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CHAPTER XII. A TURNING OF TABLES—THE END.
The sunken isthmus had been discovered and explored. The mission of the Diver and its voyagers was thus accomplished.

The only thing now left to be done, as it seemed, was to start for home. All were in favor of this.

“Bejabers, I’m more than ready to be off,” cried Barney. “Shure, it’s an outlandish counthry about here, onyway.”

“Huh,” sniffed Pomp, “I don’t see no country, nuffin’ but de ocean all about us!”

“Arrah, an’ don’t yez be so funny,” retorted Barney. “Shure, ain’t the counthry underneath us, an’ phwativer more kin yez ask fer than that?”

This put Pomp to thinking, and no more was said just then. But Frank and Wade discussed the question.

And the result was, it was finally decided to return home 48after first paying a visit to Belize and having the boat’s engines overhauled.

The Diver, meanwhile, had been drifting all the time nearer to Cape Catoche. The shore presented an alluring aspect, and Wade exclaimed:

“I say, Frank, we ought really to run ashore here for a little while. It will give us a chance to stretch our legs, and I may find a few specimens.”

“Or fall into the grip of the Caribs,” laughed Frank.

“I’ll risk that.”

So the Diver was steered in close to the shore. A small boat was brought out and Frank and Wade rowed ashore.

They went well armed. But they were accorded a genuine surprise.

In place of possible cannibalistic Caribs or pirates they discovered the extensive fruit plantation of an enterprising Yankee, named Walton.

This gentleman invited them up to his dwelling in a lovely grove of palms, and treated them to pulque and other fine things.

He even insisted upon their remaining over night. As Frank knew that all was well on board the Diver he did not refuse.

Thus it happened that Barney and Pomp spent the night alone on board the Diver. And they had a high old time.

Barney managed to square accounts with the darky for the dough episode of some days past. After a lively scrap they finally made up and were good friends again.

They wondered somewhat at the non-return of Frank and Wade. But at nightfall Frank signaled them from the cliffs and they were reassured.

With the first gray streak of dawn across the Caribbean Sea the two jokers were given a little thrill of surprise.

A vessel had suddenly swung around a headland and was bearing down toward them. It was a small steamer, and as Barney studied it with his glass he made an astonishing discovery.

“For Hivin’s sakes,” he cried, “it’s wan av thim prowlin’ Cuban cruisers. Phwat the divil are they up to? It’s mischief, I believe.”

“Golly, wha’ am we gwine to do? Reckon Marse Frank ought to be here!”

“Bejabers, I’ll put up the Yankee flag an’ they’ll never dare touch us then,” cried Barney.

And he ran up the Stars and Stripes. But the Cuban vessel continued to advance. She ran up a signal flag.

It read that she desired to speak the submarine boat. This was a reasonable request and Barney answered it.

49On the quarterdeck stood Azata and Poole. The latter’s first proposition had been to creep up on the Diver and fire a ball through its hull.

But Azata had conceived a more cunning plan. The Meta was anchored in a cove some miles up the coast.

His game was to speak the Diver and make inquiry concerning the Meta. This would disarm the submarine voyagers and he would send a boat off to interview the captain.

Once his men were on the deck of the Diver quick work would be made. The submarine voyagers were to be overpowered and the boat seized.

Then it would be ransacked, the gold recovered, the voyagers shot and the craft confiscated. The two wretches had not decided further than this, but there were hints that the Diver would be a good craft to go seeking sunken treasure with in other parts of the world.

This was a very fine scheme. Barney and Pomp were all unsuspecting. Yet they cast anxious glances toward the shore for Frank and Wade.

They did not appear, however, so Barney had to make the best of it. The Santa Maria bore down within hailing distance and the summons came:

“Ahoy, Senor Americano!”

“Ahoy, yersilf!” replied Barney.

The hail had come in American and the voice sounded strangely familiar. But Barney never dreamed that it was really Poole who was shouting.

“What craft is that?”

“The Diver, submarine boat,” replied Barney. “Phwat do yez want?”

“This is the Cuban cruiser, Santa Maria. We are looking for an armed schooner, the Meta. Have you spoken her?”

“Tare an’ ‘ounds!” exclaimed Barney; “they’re afther the Meta, an’ may they catch her. Shure, they’ll hang that Poole as shure as preachin’.”

Then he replied:

“Aye, aye, sor! Not more than two or three days ago.”

“Lower your gangway,” was the Spanish hail, “we want to come aboard and ask you about her.”

Barney was for a moment nonplussed. He was averse to being boarded by any craft. But this must be all right, he reflected. Spain and the United States were at peace. These Cubans officers could not have any harmful intention.

So he and Pomp lowered the gangway. A boatload of marines and an officer put off. The officer was Azata.

50A few moments later the boat was alongside. Not until then did Barney see his mistake.

Over the rail like wolves came the Spaniards. Barney and Pomp fled toward the pilot-house to close the doors and sink the boat. But they were too late.

The Spaniards were upon them. A sharp struggle followed and they were quickly overpowered. Th............
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