The Radio Detectives Under the SeaAmanda M. Douglas / Young Adult
Produced by Roger Frank
THE RADIO DETECTIVES UNDER THE SEA
A. HYATT VERRILL
AUTHOR OF THE RADIO DETECTIVES,THE RADIO DETECTIVES SOUTHWARD BOUND,THE RADIO DETECTIVES IN THE JUNGLE,THE DEEP SEA HUNTERS, ETC.
D. APPLETON AND COMPANY
NEW YORK :: 1922 :: LONDON
COPYRIGHT, 1922, BY
D. APPLETON AND COMPANY
PRINTED IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.
I. In the Bahamas II. A Mysterious Disappearance III. Surprises IV. Radio Magic V. A Narrow Escape VI. On the Trail of the Submarine VII. The Fight With the Octopus VIII. Lost IX. Prisoners X. Radio to the Rescue XI. The Devil Dancers XII. Smernoff Pays His Debt XIII. The Tramp
THE RADIO DETECTIVES UNDER THE SEA
IN THE BAHAMAS
Oh, look, Tom! There's land! cried Frank Putney as, coming on deckone beautiful morning, he glanced across the shimmering sea and saw alow cloud-like speck upon the horizon ahead.
Hurrah! it must be the Bahamas, exclaimed Tom Pauling, as he saw thefirst bit of land they had sighted since leaving New York three dayspreviously. Say, isn't it bully to see land again? And isn't thiswater wonderful?
To the two boys, the short sea trip had been a constant source ofinterest, for while they had both been on ocean-going steamshipsbefore and Frank had crossed the Atlantic, yet neither had evervisited the tropics. The glistening flying fish which had skitteredlike miniature sea-planes from under the plunging bows of the ship hadfilled them with delight; they had fished up bits of the floatingyellow sargassum or Gulf Weed and had examined with fascination theinnumerable strange crabs, fishes and other creatures that made ittheir home; they had watched porpoises as they played about the shipand they had even caught a brief glimpse of a sperm whale.
The wonderfully rich indigo-blue water of the Gulf Stream was arevelation to them and now that they were rapidly approaching theoutlying cays of the Bahamas, with the surrounding water malachite andturquoise, emerald and sapphire with patches of dazzling purple andstreaks of azure they could scarcely believe it real.
It doesn't look like water at all, declared Tom, as his fatherjoined them.
It looks like--well, like one of those futurist paintings or as ifsome one had spilled a lot of the brightest blue and green paint hecould find and had slapped on a lot of purple for good measure:
Mr. Pauling laughed. That's accurate if not poetical, he replied,and you'll find, when you go ashore, that the imaginary man with thepaint pot did not stop at the water. The land is just as gaudy andincredibly bright as the sea.
Is that Nassau ahead? asked Tom.
No, that's a small cay, replied one of the officers who had drawnnear the little group, Egg Cay they call it. We'll raise Rose Caynext and should sight New Providence and Nassau about two o'clock.Pretty, isn't it?
So intensely interested and excited were the two boys that they couldscarcely wait to eat their breakfast before they again rushed on deckto find the little islet close to the ship, its cream-colored beachesand purplish-gray coral rocks clear and distinct above the marvelouslytinted water edged by a thread of surf and with a few straggling palmtrees nodding above the low, dull-green bush which covered the cay.
But to the boys, there were more reasons for being interested andexcited than the mere fact that they were gazing for the first time ata tropical island or were about to visit a strange land. They were onan exciting and strange trip, a remarkable mission for two boys andone which promised an abundance of adventure.
Like so many boys, they had become interested in radio and duringtheir experiments with various sets had heard peculiar messages fromsome unidentified speaker. With their curiosity aroused, they hadtried, merely for the fun of the thing, to locate the sending stationby means of loop aerials or radio compasses.
Having decided that the voice came from a certain block on the EastSide of New York, they had reported their discovery to Mr. Henderson,a federal employee and an associate of Tom's father, for their boyishimaginations had been fired with the idea that the speaker was alawbreaker associated with a gang of rum smugglers whom Mr. Paulingwas endeavoring to run down. But when a search of the block by Mr.Henderson's men failed to reveal any trace of a radio outfit the boyshad lost interest in the matter.
