
The submarine lay between a number of sailing vessels and steamboats
and the line of white buildings peeping out of the greenery beyond the
beach.

Two small sailboats, manned by negroes, were approaching the _Grampus_.
Bob motioned to one of them, and her skipper hove-to alongside, caught
a rope thrown by Dick, and pulled his craft as near the deck of the
submarine as the rounded bulwarks would permit. A plank was pushed over
the side of the sailboat, and Bob and Dick climbed over the lifting and
shaking board.

“Golly, boss,” remarked the negro, “dat’s de funniest boat dat I ever
seen in dis port. Looks like er bar’l on er raft.”

“Never mind that,” said Bob, “but lay us alongside the wharf as soon as
you can.”

The two negroes comprising the sailboat’s crew were Caribs. They
talked together in their native tongue, every word seeming to end in
“boo” or “boo-hoo.”

“A whoop, two grunts, and a little blubbering,” said Dick, “will give a
fellow a pretty fair Carib vocabulary. What ails Cassidy?”

“I think he sampled the flask of brandy when he brought it to the
captain,” replied Bob.

“That was plain enough, for he had a breath like a rum cask. But it
wasn’t that alone that made him so grouchy. There’s something else at
the bottom of his locker.”

“Well, he’s the mate,” went on Bob, dropping his voice and turning a
cautious look on the two negroes, “and I suppose he thinks Captain
Nemo, junior, ought to have put him in command. To have a fellow like
me jumped over his head may have touched him a little.”

“Probably,” murmured Dick, “but it’s a brand-new side of his character
Cassidy’s showing. I never suspected it of him. Do you think the
captain’s trouble is anything serious?”

“I hope not, Dick, but I’m worried. The sickness came on so suddenly I
hardly know what to think.”

“He may have some of the poison from that idol’s head still under his
hatches. It’s queer, though, that he should be so long getting over it,
when Carl cut himself adrift from the same thing so handsomely.”

“Things of that kind never affect two people in exactly the same way.”

The negroes brought their boat alongside the wharf. As Bob paid for
their services, and climbed ashore, Dick called his attention to the
_Grampus_. Cassidy could be seen on the speck of deck running the Stars
and Stripes to the top of the short flagstaff. The other sailboat, to
the boys’ surprise, was standing in close to the submarine.

Having finished with the flag, Cassidy could be seen to throw a rope to
the skipper of the sailboat, and then, a moment later, to spring aboard.

“What does that move mean?” queried Dick.

“Give it up,” answered Bob, with a mystified frown. “Probably we shall
know, before long. Just now, though, we’ve got to think of the captain
and send off a doctor to the _Grampus_.”

Turning away, he and Dick walked rapidly to the shore and on into the
town.



CHAPTER IV.

THE AMERICAN CONSUL.


“There’s a bobby,” cried Dick, catching sight of a policeman, “a real
London bobby, blue-and-white striped cuffs and all. We’ll bear down on
him, Bob, and ask the way to the American consul’s.”

The policeman was kind and obliging. Drawing the boys out into the
street, he pointed to a low, white building with the American flag
flying over the door. There were palms and trees around the building,
and a middle-aged man in white ducks was sitting in a canvas chair on
the veranda. He was Mr. Hays Jordan, and when the boys told him they
were from the submarine _Grampus_, the consul got up and took them by
the hand.

Bob lost not a moment in telling of the captain’s illness, and of his
desire for a doctor and of comfortable lodging ashore. The consul
seemed disappointed by the news.

“I reckon that puts a stop to the work that brought the _Grampus_
here,” said the consul.

“Not at all,” replied Bob. “The _Grampus_ is at the service of the
government within an hour, if necessary.”

“But who’s in charge of the boat?”

“I am.”

Mr. Hays Jordan looked Bob over, up and down, and started to give an
incredulous whistle. But there was something in the youth’s bearing,
and in the firm, gray eye that caused him to quit whistling.

“Well!” he exclaimed. “Pretty young to be skipper of a submarine,
aren’t you?”

Here Dick interposed. “He’s old for his age, if I do say it, and
Captain Nemo, junior, is a master hand at taking the sizing of a
fellow. He selected Bob Steele to engineer this piece of work, and, if
you keep your weather eye open, it won’t be long until you rise to the
fact that the captain knew what he was about.”

“The captain ought to have a doctor without loss of time,” interposed
Bob, impatient because of the time they were losing, “and he must have
a place to stay.”

“We’ll not send a sick man to the hotel,” said Mr. Jordan, “but to a
boarding house kept by an American. And we’ll also have an American
doctor to look after him.” He slapped his hands. In answer to the
summons a negro appeared from inside the house. “Go over to Doctor
Seymour, Turk,” said the consul, “and ask him to come here.”

“We might be able to save time,” put in Bob, “if my friend went with
your servant and took the doctor directly to the submarine.”

“Fine!” exclaimed the consul, and Dick and the negro hurried away.

“Sit down, my boy,” said the consul, waving his hand toward a chair,
“and we’ll chat a little. I reckon I ought not to say much to you until
I talk with Captain Nemo, junior, and make sure everything is right and
proper. Still----”

“Here are my credentials,” said Bob, and handed over the letter which
he had recently read aloud in the periscope room of the _Grampus_.

The consul glanced over the letter.

“I’ll take you on that showing, Bob Steele,” said he heartily, as he
handed the letter back. “If anything is done for my friend Coleman,
it’s got to be done with a rush. The little states all around us
are able to have a revolution whenever some one happens to think of
it. There’s one on now, and Captain James Sixty was to help on the
fighting by landing a cargo of guns and ammunition. Sixty’s work, as
you may know, was nipped in the bud, and the revolutionists are having
a hard time of it. But they’re still active, and about two weeks ago,
when Sixty failed to arrive with the war material and they were afraid
he had been captured by the United States authorities, the hotheaded
greasers planned reprisal. That reprisal was about the most foolish
thing you ever heard of. They spirited away my friend Coleman; then
they sent me a letter saying that Coleman would be released whenever
the United States government gave up Sixty--and, at that time, Sixty
wasn’t in the hands of the authorities at all. He had just simply
failed to show up with the contraband of war, and the revolutionists
imagined he had been bagged. I communicated with Washington at once,
and it was that, I reckon, that gave the state department a line on
Sixty.”

“Is Mr. Coleman in any danger?” asked Bob.

“You never can tell what a lot of firebrands will do. They’re bound
to hear of Sixty’s capture, and of the confiscation of his lawless
cargo. The news will get to them soon, and when that happens Coleman
is likely to have trouble. If possible, he must be rescued from the
revolutionists ahead of the receipt of this information about Sixty
and the lost guns. It’s a tremendously hard piece of work, and only
a submarine boat with an intrepid crew, to my notion, will stand any
show of success. If a small boat from a United States warship was to
try to go to the rescue, the revolutionists would learn she was coming
and would immediately take to the jungles of the interior with their
captive. See what I mean?”

“Mr. Coleman’s captors are somewhere on the sea-coast?”

“Not exactly. They have a rendezvous on the River Izaral, which runs
into the Gulf of Amatique, to the south of here. The revolutionists
have tried to make people think that they have Coleman somewhere on
the Rio Dolce, but that would put the whole unlawful game in British
territory, and wherever the British flag flies you’ll find lawbreakers
mighty careful.”

The consul looked around cautiously and then hitched his chair closer
to Bob’s.

“I haven’t been idle, Bob Steele,” he went on, lowering his voice. “I
have had spies at work, and one of them has reported the exact location
of the revolutionists’ camp. Acting as a log cutter, he came close to
the place. This man will lead you to the exact spot--and, as good luck
has it, he’s a pilot and knows the coast.”

“I should think,” hazarded Bob, “that the United States government
could make a demand on the president of the republic where all this
lawless work is going on, and force him to rescue Mr. Coleman.”

The consul laughed.

“You don’t know Central America, my lad,” he answered. “It’s as hard
for the president of the republic to get at the revolutionists as for
anybody else. Meanwhile, Coleman’s in danger. We can’t wait for a whole
lot of useless red-tape proceedings. We’ve got to strike, and to strike
hard and quick. But we’ve got to do it secretly, quietly--getting
Coleman away before the revolutionists know what we’re doing.
Understand?”

Bob nodded.

“We’ll not do any fighting if it’s possible to avoid it,” proceeded the
consul, “for that would merely complicate matters. Besides, what could
a handful of strangers do against a horde of rascally niggers? Softly
is the word. We’ve got to jump into ’em, and then out again quicker
than scat--and when we come out, we’ve got to have Coleman.”

“Are you going with us, Mr. Jordan?” asked Bob.

The consul started and gave Bob a bored look.

“Going with you?” he drawled. “Why not? It isn’t often we have anything
exciting, here in Honduras, and I wouldn’t miss the chance for a farm.
Coleman lives where he never knows what minute is going to be his last,
and he’s continually guessing as to where the lightning is going to
strike, and when. About all I do is lie around in a hammock, fight
mosquitoes, take a feed now and then at Government House, and drop
in at an English club here every evening for a rubber at whist. It’s
deadly monotonous, my lad, to a fellow who comes from the land of snap
and ginger.”

“I’ll be glad to have you along,” said Bob. “When had we better start?”

“This afternoon.” The consul picked his solar hat off the railing
of the veranda and got up. “I’m going over to the boarding house,”
he added, “to make arrangements for Captain Nemo, junior. It’s just
around the corner, and I’ll only be gone a few minutes. Make yourself
comfortable until I return.”

“I’ll get along all right,” answered Bob.

Jordan got up, descended the steps, swung away down the street, and
quickly vanished around a corner.

The scenery was all new and strange to Bob, and he allowed his eyes to
wander up and down the street. The houses were white bungalows, some
of them surrounded by high white fences, and with tufted palms nodding
over their roofs.

Negro women passed by with baskets on their heads, dark-skinned
laborers in bell-crowned straw hats slouched up and down, and a group
of tawny soldiers from a West India regiment, wearing smart Zouave
uniforms and turbans, jogged past.

As soon as Bob had exhausted the sights in his immediate vicinity, he
lay back in the chair and gave his thoughts to the captain.

He had always liked Nemo, junior. The captain had been a good friend
to Bob Steele and his chums, and the young motorist hoped in his heart
that his present illness would not take a serious turn.

While Bob was turning the subject over in his mind, two men came along
the walk and started for the steps leading to the veranda of the
consulate.

Bob, suddenly lifting his eyes, was surprised to note that one of the
men was Cassidy. The other was a white, sandy-whiskered individual in a
dingy blue coat and cap and much-worn dungaree trousers.

Both were plainly under the influence of liquor. They came unsteadily
up the steps and Cassidy made a bee line for Bob.

Cassidy’s weather-beaten face was flushed and there was an angry,
unreasoning light in his eyes.

“I’m next to you, Bob Steele,” growled the mate, posting himself in
front of the youth and clinching his big fists. “You’ve pulled the wool
over the old man’s eyes in great shape, but you can’t fool _me!_”

Cassidy, when his mind was clear and when he was not under the delusion
of a fancied wrong, was a good fellow. He had cared for Captain Nemo,
junior, when he was lying ill in New Orleans, and countless times he
had given Bob and his chums proof of his friendship for them. Cassidy
was off his bearings now, but Bob felt more like arguing with him than
showing authority.

“You are not yourself, Cassidy,” said the young motorist. “Why did you
leave the _Grampus?_”

“That’s my business,” snarled the mate.

“Well, take my advice and go back there. No one is trying to deceive
the captain.”

“You’ve wormed yourself into his confidence, and what has he done to
me?” There was bitterness in the mate’s voice. “I’m the one that ought
to be cap’n of the submarine, and, by thunder, I’m going to be!”

Bob got up from his chair, his eyes flashing.

“You’re going to obey orders, Cassidy,” said he, “if you want to stay
with the _Grampus_. I’m in command, and I’ll give you just a minute to
leave here and make for the wharf. If----”

At that moment the mate’s crazy wrath got the better of him. With a
hoarse oath, he lurched forward and struck at Bob with his fist. Bob
avoided the blow with a quick side step.

“Now’s yer chance, Cassidy,” breathed the husky voice of the man who
had come with the mate. “It’s now or never if you want to put him down
an’ out.”

The fellow, as he spoke, slouched toward Bob with doubled fists. Bob
had not the same consideration for this stranger that he had for the
mate, and immediately after evading Cassidy’s blow he whirled about.

“Who are you?” he demanded sharply.

For answer, the man tried to get in a blow on his own account. But he
was not quick enough. With a nimble leap forward, Bob swung his own
fist straight from the shoulder. The dingy blue cap flew off and its
owner reeled against the side of the building. Just then Bob felt the
arms of the mate going around him from behind.

At the same moment, however, footsteps came swiftly along the walk,
mounted the steps, and Cassidy was caught by the throat in a firm grip.



CHAPTER V.

TIMELY FORBEARANCE.


“What’s all this? Two webfeet sailing into one lone-handed youngster!
And he seems to be holding his own pretty well, at that. Let go, you!”

With that, Jordan wrenched Cassidy away and flung him heavily against
one of the veranda posts.

The stranger, scowling and nursing a bruise on his chin, was gathering
up his blue cap. Cassidy, panting and wheezing, was leaning against the
post and glaring wrathfully at the consul.

“That man,” said Bob, pointing toward the mate, “is Cassidy, second in
command aboard the submarine. He takes it hard because Captain Nemo,
junior, placed me in charge, and he came ashore without authority. Who
the other fellow is, I don’t know; but I presume he is some trouble
maker the mate picked up.”

“Trouble maker is right,” went on Jordan. “That describes the rascal
exactly. I know him. He’s Fingal, master of a shady schooner called the
_North Star_, an all-around bad one, and the authorities in a dozen
ports in Central America will tell you the same. We’ll land him in the
lockup. And as for Cassidy, it’s against regulations for an officer to
attack one who outranks him. We’ll put _him_ in the cooler, too.”

The consul was about to call some one from the house with the intention
of sending for an officer, when Bob interposed.

“I don’t want to do anything like that, Jordan. These men have been
drinking.”

“That’s no excuse.”

“But Cassidy, when he’s not half-seas over and got a fancied grievance,
is a good fellow. He has proved that to me a hundred times. Besides,
Captain Nemo, junior, thinks a lot of him.”

“Well, he can’t think much of the captain,” answered the consul dryly,
“or he’d pay more attention to his orders. What do you want to do with
the two men?”

“Let Fingal go about his business, if he has any. As for Cassidy, he
can go back to the submarine and give his brain a chance to clear.
After that he’ll see things differently.”

“I know my rights,” snapped Cassidy, shuffling around belligerently,
“and I’m going to hold out for ’em. I’ve been mate of the _Grampus_
ever since she was launched. And now that the old man’s laid up, I
ought to be master. This here Bob Steele hasn’t been on the submarine
more’n two weeks, put together.”

“Did you hear Captain Nemo, junior, say that Bob Steele was to be put
in charge of the craft?” queried Jordan.

“I heard it, but----”

“Did the rest of the crew hear it?”

“Yes, only they----”

“Everybody understands the situation, then?”

“I guess they do, if----”

“Then this is a case of all cry and no wolf. You’re making a fool of
yourself, Cassidy, let alone showing mighty poor taste. Bob Steele is
showing a whole lot more forbearance than I’d ever do, in the same
circumstances. You made an attack on your commanding officer----”

“I don’t admit he’s that,” broke in Cassidy fiercely.

“Nonsense, man!” cried the consul, out of patience. “You’d admit it
quick enough if you weren’t drunk.”

“What business you got buttin’ into this, anyway?”

Jordan pointed to the flag.

“This is a patch of American soil right in the middle of a foreign
country,” said he. “That flag is yours and mine, and I’m here to adjust
just such differences as this between my fellow countrymen. Bob Steele
is captain of the _Grampus_, and you’ve heard his orders. If you and
Fingal don’t clear out, I’ll call a policeman and have the pair of you
taken to the lockup.”

Fingal edged away toward the veranda steps. As he drew close to
Cassidy, he muttered something. The mate gave a thick response, and the
two lurched down the steps and out of sight along the walk.

“Fingal,” said Jordan, after watching the two out of sight, “is setting
the mate up to act as he’s doing. His influence is bad, particularly as
the mate appears to be a good deal of a numskull without much reasoning
ability of his own.”

“He has always been a first-rate hand,” returned Bob regretfully, “up
in his duties and entirely reliable. This sudden move of his is one of
the biggest surprises I ever had sprung on me.”

“That’s the way with some people. Give ’em the idea that they’ve been
imposed on, and they’re just weak enough in the head to make all sorts
of trouble. If you’ve got the rest of the crew with you, though, it
will be easy enough to take care of Cassidy. However, if he wanted to
he could make lots of trouble for this expedition.”

“I’ll see that he doesn’t do that. If he shows a disposition along that
line, I’ll have him locked in the torpedo room. Why he ever came here
and set upon me like he did, is a mystery. I guess it was because he
was too drunk to know what he was doing.”

“That’s an easy way to explain it,” was the consul’s sarcastic comment.
“On the other hand, he may have come here with the expectation of doing
something to you that would make it necessary for you to be left in
Belize with Captain Nemo, junior.”

“No,” answered Bob firmly, “I can’t believe that.”

“You’re altogether too easy,” proceeded the consul. “If you were left
here with a couple of fractured ribs, or a broken arm, Cassidy would be
the only one left to command the _Grampus_.”

Bob shook his head. “Cassidy isn’t a brute,” said he. “I’d like to
know, though, why this chap, Fingal, is putting in his oar.”

“He’s got an ax to grind. Drunk or sober, Abner Fingal always has his
eye on the main chance.”

“Who is he?”

“He’s a Yank, from somewhere up in Maine, but he’s been in these waters
so long he’s about half Spanish. Crooked as a dog’s hind leg--that’s
Fingal for you. Sometimes he hoists the flag of Costa Rica, sometimes
that of Nicaragua, and now and then the cross of St. George. But no
matter what colors he sails under, he’s the same old sixpence. Too bad
Cassidy fell in with him! But there’s no use of our wasting any time on
those fellows. We’ve got the job of our lives ahead of us, and we’ve
got to get the work started. Any arms aboard the _Grampus?_”

“I thought you said there wasn’t to be any fighting?”

“I hope there won’t be, my lad, and we’ll do everything possible
to avoid it, but there’s always a chance of being mistaken in our
calculations. How’s the submarine armed?”

“There’s a Whitehead torpedo in the torpedo room.”

“We’ll not use any torpedoes. If there’s a scrap, it will be on the
land and hand to hand. Any rifles or ammunition aboard?”

“None that I know about.”

“Then I’ll bring a few guns, merely to be on the safe side. You’ll
attend to the other equipment?”

“About all we’ll need is a barrel of gasoline. I can pick that up and
have it taken off to the boat.”

“I’ll come aboard, bringing this pilot I was telling you about, and
the rest of the plunder, along toward evening. We’ll drop down the
coast to-night and start for the rendezvous of the revolutionists
in the morning. It will be well, I think, to go up the river with
the _Grampus_ submerged. In that manner we shall be able to hide our
approach. However, that is something we can settle later. If you----”

The consul paused, his eyes down the street.

“Well,” he muttered, “here comes your friend, Ferral, and he appears to
be in a tearing hurry. I wonder if anything has gone wrong with Nemo,
junior?”

This thought was uppermost in Bob’s mind as he sprang to the top of the
steps and watched Dick running toward the consulate along the street.

“What’s up, Dick?” he asked anxiously, as his chum came close. “Is the
captain all right?”

“They’re bringing him on a stretcher, and the doctor thinks he’ll be
all right in a few days,” Dick answered. “It wasn’t that that made me
hurry, but something else.”

“What else?”

“Cassidy. As we were coming ashore with the captain, I saw the mate
pulling off to a schooner that was anchored half a mile t’other side of
the _Grampus_. There was a man with him in a blue cap and coat. They
were aboard the schooner when we hit the landing, and before we started
for town, the schooner’s anchor was tripped and she was off down the
coast with every rag of sail hoisted and drawing. What does that mean?
What’s Cassidy up to?”

Bob was astounded. Turning blankly on Jordan, he saw that his face was
clouded and ominous.



CHAPTER VI.

ON THE JUMP.


“You say the schooner got away to the south, Ferral?” asked Jordan.

“Yes, and looked as though she was bound for down the coast. Looks as
though Cassidy had deserted, Bob.”

“We ought to have jailed him,” commented Jordan. “Did Cassidy know
anything about the sealed orders, Bob?”

“Captain Nemo, junior, had me read the orders aloud in the periscope
room,” Bob answered. “Cassidy had been in the conning tower, but when I
finished with the letter I saw that he was in the room with us.”

Jordan’s face grew even more foreboding.

“This looks bad!” he exclaimed. “I wouldn’t trust that Fingal man
around the corner, and here he’s run off with Cassidy and headed down
the coast. There’s something in the wind, and if our game is tipped off
before we get to where we’re going it will be a case of up-sticks with
Coleman.”

“I don’t think Cassidy would dare tip off our work to Fingal!”
exclaimed Bob, somewhat dashed by the course of events.

“A drunken man is liable to do anything.”

“But what would Cassidy have to gain by telling Fingal our business to
the southward?”

“Why, as for that, Fingal has been suspected of helping those same
revolutionists. If he can help the scoundrels hang on to Coleman, they
might make it worth his while.”

“The letter I read in the periscope room,” said Bob, after a moment’s
thought, “spoke of the Rio Dolce as the place where Coleman was being
held. This, you tell me, is wrong. In that event, and assuming that
Cassidy heard the whole of the letter, then he has a clew that’s not to
be depended on.”

“Fingal must know the Rio Dolce is not the place. The fact that the
schooner bore away to the south proves that some one has correct
information. No, Bob, Fingal has learned through Cassidy just why
the _Grampus_ put in at Belize; and Cassidy, intoxicated as he is
and worked up over a fancied grievance, has cast in his lot with the
schooner. The pair of them are off to the south to make trouble for us,
take my word for it. What we must do is to get away as close on their
heels as possible. We can’t wait until evening, but must proceed on the
jump and get away without losing any more time than necessary.”

“Wait a minute,” spoke up Dick. “You remember, Bob, that there was
a schooner that took Captain Sixty off the fruiter _Santa Maria_,
and sailed with him to find the derelict brig. That schooner was to
take off the arms and ammunition from the wreck, and would have done
so if the submarine hadn’t shown up and been backed by the cruiser
_Seminole_.”

“I remember that,” said Bob. “What of it, Dick?”

“Well, I think the schooner that took Cassidy and the other swab south
is the same one that figured in our affairs a few days ago.”

To all appearances the consul had had news relative to these events in
the gulf. As soon as Dick had finished, he slapped his hands excitedly.

“Jupiter!” he exclaimed. “This is more proof that Fingal is hand and
glove with the revolutionists. This new move, Bob, means that that pair
of scamps are off for the south to put a spoke in our wheel. We can’t
delay the start an instant longer than we find necessary to finish our
preparations.”

Before Bob could answer, an open carriage drove along the street.
The doctor was in the rear seat supporting the captain. The latter
looked like a very sick man indeed, and was leaning feebly against the
doctor’s arm.

“Don’t tell him anything about Cassidy’s running away,” cautioned Bob,
starting down the steps and toward the road. “It would only worry him,
and we’ll carry out the work that has been given to us, in spite of
Cassidy and Fingal.”

“He knows about it already,” said Dick. “We discovered Cassidy and the
other chap making for the schooner while we were coming ashore.”

“Did the captain give Cassidy permission to leave the submarine?”

“No. Carl said that the captain became unconscious just when the mate
started up to hoist the flag, and that the mate took another pull at
the flask and went on up the conning-tower ladder. It was French leave
he took, nothing less. As soon as Doctor Armstrong got to the _Grampus_
he wasn’t any time at all in bringing the captain to his senses, and
the first man Nemo, junior, asked about was Cassidy.”

By that time the carriage, which was proceeding slowly, was opposite
Bob, Dick, and Jordan, who formed a little group on the sidewalk. In
response to a gesture from the captain, the vehicle came to a halt.

“You are the American consul?” asked the captain, making an effort to
straighten up.

“Yes,” replied Jordan.

“I am Captain Nemo, junior, of the submarine _Grampus_. My unfortunate
illness puts me out of the work that lies ahead of the boat and her
crew, but Bob Steele, there, is perfectly capable of discharging the
duties of master. I should feel quite sure of the outcome if it was not
for the mate. He has deserted, and I am positive he intends to make
trouble. You must get away as soon as possible, Bob. Cassidy went the
other way from the Rio Dolce--which is a move I can’t understand, if he
is planning to interfere with the rescue of Coleman.”

Bob and Jordan exchanged quick looks. The captain, having no
information to the contrary, was still under the impression conveyed by
the sealed orders, viz.: that the captured consul was on the Rio Dolce
instead of the River Izaral. Neither Bob nor Jordan attempted to set
the captain straight.

Evidently the captain had talked more than was good for him, for
when he finished he collapsed, and had hardly strength enough to say
good-by. As he was driven off, Bob gazed after him sympathetically.

“Strange that a few hours should make such a difference in Captain
Nemo, junior,” he murmured.

“The climatic change perhaps had something to do with it, Bob,”
suggested Jordan. “But we can’t stand around here, my lad. We’ve got to
hustle--and this isn’t a very good climate to hustle in, either. It’s
the land of take-it-easy. You get the submarine in shape, and I’ll hunt
up the pilot, get together the war plunder and my own traps, and join
you just as quick as the nation will let me. On the jump, my lad, on
the jump.”

Jordan, suddenly energetic, turned and hastened back into the consulate.

“There’s a whole lot to that land lubber,” remarked Dick. “He’s as full
of snap and get-there as any chap I ever saw. But what’s the first
move? You’re the skipper, now, and it’s up to you to lay the course.”

“We’ve plenty of stores aboard for the trip we’re to make, with the
exception of gasoline. The _Grampus_ will be in strange waters on a
secret mission, and we must make sure of an abundant supply of fuel at
the start-off.”

The boys were not long in finding a place where they could secure the
gasoline, and but little longer in getting a negro carter to convey the
barrel to the landing. Here the same colored boatman who had brought
Bob and Dick ashore was waiting, and the barrel was loaded and carried
out to the submarine.

The sailboat hove to as close alongside the _Grampus_ as she could get,
and both vessels were made fast to each other by ropes. The gasoline
barrel was tapped, a hose run out from the conning-tower hatch, and the
negroes laid hold of a pump and emptied the barrel into the gasoline
reservoir of the submarine.

Dick took charge of the transfer of the gasoline, while Bob went down
into the periscope room and called up Speake, Clackett, and Gaines.

“Friends,” said he, “we’re off on a short cruise in strange waters--a
cruise that will probably call for courage, and will certainly require
tact and caution. Mr. Hays Jordan, the American consul, is going with
us, and when he comes aboard he will bring a pilot who knows where we
are to go and will take us there. You men know that it is Captain Nemo,
junior’s, order that I take charge of the work ahead of us. Have you
any objection to that?”

“The captain knew his business,” averred Gaines heartily, “and whatever
is good enough for him is good enough for us.”

Speake and Clackett likewise expressed themselves in the same
whole-souled manner.

“Thank you, my lads,” said Bob. “I suppose you have heard how the mate
went off in a huff. That makes us short-handed, in a way, although the
pilot we’re to take on will help out. Our work is government work,
something for Old Glory, and I feel that we will all of us do our best.
We shall have to run all night, and I will arrange to have Ferral
relieve Gaines, and Carl relieve Clackett. As for Speake, he will have
abundant opportunity to rest, as most of our night work will be on the
surface. Speake may now get us something to eat, and after that you
will all go to your stations.”

Speake was not long in getting his electric stove to work. There were
only a few provisions he could prepare without causing an offensive
odor, and the limited menu was quickly on the table. Hardly was the
meal finished when a boat hove alongside with Jordan. Bob, Dick, and
Carl went up on deck to assist the consul in getting his traps aboard.

Jordan had exchanged his white ducks for a trim suit of khaki. Two
belts were around his waist, one of them fluted with cartridges, and
the other supporting a brace of serviceable revolvers. With him came
three rifles and a box of ammunition.

The pilot was an unkempt half-blood named Tirzal. He was bareheaded and
barefooted, and had a ferret-like face and shifty, beadlike eyes.

As soon as the impedimenta was stowed below decks, Bob instructed
Tirzal in the steering of the submarine. The boat could be maneuvered
either from the conning tower or from the periscope room. When
maneuvered from the conning tower, the pilot stood on the iron ladder,
using his eyes over the top of the tower hatch; when steered from
below, compass and periscope were used.

Tirzal grasped the details with surprising quickness, his little eyes
snapping with wonder as they saw the panorama of ocean, shore, and
shipping on the mirror top of the periscope table.

While these instructions were going forward, Gaines and Dick had gone
into the motor room, Clackett and Carl had posted themselves in the
place from which the submerging tanks were operated, and Speake had
gone forward into the torpedo room.

“We’re all ready,” said Bob. “Take to the conning tower, Tirzal, and
give your signals.”

The half-breed, as proud as a peacock to have the management of this
strange craft under his hands, got up the ladder until only his bare
feet and legs from the knees down were visible.

Bob, posting himself by the periscope, divided his attention between
the panorama unfolded there and the work of Tirzal. He was considerably
relieved by the handy manner in which the half-breed took hold of his
work.

With ballast tanks empty, and the _Grampus_ riding as high in the water
as she could, the motor got to work the instant the anchors were off
the bottom and stowed.

“We’re off, Jordan!” cried Bob.

“Off on one of the strangest cruises I ever took part in,” returned the
consul, his face glowing with the novelty of the situation; “and it’s
a cruise, my boy,” he added, a little more soberly, “which is going
to demand all our resourcefulness in the matter of tact, skill, and
courage. Even then there’s a chance that we----”

Jordan did not finish, but gave Bob a look which expressed plainly all
that he had left unsaid.



CHAPTER VII.

THE LANDING PARTY.


During that night run down the coast the _Grampus_ was driven at full
speed. The electric projector was fitted against the lunettes of the
conning tower, and threw an eye of light far out over the dark water.

It was the hope of those aboard the submarine that they would be able
to overhaul and pass the schooner, _North Star_, which, presumably, was
rushing on ahead of them to interfere in some manner with the work cut
out for the _Grampus_.

The schooner had about three hours’ start of the submarine, but the
latter craft was keeping to the surface and traveling at such a speed
that it was thought she would surely overtake the other boat before the
mouth of the Izaral was reached.

However, in this Bob and Jordan were disappointed. They passed one
steamer, creeping up the coast, but not another craft did they see.

“The _North Star_ won’t be able to ascend the Izaral, anyhow,”
commented Jordan. “If Fingal communicates with the revolutionists, he
will have to send a small boat--and perhaps we can overhaul that boat
before it reaches the headquarters of the insurgent force.”

There was a certain amount of sleep for everybody aboard the _Grampus_,
that night, but Bob Steele. Dick and Carl slept the first half of the
night, and, after that, relieved Gaines and Clackett; Speake caught cat
naps off and on; Jordan stretched himself out on top of the locker in
the periscope room and took his forty winks with nothing to bother him;
and Tirzal, when the submarine was in a fairly clear stretch of her
course, was relieved by Bob and sent down to curl up on the floor and
snore to his heart’s content.

The tireless motor hummed the song familiar in Bob’s ears, and the
excitement of the work in prospect kept him keyed to highest pitch in
spite of his loss of rest.

In the gray of early morning, an hour after Bob had turned off the
electric projector, he sighted the mouth of a river with high, bluffy
banks on each side. On one of the banks, peeping out from a covert of
royal palms, was a small village. Directly across the stream from the
village, commanding both the river and the small harbor in front of the
town, was a rude fort.

Bob called Tirzal.

“She’s de ruvver, all right, you bet,” declared Tirzal, after taking a
look at the periscope. “Stop um boat, boss,” he added. “We no want de
people in de town to see um.”

Bob halted the submarine with the touch of a push button.

“We’d better submerge, Bob,” called Jordan. “That’s the way we’ve got
to get up the river, and it’s our proper course for dodging around the
town. Can you see anything of the schooner?”

“There are only a few small native boats in the harbor,” answered Bob.
“The schooner isn’t in sight.”

“Beats the deuce what’s become of the boat,” growled the consul. “If
she sent a launch up the river, the schooner ought to be somewhere
around, waiting for the launch to get back.”

“She may have pulled off down the coast just to keep clear of us. How’s
the water in the river?”

“Him planty deep to where we go, boss,” spoke up Tirzal. “Some time him
t’irty feet, mos’ly fifty feet. Eberyt’ing go fine if we keep in de
channel.”

“We’ll be on the safe side,” went on Bob, “and just swing along with
the water over our decks and the top of the conning tower. Ten-foot
submergence, Clackett,” he added through a speaking tube connecting
with the tank room.

“Aye, aye, sir,” came back the voice of Clackett.

The hiss of escaping air as the water came into the tanks was heard,
and Bob secured the hatch and came down the ladder.

The hissing ceased suddenly.

“We’re ten feet down, Bob,” reported Clackett through the tube.

“Take the wheel, Tirzal!” said Bob.

With head under the periscope hood and one hand on the wheel, Tirzal
rang for slow speed ahead. Bob and Jordan likewise gave their attention
to the periscope mirror and watched, with curious wonder, while the
tropical river unfolded beneath their eyes like a moving picture.

The Izaral was bank-full. As the _Grampus_ rounded the northern bluff
and swerved into the river channel, the high, steep banks, covered with
dense foliage, resembled a narrow lane with a blank wall at its farther
end. When the boat pushed into the stream, however, and fought the
current for three or four hundred yards, the seemingly blank wall gave
place to an abrupt turn.

The submarine took the turn and entered upon another stretch of the
lane.

This part of the river was as perfect a solitude as though removed
thousands of miles from human habitations. At a distance of perhaps
two miles from the coast the high banks dwindled to low rises, and on
each side was an unbroken forest; the banks were overflowed; the trees
seemed to grow out of the water, their branches spreading across so
as almost to shut out the light of the sun and were reflected in the
water as in a mirror.

Birds of gaudy plumage fluttered among the trees, and here and there,
in a bayou, alligators could be seen stretching their torpid bodies in
the black ooze.

Tirzal kept his eyes glued to the periscope. The channel was crooked
and dangerous, and a moment’s neglect might hurl the submarine into a
muddy bank, causing trouble and delay, if not actual peril.

For two or three miles farther, Tirzal kept the river channel.
Finally they came close to a spot where a deep, narrow stream entered
the Izaral on the right. Tirzal turned into this branch and, after
ascending it for some fifty yards, had the propeller slowed until it
just counteracted the current and held the _Grampus_ stationary.

“We got to de place, boss,” said Tirzal, lifting himself erect with
a deep breath of relief. “Now we come to de top an’ tie de boat to a
couple ob trees on de sho’.”

“Where are the revolutionists?” asked Bob.

“Dey a good way off, boss. We hab to take to de bank an’ go find um. I
know de way. Here’s where de boats come. You see dat pitpan close by de
bank? Him rebels’ boat.”

“Do you suppose,” queried Bob, turning to the consul, “that the
schooner sent word to the rebels by means of the pitpan?”

Jordan shook his head perplexedly.

“They wouldn’t do that. The pitpan is no more than a mahogany log,
hollowed out, and would be a poor sort of craft to row against the
current of the Izaral while it’s at the flood. I can’t understand
why we don’t see or hear something connected with the schooner.
Perhaps”--the consul’s face brightened--“Fingal and Cassidy are on the
wrong track, after all.”

“You go to de top, boss,” put in Tirzal, “an’ me swim asho’ wid rope;
den we warp um boat close to de bank.”

As a preparation for his swim, the half-breed began to divest himself
of his clothes.

Bob gave the order to empty the ballast tanks by compressed air, and
the _Grampus_ rose to the surface to the tune of water splashing from
the tanks.

“A party will have to land for the purpose of reconnoitering the
position of the rebels,” said Jordan. “I would suggest, Bob, that the
landing party consist of myself, Tirzal, of course, and some other
person who you think can be easily spared. A strong force will have
to remain with the _Grampus_, for our situation is encompassed with
dangers. Before we can plan our dash successfully, we shall have to
know something of the lay of the land and the disposition of the force
that is guarding Coleman.”

“You are right,” returned Bob. “I ought to remain with the
submarine----”

“And get a little sleep,” cut in the consul. “You’ve been on duty all
night and must rest so as to be ready for the sharp work when it comes.”

“I’ll have Speake go with you and Tirzal,” said Bob. “How long will you
be gone, Jordan?”

“Not more than two or three hours at the outside.”

By then the _Grampus_ was at the surface, and Bob climbed the ladder
and threw back the hatch. Gaining the dripping iron deck, he looked
and listened. The thick forest lay on every side, and the silence was
broken only by the flapping of wings, and the lazy splash of alligators
in a near-by bayou.

Tirzal, a rope around his waist, scrambled clear of the conning tower
and slipped from the deck into the water. He swam swiftly and silently
to the bank, pulled himself up, untied the end of the rope from about
his waist, and passed it around a tree.

Dick gained the deck, made the boat end of the rope fast to an iron
ring in the bow, and watched while Tirzal lay back on the cable with
all his strength and hauled the bow shoreward, a foot at a time.

“The bank is steep,” announced Dick, “and we can, run the nose of the
old craft right into solid ground.”

“That will make it easier for Jordan and Speake to land,” said Bob.

A few minutes of pulling on Tirzal’s part brought the point of the
submarine’s bow against the bank. Speake had come up on deck with one
of the rifles. A moment later Jordan followed him, with Carl trailing
along in his wake.

Jordan carried two rifles, one for himself and one for Tirzal, and also
Tirzal’s bundle of clothes.

“We’re taking all the rifles, Bob,” said Jordan, “but I have left my
cartridge belt and six-shooters in the periscope room. If you should be
attacked--which I hardly expect--your best defense will be to sink to
the bottom of the river. We’ll be back in three hours. If we’re not,
you’ll know something has gone wrong with us. But don’t fret about
that. Tirzal knows the country, and he’ll steer us clear of trouble.”

Speake and Jordan made their way to the point of the bow and sprang
ashore. As soon as Tirzal had slipped into his clothes and grasped the
rifle, the three comprising the landing party waved their hands to
those on the deck of the boat and vanished into the forest.

“Dose fellers vas going to haf all der fun,” grumbled Carl.

“I don’t think anybody is going to have a monopoly of ‘fun,’ as you
call it, Carl,” said Bob grimly. “You and Dick stay on deck and keep a
sharp watch for rebels. I’m going to the periscope room to take a nap.
In order to be on the safe side, Dick, you’d better let the _Grampus_
slide back toward the middle of the stream. Leave the cable on the tree
and pay it off from the bow of the boat.”

“All right, Bob.”

“Call me if anything happens,” said Bob, climbing into the conning
tower.

On reaching the periscope room, he signaled Gaines to stop the motor,
and told him and Clackett that the submarine was moored, and that they
could either sleep or go on deck, as they preferred. Then, thoroughly
tired out by his long night vigil, he stretched himself on the locker
and was soon sound asleep.

How long he slept he did not know, but he was suddenly aroused by a
pounding of feet on the steel deck, startled cries, and a tremendous
splashing of water.

Thinking that Dick and Carl, who had comprised the anchor watch, had
been caught napping, and that the revolutionists were making an attack
on the boat, he leaped up, caught the first weapon he could lay hold
of, and darted for the iron ladder.

The weapon happened to be an old harpoon belonging to Speake, who had
once had a berth aboard a whaling ship.

When Bob lifted his head above the rim of the conning-tower hatch, a
strange scene met his eyes.



CHAPTER VIII.

CARL IN TROUBLE.


The most prominent object that met Bob Steele’s startled eyes was a
big bull alligator. The creature was thrashing about in the water, now
striking the sides of the _Grampus_ with its powerful tail, and now
making an attack on the pitpan, or dugout canoe.

Carl Pretzel was in the canoe, and he was wildly anxious to get back to
the submarine. The alligator, however, was floundering around in the
stretch of water between Carl and the _Grampus_.

“Help!” whooped Carl. “Der man eader vill ged me if you don’d do
somet’ing.”

It had not occurred to the Dutch boy that he could go ashore--being
much nearer the bank, in fact, than the submarine.

Dick had a hatchet which he had picked up from somewhere on the deck.
He rushed back to the conning tower and climbed into it, thus securing
an elevated position which offered some advantage in case he hurled the
hatchet at the big saurian.

“Paddle ashore, Carl!” called Bob.

“Dot’s so,” gasped Carl; “meppy I vill. Coax der pig feller avay; I
don’d like how he uses dot tail of his.”

Carl fell to work with his paddle. By that time, however, the
alligator’s temper was aroused, and, before Carl had got the pitpan
turned, the big creature glided forward, opened its ponderous jaws and
closed them about the forward end of the dugout.

There was a frightful crash, and the sides of the pitpan were stove in
like an eggshell. One end of the wrecked boat was pushed high in the
water, and Carl, at the other end, was in sore straits.

“Help, or I’m a goner!” yelled Carl, leaping into the water as Bob
Steele made ready to hurl the harpoon.

Carl’s predicament had become serious in the extreme. If the enraged
reptile turned on him, his doom was sealed. The task for Bob and Dick,
which they recognized on the instant, was to wound the alligator and
take its attention from the boy in the water.

The harpoon left Bob’s hand, and the hatchet left Dick’s, at the same
moment. The hatchet was turned by the reptile’s scaly coat as by so
much armor plate. The harpoon, however, by mere chance, stuck just
back of the alligator’s foreleg in the place where the hide was not so
thick. The big fellow had lifted head and shoulders out of the water in
the fierceness of the attack on the pitpan--which fact alone made Bob’s
blow possible.

Dick, tumbling out of the conning tower, seized one end of a coil of
rope and hurled it toward Carl. The Dutch boy grabbed it, and Dick drew
him in rapidly, hand over hand.

The alligator, meantime, had whipped away around the bow of the
_Grampus_, half its head only on the surface, and leaving a reddened
trail in its wake. Meanwhile, Carl, sputtering and gasping, fell
dripping on the submarine’s deck.

“Am I here?” he mumbled. “I tell you somet’ing, dot vas der glosest
call I efer hat in my life!”

He pulled himself up by means of the periscope mast, and shook his fist
after the alligator, which was returning to the bayou.

“You don’t make some meals off me, I bed you!” he taunted. “Nexdt time
you do a t’ing like dot, meppy I vill haf a rifle hanty. Den I gif you
more dan you can take care of.”

“You’ll have to pay Speake for that harpoon, Carl,” laughed Bob.

“Mit bleasure,” answered Carl. “Id vas der harpoon vat safed my life.”

“It’s just as well, I guess,” said Bob, “that the dugout has been
destroyed. If we were attacked here by the rebels, the boat would have
helped them. But you should not have left the submarine, Carl. The
noise we have made here may have been heard. In that event, we can
expect trouble.”

Just at that moment, Clackett and Gaines came up through the hatch.

“What’s been going on?” Clackett asked.

“You’ve missed the fun,” returned Dick. “Carl had a little trouble with
an alligator, and just got out of it by the skin of his teeth.”

“Clackett an’ me was asleep,” said Gaines. “Blamed funny, though, we
didn’t hear the rumpus. What woke me was you fellows, talking and
walking over the deck. Haven’t Speake and Jordan shown up yet?”

“What time is it?” asked Bob.

“It was a little after twelve when Clackett an’ me left the torpedo
room.”

“Great guns!” exclaimed Bob, startled. “I must have slept longer than I
supposed. It was nine o’clock when Jordan and the others went ashore.
Jordan said they’d be back in three hours, at the outside. More than
three hours have passed and they’re not back.”

Bob’s eyes, suddenly filled with anxiety, swept the tree-covered bank.

“Tirzal knew the country, mate,” said Dick, “and I guess those fellows
are wise enough to steer clear of the rebels while they’re trying to
locate Coleman.”

“Something may have gone wrong with them, for all that. If Cassidy and
Fingal managed to get word to the revolutionists, then quite likely
Jordan, Speake, and Tirzal got into a snare. If they did, and if----”

Bob was interrupted by the distant report of a rifle, echoing and
reëchoing through the dense timber. There was just one report, and then
silence fell again; but, during the silence, the troubled glances of
those on the _Grampus_ met questioningly.

“Our landing party has been discovered,” declared Bob, who was first to
collect his wits. “Dick and I will go ashore and see if we can be of
any help. I’ll leave you, Gaines, in charge of the _Grampus_. As soon
as we are off the boat, you and Clackett and Carl cast off from the
shore, go below and sink until the periscope ball is just awash. You
may have to put out an anchor to hold the boat against the current. One
of you keep constantly at the periscope, watching the left-hand bank.
If you see one of us come there and wave his arms, you’ll know we want
you to come up and take us aboard. Be as quick as you can, too, for we
may be in a hurry.”

“Depend on me, Bob,” said Gaines.

“Depend on all of us,” added Clackett.

Bob turned to his sailor chum.

“Go into the periscope room, Dick,” said he, “and get those two
revolvers of Jordan’s. Never mind the belts. Empty out some of the
cartridges and put them in your pocket. Hustle, old chap.”

Dick was only gone a few minutes. During that time Gaines and Clackett
were busy with the rope, hauling the submarine back to the bank, and
Bob was listening for more firing.

No more reports came from the timber, however, and when Dick reappeared
and handed Bob one of the revolvers, both hurried to the bow of the
submarine and sprang ashore.

“Don’t forget your orders, Gaines,” cautioned Bob.

“You can bank on it that I won’t, Bob,” answered the motorist. “You and
Dick look out for yourselves. Don’t make a bad matter worse by letting
the revolutionists get a grip on you. If they did, we’d be in hard
shape for sure.”



CHAPTER IX.

A FRIEND IN NEED.


At the point where Jordan, Speake, and Tirzal had vanished into the
wood, Bob and Dick found a faint path--a path so little traveled and so
blind that it could not be seen from the deck of the _Grampus_, even
when she was hauled close to the shore.

“It’s as plain as a handspike,” remarked Dick, as he and Bob made their
way along the path, “that Jordan and the others took a slant in this
direction.”

“That’s the kind of a guess I’d make,” said Bob. “By following the
path, though, we don’t want to forget that they got into trouble. When
you’re on a road that leads to trouble, Dick, you’ve either got to
leave it or else be mighty careful.”

“I don’t know how we’d get through this jungle if we didn’t follow the
path. Tirzal claims to know the country. If that’s a fact, then it’s
queer he couldn’t pilot Jordan and Speake around any stray groups of
insurrectos.”

“Our failure to see anything of the schooner while we were off the
coast, or anything of a launch from the schooner while we were coming
up the river, rather gave Jordan the idea that Fingal and Cassidy were
on the wrong track. But I’m inclined to think Jordan was wide of his
trail. They must have sent word here and enabled the revolutionists to
fix up some sort of a trap.”

“I can’t begin to tell you how surprised I am at the way Cassidy is
acting--that is, if he’s gone into partnership with Fingal, for the
purpose of backcapping our plans to save one of our own countrymen.
What sort of a two-faced rascal is Cassidy, anyhow? He must be mighty
sore to act like that. But maybe you’re mistaken, Bob.”

“I hope I am,” returned Bob gravely. “I always liked Cassidy, and I
hate to see a good man go wrong in such a way as that.”

The boys had dropped their voices to an undertone. While they talked,
they hurried along the dim, winding path, keeping their eyes constantly
ahead.

