With the door open the midshipmen could see what was going on forward, and they watched with intense fascination.
Eph Somers had taken ‘the too-thin copper’ plate to the work-bench, and had worked hard over it, trying to devise some way of making it fit so that it would perform its function in the motor. Now, he and Hal Hastings struggled and contrived with it. Every time that the pair of submarine boys thought they had the motor possibly ready to run Hal tried to start the motor. Yet he just as often failed to get a single movement from the mechanism.
“I reckon you might about as well give it up,” remarked Lieutenant Jack Benson coolly.
“What’s the use of giving up,” Eph demanded, “as long as there’s any life left in us?”
“I mean,” the young lieutenant explained, “that you’d better give up this particular attempt and make a try at something else.”
“All right, if you see anything else that we can do,” proposed Eph dryly. “Say, here’s a quarter to pay for your idea.”
Seemingly as full of mischief as ever, Eph Somers pressed a silver coin into Jack Benson’s hand.
But Jack, plainly impatient with such trifling, frowned slightly as he turned and pitched the quarter forward.
“This isn’t a twenty-five-cent proposition,” Benson remarked. “In fact, all the money on earth won’t save us this time!”
A QUARTER’S WORTH OF HOPE
“Until some one can think of something else, I’m going to keep on trying the hopeless thing and endeavoring to make this old, thin plate work,” declared Hal Hastings, who was still bent over the motor, studying it intently.
Benson had turned back to examine the work, after tossing the coin away, but just as suddenly he glanced forward again.
At the extreme forward end of the engine room of the “Dodger” was another bench. Here were a vise and other heavier tools. On the floor under this bench were stowed many mechanical odds and ends—–pieces of wood, coils of rope, even a bundle of tent-pegs, though nothing was visible of a metallic nature.
“You fellows keep at work,” Jack Benson shot back suddenly over his shoulder.
“Where you going?” demanded Eph.
That much was evident, but Jack was now down on hands and knees carefully yet feverishly moving the wooden articles, cordage and such things from under the forward bench.
“What are you doing?” called Eph. “Go ahead with your work—–there’s no time to be lost,” replied Lieutenant Jack.
“Hold this a moment, Eph,” Hal Hastings requested, and Somers’s attention was forced back to the motor.
Sc-cratch! Flare! Jack Benson was using matches under that work bench, now that be had made some clear space there.
“I wonder if Jack has gone clean daffy?” half chuckled Somers under his breath.