Then, when Mr. Pauling had returned from a mission to the Bahamas andCuba, he had told the boys of a young man named Rawlins who haddevised a remarkable type of diving suit which required no life lineor air hose, the oxygen for the diver to breathe being produced bymeans of certain chemicals. Mr. Pauling had mentioned that theinventor of the suit had stated that its one fault was that the usercould not communicate with those on a ship or on shore and Tom; hismind ever on his favorite hobby, had suggested that radio might beused. Later, when Rawlins met the boys in New York and Tom told himhis ideas, the diver fell in with the scheme and declared that hebelieved it would be feasible to make a radio telephone apparatuswhich could be used under water.
Fitting up his father's dock on the East River front as a workshop andlaboratory, Rawlins and the boys worked diligently at Tom's inventionand at last succeeded in devising a radio set with which the divercould talk freely and easily with people on shore or with others underthe sea.
While trying out the device Tom and Rawlins discovered two otherdivers whose actions were suspicious, and watching them, were amazedto see the men enter an old disused sewer. Following them into thesewer Tom and his companion were startled at hearing a conversation insome foreign tongue and Rawlins insisted it came from the other diversand that they too possessed undersea radio telephones. Hiding in theshadows the two saw the strangers standing under a trap-door intowhich they disappeared, taking with them a mysterious, cigar-shaped,metal object like a torpedo.
A little later, as Tom and Rawlins were about to return to their owndock, they again saw the men and following them were thunderstruck todiscover that they were about to enter a submarine lying at the bottomof the river. Curious to find out more about the undersea craft,Rawlins approached it and was suddenly attacked by the two men. Tomunconsciously screamed and at the sound Frank, who was anxiouslywaiting at the receiver on shore, asked what was wrong. Suddenly,realizing that he was in touch with his friends, Tom called for helpasking Frank to send for the police. At his cries the submarinequickly got under way, deserting the two strange divers who, seeingtheir craft had left, surrendered to Rawlins.
In his excitement one of the men had been careless and as a result thechemicals in his suit had flamed up at the touch of water and the manhad been seriously injured. With the captured diver, Tom and Rawlinshad made their way to the dock, carrying the wounded man and hadarrived just as Mr. Pauling with Mr. Henderson and the police arrived.Tom had fainted from strain and excitement and when he recoveredconsciousness found that the captive had been recognized as adangerous escaped criminal, a Russian red and that the other man wasat the point of death.
Mr. Pauling, having heard Rawlins' tale, suspected a connectionbetween the deserted sewer, the strange divers, the submarine and themysterious messages the boys had heard and at once sent the police tosurround the block and search the buildings. As a result of the raid,a garage had been found with a secret passage connecting with thesewer and in which were stored vast quantities of liquor, contrabandgoods, Bolshevist propaganda and loot taken from hold-ups androbberies in New York.
Feeling that they had stumbled upon the key to a wave of crime andred literature which had been sweeping the country, Mr. Hendersonquestioned the captive, Smernoff, who confirmed the suspicions andconfessed that the submarine had been used for smuggling liquor andother contraband into the united States and taking the ill-gotten lootout and that the contraband had been picked up by the sub-sea boat inmid ocean at spots where it had been dumped overboard from sailingvessels by previous arrangements.
He insisted, however, that he knew nothing of the headquarters of thegang or of their leader whom Henderson and his associates believed wasa master criminal, an unscrupulous, fiendish character who, during thewar, had undertaken to destroy the _Leviathan_, Brooklyn Bridge,the Navy Yard and many buildings as well as thousands of people inAmerica and England, but who, failing in this, dared not return toGermany. The government officials felt confident that this same mastermind was responsible for the wave of crime, the flood of Bolshevistliterature and the threatening letters which had baffled them.
Mr. Pauling and Mr. Henderson were also most anxious to secure astatement from the other man, who was still unconscious in thehospital, and when at last he was able to speak Mr. Pauling hurried tohis side. The dying man, thinking that his comrades had betrayed him,related an astounding story, admitted the existence of the mastercriminal and was on the point of revealing his headquarters when hedied.
At almost the same time word was received that the submarine had beenpicked up, drifting at sea, by a destroyer despatched to find her, butthat she was absolutely deserted. When at last she was towed into NewYork and was examined by Mr. Pauling, Rawlins and the boys she wasfound stripped of everything which would have thrown light upon themystery. Questioning the crew of the destroyer, Rawlins discoveredthat a fishing schooner had been sighted near the drifting submarineand from the description he recognized it as a Bahaman vessel andjumped to the conclusion that the crew of the submarine hadtranshipped to it.
Believing that he could locate the headquarters of the plotters,Rawlins suggested that he and the boys should go to the West Indiesand, after some objections had been overcome, this plan had beenagreed to by Tom's father. Thus it came about that the two boys werenow upon a steamer's deck as she churned her way through the intenselyblue sea towards the palm-fringed islands beyond her bows.
