The ocean steamship was called “Leviathan” by right. It was the real floating city with “streets”, gardens, the areas, movie theaters, concert halls, fountains, pools, sports grounds, gardens greenhouses of tropical plants. On soft carpets of long corridors the drilled footmen in a uniform quietly slid. Doors of cabins, walls, panels gleamed mahogany, sparkled the polished copper. In the rooms occupied by passengers there was a peculiar smell — mix of expensive spirits, soaps, cigars, leather suitcases and still something imperceptible, the ocean brought, probably, by fresh breath.
On the main open deck, under a wide awning, having taken cover from the heated beams of the sun, passengers had a rest. Convenient wicker white chairs were placed between palm trees, bushes of the blossoming oleanders and fragrant gimanantus. Fountains murmured.
Deep blue of Gulf Stream seemed motionless. Here and there reddish islands of the seaweed brought by a current from the Sargasso Sea were seen. Flying small fishes jumped out from water and flew near the ship, shining fins. They fell on water, again flew up as if wanted to entertain passengers.
— Oh, as hot! At least the breeze blew — told, being answerable, the portly, red-cheeked passenger of years of fifty. He sat in a deep chair and fanned with a white silk scarf. Perfectly sewed white suit, a massive gold ring, a gold chain of hours on a vest and gold points gave it a type of the successful businessman.
— Nevertheless it is fine! — looking through the lowered a little eyelids in the shining distance, it continued. — “Leviathan” — the real floating palace. With comfort, it is convenient and, the main thing, absolutely safely. So? What can happen to such giant?
And the passenger raised eyes on the neighbor, the person of uncertain years, in a light gray suit. It had a pale face, a hollow breast, big thoughtful black eyes, dense eyebrows, an aquiline nose. Frenchman? Spaniard? Commission agent? Land owner? You will not sort. In any case, not the millionaire…
Looking after rings of cigar smoke, the neighbor shrugged shoulders and answered with a deaf voice:
— I heard, “Leviathan” is insured for such sum that on only one annual insurance premiums it would be possible to construct the quite good coasting steamship.
— What do you want to tell these? — the fat man pricked up the ears and breathed heavily.
— You the businessman, and it is easy to you to draw a conclusion: if there was no risk, the steamship company would not throw out a heap of money for insurance. Swisses do not insure the dwellings against floods, and Dutches — against earthquakes … — the Person with a pale face became silent, and the businessman breathed heavily even stronger.
— Remember tragic destiny of “Titanic” — continued thin after a pause. — “Titanic” a little than conceded to “Leviathan”. And Pasifik? And Luzitaniya? Yes unless it is a little possible to bring similar examples. At the sea it is impossible to be charged for anything.
— Luzitaniya it was sunk by a mine during war. “Titanic” was lost, having run into an underwater iceberg — the fat man objected, considerably worrying. — On “Leviathan” there is a special device, some radio tool which signals about approach of the submarine. On a case of the fire the automatic alarm system is also installed…
— And the steamship after all is insured — thin did not calm down. — Collision in fog and unless is not enough reasons… And then… These palm trees, pools, concert halls — all this is good and whether the ship with enough boats and saving belts in case of accident is provided?
— I… do not know — the fat man answered.
— And I know, counted.
— Well and that?
— Two thirds of passengers will remain without boats — thin quietly answered.
— No, at you today simply bad mood, Don Hurges, and you want to spoil it and me! — the fat man exclaimed.
— — Don Hurges answered at all and slightly considerably grinned. — I only soberly see things. It is necessary to be always ready to everything… However why my words excited you, Mr. Williams? You so are afraid for the precious life?
— Not only for life — Williams mysteriously answered, fitfully brushing away the person with a scarf.
— Reasonably. There are values which are more expensive than own life — Hurges also mysteriously said.
From the average deck cheerful sounds of the jazz reached. Music distracted attention of the fat man from sad thoughts a little. Williams even began to pritopyvat in a step, but his face remained gloomy.
— You told, it is necessary to be ready to everything — he addressed Hurges again. — What readiness you had in a look? Psychological?
— Of course, psychological first of all — Hurges answered. — The one who is ready to everything for certain will not become puzzled during the first instant, this main thing will not give in to panic, and. We have to have the ready plan of rescue and ourselves, and those values which we carry.
— You have such plan? — Williams asked.
— Yes, I considered it to the smallest details still at home. I, apparently, provided everything: both fire and accident…
— It would be interesting to get acquainted with your plan, Don Hurges.
Hurges shrugged shoulders:
— It is unlikely it is useful to you. My baggage is small; I do not know yours. Each plan has to be individual.
— My baggage! — Williams heaved a deep sigh.
The jazz raved. Young couples danced on the middle of the deck. Laughter, cheerful exclamations were heard. The chosen by fate played with the intoxicating jazz sounds, in the joyful afternoon, with an azure and clean air of the ocean.
