Chapter Twenty-Five. Home With the Gold
 

There was no time to be lost. They were in a treacherous part of the ocean, and strong currents might at any time further break up the wreck, so that they could not come at the gold. It was decided, by means of motions, to at once transfer the treasure to the submarine. As the boxes were too heavy to carry easily, especially as two men, who were required to lift one, could not walk together in the uncertain footing afforded by the wreck, another plan was adopted. The boxes were opened and the bars, a few at a time, were dropped on a firm, sandy place at the side of the wreck. Tom and Captain Weston did this work, while Mr. Sharp and Mr. Damon carried the bullion to the diving chamber of the Advance. They put the yellow bars inside, and when quite a number had been thus shifted, Mr. Swift, closing the chamber, pumped the water out and removed the gold. Then he opened the chamber to the divers again, and the process was repeated, until all the bullion had been secured.

Tom would have been glad to make a further examination of the wreck, for he thought he could get some of the rifles the ship carried, but Captain Weston signed to him not to attempt this.

The lad went to the pilot house, while his father and Mr. Sharp took their places in the engine-room. The gold had been safely stowed in Mr. Swift's cabin.

Tom took a last look at the wreck before he gave the starting signal. As he gazed at the bent and twisted mass of steel that had once been a great ship, he saw something long, black and shadowy moving around from the other side, coming across the bows.

"There's another big shark," he observed to Captain Weston. "They're coming back after us."

The captain did not speak. He was staring at the dark form. Suddenly, from what seemed the pointed nose of it, there gleamed a light, as from some great eye.

"Look at that!" cried Tom. "That's no shark!"

"If you want my opinion," remarked the sailor, "I should say it was the other submarine--that of Berg and his friends--the Wonder. They've managed to fix up their craft and are after the gold."

"But they're too late!" cried Tom excitedly. "Let's tell them so."

"No, advised the captain. "We don't want any trouble with them."

Mr. Swift came forward to see why his son had not given the signal to start. He was shown the other submarine, for now that the Wonder had turned on several searchlights, there was no doubt as to the identity of the craft.

"Let's get away unobserved if we can," he suggested. "We have had trouble enough."

It was easy to do this, as the Advance was hidden behind the wreck, and her lights were glowing but dimly. Then, too, those in the other submarine were so excited over the finding of what they supposed was the wreck containing the treasure, that they paid little attention to anything else.

"I wonder how they'll feel when they find the gold gone?" asked Tom as he pulled the lever starting the pumps.

"Well, we may have a chance to learn, when we get back to civilization," remarked the captain.

The surface was soon reached, and then, under fair skies, and on a calm sea, the voyage home was begun. Part of the time the Advance sailed on the top, and part of the time submerged.

They met with but a single accident, and that was when the forward electrical plate broke. But with the aft one still in commission, and the auxiliary screws, they made good time. Just before reaching home they settled down to the bottom and donned the diving suits again, even Mr. Swift taking his turn. Mr. Damon caught some large lobsters, of which he was very fond, or, rather, to be more correct, the lobsters caught him. When he entered the diving chamber there were four fine ones clinging to different parts of his diving suit. Some of them were served for dinner.

The adventurers safely reached the New Jersey coast, and the submarine was docked. Mr. Swift at once communicated with the proper authorities concerning the recovery of the gold. He offered to divide with the actual owners, after he and his friends had been paid for their services, but as the revolutionary party to whom the bullion was intended had gone out of existence, there was no one to officially claim the treasure, so it all went to Tom and his friends, who made an equitable distribution of it. The young inventor did not forget to buy Mrs. Baggert a fine diamond ring, as he had promised.

As for Berg and his employers, they were, it was learned later, greatly chagrined at finding the wreck valueless. They tried to make trouble for Tom and his father, but were not successful.

A few days after arriving at the seacoast cottage, Tom, his father and Mr. Damon went to Shopton in the airship. Captain Weston, Garret Jackson and Mn Sharp remained behind in charge of the submarine. It was decided that the Swifts would keep the craft and not sell it to the Government, as Tom said they might want to go after more treasure some day.

"I must first deposit this gold," said Mr. Swift as the airship landed in front of the shed at his home. "It won't do to keep it in the house over night, even if the Happy Harry gang is in jail."

Tom helped him take it to the bank. As they were making perhaps the largest single deposit ever put in the institution, Ned Newton came out.

"Well, Tom," he cried to his chum, "it seems that you are never going to stop doing things. You've conquered the air, the earth and the water."

"What have you been doing while I've been under water, Ned?" asked the young inventor.

"Oh, the same old thing. Running errands and doing all sorts of work in the bank."

Tom had a sudden idea. He whispered to his father and Mr. Swift nodded. A little later he was closeted with Mr. Prendergast, the bank president. It was not long before Ned and Tom were called in.

"I have some good news for you, Ned," said Mr. Prendergast, while Tom smiled. "Mr. Swift er--ahem--one of our largest depositors, has spoken to me about you, Ned. I find that you have been very faithful. You are hereby appointed assistant cashier, and of course you will get a much larger salary."

Ned could hardly believe it, but he knew then what Tom had whispered to Mr. Swift. The wishes of a depositor who brings much gold bullion to a bank can hardly be ignored.

"Come on out and have some soda," invited Tom, and when Ned looked inquiringly at the president, the latter nodded an assent.

As the two lads were crossing the street to a drug store, something whizzed past them, nearly running them down.

"What sort of an auto was that?" cried Tom.

"That? Oh, that was Andy Foger's new car," answered Ned. "He's been breaking the speed laws every day lately, but no one seems to bother him. It's because his father is rich, I suppose. Andy says he has the fastest car ever built."

"He has, eh?" remarked Tom, while a curious look came into his eyes. "Well, maybe I can build one that will beat his."

And whether the young inventor did or not you can learn by reading the fifth volume of this series, to be called "Tom Swift and His Electric Runabout; Or, The Speediest Car on the Road."

"Well, Tom, I certainly appreciate what you did for me in getting me a better position," remarked Ned as they left the drug store. "I was beginning to think I'd never get promoted. Say, have you anything to do this evening? If you haven't, I wish you'd come over to my house. I've got a lot of pictures I took while you were away."

"Sorry, but I can't," replied Tom.

"Why, are you going to build another airship or submarine?"

"No, but I'm going to see-- Oh, what do you want to know for, anyhow?" demanded the young inventor with a blush. "Can't a fellow go see a girl without being cross-questioned?"

"Oh, of course," replied Ned with a laugh. "Give Miss Nestor my regards," and at this Tom blushed still more. But, as he said, that was his own affair.