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We'll Race You For It







From: Tom Swift And His Submarine Boat

Mr. Swift hurried up on deck. He was accompanied by Captain Weston. At
the sight of Tom's father, Mr. Berg, who had been joined by' two other
men, called out:

"You see we also concluded to give up the trial for the Government
prize, Mr. Swift. We decided there was more money in something else.
But we still will have a good chance to try the merits of our
respective boats. We hurried and got ours fitted up almost as soon as
you did yours, and I think we have the better craft."

"I don't care to enter into any competition with you," said Mr. Swift
coldly.

"Ah, but I'm afraid you'll have to, whether you want to or not," was
the insolent reply.

"What's that? Do you mean to force this matter upon me?"

"I'm afraid I'll have to--my employers and I, that is. You see, we
managed to pick up your trail after you left the Jersey coast, having
an idea where you were bound, and we don't intend to lose you now."

"Do you mean to follow us?" asked Captain Weston softly.

"Well, you can put it that way if you like," answered one of the two
men with Mr. Berg.

"I forbid it!" cried Mr. Swift hotly. "You have no right to sneak after
us."

"I guess the ocean is free," continued the rascally agent.

"Why do you persist in keeping after us?" inquired the aged inventor,
thinking it well to ascertain, if possible, just how much the men knew.

"Because we're after that treasure as well as you," was the bold reply.
"You have no exclusive right to it. The sunken ship is awaiting the
first comer, and whoever gets there first can take the gold from the
wreck. We intend to be there first, but we'll be fair with you."

"Fair? What do you mean?" demanded Tom.

"This: We'll race you for it. The first one to arrive will have the
right to search the wreck for the gold bullion. Is that fair? Do you
agree to it?"

"We agree to nothing with you," interrupted Captain Weston, his usual
diffident manner all gone. "I happen to be in partial command of this
craft, and I warn you that if I find you interfering with us it won't
be healthy for you. I'm not fond of fighting, but when I begin I don't
like to stop," and he smiled grimly. "You'd better not follow us."

"We'll do as we please," shouted the third member of the trio on the
deck of the other boat, which, as Tom could see, was named the Wonder.
"We intend to get that gold if we can."

"All right. I've warned you," went on the sailor, and then, motioning
to Tom and his father to follow, he went below.

"Well, what's to be done?" asked Mr. Swift when they were seated in the
living-room, and had informed the others of the presence of the rival
submarine.

"The only thing I see to do is to sneak away unobserved, go as deep as
possible, and make all haste for the wreck," advised the captain. "They
will depend on us, for they have evidently no chart of the wreck,
though of course the general location of it may be known to them from
reading the papers. I hoped I had thrown them off the track by the
false chart I dropped, but it seems they were too smart for us."

"Have they a right to follow us?" asked Tom.

"Legally, but not morally. We can't prevent them, I'm afraid. The only
thing to do is to get there ahead of them. It will be a race for the
sunken treasure, and we must get there first."

"What do you propose doing, captain?" asked Mr. Damon. "Bless my
shirt-studs, but can't we pull their ship up on the island and leave it
there?"

"I'm afraid such high-handed proceedings would hardly answer," replied
Mr. Swift. "No, as Captain Weston says, we must get there ahead of
them. What do you think will be the best scheme, captain?"

"Well, there's no need for us to forego our plan to get fresh water.
Suppose we go to the island, that is, some of us, leaving a guard on
board here. We'll fill our tanks with fresh water, and at night we'll
quietly sink below the surface and speed away."

They all voted that an excellent idea, and little time was lost putting
it into operation.

All the remainder of that day not a sign of life was visible about the
Wonder. She lay inert on the surface of the lagoon, not far away from
the Advance; but, though no one showed himself on the deck, Tom and his
friends had no doubt but that their enemies were closely watching them.

As dusk settled down over The tropical sea, and as the shadows of the
trees on the little island lengthened, those on board the Advance
closed the Conning tower. No lights were turned on, as they did not
want their movements to be seen, but Tom, his father and Mr. Sharp took
their positions near the various machines and apparatus, ready to open
the tanks and let the submarine sink to the bottom, as soon as it was
possible to do this unobserved.

"Luckily there's no moon," remarked Captain Weston, as he took his
place beside Tom. "Once below the surface and we can defy them to find
us. It is odd how they traced us, but I suppose that steamer gave them
the clue."

It rapidly grew dark, as it always does in the tropics, and when a
cautious observation from the conning tower did not disclose the
outlines of the other boat, those aboard the Advance rightly concluded
that their rivals were unable to see them.

"Send her down, Tom," called his father, and with a hiss the water
entered the tanks. The submarine quickly sank below the surface, aided
by the deflecting rudder.

But alas for the hopes of the gold-seekers. No sooner was she
completely submerged, with the engine started so as to send her out of
the lagoon and to the open sea, than the waters all about were made
brilliant by the phosphorescent phenomenon. In southern waters this
frequently occurs. Millions of tiny creatures, which, it is said,
swarm in the warm currents, give an appearance of fire to the ocean,
and any object moving through it can plainly be seen. It was so with
the Advance. The motion she made in shooting forward, and the
undulations caused by her submersion, seemed to start into activity the
dormant phosphorus, and the submarine was afloat in a sea of fire.

"Quick!" cried Tom. "Speed her up! Maybe we can get out of this patch
of water before they see us."

But it was too late. Above them they could hear the electric siren of
the Wonder as it was blown to let them know that their escape had been
noticed. A moment later the water, which acted as a sort of
sounding-board, or telephone, brought to the ears of Tom Swift and his
friends the noise of the engines of the other craft in operation. She
was coming after them. The race for the possession of three hundred
thousand dollars in gold was already under way. Fate seemed against
those on board the Advance.





Next: The Race

Previous: At The Tropical Island



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