Jacob Farnum sprang to his feet, a great light of suspicion shining in his eyes.
"I have had that box taken from the paymaster's safe and forced open," continued Admiral Bentley with a smile. "It is a right that we exercise over any package at need. It was opened in the presence of three officers of this fleet, and it was found to contain, probably, close to a half million dollars in bills of large denominations. The paymaster will be able to give you more exact figures. He has the money in his safe again. It will be transferred to the custody of civil authorities ashore until the courts have issued an order for its further disposition."
"It's Miss Desmond's money," cried Farnum. "Only a little while to wait, and then that splendid young woman will come into her own."
Tears glistened in the boatbuilder's eyes.
"If you think I am unusually affected over this matter," explained Mr. Farnum, presently, "let me, with your permission, sir, tell you of the fine, brave conduct of the girl in saving Captain Benson and the submarine boat."
Admiral Bentley was greatly interested in the recital that followed.
In due time the flagship's shore boat carried the three to land again. With fingers that shook Jacob Farnum penned a most exultant telegram to Grace Desmond.
That sent, they engaged a boatman to put them aboard the "Pollard." It was now the turn of Hal Hastings and Eph Somers to share in the excitement and the joy.
In the days that followed the "Pollard" did not take any official part in the naval manoeuvres, though whenever there was time for officers to get leave from their ships Captain Jack and his friends were busy enough showing all the workings of the fine boat to their visitors.
Admiral Bentley and his naval staff spent one entire forenoon aboard the natty little submarine. They were delighted with all that they were shown.
"Mr. Pollard," exclaimed the admiral, just before leaving, "it is my unofficial opinion, from what I have seen to-day, and from what you have already shown at this rendezvous, that your boat is miles and miles ahead of any other type of submarine torpedo boat yet constructed. I shall undoubtedly also make that the text of the official opinion that I shall furnish to the Navy Department. I must also tell you, what you already know, that, in your captain and crew of youngsters, you have the best possible material for showing your boat off to the best possible advantage."
It was with light hearts indeed that the crew and passengers of the "Pollard" turned her nose toward the home port. Grant Andrews had already been instructed, by wire, to begin the preliminary work for laying the keel of a sister submarine torpedo boat.
If Dunhaven had turned out well for the launching, she did herself more than proud in the wildly cheering crowd that lined the shores on the return of that adventurous little boat, which was no longer known as "Pollard's Folly," but as "Pollard's Marvel."
It was a happy day for both inventor and builder. The press of the country had been talking for some days of the new era that had dawned in submarine boat building.
Grace Desmond was among the first to welcome the returning voyagers. She had promptly answered Farnum's telegram, and that boatbuilder had subsequently received from her two letters that he did not take the trouble to read fully to his companions.
As if to celebrate the return of the splendid boat, Dunhaven, in the persons of two of her constables, captured Josh Owen that same night when he tried to return by stealth to his home.
Yet the constables did not get their man handcuffed before that same elfin ten-year-old son of Owen's had tried desperately to fight the officers into letting his father go.
Arthur Miller was placed on trial, and pleaded guilty, and Grace Desmond's claim was established to the money found in the iron box aboard the flagship. She tried hard to make Jack and Hal and Eph accept a handsome reward, but all three boys steadfastly refused her offer. Jacob Farnum, in his own quiet way, was a bit more successful, however, and started for each of them a very substantial little bank account.
One day, shortly after the return of the submarine boys to Dunhaven, while the hammers of the riveters were ringing out merrily on the hull of the second Pollard boat, Jacob Farnum sent for Captain Jack Benson and his friends.
"I want to talk business with you," said the builder, motioning to chairs. "You've been working for me for a sort of pay, but now I want to make a definite and regular arrangement with you. I'm willing to provide your keep aboard the boat, and furnish your uniforms. In addition, I am willing to pay Captain Benson a hundred and fifty dollars a month, and Hastings and Somers each a hundred."
That offer brought the three boys to their feet. "It's—it's too much!" Jack managed to gasp.
"First time I ever had an employe tell me he was being paid too much," laughed the builder. "Now, see here, young men, Pollard and I are going to make fortunes out of building these boats—huge fortunes, we believe—and we want to attract loyal young men to us by paying them at least fair wages. Think it over, and you'll soon agree you're not being paid too much."
What could the young men do but accept the wonderful good fortune that was offered them? Then Farnum, laughing, rose and opened a nearby door. There stood Grace Desmond smiling.
"Captain," announced the builder, as he took one of the girl's hands in his own, "I shall want you to decorate the 'Pollard' handsomely next Thursday. On that day Miss Desmond will become Mrs. Farnum. Captain and crew of the 'Pollard,' we shall look for you to be at the wedding, and wearing new uniforms that have already been especially ordered for the occasion."
What could the young men do but congratulate the happy couple? And they did it most heartily.