Owing to the close growth of trees, but very little sun filtered to the
ground below, and a twilight gloom hovered over the narrow way. Bob
was in advance, and suddenly he halted, whirled on Dick and pulled him
behind a matted vine that hung from a tree beside the path.

“Hist!” whispered Bob, in his chum’s ear. “I can hear voices around the
turn in the path ahead. Some one is coming this way. Crouch down and
perhaps they’ll go past without seeing us.”

Scarcely breathing, the two boys knelt behind the matted vine, each
holding his weapon ready in case they should be discovered and
compelled to fight for their freedom.

It was not long before the men whom Bob had heard came straggling
around the turn in the path. To their amazement, no less a person than
Fingal was at the head of the column. The light was none too good for
making observations at a distance, but there could be no mistaking the
burly form in the dingy blue cap and coat and dungaree trousers.

Fingal slouched along with the thwartship roll of a sailor with stable
ground under him. At his back came half a dozen nondescript men, of
various shades of color from coal black to light yellow.

These men, no doubt, formed part of the rebel army. They were all
barefooted, their clothes were ragged, and they wore straw hats. Each
had a machete strapped about his waist, but there the uniformity of
their accouterments ceased. Two had no arms apart from the machetes;
one of the remaining four had a long-barreled, muzzle-loading rifle,
and the other three had revolvers. Fingal had no rifle, but there was a
belt about his waist that supported a six-shooter over his hip.

The file was still talking as it passed the two boys, but it was
Spanish talk, and neither Bob nor Dick could understand anything that
was said.

Without seeing the boys, the file swept on and vanished around another
bend. Bob drew a long breath of relief.

“We’re out of that mess, Dick,” he murmured, getting up and stepping
back into the path. “I guess we’ve settled all doubts about Cassidy and
Fingal. Fingal’s here, and I’ll bet something handsome Cassidy can’t be
very far off.”

“Cassidy’s trying to down us,” growled Dick, “and that’s as plain as
the nose on your face. The old scoundrel! He ought to be trussed up at
a grating and pounded with the ‘cat’ for this. I never thought it of
him! Where do you suppose that pack is going?”

“They’re looking for the _Grampus_, I guess.”

“And the old _Grampus_ is ten feet under water! If Gaines is next
to his job, he’s fixed things so they won’t be able to see even the
periscope ball.”

“Trust Gaines to do everything possible. I don’t think the submarine
is in any particular danger, but we couldn’t help her any if she were.
We’ll keep on and see where this trouble road lands us.”

“All right! Luck seems to be on our side, so far, and here’s hoping
that it will stay with us.”

Bob once more took the lead and set the pace. The ground they were
covering had a slight inclination upward, and the path continued to
wriggle, serpent fashion, through the dense growth of timber.

It was the almost impenetrable screen of the woods that suddenly
plunged the boys into difficulties. Rounding an abrupt turn, beyond
which it was impossible to see because of the dense foliage, Bob and
Dick plunged recklessly into full view of an encampment. It was a large
encampment, too, and pitched in the midst of a big clearing. The place
was not a hundred yards off, and Bob, pulling himself short up, got
a glimpse of black soldiers lolling and smoking under rough canvas
shelters.

For an instant he halted and stared; then whirled face about.

“Back, Dick!” he exclaimed. “Run, run for your life!”

The words were hardly necessary. The boys had been seen and a wild
clamor came from the encampment. A fizzing sputter of firearms awoke
echoes in the timber, and scraps of lead could be heard slapping and
zipping through the leaves.

“We might be good for three or four,” panted Dick, as he stretched his
legs along the path, “but we have to knock under when the whole rebel
army gets after us.”

“Save your breath!” cried Bob. “Run!”

“Where? That other pack, with Fingal, is ahead.”

“Never mind. The largest force is behind.”

The dark-skinned rebels were tearing along like madmen. The boys,
looking over their shoulders, could see them wherever the path
straightened out into a short, straightaway stretch. At such times,
too, some one of the pursuing rabble let fly with a bullet. The bullets
went wild, for there is no such thing as accurate shooting by a man who
is on the run.

The boys were holding their own--perhaps doing a little better.

“We can distance ’em,” puffed Dick, “if they’ll only give us a little
time. We’ll be around the next turn and halfway to the one beyond
before they show up again.”

Dick had hardly finished speaking before he came to a sudden halt.

“Keep on!” panted Bob.

“Can’t! We’re between two fires! That other gang has heard the firing
and is coming back. Let’s get behind trees and do the best we can for
ourselves. Oh, this _is_ a fix!”

Bob was able to hear the men racing along in advance of them, and the
larger force behind was drawing nearer and nearer.

The outlook was dark, and the only thing left for the boys to do seemed
to be to dig into the dense undergrowth and take their chances of being
tracked down.

With one accord they sprang toward the left-hand side of the path. The
timber, in that direction, seemed a trifle less thick than on the right.

Before they had vanished they heard a guarded voice calling from the
right:

“Bob! Bob Steele!”

Startled at hearing his name, the young fellow paused and whirled
about. His astonishment grew. A woman--a young woman--had emerged
through the trailing creepers and was beckoning wildly.

“This way!” she called, still in the same guarded tone. “Quick, if you
want to save yourselves.”

A moment more, and Bob and Dick both recognized the speaker. She was
not one whom they would have trusted had circumstances been other than
they were. Just then, however, but little choice was left them.

“It’s that or nothing,” muttered Dick, and he and Bob charged back
across the path and followed the girl into a tangle of bushes.

Hardly had they vanished when both parties of pursuers pushed into
sight from right and left.



CHAPTER X.

STRANGE REVELATIONS.


The distrust of Bob and Dick, even at the moment when they were hemmed
in on both sides by the revolutionists, will be understood when it is
explained that their friend in need was none other than Ysabel Sixty.

It was in New Orleans that she had called to see Bob Steele and
had told him many things which were not true. Because of this
misinformation, Bob Steele had been lured into the hands of Captain Jim
Sixty, the filibuster. The girl who had been instrumental in carrying
out this plot was Ysabel Sixty, Captain Sixty’s daughter.

The boys were amazed to see her there in that rebel-haunted wilderness,
but they repressed their excitement and curiosity until the girl had
led them unerringly to a little cleared space in the heart of the woods.

Here there was a rude shelter constructed of a ragged tarpaulin, and an
_olla_, or earthen water jar, suspended from the branches of a tree.

The girl turned and faced the boys as soon as they reached this
primitive camp.

“You are safe, for the present,” said she. “I am glad I could do
something to help you.”

“Well, what next?” growled Dick, his keen eyes on the girl’s face. “Are
you helping us, Ysabel Sixty, or luring us into another trap, as you
did up in New Orleans?”

A look of sadness and contrition swept over the girl’s face. It was a
pretty face--not so pretty as it had been in New Orleans, for now it
was worn and haggard--and that ripple of sorrow touched it softly.

“I have paid for all that,” said the girl slowly. “I have paid for it
with more bitter regrets than I can tell. Now, maybe, I can help to
undo the wrong. What I did in New Orleans I did not do willingly. My
father threatened to kill me if I failed to carry out his wishes. Now
he is in the hands of the law, you are free, and I am adrift in this
wild country.”

There was something in the girl’s voice that touched both Bob and Dick.
It could not be that she was again playing a part, for there was that
in her words and manner which told of sincerity.

“How do you happen to be here?” asked Bob.

“My father, as I suppose you have heard, left the steamer _Santa Maria_
to go on the schooner _North Star_ and hunt for his water-logged brig.
I continued on to Belize on the _Santa Maria_, with orders from my
father to take the first boat from Belize to Port Livingstone, at
the mouth of the Izaral. There I was met by some of General Pitou’s
soldiers, and brought out to this camp to wait until my father, or my
uncle, should come. My father did not come, and will not. My uncle has
already arrived, and to avoid him I have come away by myself, into this
part of the woods.”

“Who is your uncle, Ysabel?” asked Bob.

“Abner Fingal.”

“Fingal!” exclaimed both the boys.

“His real name is Sixty,” explained the girl, “and he is my father’s
brother. He is captain of the schooner that has been helping the
revolutionists, and he has sworn vengeance on all those who had
anything to do with my father’s capture.”

“That means us,” said Dick, as he turned for an apprehensive look
through the timber in the direction of the path. “I never dreamed of
anything like that,” he added.

“It’s not generally known,” said the girl, “that Captain Fingal and
Captain Sixty are in any way related. They have both been helping the
revolutionists, and, if the uprising was a success, they were to be
rewarded.”

“You ran away from the rebel camp in order to avoid Fingal?”

“Yes.”

“Why was that?”

A flush ran through the girl’s haggard face.

“My uncle wants me to marry General Pitou, a Frenchman who is in
command of the revolutionists. When I marry”--the words came spitefully
and with a stamp of the foot--“I shall marry to please myself, and not
some one else.”

“Good for you!” approved Dick. “Don’t let ’em bullyrag you into
marrying a Frenchman, anyhow.”

“I heard that my uncle was expected to reach the camp soon,” went on
the girl, “and I ran away last night. Pedro, a Mexican who used to be a
sailor on my father’s brig, helped me to get away. He fixed that little
tent for me, and this morning, when he brought me breakfast, he told me
some news.”

“What was that?” inquired Bob, scenting something of importance.

“Why, Pedro said that my uncle, together with another man named
Cassidy, had come over from Port Livingstone on a little gasoline boat
which they had stolen from the customhouse officer in the town. They
brought information that a boat that travels under water was coming
to release the American prisoner. Of course”--now the girl smiled a
little--“I knew who it was that was coming in that under-water boat, so
I made Pedro tell me everything he knew.

“He said the boat was coming from Belize, and that the American consul
to British Honduras might come with it. He told me that Fingal informed
the general that it would be possible to entrap the other consul, and
that this would give the rebels two valuable prisoners to hold until
the American government would exchange Captain Sixty for them. The plan
was to capture the under-water boat and all on board. Fingal and this
man Cassidy were to have the boat, and Fingal was to be allowed to do
whatever he pleased with all the prisoners except the consul.”

“We know what that meant,” said Dick, making a wry face. “He wanted to
make us walk the plank for the part we played in the capture of Jim
Sixty.”

“Pedro said,” went on Ysabel, “that General Pitou doubled the guards
all around the camp so that those who came to rescue Coleman would not
only fail, but would be captured themselves.”

“The plan must have worked out pretty well,” observed Bob. “Did Pedro
tell you whether any of the rescuers had been captured?”

“He came very early this morning,” answered Ysabel, “before the
general’s plans had been carried out.”

“Mr. Coleman is with the insurgents?” asked Bob.

“He has been with them for a long time.”

“Is he well treated?”

“As well as he can be. The rebels are half starved, but Mr. Coleman
shares their rations with them.”

“Where is he kept?”

“In a tent in the middle of the encampment. He is constantly under
guard, but, while I was in the camp, I was able to talk with him. We
were the only ones who could speak English, and the soldiers were
not able to understand us. I told Mr. Coleman that I was going to
run away, and he said it was the best thing I could do. He asked me,
before I left, to take a letter from him to the custom officer at Port
Livingstone. But he wasn’t able to write the letter before Pedro helped
me get away.”

Here was great news, but not wholly satisfactory. The captured consul
was alive and well cared for; but he was also well guarded in the heart
of the insurgents’ camp.

“That puts me in a blue funk,” muttered Dick. “I wouldn’t give a cent
for our chances of doing anything for Coleman. If we get away from here
ourselves, we’ll be doing well. And then, too, what’s become of Jordan,
Speake, and Tirzal? I hate to make a guess, for it puzzles me.”

Bob was also very much alarmed on account of their missing companions;
in some way, however, he hoped through Ysabel Sixty to be able to
accomplish something--if not for Coleman, then at least for Jordan and
the two with him.

“How did you happen to be so close by, Ysabel,” queried Bob, “when Dick
and I were so sorely in need of help?”

“Pedro said that you would probably make a landing in the Purgatoire,
which is a branch of the Izaral, and that the general was watching
closely the path that led from the branch to the encampment. I heard a
number of rifle shots, and that led me to hurry toward the path. I got
there just in time to see you. I am sorry for what I was compelled to
do in New Orleans, and if I can help you any now, I wish you would let
me.”

“You have already been a lot of help to us,” said Bob. “Whether you can
help us any more or not remains to be seen. Perhaps, Ysabel, we may be
able to help _you_ a little.”

“How?” she returned, leveling her lustrous black eyes upon him.

“You can’t remain here, in this poor camp, indefinitely,” went on Bob.
“Pedro is taking a good many chances, I should think, coming here to
smuggle food to you. What would happen if General Pitou should catch
Pedro? In that case you would be left without any one to look after
you.”

“I know that,” answered the girl, drawing a long face, “but anything is
better than being compelled to marry the general. I _won’t_ do that!”
Again she stamped her foot angrily.

“What are your plans?” asked Bob.

“Pedro is going to try and get a pitpan for me and send me down to Port
Livingstone. He says there is a pitpan on the Purgatoire, and that,
just as soon as the hour is favorable, he will start me for the town.”

“That pitpan has been stove in and destroyed,” said Bob, “so you can’t
count on that. Why not go down the river with us, in the _Grampus?_
Have you friends in Port Livingstone?”

“No,” replied the girl, a flash of pleasure crossing her face at Bob’s
suggestion that she go away in the submarine, “but I have good friends
in Belize--my mother’s people. They will take care of me. I should have
stayed there instead of coming on to Port Livingstone as my father told
me.”

“Then it’s settled,” said Bob definitely; “we’re going to take you with
us when we go.”

“When are you going?” asked the girl.

“Just as soon as we can find out what has become of the rest of our
party and do something to help them.”

“The rest of your party? Who are they?”

Thereupon Bob began to tell the girl about Jordan, Speake, and Tirzal,
how they had come ashore to reconnoiter and had not returned. Barely
had he finished when a low whistle, like a signal, floated out of the
depths of the wood. Bob and Dick jumped and clutched their revolvers.

“It’s Pedro!” whispered the girl. “You have nothing to fear from him,
but he mustn’t see you. Hide--over there, behind those bushes--and wait
till he goes away.”

Bob and Dick hurried in the direction of the girl’s pointing finger.
They had no sooner got safely out of sight than Pedro came running
breathlessly into the little clearing.



CHAPTER XI.

ONE CHANCE IN TEN.


Pedro was as ragged as all the rest of the rebels, but he was brown,
not black or yellow. He was barefooted and wore on his head a battered
straw hat. His only weapon was a machete, fastened about his waist by
a piece of rope. He was a man of middle age, and from his manner there
was not the least doubt of his loyalty to the daughter of his former
captain. He carried a small parcel, knotted up in a dusty handkerchief,
and laid it on the ground near the water jar; then, drawing off and
keeping close watch of the timber behind him, he began speaking
hurriedly in Spanish.

The girl’s face lighted up as she listened. Once in a while she
interrupted the torrent of words pouring! from Pedro’s lips to put in a
question, then subsided and let the torrent flow on.

For five minutes, perhaps, Pedro talked and gesticulated. At the end of
that time he pulled off his tattered hat, extracted a scrap of folded
paper from the crown and handed it to the girl. Then, with a quick,
low-spoken “_Adios!_” he vanished into the forest.

As soon as he was safely away, Ysabel turned toward the bushes where
the boys had been concealed and clapped her hands.

“Come!” she called; “I have something to tell you.”

Bob and Dick hurried to join her.

“What’s it about?” asked Dick eagerly.

“It’s about your friends, of whom you were telling me when Pedro came.
They have been captured----”

“I must say there’s nothing pleasing about that!”

“Didn’t you expect it?” the girl asked. “You knew something must have
happened to them when they failed to return to the boat.”

“Yes, we expected it, but I think both of us had a hope that they had
merely been pursued into the wood and were working their way back to
the _Grampus_.”

“The men General Pitou had set to watch the path from the Purgatoire
were the ones who captured them. Mr. Jordan had time to fire just one
shot before they were seized, but that bullet wounded a captain, one
of the general’s best men. Pedro says General Pitou is very angry, and
that he is going to keep all the prisoners and not release them until
the United States government gives up my father.”

“The government will never do that,” said Bob. “Our country is too
big to be bullied by a handful of rebels, ’way down here in Central
America.”

“Then General Pitou says the prisoners will all be killed.”

There was little doubt in Bob’s mind but that this irresponsible rebel
general would be reckless enough to carry out his threat.

“Oh, but we’ve made a mess of this, all right,” growled Dick. “We come
down here to rescue Coleman, and, instead of doing that, we leave
Jordan, Speake, and Tirzal in the enemy’s hands. A nice run of luck
this is!”

Bob was equally cast down.

“Tirzal is to be shot as a spy,” went on Ysabel.

“Poor chap! But what could you expect? I hope the president of this
two-by-twice republic will capture every man-jack of the rebels and
hang every last one of them! That’s what they’re entitled to, from
General Pitou down.”

“Did Pedro have anything to say about us?” inquired Bob.

“That’s where the good part of it comes in,” went on the girl. “The
rebels think you’re in the woods, somewhere to the north of the path.
All the general’s force, excepting about twenty-five armed men who
are guarding the prisoners at the encampment, are hunting through the
timber in the hope of catching you. Fingal is helping in the search,
and vows he will make you pay dearly for the part you played in the
capture of my father.”

“I fail to see anything pleasant in all this, even yet,” continued
Dick. “I thought you said that here was where the good part comes in?”

“Can’t you see?” cried the girl. “If all the rebels, outside the
encampment, are looking for you in the timber the other side of the
path, why, that leaves the way clear to the submarine. We can go there,
right off, and get away from General Pitou and his men.”

There was a short silence after this. Bob and Dick were both turning
the subject over in their minds. When their eyes sought each other,
dogged determination could be read in each glance.

“As you say, Ysabel,” said Bob, “we have an opportunity to get back to
the submarine, but we can’t go and leave our friends behind us.”

“You--can’t go?” breathed the girl, staring at Bob as though she
scarcely understood his words. “Why can’t you go?” she went on, almost
fiercely. “Your friends are captured, and how can you hope to get them
away from twenty-five armed men? Don’t be so foolish! Get away while
you can--pretty soon it will be too late, and if you are caught you
will be shot.”

“What’s in that handkerchief, Ysabel?” queried Dick, pointing to the
parcel Pedro had placed on the ground near the water jar.

“Food,” said the girl curtly. “Eat it, if you want to. I’m not hungry.”

She was in a temper because Bob and Dick would not hurry away to the
submarine. She could not understand why they should delay their flight
when it was manifestly impossible for them to be of any help to their
captured friends. As if to further emphasize her displeasure, she
turned her back on the boys.

Dick stared at her, and then swerved an amused glance upon his chum.

“Didn’t Pedro give you a note, Ysabel?” asked Bob gently.

“Yes. It was from Coleman. He managed to write it and give it to Pedro
for me. It is mine.”

“Suppose you read it? Perhaps there is something in it that is
important.”

Ysabel partly turned and threw the note on the ground at Bob’s feet.

“You can read it,” she said.

Bob picked up the scrap and opened it out. It was written in lead
pencil, on the back of an old envelope, and read as follows:

  “I hope you can get away some time to-day in that pitpan Pedro
  was telling you about. If you can do that, you can help all the
  prisoners now in General Pitou’s hands. Some time soon we are to
  be taken down the Izaral halfway to Port Livingstone, where the
  rebels have another camp which they consider safer than this one.
  We will all go in the gasoline launch which was stolen, early
  this morning, by Fingal and Cassidy. Tell this to the customs
  officer at Port Livingstone, and ask him to do his best to
  intercept the launch and help us. I cannot write more--I have not
  time.”

“That’s nice, I must say!” muttered Dick dejectedly. “If the old
cutthroat, Pitou, has his prisoners taken farther back in the jungle,
there’ll be no possibility of rescuing them. We’re on the reefs now,
for sure.”

Bob turned to Ysabel. Her anger was passing as quickly as it had
mounted, and she seemed anxious to meet any question Bob should ask her.

“When Fingal and Cassidy came up the river in the gasoline launch,”
said Bob, “did they turn into the Purgatoire branch?”

“No. Pedro said that they went on up the Izaral, and got across to the
encampment by another road through the woods.”

“Then, if the prisoners are brought down in the launch they’ll have to
pass the mouth of the Purgatoire?”

“Yes.”

“Dick,” said Bob, “there’s a chance that we can do something to that
boat load of prisoners.”

“What?” queried Dick, pricking up his ears.

“We can go back to the submarine, drop down the Purgatoire and wait
there, submerged, until the gasoline launch comes down.”

“Then what?” asked Dick.

“Then we’ll do whatever we can. There’ll be five of us on the
submarine, and I don’t see why we couldn’t accomplish something.”

But Dick shook his head. “You don’t know,” said he, “that Coleman’s
information is correct. It’s hardly likely that Pitou would tell the
secret to one of his prisoners.”

“Coleman may have found it out in some other way than from General
Pitou.”

“Well, the launch may already have dropped down the river.”

“Hardly, I think, when most of the rebels are out looking for us.
There’s a chance, Dick.”

“One chance in ten, I should say.”

“That’s better than no chance at all, which seems to be what we have
here.”

“We’ve worse than no chance at all, out in this scrub with the rebel
army looking for us. If we’re caught, we’ll be done browner than a
kippered herring. Although I haven’t much hope, I’m for making a quick
slant in the direction of the _Grampus_.”

“Then you’re going to the submarine?” asked Ysabel joyfully.

“Yes, and we’d better start at once while the coast seems to be clear.”

The girl clapped her hands and started for the timber.

“Do you want this?” asked Dick, lifting the bundle from beside the
water jar.

“No, it’s only food--my dinner that Pedro brought me. You have plenty
on the submarine, haven’t you?”

“Yes,” Bob laughed.

“Then hang that to a tree branch for Pedro. Probably he robbed himself
to help me. He’ll come back and get it.”

Dick twisted the knots of the handkerchief into the end of a branch and
they all started hurriedly back toward the path.

The difficulties of the way made it necessary for them to travel in
single file. Bob went ahead, Ysabel followed him, and Dick brought up
the rear.

In ten minutes they were back in the path and hurrying swiftly in the
direction of the Purgatoire. But ill luck was still following them,
like an evil specter. They had not gone far along the course before a
rebel soldier sprang from the timber into the path at Bob’s side.

The surprise was mutual, and, for an instant, Bob and the negro stared
at each other. Fortunately the negro had no firearms. He drew his
machete, but before he could aim a stroke with it, Bob had leaped
forward and struck his arm a fierce blow with the butt of Jordan’s
revolver.

A yell of pain fell from the negro’s lips, his arm dropped at his side,
and he jumped backward into the woods.

“Quick!” shouted Bob to those behind. “There may be others with him,
and we’ll have to make a dash for the _Grampus_. Run on ahead, Dick,
and get the submarine up and close to the bank. I’ll follow you with
Ysabel.”

Dick would have demurred at this arrangement, but a chorus of wild
yells, issuing from the wood, proved that the negro had spread the
alarm.

“The boat will be ready for you,” shouted Dick, as he passed like a
streak along the path.

Seizing the girl’s arm, and keeping the revolver in hand, Bob started
on as rapidly as the girl could go.



CHAPTER XII.

BY A NARROW MARGIN.


Ysabel made poor work of the flight.

“Go on,” she begged; “don’t try to save me. You can get away if you
don’t have to bother to help me along.”

“I’ll not leave you,” answered Bob firmly, taking a quick look over his
shoulder. “The soldiers have not yet reached the path, and there’s a
good chance for us. Do your best, Ysabel!”

The girl struggled along as well as she could, Bob bounding ahead and
dragging her by main force. The shouts behind were growing louder. A
rifle was fired and the bullet hissed spitefully through the air above
their heads.

“Fingal will kill you if he catches you,” panted the girl.

“I’m not going to let him catch me,” answered Bob.

“He will catch you if you try to take me with you! Leave me, I say. I
won’t be hurt. Perhaps, if I turn around and run toward them, I can do
something to help save you.”

“You’re wasting your breath,” said Bob finally. “Save it for running.”

Ysabel was a girl who was accustomed, in some things, to having her
way. She thought that, if Bob persisted in burdening himself with her,
he would surely be captured, and she was anxious to save him at all
costs. Thus, in a fashion, she could atone for what she had done in New
Orleans.

Suddenly, while Bob was dragging her onward, she threw herself upon the
ground.

“I can’t go another step!” she cried breathlessly. “Leave me and save
yourself.”

He made no reply, but bent down and picked the girl up in his arms.
Then, thus burdened, he staggered on along the path.

The pursuers were coming closer and closer. Two or three shots rang
out, so close together that they sounded almost as one. Bob stumbled
and nearly fell.

“You’re hurt!” cried the girl, noticing how his left arm dropped at his
side, releasing her.

“Nicked, that’s all,” he answered. “The shock of it came near to taking
the strength out of me for an instant. I’m all right now, although the
arm isn’t much good for the present.”

“I’ll run along beside you,” said the girl, in a strangely subdued tone.

Her ruse to get Bob to leave her had not succeeded. On the contrary, it
had cost Bob something. The girl, all contrition, ran at his side and
did much better than she had done before.

A turn in the woods put them out of sight of their pursuers and
presented a screen against the vicious firearms.

“Just a little farther,” breathed the girl. “The river is close now.”

“We’ll make it,” returned Bob cheerily. His face was a trifle pale, but
the same dogged look was in his gray eyes which, more than once, had
snatched victory from seeming defeat.

“Does your arm hurt, Bob?” the girl asked.

“It’s feeling better now.”

A little stream of red had run down his hand. The girl stifled a cry as
she looked, but he only laughed lightly.

“A scratch, that’s all,” he assured her. “Let’s see how quick we can
get around that next turn. When we pass that, we’ll have a straight run
to the river.”

They called on every ounce of their reserve strength, and were around
the bend before their enemies had had a chance to do any more firing.

Bob was wondering, during that last lap of their run, whether they
were to be defeated at the very finish of their plucky flight. They
had delayed too long in leaving the girl’s camp. He saw that, plainly
enough, and yet he would not have started back to the boat at all
unless he had received the news contained in Coleman’s note.

Had Dick reached the river in time to attract the attention of those
on the submarine and have the craft brought to the surface, ready and
waiting for Bob and the girl? If not, if the slightest thing had gone
wrong and caused a delay, then Bob and his companion must surely fall
into the hands of Fingal and General Pitou. Yet, harassed though he was
by these doubts, Bob’s nerve did not for a moment desert him.

The rebels were behind them, and firing, when he and Ysabel reached the
bank of the river. But the soldiers were firing wildly now, and their
bullets did not come anywhere near their living targets.

And there, plainly under Bob’s eyes, was the _Grampus_. She was at the
surface, he could hear the throb of her working motor, and Dick was
forward, swinging back on the cable and holding her against the bank.
Carl was half out of the conning tower, tossing his hands frantically.

“Hurry up! hurry up!” clamored Carl. “Don’d led dose fellers ged you,
Bob. Schust a leedle furder und----”

Bob was about to yell for Carl to drop out of the tower and clear the
way, but a bullet, fanning the air close to Carl’s head, caused him to
disappear suddenly.

“You’ll make it!” yelled Dick, reaching over to help the girl to the
rounded steel deck.

“Into the tower hatch with you, Ysabel!” cried Bob. “Help her, Dick,”
he added. “There’s no use hanging to the rope now.”

As Bob scrambled to the deck, the impetus of his leap flung the bow
of the submarine away from the bank. Dick was already pushing and
supporting Ysabel toward the tower hatch.

The bullets were now flying too thickly for comfort, but Bob drew
a long breath of relief when he saw the girl disappear behind the
protection of the tower.

“In with you, Dick!” shouted Bob, the rain of bullets on the steel deck
giving point to his words.

“But you’re hurt, matey,” answered Dick.

“No time to talk!” was Bob’s brief response.

Dick, without delaying matters further, dropped through the top of the
tower. The firing suddenly ceased. As Bob mounted the tower and threw
his feet over the rim, he saw the reason.

Four of the ragged soldiers had leaped from the bank to the submarine’s
deck. More would have come, but the gap of water had grown too wide for
them to leap across it. These four, scrambling and stumbling toward
Bob, caused their comrades to hold their fire for fear of injuring them.

Just as Bob dropped down the iron ladder, the foremost of the negro
soldiers reached the tower. His big hands seized the rim as he made
ready to hoist himself upward and follow the fugitives into the
interior of the boat.

Bob had yet to close the hatch, and the negro’s hands were in the
way. With his clenched fist he struck the black fingers. His work was
somewhat hampered from the fact that his left arm was still not to be
depended on, so he had to use his right hand entirely.

With a howl of pain the negro pulled away his hands. Thereupon, quick
as a flash, Bob reached upward and closed the hatch. Not a moment too
soon was this accomplished, for the other three soldiers had reached
the tower and were preparing to assist their comrade.

Bob pushed into place the lever holding the hatch shut.

“Fill the ballast tanks!” he shouted. “Pass the word to Clackett, Dick.
Lively, now! Ten-foot submersion! We’ve got to clear the decks of these
negroes. If they should break one of the lunettes, we’d be in a serious
fix.”

Down below him Bob could hear Dick roaring his order to Clackett. With
eyes against one of the narrow windows Bob watched the rebel soldiers.

They were beating on the hatch cover with their fists, and kicking
against the sides of the tower. On the bank, their comrades were
running along to keep abreast of the boat and shouting suggestions.

The _Grampus_, steered by Dick with the aid of the periscope, had
turned her nose downstream in the direction of the Izaral. The hissing
of air escaping from the ballast tanks as the water came in was heard
by the four ragamuffins on the outside of the steel shell, and they
began to feel alarm. This strange craft was more than their primitive
minds could comprehend.

Slowly the submarine began to sink. As the water crept up the rounded
deck, the negroes lifted their bare feet out of it gingerly and pushed
up higher. One of them leaped on the conning-tower hatch.

Then, suddenly, the _Grampus_ dropped below the water. A mud-colored
blur closed Bob’s view through the lunette, and as he slid down the
ladder into the periscope room, he heard faint yells from the negroes.

Dick, hanging over the periscope table, twirling the steering wheel,
was laughing loudly.

“Look, Bob!” he cried. “If you ever saw a lot of scared Sambos, there
they are, up there in the Purgatoire!”

Bob stepped to Dick’s side and peered down upon the mirror. Far behind,
in the trail of bubbles sent up from the _Grampus_, the four negroes
were swimming like mad toward the shore. Their comrades on the bank
were leaning out to help them, and it was evident that they would all
be saved.

“We can laugh at the affair now,” said Bob, “yet it was anything but a
laughing matter a while ago. Eh, Ysabel?”

“You saved me, Bob Steele,” replied the girl, “and now let us see how
badly you are hurt.”

“A bandage will fix that in a little while, Ysabel,” said the other;
“just now I’ve got something else to attend to, and the arm can wait.”

Turning back to the periscope, he watched the river bank sliding away
behind them, and waited for the moment when they should draw close to
the Izaral.

Their work--the work which they had one chance in ten of
accomplishing--must be looked after.



CHAPTER XIII.

WAITING FOR SOMETHING.


Ysabel sank down on the top of the locker. Carl had turned on the
electric light in the periscope room and was staring at the girl in
unconcealed amazement.

“How vas dis?” he asked. “Miss Harris, is it you, sure enough?”

“Not Miss Harris,” answered the girl, with a flush, “but Miss Ysabel
Sixty.”

“Oh!” returned Carl, slightly abashed. “Miss Sixdy, dis vas a surbrise.
I hat no itee dot you vas in dis part of der vorld. How id vas----”

“Slow down your motor, Gaines!” shouted Bob, through one of the tubes.
“Make ready the bow anchor, there, Clackett--you don’t need to bother
with the tanks, because we’re going to anchor under the surface. Carl,
go below and make ready to let go the stern anchor when I give the
word. Sharp on it now!”

Carl jumped for the bulkhead door leading to the afterpart of the ship.

Every one on board, with the exception of Dick and Ysabel, were
astounded at these maneuvers of Bob Steele’s. However, Bob was in
charge, and all hands obeyed him without question.

With his eyes on the periscope, Bob stood and watched, now and then
calling a direction to Dick, at the wheel.

When the _Grampus_ shot from the Purgatoire into the Izaral, she went
broadside on against the current of the larger stream. The steel hull
heaved over a little, under the mass of flowing water, but the screw
and the rudder held her stiffly to her course.

“Now,” shouted Bob into the speaking tube, “let go your anchors!”

The swishing clank of chains, paying out under water, came to the ears
of those in the periscope room.

“Anchor’s down!” cried Clackett.

“Der same here!” yelled Carl, his voice ringing from aft.

“Stop the motor, Gaines!” ordered Bob.

The humming of the cylinders ceased, and the _Grampus_, anchored
broadside on across the Izaral, tugged at her mooring chains.

“Where are we, Bob?” came the voice of Gaines through the motor-room
tube. “I thought we were making a run to get away from the
revolutionists.”

“Hardly, Gaines,” answered Bob. “We don’t want to run away and leave
our friends in the hands of the rebels. Come into the periscope room,
all of you, and I’ll explain what we are doing and why we are doing it.”

“And while you’re explaining,” said Ysabel quietly but firmly, “I’ll
take care of your arm. Where is something I can use for a bandage? And
I’d like a sponge and a basin of water.”

“You’ll find a bandage in that locker you’re sitting on, Ysabel,” said
Bob.

“I’ll get the water,” said Dick.

By the time Bob had been divested of his coat, and had had his shirt
sleeve rolled up, Gaines, Clackett, and Carl were in the periscope
room, sitting on the low stools that served for chairs. Dick was back,
also, with the basin of water and the sponge, and Ysabel began dressing
the wounded arm.

“Great guns, Bob!” exclaimed Gaines. “Are you hurt?”

“A scratch, nothing more,” Bob answered. “The bullet simply left a mark
and then went on. I brought you up here, friends,” the young motorist
continued, “to tell you where we are. We’re anchored, broadside on the
current, in the middle of the Izaral River, our periscope ball some
three or four feet above the surface of the water. We are going to stay
here and wait for something to happen.”

“What’s to happen?” asked Clackett.

“Well, we’ve got news that a motor launch is coming down the Izaral
loaded with prisoners. If possible, we must intercept the launch. Dick
says we’ve a chance in ten of winning out, but we can’t neglect even so
slim a chance as that, as it happens to be our only one.”

Gaines, Clackett, and Carl were even more deeply puzzled than they had
been.

“Who are the prisoners?” inquired Gaines.

“Coleman, for one--the man we came to rescue. Then there are Jordan,
Speake, and, I hope, Tirzal.”

“Jordan and those with him were really captured?” demanded Clackett.

“Yes.”

“Ah, vat luck!” wailed Carl. “Ve come afder vone Amerigan consul und
lose anodder!”

Bob, carefully watching the periscope as he talked, repeated
the experiences that had overtaken him and Dick while they were
reconnoitering to find some trace of Jordan’s party.

The presence of Ysabel had aroused much curiosity in all of them, and
the explanation as to how she came to be on the boat straightened out
that part of the matter to the satisfaction of every one. Carl, in
particular, was highly pleased. He had dried himself out, after his
fall in the river, and was feeling easy in his mind, now that Bob and
Dick, at least, had been kept out of the hands of General Pitou.

“You did a big t’ing, Miss Sixdy,” said Carl, “ven you safed Bob und
Dick, und Bob did more ven he safed you, so dot vas efen. Now, if ve
don’d make some misdakes in our galgulations und are aple to resgue dot
boat loadt of brisoners, eferypody vill be so habby as I can’d dell. Of
gourse, I’m not in it, at all. I haf to shday behindt und dake care of
der supmarine.”

“Do you feel pretty sure, Bob,” queried Gaines, “that the motor launch
with the prisoners will come down the Izaral?”

“All we have to go on, Gaines, is Coleman’s note,” answered Bob. “I
may say that this move constitutes our only hope. If something doesn’t
happen, about as we expect and hope it will, then we’ll have to give up
all thought of doing anything for Coleman, or our friends.”

“We’ll hope something will happen, mate,” said Dick. “In case the
launch comes down the river, what are you intending to do?”

“I have my plans, Dick,” said Bob. “If every one carries out his orders
on the jump, I feel pretty sure the plan will carry. The main thing is
to keep a keen watch for the launch.”

“That’s easy enough during daylight, with the periscope ball
elevated as it is,” remarked Gaines, “but if the launch happens to
come downstream in the night--which, it strikes me, is altogether
likely--then the boat is apt to get past us.”

“Not if a good lookout is kept.”

“How will you keep a good lookout if you don’t go to the surface?”

“Well, what the eye can’t see, the ear will have to tell us. The hollow
ball and the hollow periscope mast will bring the chug of the motor
boat’s engine into the submarine. The craft ought to be heard a good
distance away. One man will have to be at the periscope all the time,
and all the rest of you must be at your stations, ready to carry out
orders at a second’s notice. You go down to the motor room, Gaines,
and Clackett, you go to the tank room. I will stay on the lookout. At
midnight, I will have Carl and Dick relieve both of you, but all hands
must be on the alert to turn out at a moment’s warning. Carl will get
some supper for us, and pass it around.”

Bob, as usual, had made no arrangement whereby he could secure any rest
for himself. But he felt that he could not rest, even if he had the
chance.

The rescue of Coleman meant much to Captain Nemo, junior, for on the
performance of the _Grampus_ might depend the sale of the submarine to
the United States government. While the failure to rescue Coleman, and
even the loss of Jordan, Speake, and the pilot had nothing to do with
the boat’s capabilities, yet failure, nevertheless, would spoil a sale
and fill the authorities in Washington with distrust.

The _Grampus_ was not a passenger boat, and she had now a lady
passenger to take care of. Bob finally solved the difficulty by having
Ysabel conducted to a small steel room abaft the periscope chamber.
This was set aside entirely for the girl’s use, and she arranged a
fairly comfortable bed on the floor.

After supper had been eaten, Ysabel retired to her cabin, and Carl and
Dick nodded drowsily on the locker in the periscope room. Bob, wide
awake as a hawk, kept his eyes on the periscope table and his ears
attuned for the first sound of the launch’s motor.

Night, however, closed in without bringing any sign of the boat. The
gloom, of course, put the periscope out of commission as it deepened,
but still Bob watched the table top, looking for possible lights and
listening for the clank of machinery.

Dick took Bob’s place for an hour or two, while Bob lay down and tried
to sleep. Although he had had only three hours’ sleep in two days, yet
the young motorist found it impossible to lose himself in slumber. He
was keyed up to too high a pitch, and was too worried.

At midnight he sent Dick and Carl to relieve Gaines and Clackett, and
was alone with his vigils in the periscope room.

From midnight on, the night seemed an eternity; and the gloomy hours
passed without anything happening. Bob had believed with Gaines that
night would be the time the captors would choose for coming down the
river with their captives. Inasmuch as they had not come, did this mean
that they were not coming at all? that General Pitou had changed his
plans?

Desperately Bob clung to his last shred of hope and watched the coming
day reflect itself in a gray haze over the top of the periscope table.

Slowly the trees along the river stood out with constantly increasing
distinctness, and the bosom of the rolling river took form beneath his
eyes. Upstream he could see nothing, but--what was that he heard?

Scarcely breathing, he gripped at the table top and listened intently.
A motor boat was coming downstream--his ears had heard it before the
periscope had been able to pick it up.

“At your stations, everybody!” he shouted. “Dick! up here in the
periscope room with you! The motor launch is coming!”



CHAPTER XIV.

A GREAT PLAY.


Instantly all was commotion on board the submarine, but it was orderly
commotion. Clackett jumped to his ballast tanks, Gaines “turned his
engine over,” and Carl and Dick hastened into the periscope room.

“Aft with you, Carl,” called Bob, “and stand by to take in the stern
anchor. Clackett, forward, and be ready for the bow anchor. Dick,”
Bob’s eyes were again on the periscope table, “bring all the loose
coils of rope you can find and lay them on the locker.”

Dick had no notion what the ropes were wanted for, but he went for
them, and soon had four coils laid along the top of the locker. After
that, he passed to the steering wheel, standing shoulder to shoulder
beside Bob in front of the periscope table.

There was an atmosphere of expectancy all through the submarine. Every
nerve was strained, and each person stood at his post almost with bated
breath. Ysabel, without speaking, came into the periscope room and
watched Bob with steady eyes.

“There she is!” cried Dick, his eyes on the periscope mirror; “I see
her coming!”

Bob also saw the motor launch, breaking into sight against the
background of indistinct foliage, far up the stream. The boat was
comparatively small, and well loaded. Fingal was in the bow thwarts,
with a rifle across his knees; in the stern was Cassidy and a negro
soldier, both likewise armed with rifles. Between Fingal and Cassidy
and the negro were the prisoners. There were four of them--Jordan,
Speake, Tirzal, and a slender, full-bearded man in a battered solar
hat. Cassidy was close to the gasoline engine and was evidently looking
after it. Fingal, from the bow, was doing the steering.

“They’re all there,” said Bob, in a calm, matter-of-fact tone. “Come
here, Ysabel.”

The girl stepped obediently to his side. Bob pointed to one of the
prisoners reflected in the mirror.

“Is that Coleman?” he asked.

“Yes,” was the answer.

“You’d better go back and sit down, Ysabel,” said Bob. “Pretty soon
we’re going to need all the space we have in this vicinity.”

Bob was easy, almost smiling. A great relief had come to him, for the
launch was in sight with four captives and three captors, and now it
lay with Bob alone whether his friends and Coleman should be released
or not.

“Why don’t you do something?” implored Dick, his hands shaking with
excitement.

“I’m waiting for the right time,” was the cool answer.

“We’ve only two revolvers,” muttered Dick, “and there are three rifles
in that boat. What can we do?”

“Nothing with firearms. We’ve got to make a different play, Dick.”

A moment longer Bob waited, studying the approach of the launch with
calculating eyes; then, suddenly, he turned.

“In with the anchors, Clackett, you and Carl,” he called. “See how
quick you can get them off the bottom. Start your engine, Gaines,” he
added.

The lifting of the anchors caused the _Grampus_ to drift with the
current. But only for a moment. Soon the screw took the push and Dick,
under orders from Bob, headed the craft upstream and the propeller
worked just fast enough to hold her steady.

“Anchor’s stowed!” called Clackett.

“Jump for the tank room, Clackett!” called Bob. “Carl, up here with
you.”

As Carl came rolling excitedly into the periscope room, Clackett
reported, by tube, that he was back at his usual post.

“Keep the _Grampus_ pointed for the launch, Dick,” said Bob. “Carl,
take a coil of rope and climb to the conning-tower hatch. The moment
the tower’s awash, open the hatch, get out on the deck and do what you
can with the rope.”

Carl was bewildered. What was he to do with the rope? Nevertheless, he
obeyed orders.

Bob continued to watch the periscope table and to calculate. Then,
again suddenly, he whirled to the tube communicating with the tank
chamber.

“Empty the tanks by compressed air, Clackett!” he called. “See how
quick you can do it! Everything depends on you!”

The hiss of the air was heard ejecting the water. The submarine began
to rise.

“Bring her up under the launch, Dick!” cried Bob. “Make no mistake, old
chap! _Under the launch_, mind!”

A thrill ran through Dick Ferral’s nerves. At last he understood what
his friend was about! Had he had time, Dick would have liked to give
Bob Steele a hug from sheer admiration.

“When the tanks are empty,” shouted Bob to Clackett, “come up, take a
coil of rope and rush for the deck.”

“Aye, aye, sir!” called Clackett.

The periscope revealed a strange situation. The launch was almost upon
the periscope ball. Too late those in the motor boat recognized the
device. Before the boat could sheer off, the _Grampus_ had risen under
her bodily and lifted her clear of the water. The steel hull of the
submarine shivered, and wild cries came from those in the motor boat.

Dick grabbed a coil of rope and leaped for the iron ladder.

“Up with the hatch, Carl!” he yelled. “Out on the deck and see how many
you can pull out of the river.”

Carl, wrenching back on the lever and throwing up the dripping hatch
cover, scrambled out.

“Steer from the tower, Dick,” Bob called, racing up the ladder, “as
soon as the hatchway is cleared.”

Clackett followed Bob, and Ysabel Sixty followed Clackett. The thrill
of the moment was in the girl’s nerves. She could not have held herself
back if she had wanted to. Armed with a coil of rope, she climbed over
the rim of the hatch and out on the slippery plates of the deck.

What Bob saw, when he struck the deck, was an overturned launch in the
water, and two men clinging to the bow of the _Grampus_. One of these
was Cassidy and the other was Tirzal. The former was clinging to the
flagstaff, and the other to one of the wire cable guys. By an accident,
they had held to the curved deck instead of slipping back into the
water.

Dick, from the tower, was able to direct the boat so as to facilitate
the picking up of those in the river.

Carl tossed a rope to Speake, Bob got one to Coleman, and Clackett
succeeded in getting a line in the hands of Jordan. Ysabel tossed one
end of her rope to Fingal, but he flung it aside with an oath. The
negro soldier reached for it, but Fingal struck his hand fiercely
aside, seized the soldier by the neck and began swimming with him
toward the river bank.

While the rescued prisoners were being hauled aboard, Bob watched
Fingal and the negro. The current was swift, but both men were strong
swimmers. To Bob’s satisfaction he saw the two gain the bank and get
safely upon dry ground. Fingal’s move was characteristic of him, for,
as soon as he could lift himself, he shook his clenched fist at the
submarine and those on her deck. If he had had a rifle, undoubtedly he
would have done some shooting.

“Bob Steele!” cried Jordan. He was sitting on the deck, his back
against the side of the conning tower, shaking the water out of his
ears.

“Well?” asked Bob.

“Did you come up under that launch by accident, or did you do it
purposely?”

“I had that all figured out, Jordan,” laughed Bob.

“It was the greatest play I ever heard of!”

“It was the only one we could make that would stand any show of
winning. When you and Speake and Tirzal left the _Grampus_, you took
all the rifles. We were left with only a brace of six-shooters. Of
course I knew better than to try to get the best of Fingal, Cassidy,
and the soldier with two popguns when they were armed with rifles.”

“Of course you did!” chuckled Jordan. “I’m as wet as a drowned rat,
but I’m happy--oh, yes, happier than I ever thought I should be, a
few minutes ago. By the way, Bob, that gentleman with the dripping
whiskers is Jeremiah Coleman, the fellow we came to rescue, and just
missed leaving a few more prisoners to keep him company. Jerry, shake
hands with Bob Steele. He was complimented in those messages from New
Orleans, and I must say that he fills the bill.”

“Glad to meet you, Bob Steele,” said Coleman, as he leaned to take
Bob’s hand. “You’ve done a fine thing for all of us, and it’s something
that won’t be forgotten in a hurry.”

“Cassidy and Tirzal seem to have come aboard without gettin’ wet,”
remarked Clackett, with a glance of contempt in the direction of the
mate. Cassidy sat on the deck with his head bowed, as abject a figure
as Bob ever saw.

“Which way now, Bob?” asked Dick.

“Belize,” replied Bob. “Go down the ladder and let Tirzal take the
wheel until we all get below; after that, Tirzal can steer from the
tower. Go below, gentlemen, with Dick. You’ll feel more comfortable
after you dry your clothes, and then we can have a talk. There are a
lot of things I’ve got to find out.”

Ysabel led the descent into the periscope room; Coleman followed her,
then Tirzal, then Speake, and then Jordan. Clackett and Carl brought
up the rear of the procession, both, with their eyes, telling the
melancholy Cassidy what they thought of him as they dropped down the
tower hatch.

