The three divers in the cabin of the sunken derelict were in by no means
a cheerful or agreeable frame of mind.
The swordfish would yet persist in hovering above the deck.
They were apparently hoping that their would-be victims would come out.
But they did not.
Hours passed slowly by.
Captain Bell sank down upon the rotting stairs and went to sleep. But
Frank and the professor kept unwearying vigil.
They were waiting for the welcome glare of the Dart’s searchlight.
Should that appear they would know that they were saved.
But it did not come.
The Dart was far from the spot at the moment. The likelihood was not
strong for an immediate return.
But the state of siege was suddenly raised in an unexpected manner.
There is a small fish which is a habitue of the ocean depths called the
It has all the power and characteristics of a powerful electrical
battery, and can give a stunning shock to anybody which comes in contact
All manner of fishes, large and small, even the monster whale, stand in
dread of the torpedo.
It was a school of these odd fish which now proved the means of raising
They came down upon the school of swordfish with demoralizing effects.
In less time than it takes to tell it, every swordfish was far from the
spot, and speeding for their lives to other depths.
Prof. Von Bulow saw the torpedoes coming and realized their nature.
He put his helmet against Frank’s and shouted:
“Look out! If those little fiends hit one of us they will knock the
Frank aroused Captain Bell. Some loose planks were brought and the hatch
This was to prevent the torpedoes from entering; but the latter did not
seem at all inclined to attack the divers.
They were of a species which will not attack unless attacked. This was
fortunate for our friends.
Neither did they remain long in the vicinity.
In fact they departed very soon, and with a breath of relief Frank
opened the hatch and climbed out on deck.
It was at this moment that Barney caught sight of the distant star of
light, and this was Frank’s helmet.
At almost the same moment Frank saw the distant glare of the searchlight
on the Dart.
A great cry burst from him.
He rushed to the companionway and made excited signs to the others.
At once they rushed upon deck.
The excitement was intense.
There was no doubt but that it was the Dart returning. All waited
eagerly, hoping and praying that it would not pass them by.
And as fortune had it, it did not.
Presently its course seemed changed somewhat and it apparently bore down
upon the hulk.
“We are saved!” cried Frank.
“Heaven has not deserted us,” said Von Bulow, joyously.
And indeed it was a narrow escape for the trio of divers.
There had been almost the moral certainty that they were doomed to find
a grave at the bottom of the sea.
But this danger had passed and rescue was at hand. Their joy cannot be
fully imagined or expressed.
Captain Bell was so overcome by it that he danced a hornpipe on the
rotten deck of the old hulk.
Just as soon as the hulk came within the radius of the searchlight’s
glare Barney had seen it.
It was the work of but a very few moments for the Celt to change the
course of the Dart.
He bore down for the hulk with all speed. As they drew nearer the trio
of divers were seen upon the deck.
“Glory fo’ goodness!” cried Pomp, wildly; “we am jes’ gwine fo’ to sabe
dose chilluns, I’ish, shuah’s yo’ bo’n!”
Barney whistled a jig, and Pomp stood on his head with glee.
“We shall live!” cried Captain Bell. “We will find the Virgin next, and
then the great treasure is ours.”
Soon the Dart came to a stop not fifty yards away.
The party left the wreck and quickly clambered aboard the submarine
Once more safely in the cabin of the Dart, joy and mutual
Barney told his story, and Frank spoke warm words of commendation of his
“You did just right,” he declared; “the Dart is all right. I can see
nothing the matter with her.”
“Let us continue the search for the pirate ship,” said Captain Bell.
“Which we will do!” declared Frank.
But first refreshments were had, and all took a few hours of sleep. Much
recuperated, the journey was continued some while later.
The Dart went on an exploring tour now in the vicinity of the sunken
In all directions the search for the Virgin was made.
And fortune favored the searchers. Suddenly the wreck was sighted.
It had been difficult to find for the fact that the shifting sands had
nearly covered the hull.
The many years which had elapsed had caused the masts and rigging to
fall and partly decay.
But Captain Bell declared it his confident belief that it was the
“I know her by the outline of her bow and her figurehead,” he declared;
“that’s the old pirate, for sure!”
