Victor G. Durham.

The Submarine Boys' Lightning Cruise The Young Kings of the Deep online

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But Radwin was just upon him as the boy turned.

"No, you don't!" mocked Captain Jack, ducking down, kangaroo-fashion.

That low crouch and the following spring had carried the submarine boy
just under Fred Radwin's outstretched right arm.

And now, Jack Benson, being past both of his assailants, took refuge in
discreet flight, in fact, he ran down the street with about every pound
of human steam turned on.

"Come on!" snarled Radwin, setting the sprinting pace. "We've got to
catch that rascally boy, and mighty quick, too!"

This block or two of the street appeared to be deserted. There was no
telling, however, how soon the submarine boy might run into two or
three real men who would take his side in any scrimmage that was due.

Though Radwin had the first start after Jack, and was running well, the
driver, a long-legged fellow with splendid "wind" soon passed his leader.

Jack realized that he was in danger of being caught, and tried to put on
a greater burst of speed. Yet the driver came closer and closer.


The driver had aimed his heavy whip, lance-fashion, and butt-end first,
and launched it after the fugitive.

Had not Jack turned the instant before, to glance backward, the whip
would have struck him in the back of the head. But Benson saw it coming,
and threw himself forward, his head went down.

The whip, therefore, flew just over his head, striking the sidewalk
ahead of him.

At that moment Jack Benson tripped. He did not mean to do it. He
simply fell and landed on his knees, his head low.

On came the sprinting driver. It was too late to stop or turn. Over
Jack Benson plunged the fellow, then landed in a heap on the sidewalk.

Jack was up like a flash. He heard a yell from the driver, but Benson's
gaze was upon the whip.

At a bound the submarine boy possessed himself of this weapon. He got
it, just in time, too, to wheel and face Fred Radwin, threatening that
fellow with the heavy butt-end of the driver's recent weapon.

"Get up behind the boy, you fool!" hissed Radwin.

"Sure, I can't," moaned the fellow, rubbing himself, real anguish
sounding in his voice. "My neck's broke!"

"Come on yourself, Radwin!" mocked Jack, backing against the wall of a
house so that he could face either assailant at need.

"Drop that whip, and I will!" hissed Fred Radwin, stealthily manoeuvering
about the boy, yet held back by a wholesome awe of that butt-end of the

"No; I like this whip too well," chuckled young Benson. "You can't
have it unless you take it from me. Want to try?"

"Come on, and get up, you dolt!" growled Radwin to the driver. "Do you
think we have all night to settle with this boy?"

"I can't get up, I tell you. I'm no good," moaned the driver. "I don't
know what I did to myself when I went down so hard."

"Hurry up!" insisted Radwin. "A crowd may come along at any moment."

"Let 'em," moaned the driver. "I can't stop it. I'll apologize."

At that very moment there came the sound of a shout further down the
street. Other voices answered.

"There, you dolt!" cried Radwin, angrily. "Now, you've wasted our last
chance. Here comes a mob!"

Backing off, Radwin grabbed up his useless comrade, forcing the driver
to his feet.

Seeing his enemy so occupied, Jack Benson edged off, holding the whip
so that he could use it.

From down the street came the sound of flying feet. Then, just as
suddenly the speed lessened.

"I'll wait until I get help, and I'll grab this pair," muttered Captain
Jack. "The police chief will be delighted at having a good, close look
at Fred Radwin!"

At that moment loud yells and coarse cries broke from the eight or ten
young men down the street. Then fist-blows sounded.

"Mine's a Chinaman's luck," grunted Jack Benson, disgustedly. "Only a
gang of drunken hoodlums down there. They'd stand in with anything
that is against the police. No use depending on such human cattle."

Jack, in fact, grasped the significance of the new riot a little before
Fred Radwin did. The submarine boy, therefore, wheeled and ran swiftly
toward the fighting hoodlums, though wholly intent on getting past

Radwin, believing that the young skipper was racing for help, dragged
his driver-companion roughly, swiftly along, finally pushing him inside
the hack. Then Radwin leaped to the box, gathered up the reins, and
was away like a flash.

The young submarine skipper, from what he knew of hoodlum street crowds,
hurried by on the other side. Two blocks further along Benson
encountered a tardy policeman. Knowing that it was now too late to hope
to catch Fred Radwin, Jack contented himself with inquiring the way back
to the Somerset House, where he arrived, after a long walk, still
carrying the whip as his trophy of the late encounter.

