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The Race

From: Tom Swift And His Submarine Boat

Directed by Captain Weston, who glanced at the compass and told him
which way to steer to clear the outer coral reef, Tom sent the
submarine ahead, signaling for full speed to the engine-room, where his
father and Mr. Sharp were. The big dynamos purred like great cats, as
they sent the electrical energy into the forward and aft plates,
pulling and pushing the Advance forward. On and on she rushed under
water, but ever as she shot ahead the disturbance in the phosphorescent
water showed her position plainly. She would be easy to follow.

"Can't you get any more speed out of her?" asked the captain of the lad.

"Yes," was the quick reply; "by using the auxiliary screws I think we
can. I'll try it."

He signaled for the propellers, forward and aft, to be put in
operation, and the motor moving the twin screws was turned on. At once
there was a perceptible increase to the speed of the Advance.

"Are we leaving them behind?" asked Tom anxiously, as he glanced at the
speed gage, and noted that the submarine was now about five hundred
feet below the surface.

"Hard to tell," replied the Captain. "You'd have to take an observation
to make sure."

"I'll do it," cried the youth. "You steer, please, and I'll go in the
conning tower. I can look forward and aft there, as well as straight
up. Maybe I can see the Wonder."

Springing up the circular ladder leading into the tower, Tom glanced
through the windows all about the small pilot house. He saw a curious
sight. It was as if the submarine was in a sea of yellowish liquid
fire. She was immersed in water which glowed with the flames that
contained no heat. So light was it, in fact, that there was no need of
the incandescents in the tower. The young inventor could have seen to
read a paper by the illumination of the phosphorus. But he had
something else to do than observe this phenomenon. He wanted to see if
he could catch sight of the rival submarine.

At first he could make out nothing save the swirl and boiling of the
sea, caused by the progress of the Advance through it. But suddenly, as
he looked up, he was aware of some great, black body a little to the
rear and about ten feet above his craft.

"A shark!" he exclaimed aloud. "An immense one, too."

But the closer he looked the less it seemed like a shark. The position
of the black object changed. It appeared to settle down, to be
approaching the top of the conning tower. Then, with a suddenness that
unnerved him for the time being, Tom recognized what it was; it was the
underside of a ship. He could see the plates riveted together, and
then, as he noted the rounded, cylindrical shape, he knew that it was a
submarine. It was the Wonder. She was close at hand and was creeping up
on the Advance. But, what was more dangerous, she seemed to be slowly
settling in the water. Another moment and her great screws might crash
into the Conning tower of the Swifts' boat and shave it off. Then the
water would rush in, drowning the treasure-seekers like rats in a trap.

With a quick motion Tom yanked over the lever that allowed more water
to flow into the ballast tanks. The effect was at once apparent. The
Advance shot down toward the bottom of the sea. At the same time the
young inventor signaled to Captain Weston to notify those in the
engine-room to put on a little more speed. The Advance fairly leaped
ahead, and the lad, looking up through the bull's-eye in the roof of
the conning tower, had the satisfaction of seeing the rival submarine
left behind.

The youth hurried down into the interior of the ship to tell what he
had seen, and explain the reason for opening the ballast tanks. He
found his father and Mr. Sharp somewhat excited over the unexpected
maneuver of the craft.

"So they're still following us," murmured Mr. Swift. "I don't see why
we can't shake them off."

"It's on account of this luminous water," explained Captain Weston.
"Once we are clear of that it will be easy, I think, to give them the
slip. That is, if we can get out of their sight long enough. Of course,
if they keep close after us, they can pick us up with their
searchlight, for I suppose they carry one."

"Yes," admitted the aged inventor, "they have as strong a one as we
have. In fact, their ship is second only to this one in speed and
power. I know, for Bentley & Eagert showed me some of the plans before
they started it, and asked my opinion. This was before I had the notion
of building a submarine. Yes, I am afraid we'll have trouble getting
away from them."

"I can't understand this phosphorescent glow keeping up so long,"
remarked Captain Weston. "I've seen it in this locality several times,
but it never covered such an extent of the ocean in my time. There
must be changed conditions here now."

For an hour or more the race was kept up, and the two submarines forged
ahead through the glowing sea. The Wonder remained slightly above and
to the rear of the other, the better to keep sight of her, and though
the Advance was run to her limit of speed, her rival could not be
shaken off. Clearly the Wonder was a speedy craft.

