Tom Swift And His Submarine Boat by Victor Appleton
Chapter Twenty. Doomed to Death
There was no room on the small deck of the submarine to make a stand against the officers and crew of the Brazilian warship. In fact, the capture of the gold-seekers had been effected so suddenly that their astonishment almost deprived them of the power to think clearly.
At another command from the officer, who was addressed as Admiral Fanchetti, several of the sailors began to lead Tom and his friends toward the small boat.
"Do you feel all right, father?" inquired the lad anxiously, as he looked at his parent. "These scoundrels have no right to treat us so."
"Yes, Tom, I'm all right as far as the electric shock is concerned, but I don't like to be handled in this fashion."
"We ought not to submit!" burst out Mr. Damon. "Bless the stars and stripes! We ought to fight."
"There's no chance," said Mr. Sharp. "We are right under the guns of the ship. They could sink us with one shot. I guess we'll have to give in for the time being."
"It is most unpleasant, if I may be allowed the expression," commented Captain Weston mildly. He seemed to have lost his sudden anger, hut there was a steely glint in his eyes, and a grim, set look around his month that showed his temper was kept under control only by an effort. It boded no good to the sailors who had hold of the doughty captain if he should once get loose, and it was noticed that they were on their guard.
As for Tom, he submitted quietly to the two Brazilians who had hold of either arm, and Mr. Swift was held by only one, for it was seen that he was feeble.
"Into the boat with them!" cried Admiral Fanchetti. "And guard them well, Lieutenant Drascalo, for I heard them plotting to escape," and the admiral signaled to a younger officer, who was in charge of the men guarding the prisoners.
"Lieutenant Drascalo, eh?" murmured Mr. Damon. "I think they made a mistake naming him. It ought to be Rascalo. He looks like a rascal."
"Silenceo!" exclaimed the lieutenant, scowling at the odd character'.
"Bless my spark plug! He's a regular fire-eater!" went on Mr. Damon, who appeared to have fully recovered his spirits.
"Silenceo!" cried the lieutenant, scowling again, but Mr. Damon did not appear to mind.
Admiral Fanchetti and several others of the gold-laced officers remained aboard the submarine, while Tom and his friends were hustled into the small boat and rowed toward the warship.
"I hope they don't damage our craft," murmured the young inventor, as he saw the admiral enter the conning tower.
"If they do, we'll complain to the United States consul and demand damages," said Mr. Swift
"I'm afraid we won't have a chance to communicate with the consul," remarked Captain Weston.
"What do you mean?" asked Mr. Damon. "Bless my shoelaces, but will these scoundrels--"
"Silenceo!" cried Lieutenant Drascalo quickly. "Dogs of Americans, do you wish to insult us?"
"Impossible; you wouldn't appreciate a good, genuine United States insult," murmured Tom under his breath.
"What I mean," went on the captain, "is that these people may carry the proceedings off with a high hand. You heard the admiral speak of a court-martial."
"Would they dare do that?" inquired Mr. Sharp.
"They would dare anything in this part of the world, I'm afraid," resumed Captain Weston. "I think I see their plan, though. This admiral is newly in command; his uniform shows that He wants to make a name for himself, and he seizes on our submarine as an excuse. He can send word to his government that he destroyed a torpedo craft that sought to wreck his ship. Thus he will acquire a reputation."
"But would his government support him in such a hostile act against the United States, a friendly nation?" asked Tom.
"Oh, he would not claim to have acted against the United States as a power. He would say that it was a private submarine, and, as a matter of fact, it is. While we are under the protection of the stars and stripes, our vessel is not a Government one," and Captain Weston spoke the last in a low voice, so the scowling lieutenant could not hear.
"What will they do with us?" inquired Mr. Swift.
"Have some sort of a court-martial, perhaps," went on the captain, "and confiscate our craft Then they will send us back home, I expect for they would not dare harm us."
"But take our submarine!" cried Tom. "The villains--"
"Silenceo!" shouted Lieutenant Drascalo and he drew his sword.