And suddenly short push. One of the dancing young guys fell. Laughter was heard.
— Earthquake… Vodotryaseniye…
— My God that it? — a tongue twister Williams uttered. He instantly turned pale. — Whether you cawed? — Williams spitefully looked at Hurges who was quietly smoking a cigar.
The steamship still cut ocean waters. Dances were started over again, however someone went to learn that he happened.
— Attention! Attention! — unexpectedly was distributed from loudspeakers on decks, floors, in corridors, cabins. — There was a small accident. Slightest danger to the vessel. We ask not to worry. The second change of crew has to come to work immediately.
— What happened? — was heard from everywhere.
Nobody could answer. The jazz rattled still, but dances fell apart.
Williams’s chair pulled with such force that he, being afraid to fall, grasped Hurges’s chair. Many passengers fell. The frightened woman cried. Its hysterical shout was picked up by others.
— Work involving all hands! — the voice from a loud-speaker was again carried. — Accident, but anything serious. Passengers are recommended to keep full calm. Disperse on cabins.
Williams almost jumped out of a chair and, uneasy, ran before Hurges.
— Business takes a serious turn, oh, damn! How you assume, we will not drown?
Hurges shrugged shoulders again.
— “Leviathan” has partitions — he answered. — If he received a hole, then water will not pass further the first partition. Besides we on one of “crowded” sea roads: Buenos Aires — London. “Leviathan” will cause the help on radio. And still it is necessary to be ready to everything.
The steamship sharply decelerated. The stern considerably fell. On the vessel panic began.
— Don Hurges, we sink! We sink! — almost Williams shouted. — It is necessary to be ready to everything… Your plan, Don Hurges?! I do not want to die! And I… My baggage… my life… Ecuador. Twenty two years of deprivations, work… Kegs… Boats… To sink… and when — not during a storm, at the sun… Calm… Mirage… Bad dream… Nightmare!
— Passengers are offered to put on saving belts — the team thundered.
— My God! My God, do not leave me! — Williams cried and, having clutched at the head, ran.
Hurges slowly moved to a cabin, took out from a suitcase a plate from dark metal with a chain and the lock on it, a bottle with a hermetic cover and went to a rostrum.
— Don Hurges, you here? I look for you on all steamship — Williams called it. On it there was already a saving belt. — And why you without belt? Unless it is not in your plan?
— Does not enter — Hurges answered. — My friend, the skilled captain, said to me that he against saving belts: they only extend sufferings of sinking… However, it concerned the cold seas. What after all happened to “Leviathan”?
— Nobody knows anything. Even the captain if only he does not hide the reasons…
“Leviathan” was doomed, in it there was no doubt left. The stern was covered by water. The order was heard: to lower boats. Panic bustle began. Near boats animal fight for existence was started. Hurges appeared the rights: there were not enough boats.
— Why you do not hurry to boats? — Hurges asked.
— Because I managed to draw up the plan and even to carry out it — Williams answered. The smile flashed on his turned pale person. — If only only they were not late… Oh, gold reigns over the person while he is living. I promised sailors a keg… And maybe, everything will manage. The radio operator transmitted a distress signal, and say that to us to the aid two steamships already hurry… Here they… Here.
Hurges uvidat sailors who dragged kegs, being torn through crowd to the boat hanging on a nose.
— Get quicker into the boat! — Williams shouted.
— I did not implement the plan yet — Hurges answered. It passed a chain throughout a link of an anchor chain, clicked the lock, attached a metal plate to a chain. Then quickly wrote a note, put it in a bottle, densely fitted a hermetic cover. He briefly answered amazed looks of Williams:
— It is my baggage. Result of my life.
Sailors flung away passengers and loaded kegs in the boat.
— An overload — shook-headed Hurges, looking at heavy kegs.
— I cannot leave them — Williams told.
The boat was floated. Ten sailors, Hurges, Williams, kegs with gold, crackers, a water barrel… The boat was overloaded and settled to boards. And drowning clung to boards. Sailors ruthlessly struck them a bargain oars, knives and fists.
— To manage to drive off quicker from the sinking steamship!. — Williams the shivering bloodless lips muttered.
The boat did not manage to sail also twenty meters as the steamship, having become a nose up, went to a bottom. Over the place of death the huge water column was reared, hard settled and rushed a mad shaft. The shaft rushed to the boat.
— End! — Williams screamed.
— Any end can be also the beginning — Hurges quietly answered and threw a bottle in water. It were his last words.
Water covered the boat, muffled the last shouts of drowning. In two hours to the accident site there arrived the first steamship which accepted distress signals.