At once the Dart anchored near the treasure ship.
All became excitement, for it was indeed a thrilling thing to think that
they were about to investigate a wreck with perhaps millions in gold
As before, Barney and Pomp were to remain on board the Dart, while the
others did the exploring.
Soon they were all in readiness, and Frank led the way.
They left the Dart and crossed the intervening distance without any
Captain Bell made signs that his belief that this was the Virgin was
confirmed when they reached the rail of the sunken vessel.
This was certainly encouraging, and all clambered aboard not without
The deck of the pirate ship was deeply covered with seaweed and
But the remains of old cannon and their charges were visible, and much
of the paraphernalia of the ship was of an imperishable kind.
Even some of the bones of human skeletons were scattered about.
The Virgin had sunk, as Captain Bell had said, while in the heat of
Therefore many of her fiendish crew had gone down with her.
But their bodies were, of course, much consumed with the action of the
water and of marine animals.
A brief inspection of the deck was made; but one and all were thinking
of the mighty wealth which undoubtedly existed below decks.
And Frank led the way down through the hatches.
The scene upon going into the cabin of the pirate ship was a thrilling
Everywhere were skeletons in various positions, some expressing perfect
horror and agony, faithfully showing how the wretched souls had
But there was no article of special value in the first cabin.
Corroded cutlasses, muskets and other arms were lying about.
Leaving all this for later inspection Frank pushed forward into the
Here was a horrible sight.
In the walls of the cabin were iron rings from which hung rusted iron
chains inclosing the skeletons of unfortunate prisoners.
It was a terrible thing to think of that these poor souls had thus gone
down to their death in utter helplessness.
In this cabin a way was found into the hold.
Frank went boldly into this, and was not a little surprised to find that
it was cleverly partitioned off in compartments.
Breaking in the door of one of these compartments, it was found to be
the powder magazine.
Here were tons of saltpetre, ruined, of course, by the action of the
Frank put his helmet against the others and said:
“There was powder enough here to have blown the whole thing to the
“You are right,” agreed Von Bulow; “but the magazine was in too secure a
place to stand any chance of being fired.”
This was certainly true.
“Let us go on to the next compartment and find the treasure,” said
“If there is any on board,” said Von Bulow, who was skeptical.
“Of course there is,” declared Bell, with a positive air. “There is no
doubt of it.”
“I hope so,” rejoined the scientist.
“At least we will try and find it,” said Frank Reade, Jr. “Come along;
let us waste no time in argument.”
So, with this, they passed on through the hold. The result was that they
came to another compartment.
But the door of this was much stronger, and Frank was compelled to use
his ax to break it in.
The heavy iron hinges, however, were so rusted that it was not a hard
But the sight that was revealed to the divers was an astounding one.
The compartment was, perhaps, a dozen feet square. On the floor there
was piled a huge heap of coin, almost as perfect as the day it was
Chests were piled one upon another about the place.
For a moment the treasure hunters paused, overwhelmed at the sight.
At last the pirates’ treasure had been found. There was no doubt of
Then their helmets came together.
“What did I tell you?” cried Bell, excitedly. “There are millions!”
“It looks like gold,” gasped Von Bulow.
“It is,” said Frank. “There is a mighty fortune in that heap! We are
favored of fortune.”
Then for a moment that peculiar malady, the gold fever, seemed to seize
Even Frank Reade, Jr., who was wealthy enough, was constrained to fall
to counting the gold.
But this would have been an interminable task.
So, after handling it awhile, they desisted and began to break open the
chests which were piled about.
These were in part filled with clothing which was remarkably well
preserved, and consisted of gorgeous uniforms of all kinds, undoubtedly
spoils from the prize ships captured and preserved by Longboots, who, as
Captain Bell declared, was inordinately fond of rich display.
But one of the chests contained something else.
This consisted of heaps of rich jewels and precious stones.
There was a mighty fortune in these alone. They were eagerly examined by
The pirates’ treasure was certainly a magnificent one.
The find far exceeded the most sanguine expectations of any who were in
the party, particularly Prof. Von Bulow.