I wonder when Rawlins will get here with that sub, remarked Mr.Henderson.
Not for several days yet, I imagine, replied Mr. Pauling. There wasa lot of work to be done upon her and she cannot make much overfifteen knots on a long cruise. I'm personally more anxious to hearfrom the destroyers that are chasing the schooner. I wonder if Rawlinswas right in his surmise regarding her.
We should hear from them soon after we reach Nassau, declared theother. We left three days after the destroyers and that schoonercertainly could not beat the destroyers to the islands or evade them.I don't think there's the least question about their overhauling her.
Say, won't it be great if they _do_ catch her, exclaimed Tom,and find the crew of the submarine aboard?
Yes, but it's very evident they have not even sighted her as yet,replied his father. If they had we would have received a radio.
Perhaps they're out of range of communication, suggested Mr.Henderson.
Oh, no, Tom assured him. The operator says all those naval vesselscan send for several hundred miles and the weather's been fine--nostatic to speak of. We were talking to a Porto Rico liner thismorning.
I hope you haven't given away any information in your enthusiasm overradio, remarked his father. Remember we don't want any one--not even'Sparks'--to have the least inkling of our purpose or plans Alwaysbear in mind the famous Spanish proverb that 'a secret between two isGod's secret but a secret between three is everybody's.'
You needn't worry about us, Dad, Tom assured him, we haven'tbreathed a word--not even about our under-sea radio, although we werejust wild to tell about it. You know our motto is 'see everything,hear everything and say nothing.'
Stick to that and you'll be a credit to the Service, laughed hisfather as he and Mr. Henderson moved away.
Tom and Frank soon forgot all about radio or the chances of the swiftdestroyers overtaking the schooner in the many interesting sightsabout: the long-tailed graceful tropical birds whose snowy breastsappeared a delicate sea-green from the sunlight reflected through theclear water by the white sandy bottom of the sea; the bigger Boobygannets that kept pace with the ship, seeming to float without effortjust above the rails, and that kept turning their china-blue eyes witha curious stare upon the boys; the big, clumsy pelicans that, insingle file, flapped along a few inches above the sea, rising andfalling in unison with the waves and now and again plunging suddenlywith a tremendous splash into the water as their sharp eyes spiedschools of small fish. All these were new and strange to the boys andonce they caught a glimpse of a V-shaped line of twinkling red dotsagainst the blue sky which one of the officers assured them was aflock of flamingoes.
Gosh! exclaimed Tom suddenly. Say, just look there, Frank! See,down there between the waves--I'm dead sure I saw the bottom!
The officer chuckled. Of course you did! he assured Tom. Whynot? You can see bottom at ten fathoms down here anywheres. Water'sas clear as glass. Why, when you get to Nassau you can look downand see the sea-fans and corals and marine growths perfectlyplainly--sea-gardens the Conchs call 'em--regular places for touriststo go. And you can sit on the dock and fish and watch the fool fishesnibbling at your bait--red and blue and yellow and every color of therainbow. Then, when you see one that suits your fancy you can justyank him up--great thing this being able to pick your fish!
The boys looked at him half suspiciously. Say, exclaimed Frank, areyou trying to kid us?
Not a bit of it, replied the purser. Just wait and see. Why, if Itold you half the truth about such things you'd swear I was lying.
Golly! ejaculated Tom. Wouldn't it be fine to go down in a divingsuit in such water. I don't wonder that R-- Tom checked himself justin time and asked, But what do you mean by saying the 'Conchs' callthe places sea gardens?
The purser laughed. Oh, I forgot you'd never been down here, hesaid. Conchs is the local name for the Bahamans. Guess it's becausethey're always diving for conchs or maybe because they're as much athome under water as on land. Greatest divers in the world; fact, I'veseen 'em diving for sponge and coral many a time and when we get toNassau this afternoon you'll see about ten thousand naked nigger boyscrowding about, begging you to toss pennies to 'em so they can diveand catch them. Little beggars can grab a coin long before it gets tothe bottom and if you toss a penny off one side of the ship they'lldive off the other, swim under the keel and get the coin before itreaches bottom. And speaking of diving--say, this is the real home andheadquarters of that. Met a chap down here last winter--Rawlins is hisname--was taking a lot of movies under water, fact. Had a new-fangledsort of suit that didn't have ropes or hose or anything and justplumped overboard as easy as is and wandered around making friendswith the fishes.
The boys nudged each other and winked. Oh, now you _are_ kiddingus! said Tom. How could a fellow go down without air and how couldhe take movies under the sea? That's too big even for us to swallow.