"It's too bad that we've got to fight them, as well as run the risk of
lots of other troubles which are always present when sailing under
water," observed Mr Damon, who wandered about the submarine like the
nervous person he was. "Bless my shirt-studs! Can't we blow them up, or
cripple them in some way? They have no right to go after our treasure."

"Well, I guess they've got as much right as we have," declared Tom. "It
goes to whoever reaches the wreck first. But what I don't like is
their mean, sneaking way of doing it. If they went off on their own
hook and looked for it I wouldn't say a word. But they expect us to
lead them to the wreck, and then they'll rob us if they can. That's not

"Indeed, it isn't," agreed Captain Weston, "if I may be allowed the
expression. We ought to find some way of stopping them. But, if I'm not
mistaken," he added quickly, looking from one of the port bull's-eyes,
"the phosphorescent glow is lessening. I believe we are running beyond
that part of the ocean."

There was no doubt of it, the glow was growing less and less, and ten
minutes later the Advance was speeding along through a sea as black as
night. Then, to avoid running into some wreck, it was necessary to turn
on the searchlight.

"Are they still after us?" asked Mr. Swift of his son, as he emerged
from the engine-room, where he had gone to make some adjustments to the
machinery, with the hope of increasing the speed.

"I'll go look," volunteered the lad. He climbed up into the conning
tower again, and for a moment, as he gazed back into the black waters
swirling all about, he hoped that they had lost the Wonder. But a
moment later his heart sank as he caught sight, through the liquid
element, of the flickering gleams of another searchlight, the rays
undulating through the sea.

"Still following," murmured the young inventor. "They're not going to
give up. But we must make 'em--that's all."

He went down to report what he had seen, and a consultation was held.
Captain Weston carefully studied the charts of that part of the ocean,
and finding that there was a great depth of water at hand, proposed a
series of evolutions.

"We can go up and down, shoot first to one side and then to the other,"
he explained. "We can even drop down to the bottom and rest there for a
while. Perhaps, in that way, we can shake them off."

They tried it. The Advance was sent up until her conning tower was out
of the water, and then she was suddenly forced down until she was but a
few feet from the bottom. She darted to the left, to the right, and
even doubled and went back over the course she had taken. But all to no
purpose. The Wonder proved fully as speedy, and those in her seemed to
know just how to handle the submarine, so that every evolution of the
Advance was duplicated. Her rival could not be shaken off.

All night this was kept up, and when morning came, though only the
clocks told it, for eternal night was below the surface, the rival
gold-seekers were still on the trail.

"They won't give up," declared Mr. Swift hopelessly.

"No, we've got to race them for it, just as Berg proposed," admitted
Tom. "But if they want a straightaway race we'll give it to 'em Let's
run her to the limit, dad."

"That's what we've been doing, Tom."

"No, not exactly, for we've been submerged a little too much to get the
best speed out of our craft. Let's go a little nearer the surface, and
give them the best race they'll ever have."

Then the race began; and such a contest of speed as it was! With her
propellers working to the limit, and every volt of electricity that was
available forced into the forward and aft plates, the Advance surged
through the water, about ten feet below the surface. But the Wonder
kept after her, giving her knot for knot. The course of the leading
submarine was easy to trace now, in the morning light which penetrated
ten feet down.

"No use," remarked Tom again, when, after two hours, the Wonder was
still close behind them. "Our only chance is that they may have a

"Or run out of air, or something like that," added Captain Weston.
"They are crowding us pretty close. I had no idea they could keep up
this speed. If they don't look out," he went on as he looked from one
of the aft observation windows, "they'll foul us, and--"

His remarks were interrupted by a jar to the Advance. She seemed to
shiver and careened to one side. Then came another bump.

"Slow down!" cried the captain, rushing toward the pilot house.

"What's the matter?" asked Tom, as he threw the engines and electrical
machines out of gear. "Have we hit anything?"

"No. Something has hit us," cried the captain. "Their submarine has
rammed us."

"Rammed us!" repeated Mr. Swift. "Tom, run out the electric cannon!
They're trying to sink us! We'll have to fight them. Run out the stern
electric gun and we'll make them wish they'd not followed us."

Next: The Electric Gun

Previous: We'll Race You For It

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