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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesBoy Scouts In The North Sea - Chapter XXI. A MYSTERY EXPLAINED
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Boy Scouts In The North Sea - Chapter XXI. A MYSTERY EXPLAINED Post by :DaveS Category :Long Stories Author :G. Harvey Ralphson Date :April 2012 Read :3064

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Boy Scouts In The North Sea - Chapter XXI. A MYSTERY EXPLAINED

CHAPTER XXI. A MYSTERY EXPLAINED

"Why, boys, look at this!" cried Jimmie, his voice rising to a shriek then trailing off into a whisper. "Did you ever see the like?"

"Let's see!" put in Frank, crowding forward. "What is it?"

Eagerly the boys gathered around the open compartment. They heard distinctly the tinkle of coins as Jimmie seized a handful and let them slip one by one back into place. Again and again the boy dived his hands into the yellow mass of metal. He raised handfuls of coin to look at them a moment, then let them drop from his grasp.

"Good Night!" he ejaculated at length, turning a round-eyed face to the man who stood smiling beside the group. "Why, you must have enough here to buy a farm and build a fence clear around it!"

"Quite likely I have!" declared the other quietly. "But there are two or three other wrecked vessels that I wish to visit before I stop. I have the exact locations charted and have examined the interiors."

"Why didn't you take the gold away with you, then?"

"For the very simple reason that I found one pair of hands not enough to perform the task. I could have taken the gold away from the sunken wrecks, but the matter of getting it ashore was another thing!"

"Why, what's to prevent?" asked Ned wonderingly.

"Several things!" declared the other. "In the first place the peculiar phase of human nature that makes every man mad when he sees a lot of money would operate against my plan of taking the gold ashore. Who could I hire to move the heavy stuff with any assurance of their honesty if they once found out what might be in the packages?"

"That's so!" admitted Ned thoughtfully. "Human nature is crooked!"

"My plan has been to find some one who needs the money and who would work on a percentage basis--share and share alike. We can then get the money ashore, negotiate the older coins that possess more than their face value, bank the current coins and be prepared to use the wealth exactly as we see fit. So long as it remains under water it is safe."

"But I can't understand how you get it aboard!" declared Jimmie.

"I have a tank of compressed air fixed to the back of a special diving suit," explained the man. "There's also a search light and a small storage battery provided. In this suit I step out through the air lock onto the wreck. The rest is easy. I return with the load of gold the same way I went out. The submarine is anchored. The whole thing is simple!"

"Sure enough!" exclaimed Jimmie. "Why didn't I remember our arrangement on the Sea Lion? And then, too, we saw you walking about on the decks of the Wanderer! I guess I'm going daffy!"

"What do you say, boys, will you join the expedition?"

"We don't stand much chance of getting home right away," stated Ned. "I guess we might as well--" what he would say was cut short by the sound of a cannon shot booming through the gathering darkness.

"What's that?" inquired Jack anxiously, jumping to his feet.

"I'll bet it's that bloomin' steamer we saw!" cried Jimmie. "That must be another of those gun boats and they're chasing us!"

"I'll go up to the deck and see!" offered Ned.

"Be careful, don't let them get you!" warned Jack.

"I'll watch out for that," laughed Ned, mounting the iron ladder.

Directly the little group at the foot of the ladder were startled to hear their companion's voice. A note of anxiety vibrated through his words.

"Boys," Ned cried, "there's a gunboat out there, and I think I see another submarine. It looks to be like the 'U-13' for all the world. What shall we do?"

"Here," urged Jimmie, "take the glasses and have a good look. If it is that Dutchman, I'm for beating it out of here mighty quick!"

For a tense moment Ned gazed through the glasses at the strange vessels. At length he lowered the binoculars and turned toward his companions. With a shake of his head and a quick indrawing of breath, he said:

"It's the 'U-13' as sure as can be!"

"Let's go!" was Jimmie's only comment as he turned toward the switchboard with outstretched hand.

"I'm with you!" declared Ned, quickly descending the ladder to join the group. "Go ahead slow, though. Don't break the hawser, or we'd lose the other vessel."