"You'll have to telephone the hospital, after all, I'm afraid," muttered
the young skipper, when he met Mr. Farnum and the others in the lobby.

"What happened?" demanded Farnum, eyeing the whip curiously.

"As soon as I can get through with telephoning the chief of police, I'll
come back and tell you."

Chief Ward responded in person. He examined the whip, then declared:

"I know the fellow this whip belongs to - Claridy, 'the fox,' as his
admiring friends call him. He's a bad character. See; here is a fox's
head engraved on the whip-stock. I'll do my best to find Claridy, and,
in that way, I may find the fellow, Radwin. But you were wise, Benson,
in not trying to enlist help from that hoodlum gang. Our hoodlums are
as bad and lawless as are to be found anywhere in the United States."



In the morning the Somerset House was favored by two rather distinguished

One was Rear Admiral Townsley, the other Congressman Simms. The two
had come down together from Washington on the night train.

While the admiral communicated at once with Captain Magowan, Congressman
Simms sent his card up to John C. Rhinds. The latter, all a-quiver,
now, and showing a haggard face in which smiles fought for a chance,
received his visitor.

"Well, Rhinds," was the Congressman's greeting, "the country is all
stirred up over this submarine incident out at sea. So is the Navy
Department, which is bound to respond to public opinion in such a case."

"I'm glad you've come," replied Mr. Rhinds, eagerly. "I look to you to
save me from a most unpleasant, most unmerited charge."

"No charge has been made against you - yet," replied the Congressman.

"I should have said a suspicion," replied Rhinds, tremulously.

"That suspicion seems to be pretty general," answered the member of
Congress. "Have you anything to smoke here?"

Rhinds, with an almost childish eagerness, brought forth a box of cigars,

"I'll ring and order breakfast served for you here, while we talk."

"Thank you, no," responded the Congressman. "I've got to move fast
to-day, for I can't spend much time here. I suppose you don't know,
yet, that Admiral Townsley is here - sent by the Secretary of the Navy
to investigate and report on this matter."

"You'll see him - you'll make him understand, won't you?" demanded
Rhinds, eagerly.

"You can't make Townsley understand anything but facts," replied Mr.
Simms, dryly. "I know the man. He's a hard-headed truth-seeker. You
see, Rhinds, when I received your telegram, I hurried over to the Navy
Department to say what I could for you. The Secretary told me that of
course he didn't want you injured by any unjust suspicions."

"Of course not," quivered Rhinds.

"At the same time the Secretary made it plain to me that public sentiment
demands that the whole case be brought past the suspicion stage. He
advised me to come down here with Townsley, and see, for myself, just
what I ought to believe."

"You'll act as my friend, won't you?" begged Rhinds, tremulously.
"You'll show Townsley the absurdity of this whole business. Simms, I
look to your friendship, for you are my friend, aren't you?"

"Possibly," nodded the other, dryly. "But I'm also a Congressman,
responsible to my district, my state and the whole country. Now,
Rhinds, the whole thing is just here. I'm going to look into this
matter, and I'm going to sift it all I can. If I find you're innocent
beyond a question - then - well, you know I'm a pretty good fighter."

"Yes, yes; you'll fight my enemies to a standstill," cried Rhinds,

"But, if I find the facts against you, then my hands are tied."

"If - if it's a question of money - " stammered the submarine man.

"Money?" demanded the Congressman, crisply. "What for?"

"Why - er - er - for expenses."

"I can pay my own expenses, Rhinds, in a matter that affects the good
name of my district. Now, give me your side of this affair."

For an hour the two men remained talking. Rhinds fought for himself
as hard as he could, for he was beginning to suspect that a mere matter
of politics would not move the Congressman much in this case.

"Now, I'll leave you for a while, Rhinds, and I'll move fast," promised
the Congressman, rising. "But I advise you to stay right here. I may
want to see you at any moment."

Mr. Simms must have moved rapidly, for, two hours later that morning,
after having seen many people, including the admiral, the Congressman
sent a message upstairs urging Rhinds to come down at once.

As he stepped out from the elevator, a strange pallor on his face,
John Rhinds beheld the Congressman standing with four men one of whom
the old man knew for Ensign Pike, the naval officer who had been
stationed aboard the 'Thor.' Another was Lieutenant Danvers.

Congressman Simms quickly presented Rhinds to the other two, one of
whom was Rear Admiral Townsley, and the other Lieutenant Jasper, the
Admiral's aide.

