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Mr Berg Is Suspicious







From: Tom Swift And His Submarine Boat

Not for long did the young inventor endeavor to break his way out of
the water-ballast tank by striking the heavy sides of it. Tom realized
that this was worse than useless. He listened intently, but could hear
nothing. Even the retreating footsteps of Andy Foger were inaudible.

"This certainly is a pickle!" exclaimed Tom aloud. "I can't understand
how he ever got here. He must have traced us after we went to Shopton
in the airship the last time. Then he sneaked in here. Probably he saw
me enter, but how could he knew enough to work the worm gear and close
the door? Andy has had some experience with machinery, though, and one
of the vaults in the bank where his father is a director closed just
like this tank. That's very likely how he learned about it. But I've
got to do something else besides thinking of that sneak, Andy. I've got
to get out of here. Let's see if I can work the gear from inside."

Before he started, almost, Tom knew that it would be impossible. The
tank was made to close from the interior of the submarine, and the
heavy door, built to withstand the pressure of tons of water, could not
be forced except by the proper means.

"No use trying that," concluded the lad, after a tiring attempt to
force back the sliding door with his hands. "I've got to call for help."

He shouted until the vibrations in the confined space made his ears
ring, and the mere exertion of raising his voice to the highest pitch
made his heart beat quickly. Yet there came no response. He hardly
expected that there would be any, for with his father and Mr. Sharp
away, the engineer absent on an errand, and Mrs. Baggert in the house
some distance off, there was no one to hear his calls for help, even if
they had been capable of penetrating farther than the extent of the
shed, where the under-water craft had been constructed.

"I've got to wait until some of them come out here," thought Tom.
"They'll be sure to release me and make a search. Then it will be easy
enough to call to them and tell them where I am, once they are inside
the shed. But--" He paused, for a horrible fear came over him. "Suppose
they should come--too late?" The tank was airtight. There was enough
air in it to last for some time, but, sooner or later, it would no
longer support life. Already, Tom thought, it seemed oppressive, though
probably that was his imagination.

"I must get out!" he repeated frantically. "I'll die in here soon."

Again he tried to shove back the steel door. Then he repeated his cries
until he was weary. No one answered him. He fancied once he could hear
footsteps in the shed, and thought, perhaps, it was Andy, come back to
gloat over him. Then Tom knew the red-haired coward would not dare
venture back. We must do Andy the justice to say that he never realized
that he was endangering Tom's life. The bully had no idea the tank was
airtight when he closed it. He had seen Tom enter and a sudden whim
came to him to revenge himself.

But that did not help the young inventor any. There was no doubt about
it now--the air was becoming close. Tom had been imprisoned nearly two
hours, and as he was a healthy, strong lad, he required plenty of
oxygen. There was certainly less than there had been in the tank. His
head began to buzz, and there was a ringing in his ears.

Once more he fell upon his knees, and his fingers sought the small
projections of the gear on the inside of the door He could no more
budge the mechanism than a child could open a burglar-proof vault.

"It's no use," he moaned, and he sprawled at full length on the floor
of the tank, for there the air was purer. As he did so his fingers
touched something. He started as they closed around the handle of a big
monkey wrench. It was one he had brought into the place with him.
Imbued with new hope be struck a match and lighted his lantern, which
he had allowed to go out as it burned up too much of the oxygen. By the
gleam of it he looked to see if there were any bolts or nuts he could
loosen with the wrench, in order to slide the door back. It needed but
a glance to show him the futility of this.

"It's no go," he murmured, and he let the wrench fall to the floor.
There was a ringing, clanging sound, and as it smote his ears Tom
sprang up with an exclamation.

"That's the thing!" he cried. "I wonder I didn't think of it before. I
can signal for help by pounding on the sides of the tank with the
wrench. The blows will carry a good deal farther than my voice would."
Every one knows how far the noise of a boiler shop, with hammers
falling on steel plates, can be heard; much farther than can a human
voice.