“It is beyond belief,” declared the scientist. “I cannot believe but
that I am dreaming.”
“No,” declared Captain Bell; “it is a reality. If you don’t believe me,
professor, allow me to punch you.”
“I will accept the fact and forego that test,” declared Prof. Von Bulow.
“But what shall we do with it?”
“Take it aboard the submarine boat, of course; then we can return home
as princes and roll in wealth all the rest of our lives.”
Captain Bell’s eyes shone like stars.
It was evident that he set more by the treasure than the others. Frank
was wealthy, anyway, and Von Bulow was well-to-do.
Captain Bell, on the other hand, was poor, which explained all.
But before engaging in the transportation of the treasure to the Dart,
it was decided to carry the examination of the ship further.
This was done, and from one end to the other it was ransacked.
But nothing more of value was found.
At least nothing which could be transported. In the lower hold were
discovered many casks of rich wine. But it could not, of course, even be
So the party finally returned to the treasure chamber.
They took as much of the coin with them as they could carry, and started
to return to the Dart.
It was their intention to return later and make regular trips, until it
had been all transported aboard the Dart.
Leaving the sunken pirate they had soon reached the Dart.
Going aboard, they were met by Barney and Pomp.
The two jokers were wildly enthusiastic over the find.
“Begorra, it’ll make the whole av us millionaires,” cried Barney.
“Shure, I’ll wear a diamond in me shirt now as big as a cart wheel!”
“I done fink dis chile git married!” declared Pomp.
“Married!” declared Barney. “Shure, is it a Mormon yez are? Phwat’s the
matther wid yer prisint woife?”
“She jes’ don’ agree to agree wif me!” declared Pomp, succinctly. “And
the only point we’s sartain sure agreed on is not to agree fo’ to lib
togedder any more.”
“Oh, yez have a divorce, eh?”
Pomp looked scornful.
“Wha’ fo’ I want a divorce?” he retorted. “Don’ yo’ fink cullud people
am mo’ ’spectable dan dat?”
“But, begorra, the law wud make yez support her!”
“Golly, I don’ beliebe it. Dis chile hab got all he kin do to support
hisse’f. No, sah! I jist go down to Kyarline an’ I find jes’ de most
likely cullud gal I kin find dar. Den I say: Chloe, yo’ jes’ hitch
hosses wif dis chile an’ I make yo’ wear diamonds. See! Lor’ sakes,
chile! Money catch de best ob dem!”
“Begorra, it’s a bigamist ye’d be!” declared Barney, contemptuously. “If
yez do that, naygur, I’ll cut yez acquaintance.”
“Suit yo’sef, sah,” declared Pomp; “but atween yo’ an’ me, I don’
beliebe eider one ob us will leabe Marse Frank right away.”
“Yez are roight there,” cried Barney. “Shure, we’ll sthick to Misther
Frank, for all av the foine gold.”
Plans were at once made to transport the treasure to the Dart.
But an incident now transpired to put a stop to the entire project. This
happening was a most startling and unlooked for one.
Suddenly the Dart received a shock which seemed to fairly hoist it a
dozen feet from the bottom of the sea.
Everybody on board were thrown from their feet.
Then followed a distant rumble and a vibrating motion which lasted for
full a minute.
In some way the shock had disconnected the lever, and the electric
lights were extinguished.
All was darkness aboard the submarine boat.
For a few moments a literal panic reigned.
Frank Reade, Jr., was the first to recover.
He ran into the pilot-house and quickly produced light. By this time the
others had recovered.
“For the love of Heaven! what has happened?” gasped Von Bulow.
“We have been run into by a whale!” averred Captain Bell.
But Frank shook his head.
“No,” he said; “it is worse than that!”
The young inventor knew well enough what the trouble was.
“Well, what was it?” asked Von Bulow, rubbing his bruised shins.
“An earthquake,” replied Frank, calmly.
“Mercy on us! Is it possible?”
“You shall see.”
Frank quickly repaired the slight damage to the electric light
apparatus. Then he turned on the searchlight.
