Книга The Polar Treasure. Содержание - Chapter 11 POLAR PERIL
They all now dived into the rest of the bundle. They were anxious to see what fresh wonders it held.
Long Tom released a howl of delight.
"A radio set!" he squawled. "Transmitter and receiver, complete!"
Swiftly, Long Tom drew aside with the wireless equipment. He proceeded to put it in operation. The apparatus was of Doc's own devising, marvelously compact. It had no bulky batteries which might be rendered useless by moisture or cold, or exhausted by use. Current was supplied by a generator operated by a powerful spring and clockwork. The set operated on very short wave lengths.
In fifteen minutes, Long Tom had it ready for a test. Eagerly, the electrical wizard cocked an ear at the tiny built-in loud speaker, and twirled the tuning dials.
Suddenly a voice purred out of the speaker.
The astonishment of Doc and his friends at hearing that voice was unbounded. It was as though they had tuned in on the other world.
They jumped up and down. They bellowed at each other in a near hysteria of delight They danced circles on the iceberg.
"I tell you' we're tuned in on hell!" Ham howled.
Ham was back in his old form.
For it was Monk's voice coming out of the loud-speaker!
ONE HOUR had passed. In the haze-soaked sky hung a dark spot. This spot emitted a loud droning. The droning increased in volume.
The spot became a seaplane.
It was a two-motored job, not the latest and speediest type of plane, and somewhat shabby. But an angel would not have looked better to the four men watching it from the iceberg.
The ship sloped down in the fog. It circled. It lowered. The floats scraped a long white chalk mark of foam on the open lead in the ice pack. Then they settled. The plane taxied in to the rim of the berg.
Monk and Renny stood on the floats. With acrobatic leaps, they bounded to the ice.
Probably no more hearty reunion ever occurred than took place there in the cold shadow of the north pole.
Unnoticed at first, a man clambered out and sat on the cabin of the plane.
Doc Savage was the first to glimpse him.
"Victor Vail!" he called in surprise.
The famous violinist smiled at Doc. He tried to speak, but could find no words to express the depth of his feeling.
Finally, Victor Vail pointed at his own eyes. It was a simple gesture. But its meaning was unbounded.
Victor Vail now had eyes which were entirely normal. So deep was his gratitude to this giant bronze man that he could not put his emotion into coherent sentences.
"I sure thought I was rid of the sight of your ugly mug," Ham told Monk happily. "What happened?"
"The dang submarine submerged while we were keeping watch on deck," Monk explained in his mild way. "We were washed off. We swam like polar bears. I'll bet we swam ten miles. Talk about cold We happened to have some of that chemical concoction I fixed up to keep a man warm, or we'd have frozen stiff. Anyway, we finally found an iceberg big enough to roost on."
"And we roosted on it until Victor Vail came along and took us off," Renny put in, his vast voice rumbling over the ice pack like thunder.
Doc Savage eyed Victor Vail. The violinist was alone in the plane. Surely, he had not flown into the arctic wastes alone?
Victor Vail sensed his puzzlement.
"I hired this plane and a pilot to overhaul you," he ex plained. "You may have wondered why I have been so interested in your exact position, and the course you intended to follow. The reason was because I intended to join you."
"But why?" Doc questioned.
"My wife and my infant daughter, Roxey," Victor Vail said quietly. "I wanted to satisfy myself as to their — fate."
LONG TOM now busied himself taking down the portable radio outfit, It had served its purpose well, for it had guided the plane to this iceberg.
"Where is the pilot Victor Vail hired to fly him?" Doc asked.
"The monkey got cold feet!" Renny grinned. "Looking at all these icebergs got his goat. He refused to go on. So we took him back south to a little settlement on the coast of Greenland, bought his plane for twice what it is worth, and left him."
"That accounts for our not finding you," Doc decided.
Long Tom stored the last of the radio equipment into its container.
"You haven't told us how you happened to be marooned here," Monk grunted.
So Doc explained. "Captain McCluskey is Ben O'Gard," he concluded.
Victor Vail made a gesture of regret.
"I could not describe Ben O'Gard to you," he murmured. "I had no eyes to see him at the time I was in contact with him."
The famous violinist was now seized again with emotion. In halting words, he sought to express his gratitude to big bronze Doc Savage for the return of his vision.
"Any debt of gratitude you owed me is already paid in full!" Doc assured him. "You have saved me and my friends from almost certain death. In the winter, when the ice pack is frozen solid, we might have reached civilization. But as it was, we were in a death trap."
"McCluskey and Ben O'Gard are the same guy!" Renny ruminated. He popped his enormous fists together They were so hard it was a wonder sparks did not fly. "I'd like to have another chance at that walrus! I'll bet the chump wouldn't lick me the second time!"
"You an' me both, pal!" Monk said with deceptive gentleness. "Dibs on first whack at 'im when we meet again!"
Long Tom had been delving in Doc's bundle. Now he gave a bark of surprise.
"Hey, what's this jigger?" he demanded.
He held up an oddly shaped blob of metal. It weighed quite a number of pounds.
"That," Doc explained softly, "is something I took off the submarine before we came away on our walrus hunt. It's a valve from one of the submerging tanks."
Long Tom grinned widely. He sensed that Doc had pulled a fast one.
"Furthermore," Doc continued, "Monk's chemical which melts the ice is all exhausted from the containers in the hull of the sub. There's material for more of the stuff aboard, but the Helldiver crew don't know how to mix it."
"You mean the gang can't take the submarine beneath the surface without this valve?" Long Tom demanded.
"Exactly," Doc replied. "They will realize they'd never come up if they did. The craft would be flooded. Too, they haven't the chemical to melt themselves out of a jam. The Helldiver cannot escape from this arctic ice pack without submerging to pass under solidly frozen floes."
"Then we've still got the upper hand on the gang!" Monk chortled.
THE SPIRITS of the adventurous group now soared. They boarded the seaplane. Old though the craft might be, it was amply large to accommodate all of them. Doc himself handled the controls.
The shabby buzzard of a plane seemed to take a drink out of the Fountain of Youth, or whatever rejuvenates decrepit seaplanes. It wiggled its tail like a fledgling. With a skipping lunge, it took the air.
"The Helldiver cannot have sailed far," Doc remarked.
Long Tom, Ham, and Johnny were taking stock of the plane fittings. There was an emergency outfit for arctic travel, including pemmican and concentrated fruit juices intended to combat scurvy.
There were also parachutes.
"They may come in handy," Long Tom grinned. "From what I've seen of this ice pack, a man sometimes can go many a mile without finding enough open water to land a plane."
"Suppose you birds use binoculars on what's below us," Doc suggested mildly. "Finding the submarine in this fog is going to be a job."
"You said it," agreed Renny. "We'd never have found you on that iceberg if it hadn't been for the radio compass with which this plane is equipped."