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- Boy Scouts in a Submarine - 2/31 -
Before complying with this gracious invitation the Captain glanced around the apartment with the supercilious sneer he had shown on entering. The boys watched him with heavy frowns on their faces.
"If we've got to take this along in the submarine," Jimmie whispered to Jack, "I hope the boat will drop down into a deep hole and stay there. Look at it!"
"Hush!" whispered the other. "It has ears!"
Those who have read the first and second volumes of this series will understand without being told here that it was a very fine clubroom upon which the frosty blue eyes of the Secret Service man looked.
The walls were adorned with all manner of hunting and fishing paraphernalia, together with many trophies of the chase. Foils, gloves, ball bats, paddles and many other athletic aids were scattered about the large room.
This clubroom, that of the Black Bear Patrol, as has been said, was the handsomest in New York, the members of the Patrol being sons of very wealthy men. The father of Frank Shaw was editor and owner of one of the important daily newspapers of the metropolis. Jack Bosworth's father was a prominent corporation lawyer, while Harry Stevens, a lad with a historical hobby, was a prominent automobile manufacturer.
Ned Nestor, the boy just now trying to entertain the very formal Captain Moore, was a member of the Wolf Patrol, also of New York, as was also Jimmie McGraw, who had been a Bowery newsboy before joining fortunes with Ned.
As is well known to most of our readers, Ned had, at one time and another, undertaken and successfully accomplished delicate and hazardous enterprises for the United States Government. Accompanied by Frank, Jack, Jimmie, Harry, and other members of the Boy Scout Patrols of the United States, he had visited Mexico, the Canal Zone, the Philippines, the Great Northwest, had navigated the Columbia river in a motor boat, and had covered the continent of South America in an aeroplane.
He was now about to enter upon, perhaps, the most important mission ever assigned to him by the Secret Service department. The story of the quest upon which he was about to enter will best be told in the conversation which now took place in the clubroom of the Black Bear Patrol on this evening of the 11th of September.
Presently Captain Moore transferred his gaze from the apartment to the boys gathered about the table and grouped about the place. As a matter of course all conversation in the room had ceased on the arrival of the Captain. While the boys who were not fortunate enough to be planning on the trip in the submarine were too courteous to openly stare at their guest of the moment, it may well be believed that his every look and word was closely noted.
Concluding his rather rude observations, Captain Moore dropped his glass, shrugged his shoulders, which were heavily padded, and gave utterance to his feelings in the one word of comments which he had twice used before:
Ned said not a word, but waited for the visitor to lead out in the talk. Captain Moore was in no haste to begin, but he finally broke the silence by asking:
"You are Ned Nestor?"
Ned bowed stiffly. He did not like the man he was supposed to do business with, and did not try to conceal the fact.
"The Ned Nestor who undertook the Secret Service work in the Canal Zone and South America?"
Ned nodded again.
"You said that before?" broke in Jimmie, who was fuming under the idea that the Captain was not treating his chum with proper courtesy.
The Captain brought his glass into use again and looked the boy over, much as he would have inspected a curio in a museum. Jimmie glared back, and the eyes of the two fenced for a moment before a twinkle of humor appeared in those of the Captain.
"You are Jimmie, eh?" the latter demanded.
Jimmie would have made some discourteous reply only for the tug Ned gave at his sleeve. As it was he only nodded.
"Aw, I've heard of you!" the Captain said, then. "Quite remarkable--quite extraordinary!"
"You came to deliver instructions regarding the submarine trip?" Ned asked, feeling revolt in the air of the room.
Unless something was done, the boys, all resenting the manner of the Captain, would be beyond control, and then the Secret Service man would be likely to leave the place in anger.
This, in turn, might endanger the adventure already planned and prepared for, for the chief of the department might see fit to adopt whatever recommendations Captain Moore made in the matter.
The visitor might have sensed the hostility, for he hastened to take from a pocket a sheaf of papers and place them on the table. The next moment the boys all saw that they had not gained a correct estimate of the Secret Service man.
The instant he began talking of the matter which had brought him to the clubroom his manner changed. He was no longer the drawling, supercilious naval officer in resplendent uniform. He was a keen- brained mechanical expert, questioning Ned regarding his knowledge of submarines.
"You are fairly well up in the matter," the Captain said, going back to his old drawl, in a few moments. "I shall not object to your going on the Diver with me."
The boys all gasped. So their worst fears were coming true! The Captain was indeed going with them! He would be the commander, and Ned would be obliged to work under his orders if he went at all!
Would Ned do this? Would he submit to the authority of another while practically responsible for the results of the trip? Frank, Jack, and Jimmie saw their cherished plans go glimmering.
Ned made no reply whatever. Instead he began asking questions concerning the Diver as the submarine the Captain had in view was named, and also about the object of the expedition.
"A short time ago," the Captain said, "the Cutaria, a fast mail boat, went down in the Gulf of Tong King, carrying with her many passengers, the United States mails, and $10,000,000 in gold consigned to the Chinese Government. We are to search the ocean floor for the gold, and also for information sought by the Department of State."
"Who got careless and dropped $10,000,000 on an ocean floor?" asked Jimmie.
A CONFLICT OF AUTHORITY
The Captain gazed at Jimmie for a moment without answering. Then he parted his thin lips and uttered the old, familiar word:
"The Cutaria went down as the result of a collision?" Ned hastened to ask, observing that Jimmie was growing flushed and angry.
"Yes," was the reply, "and it is asserted in the diplomatic circles of foreign governments that she was rammed by the orders of a power alleged to be friendly to our Government, and that our department of state does not dare remonstrate and ask for reparation for the reason that an investigation would reveal the fact that the $10,000,000 in gold which was lost was not really, as alleged, on its way from the sub-treasury in New York to the treasurer of the Chinese Empire."
"But why should Uncle Sam be sending money over there?" asked Ned.
"It is asserted that the money was sent at the command of men high in influence in Washington who understood that it was to be seized while in transit, after reaching Chinese soil, and used to assist the radical fomentation now going on in China."
"An indirect way, a sly and underhand way, of assisting the revolutionary party in China to get control of the government, eh?" asked Ned.
"Aw, that is what is claimed," was the reply.
"And you are to have charge of the expedition?" asked Ned, quietly, his eyes fixed keenly on the face of the visitor.
"Orders," was the slow reply.
"And the Diver has been chosen as the boat?"
"At my request, yes."
"But," Ned then said, by way of protest, "I have made all my trial trips in the Sea Lion."
"You will soon learn to help handle the Diver," was the lofty reply.
"The Diver is no more like the Sea Lion than she is like the Ark," was Ned's reply. "It will take me another fortnight to learn to run her, I'm afraid."
"You can take lessons from my son on the way over," was the unsatisfactory reply.
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