"Now, Mr. Rhinds," pursued the Congressman, "the admiral has decided
that the first thing to do is to go aboard the 'Thor,' and see whether
any hiding place exists in which you might have stored a fifth torpedo."

"But how could I get such a fifth torpedo?" faltered the old man.
"The Navy issues them."

"They may be bought in the market, too, by one who knows how," replied
Rear Admiral Townsley, coolly. "You consent to our going aboard your
boat, of course, Mr. Rhinds?"

Had there been any reasonable way of preventing it, Rhinds would not
have agreed, but he saw that he must comply with the request.

Admiral Townsley raised a hand in signal. Out of the background came
Jacob Farnum and his three submarine boys.

"These people can't come aboard my boat!" protested Rhinds.

"They must, if we do," retorted the admiral, crisply. "These are the
human beings who were placed in deadly peril by the torpedo that has yet
to be accounted for."

Rhinds no longer objected. All his force, all his will appeared to
have departed. He moved along, now, like a puppet.

Down at the water-front a naval launch was in waiting. In this the
entire party was taken out to the "Thor." Captain Driggs received the
callers on the platform deck, and Admiral Townsley stated the object
of the visit.

"Why, Admiral," replied Captain Driggs, honestly, "I have no knowledge
that there was an extra torpedo aboard. Yet, of course, there's a
place where such a thing might have been hidden."

"Take us to it," requested the Admiral.

Captain Driggs led the visitors below. There, in the cabin floor, he
pointed to a well-concealed trapdoor. It opened upon a very considerable
space between cabin floor and keel.

"This space certainly _would_ accommodate a torpedo," declared Admiral
Townsley. "Mr. Rhinds, if we could prove that you had a torpedo in this
space the other day, there would be an almost complete case, wouldn't

"But I didn't have," cried Rhinds, with cunning insistence.

"Mr. Driggs," pursued the admiral, "we shall want you as a witness at
the investigation on board the 'Oakland.' My aide will hand you a
subpoena. This, I believe, gentlemen, is all we have to do here."

Looking years older, yet holding up his head in a certain kind of
bravado, John Rhinds returned to shore with the party.

No sooner had Rhinds entered the hotel than a bell-boy moved over,
drawing him aside and saying something in a low tone.

"I'll wager that talk would interest us, if we could hear it," remarked
Jack Benson, sarcastically, to his friends.

Rhinds, however, turned and hurried off. In five minutes he was back
in the lobby. Eagerly he glanced about for the Farnum party, and
located it. Then he moved over to where Farnum and his submarine boys

"Farnum," breathed the old man, anxiously, "I've a favor to ask of you."

"That's strange," replied the shipbuilder, coolly.

"I won't term it a favor, then," went on the other, restlessly. "I will
put it another way. As a simple act of justice will you meet two people
whom I want you to hear?"

"I've heard a good deal, lately," answered Farnum, reluctantly.

"I ask this as a matter of justice. Won't you and young Benson step
down the corridor with me?"

"How long will this interview take?" demanded Farnum.

"Only a very short time."

"Well, lead on, then."

Farnum and Captain Jack stepped down a corridor in the wake of their

Rhinds led them into the ladies' parlor. Farnum and Jack caught sight
of two anxious faced women - one, a refined woman of middle age, the
other a beautiful girl of sixteen.

"Mr. Farnum, and Mr. Benson, my dear," announced John Rhinds, in oily
tones. "Gentlemen, my wife, and my daughter, Helen. Both have something
to say to you, gentlemen. Be seated, won't you?"

With that Rhinds slipped away. Like many another cur, in the hour when
he finds himself driven to the wall, John Rhinds had sent for his wife
and daughter. He proposed to escape from the consequences of his
rascally acts by hiding behind the skirts of pure and good women who
had the strange fortune to have their lives linked with his.

"What is all this that I have heard, sir?" asked Mrs. Rhinds, tears
filling her eyes fast, as she turned to regard the Dunhaven shipbuilder.

It was the hardest hour Jacob Farnum had ever spent, and the same was
true for Jack Benson.

This wife and daughter had the most absolute faith in the goodness of
John Rhinds. They pleaded gently, eloquently, for these two enemies
to have faith in their husband and father.

"You surely don't believe that Mr. Rhinds was at the bottom of any such
scoundrelly plot as the papers are talking about?" asked Mrs. Rhinds,
tearfully, at last.

"Madame," replied Farnum, in the gentlest tone he knew how to use, "I'll
admit I don't like to believe it."