FOR THE GROUPER
On a long table — a black sphere with a diameter of one and a half meters. Its one side is cut off. The wide window comes to Kola Bay. There masts and pipes of trawlers of fish trust are seen. However nobody looks out of the window. Eyes of all are turned towards a black sphere. Twelve Komsomol members, members of a circle on studying of radio engineering, a close ring surrounded a table. The majority — students of sea technical school, a part — radio operators from trawlers.
Motya Ginzburg, the designer, the inventor and the head of a circle, the radio operator of the trawler “Sergo Ordzhonikidze”, patting a palm on a black metal surface of a sphere, asked with a smile on a clever thin face:
— You see an eyeball…
— Pretty apple!
— What has to be an orbit to contain such apple!
— The sea will be an orbit. There is enough? — Motya asked. — It is a radio eye by means of which we will see what is created in sea depths.
— TV! — one of standing near a table exclaimed.
As a matter of fact, Motya did not invent anything or almost anything. It happened to it to see photos of the American and German TVs adapted for observations at a sea depth. However, it were photos. But the principle of operation of the TV is known. It was necessary to think over independently some design features of the underwater TV. And Motya as if successfully coped with it: the small skilled TV worked regularly. Why not to work also to it, big? It is almost ready. To insert into a round opening a lens, near it — a lamp of searchlights, and all. In a word, hour two installation works, and the TV can be omitted in water.
— To look what becomes at the bottom of the sea? — the first-year student of sea technical school asked.
— Exactly. To look, how are sea crabs — picked up, indulgently smiling, his neighbor who considered himself the person skilled.
— Well, and it is interesting — Ginzburg seriously answered.
— Let’s catch groupers?
— Yes, yes. Today — the first test. The trawler leaves an hour zero-zero. By this time we will manage to finish — Ginzburg answered and ordered: — And well, boys, for work!
Listeners left, and five people, led by Ginzburg, remained and started business.
— And you know who will be with us on trial fishing? — Motya asked the companions. — Blasco Azores, Spanish communist, correspondent. It arrived to us recently to examine new Murmansk.
Azores left hotel of trust at midnight and went on descent to trawling base. The Spaniard shrank in the autumn coat. Icy midday wind hit into a face. The sleet fell.
“Amazing region! — Azores reflected. — Here all on the contrary: “solar nights”, “night days”. In these regions people choose apartments as windows not on the South, and on the North because a north, flying by over a warm current
Gulf Stream, heats up, and southern — it is cooled over an ice plateau of the tundra. Severe land, heavy climate. But you do not feel all this, even you do not notice — the person is so interesting here and put him”.
Below fires of trawling base burned. Highly cases of fish-processing shops rose. Winch chains rattled. The pier had trawlers. One unloaded, others prepared for departure. Conveyors scurried about: to warehouses — with fish, from warehouses — with salt. Azores quickly passed in the end of pier to the big trawler. There was an outflow, and the board of the trawler rocked almost level with pier. Azores ascended aboard and rose to the captain’s cabin. The captain Makovsky welcomed it and asked to pass in the cabin. Azores entered.
The cabin of the captain consisted of two tiny rooms: office bedroom and drawing room. In the first there was a small written little table, above it — a big oil lamp (on a case of damage of electric lighting), and two chairs attached to a floor by chains (on a rolling case). Now chains drooped, and chairs could be moved. In a niche, behind a curtain — a bed, nearby — an entrance to bathing “room” in which, probably, it was hardly possible to take off clothes. In “drawing room” — an angular sofa and a little table before it. On a little table — a tea service, cookies…
The red varnished tree, the shining copper parts, tooled leather, glass, light, heat, heaters, fans… Here it was silent and with comfort, as in a compartment of pullman cars.
The captain in the cabin disposed. From the coast kicked off. The steamship slowly and carefully began to turn. Azores looked through a big window of a cabin at the coast. Trawlers, the lit windows of the pickling shop, the high, overgrown low birches opposite coast of Kola Bay flashed… Speed of the course increased. Rolling was not.
The captain transferred control to the assistant and came to a cabin. Both are Azores and the captain Makovsky — not bad knew English. As the hospitable owner, the captain gave some tea. The conversation was started. Azores was interested in the underwater TV.
— You saw groupers? — the guest’s captain asked.
— Of course. Big fish with the red eyes which are getting out of orbits — Azores answered.
— And why they red also get out of orbits?
Azores shrugged shoulders. The captain grinned and continued:
— It because grouper very timid fish; having appeared in a trawl, he dies of a fright, and from a fright of an eye at it get out of orbits… I had to hear similar explanations from old fishermen more than once. Certainly, it is the fable. The grouper lives at a depth of many tens of meters. And it began to come across in our trawls only recently when we learned to lower trawls deeply. And here, when the perch is snared and he is quickly pulled out on a surface where pressure is several times lower than for what the perch is adapted, eyes it are poured by blood and leave orbits.
