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Книга The Polar Treasure. Страница 35

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"How'd it happen to be here?" Monk questioned.

Doc smiled faintly.

"I'm afraid I stole it," he explained. "Ben O'Gard kindly helped me out by leaving no one aboard. But I must say I never put in a busier twenty minutes than I did running the tin whale here single handed."

A sporadic burst or two of bullets rattled on the submarine hull. They did not have sufficient power to penetrate the steel plates, however.

The shooting stopped abruptly.

Renny took a chance and thrust his head out. He was not shot at.

"If any of you guys are interested in stark drama, come here and watch," he suggested.

Doc, Long Tom, Monk, Ham, and Johnny crowded up beside him, along with Victor Vail.

Roxey Vail and her mother, after one glance, could not bear the horror of the sight.

* * *

GRIM FATE had at last grasped Ben O'Gard and his pirates.

They knew that to drift on the floe did of a certainty mean slow starvation. So they were making desperate tries to reach shore. Some had already plunged into the frigid water, and were battling the strong current

Others, who could not swim, were fighting those who could, trying to make them serve as unwilling pack horses. A few faint shots rang out.

Those swimming began to go down, overcome by the deadly chill of the water, for some distance now separated the floe from land. Their fur garments handicapped them, yet to remove them was to freeze.

After a while, the last man sprang wildly, hopelessly, into the numbingly cold sea.

Two actually reached the ice-rimmed shore. One of these was the walrus-like Ben O'Gard. But they could not climb upon the ice, so depleted was their strength.

Ben O'Gard was last to slip back to his death.

Monk let a long breath swish from his cavernous lungs.

"He'd better get plenty chilled, because it's mighty hot where he's goin'!" muttered the gorilla of a chemist. "He paid a mighty high price tryin' to get the — "

Monk swallowed twice. His eyes stuck out. He whirled on Doc.

"Hey — what about the treasure?" he howled. "Now we're in a nice fix! Everybody's dead who knows anything about it!"

Doc Savage was forced to postpone his answer for a time. Handling the under-the-ice submarine occupied his attention. The tanks had to be trimmed, the Diesels had to be started. He and his five men would have only moderate difficulty piloting the Helldiver southward, although they would be very short-handed.

Monk got his mind back on fifty millions in gold and diamonds.

"Say, Doc, we ain't goin' off an' leave all that money layin' around on that bleak land somewhere, are we?" he asked plaintively.

"Ben O'Gard and his gang moved the treasure from the strong room of the Oceanic when they mutinied more than fifteen years ago," Doc said dryly. "In other words, they filched it from their pals, headed by Keelhaul de Rosa, and cached it in a hiding place of their own."

"Holy cow!" groaned Renny. "Then we have no way of finding that hiding place! Ben O'Gard and his men are all dead."

"We don't care about the hiding pace," Doc assured him. "Ben O'Gard and his gang had recovered the loot before they set out a few hours ago to commit wholesale slaughter on the lost liner."

Monk emitted one of his best howls. "You mean it's — "

"The whole business is aboard this submarine," Doc told him. "To be exact, it's piled some feet deep on the floor of your cabin, Monk!"

It was startling information to Monk. at the end of a most startling adventure. Out of the frozen grip of the North came a fortune in gold and diamonds, saved from the lost liner. But more than that — out of this thrilling adventure came the rescue of two precious lives, and the reunion of a family lost for many years.

To the blind violinist and his reunited family, this was the greatest thing that could have happened, and the battles of Doc and his companions were most marvelous.

But they did not know of the past of Doc and his friends; of the many narrow escapes, the thrilling exploits that were part of their lives.

Neither did they know of the future — the immediate future which held forth adventure and thrills some way connected with the Orient.

Doc himself did not know, and did not care. Somewhere some one else was in danger, some other person needed help. Whatever it was, wherever Doc was needed, there he would go, heedless of danger, conquering all obstacles. And his five companions, adventurers-in-arms, would follow their leader to still greater exploits.

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