Tom began a lusty tattoo on the metal sides of the tank. At first he
merely rattled out blow after blow, and then, as another thought came
to him, he adopted a certain plan. Some time previous, when he and Mr.
Sharp had planned their trip in the air, the two had adopted a code of
signals. As it was difficult in a high wind to shout from one end of
the airship to the other, the young inventor would sometimes pound on
the pipe which ran from the pilot house of the Red Cloud to the
engine-room. By a combination of numbers, simple messages could be
conveyed. The code included a call for help. Forty-seven was the
number, but there had never been any occasion to use it.

Tom remembered this now. At once he ceased his indiscriminate
hammering, and began to beat out regularly--one, two, three, four--then
a pause, and seven blows would be given. Over and over again he rang
out this number--forty seven--the call for help.

"If Mr. Sharp only comes back he will hear that, even in the house,"
thought poor Tom "Maybe Garret or Mrs. Baggert will hear it, too, but
they won't know what it means. They'll think I'm just working on the
submarine."

It seemed several hours to Tom that he pounded out that cry for aid,
but, as he afterward learned, it was only a little over an hour. Signal
after signal he sent vibrating from the steel sides of the tank. When
one arm tired he would use the other. He grew weary, his head was
aching, and there was a ringing in his ears; a ringing that seemed as
if ten thousand bells were jangling out their peals, and he could
barely distinguish his own pounding.

Signal after signal he sounded. It was becoming like a dream to him,
when suddenly, as he paused for a rest, he heard his name called
faintly, as if far away.

"Tom! Tom! Where are you?"

It was the voice of Mr. Sharp. Then followed the tones of the aged
inventor.

"My poor boy! Tom, are you still alive?"

"Yes, dad! In the starboard tank!" the lad gasped out, and then he lost
his senses. When he revived he was lying on a pile of bagging in the
submarine shop, and his father and the aeronaut were bending over him.

"Are you all right, Tom?" asked Mr. Swift.

"Yes--I--I guess so," was the hesitating answer. "Yes," the lad added,
as the fresh air cleared his head. "I'll be all right pretty soon. Have
you seen Andy Foger?"

"Did he shut you in there?" demanded Mr. Swift.

Tom nodded.

"I'll have him arrested!" declared Mr. Swift "I'll go to town as soon
as you're in good shape again and notify the police."

"No, don't," pleaded Tom. "I'll take care of Andy myself. I don't
really believe he knew how serious it was. I'll settle with him later,
though."

"Well, it came mighty near being serious," remarked Mr. Sharp grimly.
"Your father and I came back a little sooner than we expected, and as
soon as I got near the house I heard your signal. I knew what it was in
a moment. There were Mrs. Baggert and Garret talking away, and when I
asked them why they didn't answer your call they said they thought you
were merely tinkering with the machinery. But I knew better. It's the
first time we ever had a use for 'forty-seven,' Tom."

"And I hope it will be the last," replied the young inventor with a
faint smile. "But I'd like to know what Andy Foger is doing in this
neighborhood."

Tom was soon himself again and able to go to the house, where he found
Mrs. Baggert brewing a big basin of catnip tea, under the impression
that it would in some way be good for his. She could not forgive
herself for not having answered his signal, and as for Mr. Jackson, he
had started for a doctor as soon as he learned that Tom was shut up in
the tank. The services of the medical man were canceled by telephone,
as there was no need for him, and the engineer came back to the house.

Tom was fully himself the next day, and aided his father and Mr. Sharp
in putting the finishing touches to the Advance. It was found that some
alteration was required in the auxiliary propellers, and this, much to
the regret of the young inventor, would necessitate postponing the
trial a few days.

"But we'll have her in the water next Friday." promised Mr. Swift.

"Aren't you superstitious about Friday?" asked the balloonist.

"Not a bit of it," replied the aged inventor. "Tom," he added, "I wish
you would go in the house and get me the roll of blueprints you'll find
on my desk."

As the lad neared the cottage he saw, standing in front of the place, a
small automobile. A man had just descended from it, and it needed but a
glance to show that he was Mr. Addison Berg.

"Ah, good morning, Mr. Swift," greeted Mr. Berg. "I wish to see your
father, but as I don't wish to lay myself open to suspicions by
entering the shop, perhaps you will ask him to step here."

"Certainly," answered the lad, wondering why the agent had returned.
Getting the blueprints, and asking Mr. Berg to sit down on the porch,
Tom delivered the message.

