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The Electric Gun

From: Tom Swift And His Submarine Boat

There was much excitement aboard the Advance. The submarine came to a
stop in the water, while the treasure-seekers waited anxiously for what
was to follow. Would they be rammed again? This time, stationary as
they were, and with the other boat coming swiftly on, a hole might be
stove through the Advance, in spite of her powerful sides.

They had not long to wait. Again there came a jar, and once more the
Swifts' boat careened. But the blow was a glancing one and,
fortunately, did little damage.

"They certainly must be trying to sink us," agreed Captain Weston.

"Come, Tom, we'll take a look from the stern and see what they're up

"And get the stern electric gun ready to fire," repeated Mr. Swift. "We
must protect ourselves. Mr. Sharp and I will go to the bow. There is no
telling what they may do. They're desperate, and may ram us from in

Tom and the captain hurried aft. Through the thick plate-glass windows
they could see the blunt nose of the Wonder not far away, the rival
submarine having come to a halt. There she lay, black and silent, like
some monster fish waiting to devour its victim.

"There doesn't appear to be much damage done back here," observed Tom.
"No leaks. Guess they didn't puncture us."

"Perhaps it was due to an accident that they rammed us," suggested the

"Well, they wouldn't have done it if they hadn't followed us so close,"
was the opinion of the young inventor. "They're taking too many
chances. We've got to stop 'em."

"What is this electric gun your father speaks of?"

"Why, it's a regular electric cannon. It fires a solid ball, weighing
about twenty-five pounds, but instead of powder, which would hardly do
under water, and instead of compressed air, which is used in the
torpedo tubes of the Government submarines, we use a current of
electricity. It forces the cannon ball out with great energy."

"I wonder what they will do next?" observed the captain, peering
through a bull'seye.

"We can soon tell," replied the youth. "We'll go ahead, and if they try
to follow I'm going to fire on them."

"Suppose you sink them?"

"I won't fire to do that; only to disable them. They brought it on
themselves. We can't risk having them damage us. Help me with the
cannon, will you please, captain?"

The electric cannon was a long, steel tube in the after part of the
submarine. It projected a slight distance from the sides of the ship,
and by an ingenious arrangement could be swung around in a ball and
socket joint, thus enabling it to shoot in almost any direction.

It was the work of but a few minutes to get it ready and, with the
muzzle pointing toward the Wonder, Tom adjusted the electric wires and
inserted the solid shot.

"Now we're prepared for them!" he cried. "I think a good plan will be
to start ahead, and if they try to follow to fire on them. They've
brought it on themselves."

"Correct," spoke Captain Weston.

Tom hurried forward to tell his father of this plan.

"We'll do it!" cried Mr. Swift. "Go ahead, Mr. Sharp, and we'll see if
those scoundrels will follow."

The young inventor returned on the run to the electric cannon. There
was a whir of machinery, and the Advance moved forward. She increased
her speed, and the two watchers in the stern looked anxiously out of
the windows to see what their rivals would do.

For a moment no movement was noticeable on the part of the Wonder.
Then, as those aboard her appeared to realize that the craft on which
they depended to pilot them to the sunken treasure was slipping away,
word was given to follow. The ship of Berg and his employers shot after
the Advance.

"Here they come!" cried Captain Weston. "They're going to ram us again!"

"Then I'm going to fire on them!" declared Tom savagely.

On came the Wonder, nearer and nearer. Her speed was rapidly
increasing. Suddenly she bumped the Advance, and then, as if it was an
unavoidable accident, the rear submarine sheered off to one side.

"They're certainly at it again!" cried Tom, and peering from the
bull's-eye he saw the Wonder shoot past the mouth of the electric
cannon. "Here it goes!" he added.

He shoved over the lever, making the proper connection. There was no
corresponding report, for the cannon was noiseless, but there was a
slight jar as the projectile left the muzzle. The Wonder could be seen
to heel over.

"You hit her! You hit her!" cried Captain Weston. "A good shot!"

"I was afraid she was past me when I pulled the lever," explained Tom.
"She went like a flash."

"No, you caught her on the rudder," declared the captain. "I think
you've put her out of business. Yes, they're rising to the surface."

The lad rapidly inserted another ball, and recharged the cannon. Then
he peered out into the water, illuminated by the light of day overhead,
as they were not far down. He could see the Wonder rising to the
surface. Clearly something had happened.

"Maybe they're going to drop down on us from above, and try to sink
us," suggested the youth, while he stood ready to fire again. "If they

His words were interrupted by a slight jar throughout the submarine.

"What was that?" cried the captain.

"Dad fired the bow gun at them, but I don't believe he hit them,"
answered the young inventor.

"I wonder what damage I did? Guess we'll go to the surface to find out."

Clearly the Wonder had given up the fight for the time being. In fact,
she had no weapon with which to respond to a fusillade from her rival.
Tom hastened forward and informed his father of what had happened.

"If her steering gear is out of order, we may have a chance to slip
away," said Mr. Swift "We'll go up and see what we can learn."

A few minutes later Tom, his father and Captain Weston stepped from the
conning tower, which was out of water, on to the little flat deck a
short distance away lay the Wonder, and on her deck was Berg and a
number of men, evidently members of the crew.

"Why did you fire on us?" shouted the agent angrily.

"Why did you follow us?" retorted Torn.

"Well, you've broken our rudder and disabled us," went on Berg, not
answering the question. "You'll suffer for this! I'll have you

"You only got what you deserved," added Mr. Swift. "You were acting
illegally, following us, and you tried to sink us by ramming my craft
before we retaliated by firing on you."

"It was an accident, ramming you," said Berg. "We couldn't help it. I
now demand that you help us make repairs."

"Well, you've got nerve!" cried Captain Weston, his eyes flashing. "I'd
like to have a personal interview with you for about ten minutes. Maybe
something besides your ship would need repairs then."

Berg turned away, scowling, but did not reply. He began directing the
crew what to do about the broken rudder.

"Come on," proposed Tom in a low voice, for sounds carry very easily
over water. "Let's go below and skip out while we have a chance. They
can't follow now, and we can get to the sunken treasure ahead of them."

"Good advice," commented his father. "Come, Captain Weston, we'll go
below and close the conning tower."

Five minutes later the Advance sank from sight, the last glimpse Tom
had of Berg and his men being a sight of them standing on the deck of
their floating boat, gazing in the direction of their successful rival.
The Wonder was left behind, while Tom and his friends were soon once
more speeding toward the treasure wreck.

Next: Captured

Previous: The Race

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