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Tom Swift and His Undersea Search Part 30

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"We've struck it!"

"What?" they all wanted to know.

"The very thing Hardley was after. These are the missing papers in the oil-well deal--the papers that prove Barton Keith has a half share in property worth many millions of dollars. It was these papers that Hardley was after. He may have thought he could get the gold, too, but he wanted most these oil shares. Boys, we've found the fortune anyhow, in spite of the fellows who looted the gold boxes!"

There was no doubt about it. There were all the papers--the certificates of shares, the partners.h.i.+p agreement and other doc.u.ments--to show that Mary's uncle was a rich man. The wreck of the Pandora held a fortune after all.

"How do you account for Hardley's acts?" asked Ned of his chum.

"Well, there are several explanations. I think we may be certain that he knew these papers were aboard the Pandora, for he must have intrusted them to the purser himself when he made a trip on the s.h.i.+p.

When she sank he had not time to get them to take with him."

"He either knew then, or found out later, that the vessel carried, or was supposed to carry, a large amount of gold. He may have been honestly mistaken in thinking it was two millions. In any case he was playing safe, for he only promised me half if the treasure was found.

He could have claimed this box as his property, and that is probably what he was after from the beginning. He was using me as a cat's paw, so to speak."

"Well, you beat him to it," observed Ned.

"Bless my necktie, I should say so!" agreed Mr. Damon. "Do you think he really expected to find the gold?"

"Either that or the papers," was Tom's answer. "He must have engaged the vessel and the grappling apparatus, and, possibly, a diver, after we set him ash.o.r.e at St. Thomas. Well, we'll leave him to his own fun."

The M. N. 1 made good time back to her home port, nothing except a terrific storm occurring to mark the voyage. And as she submerged when that was on she did not feel it. After greeting his father, Tom lost little time in going to Mary's house with the box of securities and other papers.

"I want you to hand these to your uncle with my compliments," he said.

"I've got the Air Scout out in the meadow. We'll go over in that. How is Mr. Keith?"

"Not very well," Mary answered, after she had got over her surprise at seeing Tom. "But this good news will restore him, I think."

And it certainly was a great tonic. Mr. Keith could hardly believe the story that Mary and Tom jointly told him. But at length he grasped the idea that he was a wealthy man again, and he exclaimed:

"Tom Swift, I'm going to share half with you!"

"Oh, no," retorted the young inventor. "I couldn't think of that. If you want to pay part of the expenses of the trip I shan't object to that, as I intend giving the gold I recovered to Mr. Damon. But as for taking any of the oil shares--"

"Then, Mary, you shall take half!" exclaimed Mr. Keith. "I have more money now than I'll ever spend. Mary, half of it is yours, and if you don't let Tom Swift have a say in the spending of it-- Say, Mary, have you thanked him yet?" he asked with a twinkle of his eyes. "Well, Uncle Barton, I--I don't know--"

"Then do it now!" cried her uncle. "Tom, if you could have any reward you wanted, what would it be?"

Tom took Mary in his arms and--But I refuse to betray any secrets.

Anyhow, some time later when Ned asked his chum if he felt entirely satisfied with the result of his undersea search, the young inventor replied: "I certainly do!"

Tom admitted to his father that a mistake had been made in not installing the gyroscope rudder. There was no excuse for not taking it.

Tom declared, as it was small and took up little room, and it might have saved them from what was a close call at one time.

"I'll take it on my next submarine trip," the young inventor promised.

Ned wanted to bring suit against Hardley to recover half the expenses of the trip, but Tom would not consent to it. After all, the value of the oil well property was more than the gold the Pandora was reputed to have carried. No attempt was made to take from Tom the comparatively small amount he had salvaged. Perhaps whoever had put it on board did not want to admit the trick that had been played in filling the boxes with iron disks.

Dixwell Hardley made no further trouble. He could not, for he was so entirely in the wrong. He sold out his shares in the oil property, and a company took possession which gave fair treatment to Mary's uncle.

And this is the end of the story. But the future holds further adventures for Tom Swift which, let it be hoped, he will see fit to order recorded.

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