"And you'll come out in a public interview, saying you're convinced
that the whole story is a monstrous lie, won't you?" pleaded the wife.

Jacob Farnum choked.

"I - I can't promise that, Mrs. Rhinds. You'll never believe how hard
it is for me to refuse you."

"Then you do believe my husband guilty?" demanded Mrs. Rhinds, in a
voice full of agony.

"Oh, I wish I could say what you want me to, Mrs. Rhinds, but - well, all
I can do is to remain silent."

"Can't I say something - something?" asked Helen Rhinds, appealingly.
Her moist eyes turned first on Mr. Farnum, then on Captain Jack.

"Ladies," confessed the Dunhaven shipbuilder, "you've already said
enough, as I looked at your faces, to make me almost feel that I am one
of the worst men alive."

"Oh, no, no, no!" protested the girl. "You are going to prove yourself
the most generous."

Then, turning, the girl caught at one of Benson's hands appealingly.

"You urge him!" she begged.

"When the chief has spoken I must be silent," Jack answered, clearly,
though in a low voice.

"What can you say to us, Mr. Farnum? What will you say?" cried Mrs.
Rhinds, desperately.

"Madame," replied the Dunhaven shipbuilder, "all I can say is this: I
will not, of myself make any effort to bring your husband before a
court. I will make no effort to have the investigation carried any
further. That is all I can say. Jack, if you have anything to say to
these ladies that will soften my words, then, in the name of mercy,
say it."

"Ladies," spoke Captain Jack Benson, looking mother and daughter full
in the eye, in turn, "you have heard the extent of Mr. Farnum's promise.
He is a man who lives by the rules of justice. You are the only two
in the world who could have wrung from him such a promise as you have

With that Farnum and his young captain succeeded in taking their
leave - making their escape, as they felt, from a most trying



Within two hours John C. Rhinds had his head up once more.

He felt as though the battle had been already won. There was nothing
to fear from Farnum pushing the situation that had been created against
the owner of the "Thor," for Farnum had promised. It was strange that
John Rhinds, who had no regard for the moral value of his own given
word, felt certain that Jacob Farnum would not break a promise.

Rhinds even telephoned for the reporters, and, when they came, gave
out an interview in which he stated that Mr. Farnum was satisfied that
no blame over the torpedo incident could be attached to the owner of
the "Thor." Farnum, when questioned by the same reporters, declared
that he had nothing to say.

That night Rhinds was almost cheerful. He dined in the public dining
room of the hotel, with his wife and daughter, and both appeared to be
wholly proud of the man.

One thing, however, worried Rhinds a good deal. Congressman Simms did
not come near him again. Later in the evening Rhinds sought the
Congressman, though wholly in vain.

Rhinds breakfasted with his family, the next morning, in their rooms.
So he was still behind his private doors when a summons reached him to
go to the wharf and take the launch to the "Oakland."

"What can it mean, John?" demanded his wife.

"If they want you as a witness before the investigation, you'll be able
to clear yourself quickly." predicted Helen.

"I'll soon find out why I'm wanted," declared Rhinds, jauntily.

In fact, he was almost cheerful as he boarded the launch at the wharf.
Rhinds was at least self-possessed when he was shown into a cabin where
Captain Magowan was seated at a desk.

"Oh, good morning, Mr. Rhinds," was the greeting of the president of the
naval board, as he rose. "My business will take but a very few moments.
I have received definite orders from the Navy Department by wire this
morning. Here is a copy of the telegram."

Rhinds took the message, and read:

_"Inform John C. Rhinds that the Department will give no further
consideration, this year, to the purchase of any boats from the Rhinds
Submarine Company."_

"What does this mean!" demanded Rhinds, paling, then flushing with

"Just what it says," replied Captain Magowan, coolly.

"There has been some underhanded work here!" began the old man,

"None in the Navy Department, at all events," replied Magowan, coolly.
"I will not detain you longer, Mr. Rhinds. Good morning."

Captain Magowan, bowing, opened the door. A marine sentry stood on post
just outside. There was no use in making a row. John C. Rhinds stepped
out like one in a daze, and remained so until he reached the wharf and
stepped ashore.

To the railway station went Rhinds. He was ruined. The order from
Washington meant that all his capital had been expended on boats that
could not be sold. There might be a chance with foreign governments,
but creditors would step in and seize the Rhinds shipyards before a good
trade could be made abroad.

