“What are you talking about?” Hastings demanded.
“Jack’s lighting matches up forward, under the other bench.”
“What if he is?”
“Maybe he thinks he can explode some gasoline and blow us to the surface.”
“Quit your nonsense,” returned Hal almost angrily, “and help me with this job.”
“I’m waiting to see if Jack is going to let out a maniac yell,” grimaced Eph Somers.
“Wow! Whoop!” uttered young Benson excitedly. “Never tell me again that it’s unlucky to throw money away! Whoop!”
“What did I tell you?” demanded Eph. “If Jack’s making a noise like that,” retorted Hastings, as be straightened up and wheeled about, “he’s got a mighty good reason for it.”
“Of course. Every lunatic has loads of good reasons for anything he does,” muttered Eph.
“Look here, fellows!” ordered Jack Benson, almost staggering as he approached them.
“Great Dewey! Am I going crazy, too?” muttered Eph, staring hard. “What I think I see in Jack’s hands are some of the missing copper plates.”
“It’s exactly what you do see,” announced Jack Benson, his face beaming.
“How they came to be there I don’t know,” Benson replied. “But when I threw away your quarter, Eph, it rolled under the bench. There wasn’t supposed to be anything metallic under the bench, but I felt almost, sure that I had heard the silver strike against something metallic. Even then it seemed like a crazy notion to me. I didn’t really expect to find anything, but some uncontrollable impulse urged me to go hustling under the bench. And so I found these duplicate plates, wedged in behind a lot of junk and right up against the partition.”
Hal Hastings, in the meantime, had taken one of the plates from Lieutenant Jack’s hand, and was now quietly fitting it where it belonged on the motor.
The six midshipmen, as soon as they realized what had happened, had sprung eagerly to the door of the engine room and stood peering in. Behind them were the cook and crew of the “Dodger.”
Presently Hal straightened up.
“Sir,” he said gravely, “I have hopes that if you test the compressed air apparatus you will find that this motor will do its share.”
Midshipmen and crew drew back as Jack and Eph came out of the engine room. Lieutenant Jack had his wrench in hand, and went back to his former post.
“Young gentlemen,” the commanding officer announced coolly, “we will take up, at the point where we were interrupted, the work of expelling the water from the compartments Are you ready, Mr. Hastings?”
“Right by my post, sir,” came from Hal.
The six midshipmen gathered about Benson with a stronger sense of fascination than ever. Eph stepped past them to the stairs leading—–to the little conning tower.
With steady hand Jack Benson turned the wrench. The motor began to “mote” and there was a sense of being lifted.