Page:Yule Logs.djvu/23

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been validated.
7
A FIGHTING MERMAID

As he spoke the young American seized his friend's hand, and the latter looking into the brave blue eyes, now blazing with excitement, believed that Catina would be saved.


CHAPTER II


The submarine boat Mermaid was a cigar-shaped shell of aluminium bronze, extremely light and strong, about forty feet in length and eight in greatest diameter. On its upper side was a small railed platform or deck, from the centre of which rose a low turret provided with four bull's-eyes, from which an observer might glance out ahead, astern, or on either side. Another bull's-eye was fitted into the hinged and water-tight cap that closed the turret when the boat was submerged.

The interior of the boat was divided into three compartments. Of these, the one farthest forward was fitted with an air-lock, through which a person wearing a diver's suit might leave the vessel while she was under water and return to her at will. This hold was also pierced for a bull's-eye through which could be made to shine an electric search light of intense power.

The central compartment was the living and operating room. It also contained a dynamo, an air compressor, and a small condenser, by means of which sea-water could be made drinkable. In the after compartment was located a compact but powerful gasoline engine. This furnished the motive power for running on the surface, and also stored electricity by which the screw could be turned when surface air was no longer available. Beneath the floor of the central compartment was a tank for water ballast, which could be filled or emptied at will of the operator. In all parts of the boat were hundreds of tubes, wires, cocks, valves, and other devices of amazing ingenuity for ensuring the safety of her crew and the discomfiture of an enemy.