“Better go below, Cassidy,” said Bob calmly.

For answer, the mate jerked a revolver from a belt at his waist and
lifted the muzzle to his breast.

In a twinkling, Bob had hurled himself across the slippery deck and
knocked the weapon out of Cassidy’s hand.

“You’re less of a man than I thought you, Cassidy,” cried Bob
contemptuously, “to think of such a thing as that!”



CHAPTER XV.

ON THE WAY.


“What have I got left to live for?” growled Cassidy, looking up into
Bob’s face. “I turned against the best friend I ever had just because
he had sense enough to put a better head than mine in charge of the
_Grampus_.”

“You took to drinking,” said Bob. “That, I think, was at the bottom
of what you did. But I don’t harbor any grudge, and I don’t believe
Captain Nemo, junior, will, either.”

“He’ll never overlook this,” muttered Cassidy, shaking his head. “An’
it was him that pulled me out of the gutter, up there in Philadelphia,
set me on my feet, and done everything possible to make a man o’ me. I
ain’t fit to live!”

“When a man’s not fit to live,” said Bob, tempted to be out of
patience, “he certainly is not fit to die. Look this thing square in
the face, Cassidy, and live it down.”

“But you don’t know all I done.”

“I guess I do, pretty near.”

“No, you don’t. I began plannin’ to do some underhand work, the minute
I heard what the cap’n was going to do for you. Whenever I git a
drink in me, I’m ripe for anything. That’s why I sampled that brandy
I was bringing to the cap’n. I wanted to nerve myself up for what I
was plannin’ to do. I listened to you when you was reading the sealed
orders. I heard it all, and I knew I had something then that was
valuable. As soon as you and Ferral left the _Grampus_, I got away,
too. As I stepped out o’ the sailboat at the landing, this Cap’n
Fingal spoke me. We went into a drinkin’ place by the wharf and we
spilled a lot of rum down our throats. That was enough to set us both
going. I told Fingal what I knowed, and he told me a lot about himself.
He said he’d make it right with me if I could get you disabled so you
couldn’t manage the _Grampus_, and would have to be left behind. That,
as Fingal and I both figgered, would put me in command. It was to
handle you rough, and land you in a hospital, that we trailed you to
the consulate. When we failed there, we come back to the landing, and
Fingal says for me to jump aboard his schooner with him and then lay
for the _Grampus_ up the Izaral. I told Fingal I thought it was the
Rio Dolce, but he laughed and said if you’d read it that way you was
stringing me.

“I was about ready to quit on the business, after what happened at the
consulate, but Fingal got more rum down me, talked about how I’d been
imposed on, and told what a fine thing it would be if we could make you
fail in the work you had come down here to do.

“That kind of pleased me, too. If I could have fixed it so you’d fall
down on the job the cap’n had laid out for you, then, I thought, the
cap’n would think he had made a mistake in not putting me up as boss of
the submarine. Funny how a feller’s idees will git squeegeed that away
as soon as he gets a little grog under hatches.

“Well, anyway, I went with Fingal. We left the schooner at Port
Livingstone, and Fingal told the mate of the schooner to go down to
Barrios and stay there till Fingal joined him. Then we stole the motor
boat and hustled up the river to that outfit of ragamuffins that’s
hopin’ to grab the country and turn it over to another dictator. I
was disgusted with the lot of ’em, and with old Pitou more’n any of
the rest. I wouldn’t go near Coleman, and when our information worked
out, and Jordan and the half-breed was captured, I felt sore enough
at myself; but it was Speake that cut me up the worst. Him and me had
always been friendly on the _Grampus_, and there I was, after betraying
him into the hands of his enemies. Oh, I tell you, Bob, I felt bad
enough to go down to the river and jump in. Then, when old Pitou made
up his mind to send the prisoners down the river in the launch to
another of his hangouts where he thought they’d be safer, and app’inted
me as one of the guards to go with ’em and see that none of ’em got
away, I felt about as respectable as a horse thief. Of course, when you
bumped us on the bottom with the submarine, I couldn’t sink into the
river and never come up; oh, no, I just naturally had to land right
on the deck, without so much as getting my feet wet. I don’t know how
I ever can go back to Belize and look the cap’n in the face. That’s
honest.”

Cassidy’s regret for what he had done was so profound that it made a
deep impression on Bob.

“You’re not a bad fellow at heart, Cassidy,” said he. “Captain Nemo,
junior, knows that, as well as all the rest of us. Besides, it was a
little bit rough to jump a fellow like me over the head of an old hand
like you, and----”

“It wasn’t!” growled Cassidy; “not a bit of it!” He lifted his fierce
eyes. “Think I’ve got the head to do what you done? No, not in a
thousand years! The cap’n knowed what he was about, and I didn’t have
sense enough to see it.”

“Well, you buck up and go to the captain. You didn’t cause any great
harm, anyhow, the way things have come out. The captain will be so
pleased over what’s been accomplished that he’ll overlook a good deal.
I’ll say a good word for you, Cassidy.”

“You will?” demanded the mate incredulously.

“Yes.”

“Well, that’s a heap more’n I deserve.”

“You’ll be the mate to help us back to Belize. I’m in charge until we
get there, and I order you to go below and go on duty.”

“Orders is orders, I reckon.” Cassidy hoisted himself up and followed
Bob to the tower hatch and down into the periscope room. The room was
fairly crowded, and a roar of delight went up at the sight of Bob.
It died away suddenly as Cassidy showed himself. A glitter came into
Speake’s eyes as he regarded the mate.

“Better lock Cassidy up somewhere, Bob,” suggested Jordan.

“Yes,” grunted Speake venomously, “or tie his hands and feet an’ throw
him overboard.”

“You’re wrong in your drift, friends,” said Bob quietly. “Cassidy is
a good fellow at heart, and Fingal twisted him around his fingers. I
haven’t any fault to find with Cassidy, and he’s going back to Belize
as mate of the _Grampus_.”

“Well, that’s playing it kind of rough on some of the honest men that
stood by the ship!” protested Dick.

“Vat a foolishness, Bob!” exploded Carl. “Dot feller come pooty near
being der finish of you.”

“Better think that over a little, Bob,” suggested Jordan.

“Him planty bad man,” said Tirzal, climbing up into the tower in order
to do his steering from the lookout.

“If he stays, mate, I resign!” snapped Speake.

“No, you don’t, Speake!” answered Bob. “I’m master of this boat until
we get back to Belize. Cassidy’s mate, and you’re in the torpedo room.”

“You see how it is, Bob,” muttered Cassidy.

“It’s as I want it, Cassidy,” said Bob firmly, “as far as Belize.”

“But, look here,” began Speake, disposed to argue the point, “here’s a
man, holdin’ the responsible position of mate, as goes----”

“Forget that for a while, Speake,” interrupted Bob, “and remember the
number of times Cassidy’s pluck and friendship have been a help to all
of us. Put all the fine things Cassidy has done into one side of the
scale, and this one black mark in the other, and there’s still more
than enough left to entitle him to our confidence.”

“I’m obliged to you, Steele,” said Cassidy. “I’ll go on as mate as far
as Belize, and then the cap’n can settle the matter as he thinks right.
Just now, though, I’m tired and I guess I’ll go to the torpedo room and
take a rest.”

“All right,” said Bob. “You go to the torpedo room, too, Speake.”

Speake hesitated, then followed Cassidy out of the room.

“You’re a queer jigger, Bob Steele,” remarked Jordan.

“But he’s right, all the same,” said Coleman.

“Oh, yes, Jerry,” Jordan interposed, grinning, “you stick in your oar!
You’re sort o’ chesty for a chap who’s been stowed away in the jungle
with revolutionists for a couple of weeks or more, eating mule meat,
and making all kinds of trouble for the state department of your native
country! How’d you get run away with, in the first place?”

“That was too easy, Hays,” laughed Coleman. “I came across from the
Pacific to Port Livingstone, and while I was there, the revolutionists
gobbled me.”

“I believe you said they’d treated you well?”

“The best they could. I played poker with Pitou, and I learned, before
I had been two days in the rebel camp, that it wasn’t safe to beat the
general. As long as I allowed him to beat me, I was treated to the best
he had. Whenever I beat him, my rations--even the mule meat--were cut
down.”

Coleman turned to Ysabel, who had been sitting quietly by.

“I’m mighty glad, little girl,” said he, “that you are able to get
clear of Pitou and Fingal.”

“So am I, Mr. Coleman,” answered Ysabel. “If it hadn’t been for Bob
Steele I’d be still in the camp.”

“Bob Steele again!” laughed Coleman.

“Always Bob Steele!” chimed in Jordan, with a quizzical look at the
youth.

“He iss der feller vat does t’ings, you bet,” declared Carl.

“Let’s hear about what happened while Speake, Tirzal, and I were away
from the boat,” suggested Jordan.

“Not now,” answered Bob. “I’m hungry, whether the rest of you are or
not. Speake,” he called through the tube leading to the torpedo room,
“see if you can get something in the way of breakfast.”

“Aye, aye, sir!” answered Speake heartily.

For some time the _Grampus_ had been heaving and tossing in a way that
made it difficult for those in the periscope room to keep their seats.
Bob took a look into the periscope.

“Ah!” said he; “we’re out of the river and heading for Belize.”

“And glad I’ll be to get back there,” remarked Jordan, with
satisfaction. “You’ve made me a lot of trouble, Coleman.”

“I seem to have made a lot of you a good deal of trouble,” returned
Coleman, “and I’m mighty glad I’ve ceased to figure as an international
issue.”

“We all are, for that matter,” said Jordan.



CHAPTER XVI.

A DASH OF TABASCO.


In due course the delayed breakfast came up from the torpedo room. By
some error, Speake had mixed an overdose of tabasco sauce with the
canned beans which he had warmed up on his electric stove.

“Glory!” sputtered Jordan, reaching for water. “Speake must have mixed
a Whitehead torpedo in that mess of beans.”

“Only a dash of tabasco,” replied Coleman. “Haven’t you been in Central
America long enough to like hot stuff?”

“Not long enough, anyhow, to acquire an asbestos stomach. Talking
about a dash of tabasco, though, Bob Steele’s raid on the rebels must
have been something of that variety. Reel it off, Bob. We’re all good
listeners.”

“You do it, Dick,” said Bob. “You were with me and did as much of the
work as I did.”

“No, sir!” remonstrated Dick. “I didn’t take care of Ysabel during that
run for the river, did I. And I didn’t get that piece of lead through
my arm, either.”

Thereupon Dick waded into past events as he and Bob had experienced
them. He slighted his own deeds to give a greater luster to Bob’s, and
finally Bob, in self-defense, had to take the telling into his own
hands and finish it.

“Well,” exclaimed Jordan, “there’s enough tabasco in that run of work
to satisfy almost anybody. But, if Bob Steele hadn’t come up under that
launch as he did, all of us prisoners, my dear friends, would now be
tramping through the jungle toward Pitou’s new camp.”

“I’m glad that note of mine proved so valuable to us,” spoke up Coleman.

“How did you come to lay all that information aboard, Mr. Coleman?”
inquired Dick. “It seemed main queer that a prisoner could have got
wise to all that.”

“Pitou told me,” said Coleman, with a twinkle in his eye, “over a poker
game. He indulged in liquid refreshment, as I remember, and the more
he beat me, and the more he indulged, the more confidential he became.
I knew Pedro was a friend of Ysabel’s, and that he was helping her to
leave the camp, so I managed to write down what I had heard, hoping
that Ysabel might get to Port Livingstone and give the news to somebody
there who could and would help us.”

“You haven’t told us, Mr. Jordan,” said Bob, “what happened to your
landing party.”

“I hesitate to put it into cold words,” answered Jordan, “after
listening to a recital which shows that you are a general in that sort
of affair, Bob, while I am only a private. By rights, my lad, you are
the one who should have gone with that landing party. However, since
it appears necessary to have our experiences in order to make the
testimony complete, here goes.

“By accident we struck a path. Tirzal said he knew about the path, but
I think the good-natured rascal was talking for effect, and that he had
never seen it before. I was fairly sure in my own mind, mainly because
we had seen nothing of Fingal’s schooner after leaving Belize nor of
a small boat after leaving Port Livingstone, that Fingal and Cassidy
hadn’t reached the revolutionists and told what they knew. I suspect
that that’s what made me careless, for I was that when you consider
that we were out on a reconnoitering expedition and ought to have been
looking for traps as well as for revolutionists.

“Well, the trap was sprung at a turn in the path. I wasn’t able to
see around the turn, and a bunch of colored persons in ragged clothes
were on us before you could say Jack Robinson. This happened quite a
little while after we got away from the boat. As I recollect, we had
reconnoitered, and had been led away from the path on some wild-goose
chase or other by Tirzal half a dozen times. I was just thinking about
returning to the boat when we pushed around that turn.

“I had time to shoot, and it so happened that I wounded a colored
person who was a favorite captain of the general’s. It wasn’t a serious
wound, but the general was pretty badly worked up over it, and I
didn’t know but they would stand me against a tree and shoot me out of
hand before I could make the general understand I was in the consular
service. At the right moment, Fingal came up, and he recognized
me. The general was tickled, and felt sure he had enough consular
representatives of the United States in his hands to insure the giving
up of Jim Sixty. Nice business, eh, Coleman,” and Jordan turned aside
to his friend, “when it takes two fellows like you and me to make an
even exchange for a fellow like that filibuster?”

“Well,” answered Coleman, “Sixty is worth more to the rebels than we
are. It’s what a thing’s worth to somebody else, and not what you think
it’s worth to you, that counts.”

“The point’s too fine and gets away from me,” went on Jordan. “That’s
about all of it, Bob. Poor Tirzal was recognized as a spy, and he
would have been shot quick enough if I hadn’t threatened the general
with all sorts of things if he carried out his intentions. Out of
consideration for me, Pitou agreed to wait until we got to the new camp
before shooting Tirzal. That’s the only thing, Bob, that saved the
half-breed’s life.”

Bob was beginning to feel the effects of his long period of active duty
without sufficient sleep, and he called Cassidy from the torpedo room,
left him in charge of the _Grampus_, and then lay down on the locker
and was soon slumbering soundly.

When he was awakened it was by Jordan. It was getting along toward
evening, and the _Grampus_ was anchored in her old berth off Belize. A
sailboat was alongside to take the passengers ashore.

Jordan, Coleman, Tirzal, Cassidy, and Bob were to go, and, of course,
Ysabel. Dick was left to look after the submarine.

Ysabel left Bob and the rest at the landing.

“Shall I see you again, Bob,” she asked, “you and the rest of the boys?”

“I hope so, Ysabel,” answered the youth, “but I also hope we won’t have
such rough times when our trails cross again.”

“Have I helped you enough to offset what I did in New Orleans?”

“Don’t mention that--forget about it. The account is more than square.”

“Good-by, then,” she called, in a stifled voice, and hurried off along
the street.

Jordan and Coleman went on to the house where the captain had been
taken, accompanying Bob and Cassidy. The mate was going to present
himself frankly before the captain, acknowledge his fault, and then
abide by the full consequences. But fate decreed that the matter should
turn out otherwise.

The captain, as it chanced, was very much worse and was unable to
recognize any one. The doctor averred that the case was not serious,
and that, with good nursing, Captain Nemo, junior, would pull through
all right.

“If he wants a nurse, doctor,” said Cassidy, “then it’s up to me. I
took care of him in New Orleans, the time he was sick there, and I
guess I can do it now better than any one else.”

“Then pull off your coat,” said the doctor, “and go up to his room.”

All this was as it should be. For the present, the _Grampus_ was still
under Bob’s care, and he started back toward the wharf to secure a
sailboat and return to the submarine.

Jordan and Coleman accompanied him part way, then left him to telegraph
their report of recent events to Washington.

“We’re going to handle you and the _Grampus_ without gloves in that
report,” declared Jordan, with a wink.

“Just so you please the government and make the navy department take
the submarine off the captain’s hands,” returned Bob, “that’s all I
care.”



CHAPTER XVII.

A SERIOUS SERENADE.


While Jordan was preparing his telegraphic report, Bob and his chums
started in quest of lodgings in the town. They finally found rooms in
a small hotel, dignified by the name of International, and there they
established their temporary headquarters and rested for several days.

One evening, however, Carl, who sometimes was inclined to be
sentimental and romantic, borrowed a guitar from a Spanish waiter at
the hotel, and went out to serenade Ysabel Sixty, in true Spanish
fashion.

He managed to escape, unnoticed by either Bob or Dick, and without
confiding his purpose to them; so, well pleased with himself, he
strolled on through the quiet streets.

It was a rare evening in old Belize. The moon was like a big yellow
topaz pinned to a cushion of blue-black velvet, and around it lay the
stars like scattered diamonds. Carl could not see the moon or stars
very distinctly, for it was so beastly hot that the perspiration
trickled into his eyes and half blinded him.

The zephyrs, laden with spicy fragrance from orange groves and
pineapple fields, breathed softly through the palms; but Carl could not
enjoy the zephyrs, for a cloud of mosquitoes was pestering him.

The house before which Carl paused was a whitewashed bungalow. Between
the bungalow and the street ran a high brick wall. The iron gate
leading into the yard was locked, and Carl climbed the wall.

Carl was not very well acquainted with the lay of the land in Belize.
By an error of judgment he had got into the wrong yard, and by another
conspiracy of circumstances he began pouring out his enraptured soul
under the window of a room in which Captain Reginald Pierce, of the
local constabulary, was trying to sleep. Miss Sixty was staying with
relatives a block farther on, around the corner of the next street.

Utterly unaware of his mistake, Carl fought the discomforts of his
situation and heroically burst into song.

Carl knew how to play the guitar, for he had once been a member of a
knockabout musical team, and he could get music out of anything from
a set of sleigh bells to a steam calliope. If he had been able to use
his voice as well as he used the guitar, Captain Reginald Pierce would
probably have slept on or even have been lulled into deeper slumber;
but there were flaws in Carl’s youthful baritone.

Captain Reginald Pierce stirred uneasily, sat up suddenly in his bed,
and knocked his high forehead against the iron bar that supported a
canopy of mosquito netting. As he rubbed his temples and said things
to himself, he listened with growing anger, and began forming a plan
of campaign. There was a pitcher of water on a table in his room, a
bulldog in the yard, and a valiant assistant in the form of Hadji Sing,
his Hindu servant. Getting softly out of bed, the captain prepared for
his attack on the enemy.

When Carl climbed over the wall he had dropped into the yard at the
foot of a lemon tree. He had jarred the tree and a half-ripe lemon had
dropped on him. This omen should have sent him away and postponed the
serenade, but it did not.

After slapping at the mosquitoes and drawing his sleeve across his
eyes, Carl went on picking the guitar, and singing manfully.

Just then the water descended. It was well aimed and Carl caught the
whole of it. Probably there was no more than a couple of gallons, but
Carl, for the moment, was under the impression that it was a tidal wave.

His song died out in a wheezy gurgle, and, for a moment, he was
stunned. Then, suddenly, he realized that he had been insulted. Ysabel
Sixty, the beautiful maiden who had captured his young fancy, had
deliberately thrown---- But his thoughts were interrupted by a voice
from the window, a voice that certainly was not Miss Sixty’s.

“By Jove! I’ll throw the pitcher at you, fellow, if you don’t clear
out!”

Carl was dazed. He knew, then, that he had made a mistake. While he
stood there, half drowned and trying to find his voice, the bark of an
approaching dog came from the rear of the house.

Self-preservation is the first law of nature, and instantly it flashed
over Carl that if he wanted to save himself he would have to run.
Without standing on the order of his going, he whirled and fled toward
the fence. The dog was close and rapidly drawing closer. Behind the
dog came a white-turbaned figure that was urging the brute onward with
strange language.

The front fence looked altogether too high for Carl, and he turned and
made for a wall at the side of the yard. Just as he gained the foot of
the barrier the dog was snapping at his heels.

“Dere!” he whooped, turning and smashing the guitar over the dog’s
head; “how you like dot, hey?”

The dog was rebuffed, but not discouraged. Carl had gained a few
valuable seconds, and he grabbed at a vine that covered the wall and
climbed frantically upward. He heard a growl below him as he ascended,
and felt a shock as the savage teeth closed in his trousers. The
dog was heavy, his jaws were as strong as a steel trap, and as Carl
hung wildly to the vine he knew that something would have to give
way or else that he would be captured. It was with a feeling of joy,
therefore, that he heard a tearing sound and experienced a sudden
relief from his enforced burden. The next moment he was over the wall
and floundering about in a thorny rosebush covered with beautiful
blossoms. But the beautiful blossoms did not make so deep an impression
on Carl as did the thorns.

As he rolled out of the bushes his language was intense and earnest;
and when he got up in a cleared stretch of ground he felt a sudden
coolness below the waist line that informed him fully of his
predicament. He had left an important part of his apparel in the next
yard.

“Vat luck!” he muttered. “Vat a laff Bob und Dick vill gif me! Vell, I
can’t go pack py der hotel like dis! Vat shall I do?”

He paused to shake his fist in the direction of the yard he had just
left. All was silent on the other side, and the man and the dog, Carl
reasoned, must have gone back where they belonged.

A survey of the situation in the moonlight showed Carl another
bungalow. It was not so pretentious as the house in the next inclosure,
but its walls were as brightly whitewashed and the building stood out
clearly against its background of shrubbery. The windows of the house
were dark. But this was to be expected, as the hour was past midnight.
The noise which Carl had made had not seemed to disturb the inmates.

“If I had der nerf,” thought Carl, “I vould go dere und ask der beople
for somet’ing to fix my pants. But meppy I vouldt get soaked mit some
more vater, und meppy dere is anodder tog. No, I vill go pack py der
hodel und led Bob und Dick laff as mooch as dey vill.”

But luck was still against Carl; or, perhaps, in the inscrutable way
whereby fate occasionally works in order to secure the greatest good
for the greatest number, he was merely encountering obstacles in order
to gain knowledge of a plot that had been leveled against Bob Steele.

Carl found a tall iron gate, set into the high front wall as snugly as
a door in its casing. But the gate was locked. More than that, the wall
could not be scaled, for there were no vines or near-by trees to offer
a lift upward.

Carefully he made his way around all four sides of the inclosure, only
to be balked at every point. Then he hunted for a ladder, a box, or
some other movable thing on which he could stand while getting over the
wall, but his search was fruitless.

“Vell,” he muttered, again moving toward the house, “I vill haf to
shpeak mit somepody in der place und dry und ged oudt. I don’d vant to
shday here undil morning.”

At the rear of the house he rapped. Although he pounded heavily, no one
answered his summons. Alarmed by the thought that there was no one at
home, he moved around to the front door and rapped again, still without
effect. Next he tried the door. To his amazement he found it unlocked,
and, when the door swung open, a blank darkness yawned beyond it.

“Hello, somepody!” Carl called, thrusting his head inside. “I’m not a
t’ief, or anyt’ing like dot, but I’m in drouple. Hello! Come und led me
oudt of der yardt, blease, if you vill be so kindt.”

His voice echoed rumblingly through the interior of the house, but won
no response. Hesitatingly, Carl stepped across the threshold. He had
matches in his pocket, and they had come through the recent deluge
unharmed. With fingers none too steady he scratched one, held the
flickering glow above him and peered around.

The next moment his startled eyes encountered an object on the floor
that caused him to drop the match from his nerveless fingers and fall
back gaspingly against the wall.



CHAPTER XVIII.

DON RAMON ORTEGA.


The object which had so startled the Dutch boy was the figure of a
middle-aged man, sprawled at full length on the floor matting. His
hands were secured behind him and his feet were bound at the ankles
with twisted towels. Over the lower part of his face another towel had
been tied, thus effectually preventing outcry.

Carl’s own troubles faded into the background. As he slowly got the
whip hand of himself, he struck another match and stepped to the man’s
side. The man gurgled incoherently behind the gag and his dark eyes
pleaded for immediate release.

“Dere is some tricky bizness here, I guess!” exclaimed Carl. “Don’d be
schared of me,” he added to the man, “I’m a friendt, und I vill help
you. Schust vait a leedle undil I ged a bedder lighdt.”

There was an oil lamp on a table, and Carl stepped to it and applied
a match to the wick. In the glow that presently flooded the room, the
Dutch boy returned to the man, knelt down beside him, and removed the
towels.

The man, attempting to rise, fell helplessly back again.

“Vas you hurt?” asked Carl solicitously.

“Hurt?” echoed the man, speaking good English, although with a very
perceptible foreign accent. “Not at all, señor; only my limbs--they are
so cramped from confinement that I cannot stand. Soon they will be all
right. But who are you?” Suspicion suddenly flamed in his dark eyes.
“How does it happen that you know of my trouble and have come here?
Are you a confederate of the rascally Don Carlos?”

“Don Garlos?” repeated Carl. “I don’d know dot feller from Adam. I vas
a shdranger in dis blace, und all I know is der Amerigan consul, Misder
Hays Chordan, und Doctor Armsdrong, und----”

“You are American?” interrupted the other eagerly. “How do you happen
to be here?”

“Id vas a blunder, dot’s all,” answered Carl. “A pulltog chased me und
pooty near caught me, too. I got ofer der vall from der odder side und
couldn’t get back some more. Vat a high vall is aboudt der place! Und
so smoot’ und shlippery as I can’t dell.”

“What were you doing in the other yard?”

Carl did not want to mention that part of it, but it seemed necessary
in order to convince the man of his harmless intentions.

“Vell,” he answered diffidently, “I vent der mit meinself to serenate a
young laty py der name of Miss Sixdy----”

“Miss Ysabel Sixty?” the other again interrupted, even more eagerly
than he had done before.

“Yah, so!” beamed Carl. “You know her?”

“Indeed, yes. But she does not live in the next house, señor. An
English captain lives there---an officer in charge of the constabulary.
Miss Sixty is staying with friends a block farther down the street, and
around the corner.”

“Vell, I t’ought I had made some misdakes,” said Carl, vastly relieved.
“Blease, haf you some patches and some neetles and t’read? I vouldt
like to be respectable vonce more.”

The man got to his feet slowly, and then, his eyes gleaming ominously,
caught Carl’s arm in both hands.

“Let us not think so much of ourselves now, señor,” he said thickly,
“but of others.”

Carl began to wonder whether the released gentleman was crazy or
excited.

“I am Don Ramon Ortega,” explained the man.

This was another surprise. Carl had heard of Don Ramon Ortega. He
was the Spanish consul in Belize, a man of high lineage and of much
importance.

“How keveer dot I shouldt come py your house like dis!” muttered Carl.
“I hope,” he added, in a tremor, “dot der laties von’t come----”

“There are none here but ourselves,” cut in the don. “My family and all
the servants have gone to Mexico. I myself was intending to go in the
morning, but now I shall not leave Belize until I make that scoundrelly
Don Carlos Valdez answer for this rascally work he has done!”

“Don Carlos Valdez?” repeated Carl. “I don’t know der feller. Vat has
he done?”

“I will tell you,” answered the don. “Come, let us sit down for a
moment. My limbs are not strong yet, and there is much to be done.”

Carl, excited and curious, dropped into a chair. The don, after giving
a cautious look outside, closed the door and returned to Carl. Drawing
a chair close, he seated himself.

“Tell me,” said he, “do you know of a submarine boat in the harbor
called the _Grampus?_ You are American, and the boat is owned by
Captain Nemo, junior, an American. You should know of her.”

“Vell, you bed you! Vy, I’m vone of der crew of der _Grampus!_ I come
mit her ven she arrifed, und I vas mit her ven she got der American
consul avay from der repels in der River Izaral. Vy, Bob Steele, who
vas boss of der boat, is my friendt, my pard! Und so is Dick Ferral!
Know der _Grampus!_ I know her insite und oudt, oop und down und
sitevays! My name is Pretzel, Carl Pretzel.”

Don Ramon Ortega was astounded, but happily so. Reaching out his hand,
he clasped Carl’s convulsively.

“Ah, what good fortune!” he murmured; “what amazing luck! Destiny is at
work in all this. Fate guided you to me to-night, my young friend!”

“A pulltog hat more to do mit it as fate,” answered Carl simply.

“Listen!” proceeded the don hurriedly. “I was here alone in the
early evening. Some one rang the bell at the gate. I went out and
admitted”--anger throbbed in the Spaniards voice--“Don Carlos Valdez!
He is what you Americans call a trouble maker. I call him a pestilence,
an evil specter who stalks through the devoted countries and helps
revolutionists overthrow established governments. I am Spanish, but
I love law and order! I hate violence and bloodshed! I am for peace!
But Don Carlos is always for war, and more war, for in that he finds
unholy profit. Well, it was he who called on me to-night. He declared
that he wanted a passport, for he was going abroad. I told him to go
to my secretary, at the legation. He said he had been there, but that
the secretary was not in. I could not refuse him the passport if his
intentions were peaceable and he paid the fee, so he came back into
the house with me. As I seated myself and leaned over the table, the
demon struck me from behind. I fell unconscious. When I recovered, I
was bound as you saw me, and I have lain so for hours. But Don Carlos
had not left when I regained consciousness. He and I have long been at
swords’ points, and he taunted me with the base plans he intended to
carry out.”

Don Ramon writhed in his chair in a spasm of fierce anger.

“Vat vas he going to do?” asked Carl.

“He has designs on the submarine!” proceeded the don. “He thinks the
boat would be valuable to the revolutionists to the south of us. They
are threatening Port Livingston, at the mouth of the Izaral, and are
seeking to secure the fort there. The lawful authorities of the state
will send ships of war to defeat the revolutionists, and Don Carlos
wants the submarine to destroy the war vessels.”

Carl gasped, then he added soothingly, “Don’d you be exzited. Der
schemer von’t get der supmarine. Captain Nemo, junior, is sick, but Bob
Steele is on der job, und you bed you he von’t let Don Carlos haf der
_Grampus_ to help oudt der repels.”

“No! Bob Steele will not hire the boat to the rascally Don Carlos, who
is a serpent for craft. He intends to get the boat away from Belize by
a ruse--and will use my name, my honorable name, to help him prosecute
his villainous plot! Think of that!”

“How vill he do it?”

“I do not know, but such is his miserable intention; he flaunted it
in my face as I lay on the floor at his feet, helpless to move or to
speak. We must prevent him from carrying out his contemptible designs.
I have told you so much, because it was necessary that you should
understand. Come! Let us go at once to Bob Steele! Let us warn him, and
put him on his guard.”

“Good!” agreed Carl heartily. “But haf you a pair of drousers vat I
couldt vear?”

“That is a small matter, Señor Pretzel,” demurred the don on his way
to the door. “We have other and larger matters to claim our instant
attention.”

“Some more drousers is kevite imbortant mit me,” insisted Carl.

Rather than waste time arguing, Don Ramon flung off into a neighboring
room. He returned presently with a pair of white duck trousers, and
Carl climbed into them. They were too long and too narrow, but the
Dutch boy contrived to make them serve.

“Now,” said Carl, “get der key of der front gate und lead der vay.”

The don took a key from the drawer of the table.

“Come,” said he, hurrying from the door.

“Id’s a funny bizness,” remarked Carl, following, “dot dis Carlos
feller vouldt leaf der door oben und lock der gate.”

“The gate locks itself when it is closed,” explained the don.

“I don’d t’ink, anyvay, dere is mooch use vorryin’ aboudt der boat,”
proceeded Carl, as the don unlocked the gate. “Dot Carlos feller vill
haf his hants full pulling der vool ofer Bob Steele’s eyes.”

“You do not know Carlos as well as I,” answered Don Ramon ominously.
“He is plausible, he has many tricks, and then he is impersonating
_me!_ Bob Steele must know me by name, although I have not the pleasure
of his personal acquaintance. I am fearing the worst, ah, yes, the
worst!”

The gate clanged behind them and the don and Carl raced for the
International Hotel. Carl had not seen either of his chums at supper,
and he had not spent much time looking for them. The serenade had been
uppermost in Carl’s mind, and he had been afraid Bob or Dick might
propose something that would interfere with his plans.

In the hotel office they learned that Bob and Dick had gone out to the
submarine early in the evening to arrange some stores that had been
taken aboard. They had not come back, so the inference was that they
were staying the night on the craft.

There was nothing left for the don and Carl to do but to hurry on to
the wharf. There, at the landing from which sailboats usually carried
the _Grampus’_ crew to the anchorage, half a mile out in the bay, they
met a policeman.

“What are you looking for, Don Ramon?” inquired the officer
respectfully, touching the don on the shoulder as he and Carl were
gazing off across the surface of the bay.

“For the riding lights of the submarine boat,” answered the don.

“You won’t see them, sir. The submarine left the harbor four hours ago,
bound south.”

“We are too late!” cried the don. “Tell me, did she have any
passengers?”

“Bob Steele and the boat’s usual crew were aboard anyhow. I saw Bob
Steele and his friend Ferral going out.”

“Did any one else go out to the boat?”

“Yes, Don Carlos Valdez and four or five negroes. They----”

The don whirled away and caught Carl’s arm.

“Too late!” he whispered hoarsely. “But perhaps there is still
something we can do. Come! We will call on the American consul; we will
tell him what we fear!”

Carl was in a daze. That serenade of his, which had proved a farce,
seemed to be leading up to something tragic.



CHAPTER XIX.

THE SHADOW OF TREACHERY.


“What’s our next move going to be, Bob?” inquired Dick Ferral,
sprawling out comfortably on top of the long locker in the periscope
room.

Bob was just coming down the ladder after putting the riding lights in
position.

“Wish I knew, Dick,” he answered, switching on the incandescent in the
periscope room and dropping down on a low stool.

“I had a dream last night,” Dick resumed, giving a short laugh as he
spoke. “I was doing as sound a caulk as ever I did in my life when that
dream jumped in on me, and it was so blooming realistic that it brought
me up in my bed with a yell.”

“You must have been eating some of the hot stuff they have down here,
before you went to bed. The peppery grub they give you in Belize would
make a wooden Indian have the nightmare! But what was it, old chap?”

“It was about Fingal.”

“Fingal?”

“Yes, Captain Abner Fingal, who’s now, I hope and believe, doing time
in a United States federal prison.”

“Fingal,” observed Bob Steele, “is a tough old proposition to dream
about.”

“I won’t forget in a hurry how he crossed our course, down there on the
River Izaral, or how you came up under our gasoline launch with the
good old _Grampus_, tipped over the launch, and released the prisoners
and pulled them out of the water. Fingal and one of the rebel soldiers
got away from us by the skin of their teeth. Do you remember how, when
Fingal reached the bank, he got up on his knees and shook his fist
after us?”

“I’ll not forget that in a hurry,” said Bob. “If Fingal could have had
us in his hands then we’d have experienced a little more trouble than
we could have taken care of. But what’s the dream?”

“Well, I thought I was adrift in a big forest, with Fingal and a lot of
revolutionists hustling after me, full and by and forty knots, all with
machetes. General Pitou, the French leader of the revolutionists, was
with Fingal, and the whole pack of them had machetes in each hand and
another between their teeth. Finally they caught me, and I was hacked
in pieces----”

“Mighty pleasant, that!”

“They hung my head up in a tree,” proceeded Dick gruesomely, “and when
I saw the rest of me scattered over the ground underneath, my nerves
went to pieces and I fetched a yell that ought to have raised the roof.
I tell you I was in a sweat! We’re not done with Abner Fingal, mate.
He’ll foul our course before we’re many days older.”

“I don’t take any stock in dreams. They always come from a fellow’s
stomach--something he eats that disagrees with him. As for Fingal, you
can bet he’ll not come to Belize. He’d like to play even with us, all
right, but he has got sense enough not to run his head into a noose.”

Speake, Gaines and Clackett were stowing supplies in another part of
the boat. From time to time, as the boys talked, muffled thumps and
a sound of distant voices came to them. Cassidy, the mate, was still
ashore, taking care of the sick captain.

“What’s the latest news from Nemo, junior?” queried Dick. “The last
I heard was this morning. The captain wasn’t so well then, Doctor
Armstrong told me.”

“I saw Cassidy just before we started for the landing to come out to
the submarine,” said Bob. “He said the doctor was sure the captain
would pull through, but that he would need careful nursing, and not be
bothered with business of any kind.”

“Cassidy will give him the right kind of nursing! I never saw any one
so handy in that way, nor who tried to do more. Nemo, junior, ought to
forgive Cassidy for his treachery, down there on the Izaral.”

“The captain will do that, I’m sure. Cassidy is mighty sorry he allowed
his temper to run away with him. Fingal was responsible for what
Cassidy did.”

“Fingal and the grog,” commented Dick. “A few tots of rum will make
pirates and beach combers out of a lot of honest men. But why are you
getting all these supplies aboard? We’re loaded to the marks with
provisions, gasoline, oil, and everything else.”

“You know, don’t you,” returned Bob, “that Captain Nemo, junior, is
planning to sell the _Grampus_ to the United States government?”

“Yes, I know. The captain has had that bee in his bonnet for a long
time.”

“When we went down the coast and rescued the American consul from
the revolutionists, it was at the instigation of the United States
authorities. Of course, they were anxious to have the consul rescued,
but they were equally anxious to see what the _Grampus_ could do.”

“Well, we showed ’em!” said Dick proudly. “The little old craft, and
every one aboard, did themselves proud! What else does your government
want?”

“I don’t know as the government wants anything else, but I have thought
it best to keep the _Grampus_ in trim for any demand that should be
made on her. Any time, now, I’m expecting to see the U. S. cruiser
_Seminole_ stick her nose in the bay with orders for the _Grampus_
to get under way for the Potomac, bound for Washington. If the order
comes, it must find us in the pink of condition.”

“Suppose the order comes before the captain gets well?”

“Then the chances are he’ll ask us to carry out the order for him.
We’re in pretty good shape to do that, even without the assistance of
Cassidy. Our little crew of six can manage the craft, all right. Carl
has been taking lessons from Clackett and can look after the tank room
almost as well as Clackett himself; and you have learned to run the
motor in a way that has made a hit with Gaines.”

“We’ll do, I guess,” said Dick, with a long breath of satisfaction.
“With you as skipper, I wouldn’t be afraid to ride in the _Grampus_
from here to the North Pole. Speaking of Carl, though, what’s become of
the lubber? He cut his cables mighty sudden, seems to me.”

“He borrowed a guitar from a fellow in the hotel,” laughed Bob.

“A guitar? What does that mean?”

“I shouldn’t wonder if he had gone off to serenade somebody.”

Dick rolled over on his back and kicked the locker with his heels.

“Oh, my eye!” he sputtered. “It’s Ysabel Sixty! But Carl’s been gone
some time.” Suddenly Dick hoisted up on his elbow and peered at his
chum. “What do you say, Bob? Let’s go ashore to the place where Ysabel
is staying. We can look over the fence and jolly our Dutch messmate
just as he gets tuned up. How about a bit of a lark?”

“I’ll go you!” chuckled Bob; “but there’s no use starting for two or
three hours yet. Midnight is the witching hour.”

“Carl’s showing good taste, anyhow,” continued Dick. “Ysabel Sixty is
a fine girl. Now that her father, Jim Sixty, is put where he can’t
interfere with her, she’s going to be happier than she ever was before.
But Carl is off soundings. The girl hasn’t an eye for him, but for
_you_.”

“Oh, rot!” grunted Bob.

“It’s a fact, all the same. The girl has taken a fancy to you, Bob,
and you wouldn’t turn your head to look at the handsomest girl that
ever walked. Gasoline motors are your hobby. You’re a born motorist. An
explosive engine will be your best girl till the end of the chapter.”

Bob enjoyed this. Dick had a way, now and then, of giving a subject a
humorous turn that was highly diverting. Just as Bob was on the point
of giving some jesting reply, a voice came to them from without.

“Ahoy, de _Grampus!_ Tumble out an’ pass us a line!”

Both boys gained their feet on the instant.

“That’s Sambo with his sailboat!” exclaimed Dick. “He’s bringing
visitors. Nice time, this, to receive callers from Belize.”

“Perhaps it’s Carl coming back,” answered Bob, halfway up the iron
ladder toward the conning-tower hatch.

“If it is,” went on Dick, laying hold of the ladder, “then our fun for
to-night is knocked in the head.”

As soon as Bob got his head out of the hatch he saw a small sailboat
hove to alongside the submarine. There were several men in her, and two
were standing forward and aft to catch the ropes they were expecting
to be thrown. Because of the evening dusk it was impossible to
distinguish those in the boat, but it was plain that the craft was the
one which the crew of the _Grampus_ used for going ashore.

A dark shadow was thrown by the boat against the lighter background of
water--a hovering, ominous shadow of treachery--all the more ominous
because neither of the chums were suspecting underhand work there in
those peaceable waters off the British town of Belize.



CHAPTER XX.

THE HIDDEN SNARE.


“Ahoy, yourself!” shouted Bob. “What do you want?”

“Dar’s a gemman here, Marse Cap’n, dat wants tuh come on bo’d,”
answered the voice of Sambo.

“Who is he?”

Here another form pushed forward and another voice took up the
conversation.

“Are you Bob Steele?” asked the voice.

“Yes.”

“You have charge of the submarine while Captain Nemo, junior, is sick?”

“Yes.”

“Then you’re the person I wish to talk with. I am Don Ramon Ortega.”

Bob was deeply impressed by the name. Everybody in Belize had a
good word to say for Don Ramon Ortega, the Spanish consul. He was a
chivalrous gentleman of the old school, a friend of the United States
when many other of his countrymen cherished a grudge against the
country, and a philanthropic and kindly man in all his dealings.

“I shall be very glad to have you come aboard, Don Ortega,” called
Bob respectfully, “but it is against our rules to allow more than one
stranger aboard the _Grampus_ at any one time.”

“Then I will come alone.”

Bob and Dick got out of the tower and each hurled a rope to those
forward and aft on the sailboat. After the two boats had been hauled
as close together as possible, a plank was shoved over the side of the
sailboat and left with its outer end resting on the rounded deck of
the submarine. Don Ramon turned and handed something to Sambo.

“Haul off,” said he, “and wait until you receive a signal from me. If
you don’t receive a signal, put back to the landing.”

“All right, boss.”

Bob was a little surprised at this order, but presumed that he would
soon be told why it had been given. Reaching out, he caught the don’s
hand and helped him off the end of the plank.

“I must speak with you immediately,” said the don. “Can we go somewhere
for a little private talk?”

“Certainly,” answered Bob, his wonder continuing to grow.

The don carried a canvas bag whose contents jingled musically with
every movement. While Bob and Dick escorted their caller below, those
on the sailboat hauled in the plank and stood off toward the shore.

Speake, Gaines, and Clackett were still busy stowing the supplies and
getting the _Grampus_ shipshape below decks. The two boys and their
guest made themselves comfortable in the periscope room.

Don Ramon, as Bob looked at him now for the first time, had the
appearance of a courtly gentleman. He was swarthy, well dressed, and
his dark eyes, as they stared about him curiously, looked like points
of polished jet.

The don took a cardcase from his pocket and extracted a square of
pasteboard bearing the coat of arms of his native country, his name and
the information that he was Spanish consul at Belize. He handed the
card to Bob, who, in turn, passed it along to Dick.

“We have heard a good deal about you, don,” remarked Bob, “but this is
the first time we have ever met.”

“And I have heard much about you,” was the answer, in most gracious
tones; “very much to your credit. The recent performance of the
_Grampus_ made a deep impression upon me, and that is why I am here
to-night. If you wish, you can render a great service to the cause of
right and justice; possibly it hangs upon you to terminate the uprising
in the unhappy little republic that lies to the south.”

Bob and Dick were all interest on the moment.

“What do you mean, don?” asked Bob.

“Pitou and his rebels have captured Port Livingstone and the fort on
the headland across the river from the town. Every inch of the coast
is guarded. The loyal army is marching from the Pacific side of the
republic--very few in numbers and poorly armed. Pitou, the great rogue,
has laid a trap for the loyalists. Unless General Mendez, in charge of
the loyal troops, is communicated with to-morrow morning, there will be
fighting and bloodshed, and perhaps the insurrectionists will win.”

Bob and Dick were following the don closely, wondering what he was
driving at.

“Of course,” the don resumed, after a brief silence, “as Spanish
consul, I am not warranted in mixing in the imbroglio. Whatever I do, I
do in a private capacity, and merely as a preserver of peace. However,
it is well known that the insurrection, headed by this soldier of
fortune, Pitou, is merely for the sake of gain. If successful, Pitou
and Fingal would get a grip on the throat of the little republic, and
lawlessness would reign. You know something about Pitou and Fingal and
their base methods and designs. Therefore, I come to you.”

“Why do you come to me?” inquired Bob.

“Why, with the submarine you could pass the mouth of the Izaral under
water and unseen by the rebels; you could continue up the Izaral, still
below the surface, to the place where the Purgatoire enters the stream.
From that point I could communicate with General Mendez and warn him
of the trap that has been laid by Pitou. The general could save his
army--and the fate of the republic hangs on General Mendez. Will you do
this? Will you assist Don Ramon Ortega in such a humanitarian work?”

Bob was dazed by the proposition.

“You,” pursued the don passionately, “come from a great and rich
country, where there is always peace. Then have you got it in your
heart to withhold a helping hand from a smaller and war-harried little
country whose fate may hang upon your decision? See?”

The don pulled a stool in front of him, untied the canvas sack and
spilled a heap of golden sovereigns out of it.

“Here are fifty pieces of gold, Bob Steele,” he went on, “and, if
we are successful in passing the revolutionists and getting word to
General Mendez, you shall have one thousand more. Will you do this for
me, Don Ramon Ortega? Will you do it for humanity? I do not appeal to
your wish for gain--you are above such sordid things--but I ask you
in the name of right and justice! Lives, human lives, depend on you!
The fate of a republic depends on you! As for the risk to you and the
submarine--bah!” The don shrugged his shoulders contemptuously. “Am I
not going with you? Would I endanger my own life?”

The don paused anxiously for reply. Dick peered at his friend
reflectively. Speake, Clackett, and Gaines, having finished their work
below, had come to the periscope room and were standing in one of the
bulkhead doors. They had heard the don’s proposition, and the gold was
sparkling its lure in their greedy eyes.

“I am sorry, don,” said Bob, with a note of deep regret in his voice,
“but I have not the authority to let you have the _Grampus_ for any
such work.”

“You are the captain?”

“I am in charge of the boat while her captain is sick. You should take
your proposition to Captain Nemo, junior.”

“I went to see him, but the doctor refused to let me in. The doctor
said the captain was unable to talk with anybody. So I came to you.”

“I haven’t the authority, don,” repeated Bob firmly. “Wait until the
captain is able to talk business. I can’t risk the boat.”

“There is no risk!”

“Perhaps not; but I have no more right to take this boat out of the
harbor, don, than you have.”

The don passed his dejected glance from Bob to Dick, and then toward
the three faces in the narrow doorway.

Gaines pushed forward.

“Bob,” said he, “I think you might stretch a point. Them golden sovs
look mighty fine to me. There’s two hundred an’ fifty dollars’ worth
there, and we’re promised five thousand dollars’ worth more. Cap’n
Nemo, junior, if he was able, would tell us to go ahead an’ capture the
prize money. I move we hook up with the don.”

“Might jest as well turn a few honest dollars, Bob,” put in Speake, “as
to be layin’ idle here, off Belize.”

“My idee, exactly,” said Clackett. “I know the cap’n would do it if he
was able to hear the don’s proposition.”

“Why not?” said Dick, in a low tone.

Bob shook his head decidedly.

