Find this Story

Print, a form you can hold

Wireless download to your Amazon Kindle

Look for a summary or analysis of this Story.

Enjoy this? Share it!

The Submarine Bell
by [?]

Kennedy groped about for a light, stumbling over boxes and bags.

“For heaven’s sake, Craig,” I entreated. “Be careful. Those packages are full of the devilish things!”

He said nothing.

At least we had a little more freedom to move and I managed to find my way over to a little round porthole and open it.

As I looked out, I almost fainted at the realization. The Furious was under way! We were locked in the hold–virtual prisoners–our only company those dastardly infernal machines, whose very nature we did not know!

Helplessly I gazed around me. There seemed to be only this one porthole, open, looking out over the dark and turbulent water, which slipped ominously past as we gained speed.

Why had Kennedy not foreseen this risk? I glanced at him. He had found an electric light, connected with the yacht’s dynamo, and, before turning it on, closed and covered the port so that it threw no reflection out.

Far from being disconcerted, on the contrary, he seemed rather pleased than otherwise at the unexpected turn of events.

As I looked at our scant and cramped quarters I could see absolutely no way of getting word to anyone off the Furious who might help us.

What he was working on I did not know, but if it was some sort of wireless, even if we were able to send a message, what hope was there that it would get past the delicate wireless detector which this criminal must have somewhere near for tapping messages that were being flashed through the air? Had we not heard him say that the signal was to be an S O S sent, as it were, from the fleet far out on the ocean?

I could well have believed that Kennedy could rig up some means of communication. But, if the possessor of this terrible infra-red ray, or wireless wave, secret should learn that we, too, knew it, the only result that he would accomplish would be to insure our destruction immediately.

It was a foggy night and a drizzle had set in. The Furious could not under such circumstances make such good speed as she was accustomed to make. Fortunately, also, the waves were not running high.

Craig had taken a desperate chance. How would he meet it? I watched him at work, fascinated by our peril.

Finishing as quickly as he could, he put out our sole electric light, unscrewed the bulb and attached to the socket a wire which he had connected with the instrument over which he had spent so many precious moments.

Through the little porthole he cast a peculiar disk, heavy, such as I had seen him place so carefully aboard the Uncas.

It sank in the water with a splash and trailed along beside the yacht, held by a wire, submerged, perhaps, ten or twelve feet.

He made a final inspection of the thing as well as he could by the light of a match, then pressed a key which seemed to close a circuit.

I could feel a dull, metallic vibration, as it were.

“What are you doing?” I asked, looking curiously also at an arrangement, like a microphone, which he had placed over his ears.

“It works!” he cried excitedly.

“What works?” I reiterated.

“This Fessenden oscillator,” he explained. “It’s a system for the employment of sound for submarine signals. I don’t know whether you realize it, but great advance has been made recently since it was suggested to use water instead of air as the medium for transmitting signals. I can’t stop to explain this apparatus just now, but it is composed of a ring magnet, a copper tube which lies in an air gap of a magnetic field, and a stationary central armature. The magnetic field is much stronger than that in the ordinary dynamo.

“The copper tube, which has an alternating current induced in it, is attached to solid disks of steel which in turn are attached to a steel diaphragm an inch thick. In the Uncas I had a chance to make that diaphragm practically a part of the side of the ship. Here I have had to hang it overboard, with a large water-tight diaphragm attached to the oscillator.”