Книга The Polar Treasure. Страница 18
"Well, we ain't seen no signs of Keelhaul de Rosa or Ben O'Gard," he chuckled. 'That's one consolation."
"It's my opinion that Ben O'Gard's man with the clicking teeth is behind this trouble brewing with the crew," Doc replied.
"Confound it." declared Ham. "The clicking of the teeth should make the man easy to find!"
"That's what 1 thought," Doc said wryly. "But, bless me, brothers, I do believe that fellow's teeth have stopped clicking. I've gone around, straining my ears day after day, and not a click have I heard."
"Maybe it was really a dream Long Tom had about the man with the noisy teeth bending over him that night?" Johnny suggested.
"I didn't dream the black wig!" Long Tom retorted.
There was nothing to be said to that. The conclave broke up. At a scant five miles an hour, the Helldiver nosed for the dab of unmapped land where the liner Oceanic supposedly lay.
This was virtually an unexplored region where they now cruised. Possibly a polar aviator had flown over it, but even that was highly unlikely.
Doc retired, confident another twenty-four hours would bring action of some sort.
Johnny's frantic plunge into Doc's quarters awakened the big bronze man. Johnny's breath was a procession of gulps. His spectacles with the magnifying lens on the left side, were askew his nose.
"Renny! Monk!" he shouted. "They are both gone! They vanished during their watch on deck!"
IN flash parts of seconds, Doc was in the control room.
"Put about!" His powerful voice volleyed through the monotonous complaint of the Diesel engines. It penetrated to every cranny of the submarine, from the "hard-nose" bow up front — loaded with steel and concrete in case of collision with the ice — to the little tunnel through the after trim tanks, which gave access to the rudder mechanism.
The helmsman spun his wheel.
"Full speed ahead!" Doc boomed into the engine-room speaking tube.
Captain McCluskey lurched in from the officers' quarters. He was sticky-eyed from sleep.
"What's goin' on here?" he roared. "Rust my anchor, what we puttin' about for?"
"My two men, Monk and Renny, have disappeared!" Doc told him. "We're going back to hunt them!"
Captain McCluskey clambered up on deck. But he came down almost at once, his hairy shanks blue from the cold.
"No use!" he rumbled. "Stormin' up there! If them two swabs ain't aboard, they're in Davy Jones's locker."
McCluskey seized the speaking tube to the engine room, shouted into it: "Slow your engines to normal speed." Then, to the helmsman: "Hard over, me hearty. We're resumin' our course."
Cold and hard as a statue of bronze, Doc Savage was suddenly in front of McCluskey. Doc was big. The walrus was bigger. He outweighed Doc by nearly a hundred pounds.
"Countermand that order!" Doc directed.
Such a quality of compelling obedience did his remarkable voice have, that McCluskey made an involuntary gesture at compliance. Then he bristled.
"I'm skipper of this tin fish!" he bellowed. "We ain't wastin no time goin' back to look for them two swabs. Davy Jones has got 'em, I tell you!"
"Countermand that order!" Doc repeated. "We'll find Monk and Ham, or their bodies, if we have to winter in this ice pack!"
Captain McCluskey glowered. He had a lot of confidence in himself. He had whipped Monk and Renny in succession, and either one of them looked more dangerous than this strange bronze man.
"I'll show yer who's master of this hooker!" he snarled.
He reached for Doc's throat.
The walrus was now treated to the big surprise of his life.
His hand was trapped in mid-air by case-hardened bronze fingers. For an instant, McCluskey thought the hand had been cut off, so much did that grip hurt, and so numb did it make his arm.
He started a blow with his free fist.
It traveled hardly more than an inch. Then that hand was closed in a fearful clasp. The hard paw crushed like so much dough. Big blisters of blood popped out on the finger tips, and burst with fine sprays of crimson.
The walrus screamed like a hurt child.
He stared at his hands. His eyes nearly fell out. Both his monster claws were now being held easily by one hard hand of bronze. Strain as he would, he could not budge them. The largest vise could not have held them tighter — or more painfully.
The walrus screamed again. He had thought himself a mighty fighter. Not in the scope of his memory had he met a scrapper who could stand before him.
But in the hands of this strange bronze man, he was like a fat sheep in the jaws of a hungry tiger, Then a Big Bertha shell seemed to go off in the captain's head. He slumped senseless.
Doc had kayoed him with one punch!
THE SUBMARINE rooted through growlers and pan ice. Back and forth, right and left, lunged and wallowed. Sometimes sheets of pan ice crowded up on the deck until Doc, Long Tom, Ham, and Johnny had to dive hastily down the hatch to avoid being crushed or swept overboard.
They had been searching for five hours.
No sign of Monk or Renny had they found.
A bitter wind was swooping off the distant wastes of ice-capped Greenland. It froze spray on the steel runners affixed to the hull of the under-the-ice sub. But the chemicals on the sides of the ship flushed the frigid coating away at intervals.
"The gale was worse during the night," Johnny muttered. "Poor Monk! Poor Renny!" He blinked his eyes back of his spectacle lenses.
Although Monk and Renny had indeed vanished during the night, it was night only by their watches. The sun hung well above the horizon — where it had lingered for some days. It was wan, almost lost in a pale, nasty haze.
Ice which had piled up on deck abruptly slid off with a grinding roar.
Doc went outside. He carried powerful binoculars. But once more, a search through them disclosed nothing.
However, the sub now surged across a comparatively open lead in the ice pack. This was what Doc had been hoping for.
"Stand by to put out the seaplane!" he ordered. The crew crowded the deck. They were surly. The air of sinister trouble still hung about them. But they obeyed Doc's orders with alacrity. Some of them had seen what had happened to Captain McCluskey. They had told the others.
A deck plate was lifted. A folding boom was jacked into position.
Out came an all-metal, collapsible seaplane. Doc himself got the tiny hornet of a craft ready for the air.
Captain McCluskey came on deck while the work was under way. Doc Savage rested his golden eyes intently upon the walrus of a man.
McCluskey scowled for a second or two. Then he grinned sheepishly.
"Ye won't have any more trouble from me, matey," he mumbled. Then he winced and moved his hands.
Each paw was bundled in bandages until it resembled the foot of a man with the gout.
Doc drew his three remaining companions aside.
"Keep your hands on your guns," he warned them. "I don't think McCluskey will make more trouble immediately. But watch his crew!"
It seemed a miracle when the cockpit of the diminutive seaplane held Doc's mighty bronze form. The little radial engine was fitted with a starter. Doc turned it over. The cold made it stubborn. It fired at last.
The exhaust stacks smoked for a while. Then they lipped blue flame. The engine was warm.
The plane floats left a ribbon of foam as they scudded across the open lead in the ice pack. Doc backed the control stick. The ship vaulted off the water.
He banked in circle after circle, each one wider than the last.
The pale haze hadn't looked so thick from the surface. But it hampered vision amazingly from the air. The gloom was increasing, too.