“I’d go in a minute if I had the right to do so,” said he, “but I
haven’t. Suppose the _Seminole_ should put into the harbor to-night
with orders for the _Grampus?_ You know what it would mean, Dick.”

Dick was silent, but not convinced. The men were disappointed, and
watched the don as he shoved the gold coins back into the bag.

“I am sorry, too,” said he, tying up the bag, “and I feel, Bob Steele,
that you are letting a lot of useless red tape interfere with your
duties to humanity.”

“Perhaps, don, I merely understand my duty better than you do,”
answered Bob, respectfully but firmly. “I haven’t any love for Pitou,
or Fingal, or the rascally revolutionists, and I promise you this, that
I will see Captain Nemo, junior, personally in the morning, and, if the
doctor will let me, will put your proposition before him. If he agrees,
we will start for the south at once.”

“That will be too late,” said the don, getting up and taking his bag of
sovereigns. “I will bid you good evening, hail my boat, and go ashore,”
he added stiffly.

With chilly dignity he climbed the conning-tower ladder and hailed the
sailboat. Bob, Dick, and the others saw him safely aboard and the boat
headed shoreward; then again went below.

“I’m tired,” announced Bob, cutting short a further discussion of the
don and his proposition, “and I’m going to bed. You and Clackett,
Gaines, will have the anchor watch till midnight. After that, call Dick
and me.”

“Very good, sir,” replied Gaines.

Dick accompanied Bob to a room abaft the periscope chamber, in which
a couple of cots had been set up, and silently the two chums turned
in. Nothing more was said about going ashore to interrupt Carl’s
serenade. Bob knew that Dick thought he should have accepted the don’s
proposition, and yet, feeling that he was in the right, did not care to
discuss the matter. With a hearty good night to Dick, he turned over
and went to sleep.

How long Bob slept he did not know, but he was awakened by the throb of
a motor and started bolt upright in his bed.

The _Grampus_ was moving! The roll of the craft proved that she was on
the surface and under way. All was dark in the little steel room, and
Bob got up and groped for the switch that turned on the incandescent
light. A moment later there was a dazzling glow, and Bob looked at the
bulkhead doors. They had been open when he and Dick retired, and now
they were closed!

He started for the door leading to the periscope room. Just as he laid
his hand on it, Dick roused up.

“What’s the meaning of this?” queried Dick, rubbing his eyes. “We seem
to be on the move.”

“We are,” answered Bob grimly.

“Who’s in charge, and where are we going?”

“Give it up! All I know is that we’re locked in.” Then he began shaking
the steel door and kicking against it. “Gaines!” he yelled.



CHAPTER XXI.

A MUTINY.


“What is it, Bob?” asked the muffled voice of Gaines from the other
side of the closed door.

“Let me out of here!” ordered Bob.

“Can’t do it just yet, Bob,” answered Gaines apologetically.

“What does this mean?”

“It means that we’re going to help out General Mendez with that warning
of the don’s. You wouldn’t take the responsibility, but Speake and
Clackett and me are willin’ to bear it.”

“Do you mean to say,” cried Bob hotly, “that you have deliberately
sailed away from Belize without permission from Captain Nemo, junior,
or from me?”

“That’s the size of it,” was the respectful but decisive answer. “We
know that the cap’n would tell us to go ahead and help the don. We
ain’t finding any fault with you for not doing it on your own hook,
’cause you’re a stickler for what you think’s your duty. We feel we’re
doin’ right, though, and we want you to feel the same way.”

“This is mutiny!” cried Bob.

“That’s a pretty hard name for it, Bob. I’ve been in ships, man and
boy, for thirty years, and this is the first time any one ever accused
me of mutiny. We just think we know what ought to be done and are goin’
ahead and doin’ it. You’ll be able to tell the cap’n, when you next
see him, that you couldn’t help yourself. Speake, Clackett, and me are
banking on it that the cap’n’ll say we did just right.”

This line of reasoning surprised Bob. For a moment he was silent,
turning it over in his mind.

“I can hardly believe this of you, Gaines,” said the young motorist
finally. “How are you running the ship?”

“We’re short-handed, and that’s a fact; still, we’re making shift
to get along. We’re running on the surface, so Clackett don’t have
anything to do in the tank room, and he’s running the engine.”

“Who’s doing the steering?”

“The don’s doing that. He knows the coast, he says, and he seems to be
right handy with the wheel. But I’m watchin’ to see that he don’t make
any flukes.”

“You’ll have us on the rocks first thing you know!” cried Bob. “Put her
about and go-back to Belize.”

“You might just as well understand, Bob,” answered Gaines firmly, “that
we’ve started on this business and we’re going to see it through. We
want your good will--and we think you’ll give it to us before we’re
done with this cruise. It’s a short cruise, anyhow, and we ought to be
back at Belize by to-morrow night.”

“If anything happens to the _Grampus_,” said Bob, “you’ll be held
responsible.”

“We’re willin’. We went into this with our eyes wide open. First thing
we did was to shut both doors of that room and lock ’em; then we heaved
up the anchors as quiet as we could, and you and Dick were so sound
asleep you didn’t hear a thing. It’s two in the morning now, and we’re
well down the coast--so far down that we might as well see this thing
through as to put back. Don’t you think so?”

“It doesn’t appear to make much difference what I think,” said Bob
grimly.

“Well, not a terrible sight,” went on Gaines, “only, as I said, we’d
rather have your good will than your bad.”

“How did you work this? How did the don get back?”

“He stood off and on in the sailboat. As soon as you were asleep,
Clackett and I dickered with him, and he came aboard.”

“I haven’t much of an opinion of Don Ramon Ortega!” exclaimed Bob. “Any
man who will hire a crew to disobey orders has a crooked strain in him
somewhere.”

“We’re doin’ this for humanity,” asserted Gaines, in a highly virtuous
tone.

“Bosh,” scoffed Bob. “You’re doing it for five thousand two hundred and
fifty dollars--which you won’t get.”

“Won’t get?” demanded Gaines, in ludicrous alarm.

“That’s my view of it, Gaines. There’s something wrong with Don Ramon.
After what he’s done, I’m positive that he told us a pretty tall yarn.
Let me out of here!”

“Sorry, but it ain’t to be thought of--just yet. When you and Dick will
promise to go with us, and not make any trouble, we’ll let you out.”

“Looks as though we’d have to go with you whether we wanted to or not,
you old pirate!” cried Dick.

“Aren’t you with us, Dick?” called Gaines, in a pleading voice. “We
hate to have the two of you against us.”

“With you,” whooped Dick, “and against Bob! Well, I should say not!
You’re a lot of blooming beach combers to act in this way.”

“But you thought the don’s proposition was all right.”

“Never mind what I thought of the don or his proposition--it’s what Bob
thought about it that concerns me. Oh, you’re a nice lot, you are! If
you know when you’re well off, you’ll haul that don out of the conning
tower and put him in double irons; then you’ll let Bob and me out of
here and obey orders. It’s not too late yet to undo the trouble you’ve
caused. Just let that bounce around in your head for a while and see
what you make of it.”

“We’re in this thing now, and we’re going to hang to it,” was the
dogged response.

Gaines turned away and the two chums could hear him moving off. Bob
went over to his cot and sat down.

“Great guns!” he exclaimed. “Who’d ever have thought Speake, Gaines,
and Clackett would take the bit in their teeth like this?”

“They mean well, perhaps,” said Dick, with a grim laugh. “They are
trying to take the responsibility off your shoulders, Bob. They could
see that you were hungry to go with the don, but that you didn’t think
you had the right. They’ve shouldered that part of it themselves.”

“And they’ve got us into trouble,” said Bob. “There’s something off
color about Don Ramon Ortega or he wouldn’t have hired Speake, Gaines,
and Clackett to do this directly against my orders.”

“Don Ramon is pretty high in Belize.”

“He’s not what I thought he was.”

“Well, we’re in for it,” laughed Dick.

“In more ways than one,” said Bob moodily.

“We’re bound for the Izaral again, and will probably save that devoted
outfit of ’breeds commanded by General Mendez.”

“If I can get out of here they’ll never put this boat into the River
Izaral.”

“That’s all right!” exclaimed Dick. “But what could you do? There are
four against us, counting the don--two to one.”

“I’ll do my best. As for Gaines, Speake, and Clackett, they wouldn’t
dare lay hands on me. I can take care of the don, I guess!” Bob’s gray
eyes flashed dangerously.

“They’ll not let us out of here, old ship,” said Dick. “Gaines and the
rest know their business.”

The steel room was as solid as a prison cell. There were small
ventilators for admitting fresh air, but these were no larger than
loopholes. Apart from the ventilators there were absolutely no other
openings in the metal walls except the closed doors.

Bob laid down on the cot again and continued turning the situation over
in his mind.

The thing that worried him was the possibility of the cruiser
_Seminole_ putting in at Belize with orders for the _Grampus_--orders
which might have something to do with the sale of the boat to the
United States government.

Bob, who was in Captain Nemo, junior’s, confidence more than any of
the others, understood that such a sale was the object for which the
captain was striving--that it was that, and nothing else, which had led
him to bring the submarine into Central American waters. And now to
have the captain run the risk of losing a sale through the misguided
and utterly unwarranted action of Speake, Clackett, and Gaines was a
hard thing to bear.

Yet Bob could see no way out of the difficulty. Gaines and his two
shipmates were determined to help the don, and the boat was well along
toward the Izaral.

For three or four hours Bob lay sleeplessly on his cot, listening to
the hum of the motor and rolling back and forth with the rough swaying
of the boat.

Then, suddenly, he was brought up with a start. The steady song of the
cylinders had given way to an ineffectual popping, and he knew that
something had gone wrong. The propeller ceased its revolutions, and
the submarine came to a dead stop and rolled helplessly in the swell.

“Something’s busted,” remarked Dick, sitting up.

Muffled voices could be heard and sounds of movements as though one of
the crew were going aft to the engine room. Again and again the noise
reached Bob’s ears, but the motor would not take the spark properly.

After half an hour of this, some one banged a fist sharply against the
other side of the door.

“Bob!” called the voice of Gaines.

“Well?” answered the young motorist.

“You’ll have to go and fix up the motor. I’ll be hanged if I can do
it.”

“You’re running the boat,” said Bob. “Fix it up yourself.”

“I tell you it’s too many for me!”

“You ought to have thought that something like that might happen before
you started out. You’re in trouble now, so get out of it the best you
can.”

Bob, highly enjoying the situation, settled back on his cot.

“Something has got to be done quick,” cried Gaines, “for we’re in
danger!”

“What sort of danger?” Bob had bounded from the cot and was close to
the door as he spoke.

“There’s a line of reefs on the port side, and the current is drawing
us that way! Unless we get the propeller to work in less than fifteen
minutes the _Grampus_ will be wrecked!”

“Open the door!” said Bob sharply.

“You won’t make us any trouble?” parried Gaines.

“Open the door, I tell you!” shouted Bob. “We haven’t a minute to lose!”

Without a promise to bind him as to his future course, Bob was allowed
to leave the steel room. Paying no attention to the don, who was
standing in the periscope chamber, he rushed through another door,
dropped down a narrow hatch, and crawled aft to the motor room.



CHAPTER XXII.

A LESSON IN “WHO’S WHO.”


In order to reach the motor room, Bob had to crawl through a low
chamber closely packed with storage batteries. There were sixty cells
with a power of one hundred and sixty volts, and with a capacity of
what is known, in electrical parlance, as sixteen hundred ampere hours.
This room was Speake’s dominion, and he sat on a low stool, his head
just clearing the deck above, watching furtively as Bob scrambled past
him.

Tucked away in the stern, at the end of the floored space, was the
motor room. It looked like the tunnel shaft of an ocean liner. At one
side there were switchboards for two dynamotors: one of ten horse power
to compress air, and a second of two horse power to supply lights and
assist the ventilation. The spiral resistance coils were close to the
switchboards. The gasoline engine was in the center of the compartment,
and back of this stretched the shaft, finally passing out into the
water through a stuffing box.

Bob glanced at a clock on the wall. From somewhere in the distance he
could hear breakers churning soddenly against a reef.

Clackett, crouching low in the curve of the boat’s side, looked
anxiously at Bob. He paid no attention to Clackett, but gave the fly
wheel a sharp turn, and listened. It was marvelous how completely he
was in touch with the engine.

“Did you strain the gasoline before you put it into the tank?” he
demanded of Clackett.

“Always do that, Bob,” was the reply.

“The carburetter valve is clogged. Lay hold here.”

In ten minutes the valve was clear, the engine “turned over,” and the
motor working properly. Bob switched the power into the propeller.

“All right, periscope room!” he called through a tube.

“Bully!” came back the voice of Gaines. “We were almost on the rocks.
You’re the boy, Bob!”

“Send Dick Ferral down here,” ordered Bob curtly.

Dick presently appeared.

“Take charge of the engine, Dick,” said Bob.

“What are you going to do?” asked Dick.

“You’ll know in a few minutes.” He turned to Clackett. “Go up to the
periscope room, Clackett,” he went on. “I may need you.”

“But say, Bob----”

“You heard what I said!”

There was that in Bob Steele’s voice and eyes that sent Clackett
crawling forward along the passage.

Bob followed him. In the battery room they picked up Speake, and Bob
sent him trailing after Clackett. In that order all three finally
gained the periscope room.

“What the blazes is the matter with you fellows?” shouted Gaines, who
was doing the steering himself, and was standing by the periscope table.

“Keep your eyes on the periscope,” said Bob. “Attend to your work,
Gaines.”

Bob whirled about to where the don was sitting on a stool. There was a
sharp gleam in the Spaniard’s eyes, although he was otherwise cool and
perfectly collected.

“This is a good time to give you fellows a lesson in who’s who aboard
the _Grampus_,” said Bob. “Don Ramon, you did a rascally thing when you
hired these men to take you south in direct defiance of my orders.”

“What of it?” The don shrugged his shoulders. “We’ll soon be at the
mouth of the Izaral----”

“We are not going to the Izaral River,” cut in Bob. “We are going back
to Belize.”

“We are _not_ going back to Belize until we finish our work in the
Izaral,” was the insolent response.

“No?” returned Bob coolly. “We’ll see. Gaines?” he called.

“Aye, aye, sir!” answered Gaines, keeping his eyes on the periscope.

“Put about!”

Gaines made no move to shift the wheel.

“You heard what I said, Gaines?” went on Bob, his voice pitched low but
carrying an emphasis that lifted it above the hum of the motor.

“I heard you, Bob,” replied Gaines.

“Either obey the order or give up the wheel to Clackett.”

Brought directly face to face with the issue, Gaines hesitated. The
sharp eyes of the don noted the effect the masterful young man’s words
were having on Gaines.

“Don’t you do it, Gaines,” said the don coolly. “Think of the money
you’re to get. Bob Steele has not the courage----”

“Don’t talk foolish!” growled Gaines. “Bob’s got more pluck in a minute
than any of the rest of us have in a year. I know him.”

“He hasn’t the courage to go to the Izaral,” growled the don.

“He’s only off’n his course a little about that,” answered Gaines.

“Will you obey orders, Gaines, or leave your post?” asked Bob.

“He’ll obey my orders,” flashed the don, “and he’ll stay right where he
is and hold to his present course.”

As the don spoke he pulled a hand from the breast of his coat. The hand
gripped a revolver.

“That’s your game, is it?” asked Bob, peering steadily into the snaky
orbs of the Spaniard.

“We have come thus far on my mission,” returned the don, “and we are
going the rest of the way.”

“Put up that gun!” said Gaines angrily. “If you try any shootin’, we’ll
throw our hands in the air and put back to Belize.”

Speake and Clackett moved forward. Bob waved them aside.

“I’ll manage this,” said he. “Gaines, keep your eyes on the periscope.
A fine fellow, this don of yours. You men ought to feel proud of the
way you hooked up with him, and----”

Bob, while he was talking, had kept covert eyes on the don. At just
that moment the _Grampus_ gave a heavy roll. The don’s stool slid
back against the steel wall and the point of the revolver was thrown,
for the fraction of a second, toward the curving deck, overhead. This
was Bob’s opportunity. Quick as a flash he hurled himself upon the
Spaniard, bore him from the stool, and they rolled over and over upon
the heaving floor.

The struggle lasted only a few moments, and when Bob withdrew from the
don and got to his feet, he was holding the revolver.

“I’ll make you answer for this!” cried the don, in a furious temper.

“You are welcome to try--just as soon as we get back to Belize,” said
Bob. “If this matter is aired, it won’t sound very well when your
government hears of it.”

A mocking light crossed the don’s angry face.

“I’m not afraid of my government,” he exclaimed.

“Throw it overboard, Speake,” said Bob, handing the revolver to Speake.
“We don’t need that thing here. If I can’t have obedience on the
_Grampus_ without looking at her crew over the sights of a gun, I don’t
want it.”

Speake, without a word, took the revolver and went up the ladder into
the conning tower.

“From this on, Don Ramon Ortega,” said Bob, “you will consider yourself
a passenger. I will treat you better than your conduct demands, and
will not make a prisoner of you unless you attempt to interfere with
the management of the boat. Do you understand that?”

The don muttered something under his breath, and before Bob could speak
further, a shout came from Speake.

“Small boat off the starboard beam, close in!”

“By Jupiter!” exclaimed Gaines, pushing farther into the hood of the
periscope. “Look here, Bob!”

As Bob turned, an evil, triumphant light flashed in the don’s eyes. Bob
could not see it, and it escaped Clackett.

In the mirror top of the periscope table, clear and distinct, was
reflected a ship’s boat, a yawl, heaving helplessly on the waves. The
boat was not over a hundred feet from the submarine, and the periscope
showed it with startling fidelity to detail.

Aboard the yawl were five persons--four men and a boy. They seemed to
be in difficult straits, for the men were standing erect and waving
their hats frantically.

“They’ve been shipwrecked, Bob,” said Gaines, “and they’ve lost their
oars.”

One of the men was a burly individual, wearing an oil-skin coat and a
sou’wester. All the others were roughly dressed, the boy wearing a
pea-jacket and a stocking cap pulled well down over his face.

“There’s a sailing craft hull down, off to port,” said Bob. “It’s a
wonder that boat didn’t pick those fellows up. But that’s unimportant.
We’ll lay them aboard and take them off. Clackett!”

“Here, Bob!” answered Clackett.

“Take two coils of rope and go aloft.” Bob turned to Gaines. “Get as
close to the boat as you can, Gaines,” he added.

Clackett rushed up the conning-tower ladder, and followed Speake out
onto the curving plates of the deck. Bob went after the two men to
direct operations from the conning tower.

Those in the boat--with the exception of the boy--appeared in the last
stages of exhaustion. On seeing that their wild signals were to be
answered, they dropped sprawling over the thwarts. The boy still stood
erect and made gestures--stealthy movements with one hand which puzzled
Bob.

“That youngster seems to have stood their hard luck better’n the men,”
remarked Clackett, moving toward the bow with a coil of rope.

Bob made no answer, but continued to watch the dancing yawl as Gaines
brought the submarine steadily nearer.

“Stand by to catch a rope!” shouted Bob presently, when they were close
enough for a cast. “Let ’er go, Clackett!”

The rope left Clackett’s hand, untwined itself sinuously in the air,
and the end of it was grabbed by the big fellow in the sou’wester.

“All fast!” he boomed in a voice that was strangely strong for one
whose actions showed him to be nearly fagged out.

Speake’s rope was then thrown, and thus, with a double cable, the yawl
was drawn close against the rounded side of the submarine.

In the periscope room were only the don and Gaines. Gaines’ head was
shrouded by the folds of the black periscope hood, and the don, unseen,
was rubbing his hands delightedly.



CHAPTER XXIII.

THE SNARE TIGHTENS.


The yawl was on the windward side of the _Grampus_. Bob, calling down
directions to Gaines, had the submarine brought about so that the yawl
lay on the lee side. This, to some extent, gave smoother water for the
unloading of the small boat’s passengers.

Speake, holding to one of the wire guys that supported the periscope
tube, descended the rounded deck, until up to his knees in water.
Stretching out his hand he caught the fist of the big fellow in the
sou’wester. The latter, standing on the gunwale of the yawl, gave a
leap and landed sprawling on the submarine’s deck.

A wave rolled over him, but he managed to clutch the guy rope and hang
on. The next moment he rolled over close to the conning tower and lay
there, face down, apparently almost spent.

Clackett, imitating Speake’s maneuver, was bringing another of the men
aboard. One by one the yawl was unloaded, the boy being the last to
come.

Bob, climbing out of the conning tower, ordered the rescued men below.
Two of them had vanished through the hatch when Bob, bending over the
big fellow by the base of the conning tower, asked him who he and his
comrades were, and how they happened to be adrift in a small boat.

“Had er shipwreck,” answered the man hoarsely.

“Can’t you get up?” asked Bob. “We’ll have to get you below, somehow.”

“Mebbe I kin make it if yer put yer arms under mine an’ give me a
lift.”

Bracing himself on the deck, Bob reached downward and pushed his hands
under the man’s armpits. At the same moment, the big fellow developed a
surprising amount of strength. Both his arms went upward, as he whirled
over on his back, and closed about Bob’s waist like the two jaws of a
vise.

“Now, then, nail ’em, you swabs!” he roared. “I got the boss o’ the
gang, an’ you git the rest!”

Not until that moment did Bob Steele suspect treachery. The revelation
came to him like a lightning flash.

A wild uproar echoed from below, and forward and aft Speake and
Clackett were struggling with those they had helped aboard.

The rounded deck of the _Grampus_, slippery with water and deluged
again and again by the waves, was a fearsome place for such a struggle.
How the combatants ever kept themselves out of the sea was a mystery.

Bob fought as best he could. He recognized the big fellow as Abner
Fingal, and knew, as well as though he had been told, that Don Ramon
Ortega had engineered a cunning plot for the capture of the submarine.

“What are you trying to do, Fingal?” Bob demanded, as the scoundrel
held him helpless in his ironlike grip.

“Trying to even up fer some o’ the things you done a spell ago!” roared
Fingal. “Stop yer squirmin’, or----”

With a fierce effort, Bob succeeded in breaking free. He rose to his
knees, only to meet the flintlike fist of Fingal. The terrific blow
hurled him backward, and he slid along the sloping deck against the guy
rope that supported the small flagstaff, close to the bow.

Fingal jumped after him, caught him by the collar, and pulled him back
before he could slip from the support of the rope and drop into the
sea. The jerk Fingal gave him hurled Bob headfirst against the iron
socket in which the base of the staff was secured to the deck. It was
a savage blow, and Bob straightened out limply and a wave of darkness
rolled over him.

When Bob opened his eyes again, he was in the same room where he and
Dick had been confined by Gaines, Speake, and Clackett. But there was
another prisoner now, for Speake was with Bob and Dick.

Dick, on a stool beside the cot, was rubbing Bob’s temples. Across from
them, on the other cot, Speake was sitting, nursing a bruise on the
side of his face.

“Hard luck, old boy!” muttered Dick ominously. “How are you feeling?”

“None too good,” answered Bob.

“You got a crack fore and aft. It’s a wonder one of ’em didn’t bash in
your skull.”

“It wasn’t the blows I received that’s hurting me now, Dick,” Bob went
on, “but the fact that we were trapped when we thought we were helping
a boatload of shipwrecked sailors. Have they captured the boat?”

“Well, I should say! That outfit of pirates swarmed all over her. I was
down in the engine room, you know, and, while I knew by the racket that
something was happening that wasn’t down on the bills, yet I didn’t
dare leave the motor. After a while the racket died out a little and I
called up through the speaking tube to learn what was going on. Some
one laughed; then, the next I knew, Fingal came driving Gaines along. A
swab trailed after Fingal, and both of ’em had guns. I was ordered up
to the periscope room, and Gaines was sent to the motor, the other chap
staying with him and keeping the gun aimed at him all the time. Oh, I
guess you fellows have got enough of helping the don, haven’t you?”
and Dick turned to Speake.

“We was a pack of fools,” answered Speake.

“What happened to you, Speake?” inquired Bob.

“The same as happened to all the rest,” was the growling response.
“That was a husky lot o’ shipwrecked mariners we picked up! They didn’t
seem hardly able to crawl aboard, but they woke up considerable as
soon as they got their feet on the _Grampus’_ deck. I had it which an’
t’other with a chap for’ard o’ the connin’ tower, and I held my own
until Clackett was downed and the man that was goin’ for him came at
me. Then, o’ course, I had to give up. Clackett an’ me was sent below
at the pistol’s p’int. Clackett’s in the tank room, and Gaines is in
the motor room, both with a couple of the thieves holdin’ guns on them
an’ makin’ ’em run the boat. The don’s steerin’, and we’re hikin’ right
on toward Port Livingstone. Oh, what a howlin’ mess!”

Bob sat up and bowed his head in his hands for a moment. His head
ached, and he was trying to think and get at the full extent of the
disaster.

“It was all a put-up job,” remarked Dick.

“That’s easy to guess, Dick,” returned Bob, lifting his head. “The boat
I saw hull down, off on the port side of us, must have been Fingal’s
schooner, the _North Star_. The schooner was expecting the don along
with the _Grampus_, and was laying to get that crew of rascals aboard
of us. Dropping the yawl in the water, the schooner left the boat
behind. Oh, I see it all now. But I can’t understand this Don Ramon
Ortega. This business will open the eyes of a good many people in
Belize.”

“But what’s the upshot of it all? What’s the don tryin’ to do?” This
from Speake, as he continued to nurse his injury.

“I can see through him, all right enough,” said Dick. “He’s playing
even with us for what we did on the Izaral River, a few days ago.”

“He has captured the _Grampus_,” added Bob, “and probably intends to
turn her over to General Pitou.”

“An’ there wasn’t anythin’ in that story of the don’s?” asked Speake.
“It was a pretty good story, an’ sounded to me like it might be
straight goods.”

“The don is helping Fingal,” returned Bob, “and the submarine is now in
the hands of the five we ‘rescued’ from the yawl, and the don. There
are six of our enemies and only five of us. Naturally, we don’t count,
being locked up in this steel room; and Gaines and Clackett can’t count
for much, either, with revolvers staring them in the face whichever way
they turn. This is a hard row of stumps for us, pards!”

“An’ all owin’ to Clackett, an’ Gaines, an’ me!” mourned Speake.

“There’s nothing to be gained thinking over that part of it, Speake,”
said Bob. “We’ve got to look this thing squarely in the face and do
what we can to recapture the submarine.”

“Nothin’ we can do!” grunted Speake. “That outfit of roughs have got
the whip hand of us, and they’re going to keep it. They was wise to
keep Gaines an’ Clackett to attend to the runnin’ of the machinery, an’
I guess the don can do the steerin’, easy enough.”

“I wonder if there was any truth at all in the don’s story?” ventured
Bob.

“In what part of it?” queried Dick.

“Why, about the revolutionists capturing Port Livingstone, and the fort
across the river.”

“If part o’ his yarn’s crooked,” grumbled Speake, “then I’ll gamble the
whole of it’s crooked. Why, Bob? What difference does that make?”

“Well, if Port Livingstone is in the hands of the revolutionists, then
we’ll be taken there, and not up the Izaral.”

“Wait!” exclaimed Dick, as a sudden thought came to him. “Don Ramon
Ortega is in mighty poor business if he’s helping these revolutionists.
What a two-faced swab he is! When he talked with us, last evening, he
was all against the rebels; now he’s for them. What will the Spanish
government say to that sort of work?”

“There’s something about Don Ramon that’s mighty puzzling,” said Bob.
“He’s a scheming scoundrel, though, and it’s our business to recapture
the _Grampus_--if we can.”

“How’ll we go to work, Bob?” asked Speake gloomily. “Every man in
Fingal’s party is armed. What could five of us do ag’inst six armed
men, providin’ we was able to bunch together and face ’em?”

At this point, the door leading into the periscope room opened and the
don and Fingal stepped through. Bob, Dick, and Speake all started up
on the entrance of the two men, but the latter carried revolvers, and
another armed man stood in the doorway behind them.

“Don’t get reckless, you fellows!” warned Fingal. “We ain’t
particularly anxious to hurt ye, but there’s no tellin’ what’ll happen
if you try to climb over us an’ git through that door.” The burly
ruffian turned toward his companion. “Fire away, don,” he added, “an
tell ’em what you got on your mind.”



CHAPTER XXIV.

THE DON’S PROPOSAL.


Before the don could follow Fingal’s suggestion and unburden himself
of what he wanted to say, the splash and gurgle of water entering the
submersion tanks reached the ears of those in the steel room. At the
same moment a shiver ran through the boat’s fabric and she began to
sink.

“What are you doing?” demanded Bob sharply.

“Going under the water,” explained the don affably. “We’re off Port
Livingstone and are going to proceed up the Izaral without being seen.”

“What’s that for? If the town and the fort are in the hands of the
rebels, you won’t have anything to fear.”

“We don’t know whether the rebels have captured the fort yet or not,”
said the don, “and we don’t want to take any chances of being sunk by
the fort’s guns in case they are still in the hands of the enemy.”

“If you don’t know anything about this boat,” said Bob, “you’ll get us
all into trouble trying to maneuver it.”

“Gaines an’ Clackett, I guess,” put in Fingal, “will keep us from
gettin’ inter any very serious fix. They’re helpin’ run the craft,
ye know,” Fingal leered cunningly. “Go ahead, don,” he added, as the
submarine halted its downward plunge and started onward again.

“Bob Steele,” said the don, “I have a proposition to make to you and
your men. You will find it to your interest, I think, to accept it.”

“What’s the proposition?” asked Bob curtly.

The more Bob Steele studied Don Ramon, the more puzzling the man
became. His English was good, and yet he was undeniably of Spanish
descent. Somehow Bob was gathering the idea that the don was a native
of Central America, and not of Spain; yet Bob knew that this could not
be, for he had heard that the Spanish consul at Belize hailed from
Barcelona.

“My friend Fingal,” proceeded the don, “appears to think that you and
your men owe him something on account of what happened during your
former visit to the River Izaral, and----”

“So they do!” growled Fingal, with a savage frown; “they owe me
somethin’ not only on account o’ that, but on account o’ my brother,
Jim Sixty. If it hadn’t been for them, Jim would never have got nabbed
by the United States gov’ment for filibusterin’. I swore I’d git even
with ’em for----”

“Forget that for a little, Fingal,” interposed the don. “I’ve reasoned
with Fingal,” he said to Bob, “and he has agreed to let bygones be
bygones, providing you fall in with our plans.”

He paused, his piercing eyes on the young motorist’s face.

“I’m waiting to hear what your plans are,” said Bob.

“We captured this boat for the revolutionists,” continued the don, “and
she will be of great help to General Pitou in his work; but, in order
to be as efficient as possible, the craft ought to be manned with her
regular crew. So----”

“Then that story you told us about General Mendez, and about the trap
Pitou was laying for him, was untrue?”

“Much of it was not the exact truth,” the don cheerfully admitted.
“General Mendez and his force are not far from the Purgatoire River,
but it is he who is laying the trap for Pitou, and not Pitou for him.
General Pitou will have to capture the fort at the mouth of the
Izaral and be able to turn its guns on General Mendez, or the loyalist
forces will drive the rebels into the sea. In order to keep track of
Mendez, we need the submarine for scout duty up and down the river.
Now, Bob Steele, you are thoroughly familiar with the boat, and our
proposal is that you and your men take charge of her and render gallant
service for General Pitou. Some of our men, of course, will stay on the
boat to make sure that you prove faithful to your promises to us, but
that will be a mere formality.

“If you will do this, I promise to pay you the sum, in gold, that I
mentioned when talking to you in the harbor at Belize. Furthermore, in
the event that General Pitou’s uprising is successful, and we make him
dictator of the country, you and your friends will share liberally in
the division of the spoils. What do you say? You are young men--mere
youths, in fact--and such a golden prospect ought to appeal to you.”

Bob stared at the don. “And you,” he breathed, “are the Spanish consul
at Belize! What would happen to you if they knew, in Spain, how you are
meddling with the affairs of a country with which your own is at peace?”

“I might just as well puncture that bubble here and now,” returned the
don, with a laugh. “I am not Don Ramon Ortega, the Spanish consul, but
Don Carlos Valdez, the revolutionist.”

Bob started back. “Don Carlos Valdez!” he exclaimed. “We heard about
you in Belize, Don Carlos.”

“And what do they say about me in Belize?”

“Why, that you’re the greatest rascal unhung!”

“They say more than that,” added Speake wrathfully, “and that you’ll
_be_ hung, one o’ these fine days.”

Speake was chagrined and spiteful because of the way he and his mates
had been taken in by the plausible revolutionist at the start-off. He
saw, now, how farsighted Bob Steele was in refusing to have anything to
do with the don.

Carlos Valdez smiled ironically. “What they say doesn’t make any
material difference,” he answered. “I have been in Belize for a week.
I walked the streets openly, and no one dared to molest me. Why, I
even went to the Spanish consul and asked for a passport. While he was
preparing to make it out, I felled him with a blow and left him bound
and gagged in his own sitting room. I had to do that, you see, before I
dared to call on you, Bob Steele, and impersonate him.”

“At any rate,” said Bob Steele, “I am glad of one thing.”

“And that is?”

“That Don Ramon Ortega is not the villain I know you to be.”

“Your opinion counts for as little as does that of the people of
Belize,” returned the don easily. “You have not answered my question as
to whether you and your men would accept our proposal.”

“I didn’t think it was necessary to answer it,” said Bob. “I would blow
up the _Grampus_ before I would allow her to fall into the hands of
General Pitou.”

“Better think well before you make a foolish answer like that,” struck
in Fingal.

“That’s my answer, just the same.”

“How about the rest of you?” The don turned to Dick and Speake.

“What Bob Steele says matches my sentiments to a dot,” replied Dick.

“Mine, too,” added Speake. “If me and my mates had obeyed Bob Steele
like we’d ought to have done, we’d never have got into this fix in the
first place. It may be a little late in the day, but here’s where I
begin carryin’ out his orders jest as he gives ’em.”

“Do you know what this decision means?” queried the don gravely.

“I’m not thinking of that, but of my duty to Captain Nemo, junior,”
said Bob.

“It means,” fumed Fingal, enraged at the refusal of Bob and his friends
to cast their lot with the revolutionists, “that you’ll never live to
get back to Belize!”

“Or even back down the river to Port Livingstone,” supplemented the
don. “Presently we are going to tie up at an old landing on the river
bank. After that, we will leave you by yourselves until nightfall. This
will give you a little more time to think over our proposition. Life is
a pleasant thing to young men like you, and you ought not to cast it
lightly aside. Come on, Fingal,” he finished.

The don and Fingal stepped back into the periscope room, closing and
locking the door behind them.

Dick went over to his cot and sat down with a mirthless laugh.

“The old Spaniard has given us his ultimatum,” said he. “We must either
run the submarine for the revolutionists, or go to Davy Jones. Pleasant
prospect, eh?”

“Wonder if they’ve batted up the same proposition to Gaines and
Clackett?” mused Speake.

“Probably they have,” said Bob. “They want to secure the services of
the submarine’s crew, and Gaines and Clackett are important members of
the ship’s company.”

“What sort of a move would it be,” suggested Dick, “to pretend to join
the swabs and then, watching our chances, cut and run back to Belize?”

Bob shook his head.

“They wouldn’t trust us even if we agreed to join them. Didn’t you
hear what was said about having an armed guard constantly on the boat,
as a ‘mere formality?’ No, Dick, the best thing for us will be to come
out flatfooted and let the rascals know just where we stand. If they
attempt to take any desperate measures against us, we will claim the
protection of Old Glory.”

“What do they care about a piece of bunting?” returned Dick. “See how
they ran off that American consul! Why, these revolutionists aren’t
responsible for any thing, and they’ll do just what they please.”

In his own heart, Bob himself felt that Dick was stating the exact
truth.

While the boys and Speake were talking, the turbines could be heard
emptying the ballast tanks, and the boat began slowly rising. A little
later the boys knew they were on the surface of the river. Steps were
heard running along the deck, overhead, and a sound of voices came to
them. Then there was a bumping along one side of the hull, a stopping
of the motor, and the submarine was at a halt.

“I suppose we’re tied up at that landing,” observed Dick, “and here
we’re to stay and think matters over until nightfall, as the don put
it. By the way, isn’t it about time to eat? You and I, Bob, haven’t had
a mouthful since last night.”

The words were hardly off of Dick’s lips when the door leading into the
periscope room opened and closed. The prisoners caught a glimpse of
armed men standing in the other chamber, and then gave their attention
to the boy who had entered with a basket.

The lad still had his stocking cap drawn down over his ears, and the
collar of his jacket turned up about his throat.

“What have you got?” demanded Speake. “If it’s grub, set it down. We
was jest wonderin’ if your outfit was calculatin’ on starvin’ us to
death.”

The boy’s actions were peculiar, to say the least. Laying a finger on
his lips, he bent his ear to the edge of the door and listened; then,
turning around, he jerked off his stocking cap.

“Bob,” he whispered excitedly, “don’t you know me?”

Bob gazed at the lad’s handsome face like one stupefied.

“Ysabel!” he murmured; “Ysabel Sixty!”

“Jupiter!” gasped Speake.

“Great guns!” muttered Dick.



CHAPTER XXV.

UNEXPECTED LOYALTY.


The astonishment of all three of the prisoners was overwhelming. Ysabel
Sixty, the daughter of Captain Jim Sixty, the captured filibuster,
there aboard the _Grampus!_ She was so artfully disguised, too, that
the prisoners would never have recognized her had she not taken the
pains to reveal her identity.

Ysabel set the basket down on the floor.

“Fingal and all the others, except Don Carlos, are eating,” said she,
in a low voice. “The don has gone ashore to hunt for revolutionists. My
uncle made me get the meal for him and his men, and then sent me here
with something for you.”

“You are still a friend of ours, Ysabel?” whispered Bob.

“Always!” the girl breathed.

“Does your uncle, Abner Fingal, know that?”

“Of course not! Why, he doesn’t even know I am Ysabel Sixty!” She gave
a low, sibilant laugh. “I have fooled him as well as the others.”

It hardly seemed possible that the girl could hide her identity from
her uncle simply by donning male attire; and yet she looked vastly
different in boy’s clothes.

“I’ll not be able to stay here long,” proceeded Ysabel, “so you had
better let me do most of the talking. The _North Star_, Abner Fingal’s
schooner, lay off Belize part of the day, yesterday. She had been
repainted, renamed, and was flying the Cuban flag. No one recognized
her as a filibuster’s boat. Fingal came ashore and had a talk with Don
Carlos, and together they plotted to capture the submarine. And I also
plotted,” said the girl. “That’s how I happen to be here now.”

“But how did you learn about the plot?” queried Bob breathlessly, “and
how did you manage it?”

“You remember my old friend, Pedro? The man who used to sail on my
father’s ship, the _Dolphin?_”

Bob nodded.

“Well, as it chanced, Pedro came north on the schooner with Abner
Fingal. My uncle values Pedro highly because he was with my father on
the brig, and it was from him that Pedro learned that the object of
the schooner in going to Belize was to capture the submarine. Pedro
was sent ashore at Belize to find four or five white men to help out
the plot. He picked up three, and those were all he could get who,
according to his ideas, were trustworthy. He called at the house in the
evening, just before the schooner was to sail, and talked with me.

“When I learned that Fingal was trying to capture the submarine, and
that Don Carlos was planning to help, I was wild to get word to you,
and warn you. But this was impossible. You were not at the hotel, Pedro
said, and the doctor would not admit any one to talk with Captain Nemo,
junior. I would have gone to the American consul, but Pedro would not
let me. He said that if I did such a thing I would get everybody into
trouble, himself as well as my uncle. I cared little about Fingal, but
I did care a good deal about Pedro. He has always been a true friend,
and a great help, to me. If I couldn’t warn you, Bob, I made up my mind
that I would sail with the schooner and do what I could to aid you in
case Don Carlos’ snare proved successful.

“Pedro tried to argue me out of that, but I insisted. At last he went
to a junk shop in town and bought a suit of boy’s clothes for me, and
this stocking cap; then he cut off my hair”--the girl shook her head
and set the short locks flying--“and I was soon changed into Manuel
Ybarra, a small brother of Pedro’s. We went out to the schooner in the
evening. Fingal was already aboard and waiting for us. After that we
sailed south, and, in the first gray of morning, we hove to, and Fingal
himself climbed to the masthead with a glass. He watched carefully
along our back track, and when he came sliding down to the deck he said
loudly, so all could hear, that Don Carlos had succeeded in luring the
submarine away from Belize, and that now we must carry out our part of
the program.

“Pedro and three other men were lined up on the deck, and each was
given a revolver; then a small boat was put over and the four men got
into the boat. Just as they were about to cast off, I jumped in.

“Fingal swore and ordered me back, but Pedro begged so hard for his
‘little brother’ that I was allowed to stay. As soon as we had cast off
from her side, the schooner bore away with all sail set; then our boat
was rowed off over the water and the oars were tossed into the sea.

“‘We’re shipwrecked sailors,’ said Fingal, with a laugh. ‘Play the
part, every man of you! The submarine will pick us up, an’ then we’ll
capture her.’

“My heart turned sick at that, for not until then did I understand
what the plan was. I hoped that you would not see us and pick us up;
but then, Don Carlos was on the submarine, and it was certain that he
would be on the watch for us. You know what happened after that. Didn’t
you see me motioning to you to keep away when you were in the conning
tower?”

“I saw you motioning, Ysabel,” said Bob, “but hadn’t the least idea
what you meant. You were well disguised, and that stocking cap is just
the thing. But be careful! If Abner Fingal should discover who you
really are----”

“He won’t,” she answered. “Pedro is looking after me. I am supposed to
be his brother, you know.”

“Do you think you can help us recapture the _Grampus?_”

“That’s what I want to do.”

“Will Pedro help you?”

She was doubtful.

“Pedro won’t do anything to get me into trouble, but whether he would
help or not I don’t know. You see, Bob, Pedro thought a lot of my
father, and he doesn’t feel very kindly toward you and your friends.
With me it’s different. My father was never good to me, but was always
beating me and forcing me to tell lies to help out his plans. But,” she
added, catching herself up, “we must only talk about important things.
Pedro is on guard at the door, eating his meal with a revolver on his
knee. He will let me stay in here as long as I like, but if Fingal
should suspect anything----”

The girl winced and shrugged her shoulders.

“You’d better go now, Ysabel,” said Bob. “If Fingal happened to find
out who you are, at this time, it would be impossible for you to do
anything for us.”

“I’d better tell you all I can, that’s of importance, while I’m here,”
insisted the girl, pulling her cap down over her ears. “I may not have
so good a chance as this again.”

“Where are we, Ysabel?” put in Dick.

“Tied up to an old landing, halfway between the mouth of the Izaral and
the place where the Purgatoire flows into the stream.”

“Are there any soldiers near here?”

“There are, unless General Pitou has captured the fort. If the rebels
have won that, then they’re probably all down at the mouth of the
river.”

“Where’s General Mendez?”

“Somewhere near the Purgatoire. He’s coming down the river as fast as
he can, hoping to fight with the rebels before they can get to the
fort.”

“Why did Don Carlos go ashore?”

“To find General Pitou. If the general thinks it safe, he may come back
with Don Carlos.”

“When does Don Carlos expect to get back here?” put in Bob.

“That depends on how far away the rebels are. He may return soon, and
he may not return until nearly night.”

“About what time is it?”

“Nearly noon. Tell me, Bob, how you think I can help you! I’m not
nearly so clever as you are, and you might be able to think of
something I could do.”

Bob was thoughtful for a moment.

“Where are Gaines and Clackett?” he asked at last.

“They are shut up in the torpedo room. Fingal intends to keep them shut
up all the time they are not needed for running the boat.”

“By George!” exclaimed Bob.

“What now?” whispered Dick.

“Why, if necessary, one of those fellows could shoot the other out
through the torpedo tube! I got out that way once, you remember, in
Atlantic City, and the _Grampus_ was submerged, at that. Here she’s on
the surface, and the mouth of the tube isn’t more than two feet under
water!”

“What good would it do for one o’ them fellers to be shot out of the
boat?” queried Speake. “He’d only find himself in the hands of those
outside.”

“Well, Speake, if we got a chance to leave here and run the
revolutionists off the boat, one of the men from the torpedo room would
prove a big help to us. With Don Carlos gone, there are only Fingal,
Pedro, and two more against us--and perhaps Ysabel could keep Pedro
from taking a very active part in the fighting.”

“But there are the guns--consarn ’em!” growled Dick. “What could we do
against four, or even three, armed men? They could riddle us before we
got close enough to use our fists.”

“If I could take the cartridges out of the revolvers,” said Ysabel,
“wouldn’t that help?”

“How could you do that?” queried Bob eagerly. “Aren’t the weapons in
the men’s pockets?”

“There were only four revolvers,” went on the girl, “and one of the men
gave his to Don Carlos. That leaves only three on the boat. Pedro has
one, Fingal has one, and one of the other men has one. If I----”

Just at this point the door opened and the swarthy face of Pedro was
thrust in.

“_Mujercita!_” he called softly.

The girl, with one last, quick look at Bob, hastened from the room. The
door was closed and locked, and the prisoners could hear the hoarse
voice of Fingal rumbling through the periscope room. Bob glided to the
door and listened. A moment later he drew a long breath of relief and
turned away.

“I was afraid he might discover her,” said he, “but he only came down
to borrow some tobacco of Pedro.”

“About all we can do is to wait,” murmured Speake.

“That’s all,” said Dick; “wait for something to happen and hope for the
best.”

“And let’s not forget, while we’re waiting,” added Bob, “that we’ve
got one loyal friend among our captors--and she’s as brave as she is
loyal.”



CHAPTER XXVI.

A FAVORABLE OPPORTUNITY.


The three prisoners were hungry and they lost no time in making an
attack on the basket. While they ate they discussed the situation in
whispers.

“Did Fingal come down the ladder from the conning tower, mate?” asked
Dick.

“I thought so,” was the reply, “from the noise he made.”

“Did he go back to the deck?”

“I didn’t wait to listen.”

“If we could git that gang separated,” said Speake, “we could lay ’em
out one at a time--an’ I guess the revolvers wouldn’t cut much figure.”

“That would be fine, Speake,” returned Dick, “but Fingal and his gang
are not doing the things we want ’em to.”

“If we’re to accomplish anything toward recapturing the submarine,”
chimed in Bob, “we’ll have to do it before Don Carlos gets back. He
may bring a gang of soldiers with him. Besides, don’t forget what’s
to happen to us at nightfall in case we don’t agree to join the
revolutionists.”

“I’m not pinin’ to have my name wiped off the articles,” said Speake,
with a wry grimace. “For one, I’d rather take long chances tryin’ to
run the rebels off the boat. It’s a heap more comfortin’ to get done up
that way than by lettin’ Fingal an’ Pitou an’ this Don Carlos do what
they please without never liftin’ a hand to help ourselves.”

“I can’t see anything comforting in that proposition, either way,”
observed Dick. “All I hope is, just now, that Ysabel will be careful,
and that Pedro will look after her. Everything depends on her.”

“She’s a brick!” murmured Bob admiringly.

“And she’s doing all this for you, Bob, you know!”

“It’s for all of us!” declared Bob.

“Don’t you never think it,” said Speake. “She’s runnin’ a lot o’ risks,
an’ I wouldn’t never have thought a girl could have the grit. But Bob
Steele was in danger! That was enough for her to know.”

