Frank Reade, Jr.'s Search for the Silver Whale - Luis Senarens - ebook

Frank Reade, Jr.'s Search for the Silver WhaleByLuis Senarens

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Frank Reade, Jr.'s Search for the Silver Whale


Luis Senarens

Table of Contents















“A submarine boat? Do you really mean it, Frank? I trust you are not becoming mentally unbalanced with the success of your inventive efforts. Not content with the Electric Air-ship, you now meditate the construction of a submarine vessel.”

“That is what I said, friend Stanhope.”

“But, pshaw, man! Do you realize what an impossible feat that is?”

“I realize only that it is quite possible,” replied the young inventor, imperturbably.

“And you are really in earnest?”

“As much as I ever was in my life.”

George Stanhope, explorer and geologist, and a handsome, well developed American, of forty years, of varied experiences, sat quite still for a moment and studied the features of his companion.

This was Frank Reade, Jr., of Readestown, U. S. A., the most famous man in the inventive line of the present generation.

Despite his youth, he had brought to perfection some of the most wonderful and gigantic of enterprises.

At the moment the two men were sitting in the smoking room of the Southern Hotel in New Orleans.

It was while discussing various topics that the subject of the submarine boat was broached.

At once Stanhope was interested and incredulous.

He listened to Frank’s theories for awhile, then began to express his incredulity.

And thus we find them arguing the matter at the opening of our story.

“You may be in earnest, Frank,” said the explorer, with a laugh, “but I think you have tackled a pretty difficult subject. Don’t you agree with me?”

Frank smiled.

“It is not so difficult to solve submarine navigation as aerial flight,” he said; “there is enough in Nature to teach us how the problem may be accomplished.”

“Ah, but it is impossible to always copy Nature.”

“Yet we may draw our plans from her liberal sources.”

“In what way has Nature assisted you in your plan of submarine navigation?”

“She has given me a model.”

“A model?”


“How is that?”

“In the salt water there swims a fish called the bream, or sunfish. He is at once the most buoyant and generally agile of fish. He will furnish my model.”

“So you propose to model your boat after a fish?”

“Why not? All the necessary points may be obtained from the fish. For instance, I shall have in my boat a system of air reservoirs akin to the bladders of the fish, for the purpose of arising or descending, as necessity may require. Fins shall preserve the equilibrium, and a screw shall furnish the motive power. What more do I want?”

“How will you live without oxygen?”

“I shall have plenty of oxygen. I have already devised a system of electric and chemical generators which destroy the poisonous gases as readily as they create pure air. This will enable a perfect circulation to be kept up aboard the craft.”

Stanhope drew a deep breath and knocked the ashes from his cigar.

“You are too deep for me, Frank,” he said, sententiously. “To use a slang phrase—I am not in it. I wish you success in your emulation of Captain Nemo.”

“It is possible that I may fail,” said the young inventor, consulting his watch, “but I shall endeavor to win success.”

“I hope you may.”

“I have now to leave to catch my train. I bid you goodbye.”


Stanhope seized Frank’s hand.

“I want to ask a favor.”


“When you get ready to start your submarine boat will you grant me permission to accompany you on the trial trip?”

“Have you considered the risk?”


“Suppose it sinks and never rises?”

“Pshaw!” exclaimed Stanhope; “do you think I am a soft head? Have I braved the life of the deadly jungle and the pestilential rivers of India to stand in fear of death in such a manner? Have I your permission?”

Frank shook the explorer’s hand.

“Certainly,” he said, warmly. “I shall be very glad of your company. I am going home now to begin work on my new venture. When it is completed I will wire you to come.”

“That settles it!” cried Stanhope. “I will live in expectation.”

“It may require many weeks to perfect the boat.”

“All right. I will live in patience.”

Thus the two men parted.

They were kindred spirits though each was cast in a different mold. The inventor and the explorer; how fitting it was that they should affiliate.

Stanhope proceeded at once to New York where he was to fulfill a lecture course on Africa.

Frank Reade, Jr., went straight to Readestown, where he at once closeted himself, and for several days was hardly seen.

When he emerged at length from his seclusion he had the plans of his new invention all perfected.

All that was necessary now was to construct the boat.

He a once conferred with his engineers and machinists. The result was that a large gang of skilled workmen were quickly engaged in the construction of the Dolphin, which was the name Frank gave the craft.

In some manner news of the projected boat leaked out, and it became known all over the country that Frank Reade, Jr., was about to present to the world the greatest triumph of mechanical science ever known.

Of course the whole country was agog with interest.

Frank had scores of letters asking various privileges, all of which of course he refused.

The weeks passed by and progress on the Dolphin was very rapid.

In Frank’s employ were two peculiar characters. One was a red-headed Irishman of the Tipperary type named Barney O’Shea. The other was a comical darky of the old plantation species named Pomp.

Pomp and Barney were Frank Reade, Jr.’s most valued servants.

They had accompanied him on all his travels, shared dangers, hardships and triumphs with him.