"Perhaps we would do better to abandon your vessel," Mackinder suggested as he prepared to go on deck. "Let me have the glasses, if you please. I'll look them over."

Jimmie paused, with his hand on the starting switch.

Suddenly all were startled by a cry from their host.

"Go ahead! go ahead!" he shouted down the hatchway. "That other fellow has launched a torpedo at us!"

"Let go the line, then!" urged Ned. "We'll have to run for it! Full speed, Jimmie!" he added.

Mackinder was casting off the hawser with rapid motions. Jimmie, in response to Ned's command, threw the switch over. The "U-13" began to gather headway.

All were startled to hear the report of a cannon shot. This was followed almost instantly by a shriek from the man on deck.

"Mackinder's hit!" gasped Ned, turning a blanched face to his chums. "What shall we do?"

As if in answer to his query, the voice of Mackinder reached the ears of the lads.

"Bring an axe!" he shouted. "I'm fast in the bight!"

Wrenching an axe from its pocket on the bulkhead, Ned sprang up the ladder at his best speed. On deck he found Mackinder caught in a bight of the hawser by which the other vessel had been towed. His leg was jammed against the fairleader. Only one glance was required to show the boy that serious injury had been done.

Without waiting for words, the lad stepped to the side of the fallen man. Swinging his axe quickly, he struck at the taut bond of hemp. A shower of sparks followed the ringing thud of the axe upon the steel deck.

Mackinder dropped back upon the deck, limp and helpless, as the singing of the parted line told of his release.

With tender solicitude the boys mounted the ladder to assist their injured friend to the room below. Scarcely had the boys gained the deck when they were startled by a terrific explosion. As Ned afterward declared, it seemed as if they had been caught in a volcano of water.

"What has happened?" queried Jack, releasing his hold upon Mackinder.

A flood of sea water descending upon the little deck prevented an answer to his question. In a moment the lads were able to look about.

"Where's our 'U-13'?" asked Harry.

"Gone!" stated Ned, his voice trembling. "I'll bet that German torpedoed it! I'm glad we are on this 'U-13'!"

Echoing this sentiment, the lads hastily proceeded to lower Mackinder through the hatchway. This done, the injured man was deposited on a couch, the hatch was closed, and Ned began first-aid ministrations.

"What course shall I hold?" asked Jimmie.

"Better head on a southwest course," stated Ned, briefly glancing up from his work over Mackinder's leg.

"I can do that all right," responded Jimmie. "The gunboat and the submarine can fight it out alone."

"We've got a clear field, Jimmie, so shove the little wagon along for all she's worth," put in Jack.

Mackinder had been exercising wonderful command of himself, but in spite of his best efforts a groan now and again escaped. The injured leg was proving a painful matter.

"We'll do all we can for you, Mackinder," Ned offered, "but we need better skill than is available here. Would it not be best to make at once for some port where we can secure the services of a surgeon?"

Mackinder's only reply was a nod. His teeth were closed tightly to suppress the cry of anguish from his hurt.

"Keep on the surface, boys," urged Ned as he went about making the man comfortable with such simple means as were at hand. "I believe we are not far from the coast."

Surrendering the wheel to Frank, and with Jack at the engines, Jimmie insisted upon mounting to the deck again to look about them.

Cool and sweet the air gushed down the little open hatchway upon the injured man. Under its influence and aided by the ministrations of Ned, the proprietor of the third "U-13" rapidly gained control of himself.

"Head west southwest," he instructed Ned. "We'll be mighty apt to find the mouth of the Thames on that course. There are many places I'd rather go, but you are right--we must have a surgeon!"

Giving the course to Harry, Ned proceeded to do everything in his power to ease the hurt of their friend.

"On deck, there!" announced Jimmie presently, his face at the hatchway.

"Hello!" answered Ned. "What is it?"

"I see a light about a point off the port bow!"

"What do you make it out to be?"

"I think it is a lighthouse!" declared Jimmie.

"Margate!" murmured Mackinder. "We are safe enough now, but be careful about the money, boys!"

"Sail ho!" rang out Jimmie's voice again.

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