"You come back with me, Tom," said his father. "I want you to be a
witness to what he says. I'm not going to get into trouble with these
people."

Mr. Berg came to the point at once.

"Mr. Swift," he said, "I wish you would reconsider your determination
not to enter the Government trials. I'd like to see you compete. So
would my firm."

"There is no use going over that again," replied the aged inventor. "I
have another object in view now than trying for the Government prize.
What it is I can't say, but it may develop in time--if we are
successful," and he looked at his son, smiling the while.

Mr. Berg tried to argue, but it was of no avail Then he changed his
manner, and said:

"Well, since you won't, you won't, I suppose. I'll go back and report
to my firm. Have you anything special to do this morning?" he went on
to Tom.

"Well, I can always find something to keep me busy," replied the lad,
"but as for anything special--"

"I thought perhaps you'd like to go for a trip in my auto," interrupted
Mr. Berg. "I had asked a young man who is stopping at the same hotel
where I am to accompany me, but he has unexpectedly left, and I don't
like to go alone. His name was--let me see. I have a wretched memory
for names, but it was something like Roger or Moger."

"Foger!" cried Tom. "Was it Andy Foger?"

"Yes, that was it. Why, do you know him?" asked Mr. Berg in some
surprise.


"I should say so," replied Tom. "He was the cause of what might have
resulted in something serious for me," and the lad explained about
being imprisoned in the tank.

"You don't tell me!" cried Mr. Berg. "I had no idea he was that kind of
a lad. You see, his father is one of the directors of the firm by whom
I am employed. Andy came from home to spend a few weeks at the seaside,
and stopped at the same hotel that I did. He went off yesterday
afternoon, and I haven't seen him since, though he promised to go for a
ride with me. He must have come over here and entered your shop
unobserved. I remember now he asked me where the submarine was being
built that was going to compete with our firm's, and I told him. I
didn't think he was that kind of a lad. Well, since he's probably gone
back home, perhaps you will come for a ride with me, Tom."

"I'm afraid I can't go, thank you," answered the lad. "We are very busy
getting our submarine in shape for a trial. But I can imagine why Andy
left so hurriedly. He probably learned that a doctor had been summoned
for me, though, as it happened, I didn't need one. But Andy probably
got frightened at what he had done, and left. I'll make him more sorry,
when I meet him."

"Don't blame you a bit," commented Mr. Berg. "Well, I must be getting
back."

He hastened out to his auto, while Tom and his father watched the agent.

"Tom, never trust that man," advised the aged inventor solemnly.

"Just what I was about to remark," said his son. "Well, let's get back
to work. Queer that he should come here again, and it's queer about
Andy Foger."

Father and son returned to the machine shop, while Mr. Berg puffed away
in his auto. A little later, Tom having occasion to go to a building
near the boundary line of the cottage property which his father had
hired for the season, saw, through the hedge that bordered it, an
automobile standing in the road. A second glance showed him that it was
Mr. Berg's machine. Something had gone wrong with it, and the agent had
alighted to make an adjustment.

The young inventor was close to the man, though the latter was unaware
of his presence.

"Hang it all!" Tom heard Mr. Berg exclaim to himself. "I wonder what
they can be up to? They won't enter the Government contests, and they
won't say why. I believe they're up to some game, and I've got to find
out what it is. I wonder if I couldn't use this Foger chap?"

"He seems to have it in for this Tom Swift," Mr. Berg went on, still
talking to himself, though not so low but that Tom could hear him. "I
think I'll try it. I'll get Andy Foger to sneak around and find out
what the game is. He'll do it, I know."

By this time the auto was in working order again, and the agent took
his seat and started off.

"So that's how matters lie, eh?" thought Tom. "Well, Mr. Berg, we'll be
doubly on the lookout for you after this. As for Andy Foger, I think
I'll make him wish he'd never locked me in that tank. So you expect to
find out our 'game,' eh, Mr. Berg? Well, when you do know it, I think
it will astonish you. I only hope you don't learn what it is until we
get at that sunken treasure, though."

But alas for Tom's hopes. Mr. Berg did learn of the object of the
treasure-seekers, and sought to defeat them, as we shall learn as our
story proceeds.





Next: Turning The Tables

Previous: Tom Is Imprisoned



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