They were deeply devoted to their handsome and accomplished young master, and clung to him closely.

They were delighted with the prospect of a deep-sea cruise.

“Begorra, I’ll make love to the bootiful mermaids an’ hobnob wid Neptune himself, bad cess to him!” cried Barney, gleefully. “Shure, it’ll be foine sport to go a-fishin’ for whales an’ porpuses down there, naygur.”

“Golly!” rejoined Pomp, as he threw a flip-flap, “I don’ fink yo’ want to fish much fo’ whales, sonny! Dey pull yo’ ober into de watah fo’ suah!”

“How the divil will they do that, yez black ape?” roared Barney. “Don’t yez see that we’re undher wather anyway?”

“Mebbe dat whale swallow yo’, den.”

“Bejabers, he cudn’t swally me an’ ther boat too, yez ignyramus!”

Pomp scratched his woolly head.

“Wha’ dat yo’ call me, chile?” he asked. “Am I a lily igglylamus? I done fink dat yo’ call me somefin’ else afo’ I get froo wif yo’. Ki dar!”

And Pomp made a rush for his colleague. They closed in a lively wrestle.

While the warmest of friends, both were addicted to the habit of practical joking. Each loved to play pranks upon the other.

“Begorra, yez haven’t got the sand to trow me off me feet, naygur!” roared Barney, as they wrestled. “Whurroo! Over yez go!”

But as Pomp went down he brought Barney also, and thus the unequal struggle went on.

It was terminated finally by the appearance of Frank Reade, Jr., on the scene.

Finally the last bolt was driven, the last rivet cut, and the Dolphin floated in the waters of the big tank, completed.

Then Frank sent a telegram to New York, worded thus:


Dear Stanhope,—The Dolphin is finished. If you wish to participate in the trial trip, report at once. Shall expect you by Thursday sure. Please reply. Yours ever,

Frank Reade, Jr.


Promptly Stanhope appeared in Readestown Thursday of that week. He went at once to the machine shops.

He found Frank there awaiting him. They shook hands warmly.

“You are on hand promptly,” said Frank, “but I think I can give you a great surprise.”

“Then the submarine boat is an accomplished fact?”


“I am curious to see the great wonder.”

“You shall have your wish gratified.”

They left the office and went at once out into the yard.

Frank led the way to the tank, an immense affair with a depth of forty feet, sufficient to float a war cruiser.

This tank, or artificial pond, was connected with a deep canal by a gate and locks.

Passing through the canal, the river could be reached in a short while, and thence a course was open to the sea.

In the tank floated like a cork the beautiful triumph of a mighty inventive genius, the submarine boat.

It was truly a beautiful specimen of marine architecture, though totally unlike the general run of sea craft.

There were no sails or visible means of propulsion. No high decks or bulwarks, but a hull wonderful in its symmetry.

The Dolphin was built much upon the lines of the salt water bream, and was as buoyant and light as could be desired.

Stanhope stood upon the edge of the tank for some while regarding the new craft with interest and wonderment.

Then Frank advanced and said briskly:

“Well, George, what do you think of it?”

The explorer was silent a moment; then he said:

“It looks feasible from here.”

Frank laughed heartily.

“You must come aboard,” he said, “and then I think your doubts will forever be set at rest upon that point. Are you quite ready?”

“Oh, yes,” replied Stanhope.

“Then follow me.”


Frank Reade, Jr., led the way aboard the Dolphin without further delay. A portable platform extended along the side, which was provided with a handrail.

Frank explained this.

“You see this is provided with joints and hinges,” he said. “When the boat gets into motion this is easily folded up against the side of the boat, making the hull smooth, so that it offers no resistance to swift passage through the water.”

In the hull was cut a door, which opened by pressure upon an electric spring.

Its existence might never have been suspected at a cursory glance. The section of windows along each side were the same.

The body or hull of the Dolphin was composed of thin plates of steel closely riveted together. They were tough and capable of resisting a great pressure.

The hull was especially constructed for descending to great depths, where the pressure was liable to be very great.

The stern of the Dolphin was shaped like the broad tail of a fish. Beneath it was the rudder and screw propeller.

Lateral fins served to keep the boat’s equilibrium.

Forward were two huge bull’s-eye windows in which were set powerful searchlights.

In general this was a description of the exterior of the Dolphin. They now passed into the interior.

Passing through the door, which could be hermetically sealed in an instant, if necessary, they stood in a sort of vestibule.

A door led into the cabin. Here Frank paused and said:

“This is the vestibule. By its means one can leave the boat while it is under water.”

“Leave the boat while under water!” exclaimed Stanhope in surprise. “How on earth can you do that?”

“Easily enough,” replied Frank. “I have a diving suit with a storage tank and a generator connected with the helmet. By its means I can travel anywhere under water.”

“A diving suit!”


“That will do. But how can you open the door to leave the boat without flooding it?”

“By means of this vestibule.”

Frank placed his hands upon a stopcock; then he continued: