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Книга The Polar Treasure. Страница 16

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He had also equipped the Helldiver with the most sensitive devices for measuring underwater distances with sound waves. Simply by watching dials, Long Tom could tell how far below the sea bottom was, how far they were from the nearest iceberg, and how big the berg was. An alarm bell would even ring the instant they came within dangerous distance of any floating object big enough to harm the sub.

Monk left Doc considering the new danger which threatened them. Monk had confidence Doc would find a way to trap their enemy with the clicking teeth.

Monk retired to the cubicle where he kept his chemicals. Monk's contributions to the expedition were numerous. The most remarkable of these was a chemical concoction which, when released in quantities from the sub, would dissolve any ice which happened to be above it.

This removed any danger of the Helldiver being trapped under the ice!

Special apparatus for supplying oxygen within the sub, concentrated foods which were composed simply of the necessary chemical elements for nourishment in a form easily assimilated — these and other things were products of Monk's genius.

Renny was doing work which his experience as an engineer eminently fitted him. He was the navigator. At this, Renny had few equals. Moreover, he was making maps. The voyage of the Helldiver would lead through unexplored arctic regions, and Renny's maps would be of great value to future generations.

The archaeologist and geologist, Johnny, possessed a fund of knowledge about the polar ice cap and ocean currents which would be invaluable. There were very few things about this old ball of mud we call the earth which Johnny did not know.

As for Ham, he had taken care of the legal angles, such as securing the necessary permission to put in at Greenland seaports. The Danes run Greenland as a monopoly, and a hatful of permits are necessary before a foreign vessel can touch there.

Ham also furnished everybody aboard the Helldiver an example of what the well-dressed voyager under the polar ice should wear. His oilskins were impeccable. The fact that he always carried an innocent-looking black cane afforded Captain McCluskey's crew some chuckles. They didn't know this was a sword cane. If Ham ever drowned, he would still have that sword cane in one hand.

About noon, Ham searched Doc Savage out. Doc was on deck. It seemed a miracle that each terrific wave did not sweep him overboard. But the seas had no more effect upon Doc than upon a statue of tough bronze metal. There was a strange quality about Doc's bronze skin — it seemed to shed water like the proverbial duck's back, without becoming wet.

Ham was excited.

"Good news!" he yelled. "Radio message from New York, Long Tom just copied it!"

"What is it?" Doc asked.

"Victor Vail left the hospital this morning," Ham replied. "He is no longer blind. He can see as well as anybody!"

* * *

THE SMASHING waves soon drove the immaculate Ham into the greasy vitals of the submarine.

"I've inhaled so much oil already, it's oozing out of my hide," he told Monk.

But Monk was making a chemical concoction capable of giving off warmth for several hours at a stretch — something that would be very handy to tuck in a man's shoes and gloves when he took a. stroll on the ice in the vicinity of the north pole. He didn't want to be bothered.

"G'wan off an' chew a bacon rind!" he sneered.

Ham bloated indignantly. Monk had been goading him for several days about pigs and pork, and Ham hadn't been able to devise a single way to get back at Monk. Ham wished mightily he dared take a swing at Monk, but he knew better. A grizzly bear with any sense would think twice before tackling Monk.

Muttering to himself, Ham ambled forward. He heard a sound which might have been an angry bull in a china shop. Ham quickened his pace. It sounded like a fight. He ducked gingerly through a slit of a door in a steel bulkhead.

One of the Helldiver's crew sprawled on the grilled floor of the engine room. The man was an oiler. He was big — fully as big as Monk. He looked tough. Privately, Ham had considered getting this oiler and Monk embroiled in a fight, just for his own amusement.

But the fighting oiler now sprawled on his back. He whimpered. His lips had been smashed into a crimson pulp. One of his eyes was closed.

Over him towered walrus-like Captain McCluskey.

"I kin lick any swab aboard this iron fish!" the captain bellowed. "Rust my anchor, but I'll wring the neck of the next scut I find shirkin' his work. Get up on yer feet, you! An' see that them engines is kept better oiled!"

Captain McCluskey evidently ran his craft like an old-time clipper master.

Ham mentally kissed the oiler good-by as a prospective opponent for Monk. He addressed Captain McCluskey.

"I like your discipline methods," he said flatteringly.

"They'll do, pretty boy." bellowed the walrus.

Ham writhed under the appellation of pretty boy. But he kept the oily smile of admiration on his face.

"I'm afraid you're going to have trouble with one man aboard this vessel," he said in the air of imparting a warning to his hero.

"Who?" roared the giant captain.

"The hairy baboon they call Monk," said Ham blandly.

"I'll watch 'im!" boomed the walrus ominously. "If he bats an eye at me, I'll hit the swab so hard his fur will fall off!"

Ham had a foxy look in his eye as he ambled back to Monk's steel cubicle. He looked in at Monk.

Monk gave him an elaborate, pig-like grunt.

Ham ignored the insult.

"The captain says the next time you bat an eye at him, he's gonna hit you so hard you'll shed all that red fuzz," Ham advised.

"Yeah?" Monk heaved to his feet. "Yeah? Well, I'll just go tell 'im I don't like guys talkin' behind my back like that."

He waddled out. He was so big he barely got through the door of his cubicle.

Ham trailed along. He wouldn't have missed what was going to happen for a thousand dollars.

* * *

MONK FOUND walrus-like Captain McCluskey in the officers' quarters. The two giants promptly glowered at each other. Monk's little eyes sparkled with the prospect of a fight. The walrus blew noisily through his mustache, each hair of which was like a crooked black peg.

"Listen, guy!" Monk began in a sugary voice. I don't like — "

The walrus hit Monk. It sounded like a gun going off.

Monk hadn't expected it so soon. He was caught off guard. The blow drove him backward as though he had accidentally stood in front of a twelve-inch coast-defense gun.

His bulk collided with Ham, who was standing behind him. That kept Monk from falling.

But Ham was tumbled end over end. His head cracked a valve wheel. He was promptly knocked senseless.

From Ham's point of view, nothing worse could have happened. He slept through the whole fight. He was cheated of enjoying the fruit of his devilment. it was the biggest disappointment Ham had suffered in years. For days afterward, he was wont to get off in a corner and swear to himself about it.

Monk emitted a series of deep bawling noises. He jumped up and down like an ape. This cleared his head. He rushed the walrus.

The walrus kicked him in the stomach.

Monk folded down to the floor. The walrus leaped high into the air, and came down — and his face collided forcibly with Monk's driving feet.

Captain McCluskey turned over completely in the air. He spat out three teeth. He got up, roaring. Monk knocked him down, loosening two more teeth in the process.

The walrus tried to bite off Monk's left ear with what teeth he had left.

Monk stopped this by grasping great folds of his opponent's ample stomach in monster fists and striving to tear the man open.

They stood toe to toe and traded haymakers. They swapped indiscriminate kicks.

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