By this time the small boat was under the big guns of the San Paulo, and the prisoners were ordered, in broken English, to mount a companion ladder that hung over the side. In a short time they were on deck, amid a crowd of sailors, and they could see the boat going back to bring off the admiral, who signaled from the submarine. Tom and his friends were taken below to a room that looked like a prison, and there, a little later, they were visited by Admiral Fanchetti and several officers.
"You will be tried at once," said the admiral. "I have examined your submarine and I find she carries two torpedo tubes. It is a wonder you did not sink me at once."
"Those are not torpedo tubes!" cried Tom, unable to keep silent, though Captain Weston motioned him to do so.
"I know torpedo tubes when I see them," declared the admiral. "I consider I had a very narrow escape. Your country is fortunate that mine does not declare war against it for this act. But I take it you are acting privately, for you fly no flag, though you claim to be from the United States."
"There's no place for a flag on the submarine," went on Tom. "What good would it be under water?"
"Silenceo!" cried Lieutenant Drascalo, the admonition to silence seeming to be the only command of which he was capable.
"I shall confiscate your craft for my government," went on the admiral, "and shall punish you as the court-martial may direct. You will be tried at once."
It was in vain for the prisoners to protest. Matters were carried with a high hand. They were allowed a spokesman, and Captain Weston, who understood Spanish, was selected, that language being used. But the defense was a farce, for he was scarcely listened to. Several officers testified before the admiral, who was judge, that they had seen the submarine rise out of the water, almost under the prow of the San Paulo. It was assumed that the Advance had tried to wreck the warship, but had failed. It was in vain that Captain Weston and the others told of the reason for their rapid ascent from the ocean depths--that Mr. Swift had been shocked, and needed fresh air. Their story was not believed.
"We have heard enough!" suddenly exclaimed the admiral. "The evidence against you is over-whelming--er--what you Americans call conclusive," and be was speaking then in broken English. "I find you guilty, and the sentence of this court-martial is that you be shot at sunrise, three days hence!"
"Shot!" cried Captain Weston, staggering back at this unexpected sentence. His companions turned white, and Mr. Swift leaned against his son for support.
"Bless my stars! Of all the scoundrelly!" began Mr. Damon.
"Silenceo!" shouted the lieutenant, waving his sword.
"You will be shot," proceeded the admiral. "Is not that the verdict of the honorable court?" he asked, looking at his fellow officers. They all nodded gravely.
"But look here!" objected Captain Weston. "You don't dare do that! We are citizens of the United States, and--"
"I consider you no better than pirates," interrupted the admiral. "You have an armed submarine--a submarine with torpedo tubes. You invade our harbor with it, and come up almost under my ship. You have forfeited your right to the protection of your country, and I have no fear on that score. You will be shot within three days. That is all. Remove the prisoners."
Protests were in vain, and it was equally useless to struggle. The prisoners were taken out on deck, for which they were thankful, for the interior of the ship was close and hot, the weather being intensely disagreeable. They were told to keep within a certain space on deck, and a guard of sailors, all armed, was placed near them. From where they were they could see their submarine floating on the surface of the little bay, with several Brazilians on the small deck. The Advance had been anchored, and was surrounded by a flotilla of the native boats, the brown-skinned paddlers gazing curiously at the odd craft.
"Well, this is tough luck!" murmured Tom. "How do you feel, dad?"
"As well as can be expected under the circumstances," was the reply. "What do you think about this, Captain Weston?"
"Not very much, if I may be allowed the expression," was the answer.
"Do you think they will dare carry out that threat?" asked Mr. Sharp.
The captain shrugged his shoulders. "I hope it is only a bluff," he replied, "made to scare us so we will consent to giving up the submarine, which they have no right to confiscate. But these fellows look ugly enough for anything," he went on.
"Then if there's any chance of them attempting to carry it out," spoke Tom, "we've got to do something."
"Bless my gizzard, of course!" exclaimed Mr. Damon. "But what? That's the question. To be shot! Why, that's a terrible threat! The villains--"
"Silenceo!" shouted Lieutenant Drascalo, coming up at that moment.