The region about was plainly illuminated, and it was seen that a great
change had taken place in the bed of the ocean.
In places it had been upheaved by the mighty forces of Nature, and vast
ravines were created.
All gazed in the direction of the treasure ship, and gave a start of
surprise and dismay.
“My goodness! What has become of it?” asked Von Bulow.
Captain Bell looked aghast.
“It has gone!”
“Not a trace remains.”
This was true.
The Vestal Virgin had vanished as completely as if transported bodily to
another sphere. Only a mound of sand remained where it had been.
“Great Jericho!” exclaimed Captain Bell, in horror. “What has become of
“Golly, I done fink dat it hab been blowed to pieces!” declared Pomp.
“Bejabers, maybe it’s buried!” said Barney, at a venture.
“Yes,” replied Frank. “It has been buried by the earthquake. No doubt
the great revulsion of Nature’s forces has covered it many feet deep
“And the treasure ——” began Von Bulow.
“Is gone!” groaned Bell.
For a time there was a painful silence.
All stood looking at each other with dismay depicted upon their faces.
Bell was now completely disgusted.
“It’s only a sample of my dad-gasted luck,” he declared. “Every time I
get a fortune within my grasp it is whisked away.”
“Hard luck,” said Frank.
“Perhaps we can dig down to the wreck,” ventured Von Bulow.
But Frank shook his head.
“I’m afraid the pirates’ gold will never do any human being any good,”
he declared. “It’s buried forever.”
Captain Bell was completely overwhelmed.
He was so confident from the first of reclaiming the treasure, that it
was a terrible disappointment.
But Frank said, cheerily:
“Don’t get downcast, captain. Perhaps we may find another treasure ship
somewhere in the Atlantic Valley.”
Bell’s face brightened.
“Do you think so?” he asked.
“It is not at all impossible.”
But the captain shook his head.
“If we do,” he said, “I would have no just claim upon it. It would be
“You shall have your share,” replied Frank; “so cheer up, man.”
The captain became a little more cheerful. Von Bulow, on the whole, did
not care greatly.
But Frank yielded to Bell’s desire to first inspect the spot where the
pirate ship was buried.
There was a lingering hope in the captain’s mind that the treasure might
yet be reached.
So Frank and Bell put on diving suits and went out to examine the
The work accomplished by the earthquake was marvelous.
It seemed as if the whole bed of the ocean had undergone a
Great hills and ridges were raised, deep valleys created, and countless
forms of fish and marine life lay dead upon the white sands.
Truly, it had been a terrible action of Nature’s forces. The Vestal
Virgin had seemed to literally sink into the shifting sands which now
were high over her.
It was a wonder that the Dart had not been buried also.
But she had rested upon a more rocky and solid foundation.
Bell was wholly satisfied that the treasure could never be recovered.
“I give it up,” he declared. “Let us go back.”
They were soon aboard the Dart again. Frank took his bearings as well as
he could. He was not exactly sure whether he was half way through the
valley or not.
It was, however, decided to go on and explore the valley thoroughly.
Then they would make for the English Channel and pay a visit to London
and the Thames.
The spirits of all revived greatly.
The Dart once more shot forward on her way. A good outlook was kept for
“We will search every one of them we find,” declared Frank. “There
certainly are vast treasures under the sea, and we are not brilliant if
we do not find them.”
This revived Bell’s hopes greatly, and he was once more glib and gay.
For miles, however, the Dart now sailed on over unknown depths into
which it was not safe to descend.
These were the lowermost depths of the great deep where the pressure
would be so great that a huge ship sunken there would be crushed into a
But it was not likely that many interesting things would be found down
there even if the Dart was able to go.
So none were much disappointed.
The sea soon began to change again.
The water seemed a peculiar olive tint, and Frank, who had studied the
“We are coming to a submarine forest. You shall see.”
“It is a queer coral formation. A very common mistake is made by divers
who consider them petrified.”
Von Bulow was deeply interested in the submarine forest.
But soon a new scene spread before their view.
It was such a scene as none of them had ever seen before.
One and all gave expression to startled cries of interest and
wonderment, and Frank slackened speed.