“I wonder how Carl came out with his serenade?” remarked Dick. “Ysabel
wasn’t at the house, and it’s a fair guess that Carl got into trouble.”

Carl certainly had tumbled into difficulties--but it was not because he
had not found any one at home.

“What do you suppose Carl is thinkin’ about _us?_” said Speake.

“Our disappearance will bother a good many people,” answered Bob.

Speake’s conscience troubled him.

“I feel like an ornery cur,” said he, “over the way Gaines an’ Clackett
an’ me acted! Ye remember how mad us three was at Cassidy when he got
in such a takin’ because Bob was put in charge o’ the _Grampus?_ Well,
to my notion, we ain’t acted any better than Cassidy did.”

“You ought to feel cut up,” reproved Dick. “The only way you can square
yourself, Speake, is by doing a lot to help recapture the ship.”

“Jest give me the chance,” answered Speake, his eyes flashing, “an’
I’ll show you what I can do.”

The boys finished the food, took a drink all around from the bottle of
cold coffee that Ysabel had put in the basket, and then continued their
wait for something to happen. They felt better physically, even if they
were not more hopeful.

Dick lay back on one of the cots and went to sleep; Speake pulled his
hat down over his eyes and leaned against the forward bulkhead; Bob,
flat on his back on the other cot, stared upward at the rounded deck,
wishing that he could poke a hole through the steel plates and so gain
freedom for himself and his friends.

Speake dozed a little. Something white, poked through one of the
ventilator holes above his head, floated downward and landed on his
knee. He stared at it drowsily, then brushed at it mechanically with
one hand. Suddenly he realized that the falling of a scrap of white
paper was rather a peculiar circumstance, and snatched it off the floor.

“Bob!” he called.

“What is it?” returned Bob, rising on his elbow and directing his gaze
at Speake.

“This dropped down on me!” Speake held up the paper.

Bob was off the cot in a flash and standing at Speake’s side. “When?”
he whispered.

“Just now.”

“It was pushed through one of the ventilator openings. It’s a
note--from Ysabel.”

He passed to Dick’s side and shook him into wakefulness.

“What’s the row?” inquired Dick.

“A note from Ysabel, pushed in to us through one of the holes in the
forward bulkhead.”

“From _her?_” muttered Dick, smothering his excitement. “Read it!
Perhaps she’s captured the revolvers.”

The note was written in pencil on a ragged scrap of paper. Bob, in a
guarded voice, read it aloud:

  “‘Pedro is asleep at the door. Fingal has gone off on the river
  bank. The two others are playing cards on the deck. I have
  Pedro’s revolver and have unlocked the door. Now is the time!
  Capture Pedro and tie him--but don’t hurt him. Be quiet--if he
  makes an outcry all is lost. Hurry!’”

Speake pulled off his coat.

“This is bully!” he whispered. “Now we’ve got a chance.”

“It’s an opportunity I wasn’t expecting,” said Bob, pulling off his
shoes carefully. “In our stocking feet, fellows! We must not make any
noise. While Speake and I are binding Pedro, Dick, you go down and let
Gaines and Clackett out of the torpedo room. If we work this right we
may be able to get away from here and down the river.”

All three of the prisoners were excited, as well they might be. An
opportunity offered to save themselves and the boat--success or failure
hanging on their quickness and silence.

Advancing to the door, Bob laid his hand on the knob. Slowly he twisted
the catch out of its socket, and then inch by inch forced the door open.

Yet, slight though the noise was that accompanied the click of the
catch, Pedro heard it. With a startled exclamation he leaped to his
feet.

Bob and Speake sprang at him, Bob catching his wrists and Speake
throwing an arm about his throat and clapping a hand over his lips.

The odds were against Pedro, and he was helpless; yet, for all that, he
managed to squirm about and make considerable noise.

There was a drone of voices overhead, coming down the open hatch. The
voices suddenly ceased, and some one was heard floundering over the
deck to the top of the tower.

The electric light was not burning in the periscope room, and the only
light that entered the chamber came from the hatch. Any one looking
downward would not have been able to see anything distinctly except in
the immediate vicinity of the bottom of the ladder. Bob, Speake, and
Pedro, as it chanced, were close to the locker.

“Anythin’ wrong down there, greaser!” called a husky voice.

“No, señor,” answered Bob, trying to imitate the rough voice of the
Mexican.

“Thought I heard you movin’ around,” said the man above, turning away
from the top of the tower.

Pedro was forced down on the locker, and Ysabel glided forward with a
piece of rope for bonds and a piece of cloth for a gag. Pedro turned
his wild eyes on the girl with startled inquiry and suspicion.

“You will not be hurt, Pedro!” whispered the girl; “don’t make a
noise--please.”

She followed this with some soft words in Spanish. But Pedro, loyal
though he undoubtedly was to the girl, continued to struggle. Bob and
Speake, however, managed to get him bound and gagged.

“This is only the beginning, Bob Steele,” breathed Ysabel, her cheeks
flushed with excitement and her eyes bright as stars. “Here is Pedro’s
revolver--take it.”

Bob took the weapon and thrust it in his pocket.

“We can’t use firearms,” he whispered, “for they make too much noise.
Our hope lies in capturing our enemies one at a time, then cutting the
cables and dropping down the river. If possible, we must do this before
Fingal gets back.”

“Where did Dick go?” asked the girl.

“To release Gaines and Clackett. The torpedo-room door is fastened by
a bolt on the outside, so he’ll have no trouble in getting them out.
We’ll wait till they come before making our next move.”

Bob had hardly finished speaking before Dick came in through the
forward door of the room. Clackett followed him--but Gaines was not
along.

Bob lifted a warning finger as Dick was about to speak, pointed upward
toward the deck and then motioned for Dick and Clackett to come closer.

“Where is Gaines?” he whispered.

“He got out through the torpedo tube, half an hour ago,” said Dick.

Bob, as will be remembered, had already thought of this maneuver. But
it was unfortunate that Gaines had put it into effect, in view of what
was transpiring.

“What was Gaines going to do?” asked Bob of Clackett.

“He reckoned he’d go up the river an’ try an’ find General Mendez,”
replied Clackett. “We sort o’ figgered it out between us that some of
the soldiers under Mendez could come here and capture the boat and
release the rest of us.”

Here was an awkward situation, and Bob wrinkled his brows over it.

They could not leave without Gaines. He was taking chances and doing
his best to be of service to his comrades, and dropping down the river
without him was not to be thought of.

“What shall we do now?” asked Dick.

“Keep on with our plan,” answered Bob. “There are two of the scoundrels
playing cards on deck. We must get them as safely as we have got Pedro.”

“Shall we make a racket and bring them down?”

“They’ll both come, if we do that. We can capture them with less noise
if they come one at a time.”

Ysabel started forward.

“I’ll go up the ladder,” said she, “and say that Pedro wants one of
them. After you capture him, I’ll go up after the other.”

“Good!” exclaimed Bob. “Get ropes, boys,” he added to the others, “and
stand ready for some swift and noiseless work.”

Ysabel glided to the ladder. Before she could mount, however, some one
was heard climbing over the top of the conning tower. As those below
looked upward, a pair of booted feet swung down.

“Fingal!” gasped Ysabel, drawing away fearfully.

Bob motioned her out of the room. “Stand ready for him,” he whispered,
“as he reaches the bottom of the ladder. The smallest mistake now means
failure. Ready!!”

Scarcely breathing, Bob, Dick, Speake, and Clackett stood waiting for
the burly ruffian who, jointly with Don Carlos, was responsible for all
their troubles.



CHAPTER XXVII.

EXCITING WORK.


Fingal was a big fellow, and Bob remembered with a shudder the crushing
embrace of his huge arms at the time the crew of the submarine were
routed. But Bob, with so many to help him, was not worrying over the
outcome. What caused him the most concern was the thought that, in
spite of their precautions, there would be noise enough to alarm the
two men who were playing cards.

Fingal came down the ladder slowly. Fortunately for those below he kept
his gaze upward as he descended. When he reached the foot of the ladder
his face was toward the after bulkhead of the periscope room, and those
who were waiting were behind.

At a signal from Bob the attack was made. Bob himself sprang at
Fingal’s throat and caught his bull-like neck in a strangling grip.
Like a huge animal, Fingal pushed himself around. Speake had one of his
arms and Dick the other. Clackett, bending down caught his feet and
jerked them off the floor.

Fighting furiously, Fingal was thus thrown bodily into the hands and
arms of Bob, Dick, and Speake. They were not expecting to receive the
heavy weight, and the huge body crashed to the floor. Bob’s grip about
Fingal’s throat was wrenched loose, and a half-strangled bellow of fury
went up from the desperate scoundrel.

Feet stamped the deck. There was no need of a demand from those above
as to what was going on, for both the men knew that there was trouble.
Fingal would not have bellowed in that fashion if there had not been.

“Never mind the noise, now,” panted Bob. “We’re in for it, and we must
be quick.”

One of the other men already had his feet on the ladder. Leaving Dick,
Speake, and Clackett to handle Fingal, Bob jumped up the ladder, caught
the descending feet, and flung his whole weight on them.

As a result, the man’s hands were torn from the iron rungs, and he and
Bob tumbled in a heap on the floor of the periscope room.

Bob came off better than his antagonist, for the latter struck his head
against the steering wheel, doubled himself up in a ball, then flung
out his limbs convulsively and lay silent and still.

“Look after both of them, fellows!” cried Bob. “I’m going after the
other one.”

The second of the two men who had been on the deck was showing more
wariness than his companion had done. The abrupt disappearance of his
comrade from the top of the ladder had filled him with doubts, and
when he saw Bob rushing upward, he must have gained the idea that all
the others were captured. Yet, be that as it may, he whirled from the
conning tower in a panic and leaped off the boat.

When Bob lifted his head clear of the hatch, a sharp report echoed out,
and a bullet struck the sloping side of the conning tower and glanced
off into the river.

The ruffian was standing on the planks that had formed the old landing.
Undeterred by the shot, Bob threw himself out of the tower, gained the
rickety wharf at a jump, and raced after the man.

The latter retreated to the bank, turned there, and assayed another
shot. A metallic click echoed out, but no report. Again and again the
trigger fell uselessly.

With an oath, the fellow hurled the weapon at Bob, faced about, and
dashed into the timber.

Bob gave pursuit. Had it not been that Gaines was missing from the
boat’s complement, Bob would not have chased the fugitive; but Gaines’
absence made it necessary for the submarine to remain at the landing
until he should return, and if this man got away he would probably
spread the news of what had happened and cause a detachment of the
revolutionists to charge the boat.

Bob, it will be remembered, was in his stocking feet. The ground over
which he was running was covered with sharp stones, and before he had
gone a hundred yards he realized that he would have to give up the
pursuit.

Turning back, he regained the landing, leaped to the deck of the
submarine, and bent over the hatch.

“How are you, down there?” he called.

“Finer’n silk!” came the jubilant voice of Speake. “We’ve got lashings
on both men. Where’s the other chap?”

“He jumped ashore and got away. Come up here, Dick, you and Clackett.
One of you bring a hatchet. Let Ysabel watch the prisoners, and
you, Speake, go below and see if everything is in shape for a quick
departure.”

“Goin’ to leave without Gaines, Bob?” asked Clackett.

“Not unless we have to. We’re going to hang out here until the last
moment.”

Dick and Clackett presently showed themselves on deck. Bob had already
discovered that the _Grampus_ was moored to two trees with a couple of
cables at the bow and stem. The boat was pointed upstream.

“Cast off the stern cable, Clackett,” ordered Bob, “and throw it
aboard. One rope is enough to hold us. Go out on the bow, Dick,” he
added, “and sit there with the hatchet. If you get an order to cut the
cable, don’t lose any time in carrying it out.”

“Aye, aye, mate!” replied Dick.

Clackett went ashore and unfastened the rear cable from the tree. Bob
drew it in, coiled it, and dropped it down the hatch.

“What am I to do now, Bob?” shouted Clackett.

“Go up the bank and a little way into the woods,” answered Bob. “Hide
yourself and watch for soldiers. If you hear or see any, rush this way
and give the alarm to Dick. He’ll cut the cable, and then the two of
you dodge below as quick as the nation will let you, the last one down
closing the hatch after him. Understand?”

“That’s plain enough,” said Clackett, climbing the bank and vanishing
in the timber.

Bob went down into the periscope room and found Ysabel sitting on one
of the stools and keeping watch of the prisoners.

Fingal, his great arms twisting fiercely against the ropes and his eyes
glaring, lay on the floor. Near him was the other prisoner. The latter
had recovered from the blow that had stunned him, and, to judge from
his humble appearance, his warlike disposition was entirely gone.

“What shall we do with Pedro, Bob?” asked Ysabel anxiously.

“Does he want to go back with us to Belize? Ask him.”

“If he did that, they would probably arrest him for what he has done,”
said the girl.

She put the question, however, and Pedro shook his, head.

“Ask him if he wants us to put him ashore here.”

Pedro nodded as soon as Ysabel had translated the words into Spanish.

“Tell him we’ll do that before we leave,” said Bob, “but that we can’t
trust him ashore until we are ready to go.”

Pedro tried to talk in response to this, and Bob removed the gag for a
moment. Turning his face toward Ysabel, Pedro spoke rapidly for a few
moments. Ysabel’s face became very serious as she listened.

“What is it?” inquired Bob.

“He says that the _Grampus_ will never be able to leave the river,”
answered the girl; “that the fort is in the hands of the rebels, and
that they are planting mines in the river, so close to the bottom that
the submarine will strike them if she submerges. If she floats on the
surface, then the guns of the fort will sink her.”

There was terror in the girl’s face as she repeated Pedro’s words.
Here was an unlooked-for difficulty, and one that gave Bob the utmost
concern.

“Just ask him, Ysabel,” said he, “why the rebels planted mines in the
river when they knew the submarine was in the hands of their friends?
Pedro’s story sounds improbable, to me. If it comes to that, we passed
the mouth of the river under water, and no one in the fort or the town
saw us.”

Ysabel talked for a few moments more with Pedro.

“He says,” the girl reported finally, “that Don Carlos saw the flag
of the rebels flying from the fort by means of the periscope when we
ascended the stream; but the don knew there were some submarine mines
in Port Livingstone, and that he was going to have the soldiers plant
them. He was afraid Fingal might try to run away with the _Grampus_,
and intended to pen her in the river.”

“Then even these revolutionists can’t trust each other!” exclaimed Bob.
“With such a lack of confidence as that, if it extends to the rank and
file, the insurrection will prove a farce. Just----”

At that moment some one landed heavily on the deck of the submarine.
Bob straightened erect and stepped to the foot of the ladder. Looking
up, he saw Clackett gazing down.

“There are two men comin’, Bob!” reported Clackett. “One of em’s Don
Carlos, an’ the other wears a red coat with shoulder straps and has a
sword.”

“Some officer, I suppose,” said Bob. “Come down here, quick, Clackett,
and tell Dick to follow you, but not to cut the cable. Speake!” he
called through one of the tubes.

“What is it?” came back the voice of Speake.

“Up here with you! More work.”

Speake, tumbling up from below, and Dick and Clackett, dropping down
from above, reached the periscope room at about the same time. Bob had
been replacing the gag between Pedro’s lips.

“Drag the prisoners into the room where they were keeping us,” said
Bob. “There’s going to be more lively work here, and we’ve got to clear
decks for action.”

While Speake, Clackett, and Dick fell to with a will, half dragging and
half carrying the prisoners into the steel chamber off the periscope
room, Bob kept close to the periscope and watched the bank above the
landing.

Then, just as his comrades finished their work and returned to his
side, he gave vent to an exclamation and whirled away from the
periscope table.

“Don Carlos is coming,” he whispered, “and General Pitou is with him!
Now, at one stroke, we can lay the rebel general by the heels and nip
this revolution in the bud. Steady, now! Not a whisper, mind. There are
two of them, and we must capture both.”



CHAPTER XXVIII.

CAPTURING THE GENERAL.


Bob, on the occasion of his former visit to the River Izaral, had
caught a fleeting glimpse of General Pitou. Speake, who had been a
prisoner in the general’s hands for a brief time, was more familiar
with his appearance. Gliding to the periscope table, Speake took a look
for himself.

“You’re right, Bob,” he whispered, “it’s the old villain himself.”

“I should think he was takin’ chances coming so far from camp,”
remarked Clackett, “and right in the direction of General Mendez and
his troops.”

“Perhaps,” chuckled Dick, “he was expecting to drop down the river in
the submarine! Let’s not disappoint him, mates. He’ll go down, but not
with the people he intended to have as companions.”

A deep silence reigned in the periscope room. Voices were heard on the
landing, and then a clattering rattle as the general landed on the
deck. Don Carlos followed more lightly, and stepped to the conning
tower.

“Fingal!” called Don Carlos. “The general is here, and he feels that
the prisoners must be dealt with in a summary manner at once. He
doesn’t think it advisable to wait until nightfall. Better bring them
up.”

Here, in a moment, a situation was developed which threatened Bob’s
plan for entrapping Don Carlos and Pitou. The don and the general were
not intending to come into the boat, but to wait on the deck while the
prisoners were brought up.

“I say, below there!” called Don Carlos, in a louder voice. “Wake up,
you! Where’s Fingal?”

“Ahoy, don!” bellowed Bob, trying his utmost to imitate the raucous
tones of Fingal’s voice. “Bring the general down a minute!”

Bob’s imitation was fairly good, but not good enough to deceive the
keen ears of Don Carlos. With a yell of alarm, the don sprang ashore.

“This way, general!” he shouted; “hurry! There’s something wrong here.”

There followed a crash, a rattling slide of some object over the
sloping deck of the boat, then a shrill volley of oaths.

Bob rushed up the ladder and looked out of the hatch.

The general was a little man, and he carried a prodigious sword and
wore a pair of immense spurs on his cavalry boots. As near as Bob could
judge, from what he saw, the general had tried to leap ashore and
his spurs had caught in one of the guy ropes. Instead, therefore, of
leaping, he fell in a heap, and had clattered and banged along the deck
until he was caught and held between the side of the boat and a pile
that formed part of the wharf.

The general was seeking in vain to extricate himself from his
difficulties. Every time he tried to get up, his boots would slip on
the rounded plates, and he would sit down on the sharp points of his
spurs.

The air was fairly blue in his immediate vicinity, and a perfect bedlam
of epithets went up from him. Don Carlos, seeing Bob in the top of the
tower, guessed rightly that the prisoners had released themselves in
some manner. The don did not return to assist the general, but danced
about on the bank, tossing his arms frantically and shouting for him to
make haste.

The general was more than anxious to oblige, but fate was against
anything like haste. The sharp points of his spurs galled him, and
when his spurs ceased from troubling, his long sword got between his
legs and tripped him.

Bob had abundant time to slide over the top of the conning tower, grab
the general by the collar of his red coat, and pull him erect on the
ridgelike spine of the deck.

With a howl of wrath, Pitou backed up against the conning tower, drew
his sword, threw his left arm over his face, and proceeded savagely to
carve slices out of the air.

The situation was serious, from several points of view, but Bob, for
all that, could hardly repress a laugh.

Then, to crown the ignominy that was being heaped upon the general,
Speake suddenly hoisted himself above the top of the tower, noted the
situation, reached out calmly and passed his arms about the general’s
body under the shoulders.

The next moment Bob had a glimpse of a red coat, a pair of cavalry
boots, and flashing spurs being elevated and dragged down into the maw
of the tower.

It was a tragic disappearance--tragic for the general--for, in this
inglorious manner, he was leaving the scene of his military exploits.

As soon as Bob got below he found his friends enjoying the general as
much as he had done. Clackett had taken his sword, Speake had pulled
off his boots, and Dick was sitting on the captive’s breast, pinning
him to the floor while he affixed cords to his wrists and ankles.

“Fer goodness’ sake,” cried Speake, “get somethin’ between his jaws!
He’s chatterin’ more’n a cage o’ monkeys.”

Ysabel stepped forward with a bandage, and the general was soon silent.
Dick finished by dragging him into the prison chamber and dropping him
down beside Fingal.

“Oh, what a fine general it is!” laughed Dick. “And he was trying
to make himself dictator of the country! I wonder what sort of a
population they have here, to let a little wasp like that go on the
warpath and make trouble!”

“He is a little wretch!” exclaimed Ysabel, with flashing eyes.

“And that’s the military phenomenon your uncle, Abner Fingal, was
trying to make you marry!” exclaimed Dick, suddenly recalling a
half-forgotten episode in Ysabel’s life.

The girl flushed crimson. “Never!” she breathed fiercely.

“If it hadn’t been for his spurs and his sword,” said Bob, “he would
have been able to get away. But we’re strangely reckless, friends,”
he added, “to amuse ourselves with the general when we are in such
desperate plight. We can’t leave here until Gaines gets back, and not
only has one of Fingal’s men escaped us, but Don Carlos has likewise
got away. Both will carry the news of what we have done to the camp of
the rebels--and you can imagine what will happen when the rebels hear
that we have got their general below decks. We’ll have the entire army
about our ears--and that won’t do; at least, not until we have Gaines
with us. After that, we can close the hatch, sink below the surface and
glide downstream without----”

Bob paused. He suddenly remembered what Pedro had said about the
submarine mines at the mouth of the river.

“We may have a hard time getting out of the river,” he continued
thoughtfully. “Pedro told Ysabel that the rebels had planted mines in
the river bed, close to the fort, and that they were so low in the
water we would probably strike them if we tried to pass the fort
submerged. Again, if we attempt to gain the gulf by keeping on the
surface of the river, the cannon in the fort will bombard us.”

“A plague on their mines and their cannon!” cried Dick recklessly.
“We’ll run past the fort. If the soldiers are all as able as their
general, they couldn’t hit us with grape and canister.”

“Well, that’s a bridge for us to cross at a later time,” said Bob.
“Just at present we have Gaines to think about. He ought to have got
back by this time. Clackett, go back to your post in the woods and keep
a sharp watch for soldiers. We’ll surely have a visit from them now. Up
on deck with your hatchet, Dick, and stand ready to cut the cable at
the first sign of an attack.”

“Aye, aye!” responded Dick, picking up the hatchet. “I think we could
capture the whole rebel army if it came our way.”

“We’ve had one experience with the rebel army, Dick,” said Bob, “and it
was far from pleasant. Let’s not repeat the experience. Climb for the
deck, and be----”

Events were happening for the young motorist and his chums that day!
They were coming like the rapid reports of a Gatling gun, and hardly
was one issue met and vanquished before another was raised.

Dick and Clackett were on their way up the ladder when a rattle of
musketry reached the ears of those in the submarine. It came from the
direction of the bank, and was followed by loud cries and a tremendous
thrashing among the bushes.

“Hurry!” cried Bob. “Don Carlos must have met a detachment of Pitou’s
army and have headed them this way! We can’t wait any longer for
Gaines! Up with you and cut the cable!”

Clackett stepped off the ladder to make room for Bob, who sprang to
follow Dick aloft.

When Dick reached the deck, he gave a shout of astonishment. “Hurry
up!” he called.

When Bob was able to see what was going on, he was as greatly surprised
as Dick had been.

Coming down the bank, and traveling as fast as his long legs could
carry him, was Gaines. He was clad only in shirt and trousers, and
his bare feet were bleeding from their contact with the sharp stones.
Unmindful of this trying discomfort, he rushed down the bank with
flying leaps, while bushes crackled behind him and little wreaths of
smoke rose upward, marking the discharge of firearms.

Bob rushed along the deck and caught the hatchet out of his chum’s hand.

“Go to the engine room, Dick,” said he quickly, “and take charge of the
motor. Send Clackett to the tank room. Let Speake take the wheel until
I come. Submerge when I give the word, and do it _quick!_”

It was no time for hesitation, and Ferral darted back down the hatch.



CHAPTER XXIX.

OFF FOR THE GULF.


It was easily seen that Gaines was nearly spent. His breath tore
through his lips in gasps, and when he reached the edge of the wharf,
he fell there, unable to roll over the edge and drop down on the deck
of the _Grampus_.

Out of the bushes at the top of the bank came the foremost of the
pursuing soldiers. Fortunately for Bob and Gaines, they were armed with
muzzle-loaders, and were frantically getting another charge into the
barrels.

Dropping the hatchet, Bob leaped to the wharf, caught Gaines, and
pulled him down on the deck; then, springing back, he picked up the
hatchet and severed the cable with a blow.

The bow of the submarine caught the current, swung farther out into the
stream, then whirled around and started away. This placed the conning
tower between the soldiers and Bob and Gaines, and several bullets hit
the tower and glanced singing into the air.

“You’re all right, Gaines,” said Bob, bending over the motorist. “You
got out of that fix----”

“By the skin of my teeth!” panted Gaines. “Oh, what a run! I never ran
so fast, and so far, and over so many stones and briers, before in my
life. I thought, a dozen times, they had me.”

“Hard luck that you should have run into the rebels when you were
looking for the soldiers of General Mendez.”

“Rebels?” cried Gaines. “Why, Bob, those fellows weren’t rebels. They
were the loyalist soldiers!”

“The troops of General Mendez?”

“Yes.”

“Then,” queried Bob angrily, “why were they chasing you, and shooting
at you?”

“I give it up. They must have taken me for one of the rebels--possibly
they thought I was General Pitou.”

“They couldn’t have thought that,” answered Bob. “The general is only
about half your size.”

“Clackett told you why I got out through the torpedo tube?”

“Yes. But how did you ever do it without being seen by Fingal and his
men?”

“I was shot along upstream, and straight into the bank. Fingal was
sitting on the deck at the time, and the sudden heave of the forward
end of the boat drew his attention, but he didn’t see me. As soon as
I could I got up the bank, but the compressed air had made me dizzy,
and I was obliged to rest before I could travel. After I got started
I found that I couldn’t go fast on account of my bare feet. I must
have been about a mile away before I saw any soldiers. There was a
straggling column of them, and they appeared to be the vanguard of
an advancing army. They were Mendez’s men, and I was pleased a lot,
because I was sure I could get them to go back with me and help
recapture the submarine.

“When I started toward them, though, they began to shoot and to run
toward me. I couldn’t stop and explain, for I wasn’t at all sure that
my explanation would be accepted. So all I could do was turn and see
how quick I could get back over the ground. That’s about all, Bob. But
how did you get clear? It was a surprise to see you on the boat. I was
expecting to be met by Fingal and his gang.”

“That’s too much to tell just now, Gaines. We’re all free, however,
and all together once more. We have been waiting for you.”

“What became of Fingal?”

“He’s a prisoner.”

“Good! Any more prisoners?”

“General Pitou----”

“General Pitou!”

“Yes; and one of Fingal’s men, and another who is more a friend of
Ysabel Sixty’s than he is of Fingal’s.”

“What about Ysabel Sixty?”

“She’s below, too.”

“Where did she come from?”

“She was one of those we took out of that yawl. We all thought she was
a boy until she told us who she was. We owe our escape to her.”

While sitting on the deck, Gaines had been slowly recovering
his strength. He was still muttering dazedly over Bob’s amazing
disclosures, when Speake showed himself at the hatch.

“You fellows better come below!” he called “Dick said you wanted the
boat submerged, Bob, an’ I guess that the quicker we do it the better.
There’s an outfit of black soldiers, dead ahead, waiting for us.”

Bob whirled around and allowed his eyes to follow the direction of
Speake’s pointing finger.

On a shelflike projection of the high bank, perhaps a quarter of a mile
ahead, was a group of rebels. They could be seen only indistinctly,
but it was apparent from their actions that they were waiting for the
_Grampus_ to come within good range.

“Climb for the hatch, Gaines!” ordered Bob. “We’ve got to get below
the surface. If we stay out here, while we’re passing those soldiers,
they’ll shoot us off the deck.”

Gaines got to his feet and walked painfully to the tower. After he had
climbed in, and vanished, Bob followed, closing the hatch behind him.

“Fill the ballast tanks, Clackett!” called Bob, through the tank-room
tube. “About ten feet will do, just so the periscope ball is awash.”

A moment more and the submarine began to settle downward.

“What are you going to do when we get near the fort, Bob?” asked Speake.

“I don’t believe the rebels have had time to plant any submarine
mines,” said Bob. “It takes some time to do that, and not enough time
has elapsed since Don Carlos reached the fort and reported that the
submarine had been captured. We’ll pass the fort under water, and
chance the mines. Better that than running on the surface and being
bombarded.”

Patter, patter came a ringing hail on the deck.

“Ah!” cried Gaines; “the soldiers are taking a whack at us!” He laughed
derisively. “I guess we can stand as much of that as they want to give
us. Their lead slides from the deck like water off a duck’s back.”

_Smash!_

“Great guns!” cried Bob. “What was that? Something broke.”

“The periscope ball!” gasped Speake. “They’ve put the periscope out of
commission. Empty the tanks!” he yelled into the tank-room tube.

The periscope table reflected nothing of the treacherous channel along
which the current and the propeller were carrying the _Grampus_ at a
terrific pace. It was necessary to come to the surface as quickly as
possible and use the conning-tower lunettes.

“Reverse your engine, Dick!” cried Bob to the motor room. “Full speed
astern!”

The engine was instantly reversed, but not until the submarine had
run into some obstruction, halting her with a jar that threw all her
passengers off their feet.

For a moment the silence was broken only by the hum of the fiercely
working cylinders, and the splash and bubble of the current as it met
the obstruction of the huge steel shell.

“Cut out the turbines!” yelled Bob; “empty the tanks by compressed air.
Full speed astern, Dick! Every ounce of power now!”

“What’s happened, do you think, Bob?” asked Ysabel, who had been
sitting on the locker in the periscope room, watching eagerly all that
had taken place.

“The river winds about a good deal, Ysabel,” Bob answered, “and we have
probably run into the bank. When the periscope went out of commission
it prevented us from keeping track of our course.” “Ah!” he added,
noticing that the propeller was dragging them against the current and
away from the bank, and that they were rising toward the surface.
“We’ll do, now.”

“But we can’t pass them cannon on the surface,” observed Speake.

“There’s nothing else for it, Speake,” answered Bob, “but a dash
straight for the gulf. We’ll have to keep to the surface, and if the
rebels are able to aim straight, they’re going to give us a lively
time.”

Bob relieved Speake in the conning tower. With his eyes against the
lunettes, he kept keen watch ahead as turn after turn of the river
unfolded before the racing boat.

At last they came close to a bend on the opposite side of which Bob
knew there was a straightway stretch of water leading to the gulf.

He signaled the motor room for full speed astern once more, then slowed
down until the backward pull of the propeller just balanced the rush
of the current, the _Grampus_ hanging stationary in midstream.

“Gaines,” called Bob, “are you well enough to take the engine? I want
Dick up here with me.”

“Sure,” answered Gaines.

“Then go down and send him up.”

Dick reached the periscope room in a few moments.

“Dick,” said Bob, “our periscope is out of commission and we’ve got to
pass the fort on the surface of the river. We could wait until night.
That would give the rebels less of a chance at us, but it would also
make our dash for the gulf more dangerous. The daylight has advantages
as well as disadvantages, and so has the night. What do you say?”

“I’m for running their bally old fort,” answered Dick. “We’ll go so
fast they can’t hit us.”

“Get the Stars and Stripes out of the locker, Dick,” said Bob. “We’ll
haul it up to the staff as we pass and see if it commands their
respect.”

Bob threw open the conning-tower hatch. The next moment, with his body
half exposed above the hatch, he rang for full speed ahead.

As the _Grampus_ started on the last leg of her dangerous voyage, Dick
forced his way up beside his chum.

“Give me room now, Bob,” said he, between his teeth. “I’m going out on
deck. If the flag commands any respect, it will be under my personal
supervision.”

“Run up the flag and then get back below,” answered Bob, squeezing to
one side of the tower so that Dick could pass.

Dick had kicked off his shoes and thrown aside his hat. Stripped for
action, he bent the flag to the halyards as the submarine swept onward
toward the threatening wall of the fort.



CHAPTER XXX.

RUNNING THE BATTERY.


Signs of activity showed around the fort as the _Grampus_ rushed down
toward it. Soldiers with rifles appeared on the walls, and the muzzles
of the cannon were being slowly depressed in order to get the boat
under a drop fire.

“They’re going to let us have it!” called Ferral, still working with
the flag.

“Get the bunting up and return below!” ordered Bob.

“I suppose you think that you’re the only one who’s privileged to show
himself while the rebels are shaking out their loads at us.”

“I don’t want you to expose yourself to needless danger, Dick,” said
Bob.

“Danger!” Dick gave vent to a scornful laugh. “I don’t think the
greasers can shoot. Let’s give ’em a chance at us and see if----”

Dick was interrupted by a hoarse boom!

Four cannon commanded the river side of the fort, and four the bay
side. It was one of the guns on the river side that had spoken. A round
shot plunged into the water on the port side of the boat, sending a jet
of spray high into the air.

“I told you so!” yelled Dick, and shook his fist at the fort.

As he looked upward he saw three soldiers on the wall getting ready to
shoot.

Two more cannon were fired, almost at the same time. The solid shot
plunged into the water altogether too close to the boat for comfort.

“Up with the colors, Dick!” shouted Bob Steele; “let’s see if they dare
fire on that flag!”

Dick hauled up the flag. As the gay little banner caught the breeze and
opened out, a crack of rifles was heard from the fort.

The flag fluttered sharply.

“What do you think of that!” roared Dick, once more shaking his fist
upward in the direction of the fort; “they’ve put a hole through the
flag. Oh, strike me lucky! If it was the British flag they treated like
that, an army would march through the country before the scoundrels
were a month older.”

“They’re an irresponsible lot, anyhow,” said Bob. “Besides, we’ve got
General Pitou below, and General Mendez will have an easy time of it
when he gets here with his army. The uprising is as good as squelched.
If anything----”

A perfect roar of guns echoed from the hill. With a crash the periscope
mast went by the board, and the round shot caused the water to bubble
and boil all around the submarine.

“They’ve got a grouch against that periscope, you see!” laughed Dick.

“We’ll have to have a new mast and ball as soon as we get back to
Belize,” said Bob, as he guided the _Grampus_ in a wide sweep around
the headland to the left of the river mouth.

“A moment more,” said Dick, “and we’ll have the town between us and
the fort. They’re slow at loading those old carronades. Those fellows’
hands must be all thumbs. If----”

Dick did not finish his sarcastic remarks. Just then there was a
tremendous explosion just behind the submarine. A column of water arose
high in the air, and, descending in a huge wave, carried the stern of
the boat under and threw the bow high in the air. The water all around
was a veritable caldron.

Frantic cries came from within the hull. Bob, owing to the almost
vertical inclination of the steel hull, was hurled out of the conning
tower and came into violent collision with Dick, who was clinging with
a life-and-death grip to the flagstaff guys.

For a second the _Grampus_ heaved and tossed on the waves, then righted
herself and drove ahead.

Bob picked himself up and climbed hastily back into the conning tower.
He was sore and bruised, but he realized that he could not leave the
submarine to steer herself.

“What was that?” cried Dick, rising to his knees and lifting a pale
face upward.

“It must have been a submarine mine,” answered Bob, in a voice that
shivered perceptibly.

“A mine!” returned Dick. “But it exploded _behind_ us! If we set it
off, why didn’t it explode under us and blow us to smithereens?”

“It must have been a mine of the floating variety--a contact mine which
was out of working order. We passed over it; and then, when we were
safely out of the way, the pesky thing let go.”

Dick Ferral’s face grew even paler than it had been. As the dread
import of Bob’s words dawned on him, he realized the close call the
submarine and all her passengers had had.

“A narrow escape!” Dick muttered, getting slowly to his feet and
rubbing his head, “I never want to get so close to kingdom come as
that again! Why, Bob, we couldn’t have done that trick once in a
thousand times.”

“We did it this time, anyhow,” answered Bob quietly. “A miss is as good
as a mile, Dick. Better go below and explain to our friends.”

Dick staggered back and climbed into the tower, and his face was still
white as he dropped off the ladder into the periscope room.

Clackett, Speake, and Ysabel crowded around him.

“What happened?” cried Clackett. “The old catamaran turned a regular
handspring; then she stood on her propeller for about a minute and
seemed to be thinking of going down to stay.”

Dick explained in a low voice what had happened, sitting on the locker
and almost overcome by the narrow escape of the boat and her living
cargo.

Speake began to shake; Clackett rubbed a dazed hand across his eyes;
and Ysabel, dropping on one of the low seats, buried her face in her
hands.

“Bob!” she gasped, looking up; “how can he stay up there in the conning
tower after such a hairbreadth escape as that?”

“Bob?” returned Dick. “Why, he’s as calm as a day in June. He’s not
even ruffled. He----”

“Listen!” called Clackett. “Bob’s saying something.”

“Speake!” came the voice from the conning tower.

“Aye, aye, sir!” answered Speake.

“Get to work on your electric stove, providing it wasn’t smashed by
that somersault we turned, and see if we can’t have a piping-hot meal.
Ysabel will help you.”

“That’s what he’s thinking of,” muttered Dick, “something to eat. Well,
Bob Steele has got more nerve than I have.”

While Speake and Ysabel were getting supper ready, Dick and Clackett
went into the prison room and looked at the men confined there.

They were all lying in an indiscriminate heap near the after bulkhead.

There was a chorus of wild gurgling behind the gags, and Dick and
Clackett set to work and laid the prisoners around the room in
something like order. The overturned cots were placed upright, and
Pedro was laid on one, and the unknown member of Fingal’s gang was
placed on the other. Fingal and the general were left lying on the hard
floor.

“The general,” remarked Clackett, poking him in the ribs with the toe
of his boot, “was goin’ to take care o’ us in a summary fashion. He
couldn’t hardly wait till nightfall, the general couldn’t. Ain’t he a
nice-lookin’ specimen, Dick?”

“He’s the worst-looking swab I ever saw!” averred Dick. “He was all
sword and spurs, and he didn’t know how to use ’em. That’s the reason
he got captured. I guess he’ll be hung, fair enough. He ought to be
hung, anyhow, and he would have been if he had fallen into the hands of
General Mendez. We ought to have put him ashore to take the place of
Gaines. We robbed the soldiers of one victim, and we should have given
them another.”

“I tell ye what we ought to have done,” averred Clackett. “We ought to
have laid all these here prisoners out on the deck when we was passing
that fort.”

“You’re right,” cried Dick. “That was a bright idea. But,” and Dick’s
face fell, “like a good many bright ideas it came too late.”

“With them fellers on the deck,” said Clackett, waxing eloquent over
his afterthought, “I’ll bet somethin’ handsome we could have run past
that fort and never been fired at once.”

“Like enough. But we’re past the fort, and we’re right side up with
care, and we’ve got Bob Steele to thank for it all. Let’s go back and
see how near it is to supper time.”



CHAPTER XXXI.

THE “SEMINOLE.”


All night long the _Grampus_ felt her way up the coast. Clackett acted
as pilot some of the time, and Bob “spelled” him in two-hour watches.
Neither was very well acquainted with the coast, and it was necessary
to proceed slowly.

The electric projector was turned against the forward lunettes, and,
with this trail of light stretching before them, the _Grampus_ plowed
her way through the breaking seas and safely escaped the reefs that
lined her course.

Morning found the submarine still several hours from Belize.

Ysabel and Speake got breakfast, and while it was being eaten a cry of
“Sail, ho!” came from Clackett, who was in the tower.

“Where away?” called Bob, only passively interested.

“Dead ahead,” answered Clackett. “But I ought to have said ‘Smoke, ho!’
as the craft is a steamer.”

“Which way is she heading?”

“Toward us.”

“Then probably she’s some Costa Rica fruiter.”

Bob went on with his eating. Dick was below, standing his trick at the
motor in order to give Gaines a chance to eat and rest.

“We’re going back to Belize,” said Gaines humbly, “and I feel like a
criminal, caught and carried back to jail.”

“Why so?” inquired Bob.

“Why, because Speake, Clackett, and I got the _Grampus_ into that
mess of trouble. She’s had more narrow escapes this trip than she ever
had since she was launched--and when we listened to the don you’d have
thought we were off on a little pleasure excursion.”

“I feel mighty tough myself,” put in Speake.

“So do I,” cried Clackett from the conning tower.

A little of the conversation had drifted up to him--enough so that he
could catch the prevailing sentiment of the remarks.

“Don’t fret about what you can’t help, men,” said Bob.

“But what will Cap’n Nemo, junior, say?” said Gaines.

“Why, you said he’d be glad we went, after we came back and reported,”
said Speake. “Have ye changed yer mind, Gaines?”

“I’ve changed my mind a good many times since we set off on this
cruise,” replied Gaines.

“I don’t believe the captain will find any fault with you,” said Bob.
“I’ll do what I can to smooth the thing over.”

“It’s like you to do that,” returned Gaines gratefully. “You were the
same with Cassidy, that other time when he came in from the River
Izaral, and I remember I thought you were rather too easy on him.”

“We all thought that,” said Speake. “And I’m free to say that I think
Bob’s too easy on us.”

“That bag with the gold pieces was left down in the torpedo room,” went
on Clackett.

“It was?” queried Bob, deeply interested.

“Yes. I left it there. I wouldn’t have touched it with a ten-foot pole.”

“That will pay for a new periscope ball and mast,” said Bob, “and for
the provisions and gasoline we used up on this trip. Taking it all
together, we’ve had a very successful cruise----”

“Hot and lively,” put in Speake.

“And short,” added Gaines; “that’s the best part of it. If it had kept
up much longer, I’d have been down with heart failure. We not only had
a close call in the matter of losing the ship to Fingal and his gang,
but likewise in the matter of that submarine mine. My nerves are in
rags, and I hope Nemo, junior, isn’t going to sit down on us too hard.
That would be about the last straw!”

“Hard luck that we couldn’t have nabbed Don Carlos,” wailed Speake.
“I’d have taken particular pleasure in herding him with the rest of our
prisoners.”

“We’ve got Pitou,” said Bob, “and he’s of more importance. There----”

“Hello, down there!” came from Clackett.

“What now, Clackett?” sang out Bob.

“That steamer’s a warship--I’ve just been able to make her out. By
jing, I believe she’s the _Seminole!_”

The announcement aroused a commotion.

“Make way for us to get out on deck, Clackett!” called Bob. “If she’s
the _Seminole_, I want to speak to her.”

Bob, Speake, Clackett, and Ysabel clustered on the forward deck near
the conning tower.

“Get the code book and the signal flags and the binoculars,” cried Bob.
“She’s got signals going up at her gaff and wants to talk to us.”

Speake went below for the required articles, and, after fifteen minutes
of study and work, Bob and his friends learned, to their surprise, that
the _Seminole_ had put in at Belize the day before and had been sent by
the American consul to find the submarine. There was so much to be said
that signal flags could not convey that the cruiser hove to and had
the _Grampus_ come around under her lee.

In this manner the submarine was able to come quite close--so close
that Bob and Dick could see their tow-haired chum on the cruiser’s
bridge. Carl picked up a megaphone and hurled greetings at his friends.

Then the captain grabbed the trumpet out of Carl’s hands to do a little
talking that amounted to something.

“We’ve started for the Izaral River to look for you,” called the
captain.

“How did you know where we had gone?” asked Bob.

“Don Ramon Ortega furnished the clew to the American consul at Belize.”

“Where did Don Ramon get the clew?”

“Your Dutch pard helped--but he’ll tell you about that later. What’s
the matter with your periscope?”

“Bombarded by revolutionists.”

“Great Scott! Where?”

“Off Port Livingstone.”

“If those fellows to the south don’t capture that little scoundrel,
Pitou, before long, some of the bigger nations ought to interfere.”

“He’s captured,” said Bob.

“Is that so? I didn’t think Mendez would ever do it.”

“He didn’t. We’re the ones!”

“Well, well! How did you manage?”

“The general got tangled up in his spurs, and before he could get clear
we snaked him below decks.”

A roar of laughter came through the cruiser’s megaphone.

“He’s not the only prisoner we’ve got,” went on Bob. “Fingal is below!”

“Bully! We want him. Perhaps we had better take all your prisoners, eh?”

“We’d like to get rid of them.”

“Well, stay where you are and we’ll send a boat.”

“You mustn’t let Pedro go, Bob!” exclaimed Ysabel.

“That’s so,” said Bob. “Suppose you go down, little girl, and set Pedro
free. Send him to the torpedo room and tell him to wait there until the
cruiser is gone.”

Ysabel vanished into the tower.

Meanwhile the cruiser had been clearing away a boat. When she hove
alongside the submarine, Carl Pretzel, wearing a grin that could have
been tied behind his ears, was sitting in the bow.

“I vill go mit you part oof dis groose, anyvay,” he whooped. “Drow some
lines so dot I may come apoard.”

A line was thrown and Carl was heaved from the rocking rowboat to the
submarine’s deck. He threw his arms around Bob and almost hugged him
over the side of the _Grampus_.

“I vas so habby as I don’d know!” he bubbled. “I t’ought you vas gone
for goot, und I vasn’t going to see you again! Dere iss a lod to dell,
I bed you, und I----”

“We haven’t time to tell anything just now, Carl,” said Bob. “As soon
as we get rid of our prisoners we’ll have a little leisure.”

Carl restrained himself, assisted in the work of getting the prisoners
up and transferred, and then watched while the launch pulled back to
the cruiser with its melancholy load.

“What will you do with Pitou, captain?” called Bob through his
megaphone.

“Turn him over to the government of that country down there to be
punished for running off the American consul, and for his many other
outrages against peaceable Americans.”

“What do you think the government will do with him?”

“Firing squad at sunrise,” was the laconic response.

“What about Fingal?”

“Our country will take care of him. He’ll make a good cellmate for
his brother, Jim Sixty. Sorry you didn’t capture Don Carlos Valdez.
The governor at Belize would like to lay hands on him. He made an
unprovoked attack on the Spanish consul, and, if caught, would do time
for it.”

By that time the launch had got back to the ship’s side, and Bob,
bidding the captain of the cruiser a hearty good-by, started the
_Grampus_ onward toward Belize.

Speake took the wheel for a while, and the three chums were able to
enjoy a quiet little talk together. While they were at it, the door of
the prison room opened and Ysabel Sixty stepped out. Carl almost fell
off his seat.

“Iss dot a shpook vat I see?” he mumbled, staring at the girl, “oder
iss id Miss Sixdy, der peaudiful maiten vat I know so vell?”

“Don’t be foolish, Carl,” Ysabel protested, smiling.

“Foolishness iss natural mit me--I vas porn dot vay. I see somepody on
der teck oof der supmarine, ven ve first come glose, und I t’ought id
looked like you in der face, aber dose poy’s clothes make some greadt
shanges. How id vas, anyhow?”

“Look here, Carl,” said Bob, “did you borrow a guitar from a fellow at
the hotel the night the submarine left Belize?”

Carl proceeded to work up quite a temper.

“You bed you!” he cried; “und vat you t’ink? Dot feller make me pay
six tollar for dot kiddar! Vy, I ged him for two tollar by any shdore
in der Unidet Shdates vat I know. Dot’s right. Six tollar! Dot’s vat he
make me pay.”

“What happened to the guitar? How did you come to smash it like that?”

Thereupon Carl turned loose and told all about his disastrous serenade,
and how he climbed into the premises of Don Ramon Ortega, found the don
bound and gagged in his sitting room, released him, and then hurried
with him to the hotel to find Bob, and then to the landing, only to
discover that the submarine had left the harbor.

“After dot,” proceeded Carl, “der gonsul vas der feller for us. He say
dot der _Seminole_ vould be in der harpor in der morning, und dot he
vould haf her go und look for der supmarine und Bob Steele. Und dot vas
vat he dit, und py shinks I vent along. Now, den, you fellers tell me
all aboudt eferyding. I vandt id all, mit nodding lefdt oudt.”