Fact, just the same, the other declared. Had some sort of gadgetfixed up on his suit to make air and he took the movies in a big steelroom or chamber at the end of a jointed, water-tight pipe--hadelectric lights and everything in it. Sure thing and no fooling. Sawsome of the pictures up in New York too. Yep, one of 'em was called'Drowned Gold' or something of the sort--story of a treasure under thesea--gathered in by Huns in a submarine and cached in an old wreck.Rattling good picture too! Say, you boys want to see his place--got aregular studio here. I don't think Rawlins is here though.
That would be interesting, agreed Frank, I'd love to go down in adiving suit and walk about on the bottom. Don't the fish and thingsever trouble him?
No, responded the purser, even sharks keep off--only danger's indevil fish--octopus, you know. They grow mighty big hereabouts and arelikely to grab anything. Rawlins was making one picture of a whoppingbig octopus fighting with a diver--fake devil fish made out of rubber,but natural as is. Don't know how it turned out but I tell you I'm notkeen on running foul of any of the real thing. And speaking ofsharks--say, here's a fact that you boys will think's a whopper.Niggers down here dive in right among the sharks--carry a long knifein their teeth--and grab hold of a shark's fin and knife him, fact!
Well, you can't tell any yarn bigger than that! laughed Frank.Imagine a man tackling a shark under water! Oh come, you must thinkwe're easy!
Well, just wait and see, replied the purser, but I'll have to berunning along. There's New Providence ahead--we'll be getting intoport within the next hour.
Gosh, he's some talker! exclaimed Tom with a laugh when theloquacious officer had left. And wasn't it rich--his telling us aboutRawlins and the suits and never guessing we knew him or had been downin those suits ourselves! Say, I'm beginning to think there's a lot offun in being Secret Service people. It's sport listening to folkstelling all they know about a thing that you know more about and theynever guessing it.
Yes, agreed Frank, and I can understand now how detectives andSecret Service men find out so much without any one suspecting them.They just start a conversation and then let the other fellows do thetalking and pick up a lot of information. But that _was_ richabout the sharks!
And the devil fish too! added Tom. Wonder if there _is_ anydanger from being attacked by an octopus. Say, if there is that'swhere our undersea radio would come in mighty fine.
But whether or not the purser's tales were true in regard to thesharks and octopus the boys soon discovered that he had not in theleast exaggerated the clarity of the water or the skill of the nativediving boys when their ship steamed slowly into Nassau harbor.
It was all so wonderfully fascinating and beautiful that the boys keptconstantly uttering exclamations of surprise and delight. Never hadthey dreamed that there could be such vivid colors anywhere in theworld. The sky, so blue it resembled a dense solid dome of blue silk;the water, ultramarine, emerald and turquoise streaked with gold andpurple; the vivid green foliage with masses of scarlet hibiscus andflaming poinciana trees; the glaring, snow-white coral streets; thepink, blue, green, yellow, and lavender houses with their red roofsand green shutters; the bright-hued orange and red bandannas andgleaming costumes of the negro women crowding the dock; the loftynodding palm trees above the beaches and looming like gigantic featherdusters above the buildings; the crimson and blue flags of Englandflying everywhere; the scarlet tunics of strolling soldiers from thegarrison; the little shore boats bobbing upon the water and paintedevery color of the rainbow and scores of sponging and fishing smacksas brilliant in hues as the smaller craft, all combined to form akaleidoscopic picture of gaudy tints and blazing colors such as can befound only in the tropic islands of the Caribbean. But all thesesights were of less interest to Tom and Frank than the naked black,brown and yellow diving boys who paddled about the ship in crudehome-made boats, formed from discarded packing cases, or straddledlengths of bamboo and with grinning faces and rolling eyes begged thepassengers to throw coins into the water exactly as the purser haddescribed. And when Tom and Frank tossed shining nickels into the seaand the score of black bodies left the makeshift boats as one, the twoAmerican boys burst into roars of merriment.
Gosh, they're just like a lot of black frogs! cried Tom. And justlook at them, Frank! See them! Look there! They're after those nickelsand you can see them as plain as if they were under glass! There!Look! One of them's got a coin! And see how funny the pink soles oftheir feet look! Say, it's wonderful!
For the next half hour the diving boys reaped a rich harvest of smallcoins and then, the customs and port doctor's men having completedtheir inspection, Tom and Frank followed Mr. Pauling down the gangwayand a few moments later stood upon the first West Indian island theyhad ever visited.