At the station Rhinds counted the money he had about him. At a bank in
another city was a thousand dollars or so more. Rhinds took the train
and was borne away. His wife and daughter. The former had a small
private fortune of her own; wife and daughter would not starve. So the
coward ran away.

That same forenoon Farnum and his submarine boys were summoned to police
headquarters. There they were confronted with a rather pretty though
almost poorly dressed girl.

"Is this the young woman whom you rescued at a street corner, and whom
you were escorting when attacked by a gang of rowdies?" asked Chief

"I don't know," smiled Eph. "The young woman I was walking with had on
a veil."

"Oh, that's all right," laughed the police chief. "This young woman is
Katharine Pitney. She has told me the whole story, and I am satisfied
that she has told me everything honestly. Miss Pitney is not a prisoner.
She has made a little mistake in becoming engaged to the wrong sort of
fellow - the 'Tom' from whom you tried to defend her. Now, it seems
that 'Tom' - which isn't his name, had persuaded her to help him in
playing a joke, as he explained it to her. So Miss Pitney was foolish
enough to agree. She is wholly sorry, now she knows that it was a
crime, not a joke in which she helped. And 'Tom' has received his
walking papers so far as Miss Pitney is concerned."

"But I beg you'll forgive me, Mr. Somers," spoke up the girl, anxiously.
"I honestly believed it was a joke that I was helping in. As soon as
Mr. Ward found me, I told him the whole truth about the matter."

"You certainly did, Miss Pitney," confirmed the chief.

"Why, I haven't anything to forgive," laughed Eph. "It was a joke,
the way it turned out."

Chief Ward escorted Miss Pitney from the room, then returned to

"That's a wholly good girl, but her fancy was too easily won by the
fellow, 'Tom.' She knows better, now, and will have to know a whole
lot more about the next man she allows to capture her affections. Now,
I have another pair to show you. They're in cells. Come downstairs,

Through a corridor underneath the chief led his visitors, halting,
at last, before a barred door of iron.

"Look through, and see who it is," smiled the police chief.

"Why, that's Walter C. Hodges, who sent us off on a pleasure trip in
that doctored automobile!" exclaimed Jack.

"Yes; you're right," sighed the prisoner. "I've been cornered, and
I've admitted it."

"But that fellow's daughter?" asked Jack, as the chief led them away.

"Hodges hasn't any daughter," replied Chief Ward. "We found the young
woman, but we let her go. She is an idle, vain young woman. Hodges
told her the same old story - a joke he was playing, and persuaded the
young woman to go along and pretend to be his daughter. In payment he
bought her the fine clothes she was wearing when you saw her. And now,
here's some one you may like to see here!"

For a moment or two not a word was uttered as the submarine people found
themselves gazing between bars at - Fred Radwin.

Radwin did not look depressed, but, on the contrary, jaunty and defiant.

"He's the one I'm best pleased of all to have," chuckled Chief Ward.
"The four ruffians who attacked you boys, and held two of you in that
deserted house before Benson led our party to the place, have confessed
that they were acting for Radwin. And Hodges has confessed, too, that
Radwin employed him, and that, between them, they put the doctored axle
in the auto."

While Chief Ward was speaking Fred Radwin turned pale.

"You didn't know all this until just this moment, did you, Radwin?"
smiled the chief.

"Oh, you needn't think you can down me too easily," snarled the prisoner.
"I have money to fight with."

"I know," nodded Ward. "You have a little over twenty thousand dollars,
Radwin. I also know where the money is. An attorney acting for the
chauffeur that was hurt so badly in the automobile smash-up has already
started in to attach that money in a suit for damages by the chauffeur."

* * * * * * * * * *

It is time to turn from too disagreeable a picture. The four roughs
first hired by Fred Radwin were sent to the penitentiary for a year

Hodges, in consideration of furnishing useful state's evidence, was
sentenced to the penitentiary for two years and a half for his share
in the automobile plot.

Radwin, for conspiracy in setting on the roughs, was sentenced to three
years in the penitentiary; for his part in the automobile affair five
years more were added. It will be a long time, yet, ere Radwin will
breathe the air as a free man.

John C. Rhinds vanished completely. True, one returned traveler reported
having seen Rhinds at Nice, performing paltry services for American
tourists in return for paltry "tips."

Mrs. Rhinds and her daughter, having decided to make the best of matters,
are now living quietly and happily in a western town. They believe

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Online LibraryVictor G. DurhamThe Submarine Boys' Lightning Cruise The Young Kings of the Deep → online text (page 11 of 12)