Carl got every detail, and by the time the boys were through
straightening the various events out in his mind, Speake was ringing
the motor-room jingler for less speed, and signaling for anchors.

“Belize!” he called. “We’re at our old berth. Cut out the talk, down
there, and make ready to go ashore. Let Carl and Dick be the anchor
watch, Bob, for you know that Clackett, Gaines, and I have business
with Captain Nemo, junior.”



CHAPTER XXXII.

MATTERS ARRANGED.


Captain Nemo, junior, made an astonishing rally during the night the
_Grampus_ was creeping slowly up the shore of British Honduras. He
awoke from a refreshing slumber, sound of mind and with an optimistic
outlook on life which boded good things for Speake, Gaines, and
Clackett.

The doctor, when he called, shook his hand in congratulation.

“You are doing better than I dared to hope, captain,” said he.

“Can I talk business, doctor?” asked the captain.

“As much as you like. Keep on with the same medicine, Cassidy,” the
doctor added to the mate; “I don’t think we can improve on that.”

As soon as the doctor had gone, Cassidy made a confession which he
had been keeping stored away in his mind for several days. It was a
confession of his treachery toward Bob Steele and the rest of his
mates aboard the _Grampus_ during the other cruise south to rescue the
American consul.

Cassidy did not spare himself, but told the astonishing facts fully and
in detail.

Captain Nemo, junior, listened in pained surprise. For several minutes
after Cassidy finished he did not speak.

“If you’re going to begin drinking again, Cassidy,” said the captain,
“I suppose we ought to part company.”

“I’ve taken my last drink,” declared Cassidy.

“Do you mean it?”

“I do.”

“And Bob Steele, on his way back from the River Izaral, put you back in
the ship as mate?”

“Yes.”

“Well, whatever Bob Steele does is good enough for me. If you were put
there as mate, then you stay there.”

“Thank you, sir,” said Cassidy, shaking his captain’s hand.

At that moment a rap fell on the door. Cassidy opened it, and Gaines,
Speake, Clackett, and Bob Steele walked into the room.

“Well, well, Bob!” cried Captain Nemo, junior, his face brightening
wonderfully at sight of the young motorist, “this is a pleasure, I must
say! You’ve brought the entire crew of the _Grampus_ with you, eh?”

“Not quite all of them,” laughed Bob. “Cassidy was here, taking care of
you, and we left Dick and Carl aboard for an anchor watch.”

“You fellows act as though you had something on your minds,” observed
the captain, giving the three members of the crew a curious look.

“That’s what we have, sir,” answered Gaines. “We have a confession to
make.”

“Confession!” muttered the captain. “This seems to be my morning for
hearing confessions. Well, go ahead.”

Thereupon Speake, Gaines, and Clackett, on their part, told the captain
exactly what had taken place during this second trip to the River
Izaral. Captain Nemo, junior, was dumfounded. Pursing his thin lips,
he leaned back in his chair and watched and listened with the utmost
attention.

“So,” said he cuttingly, when the recital was done, “Bob Steele refused
to take my boat south, in response to the request of this scoundrelly
don, and you locked Bob and Dick in the storage room of the submarine
and went off whether they would or no! And you called Bob out of the
room to fix the motor and keep the boat from going on the reefs; and
you picked up a supposedly shipwrecked crew out of a boat, and the
crew turned on you and captured the _Grampus_; and, with the aid of
Miss Sixty, Bob Steele and his friends recovered the boat, captured
Fingal, Pitou, and some others, and turned them over to the cruiser
_Seminole_--all of which would not have happened had not you, Speake,
Gaines, and Clackett acted in an insubordinate and mutinous manner.
What had I ought to do with them, Bob?”

“They behaved finely during the fighting and while we were running down
the river, past the fort,” replied Bob, “so I don’t think they should
be dealt with very severely, captain.”

“You’re too easy with them, Bob! Look at the trouble they caused you!”

“But see what good luck came out of it, captain. We captured Pitou and
Fingal.”

“That isn’t the best thing that has come out of it, Bob,” remarked the
captain. “The best thing for me is the fact that this mutinous conduct
of Speake, Clackett, and Gaines proves, more than ever, that you are
always to be depended on. You refused to sail away on a wild-goose
chase after listening to a plausible story told by this rascally don,
and----”

“I took a good deal of stock in the story at the time it was told,
captain,” said Bob.

“That may be; but you didn’t let your own desires override what you
conceived to be your duty. There would have been no merit in your act,
for you, if you had not wanted to go with the don, but yet allowed your
idea of duty to me hold you back. I am much obliged to you, Speake,
Gaines, and Clackett, for affording me this added proof that my
confidence in Bob Steele is not misplaced. But, if I ever hear of any
further mutiny on the _Grampus_, there will be something happen which
none of you will ever forget.

“The U. S. cruiser _Seminole_ is in the harbor, and I am positive that
her captain bears some news for me of a very important nature. This
may make it necessary for a call to be made upon the officers and crew
of the _Grampus_ for some further work. I cannot tell yet as to that,
but you’ll receive your orders later. If so it turns out, then your
commanding officer will be Bob Steele. Now leave me, all of you, for
I have both listened and talked too much, and I am beginning to feel
tired. Have the periscope ball and mast repaired, Bob, as soon as
possible, and call and see me to-night.”

As Bob left the house and made his way along the street, he came
suddenly upon Ysabel Sixty, again clad in her feminine clothes and
looking like the Ysabel he used to know of old.

“You did not stay long at home, Ysabel,” said Bob.

“I couldn’t,” she answered. “I wanted to find out what your plans were,
and how long you expect to remain in Belize.”

“That’s all in doubt, as yet. I am to call on Captain Nemo, junior,
to-night, and perhaps he will be able to tell me something about future
plans.”

“I hope,” and there was a tremulous earnestness in the girl’s words,
“that you are not going to leave Belize very soon.”

“I should like to stay here a little while, Ysabel, myself,” said Bob.

Her face brightened. “And if you are here for a while, you will come
often and see me?”

“You may depend upon it,” said Bob, taking her hand cordially. “I shall
never forget this last experience of yours, and how you undertook an
exceedingly risky venture solely to be of aid to me.”

There was a gentleman waiting for a word with Bob, and Ysabel, with a
glad smile, turned away in the direction of home.

“Señor Bob Steele?” asked the gentleman, who had been waiting for
Ysabel to finish her talk with Bob.

“The same, sir,” replied Bob.

“I, my boy, am Don Ramon Ortega, the Spanish consul in Belize. I wish
to beg your pardon for the serious misadventures into which you were
plunged through the unwarranted use of my name by that unmitigated
scoundrel, Don Carlos Valdez.”

“You were not to blame for that, don.”

“Perhaps not, but I feel keenly the trouble which my name--always an
honorable one--has caused you. Some time, when my family return from
Mexico, I shall hope to see you at my home as an honored guest. Will
you come?”

“Certainly, sir, if I am in Belize.”

“I thank you, señor,” said the don; and then, with a courtly bow, he
passed on.

Bob hardly knew whether to laugh or look sober; but when he reflected
on how the rascally Don Carlos had juggled with the Spanish consul’s
name, and used it for base purposes, he felt that perhaps the consul
was right in taking the matter so much to heart.

That evening, Pedro was taken ashore and lodged in the house of
Ysabel’s relatives. The next day he took passage to Cuba, and forever
cut himself adrift from revolutions and the filibusters who foster
them.



CHAPTER XXXIII.

A SUBMARINE BATTLE.


About a week later, the boys received sailing orders and promptly made
everything ready aboard the _Grampus_. Then, having learned every
detail of their commission, they collected the men and departed on the
new cruise.

They had been at sea several days, and were proceeding leisurely
southward, when Bob took one of the daily observations.

“Look at the chart, Dick. Unless I’m off in my reckoning, those blue
things in the distance, that look like clouds, are the mountains of
Trinidad.”

“Right-o, mate! The Gulf of Paria is to the south, and right ahead of
us is the Boca Drago, or Dragon’s Mouth, the entrance to the gulf.
What’s our first port of call?”

“Georgetown. That’s where we’re to pick up the midshipman.”

“But we’re two days ahead of time, and he won’t be expecting us. Why
not put in at Port of Spain for a little social call? I was there once,
on the old _Billy Ruffin_, and it’s a fine place for getting on your go
ashores and seeing the sights.”

“This is a business trip, old chap, and not a sight seeing excursion.
Our schedule has been made out for us, and we’ve got to follow it
through. It’s a big responsibility we’re under, and if anything should
happen to the _Grampus_, there’d----”

At this moment a tremendous shock interrupted Bob Steele. The big
steel hulk of the submarine stopped dead, reeled for an instant like
a drunken man, and then rebounded sternward against the push of the
propeller. Accompanying the weird maneuver was a fierce thrashing of
the waves outside.

Sunk level with the surface of the sea, conning tower awash, the
_Grampus_ had been proceeding at a good clip on her southward journey.
Bob Steele and Dick Ferral were in the periscope room, Bob with his
attention divided between the periscope table, the steering wheel, and
the small compass, and Dick on his knees beside a locker on which were
a number of admiralty charts.

Dick was thrown sidewise by the shock, and Bob only saved himself a
fall by taking a convulsive grip on the spokes of the steering wheel.

“Fore rudder will not work, sir!” cried Speake through the tube
communicating with the engine room.

One admirable thing about Bob was that he never got “rattled.” Under
any and all circumstances he kept his head.

“Stop your motor, Gaines!” he cried instantly through another of the
tubes, then, whirling to still another, he called: “Prepare to empty
the ballast, Clackett!”

The ready “Aye, aye, sir!” that came through both tubes proved that
those in motor room and tank room were on the alert.

The hum of the engine died slowly, and muffled sounds from the tank
room showed that Clackett was calmly attending to his work.

In time of accident no man could leave his post, for the safety of
the submarine, and the lives of those within her might depend upon an
instant compliance with orders. Iron-nerved men formed the crew of the
_Grampus_, for each had been selected by Captain Nemo, junior, with
that quality in mind.

Meanwhile Bob Steele had been studying the top of the periscope table
carefully.

“So far as I can make out,” said he, in a puzzled tone, “there is
nothing above.”

“The Orinoco brings down a lot of drift, mate,” put in Dick, “and we
may have struck a log floating between two waves. If our rudder has
been damaged----”

He was interrupted by another blow, fully as severe as the first. But
this stroke came from the side and not from forward, and hurled the
submarine over so far that every loose article slammed to starboard,
and it seemed as though the boat must surely turn turtle.

“Start the turbines, Clackett!” roared Bob through the tank-room tube;
“empty the ballast tanks!”

“Sorry to report, Bob,” came the instant response of Clackett, “that
the turbines are disabled an’ won’t work.”

Bob was astounded. “Then empty the tanks by compressed air!” he cried.
“Sharp’s the word, Clackett!”

The hiss of air, fighting with the water in the tanks, was heard. At
once the boat began to ascend and presently the slap of waves against
the outer shell proved that they were on the surface.

“Take the wheel, Dick,” called Bob, and leaped up the iron ladder into
the conning tower.

The lunettes, or little windows in the tower, were frosted with
spindrift, and Bob threw open the hatch and pushed head and shoulders
over the top.

“Great spark plugs!” he cried; “a whale!”

“A bull cachalot!” exclaimed Dick from below, staring through the
periscope.

“Vat iss dot, Dick?”

The voice of Carl Pretzel, none too steady, floated up to Bob from the
periscope room. Carl was not on duty, and had probably come up to find
out what was going on.

“Why,” went on Dick excitedly, “a cachalot is one of the hardest
fighters in the whole whale family. We probably ran into that old
blubber head while he was taking his morning nap, and he’s got his mad
up. By the Old Harry! See him spout! We’re going to have trouble with
him, Bob! His head’s like India rubber, and he could poke it through
the plates of the _Grampus_ and never hurt himself.”

Bob had got his head out of the hatch just in time to snatch a glance
at the flukes of a big whale disappearing in the sea.

He signaled half speed ahead by the engine-room jingler. The elevation
of the periscope ball gave Dick a much more extensive view of the
surface than it did Bob from the top of the conning tower. The
whale had come to the top again, and, while Bob was able to see the
geyserlike column of water the creature threw up, Dick could take in
the cachalot’s immense proportions.

“He’s lumpy all over,” announced Dick, “and every lump is an old
harpoon mark. He’s a veteran, mates, and he’s coming right at us. He’ll
stave in the plates, Bob! Dodge him!”

“Tell Speake and Clackett to put a Whitehead in the port torpedo tube!”
called Bob.

Dick immediately repeated the order, and Carl clattered below to help.

“They can’t get the tube loaded, Bob,” cried Dick, “before the cachalot
will be on us.”

“We’ll have to meet his first charge,” answered Bob calmly; “there
can’t be any dodging.”

There came a low _thump_ from forward, followed by a gurgling splash.
From that Bob knew that the bow port had been closed and that the water
was being blown out of the tube by compressed air. Then a faint rattle
told him the breech door was being opened preparatory to loading the
torpedo.

By then Bob was able to see the charging whale. He was a tremendous
fellow, and he was making straight for the submarine with all the force
in his great body. The water flashed away from his shining sides, and a
long trail of foam unrolled behind his churning flukes.

“I’ll do the steering from here, Dick!” shouted Bob, laying hold of the
patent device which enabled one to steer from the tower.

Bob headed the boat so as to meet its strange antagonist bow on. Whale
and submarine came together with a terrific impact. For an instant the
whale seemed stunned, sheered off a little, and the sharp prow raked
his side.

The next instant the _Grampus_ was beyond the whale. Bob, looking
behind, could see the huge cachalot leaping clear out of the water, and
falling into it again with a splash like some mountain dropping into
the sea.

The whale was terribly wounded, and bleeding, but the wound seemed only
to have increased his pugnacious disposition.

“Watch the periscope, Dick!” roared Bob. “Can you see him? He’s out of
sight from here.”

“He’s sounded, mate,” answered Dick, his tense voice proving the strain
his nerves were under. “I’m hoping he’ll leave us now, and---- There he
is again! He’s coming for us like an express train.”

A spouting of reddened water gave Bob the location, and he put the
_Grampus_ about, so as to face the danger and bring the cachalot in
front of the port torpedo tube.

“Tell them to make ready in the torpedo room!” shouted Bob. “They must
fire the Whitehead the moment I give the word.”

Dick repeated the order. The torpedo was contrived so as to travel at
a certain distance under water. If discharged at too great a distance
from the whale it would sink to its normal depth, and so miss the
charging monster altogether. Bob, watching the cachalot with sharp
eyes, awaited the right moment for letting the Whitehead go.

The whale left a bloody track as it hurled itself nearer and nearer.

“Fire!” shouted Bob suddenly.

A gurgling swish, a spluttering cough, and a thud followed. The surface
of the sea directly ahead of the submarine was full of ripples that
marked the passing of the deadly infernal machine.

“Full speed astern!” cried Bob.

Dick repeated the order to Gaines. Barely was the motion of the
propeller reversed when whale and torpedo met. There was a dull roar,
and the sea lifted high in a veritable flurry. The _Grampus_ slid
backward rapidly, rocking on the troubled waters. Then, the lifted
waves having descended, the whale was seen torn cruelly and lying on
his back. Already the triangular fins of sharks were in evidence,
rushing from every direction upon the prey.

Bob descended to the engine room and found Dick steering with one hand
and wiping the perspiration from his face with the other.

“A tight squeak!” Dick muttered. “We’re out one torpedo, but you saved
the boat.”

Speake, meanwhile, had been taking the turbine to pieces. He now
appeared in the periscope room with a wooden sieve half full of small
fish.

“Mullet for dinner, Bob!” he laughed. “A shoal of fish was bein’ chased
by the cachalot. The draft holes of our turbines was open an’ the fish
run in. No wonder the turbines wouldn’t work!”

“Good enough,” answered Bob laughing, “if you can call anything good
that put our turbines out of commission at a time when we needed them.
Have some of them for dinner, Speake.” He turned to Dick. “Lay our
course for the Port of Spain, old chap,” he added. “We’ll put into the
harbor and look the submarine over to see whether her bow has been
damaged any. I’ll go below and have a look at the fore rudder. Possibly
we can tinker that up temporarily. It would never do to pick up the
midshipman with the _Grampus_ at all out of commission.”

“Aye, aye!” responded Dick heartily.

They were to call at the Port of Spain, after all, and Dick Ferral was
mightily pleased with the prospect.



CHAPTER XXXIV.

IN QUEST OF DOCUMENTS.


The anchor of the steamship _Borneo_ splashed into the yellow waters
of the Gulf of Paria, the boat continuing onward until the anchor had
taken a grip on the muddy bottom. The _Borneo_ was from Venezuelan
ports, and at La Guayra had picked up no less a personage than John
Henry Glennie, Ensign, U. S. N.

The steamer carried a queer assortment of passengers, and they were
all around Ensign Glennie as he sat well aft on the grating beside the
hand-steering gear.

Venezuelans were chattering like magpies; little brown youngsters
were rolling over and over around Glennie’s feet; a British engineer
was talking with a Jew pearl buyer from Margarita Island--the Spanish
coming queerly from their alien lips; a German coffee planter was
exchanging small talk with the wife of a Dutch officer who lived in
Curaçoa; and there was the usual ragtag and bobtail of English and
Brazilians, all of whom gave the youth in the naval uniform more or
less curious notice.

But the youth, his suit case on a table at his elbow, seemed absorbed
in his own thoughts. Judging merely by appearance, Ensign Glennie’s
thoughts were far from pleasant. His fingers drummed sharply on the
table top, and there was a frown of discontent on his face as his eyes
fixed themselves gloomily on the Trinidad hills that lay back of the
town of Port of Spain. In all conscience, the ensign had enough to
trouble him.

Several days previous, he had been detached from the United States
cruiser _Seminole_ at La Guayra on special duty. Incidentally, the
commander of the _Seminole_ had intrusted him with a packet of
important papers to be delivered to Mr. Brigham, the United States
consular representative at Para, in the mouth of the Amazon River. In
the course of his duty, Ensign Glennie was to call at Para; also the
course of his duty demanded that he proceed to Georgetown, British
Guiana, and there await the arrival of a certain boat in which he was
to take passage around “the Horn.”

Ensign Glennie, let it be known, was descended from a line of
Massachusetts notables who first came over in the _Mayflower_. His
father was a Boston nabob, and there was a good deal more pride and
haughtiness about Glennie than was good for him. No sooner had he been
cut loose from the _Seminole_ on detached duty, than he proceeded to
hire the services of a body servant--a sphinxlike little Jap by the
name of Tolo.

How Tolo came to be in La Guayra at the very time the ensign landed
there, and why he should insinuate himself into the particular notice
of Glennie and ask for a job, were mysteries not destined to be solved
for some time. The prime thing to be taken account of here is that Tolo
did present himself, and was hired.

For two days he brushed the ensign’s clothes, polished his boots,
and performed other services such as fall to the lot of a valet who
knows his business. Then, after two days of faithful service, Tolo
disappeared; and, about the same time, the packet of important papers
likewise vanished.

Glennie led the authorities in a wild hunt through La Guayra, and after
that through Caracas, but Tolo was not to be found. What on earth the
little Jap wanted with the papers, Glennie could not even guess, but
that he had them seemed a certainty.

Returning to La Guayra, Glennie found that the authorities there had
discovered that Tolo had taken passage, on the very morning he had
turned up missing, on a tramp steamer bound for Trinidad and Port of
Spain; and the authorities further stated that Tolo had formerly been
employed as a waiter in the hotel Ciudad Bolivar, which fronted the
esplanade of the capital city of the island.

Ensign Glennie changed his plans forthwith. Instead of proceeding
direct to Georgetown he would gain that port by way of Trinidad,
stopping long enough in Port of Spain to hunt up the enterprising Tolo
and secure the papers.

So this was why Glennie happened to be on the _Borneo_; and it was also
the reason he was not so comfortable in his mind as he might otherwise
have been.

As a commissioned officer in the United States navy he had been
intrusted with important dispatches. If he did not recover the
dispatches, and then proceed with the rest of the duty marked out for
him, a black mark would be set against his name that would interfere
with his promotion.

Glennie was worried as he had never been before in his life. His one
desire was to serve Uncle Sam with a clean and gallant record. His
father, the Boston nabob, expected great things of him, and Glennie,
being puffed up--as already stated--with rather high ideas regarding
his family, expected them of himself. Therefore the loss of that packet
of official papers caught him like a slap in the face. It made him
squirm, and he was squirming as he sat by that table on the grating,
felt the _Borneo_ reach the end of her scope of cable and come to a
stop with her mud hook hard and fast.

The water was too shoal for a large boat to get very far inshore, and
Glennie was among the first to tumble into the launch that soon hove
alongside. When he had scrambled off the launch at the landing, he
hailed a queer-looking cab and ordered the dusky driver to carry him,
as rapidly as possible, to the Ciudad Bolivar.

The ensign did not pay much attention to the scenery as he was jostled
along--his mind was too full of other things for that--and presently
he went into the wood and stone building that faced the plaza and
proceeded to make frantic inquiries regarding a waiter by the name of
Tolo.

To all of these eager questions the Venezuelan proprietor of the hotel
gave a negative shake of the head.

“There must be some mistake--the Señor Americano has surely been
wrongly informed. There has never been such a person as the Japanese
employed in the hotel. The waiters were all Venezuelans, and no Japs
were ever employed. Perhaps this Tolo had worked in the old hotel that
had been burned during the great fire?”

Glennie’s trail, faint enough at best, had run into thin air. He was at
the end of it, and it had led him nowhere. Going off into one corner of
the wine-room, the ensign dropped down at a table in an obscure corner,
rested his chin in his hands, and wondered dejectedly what he should do
next.

He was not very well acquainted with Orientals, or the brand of
guile they used. He had heard of Japs insinuating themselves into
fortifications flying the United States flag and making drawings and
jotting down memoranda of the guns, stores, and number of men. He had
laughed contemptuously at such yarns, although heartily agreeing with
the expediency that had suggested such a move on the part of the men
from Nippon. Like all others in the sea and land service of the great
republic, Ensign Glennie knew that it was not so much the forts, or the
guns, or the ammunition, as it is the unconquerable spirit of the men
behind the guns that count.

But where was the tactical advantage to be gained by a Jap in stealing
an envelope addressed to a consular agent tucked away in a Brazilian
town at the mouth of the Amazon? The only advantage which Glennie could
think of was that of pecuniary gain. Tolo had stolen the packet in
order to demand money for its return. Glennie had plenty of money, and
he began to think he had fallen into a grievous error by running away
from La Guayra without giving Tolo a chance to communicate with him.

And yet there was the information developed by the La Guayra police, to
the effect that Tolo had sailed for Port of Spain. However, this might
be as unreliable as that other supposed discovery, namely, that Tolo
had worked at the Ciudad Bolivar.

Nevertheless, no matter what theories Glennie might have, now that he
was in Port of Spain, and could not get out of the town again until
the next steamer sailed, it would be well to look around and thus make
assurance doubly sure that Tolo was not on the island.

Although Ensign Glennie was not at all sanguine, he immediately left
the hotel and conferred with the city officials. A description of Tolo
was given, handbills offering a reward for his apprehension were struck
off and posted in conspicuous places, and the island telegraph lines
and the cables to the mainland were brought into requisition.

Glennie had to work fast and thoroughly. Before many days he must be in
Georgetown, ready to go aboard the ship that was to carry him south,
and if he did not recover the important packet before he was picked up,
then there would be a reprimand, and perhaps a trial for dereliction of
duty. He winced at the thought and redoubled his efforts.

But he was “going it blind.” The wily Tolo might be a thousand miles
away and rapidly increasing the distance between him and his erstwhile
employer. Yet, be that as it might, Ensign Glennie could not give over
his hopeless labors.

He fought against fate with all the Glennie firmness and resolution.
Fate had no business trying to back-cap one of the Glennies, anyhow.
Family pride swelled up in him as the skies of hope continued to
darken. All he did was to cable his governor for a few thousand dollars
and then begin scattering it wherever he thought it might do some good.

Three days Ensign Glennie was in Port of Spain; then one morning as
he came down into the office of the hotel he heard an excited group
talking about a mysterious under-water boat that had just bobbed up in
the harbor.

Glennie pricked up his ears. “What’s the name of the boat?” he asked.

“The _Grampus_,” was the answer.

That was enough for the ensign. He settled his bill, grabbed up his
suit case, and rushed for the landing.

He had hardly got clear of the hotel before a Chinaman, with a copy
of one of the handbills, presented himself and asked for John Henry
Glennie. The Chinaman was told where the ensign had gone, and he
likewise made a bee line for the waterfront.

Here, at last, was a possible clew--and it was sailing after Glennie
with kimono fluttering and pigtail flying.



CHAPTER XXXV.

THE MEETING IN THE HARBOR.


Events in this world, no matter how seemingly incomprehensible, usually
happen for the best.

If the _Grampus_ had not had her fight with the cachalot she would not
have put in at Port of Spain, and if Ensign Glennie had not lost his
dispatches he would not have put in there, either.

The damage to the fore rudder had been insignificant. Some of the iron
bars protecting the rudder had been twisted and bent by the whale’s
flukes, and Bob Steele had repaired the damage while coming through the
Boca Drago into the gulf.

The submarine was riding high in the water a quarter of a mile off
shore, the Stars and Stripes fluttering gayly from the little flagstaff
forward. A small boat was in the water and a colored boatman was
rowing two lads around the bow of the _Grampus_. Three men and another
boy were forward on the submarine’s deck, evidently assisting in an
examination of some sort.

Glennie had the skipper of the launch lay alongside the small boat.

“Hello, there!” called Glennie. “Is that boat the _Grampus?_”

“Yes,” replied one of the lads in the other boat.

“I’m looking for Bob Steele.”

“You mean you’re looking at him and not for him. I’m Bob Steele.”

“Well, I’m Ensign Glennie. What the dickens are you doing at Port of
Spain?”

“What the dickens are _you_ doing here? We were to pick you up at
Georgetown.”

“What I’m doing here is _my_ business,” said Glennie, stiffening. “I
wasn’t expecting you for two or three days yet, and expected to be in
Georgetown by the time you got there.”

Bob stared at the haughty young man in the trim uniform. Dick Ferral,
who was in the boat with him, gave a long whistle.

“Then,” said Bob coolly, “I guess our reason for being here is our own
business. We were expecting to find a midshipman, Glennie, and not----”

“Mr. Glennie,” struck in the ensign. “I’m a passed midshipman and a
commissioned officer.”

Dick got to his feet, pulled off his cap, and bowed.

“Mr. Glennie!” he exclaimed, with an accent on the “mister” that was
not entirely respectful. “Our brass band has been given shore leave, so
we can’t muster the outfit and play you aboard. It’s a little bit hard,
too, considering our limited number, to dress ship.”

A smothered laugh came from the deck of the _Grampus_. Glennie stared
at Ferral, and then at Speake, Gaines, Clackett, and Carl. The latter,
grabbing the flag halyards, dipped the ensign.

“If ve hat a gannon, Misder Glennie,” yelled Carl, “ve vould gif der
atmiral’s salute.”

A flush ran through the ensign’s cheeks.

“Who is that person, Steele?” demanded Glennie, pointing to Dick.

“Mr. Steele,” corrected Bob. “This, Mr. Glennie,” with mock gravity,
“is my friend, Mr. Dick Ferral. The Dutchman on the boat is another
friend--Mr. Carl Pretzel. The hands are Mr. Speake, Mr. Gaines, and Mr.
Clackett. This colored gentleman is Mr. Scipio Jones. Now that we are
all acquainted, Mr. Glennie, may I ask you if you are coming aboard to
stay?”

“I am,” was the sharp rejoinder. “Those were my orders from the captain
of the _Seminole_.”

Bob caught a rope which Carl threw to him and stepped to the rounded
deck of the _Grampus_.

“The submarine’s all right, Dick,” said he, “and hasn’t a dent in her
anywhere. Go ashore and get the gasoline. Have you the hydrometer in
your pocket?”

“Yes.”

“Then be sure and test the gasoline thoroughly.”

As Dick was rowed away he once more removed his hat ostentatiously in
passing the launch. Ensign Glennie disregarded the mocking courtesy and
motioned his boatman to place the launch close to the submarine.

“Take my grip, my man,” called Glennie to Gaines, standing up and
tossing the suit case.

Gaines grabbed the piece of luggage. “Why didn’t you whistle, Mr.
Glennie?” he asked, dropping the suit case down the open hatch of the
conning tower and listening to the smash as it landed at the foot of
the iron ladder. “We’re well trained and can walk lame, play dead, an’
lay down an’ roll over at a mere nod.”

The ensign ignored Gaines’ remarks. Climbing to the rounded deck he
faced Bob Steele with considerable dignity.

In spite of the ensign’s arrogance there was about him a certain
bearing learned only at Annapolis and on the quarter-deck of American
warships--a bearing that predisposed Bob in his favor.

“We had a fight with a cachalot, Mr. Glennie,” said Bob, unbending a
little, “and thought best to put in here and look the _Grampus_ over to
see if----”

“You were guilty of gross carelessness,” interrupted Glennie, “by
risking the submarine in such a contest. But possibly you are ignorant
of the fact that a bull cachalot has been known to attack and sink a
full-rigged ship?”

“Vat a high-toned feller id is!” grunted Carl disgustedly. “He vill
make it aboudt as bleasant on der poat as a case of measles.”

Bob frowned at Carl.

“It was either sink the cachalot or run the risk of being stove in,”
said Bob. “We’ll have to have a little talk, Mr. Glennie, so you had
better go below to the periscope room.”

The ensign nodded, climbed over the top of the tower, and disappeared.

“That there uniform makes him top-heavy, Bob,” growled Clackett. “The
quicker you pull some o’ the red tape off o’ him the better it’ll be
for all of us.”

“He’s all right, boys,” said Bob, “and I’ll bet he’s a good fellow down
at the bottom. He forgets he’s not on the _Seminole_, that’s all.”

When Bob got down into the periscope room he found Glennie examining
one corner of the suit case, which was badly smashed.

“I regret to note, Mr. Steele,” said he, “that there is a serious lack
of discipline aboard this boat. Such a thing could never be tolerated
in the service. We are to take a long and hazardous journey, and I
shall insist on having the men keep their places.”

“You are not here to insist on anything, Mr. Glennie,” replied Bob,
coolly placing himself on one of the low stools that were used as
seats. “My own duties, and yours, are pretty clear in my mind. Let’s
see if I have the situation exactly as you understand it.

“The owner of this boat, Captain Nemo, junior, is recovering from a
sick spell in Belize, and he has sold the _Grampus_ to the United
States government for one hundred thousand dollars, conditional upon
the submarine’s being taken around the Horn and delivered safely to
the commandant at Mare Island Navy Yard, San Francisco. For this long
cruise I have been placed in charge of the boat. You are aboard as
representative of the government, merely to observe her performance.
Have I got it right?”

Glennie nodded.

“Upon my report,” said he, “will largely depend the acceptance or
rejection of the craft when she reaches Mare Island. Don’t overlook
that point. A lack of discipline will get us all into trouble, and may
result in the loss of the----”

“I will attend to the discipline,” said Bob stiffly. “If the boat
behaves well, you can find no fault with the way I manage her. I must
ask you not to bother me with any remarks as to how the _Grampus_ is to
be run. I and my friends are not in the naval service, but we all know
the submarine perfectly and understand what is expected of us.

“The cruise we are to make is one that no submarine ever made before.
It is full of dangers, and unforeseen difficulties are going to bob up
and will have to be dealt with. The _Grampus_ is equal to the work, and
in due time she will be delivered to the commandant at Mare Island, but
I want, and will insist on having, a perfectly free hand. A friendly
footing is what I desire among all on board, more than anything else.”

Bob smiled and stretched out his hand.

“Just a minute, Mr. Steele,” said Glennie, pursing up his lips. “I
understood that I was to be here in an advisory capacity. From your
talk I take it that you consider yourself the whole works, and that I
am to play the rôle of an innocent bystander.”

“I am to manage the boat,” returned Bob firmly.

“Then,” cried Glennie, “if you get us into serious difficulties, I am
to say nothing, but bear the brunt of your mistakes along with the rest
of the men?”

“Do you know anything about submarines?”

“A graduate of Annapolis is equipped with all the knowledge he can
possibly need in his work.”

“Theoretical knowledge,” qualified Bob. “Have you ever had any
practical experience on a submarine?”

“No.”

“Then, if I get into difficulties, I don’t think you could give any
advice that would help us out.”

The ensign bowed coldly. “Have you a cabin reserved for me?” he
inquired.

Bob nodded toward a bulkhead door leading to a steel room abaft the
periscope chamber. “We have fixed up a place in there for you,” said he.

“Then, inasmuch as I am a passenger, I will proceed to eliminate myself
and keep out of your way.”

Without taking Bob’s hand he picked up his suit case and started. At
the door he paused while a hail came down from the hatch.

“Hello dere, Bob!”

“What is it, Carl?”

“Dere iss a Chink feller alongsite, und he say dot he vant to see
Misder Glennie.”

“A Chinaman!” muttered Glennie, pausing. “Why does he want to see me?”

“Vell, he say dot he tell you somet’ing aboudt a feller mit der name
oof Dolo, und----”

A shout of joy escaped Glennie, and he dropped his suit case and jumped
for the ladder.

“Wait, Mr. Glennie,” said Bob, “and I’ll have the Chinaman come down.”

“Very good,” said Glennie, smothering his impatience and dropping down
on the locker.



CHAPTER XXXVI.

AH SIN’S CLEW.


The Chinaman came scuffling down the ladder in his wooden sandals. He
wore an old slouch hat pulled low over his ears, and when he stepped
from the last rung to the floor of the periscope room, he shoved his
hands into the wide sleeves of his blue silk blouse and stood looking
around him in gaping amazement.

“I’m Mr. Glennie,” said the ensign impatiently. “Do you want to see me?”

“Allee same,” answered the Celestial. “You makee that, huh?” he added,
pulling the crumpled handbill from one of his sleeves and holding it in
front of the ensign’s eyes. “You givee fitty dol if I tell where you
findee Japanese man?”

“Yes,” replied Glennie, stirring excitedly.

“Givee fitty dol. I know.”

“I don’t pay in advance. Tell me where Tolo is, then, if I find him,
you get the money.”

The Chinaman was silent.

“Who are you?” demanded Glennie.

“Me Ah Sin.”

“Where’s Tolo?”

“Pay first. Me tellee, you no givee!”

“You’re an insolent scoundrel!” cried Glennie hotly. “I’m an officer
and a gentleman, and if I say I’ll give you fifty dollars, I’ll do it.”

Ah Sin ducked humbly, but he remained firm. “Melican men plenty slick,”
said he, with a gentle grin, “but China boy plenty slick, too.”

“If you won’t trust me,” returned the puzzled ensign, “how can I trust
you?”

It seemed like a deadlock, and Ah Sin wrinkled his parchmentlike face.

“How you likee hire China boy?” he cried. “My cookee grub, blushee
clo’s, makee plenty fine man. Workee fo’ twenty dol. Tolo him no stay
in Tlinidad; him makee sail fo’ Pala.”

“Para?” burst from Glennie.

That was the port to which the important papers were consigned. If Tolo
had gone there with them, it may have been for the purpose of treating
with the consular agent direct.

“All same,” pursued the Chinaman. “You makee hire China boy, takee him
by Pala, pay twenty dol fo’ wages, then givee fitty dol when you findee
Tolo. Huh?”

“How do you happen to know where Tolo is?” demanded Glennie skeptically.

“My savvy Tolo. Makee work on landing when he takee boat fo’ Pala. Him
makee come on one boat flom Ven’zuel’, makee go chop-chop on other boat
fo’ Pala. Ah Sin makee chin with Tolo. Him say where he go in Pala.”

Glennie grabbed at this straw of hope like a drowning man. Ah Sin’s
information might not be dependable, but it was the only clew that had
come Glennie’s way, and he decided to make the most of it.

“There’s your twenty dol,” said he, throwing a gold piece to the
Chinaman. “You’re hired. Make yourself scarce out there while I talk
with the skipper of this boat.”

He nodded toward a door in the forward bulkhead, and Ah Sin, after
grabbing the coin out of the air and biting it to make sure it was
genuine, faded from the room.

“We’ve got enough hands aboard,” said Bob, “without taking a Chinaman
on.”

“You don’t understand the situation, Mr. Steele,” returned Glennie,
“and I shall have to explain to you.”

It was hard for the ensign’s pride to be compelled to confess the loss
of the packet. But, if he had Bob’s help--which, in the circumstances,
was necessary--it followed that he would have to let Bob know the
details connected with the missing dispatches.

Bob listened attentively.

“The chink may be fooling you, Mr. Glennie,” he said, after the ensign
had finished.

“Possibly,” was the answer; “but I can’t afford to pass up his
information. The submarine was to call at Para, anyway, and we might
just as well carry the Chinaman that far. You must realize what it
means for me to recover those papers. Suppose I had to report that they
were lost, and could not be found? Good heavens!” and Glennie drew a
shaking hand across his forehead.

“I’m willing to help you, of course,” said Bob.

“You’re in duty bound to do that! If I had to report the loss of the
papers because you refused to give me your aid, it wouldn’t sound very
well, eh?”

“Do you want me to put all this in the log?”

“No, certainly not! I want you to keep quiet about it--in the
event that the dispatches are recovered. If they’re not found,
then--then--well, everything will have to come out.”

“Were the dispatches important?”

“They must have been, or they would have been sent by mail and not
intrusted to me.”

“What does the Jap want with them?”

“Probably it’s a play for money. That’s the way I size it up.”

“But he pulled out of La Guayra. If he had wanted money he would have
hidden himself away in that place and opened negotiations with you.”

“The chink says Tolo has gone to Para. That may mean that he is
intending to open negotiations with Brigham. Great Scott! We’ve got to
get away from here in short order. Can’t you start for Brazil at once?”

“I had planned to lay over here for the rest of the day, and
to-night----”

“But everything may depend on the quickness with which we get to
Brazil!”

“Well, I’m willing to start just as soon as Dick gets back with the
gasoline. We’ll get along, after that, until we reach Rio, unless
there’s some extra cruising in the Amazon.”

“I’m obliged to you, Mr. Steele.”

Glennie half extended his hand, but Bob did not seem to see it. Now
that the ensign wanted aid in his time of trouble, he appeared anxious
to get on the friendly footing which Bob had mentioned a little while
before. But Bob, once rebuffed, was not going halfway to meet him on
that ground.

“It seems to me, Mr. Glennie,” said he, “that there is something
more behind this than just a desire, on the Jap’s part, to sell his
dispatches to the highest bidder. The Japs are wily little fellows, and
as brave as they are wily.”

“What else can you make out of it?” queried Glennie, with a troubled
look.

“Nothing; only the theft strikes me as queer, that’s all. If the papers
were so important, I should think you ought to have kept them in your
possession every minute.”

“I did,” protested Glennie, a gleam of resentment rising in his eyes
over the implied rebuke. “They were under my pillow, and Tolo, who came
and went in my room just as he pleased, must have taken them while I
was asleep.”

“Speake has been doing the cooking for us,” remarked Bob; “but if we’ve
got to have the Chinaman along we’ll make him earn his pay and take the
cooking off Speake’s hands.”

“I’m more than willing to have you consider Ah Sin one of the crew.
He’ll probably be useful to me in Para, and not until we get there.”

“There are not many Japs in La Guayra, are there?” queried Bob, with a
sudden thought.

“Tolo is the only one I saw,” answered Glennie.

“Then it’s a little queer he should be there at the same time you were.
There was a Japanese war vessel in Belize a day before we left the
harbor, and I understood she had called at Venezuelan ports. Do you
think Tolo could have deserted from her?”

“The Japs never desert.”

“Was Tolo a sailor?”

“He said he was a servant, and that he had come to La Guayra from
Caracas.”

“But the authorities told you he had been a waiter in a hotel in Port
of Spain?”

“That was wrong, for the proprietor of the hotel didn’t know anything
about Tolo.”

“Could you find out anything about him in Caracas?”

“No.”

“Then the Jap wasn’t telling you a straight story. It’s my impression
he hired out to you just to get the packet of papers.”

“Bosh!” scoffed Glennie. “You’re giving him credit for more cunning
than he deserves. Take it from me, he just saw how careful I was of
those papers and made up his mind, on the spur of the moment, that he
could make a few dollars by stealing them and selling them back to me,
or else to Brigham at Para.”

“There’s more to it than that,” averred Bob.

He was somewhat worried, for, if there was a plot, it was possible it
was not aimed at Ensign Glennie alone, but perhaps at the _Grampus_ as
well. This suspicion was only vaguely formed in Bob’s mind, but it was
one of those strange, inexplicable “hunches” which sometimes came to
him and which events occasionally proved to be warranted by results.

It must have been generally known in Belize that the _Grampus_ had
been sold to the United States government for a large sum, conditional
upon her safe delivery at Mare Island; and perhaps it was equally well
known, on the _Seminole_, at least, and maybe in La Guayra, that Ensign
Glennie was to accompany the submarine on her passage around the Horn.
All this knowledge, of course, could have been picked up, and perhaps
used by unscrupulous persons. But what could such unscrupulous persons
be hoping to gain by any crooked work?

Bob’s thoughts were carrying him far afield. Not only that, but
they were bumping him into a stone wall. Giving over his useless
speculations, he once more turned to the ensign.

“As I said before, Mr. Glennie,” he remarked, “this cruise of ours is
not going to be a picnic. A whole lot depends on its success, and every
man on board must be----”

At that moment he was interrupted by a sudden roar from below--a
detonation that shook the steel fabric of the submarine in every part.
The peculiar smell of burned gasoline rolled into the periscope room
through the open bulkhead door.

“Great Cæsar!” gasped Glennie, leaping up. “What was that?”

A tramp of heavy feet on the deck proved that those outside the shell
had heard the noise and were rushing toward the conning-tower hatch.

Bob, without pausing an instant, darted through the door and dropped
down the hatch leading to the tank room and the motor room.



CHAPTER XXXVII.

OFF FOR THE AMAZON.


Bob Steele considered himself personally responsible for the safety of
the _Grampus_. The boat had been placed in his charge by Captain Nemo,
junior, her owner, and the captain’s faith in the boys was unlimited.
Bob was to take the submarine to Mare Island Navy Yard and collect one
hundred thousand dollars for her from the government. Those were his
instructions, and the captain not only expected them to be carried out
to the letter, but he also expected to pay Bob Steele well for doing it.

All this responsibility, it may be, had got on Bob’s nerves a little,
so that he was apt to shy at imaginary dangers. But this fact in no
wise interfered with his coolness and courage.

The whole under part of the submarine’s hull was filled with smoke--a
smoke that had the acrid smell of burned gas. On hands and knees, Bob
groped his way through the haze, pulled a switch, and set an electric
ventilator fan at work. The fan soon cleared the ship, and the first
figure Bob saw was that of the gasping Chinaman. He was on his knees
in the tank room. In front of him lay a twisted and broken gasoline
tank--a small reserve reservoir sometimes used to help out the larger
tank when the fuel in it was running low. This auxiliary tank had not
been used for a month, but had hung empty from a rack in the tank room.

At the Chinaman’s side lay a cigarette and a half-burned match.

“What the deuce happened?” cried Glennie, creeping after Bob.

“Your Chinaman tried to light a cigarette,” answered the young
motorist, quick to reason out the cause of what had happened. “He was
under an auxiliary gasoline reservoir, and the match set it off.”

“Thunder, Bob!” exclaimed Gaines, who had dropped down below after
Glennie, “there hasn’t been any gasoline in that tank for a month.”

“The vapor was there, all the same.”

“Nonsense!” exclaimed Glennie. “Vapor wouldn’t stay in that tank for a
month. It would escape and find its way out.”

“Gasoline vapor is heavier than air,” said Bob; “and it would remain
indefinitely at the bottom of the reservoir. A little of it probably
leaked through the bottom of the feed pipe, so that the match set it
off. Luckily for the chink there wasn’t very much of it.”

“Gee, klismus!” babbled Ah Sin. “Me tly smokee, something go _boom!_ No
likee devil boat!”

“Have you any more cigarettes?” demanded Bob sharply.

Ah Sin dug a handful out of the breast of his blouse.

“Is that all?” demanded Bob.

“No gottee allee mo’.”

“Don’t strike any more matches,” went on Bob sternly. “You’re going
with us to Para, and you’re going to do the cooking. Take him in hand,
Speake,” he added to Speake, who had dropped down behind Gaines, “and
show him how we do that part of our work on the _Grampus_. Keep an eye
on him, and see that he doesn’t blow up the boat.”

“Never did like a Chinaman, nohow,” grumbled Speake. “If he gits too
blame’ troublesome, I’ll break his scrawny neck. Come on here, yaller
mug!”

Speake made off forward, toward the torpedo room, and Ah Sin meekly
followed. Just then a thump on the deck, and a loud hail, announced
that Dick had arrived with the gasoline.

“Rig the hose, Gaines,” called Bob. “Clackett, get the pump on deck.
We’ve got to get the fuel into the tank in short order and then slant
away for the Amazon and Para.”

While Gaines and Clackett busied themselves, Bob and Glennie went up
to the periscope room. Carl was just climbing the ladder to help Dick.
Glennie, without further talk, picked up his suit case and went on to
the room that had been set apart for his use.

“Dot Chinaman vill ged us all indo some hot vater,” grunted. Carl.

“I guess not,” returned Bob. “Speake is looking after him.”

Clackett came with the pump and passed it to Dick, who was in the boat
with the barrel of gasoline. The pump was rigged, the end of the hose
clamped on, and Clackett and Dick got busy pouring the fuel through the
hose and into the big tank below.

While they worked, Clackett explained to Dick that they were to make a
quick departure for the Amazon. Dick was disappointed, for he had hoped
for a night’s shore leave in Port of Spain, where he had some friends.
When he learned that business of Glennie’s had all to do with their
short stay in port, Dick was inclined to be resentful.

The ensign had not made much of a hit with Ferral--nor with any of the
rest of the submarine’s complement, for that matter. Dick, however, did
no more than grumble. If Bob Steele thought it necessary to pull out
for the Amazon in such short order, then there was nothing more to be
said. Bob knew what he was about.

Dick alone, of all the submarine’s crew, had been the only one to
set foot on shore. As soon as the gasoline was transferred, and
the boatman paid for his services, the anchor was taken in and the
_Grampus_ laid her course for the Serpent’s Mouth and began her long
voyage toward the Amazon. Dick took the wheel. Bob, studying the
charts, gave him the course. Glennie came out of his room and watched
the two lads while they were at work.

Everything was going well, and the rhythmical hum of the motor echoed
through the boat from the engine room. Glennie walked over and took a
look at the periscope. In the mirror were reflected the slowly receding
shore line and the distant mountains that arose behind the town.

“You fellows seem to know your business,” remarked Glennie.

“Aye,” growled Dick, “and we mind it, Mr. Glennie.”

The ensign turned from the periscope and went up on deck.

“Why are you keeping the boat so high in the water?” he called down.

“He knows so much, matey,” said Dick to Bob, “why not let him figure
that out for himself?”

“Because,” Bob answered, shaking his head at Dick, “we can make better
speed when we’re riding light. Once out of the Gulf of Paria, though,
the sea will probably be so rough we’ll have to submerge.”

The ensign continued to ask questions and Bob continued to answer them
until Speake announced dinner. The meal was served to the crew at their
different stations, Ah Sin carrying the plates and the steaming cups of
coffee.

After the meal Bob went up on deck with Glennie, and Dick did the
steering from the top of the conning tower. The Gulf of Paria was
a great watery plain, over which the waters of the Orinoco spread
themselves before mingling with the sea.

The ensign, feeling that he was disliked, drew back into his shell and
bore himself with a chilly reserve. Along toward three o’clock Bob
relieved Dick and sent him below to sleep. Directly after supper Dick
would have to relieve Gaines and stand his trick at the motor, and it
was necessary for him to get a little rest. Carl would also have to
relieve Clackett, and, in order to be fit for his duties, the Dutch boy
had turned in immediately after dinner. He was sleeping on the floor of
the periscope room, and Dick curled up on the locker.

The afternoon saw the _Grampus_ well across the gulf, and by five
o’clock she changed her course to south by east, leaving the densely
wooded hills of Trinidad far behind with the coast of Venezuela in
plain view to starboard.

Ah Sin, having been duly instructed as to his duties, prepared the
supper on the electric stove, and served it. Speake relieved Bob at the
steering gear, and when Dick went below to take Gaines’ place at the
motor, Bob sprawled out on the locker to catch his own forty winks. A
stiff sea was running, and the _Grampus_ was submerged to a depth that
merely left the periscope ball clear of the combers.

As the darkness deepened, Speake had Carl put the turbines at work,
throwing out sufficient water ballast to lift the conning-tower
lunettes clear of the waves. The electric projector was then turned
on, and a ray of light shot through the forward lunette and marked the
submarine’s path through the tumbling sea.

For some hours everything went well. Then abruptly the motor began
to sputter and misfire, lessening the speed of the boat and throwing
her--now that she was riding higher and with the top of the conning
tower awash--more at the mercy of the waves.

Loose furniture began to slam around the periscope room. Bob was thrown
from the locker, and sat up, wondering what had gone wrong with the
motor.

“What’s the matter down there, Dick?” he called through the motor-room
tube.

“I’m a Feejee if I know,” Dick answered. “You’d better come down and
take a look.”

Bob was soon at his chum’s side. His keenly trained ear was usually
able to locate any ordinary trouble, but this time he was puzzled. The
ignition was all right, and the supply pipe from the tank was clear.
Nevertheless, the motor sputtered and jabbered with a wheezy but
unsuccessful attempt to do its full duty. The platinum, in the blade
or spring of the commutator, will, in rare cases, get loose and cause
misfiring, but that was not the cause of the present trouble. Another
rare cause, resulting in similar symptoms, lay in the loosening of the
carbon pole in the cell of a battery. But, just now, the batteries were
not at fault.

Finally, as a last resort, Bob examined the gasoline that was being fed
into the carburetor. A few drops in the palm of his hand aroused his
suspicions. The next moment the hydrometer test was made and water was
found in the gasoline.

“How did it get there?” demanded Dick. “The gasoline has worked well
enough all afternoon and so far during the night.”

“None of the gasoline you bought in Port of Spain has been used as yet?”

“Not a drop.”

“Well, connect up the carburetor with the storage reservoir. If there
is a little water in the carburetor, it will soon work out. After that,
empty this tank, strain the gasoline through chamoiskin, and then give
the tank a compressed-air treatment. I’ll send Clackett to help you.”

“But how, in the name of sin, did water get in that tank?” cried the
perplexed Dick.

As Bob turned to crawl away, he picked up a six-inch ebony cylinder,
about the size of a lead pencil, from near the tank. It was a chopstick!

“Has the Chinaman been here?” he asked.

“Not that I know of,” answered Dick. “Why?”

“Nothing,” said Bob, but he was thinking as he stepped into the torpedo
room, aroused Clackett, and sent him aft to lend Dick a hand.



CHAPTER XXXVIII.

VILLAINOUS WORK.


Gaines and Ah Sin were also sleeping in the torpedo room. As soon
as Clackett had left, Bob bent down over the Chinaman and shook him
roughly. The Celestial started up and stared blankly into the stern
face of the young motorist.

“Wha’chee want?” he asked.

“Is this yours?” inquired Bob, producing the chopstick and studying the
Chinaman’s face attentively as he did so.

The brim of the old slouch hat--which the yellow man had kept on while
sleeping--shaded his eyes, so that Bob’s view was not as good as he
would have liked to have it. So far as Bob could discover, not a shadow
of guilt crossed Ah Sin’s face. Thrusting one hand into the breast of
his blouse he drew out the mate to the chopstick Bob was holding, a
grateful grin split his countenance, and he caught the piece of ebony
out of Bob’s hand.

“Me losee um, huh?” he chuckled. “My no savvy how me losee um.”

“Go up the hatch to the periscope room,” ordered Bob.

If Ah Sin was surprised at the command he cloaked his feelings
admirably.

Without a word he left the torpedo room, climbed to the deck above,
and gained the periscope chamber. Bob pounded on the door of Glennie’s
quarters, and the ensign quickly opened the door.

“What’s wanted?” he asked.

“Take this Chinaman in there with you, Mr. Glennie,” said Bob, “and
watch him.”

“What’s he been doing?”

“I don’t know that he’s been doing anything. I just want him watched,
that’s all, and you can do it better than any one else.”

Glennie stared for a moment, then jerked the Chinaman inside and closed
the door.

As Bob turned away, he was conscious of the steady song of the
cylinders. Again the motor had taken up its cycle properly--proof that
the gasoline secured by Dick in Port of Spain was of the right sort.

“I’ll take the wheel, Speake,” said Bob. “Go to the torpedo room and
turn in.”

“What was wrong with the motor?” queried Speake, as he gave up the
wheel.

“Water in the carburetor.”

“Chink put it there?”

“Why should he do that?” returned Bob.

“That’s too much for me, Bob, unless he did it by mistake, same as he
exploded the gas in that reserve tank.”

“I don’t know how the water got in the tank, Speake, and it may have
been accident quite as much as design.”

Speake left Bob to his lonely vigil. The gleam of the little
searchlight, reaching out ahead of the submarine, flung an odd picture
on the periscope mirror. The edges of the mirror were shrouded in
darkness, out of which jumped the smooth, oily billows. The waves
flashed like gold in the pencil of light.

Bob, holding the _Grampus_ to her course, looked into the periscope
absently. He was thinking of the motor’s recent trouble, and of the
chopstick lying by the gasoline tank, turning both over in his mind and
wondering aimlessly.

Suddenly he lifted his head. An odd note was mixing itself with the
croon of the motor and the whir of the ventilator fans. The noise was
not caused by anything aboard the submarine; of that Bob was positive.
It was like the thrashing of a large propeller, growing rapidly in
volume as Bob listened.

Under water sounds are carried far. The noise Bob heard was caught by
the submerged hulk of the _Grampus_ and reëchoed as by a sounding board.

“Half speed, Dick,” he called through the engine-room tube.

As the pace slackened, Bob’s eyes again sought the periscope mirror.
Abruptly, out of the gloom that walled in the glow of the searchlight,
rushed a steamer, its blotted outline crossing directly the submarine’s
course. There were lights along the steamer’s rail, but it was plain
her lookouts were asleep or they would have seen the _Grampus’_
searchlight.

Instantly the young fellow was stirred into strenuous activity.

“Full speed astern--on your life!” he shouted to Dick.

At the same time Bob put the wheel over, hoping to make a turn and get
the _Grampus_ on a parallel course with the steamer.

But there was not room, nor time, enough for the turn. Unless the motor
stayed the _Grampus_ she was bound to crash into the other vessel.

Dick, however, got the propeller to turning the other way just at the
critical moment. The speed of the submarine slackened in answer to the
reverse pull, and the stern of the steamer swung by into the gloom with
a margin of scarce a dozen feet, leaving the _Grampus_ bobbing in her
troubled wake.

“All right now, Dick,” called Bob, in a voice that shook somewhat.
“Drive her ahead.”

“What was wrong?” inquired Dick.

“We just missed a collision with a steamer. Your quick work saved us.”

Dick gave a long whistle, and went on with his work. “A miss is as good
as a hundred fathoms, sometimes,” he answered lightly.

The ringing orders and quick work with the engine had aroused none of
the sleepers. Carl could be heard babbling excitedly in the tank room,
but otherwise the ship’s complement was quiet.

It was with a distinct feeling of relief that Bob caught the first
gleam of day as it was reflected by the periscope. As the morning
advanced and brightened, he raised a black smudge, as of steamer smoke,
on the port quarter. The smoke was bearing along in the direction the
submarine was going, and Bob wondered if that was the steamer they had
barely missed running into during the night.

Gaines relieved Dick, Clackett took Carl’s place, and Speake came after
Ah Sin and ordered him below to get breakfast. When the Chinaman was
fairly at work, Speake returned to the engine room and took the wheel.
Glennie showed himself when breakfast was ready, and he, Bob, Dick,
Carl, and Speake ate their breakfast in the periscope room.

“We must be off British Guiana,” remarked Glennie, stirring the
condensed milk and sugar into his coffee. “Will you put in at
Georgetown, Mr. Steele?”

“We won’t have to do that, now that we’ve picked you up at Port of
Spain,” replied Bob. “We’ve got to make quick time to the Amazon.”

“Iss dot shdeamer der vone ve come pooty near running indo lasdt
night?” queried Carl, taking a look into the periscope.

“It’s about an even guess whether it is or not.”

As Sin, who happened to be in the room, took a look at the periscope
for himself.

“Did we come near having a collision last night?” queried Glennie,
looking up quickly.

Bob, who wished to be agreeable, narrated the incident.

“We made a lucky miss of it,” remarked the ensign, when Bob had
finished. “I’ve no desire to go to the bottom in a steel sarcophagus
like the _Grampus_. Strange I slept through it all, but I was tired,
and I suppose I slept rather sounder than usual. That chink,” he added,
putting down his cup, “is a poor coffee maker. Or is it the coffee
itself that tastes so rank?”

“It’s poor stuff,” spoke up Speake, “an’ I was jest goin’ to say
something about the taste. The chink did better yesterday than he’s
doin’ this mornin’.”

“Id purns ven id goes town, like id vas a torchlight brocession,”
observed Carl luminously. “I don’d like dot, but I vas hungry, so I
trink it. Whoosh!”

“It’s certainly hot and bitter,” said Bob, and put down his cup after
two or three swallows.

“That steamer is gettin’ closer to us, Bob,” announced Speake, fumbling
with the wheel and looking at the periscope.

“Steady, there, Speake!” cautioned Bob.

“I don’t know what’s the matter with me,” muttered Speake, “but my
nerves are all in a quiver. She’s small, that steamer; one funnel,
black, with a red band. I don’t jest recollect what line--that--is.”

He drawled out the last words.

“Py Jove!” said Carl; “I feel sick py der shdomach, und eferyt’ing iss
virling und virling.”

“I’m dizzy, too!” put in Dick.

“And I,” murmured Glennie, setting aside his plate and empty cup. “I--I
believe I’ll lie down.”

He got up from the stool on which he was sitting, and floundered to
the tap of the locker. Pushing a hand around to his hip pocket, he
drew out a revolver that interfered with his comfort, dropped it on the
floor, and fell back limply.

Dick tried to get to his feet, but his limbs gave out, and he fell
sprawling upon Carl. At the same moment Carl straightened out with a
gasp, and Speake let go of the wheel and pitched forward to his knees.
There he swayed unsteadily for an instant, trying to speak, but the
effort was beyond him, and he slowly crumpled downward.

A horrible sensation of helplessness was growing upon Bob, and with
it there dawned on his mind a hazy suspicion of villainous work. He
struggled upright and staggered to the wheel.

“Gaines!” he called huskily through the motor-room tube.

No answer was returned. Glennie floundered up on one knee.

“What--in the fiend’s--name--is the matter?” he gasped chokingly.

“Clackett!” cried Bob, through the tank-room tube.

Still there was no answer. At just that moment, when Bob was positively
sure that all on the ship were caught in the awful spell, Ah Sin
shambled through the door.

With all his failing strength Bob flung himself on the Chinaman. Before
Ah Sin could dodge out of the way Bob’s arms went round him and his
slouch hat was jerked off.

With the hat came the long queue, leaving Ah Sin’s closely cropped head
in plain sight.

“T--Tolo!” gurgled Glennie, a wild, incredulous look crossing his face.

He made a superhuman effort to get off the locker, but the last
particle of strength left him in a flash, and he rolled backward.



CHAPTER XXXIX.

RUBBING ELBOWS WITH DEATH.


Bob had neither the time nor the strength to manifest any surprise over
the startling revelation made by Glennie. Not only that, but his brain
was in such a condition it was well-nigh incapable of surprise.

In that critical moment when he felt a terrifying helplessness surely
but steadily creeping over him, he centered every effort on the attempt
to make Ah Sin a prisoner.

Swiftly as a lightning flash, the idea struck through Bob’s brain that
the Chinaman had all to do with the baffling situation aboard the
_Grampus_. If Bob could drag him down and secure him he felt that, at a
later moment, the treacherous Celestial might be dealt with as his evil
deeds justified.

But the work he had mapped out for himself exceeded his powers. There
was none to come to his aid. Below, in the tank room and motor room,
was a silence undisturbed by human voice or movement, and there, in the
periscope chamber, the only noise to be heard was the deep breathing of
Bob’s unconscious friends and the rattling sounds of the scuffle going
forward between the young motorist and Ah Sin.

The slouch hat and the false queue were kicked into one corner. Ah
Sin’s long, lean fingers were gripping Bob’s throat. There was no look
of hate, or anger, or even of determination in the Chinaman’s face; the
expression was blank and saturnine, as though he was merely a tool,
operated by wires like a puppet and carrying out the will of some one
in high authority.

Suddenly, putting forth all his strength, Ah Sin lifted Bob by the
throat and threw him bodily across Speake and against the edge of the
locker. Bob tried to rise, but found it impossible.

The awful weakness held him in thrall and was fastening gyves upon his
wrists. Soon he would be utterly helpless, like those lying around him,
and what would Ah Sin then do to the _Grampus?_

A spasm of alarm and apprehension rushed through the young motorist.
Was this to be the end of the submarine’s voyage? Was the sale of the
boat to the government destined never to be consummated?

Vaguely Bob thought of Captain Nemo, junior, lying sick in that house
in Belize, of his unswerving confidence in the king of the motor boys,
and of his tremendous disappointment if anything happened to the
submarine during her daring cruise.

All this brought every ounce of Bob’s failing strength back to him. He
shoved his hand along the side of the locker and twined his fingers
about the grip of the revolver dropped by Glennie; then, with a
despairing effort, he lifted himself on one elbow and again directed
his gaze at the Chinaman.

Ah Sin had not been idle. He was holding something in his hand--a round
object from which hung a long, black string. The Chinaman was lighting
a match and touching the flame to the end of the string.

Bob could not see very distinctly, for everything in the periscope
chamber, even the chamber itself, was reeling about him in fantastic
lines.

The glow at the end of the black string sputtered and hissed. Stepping
over to one corner, Ah Sin placed the round object on the floor with
exceeding care, pulling out the string so that it lay in a straight
line, the burning end pointed toward the center of the room.

For a moment Ah Sin knelt and stared. His face was still inscrutable,
his eyes showing nothing more than a mild interest in his fiendish work.

A bomb!

The realization broke over Bob’s benumbed brain like a thunderclap.

Ah Sin was seeking to blow up the submarine, annihilating not only the
boat, but those aboard as well.

On Bob alone depended the salvation of the _Grampus_ and her crew. And
he was almost helpless in the grip of the baneful spell that had fallen
over every one on board, with the exception of the Chinaman!

Bob lifted the revolver unsteadily. A report rang out, sending wild
echoes clattering through the steel hull.

The bullet missed the kneeling Chinaman, struck clanging against the
curved iron plates, glanced against the bulkhead above the locker, and
dropped flattened and harmless at the side of Glennie.

Owing to Bob’s unsteady hand, the Chinaman had escaped the bit of lead,
but he was startled and frightened. Leaping up he whirled and peered at
Bob. The latter still clutched the revolver, but his hand swayed back
and forth as he leveled it.

Ah Sin made a quick jump toward Bob, evidently with the intention of
disarming him; but there was something in the lad’s wide, straining
eyes that caused him to change his mind. Swerving aside he rushed at
the ladder, mounted swiftly, and disappeared through the hatch.

With a fierce effort Bob concentrated his wandering wits upon the bomb.
Someway, somehow, he must reach the infernal machine and extinguish the
fuse.

Dropping the revolver, he rolled over and over, a lurch of the boat,
running erratically with no guiding hand at either wheel or motor,
helping him to reach the foot of the periscope table.

With the utmost difficulty he caught the legs of the rigidly secured
table and pulled himself to his knees. The cup, from which he had taken
only a few swallows of coffee, stood on a floor just below the end of
the table, and not more than a foot from the burning fuse. By a miracle
the cup had not been overturned.

For him to reach the fuse in his weakened condition was impossible;
but, if he could regain his feet and kick the cup over the coffee that
remained in it might quench the fire of the fuse.

Three times he endeavored to draw himself erect by means of the table,
but succeeded only in dropping backward as though pushed by a heavy,
resistless hand. But the fourth time he managed to remain upright,
trembling with the strain he had put upon himself.

It seemed a trifling thing to overset the coffee cup, but Bob Steele
had never planned a harder task.

There are but few things in this life, however, that will not yield to
pluck and determination, and fortune favored Bob in his grave fight.

The _Grampus_ pitched forward, rising aft and making a steep incline
of the floor. Bob’s feet slipped, and he lost his hold on the table.
As he came heavily down he shot against a stool, which was overturned
and upset the cup. The liquid in the cup had slopped over the sides,
and with the overturning a miniature wave of brown rolled along the
inclined floor.

There followed a hiss as it engulfed the tiny blaze at the end of the
fuse, and then a little spiral of smoke eddied upward.

This much Bob saw, and a fierce exultation ran through him. The bomb
was harmless--but where was Ah Sin? Would he not come back, discover
what Bob had accomplished, and again set a match to the fuse?’

This might happen, but there was nothing Bob Steele could do to prevent
it.

He had taken only a few swallows of the coffee, and to this, and to his
superior powers of endurance, was due the fact that he had kept his
senses and a remnant of his strength long enough to accomplish what he
had.

But now a wave of darkness rolled over him. As unconscious of what
was taking place around him as he was helpless to prevent further
disaster, his head fell back and he lay as one dead among his silent
and motionless companions.



CHAPTER XL.

A DIVE FOR SAFETY.


As Bob was the last one to lose his senses, so he was the first to
recover. And here again his superior endurance must have scored in
his favor. Always in the pink of physical condition, and striving
constantly to keep himself so, his powers of recuperation were quick to
react and reassert themselves.

He sat up, dazed and bewildered, and was some moments in picking up the
chain of events where it had been dropped.

By degrees he lived over the events that immediately preceded his lapse
into unconsciousness, and thoughts of the treacherous Ah Sin brought
him staggering to his feet.

The _Grampus_ was yawing and tumbling about in the waves, completely
at the mercy of wind and currents. Seizing the wheel, Bob brought
the submarine to her course and lashed the wheel with his twisted
handkerchief.

Pausing by the foot of the ladder he looked up into the conning tower.
The hatch was open.

What had become of the Chinaman he asked himself. Had he, confident
that the boat would be blown up, gained the deck and thrown himself
into the sea? Bob had heard of fanatics of that sort--carrying out
orders given by a higher power and then immolating themselves on the
altar of what they supposed to be their duty.

The Japs were noted for self-sacrifices of that kind, and Ah Sin was
not a Chinaman, but a little yellow man from the land of the mikado.

How long Bob had remained unconscious he had no means of knowing.

Resolved to discover what had become of the supposed Chinaman at all
hazards, Bob climbed laboriously up the ladder. The cool, salt air,
pouring down the hatch, served still further to revive him and bring
back his strength.

At last, when he braced himself in the opening and was able to cast a
sweeping glance over the waves, the sight unrolled before him brought a
startled exclamation to his lips.

A cable’s length from the submarine was a dory manned by smartly
uniformed yellow sailors. Hove to, half a dozen fathoms beyond the
dory, was the steamer with the black funnel and the red band, her port
rail lined with figures that were evidently watching the _Grampus_.
Between the dory and the submarine was a swimming figure, which Bob had
little difficulty in recognizing as being that of Tolo, otherwise Ah
Sin.

Tolo was swimming and looking behind, and the eyes of those in the dory
were on the _Grampus_, the men at the oars turning their heads to look
over their shoulders.

It seemed plain that they were expecting an explosion, and that they
were hurrying to get Tolo out of the way of it.

Bob’s blood ran cold as he thought of the heinous plot that had so
nearly been carried out by the disguised Japanese. Policy was back of
the murderous plan, but was it a policy dictated by a powerful nation,
or merely by a set of misguided men, acting on their own accord?

The young motorist had no time to debate this point. A shout of
consternation greeted his appearance at the conning-tower hatch. The
officer in the dory spoke to his men, and all turned their faces the
other way and bent their backs to the oars.

It flashed over Bob, in a twinkling, that the crew from the steamer
were still of the opinion that they could destroy the submarine, and
that they were hastening to get aboard the craft in order to carry out
their nefarious designs.

Without losing a moment, Bob drew back into the tower and closed and
barred the hatch. Lurching down the ladder he called desperately to his
companions. Speake and Dick were sitting up, staring blankly at each
other. When Bob appeared they fixed their bewildered eyes on him.

“Wake up!” cried Bob, springing to Dick and shaking him vigorously.
“Get your wits together, Dick, and be quick about it.”

“There was dope in that coffee,” mumbled Dick.

“That’s right,” seconded Speake, rubbing a hand across his forehead.

“Never mind that now,” went on Bob hurriedly. “Enemies are upon us!
That steamer you saw in the periscope, Speake, is hove to a little way
from us, and our motor is slowed until we have scarcely steerageway.
A boat is coming toward the _Grampus_, and we shall be boarded before
you can say Jack Robinson. We’ve got to make a dive for safety. Rouse
yourselves, both of you! To the motor, Dick! Speake, attend to the
tanks--fill them for a twenty-foot submersion. You----”

Something struck against the side of the submarine, and a jar followed
as of some one springing to the deck. “There they are!” shouted Bob.
“Below with you--quick!”

Speake and Dick got unsteadily to their feet. Bob’s ominous words
alarmed them, and did more than anything else to clear the fog from
their minds. Making their way stumblingly through the door, they
lowered themselves down the hatch.

Several more ringing thumps on the deck proved to Bob that others had
come aboard. Presently there was a banging on the hatch cover.

“Open!” cried a muffled voice with a queer foreign intonation. “Open so
that we can talk!”

“Who are you?” roared Bob, his voice sounding like thunder in the
confined space.

“Young Samurai, patriots of Nippon, Sons of the Rising Sun, Independent
Protectors of the Kingdom. Open!”

Bob forced his way up the ladder again. Slant eyes were pressed against
the lunettes and met his.

Already, however, water was entering the ballast tanks, and the
_Grampus_ was beginning to settle.

“Our flag is the Stars and Stripes,” yelled Bob, shaking his fist at
the eyes on the other side of the thick glass, “and you dare not lay a
hand on us! If your mikado knew what you were about----”

“Our mikado knows nothing,” interrupted a voice. “We----”

The fact that the submarine was diving came suddenly home to those on
the deck. Already the waves were creaming over the curved plates, drawn
into a flurry by the suction as the boat went down.

The eyes disappeared from the lunettes, and the Japanese scrambled for
their boat. Another moment and the conning tower was submerged and Bob
could hear the waters gurgling over the hatch cover.

Sliding down to the periscope room he looked into the periscope.
Some of the sailors were in the water, and others, in the boat, were
desperately busy getting them aboard. For a moment only Bob was able
to use the periscope, and then the waters closed about the ball, the
valves protecting the ball from the inrush of water closed, and the
_Grampus_ was more than fifteen feet down.

“Twenty feet, mate!” came the voice of Dick.

“That will do, Speake,” called Bob.

The tanks were closed.

“Drive her ahead, Dick!” cried Bob.

The motor was speeded up and the _Grampus_ hustled onward below the
surface. While Bob unlashed the wheel and brought the boat more
directly into her course, a loud boom and a splash were heard.

“What’s that?” demanded Speake.

“The steamer is firing at us,” answered Bob.

“Let ’em shoot,” laughed Dick. “A heap of good it will do them to drop
shot into the sea.”

“How’s Gaines, Dick?”

“Coming along full and by, forty knots. He’s sitting up and beginning
to take notice.”

“How about Clackett, Speake?”

“He jest asked me to tell him where he was,” replied Speake, “so I
guess he’ll soon be able to take hold.”

“Good! We’re coming out of this a whole lot better than I had dared to
hope.”

“Dot’s righdt,” spoke up Carl, coming suddenly to a sitting posture.

“How do you feel, old chap?” asked Bob.

“I peen lying dere on my back trying to guess id oudt,” Carl answered.

“That’s about the way with me, Mr. Steele,” said Glennie, turning over
on his side so he could face Bob. “Where are we?”

“We’re twenty feet down and headed for the delta of the Amazon, Mr.
Glennie.”

“Didn’t you lose consciousness, like the rest of us?”

“Yes; but I wasn’t out of my head so long. I was the last to go and the
first to come to.”

“How do you account for that?”

Glennie sat up on the locker, as he put the question, and began rubbing
his head.

“I didn’t drink so much of that bitter coffee as the rest of you did,”
replied Bob.

“That’s right,” muttered Glennie; “I was forgetting about the coffee.
It was drugged--it must have been.”

“Yah, so helup me!” growled Carl. “Der Chinaman vas oop to some funny
bizness, und he has peen efer since he come apoardt der boat. Ve ought
to haf droon him oferpoard on cheneral brinciples.”

“Where’s Ah Sin now?” queried Glennie, looking around the room
expectantly.

“The last I saw of him,” said Bob, “he was in the water swimming toward
a small boat.”

Glennie started to his feet, astounded.

“In the water?” he echoed. “Do you mean to say you allowed the
scoundrel to get away, Mr. Steele? And all the time you knew just how
much his presence meant to me!”

Bob gazed fixedly at the ensign.

“Your head must still be troubled with that dope the supposed Chinaman
put in the coffee,” said he calmly. “It was lucky that I was able to do
what I did, and, as for the Chinaman getting away, I could no more help
that than any of the rest of you. But it was a lucky thing for us that
he _did_ get away, I can tell you that.”

“Vat bizness you got finding some fault mit Bob Steele?” snapped
Carl, making a truculent move in Glennie’s direction. “You vas a
bassencher--don’d forged dot--und Bob vas der skipper. Ve ought to call
him gaptain, only he von’t allow id; but, all der same, he iss der
gaptain oof der boat, und you vill keep schtill oder I vill pat you on
der back mit mein fist. Yah, so, Misder Glennie!”

“That will do, Carl,” said Bob. “Draw back into your shell now, and
keep still yourself. I can handle my own end with Mr. Glennie.”

Carl flung off to the other side of the room, tramping heavily to show
his impatience and disgust.

“I presume,” said the ensign reflectively, “that you did the best
you could, Mr. Steele, so I have no fault to find with you. But you
understand that Ah Sin was my only hope for locating those important
papers in Para.”

Bob stared, wondering if Glennie had forgotten the discovery he had
made just before he had lapsed into unconsciousness.

“I had a mighty queer dream about that Chinaman,” pursued Glennie. “I
thought you had a fight with him, Bob, and that, during the scuffle,
his old slouch hat came off, and the queue along with it. And I was
under the impression that Ah Sin wasn’t a Chinaman at all, but Tolo,
that rascally Jap.”

“That wasn’t a dream, Mr. Glennie,” answered Bob, “but is literally
what took place.”

“Is that a fact?” cried the ensign.

“Look ad here vonce!” called Carl.

He had picked up the slouch hat and the attached queue and placed them
on his head.

“Great Cæsar!” muttered Glennie, reeling back against the wall. “How
I’ve been fooled! And I never recognized the scoundrel in his chink
make-up! Well, I guess I deserve all the bad luck that’s coming my
way. I’ve been a dunderhead ever since the _Seminole_ dropped me in La
Guayra.”

“Whoosh!” exclaimed Carl disgustedly, pulling off the hat and pigtail
and throwing them into the locker. “I don’d like der shmell oof der
t’ings.” He dropped the locker lid and turned away. “Vat’s dis, hey?”
he inquired, picking up the bomb.



CHAPTER XLI.

PUTTING TWO AND TWO TOGETHER.


“That,” said Bob, “is a bomb. While I lay on the floor, all but
helpless, the disguised Jap set fire to the fuse and planted the bomb
in the corner.”

Glennie stared aghast. Carl mumbled to himself, and very carefully
returned the bomb to the place where he had found it.

“He vas a blackguard!” growled Carl, backing away from the bomb and
shaking his fist at it. “Der sgoundrel vould haf plowed us py some
smidereens. I don’d like Chaps any more as I do shinks.”

“You must be mistaken!” gasped Glennie. “Either that, or else Tolo
is a madman! Why, the explosion of that bomb would have wrecked the
submarine and killed us all.”

The ensign shuddered.

“It would have been barbarous!” he went on, worked up by the enormity
of the crime that had been planned. “As an act of war, it would have
been savage enough, in all conscience, but here we are at peace with
all the world, and under the protection of Old Glory!”

“I can’t help that, Glennie,” said Bob grimly. “We’ve got to take the
facts as we find them. I managed to get hands on the revolver you
dropped, and had strength enough to fire one shot. The bullet missed
its mark, and Tolo jumped up and started for me. But I guess the
revolver scared him off, for he whirled around before he got very close
and darted up the conning-tower ladder.”

“He left the fuse burning?”

“Yes; and evidently expected a blowup.”

“Why wasn’t there a blowup?”

“Well, the coffee that had got me into trouble got us all out of it.
I fell, knocked over a stool, the stool knocked over the cup, and the
coffee was spilled out and flowed over the burning fuse.”

“That’s the most remarkable thing I ever heard!” declared Glennie.

“Bob Steele’s luck,” chuckled Carl. “I vould radder be mit Bob, und
haf a biece oof his luck, dan any blace vat I know. Ven he has some
goot fordunes, he has to pass dem aroundt to der fellers vat iss mit
him--vich means me, for I vas alvays aroundt.”

“Go on, Mr. Steele,” said Glennie. “What happened after that?”

Bob, attending to his steering and keeping an eye on the periscope,
told how he had lost consciousness for a few moments, had revived,
lashed the wheel, and climbed to the hatch. The rest, including how he,
Dick, and Speake had made a dive for safety, came rapidly and in the
fewest possible words.

“From all of which it appears,” remarked Glennie quietly, when the
recital was done, “that we owe our lives to Bob Steele. But I can’t
understand this Tolo business. Why was he playing the part of a chink?”

“So you wouldn’t know him,” said Bob, “and so he could still be with
you.”

“But what was the use?”

“That seems plain,” went on Bob, wondering a little at the ensign’s
failure to see the game that had been attempted. “As I figure it, Mr.
Glennie, there is a Japanese secret society consisting of a number of
misguided young men who call themselves Sons of the Rising Sun. Their
government does not sanction their acts, and presumably knows nothing
about them. These Independent Protectors of the Kingdom have heard of
this wonderful submarine ship invented by Captain Nemo, junior, and
they are well fitted to understand its possibilities in time of war.”

“Granting all that, just what has it to do with the actions of Tolo?”

“I’m coming to that. Tolo, I take it, is a member of the Young Samurai
Society. No doubt the society has had spies in Central and South
America. These spies reported that the _Grampus_ had been sold to the
United States government, conditional upon her making a safe passage
around the Horn and up the western coast to Mare Island. I don’t
suppose that the Sons of the Rising Sun were at all pleased with this
information. They are enthusiasts, and probably don’t care a rap for
their own lives, or for the lives of any other people, so long as they
can do a good stroke of work for Nippon.”

“But Tolo,” put in the ensign impatiently, “what of him?”

“Probably, too,” continued Bob, “it was known that the _Seminole_ had
dropped you at La Guayra, and that you were to accompany the submarine
on her long cruise. Tolo was commissioned to watch you, get aboard the
submarine if possible, make sketches, and then destroy her.”

“But do you consider what a crime that amounts to? That it is virtually
an act of war and might embroil two countries?”

“It is an act of piracy, Mr. Glennie. The steamer from which the Japs
came was not flying the Japanese flag, nor any other flag, so far as I
could see. They’re working on their own hook.”

“Then they are liable to be caught and punished by their own
government!”

“Of course; but the Sons of the Rising Sun have the bit in their own
teeth and are going their own pace. I’ll bet something handsome they’d
sacrifice their steamer and their own lives, into the bargain, if they
could be sure of destroying the _Grampus_. The Japs are fanatics on the
subject of patriotism--everybody knows that. But to go on with Tolo. He
hired out to you, found a chance to steal your dispatches, and thought
advisable to take them. Probably he thought they contained information
of value to the Young Samurai. After that he disguised himself as a
Chinaman--not a difficult task for a Jap--and called on us in the
harbor at Port of Spain. He was cunning enough to hand you that yarn
about knowing Tolo, and to hang out regarding the fifty dollars so that
he could get you to take him down the coast to the Amazon. On the way,
Tolo was snooping around and learning all he could about the boat. The
blowing up of the gasoline tank was probably an accident, but mixing
water with our fuel was done with a purpose.”

“What purpose?”

“To delay us, and make it possible for the steamer to come near. This
morning Tolo must have heard how we had narrowly escaped running the
steamer down during the night, and I am sure he knew the steamer was
hanging around our course just before he went down to get breakfast.
He had come aboard the _Grampus_ equipped with his bomb and his drugs,
and it’s a wonder his scoundrelly plans did not carry. Of course,” Bob
added, after a long silence, “I am only putting two and two together,
and making a guess. The guess may be close to the truth, or wide of it,
but that’s the way I size up the facts that have come to us.”

“You haf hit der nail righdt on der head!” declared Carl. “Der Sons
of der Rising Sun vas afder us, aber dey vill findt dot ve don’d vas
ashleep. Ve’re a leedle punch of badriots ourseluf, you bed you, und
an American feller has got id ofer der Chap like anyding.”

Carl puffed out his chest and slapped his wishbone.

“I am sure you have made a good guess, Mr. Steele,” said Glennie, “and
the way you have argued the thing out is mighty convincing. It shows
us what we’re up against during this cruise, and I’m wondering why the
captain of the _Seminole_ didn’t tip me off.”

“It’s likely he didn’t know anything about these Sons of the Rising
Sun,” replied Bob. “We’ve only been able to get a line on them by
facing considerable danger, and taking a lot of hard knocks.”

“Ven dose leedle fellers whipped Rooshia,” put in Carl, “dey got puffed
oop like I can’t tell. Dere is some chips on deir shoulters all der
time now, und they ought to be knocked off.”

“Don’t make a common mistake, Mr. Pretzel,” cautioned Glennie. “The
Japanese government has always been a good friend of the United States,
and you know there are hotheads in Japan just as there are in our own
country. But both governments are on friendly terms and will always be
so. The mikado’s government doesn’t know what these Sons of the Rising
Sun are doing, so what happens is just a little private war between
them and us, with the _Grampus_ as the bone of contention.”

“Vell,” and Carl wagged his head decidedly, “ve got our teet’ on der
pone und dey can’t shake us loose.”

“That’s right,” laughed Bob.

“Mr. Pretzel is a jingo,” said Glennie. “But what am I to do about
those dispatches?”

“We’ll go right on to the Amazon and Para. When we get there, Mr.
Glennie, I’d advise you to make a clean breast of everything to Mr.
Brigham. Perhaps he can help you get hold of the papers in some way.”

The ensign shook his head gloomily. “I see what will happen to me,” he
muttered, “but I guess I can face the music, all right. I’m sorry for
the governor, though, when the news gets to Boston.”

At this moment Speake came in and began clearing up the scattered tin
dishes that had been used in serving the morning meal. He reported
Gaines and Clackett as feeling all right, and actively engaged in their
duties.

Bob ordered the ballast tanks emptied so as to bring the submarine
within a dozen feet of the surface. At this depth the periscope ball
cleared the waves, the automatic valves opened, and those in the
periscope room were able to take a look at the surface of the sea. The
steamer was nowhere in sight--there was not even a smudge of smoke on
the horizon.

The _Grampus_ was lifted further until the conning tower was clear
of the waves. Speake took the wheel, Bob studied the chart and gave
him the course, and then turned in for a little sleep. Dick and Carl
likewise sought a little rest; and while the king of the motor boys and
his chums slept, the submarine plowed onward toward Brazil at a swift
pace.



CHAPTER XLII.

UNDER THE AMAZON.


Three days and nights of uneventful traveling brought the _Grampus_ to
Santa Rosa Bay directly in the great mouth of the Amazon. Para River,
to the south, is not generally considered as an arm of the river,
although unquestionably it forms a part of the vast delta.

The mouth of the Amazon Bob knew to be two hundred miles wide, and full
twenty-seven fathoms deep. It is full of islands, and a bar, running
seaward from one of these islands, caused the _Grampus_ an unforeseen
delay.

Feeling positive that the mysterious steamer had reached the Amazon
ahead of them, or that she was perhaps watching along the coast, most
of the latter part of the submarine’s journey toward Para had been made
under water. The boat was submerged when she reached the Amazon, and
the run across Santa Rosa Bay was by periscope alone.

Bob saw the little rocky island, whitened with sea birds, and supposed
he was giving it a wide berth. He did not suspect the presence of the
bar, and the chart, most unaccountably, did not show it.

The first news of trouble was contained in an announcement by Gaines,
from the motor room.

“Propeller’s out of commission, Bob.”

This was alarming information. With the propeller useless, the
submarine would drift helplessly in the current unless stoutly anchored.

Quickly as possible the ballast tanks were emptied and the boat brought
to the surface. Bob, turning the wheel over to Speake, rushed into the
conning tower, threw open the hatch, and made a survey of the situation.

There were no boats of any kind in the vicinity of the _Grampus_, and
consequently no hope of being towed into safe quarters while repairs
were being made. Bob, when he broke out of the hatch, was confidently
expecting to find the submarine being whirled out to sea by the swift
current, but, to his surprise, the boat was setting in toward a small
cove of the island. He got out on the deck for the purpose of making
further observations. Dick and Glennie followed him.

“What do you make out, mate?” queried Dick. “From the looks of things,
we’re floating upstream.”

“We’re in a back-set of the current,” Bob answered, studying the river
in the neighborhood of the island. “That uplift of rocks parts the
stream, sends the current around the upper part at sharp angles, and
below, where we are, the current sucks back inshore.”

“A dangerous coast to run into,” remarked Glennie.

“That cove looks like a quiet place for shipping a new propeller,” said
Bob.

“You ought to have a dry dock for that, hadn’t you?”

“That would be fine--but we haven’t got it. The next best thing is to
shift all the weight forward and throw the propeller out of water. We
can do that if our forward anchor can find holding ground on the bottom
of the cove.”

Bob stepped back to the conning tower. “Speake!” he called. “Send
Clackett to the torpedo room, and tell him to let go the forward anchor
as soon as I give the word. Carl might go down and help. When I give
the word, I want the anchor dropped _at once!_”

Speake could be heard talking through the tank-room tube. Bob,
standing by the tower, watched sharply while the submarine drifted
closer and closer to the rocks. The cove did not measure more than
fifty feet across at its mouth, and was semicircular in shape, and
not more than fifty feet wide, measuring from a line drawn between
the rocky headlands at the entrance. The shore was buttressed by high
bowlders.

The current was bearing the submarine into the cove midway between the
headlands--the line of drift being straight toward the farthest point
inland.

Dick had a hand lead, and forward at the bow he heaved it constantly.

“Mark three!” he cried.

“Eighteen feet,” said Glennie. “How much do you draw, Mr. Steele?”

“We ought to have ten feet,” answered Bob. “Sharp with it, Dick,” he
added anxiously. “We must get as close inshore as we can.”

“Quarter less three!” called Dick.

“Sixteen and a half,” muttered Glennie; “shoaling rapidly. You’d better
get that mud hook down, Mr. Steele.”

“Two and a half!” announced Dick, then: “Two and a quarter!” and
finally: “Mark twain!”

Bob was not as close to the shore as he wanted to be, but twelve feet
was as little water as he dared keep under the _Grampus_.

“Let go the anchor!” he yelled to Speake.

Speake promptly repeated the order, and only a very short scope of
cable was run out.

The nose of the submarine was brought up short and the stern moved
around into the cove as though on a pivot.

“The anchor’s not fast!” cried Glennie. “It’s dragging!”

Bob had already discovered that. The anchor afforded sufficient
resistance to keep the bow of the boat toward the entrance of the cove,
but they were sliding stern first farther into the shoaling waters.

Dick hurried aft and began heaving the lead close to the stern. “Two
and a half!” he cried.

“Great guns!” exclaimed Glennie. “Wouldn’t that knock you? It’s
deepening!”

“Mark three!” shouted Dick.

“Three fathoms,” murmured Glennie, “and within two jumps of shore! The
rocks must lie steep-to. The current’s responsible for that.”

The pull of the anchor continued to draw the boat around so that she
was drifting broadside on.

“Deep four!” reported Dick, and began coiling up the line. The
submarine was rubbing against the rocks, and there was no room to cast.

“Good luck,” said Bob gleefully, “even if it does come out of a damaged
propeller. We can pass a couple of cables ashore and tie up to the
rocks. On deck, Speake!” he called through the hatch. “There’s some old
hose and canvas in the storeroom, and you, and Clackett and Gaines had
better bring it up. Fetch a couple of cables at the same time.”

Bob leaped to a shelf notched out of one of the rocks, climbed to the
top of the bowlder, and picked out the stones most convenient for
mooring. When the cables were brought up and bent to their stanchions,
the spare ends were passed ashore. While he was making them fast,
Clackett, Gaines, Speake, and Carl were festooning the old hose over
the submarine’s side and padding the plates with canvas blankets as
fenders against the jagged rocks.

“Now,” called Bob, talking from the top of a bowlder and looking down
on the deck of the _Grampus_, “the next thing is to weight the forward
part of the boat so that the propeller will be thrown up clear of the
water. Move everything possible from aft. If the anchor has taken hold,
a little pulling on the chain may help. If this don’t fill the bill,
then we’ll pile rocks on the bow and force it under that way. Now,
then, get busy, all hands.”

Speake, Carl, Gaines, and Clackett went below. Bob began tossing loose
stones to Dick, and he built them up forward of the flagstaff, passing
ropes around the pile in order to hold it to the deck when the boat
began to cant forward.

By degrees the bow went deeper and deeper, and the stern rose. At last,
after some two hours of trying work, the propeller was brought into
view. The blades were fairly buried in a mass of ropy seaweed.

Bob gave vent to a relieved laugh.

“It won’t be necessary to ship a new propeller, after all,” said he.
“Traveling under the Amazon is hard on the screw. That bar was covered
with seaweed, and the propeller twisted itself up in it. Pass a rope
aft and secure it to the periscope guys. You can hang to the rope,
Dick, slip over the stern, and cut away the grass.”

“Easy enough,” answered Dick, dropping on the deck to pull off his
shoes and stockings, and roll up his trousers. “We’ll clear away that
propeller in a brace of shakes.”

“While you’re at it,” said Bob, “I’ll scout around the island and see
what it looks like. I’ll not be gone long.”

He dropped from the top of the bowlder, and vanished. Glennie looked
after him as though he would have liked an invitation to accompany him,
and stretch his legs on hard earth, but he did not follow. Instead, he
picked up a coil of rope, and began securing an end to one of the wire
periscope guys.

“I’ll attend to that, Mr. Glennie,” said Dick, still with an undue
emphasis on the “mister.” “You’re an innocent bystander, you know, and
are here to look on.”

Glennie dropped the rope, flushed, and drew back. Bob had not asked him
to go on the exploring expedition, and now Dick refused to have him
render even trifling aid.

“I’m sorry you fellows have taken such a dead set at me,” said Glennie.

“You told us where we stood when you first came off to us from the Port
of Spain landing,” returned Dick. “I don’t see that you’ve got any kick
coming because we took you at your word.”

Glennie started to say something, but closed his mouth suddenly, and
left the words unspoken. Perhaps he was beginning to see where he was
at fault.

While he stood by the conning tower, watching Dick move aft with the
rope in his hands, a sharp cry came suddenly from among the rocks.

“Dick! Clear the propeller, and sink the boat in----”

It was Bob’s voice; although faint, it was unmistakable, and each word
was strangely clear-cut and distinct.

Dick halted and faced about.

“Something’s happening to Bob!” he cried.

The next moment he dropped the rope and started to spring ashore. But
Glennie was already on the rocks.

“You heard what he said!” shouted Glennie. “Clear the propeller and
sink the boat! I’ll help Steele if he needs help--but your duty is
clear.”

The ensign whirled about and jumped from the bowlder. As he
disappeared, Dick saw his revolver glistening in his hand.



CHAPTER XLIII.

HAND TO HAND.


From what Bob could see of the island as the _Grampus_ drifted into
the cove, and from the further observations which he made while
standing on the rocks and helping Dick, he knew that it could not be
very extensive. Probably it would have covered an acre of ground, if
measured in a square, but its surface was vastly greater than that,
inasmuch as it consisted of barren hills and valleys.

Bob’s intention, when he left the submarine, was to climb to the
highest point and take a look around. He was still worrying about the
mysterious steamer, and the no less mysterious Japs. From what he had
heard and read of the Japanese, he understood that dogged persistency
was a national trait. If the Sons of the Rising Sun had made up their
minds to destroy the submarine, it would take more than one rebuff to
discourage them. That they were still on the trail of the _Grampus_,
Bob had not the least doubt, and if they should happen to sight the
boat in the cove, and make an attack while the propeller was being
cleared, they would stand a fair show of success.

In looking for the steamer Bob did not intend to confine his gaze to
seaward, but to give fully as much attention upstream as below.

He had already selected the hill he was going to climb, and picked out
the narrow valley that would lead him to its base.

A little scrambling over rough ground brought him to the valley.
Projecting rocks, weather-stained and windworn, rose to right and left.
Flocks of gulls rose out of them, alarmed by his approach, and winged
away across the river.

The valley was not over twenty feet wide, and angled back and forth
sharply on its way to the hill. Bob stepped off at a brisk gait, for he
would have to be quick if he finished what he had in mind by the time
Dick and the rest had cleared the propeller and got the boat once more
in trim.

Bob was not expecting any trouble on the island, and, as usual, it was
the unexpected that happened.

The flapping of the birds’ wings made a noise that drowned the crunch
of his footsteps in the gravel. This, it may be, accounted for the
surprise that met him as he rounded a sharp turn, for his approach was
not heard, and he came suddenly face to face with a creeping savage.
The native was nude, save for a short kirtle that hung from his waist,
and he was carrying an ugly-looking spear.

It seemed clear that the fellow was creeping up on the boat. His
surprise was as great as Bob’s, and for a brief space both stood
staring at each other. Then, as Bob’s gaze wandered farther on along
the valley, he saw four other natives, all of whom had been on their
hands and knees and had leaped erect the moment the lad presented
himself.

Then it was that Bob lifted his voice and shouted the warning heard
by Dick and Glennie. Bob did not finish what he was saying, for a
suggestive movement of the native’s spear hand made it necessary for
him to take quick action to protect himself.

Like lightning he leaped forward, and his fist shot out straight from
the shoulder. A grunt was jolted from the lips of the stricken native,
and he staggered backward. This caused the hand holding the spear to
rise quickly, and the spear point caught in Bob’s leather jacket, which
was unbuttoned and flying open.

The native fell backward, keeping a convulsive grip on the spear, and
dragging Bob down with him. In a twinkling the other four savages had
surrounded Bob and were menacing him with their spears.

The spear points were of steel, ground to a sharp point. They had a
greenish, corroded look, which suggested that they had been poisoned.
Judging this to be the case, Bob put forth every effort to avoid being
pricked or scratched by the flourished weapons.

Seizing the handle of the spear held by the man who had fallen, Bob
wrenched it away and swept it around his head in a circle. The other
four savages leaped back to the edge of the circle and continued
their hostile demonstrations. The fellow on the ground, who evidently
possessed a large amount of courage, reached up abruptly and caught
hold of the spear.

With exultant shouts, the other four began to close in. Hampered
in using the spear, Bob found it necessary to change his tactics.
Releasing the weapon, he laid hold of the native to whom it belonged,
grabbed him about the waist, and flung him heavily against the foremost
of his companions.

The men were all of short stature, although heavily muscled and of
great strength. The human missile launched by Bob overset the first of
the four advancing Indians, and this man, in his turn, tumbled backward
and knocked down another. The remaining two were between Bob and the
end of the valley it would be necessary for him to traverse in order to
regain the boat.

Flourishing his fists and shouting an angry command for them to clear
his path, he leaped directly at them. One of them launched his spear.
Bob ducked downward, and the weapon whipped over his head, just grazing
his cap.

This unarmed native was the one Bob speedily made up his mind to
pass. But again the unexpected happened. As Bob dashed forward a stone
gave way under his foot. He sought vainly to recover his balance, and
plunged headlong and rolled over and over.

Before he could get up all the natives were upon him. It looked, just
at that moment, as though nothing could save him. Yet he did not give
up. Rising to his knees, he caught the ankles of one of his foes and
jerked his feet out from under him.

A fierce order in an unknown tongue was given, and four figures sprang
with murderous celerity to obey it. At that juncture--a critical
juncture for Bob Steele--the sharp, incisive note of a revolver rang
out. One of the savages, with a cry of pain, stepped backward, dropped
his spear, and clasped his right wrist with his left hand.

There followed another shot, accompanied by a sound of running feet in
the shingle and the loud voice of Glennie:

“Get away from there, you scoundrels! I’ll give you a taste of more
metal if you don’t clear out.”

The second bullet had done no harm, but the natives, not knowing how
many men were following Glennie, whirled and made off, one of them
picking up the fallen spear as he went.

“Are you hurt, Bob?” panted Glennie, coming to a breathless halt beside
Bob.

“Not at all, Glennie,” Bob answered; “but I had a tight squeak of it.”

“Shall we chase those rascals?”

“No,” was the answer as Bob regained his feet; “we’ll make tracks back
to the _Grampus_, and thank our lucky stars that we got out of this as
well as we did. There may be a lot more of the Indians hiding among the
rocks, and I’ve a notion that their spear points are poisoned. We’ll
not give them a chance to dig their spears into us, if we can help it.”

Watching behind cautiously, Bob and Glennie immediately set out on
their return to the boat.

“I didn’t think there was a human being anywhere near the island, apart
from ourselves,” said Bob. “When those rascals came face to face with
me the surprise was mutual--and far from pleasant, so far as I was
concerned. Did you hear me yell?”

“That’s what brought me ashore,” said Glennie. “Ferral was bound to
come; but I told him he had better carry out orders regarding the ship
and let me go. This six-shooter carried the day.”

“And saved my life,” added Bob. “I’ll not forget that, Mr. Glennie.”

A flush of pleasure ran through Glennie’s face. “Bosh!” he exclaimed.
“You’d have done the same for me, if our positions had been reversed.”

By that time they were at the place where it was necessary for them
to leave the valley and pick their way through the scattered bowlders
to the shore of the cove. While they were climbing the rocks, Carl
suddenly thrust his head out from behind one of them.

“Hoop!” he cried joyfully. “Id vas Bob, himseluf! Bob, der sighdt of
you makes me so habby as I can’d dell!”

“Same here!” chimed in the voice of Dick, as he showed himself beside
Carl.

Dick was armed with an old harpoon, and Carl carried a hatchet.

“You’re a nice pair, I must say!” cried Bob. “The last order I gave
instructed you to clear the propeller and sink the _Grampus_.”

“The propeller is cleared, mate,” said Dick; “but you wouldn’t catch
Carl and me going to the bottom of the cove in the _Grampus_ until we
had found out what became of you. We heard a couple of shots, and
nothing could keep us from coming ashore, after that. Who did you mix
up with?”

“Five savages. I don’t know whether they live on the island, or whether
they came from the river bank. Anyhow, I came front to front with them,
and they were creeping in the direction of the boat.”

“Den dey knowed der poat vas in der cove!” said Carl, casting a
cautious look behind, in the direction of the valley. “Vas dere more as
fife, Bob?”

“I don’t know. Five are all I saw. We’d better get away from here as
soon as we can, though, and get up the river to Para.”

A moment later the boys reached the shore of the cove and found Speake
unloosening the cables.

“All right, Bob?” called Speake.

“Yes; but in a tearing hurry,” Bob answered. “Is the _Grampus_ ready
for sea?”

“She’s as fit as a fiddle! Clackett is putting the stuff below back
where it belongs, and we just dumped that load o’ rock off the bow.”

Bob, Dick, Carl, and Glennie dropped on the submarine’s deck. In short
order the cables were hauled aboard, coiled, and stowed, and Speake
leaped from the rocks and was caught and steadied by Bob as he came
down.

Bob got into the tower and signaled the engine room. The motor got
busy, and the cheerful splash of the propeller was heard. Slowly the
_Grampus_ picked her way out of the cove, those on her deck watching
the receding rocks for some sign of the savages. But they saw none.



CHAPTER XLIV.

BOARDED!


In order to reach the arm of the river that led to Para the _Grampus_
had to pass through a little strait known as South Channel, then on
by Tucuria and around Cape Magoari. Dick, Carl, and Glennie remained
on deck, Dick using a pair of binoculars, and Bob attending to the
steering from the top of the tower. They were traversing the tortuous
channels without the chart to guide them, and most unexpectedly they
found that what they supposed to be South Channel had emptied them
out into the river close to the island where Bob had had his recent
exciting experience.

“Well, wouldn’t that surprise you?” cried Dick. “Here we are back at
our old stamping grounds once more, after racing around for an hour and
getting nowhere.”

“Und dere iss der leedle cove!” cried Carl. “Vat a funny
pitzness--gedding losdt on der Amazon.”

“We couldn’t have been in South Channel,” said the chagrined Bob.

“This is new country to me,” observed Glennie; “but I looked at the
chart early this morning, marked the location of South Channel, and
could have sworn we started into it when we left this island.”

“Come below, you fellows,” called Bob disgustedly. “You can take the
wheel, Dick, and steer by the periscope while I overhaul the charts.
There’s no sense wasting time and gasoline like this.”

Bob dropped down the ladder and the rest followed him.

“We’re mixed up, Gaines,” Bob called through the motor-room tube, “and
a pilot who knows the coast would be mighty handy about now. Quarter
speed while we study the maps. Dick,” Bob added, “run circles off the
island while we get our bearings.”

Bob opened the locker and dug up the chart. Laying it on one of the
stools, he examined it, with Carl and Glennie looking over his shoulder.

“Here’s where we are now,” said Bob, sticking a pin in the chart, “and
there’s the entrance to South Channel just below Mixiana Island.”

“The passage we got into by mistake,” remarked Glennie, “was that
crooked little passage that runs into Mixiana Island, bends around in
the shape of a big ‘O,’ and then lets us out again at the same place we
went in.”

“Exactly,” agreed Bob.

“It was easy to make the mistake.”

“Easy, yes; but I ought to have been sure. We should have had the chart
on deck with us, but I thought I had the thing firmly fixed in my mind.”

“A chart is a hard thing to carry in your mind.”

“I’m beginning to think so myself. Head south by east, Dick,” Bob went
on to his chum. “You’ll know the passage we took when you see it. Skip
that, and head into the one west of it.”

“Sou’ by east it is, mate,” answered Dick.

“If you wanted to,” suggested Glennie, “you could pass to the north of
Mixiana Island and get to Cape Magoari by going around it. It looks to
me as though that would be our shortest course.”

“Short, yes; but it would take more time.”

“How so?”

“Well, if we went to the north of Mixiana Island we would be in the
open bay, and that pesky Jap steamer may be standing off and on, hoping
to get sight of us. In order to avoid that, we should have to run
submerged, which would mean no more than half speed, the best we could
do. By going through South Channel we won’t need to fear the steamer,
and can run on the surface, and put every ounce of our motor’s power
into moving ahead.”

“Correct,” said Glennie. “I find that there are a good many things
about running a submarine that I have yet to learn.”

Dick gave a grunt as he bent over the periscope table. His face was
hidden by the periscope hood, so the disgusted expression which he wore
could not be seen.

Dick Ferral did not easily forgive a slight. From the first, Glennie
had struck him “on the wrong side,” and it would take time before Dick
got over his dislike.

Carl, in this respect, was like Dick. Neither of the boys could ever
forget the lordly air assumed by the ensign when he hove to alongside
the submarine in the launch. The “mister” which Glennie had imposed
upon them still rankled in their bosoms.

Up to that moment off Port of Spain there had been no “misters” on the
_Grampus_. The formality demanded by Glennie had been a strain on the
friendly relations of the crew--and perhaps on the crew’s temper as
well.

Glennie heard Dick’s grunt, even though he could not see the disgusted
expression on his face, and he whirled and stared sharply at Dick’s
back.

“Discipline iss going to der dogs on dis ship,” mourned Carl, in
mock dejection. “If ve don’d haf more discipline dere is going to be
drouple, ain’d it? First t’ing you know, I vill haf to be calling my
olt pard Misder Bob, und my odder olt pard Misder Dick, und den if
somepody ton’t call me misder, I bet you I preak his head.”

“That will do, Carl,” said Bob, noting the flush that crossed Glennie’s
face.

“That’s all right, Mr. Steele,” spoke up the ensign. “I started that,
and they’re within their rights, I suppose, when they rub it in. All I
can say is that I didn’t understand your method of running this boat.
Now, in the navy, we have to have discipline; we have to have our gun
crews, our watches, and all that; and we have to insist on a certain
amount of respect from subordinates. The admirals require it from the
captains, the captains from the commanders, the commanders from the
lieutenants, and so on down through the various ranks of commissioned
officers. Even a passed midshipman,” and he smiled a bit grimly, “has
the pattern always before him, and he is taught to exact his due from
all the noncoms. But, as I say, I didn’t understand how matters were
when I boarded the _Grampus_. I--I am sorry I took the stand I did.”

Just how much it cost Glennie to make that apology probably none of the
boys, not even Bob, could realize. But he made it right manfully, and
Bob stepped toward him and put out his hand.

“Say no more, old fellow,” he cried heartily. “We all of us get out
of our course a little, now and then. Before we get through with this
cruise we all are going to understand each other a whole lot better.
Carl and----”

Bob turned with the intention of making his Dutch chum take the hand he
released, but Carl had faded mysteriously out of the periscope room.
Whether he expected what was coming, or not, and dodged away to avoid
meeting the issue, Bob could only guess.

“Dick,” and Bob turned to his sailor chum, “I want you----”

“Here we are,” cried Dick, “just taking the entrance to South Channel.
And it’s the right channel, too, because we slammed right past that
other one where we go in and come out the same place.”

Glennie could not fail to note how both Carl and Dick had avoided
Bob’s attempt to put him on more friendly footing with them. There
was a noticeable constraint in his manner, but he did not allow it to
interfere with his stating the desire he had in his head.

“When I came aboard,” he went on, “I believed I was merely the
representative of the United States government, that I was to look on,
keep hands off, and write up my own log. But I can see very plainly
where I can be of service to you, Bob; and I can also see where, by
helping you, I can get a much better insight into the capabilities of
the _Grampus_. I should like to have you let me do my part in running
the boat. If you want me for quartermaster, I can spell you, or Mr.
Ferral; with a little instruction, I could also run the motor, or
do the work in the tank room. If it would be any help, I might even
learn to cook the meals. All I want is to be useful--and to learn the
_Grampus_ from top to bottom, inside and out, as well as you know her.”

Dick gave another grunt; but this time it was more subdued. The idea
of any one learning the _Grampus_ as well as Bob knew her! In order to
do that, a fellow would have to be born with a working knowledge of
explosive engines in his head--just as Bob had been.

“Thank you for that, Glennie!” said Bob. “You can get busy right now,
if you want to.”

“Just tell me what I’m to do,” Glennie answered.

“Go up on deck and keep a sharp lookout while we’re passing through the
channel. We must be vigilant, even when we can see no reason for it.
Wily enemies are after us, and eternal watchfulness is the price of
success, fully as much as it is of liberty.”

“Aye, aye, sir!” said Glennie, and started forthwith up the ladder.

“He’s too top-heavy, Bob,” growled Dick, pulling his head away from the
periscope.

“He’s a good fellow at heart, Dick,” averred Bob. “We’re all going to
like him a whole lot when we know him better.”

Dick sniffed and jerked his chin over his left shoulder.

“If he takes hold on this boat he’ll make a mess of everything. I don’t
like the cut of his jib, nor the way he talks, now that he sees his
first bluff didn’t go. If----”

There was a muffled shout and a bounding of feet on the deck. A wide
grin parted Dick’s face.

“There he goes--in hot water already.”

Dick ducked back into the periscope hood. But the periscope did not
show the deck of the _Grampus_, nor the waters immediately adjacent,
being constructed for reflecting objects at longer range.

Bob hurried up into the tower. The moment he was able to look over the
hatch he was thrilled by what he saw.

A dugout canoe was alongside the steel hull--and it had evidently
brought three natives from the neighboring shore. They were exactly the
same kind of savages Bob had encountered on the island--perhaps, even,
they had formed part of the same crowd.

One of the savages had gained the deck forward. Glennie had caught
his spear, and the two were struggling for possession of the weapon.
A second native was climbing up the rounded deck with the apparent
intention of attacking Glennie in the rear. The third of the trio kept
to the canoe, paddling, and keeping it alongside.

So intent were all three of the Indians on the struggle which Glennie
was carrying on that they did not notice Bob. Swiftly the young
motorist got out of the conning tower.

“Look out behind you, Glennie!” shouted Bob Steele as he hurried
forward.



CHAPTER XLV.

A PRISONER--AND A SURPRISE.


Bob’s shout acquainted the savages with the fact that there were two
whites to be dealt with instead of one. The scoundrel in the canoe
dropped his paddle and picked up a spear. The dugout dropped a little
behind, but the savage brought the ungainly craft nearly to the conning
tower with two sweeps of the paddle. The next moment he let his spear
fly, and there came a bloodcurdling whoop from the tower hatch.

Carl, as usual, happened to be in the way of trouble. He had flung
through the periscope room and chased after Bob up the ladder. Bob
avoided the spear by dropping to his knees. It passed over his head,
snapped Carl’s cap off his shock of tow-colored hair, and carried it on
for a dozen feet, dropping out of sight with it beneath the water.

“Vat a vay iss dot!” bellowed Carl. “Tick, handt me oop a gun, or a
gannon, or somet’ing. Bob, look oudt a leedle!”

Carl forgot the loss of his cap, forgot even that he had asked Dick for
a weapon, and scrambled to get out of the tower and go to his chum’s
aid.

The savage who had been climbing up the rounded deck had made a spring
for Glennie’s back. Bob Steele leaped about the same time, grabbing the
native before he could do the ensign any harm.

Bob, and the man he was holding, fell to the deck, rolled over the
rounded plates, and splashed into the water.

“A rope!” howled Carl, jumping up and down on the deck to attract
Dick’s attention; “a rope! Bob is in der vater mit a Inchun, und he
vill be trowned!”

Dick came hurrying up the ladder with a coil of line.

“Here!” he cried, tossing the coil to Carl. “Get busy, mate. I’ll lay
the _Grampus_ closer, and mind Bob gets hold of the rope.”

Bob and the native were still struggling. The fact that they were in
fifteen or twenty fathoms of water did not seem to impress either of
them with the necessity of swimming to keep afloat.

When they first tumbled into the water, there was a great splash, and
they disappeared; when they came up, they were puffing like porpoises,
but Bob had his hands around his antagonist’s throat, and the savage
was hanging to Bob’s hair.

“Help Glennie!” sputtered Bob, who, by then, was some distance astern.
“Capture that man!”

“Glennie be hanged!” growled Dick. “We’ll save our chum, no matter what
happens to the ensign.”

Carl, standing ready to heave the rope, was mixed up in the ensign’s
battle by an unexpected trend of it which nearly knocked him overboard.
The two, still twisting and striving for possession of the spear,
struggled toward the conning tower and collided with the Dutch boy.
The matter of self-defense suddenly presented itself to Carl, and he
dropped the rope and went for the savage like a tiger.

It was not the spear Carl wanted, but the savage himself. The ensign
was eliminated, and Carl and the native went down on the deck, rolling
and pummeling.

“Jujutsu!” exclaimed the ensign, astounded at the science the untutored
savage was showing. “Look! He’s using jujutsu and trying to break
Pretzel’s arm!”

“Save the arm, then!” snorted Dick. “Run that spear through the swab.”

Glennie did not impale the savage on the point of the spear, but he
used the handle, and gave the arm that was bending Carl’s a stout
thump. A gasp escaped the savage’s lips, and his arm dropped away as
though paralyzed. Carl rolled over on top and got his fingers about his
antagonist’s throat.

“Gif me der rope!” he cried. “Misder Glennie, schust put a leedle piece
oof der rope aboudt der feller’s handts!”

Dick Ferral was not paying much attention to the fight Carl and Glennie
were having. They were two to one, and there could not be much doubt as
to the result of the contest. Dick’s worry was reserved for Bob, for it
seemed as though the savage in the water was bending every effort to
drag Bob under and drown both of them.

The other savage in the dugout was paddling like mad in an effort to
get alongside the combatants. It had taken some time and space for the
submarine to turn about on her course, and Dick was now driving her
straight for the two in the water.

So far as Dick could see, both Bob and the savage were almost at the
last gasp. How they ever kept afloat at all was a mystery.

As the boat shot in between the dugout and the pair in the water, the
third savage could have thrown his spear to good effect--if he had had
it. But he did not have it, and all he could do was to paddle off and
furtively await the issue.

The submarine glided alongside Bob and the Indian, and Dick immediately
made a discovery that took his breath.

The savage was yellow in spots--half yellow and half mahogany color.

“Here, Bob!” cried the voice of Glennie as he knelt on the deck while
the submarine slowed in answer to Dick’s signal. “Drop that fellow and
catch this rope!”

“I can’t drop him!” gurgled Bob.

Glennie reached over with the spear and tapped the savage on the head.
Instantly the fellow, with a fierce snarl, let go of Bob and vanished
under the hull of the _Grampus_.

Bob, thus left with his hands free, caught the rope and was dragged
aboard. Glennie snaked him to the top of the deck, and, for a space,
the young motorist lay there.

“Did you capture the other fellow?” asked Bob, as soon as he had rested
a minute.

“He’s tied to the other end of the rope that I used for pulling you
in,” replied Glennie.

“Good enough! Did you notice how that rascal I was fighting with
changed color in the water?”

“You bet!” cried Dick. “I saw that! Was it war paint he had on?”

“No war paint about it, Dick,” declared Bob. “There was a yellow skin
under that brown paint.”

“And dis feller is der same vay!” called Carl. “Look ad here, vonce!”

All eyes turned in the direction of the Dutch boy. He was sitting on
his enemy’s chest, holding him down, and there were dabs of brown
pigment all over Carl’s face. His hands were fairly coated with it.

“These savages have a yellow skin, Bob,” said Glennie, “and it must be
that they paint themselves a brown color when they go on the warpath.”

“If what I have read is true,” returned Bob, “there are no savage
tribes at the mouth of the Amazon. All the Indians in these parts are
at least half civilized.”

“Then where did these rascals come from, and why have they attacked us
in this venomous manner?”

“They came from that island where we cleared the propeller,” said Bob.

“These are members of that gang?”

“Don’t you recognize them, Glennie?”

“They all look alike to me. Of course, I suspected they were from the
same tribe, but I didn’t know they were the same men. There were five
of them on the island.”

“You wounded one of the others. Probably one of the fellows stayed
behind to look after the wounded man’s injury.”

“But how could they get here in that dugout, and lay us aboard, as they
did? We’re a good way from that island.”

“No doubt, Dick,” said Bob, “they surmised that we would take the South
Channel on our way to Para. While we were meandering around in that
blind passage they were paddling for this place, and getting ready to
attack us.”

“I like their nerve!” muttered Dick; “three of ’em tryin’ to capture
the _Grampus!_”

“You don’t think they live on that island, do you?” asked Glennie.

“They live on an island, all right,” returned Bob, “but it’s a good
many thousand miles from here.”

Carl took a furtive look at Bob Steele. “You vas joshing!” he exclaimed.

“If you fellows had your eyes,” replied Bob, “there wouldn’t be any
joshing.”

“Some of that dope is still fogging your brain, I guess,” observed
Dick. “But what’s the use of talking? You’ve got your prisoner, Mr.
Glennie. Better bring him downstairs. First thing you know he’ll be in
the water, and take Carl along with him.”

“Nod me!” piped Carl. “Dere is a rope aroundt his handts, und I’m
holting him on der top of der deck. But I guess ve might schust as vell
dake him by der periscope room.”

“Look at him first,” suggested Bob. “Glennie, you give him a close
observation. I’m surprised at you fellows.”

Glennie, Dick, and Carl were at a loss to know what Bob was driving at.
Walking over to the prisoner, the ensign bent down and stared at him.

“What!” he gasped, straightening up and peering excitedly at Bob.
“Tolo!”

“Now you’ve struck it,” laughed Bob. “Those supposed savages were
merely a detachment of our old friends, the Japs. I discovered that as
I dropped into the water. That’s why I called out as I did. Here’s our
resourceful acquaintance, Tolo. First he’s a Jap, next he’s a Chinaman,
and now he’s a native of the Amazon. There’s no telling what he’ll be
next time if we allow him to get away from us. Take him below, and
let’s have a talk with him.”

Glennie and Carl, between them, succeeded in getting Tolo down the
tower hatch. Before Bob went below he took a look behind. The dugout
was far in the distance, with two men at the paddles.

From this evidence it was plain that Bob’s antagonist had gained the
canoe and was now, with his companion, paddling swiftly away to rejoin
the rest of their friends.



CHAPTER XLVI.

THE OLD SLOUCH HAT.


“I’m a dunderhead, all right,” Glennie cheerfully admitted, when they
were all in the periscope room with the prisoner, lashed hand and foot,
lying before them. “I saw this rascal try a jujutsu trick on Carl, in
an attempt to break his arm, and yet I never suspected that he was a
Japanese, let alone Tolo!”

“It’s plain enough now, isn’t it, Glennie?” queried Bob. “These yellow
men are always hard to identify, but this fellow is certainly Ah Sin,
otherwise Tolo. Notice how closely his hair is clipped. He had to have
a close haircut when he got into his Chinese disguise. All the rest of
those make-believe savages had long hair.”

“I wonder where the rascals came from? Their steamer wasn’t anywhere in
sight.”

“It’s tucked away among the islands. This, you know, is a peaceable
country, and the Japs would have to be wary in carrying out their
designs upon the _Grampus_. I’ll bet those fellows know all about our
route, and what ports we expect to call at. It was easy for them to get
into the mouth of the Amazon ahead of us, and then wait for us to come
along.”

A sudden idea occurred to Glennie, and he went down on his knees and
began searching the Jap. Inasmuch as the only garment the Jap wore was
a short kirtle, the search did not consume much time. Glennie got up
disappointedly.

“The packet isn’t there, eh?” asked Bob.

“No.”

“He was probably wise enough to leave it on the steamer.”

“Where it has already been opened, no doubt, by the leader of these
Sons of the Rising Sun. I’m in as deep as ever, and the capture of Tolo
hasn’t helped me.”

The dejection in Glennie’s voice was too pronounced to be passed over.

“Don’t take it so hard,” urged Bob. “Go to Mr. Brigham, in Para, and
tell him the whole story. Perhaps a way can be found to make Tolo talk.”

“We’ll try him now,” said Glennie, a flash of forlorn hope crossing
his face. “Why do you want to treat me like this, Tolo?” he queried,
addressing the prisoner.

“What I do I do for Nippon,” was the slow answer.

“You stole my dispatches, there in La Guayra,” went on Glennie, still
addressing himself to the prisoner. “What sort of way was that to treat
me?”

“For Nippon,” muttered Tolo; “all is for Nippon, all is for my beloved
country.”

“What did you do with those dispatches?” demanded Glennie.

“I will say nothing,” answered Tolo, with careful emphasis.

“Your country will be held to account for this,” proceeded Glennie
severely.

“My country has nothing to do with it. I am a Son of the Rising Sun,
and I should like to die for my country. If my hands were free, and I
had a sword, then--hari-kiri! It is a glory to kill oneself for one’s
country.”

“Guff!” growled Dick. “Hear him talk--and all for effect.”

“You’re wrong, Dick,” said Bob. “The poor fellow means every word he
says.”

“And he say dot it vas good to die for vone’s country!” murmured Carl.
“I don’d agree mit dot. I vould radder lif for my gountry. A deadt hero
don’t amoundt to nodding, but a live feller is aple to do t’ings vat
count. Yah, id is pedder to lif for vone’s gountry as to die for id.”

“There’s a whole lot of sense in that, Mr. Pretzel,” said Glennie.

“T’ank you!” returned Carl, with mock politeness. “I know dot before
you shpeak id oudt, Misder Glennie.”

The ensign looked at Carl in a disappointed way, for it must have been
plain to him that he was not breaking the ice any, so far as Carl and
Dick were concerned.

“You pretended to be Ah Sin just so you could get aboard this boat, and
destroy it, didn’t you?” Glennie pursued, again focusing his attention
on the prisoner.

“I am saying nothing,” was the reply in calm, even tones.

“Why did you and your companions make an attack on this boat?” put in
Bob curiously.

There was no response.

“You three didn’t think you could take her away from the lot of us, did
you?”

Still no answer, merely a cool, passive glance.

“You can’t rattle him,” put in Dick, “nor get him to say anything
that’s incriminating. He’s Tolo, hard and fast, and it’s not so queer
why he and his two comrades hove alongside of us. They were engaged
in some quiet work, and when Mr. Glennie went on deck, according to
your orders, he interrupted them and sprung a fight where no fight was
intended.”

“Now, Dick,” said Bob whimsically, “_you’re_ the deep one. Just what do
you mean by that?”

“Suppose there was a bomb in that dugout,” continued Dick; “and suppose
those fellows fastened it to the side of the _Grampus_, fired the
fuse, and then paddled silently away. What would have happened? Will
dynamite cause damage sideways as well as up and down?”

Bob gave a startled jump--a jump that caused his wet clothes to rustle,
and the water to slosh around in his shoes.

“Great guns!” he exclaimed. “You’ve got your finger on the right
button, Dick! That was a point that bothered me tremendously--why
three men should try such a foolhardy thing as making an attack on a
submarine with a full complement below decks. Now I understand, and the
whole situation clears. Tolo and his companions stole up alongside of
us to put a bomb somewhere about the hull of the _Grampus_. By luck,
Glennie went on deck in time to frustrate the design. By Jove, but it
was another narrow escape!”

“Once in a while,” Dick replied, with a grin, “I blunder on something
that’s worth telling.”

“I should say so!”

“Excellent reasoning, Mr. Ferral!” approved Glennie.

The grin left Dick’s face on the instant, and a frown took its place.
He turned to the periscope abruptly.

Bob was surprised at the depth of feeling which this action on the part
of his chum made manifest. Glennie settled back grimly on the locker.
Carl began to hum a Dutch song under his breath--and for that Dick and
Bob were thankful. If he had sung the song aloud they would have had
to throw something at him. A certain Captain Pierce, in Belize, had
set the fashion, and now whenever Carl burst into song he had to dodge
everything that was handy.

In the embarrassing silence that followed Dick’s action, Bob began to
take off his shoes and socks.

“I’ve got to get into something dry,” he remarked. “You fellows better
make sure Tolo is well lashed, and then take him into Mr. Glennie’s
room. That, Glennie,” he added, removing his water-logged coat, “used
to be our prison chamber.”

“A good place for me, then,” observed Glennie, with a side glance at
Dick and Carl.

“You might get off the locker a minute,” went on Bob. “I’ve an outfit
of clothes somewhere in that long box you’re sitting on.”

“Pardon me!”

Glennie got up and helped Carl examine the prisoner’s bonds. While they
were busy with that, Bob began rummaging for his dry clothes. About the
first thing he laid hands on was the old slouch hat with its attached
queue.

“Wow!” cried Bob. “What did you put this in here for, Carl? It looked
like a snake.”

With that Bob jerked the hat and queue out of the locker and hurled
them across the room.

As he was about to return to the locker again and go on with his
rummaging, Bob caught a gleam in the prisoner’s eyes that caused him to
straighten up and watch Tolo more carefully.

Tolo’s gaze was on the hat. For once he was betrayed out of his grim
passiveness, and there flamed in his eyes something unusual--and
significant to Bob, who studied Tolo’s face keenly. The Jap’s eyes
continued to rest on the hat until he saw that Bob was watching him;
then the eyes turned away absently and lost their telltale gleam.

“Vat’s der madder mit der feller?” muttered Carl. “He seemed to vake
oop, for a minid, und now he is like he alvays is. Vat ails him?”

“Queer he took on that sort of look, all of a sudden,” mused Glennie.

“Probably he t’ought of somet’ing mit a bomb in id,” suggested Carl. “I
move ve tie somet’ing heafy aboudt his neck und make him shvim agross
der Amazon. Hey?”

No one seconded Carl’s suggestion. Bob rose, walked over to the hat and
queue, and picked them up. Tolo paid no attention, or did not seem to.

With the old slouch hat in his hand Bob sat down on a stool and began
feeling of the crown with his fingers.

“Vat’s dot for?” chirped Carl.

“I tell you,” said Dick, “our chum has still got a twisted brain.
Tolo’s coffee is continuing to have its effect.”

Bob laughed, suddenly turned the old hat over, tore out the lining, and
pulled forth a crumpled envelope, closed with a red seal.

Glennie gave a yell. “My dispatches!” And, with that, he staggered
across the small room, grabbed the envelope, and waved it above his
head. “My dispatches!” he repeated, his voice husky.

“I thought so,” said Bob. “They have been in that old slouch hat, in
the locker, ever since we made that dive to get away from the Japs.”

“And I pud dem dere,” remarked Carl pompously. “How mooch is id vort’?”



CHAPTER XLVII.

AT PARA.


Ensign Glennie was a happy man. In that blissful moment, when he was
hugging his dispatches, he wanted to be friends with everybody, and
would have shaken hands as rapturously with Dick and Carl as he did
with Bob.

“Before you do too much rejoicing, Glennie,” said Bob, “you’d better
first examine the envelope, and see if it has been tampered with.”

An examination showed the seal to be intact.

“I don’t believe Tolo had any right to tamper with it,” said Glennie.
“What I mean is, that those other Sons of the Rising Sun who are
leading the expedition against the _Grampus_, would probably demand
that they be allowed to open the dispatches with their own hands. Tolo
didn’t have time to see the others of the Young Samurai between the
time he left La Guayra and the time he presented himself to me, in the
rôle of Ah Sin, on board the _Grampus_.”

“Ah Sin!” commented Carl. “I nefer t’ought vat a goot name dot vas for
der feller. Ven he dook dot name he dook der vone vat fitted.”

“We can begin to understand, too,” Dick observed, “why he never took
off that old hat. He kept it on so the letter wouldn’t get away from
him.”

“And so that we wouldn’t see him without the queue,” added Bob. “If he
had removed the hat, Dick, he would have been recognized.”

“By Jove, fellows!” said Glennie, “I’d like to do something to
celebrate.”

“Ain’t you fellows getting hungry?” called Speake through the
torpedo-room tube. “I’ll jump in and scrape together a meal, if you say
so. I reckon we can all get a square feed in Para, in the mornin’.”

“Get us something, Speake,” answered Bob. “That’s the way we’ll
celebrate, Glennie.”

“It’s the biggest streak of luck I ever had in my life!” declared
Glennie. “And you brought it to me, Bob!”

“Dot’s vat I say,” cried Carl. “Anypody vat travels mit Bob Steele is
bound to haf some of der luck vat comes py him. I know, because I have
hat it meinseluf. Ain’d dot so, Dick?”

“Luck hands around her favors to everybody who ships with Bob,” agreed
Dick. “It doesn’t make any difference whether they’re entitled to the
favors or not, they get ’em.”

This last remark may have been a bit of a slap at Glennie, but the
ensign was too happy to notice it.

“What gave you the notion of looking into that hat, Bob?” inquired
Glennie. “I’d have thrown it overboard to get it out of the way.”

“Why, Glennie,” answered Bob, “you and Carl both saw what I did, and
spoke about it.”

Carl and the ensign exchanged astonished glances.

“Didn’t the prisoner seem to make up and brighten perceptibly a little
while ago?”

“Yah, I rememper dot.”

“So do I.”

“Well, he did it when I threw the hat out of the locker. His eyes
followed it as it flew across the room, and they rested on it as it
lay on the floor. I read a good deal of concern in that glance--more
concern, in fact, than the old headgear and the attached queue called
for. There could be but one thing to make Tolo act like that, and I
figured that he had put the envelope in there. It’s not a new place for
hiding things, boys. Lots of people, out in the Western part of the
United States, stow valuable things away in their sombreros.”

“Nod me any more,” wailed Carl. “Subbose I hat peen foolish enough to
pud my money in dot cap of mine? Den vat? Id vould now be in der bottom
of der ocean. Talk aboudt your glose shafes! Vy, dot Chap feller vat
looked like a safage, sent dot shpear so near my headt dot he took
a lock of hair along mit der cap. I don’d like dot! Shpears is pad
bizness. Vy did der Chaps use shpears, ven refolfers is handtier?”

“They were playing a part, Carl,” said Bob, “and whenever a Jap plays a
part he does it well. If Tolo and those with him had had firearms, they
would have been playing out of their character.”

“Dey don’d got mooch character to be oudt of, anyvay. Dey had bombs,
und safages don’t haf dose.”

“The bombs weren’t in sight.”

A few minutes later Speake came up with the supper. After the meal was
out of the way, Speake took Dick’s place at the wheel in order to give
him a chance to rest, and later assume Gaines’ place at the motor. Carl
went down to give Clackett a rest, and Bob stretched out on the locker.

It was midnight when the _Grampus_ rounded Cape Magoari and turned into
the Para arm of the Amazon. The port of Para was seventy-five miles up
the river, and Bob decided to submerge the _Grampus_, pass the rest
of the night on the river bottom, and then ascend to the town with
daylight to help.

This arrangement enabled all hands to sleep, and morning found the
submarine’s complement fresh and ready for whatever fate held in store.

The ascent of the river was made on the surface of the stream, with
all who could be spared on deck, searching the shipping with careful
eyes. Bob and his friends were looking for the mysterious steamer that
carried the fighting contingent of the Sons of the Rising Sun, and were
vastly relieved when they failed to sight the vessel.

It was nearly noon when the red roofs of Para came into view. The
river, opposite the town, was about twenty miles wide, but so cut up
with islands that the steamer with the black funnel and the red band
might have lain among them and so escaped observation. However, Bob and
his companions chose to think that the Young Samurai were too discreet
to make them any trouble in a peaceable port.

The _Grampus_ was moored alongside a wharf, and a gayly uniformed
harbor official came aboard to learn the submarine’s business, and to
find whether there was any need of a customs inspector. The sight of
Glennie, and his declaration that the boat had merely put in at the
port to give some of her crew a chance to pay their respects to Mr.
Brigham, the United States consul, was enough.

Bob, although he fancied the boat secure, did not intend taking any
chances. Dick, Carl, and Speake were to be left aboard as an anchor
watch, while Bob and Glennie called on the consul, and Gaines and
Clackett whiled away a few hours in the river metropolis. The prisoner
was to be left in the steel room until the consul should advise what
had better be done with him.

Consul Brigham, Bob and Glennie quickly learned, lived on the finest
avenue in Para--the Estrada de Sao José. Through this thoroughfare,
bordered with a colonnade of royal palms, Bob and Glennie were driven
on their way to the consulate.

In the office of the consulate was a gentleman in shirt sleeves and
white duck trousers. His feet were elevated on the top of a table, and
he was trying to keep himself cool with an immense palm-leaf fan.

The sight of a United States naval uniform brought the consul to his
feet immediately.

“Mr. Brigham?” asked Glennie.

“What’s left of him, my dear sir,” was the answer. “I’ve melted
considerably during this spell of hot weather. You’d naturally think
the trade winds, which blow continually in this section, would temper
the air. But trade winds, my dear sir, are not what they’re cracked up
to be.”

Glennie introduced himself, and then presented Bob. Mr. Brigham smiled
expansively, and drew a bandanna handkerchief over his perspiring brow.

“I’ve been expecting the pair of you,” he announced, shaking each by
the hand.

“Expecting us?” queried Glennie, astonished.

“Sure. Read that.”

The consul tucked a cablegram into Glennie’s fingers. It had come from
Belize, and was signed by the captain of the _Seminole_. Glennie read
it aloud:

  “Bob Steele and Ensign John Henry Glennie, U. S. N., will reach
  Para in submarine _Grampus_. Glennie carries dispatches for you.
  Read them, and see that both Steele and Glennie understand them
  thoroughly.”

“Nice, long message, eh?” queried Brigham, slapping Glennie on the
back. “Plenty of useless words, but what does the captain of the
_Seminole_ care? Uncle Sam stands the cable toll, and, besides, on
grave matters it is well to be explicit. Hang a few extra dollars,
anyway. Where’s the dispatches?”

Glennie imagined how he would have felt if he had been obliged to
report, in view of that cablegram, that his dispatches had been lost
and not recovered.

“I want to tell you something about those dispatches before you read
them, Mr. Brigham,” said the ensign.

“Well, sit down, my lads. What’s the good word, ensign?”

Thereupon Glennie told the whole story connected with the loss of the
dispatches and their final recovery. Everything went in, and a half
hour was consumed in the telling. More than once Brigham whistled and
puckered his brows ominously. But he was absorbed in the narrative.
When it was done, he reached his hand toward Bob.

“Pardon me, youngster,” said he, “but I never miss a chance to shake
hands with a live one. Possibly it’s because I’ve lived so long in this
dead place, where you can’t turn around without having some sluggard
tell you ‘mañana.’ You’re the clear quill, and I’ll gamble you’ll get
along. If I was younger, blamed if I wouldn’t like to trot a heat with
you myself.”

Bob, flushing under the compliment given him by the consul, allowed his
hand to be wrung cordially.

“Now,” said Brigham, “look out of the windows at the beautiful palms
while I go through these papers.”

The consul was all of half an hour getting the gist of his dispatches.

“I’m ready for you two lads,” he presently called.

Bob and Glennie returned to the chairs they had previously occupied.
They were surprised at the change that had come over Mr. Brigham’s
face. On their arrival, it had been bright and smiling, while now it
was dark and foreboding.

“I guess you lads know how it feels to be in the jaws of death, and
just slip out before they close,” said he, “but you don’t know the
whole of it, not by a jugful. Of all the high-handed proceedings I ever
heard of, this certainly grabs the banner. Now, listen.”



CHAPTER XLVIII.

A DESPERATE RISK.


“Did you know, Bob Steele,” asked the consul, by way of preface, “that
Captain Nemo, junior, right there in Belize, had been approached by an
agent of the Japanese government and offered two hundred thousand for
something he’s selling to our government for just half that?”

“No, sir,” answered Bob. “But I know the captain well enough to feel
sure that he wouldn’t sell the _Grampus_ to any other country but the
United States, not if he was offered a million. He has invented a
submarine that is better than any other craft of its kind that was ever
launched, and the captain is patriotic enough to want his own country
to reap the benefit.”

“Exactly. Captain Nemo, junior, is a man after my own heart, by gad!
Well, he refused the offer, and two days later he received a warning
signed simply, ‘The Sons of the Rising Sun,’ saying that if he did not
reconsider the _Grampus_ would be sunk in the bottom of the ocean. How
was that for audacity? But the captain thought it was all bluff--the
Japs have learned a lot from us, my lads, and bluff is not the least of
their acquirements.

“The captain said nothing to you, Bob Steele, about this warning
from the Sons of the Rising Sun. He treated it with silent contempt,
well knowing that you would do everything possible to safeguard the
submarine without any unnecessary talk from him.

“Now, from what you lads have told me, we must change our minds about
that warning being a bluff. If it was a bluff, then the Japs are
trying to make good. But the Japanese government knows nothing about
this. If the high boys among the Japs in Tokio knew, they would be the
first ones to send a warship after these precious Sons of the Rising
Sun. The Young Samurai are going it on their own hook; they’re going to
help their beloved country whether the country wants them to or not.

“The _Grampus_ is a good thing. The Japs are able to tell a good thing
when they see it, and that’s what makes the Sons of the Rising Sun so
hungry either to buy the submarine or send her to the bottom in such
a way that she can’t come up. They’re a lot of hotheads, that’s what
they are, and they don’t care a picayune what happens to them just so
they can get in some wild stroke that, in their overheated estimation,
may benefit Nippon.

“I don’t know as we can blame them. It hasn’t been so mighty long since
they broke through their chrysalis of heathendom, and they are drunk
with their success in their late unpleasantness with Russia--Russia, a
country that has been our firm friend ever since the Pilgrims landed on
Plymouth Rock.

“Well, you have faced desperate risks, and you may be compelled to
face more. I wish I could assure you that there were no more troubles
in sight, but the Japs are a persistent race, and whenever young
firebrands like these Sons of the Rising Sun get started at anything
they never know when to let go. But,” and here the consul brought his
fist emphatically down on the table, “I don’t think you can possibly
meet any greater dangers than you have already met and successfully
passed through. Bearing that in mind, I’d be willing to bet every
dollar I’ve got that Bob Steele will make good, and deliver this old
catamaran at Mare Island, right side up with care, and everybody
smiling--except, of course, the Sons of the Rising Sun. I’ll back Young
America against Young Japan any day. Catch my drift? That’s about all.
Come in and eat with me--we have to eat, you know, no matter how hot it
is. After dinner we’ll look after Mr. Tolo, and I’ll give Bob a letter
to an agent who will supply him with gasoline, or any other old thing
that happens to be necessary in order to make a submarine go. There
won’t be any water in the gasoline, either. Come on, now, and let’s try
and be cheerful. Heaven knows you boys have got enough ahead of you to
make your hair stand on end like quills on the fretful porcupine, but
what we’re not sure of hadn’t ought to trouble us.”

Bob and Glennie had a good dinner, and after it was over the consul
went with them to the _Grampus_ and gave the craft a sizing. He was
charmed with the boat, and all the useful odds and ends of machinery
with which she was packed.

Following that, he went to the prison chamber and surveyed Tolo as he
lay bound and helpless on the floor.

“You’re a nice young patriot, I must say!” exclaimed the consul, as he
looked down on the quiet, uncomplaining Japanese, “but you met more
than your match when you went up against Bob Steele. Where are the rest
of your rascally outfit?”

“I speak nothing, honorable sir,” replied Tolo, “not because of any
disrespect for you, but out of regard for my dear Nippon.”

The consul stared, and then he groaned.

“High-handed outrage stalks the seas,” he muttered, “and this poor
fool calls it love of country! Well, well! I wonder what Commodore
Perry would say if he could hear that? The Japs are our great and good
friends, all right, but we don’t count for much when there’s a little
thing like a patent boat on the program. I’ll take care of you, my
lad,” he added to Tolo. “You’ll stay in Para until the first United
States warship comes along, and then you’ll travel to the States and
give an account of yourself.”

A few minutes later the consul left the boat, and, an hour after he was
gone, police officers arrived and carried the misguided Tolo to the
municipal bastile.

That was the last Bob and his friends ever saw of him.

Bob and Glennie refused a pressing invitation to stay all night at the
consul’s palatial home. They explained to him that, in view of the
vague dangers threatening them and the _Grampus_, they felt as though
they ought to stay with the boat.

Mr. Brigham commended their zeal, repeated his encouraging auguries for
their ultimate success, and warned them again of dangers ahead.

“Desperate risks are what you’re to take,” said he. “It may be that
you have clipped the claws of the dragon, and that nothing more will
be heard of the Sons of the Rising Sun. That’s the bright side of the
picture, but please don’t look at it. In a case of this kind it is
better to expect the worst; then, if better things come to you, they
will be in the nature of a happy surprise.”

On the second day of their stay in Para, Dick went ashore and got their
supplies. It had been on the schedule that the _Grampus_ was to put in
at Rio, but Mr. Brigham advised the boys to give that port a wide berth.

“Your itinerary,” he explained, “is probably known to these hotheaded
Japs. The way to fool them is by dodging the itinerary and putting in
at the places where you are not expected.”

“We’ll have to stop somewhere before we round the Horn,” said Bob; “and
I believe we’ll call at----”

“Don’t tell me!” protested the consul. “Don’t tell any one in Para,
or even talk it over among yourselves until you are well away at sea.
Then, when you speak the name of your next port of call, go down to the
ocean bed and whisper it. Do you think I’m piling it on? Well, perhaps
so, but I am only trying to let you understand how necessary it is to
keep your own counsel. I’m mightily interested in you, and in your
ultimate success, and what advice I give I give earnestly, and trust
you will take it so. You’ll get around the Horn, all right, and you’ll
get to Mare Island, and the _Grampus_ will become part and parcel of
our country’s navy, perhaps with Ensign Glennie in command. That’s a
cinch, my lads; but what you’re to go through before you reach Frisco
is a horse of another color. Don’t be overconfident. Remember what I
say, and keep your eyes on the dark side of the picture. Good-by, and
luck go with you.”

On the morning of the third day after their arrival at Para the
_Grampus_ slipped down the river toward the open sea. She carried
confident hearts and determined wills--and, in spite of the fact
that all had their eyes on the “dark side of the picture,” there was
plenty of hope and also of good cheer in the stout steel hull of the
submarine. For Bob Steele was in command. He had brought the _Grampus_
through many perils, and all had faith to believe that he could bring
her through many more.


THE END.



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Transcriber’s Note:

The Contents at the beginning of this ebook has been added by the
transcriber. Punctuation has been standardised; hyphenation retained
as in the original publication. Changes have been made as follows:

  Page 137
    the noise reached Bob ears _changed to_
    the noise reached Bob’s ears

  Page 154
    and render gallant sevice for _changed to_
    and render gallant service for

  Page 208
    number of almiralty charts _changed to_
    number of admiralty charts

  Page 258
    darted up the coning-tower ladder _changed to_
    darted up the conning-tower ladder

  Page 261
    narrowly escaped runing the _changed to_
    narrowly escaped running the

  Page 287
    they surmized that we would take _changed to_
    they surmised that we would take

  Page 300
    before you read them, Mr. Bingham _changed to_
    before you read them, Mr. Brigham





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