— It is very interesting — Azores noticed — but at what here the TV?
— And here at what. A perch — tasty, useful, fat fish, and it is deeply very difficult to find her! We float by the sea, somewhere under us the most enormous schools of fish — hundreds, thousands of tons float. But we do not see this fish and after many days of heavy swimming often we come back home with empty holds. The people wait from us for fish, and we have a failure behind failure. Frustration of the plan, the administration tears and throws, seamen are nervous…
— But you often lower a trawl and find fish — Azores objected. — I saw what rich catch of the same perches gets to your trawls.
— And how many they do not get, nobody sees it — the captain interrupted. — To one trawler will have the luck to come across a jamb, to another is not present. Game of a blind case. Where it is good? There are days when we tens of times lower a trawl and pull out only seaweed, crabs and stones. The trawl often clings to soil, is torn about sharp stones. We do not see a bottom surface. We catch blindly. However, our scientific researches help us. Perseus surveyed a seabed, studied the course of fish, water temperature at different depths and something other. It helped, but nevertheless the case is not defeated. We live Gulf Stream, and it is whimsical. Sometimes it changes a current a little: sometimes happens warmer, sometimes — colder. And fish visits our coast, disappears, otkochevyvy there where water is warmer. Where last year fish was caught perfectly, today — any catch. And it only because for thousands of kilometers from us, in the Gulf of Mexico, the summer was colder usual or in Iceland the winter became rough. We called to the aid the sonic depth finder and radio lot. The principle of operation of the sonic depth finder is familiar to you? We send under water a sound wave, well, say, explosion of the boss or blow of a bell down. The sound wave reaches a bottom, is reflected and comes back. Knowing sound speed in water, it is possible to determine depth. If the sound comes back quickly, so the sound wave is reflected not by a bottom, but a big congestion of fish. This way is extremely productive and useful, but also it has shortcomings.
Radio lot showing depth on speeds of reflection of a radio beam, and the sonic depth finder everyone “are in own way blind”. To them all the same from what radio beams or a sound wave are reflected. For example, the sonic depth finder showed smaller depth in such place. You think: the sound was reflected from a fish jamb. You will lower a trawl — a uniform small fish. The sound was reflected or from the sunk ship, or from the underwater rock. Other business when we have an opportunity to see what becomes in sea depths. Then we will double, we will treble a catch.
— And the TV will help to reach it?
— We hope.
After tea the captain went to the cabin. Azores remained alone. It began to put the notes in order.
Began to stir the trawler stronger.
“We take to the open sea” — Azores guessed, threw a coat and came to the deck.
Strong wind, sleet, splashes… Strongly swung the trawler.
“And so day and night, in the summer and in the winter, during a calm and during a storm fight against the sea lasts — Azores thought. — It would seem, incredibly hard work. But what at them at all cheerful, cheerful faces! Jokes, laughter, songs…”
The trawler safely cut gray-haired waves, heading for the Bear island. Ginzburg’s assistants in heavy sea boots, in leather jackets ran from a sphere to the captain’s cabin, checking serviceability of wires. The screen of the TV was installed in the captain’s cabin.
Azores approached a sphere.
“Like a stratosphere balloon gondola” — he thought.
— In this sphere there is a radio station? — he asked a question Ginzburg.
— No — that answered. — The image is transferred on wires. In a sphere — batteries of dry elements, accumulators, the clockwork.
— Accumulators for projector lamps?
— Only for a photo cell. Arc lamps of a searchlight will receive energy from power plant of the trawler.
— Means, it is not absolutely a broadcast? — with some disappointment Azores asked.
— And even at all not a broadcast — answered, grinning, Ginzburg.
— Because water strongly absorbs radio beams. The radio wave bearing the image dies away, without having reached the surface of the sea. We assume to lower our TV on depth of two hundred-three hundred meters, at most four hundred. At such distance it is easy to manage also wires. It is more reliable and simpler.
At last all preparations were finished. The heavy sphere was carefully fastened to the crane of the steam winch and began to be lowered in water.
— Now it is better to observe not here, and on the TV screen — Ginzburg told the Spaniard.
Azores hurried to the captain’s cabin.
Ginzburg placed the screen in a deep box which so protected it from light that it was possible to watch the screen, without turning off the electric light. Thanks to it the captain could watch both a compass, and the card, and the TV screen.
— However where screen? — Azores was surprised.
It was comprehended by new disappointment when the captain showed it a box, a little more match.
— There’s nothing to be done — the captain told — Ginzburg produced the device by a handicraft method. It is the trial TV. If it equals hopes, then our central radio laboratory will manufacture fine devices. If only… we saw something.
Azores looked in a box, but saw nothing.
— Means, there is no fish — the captain consoled him.
— And it is possible, your underwater eye does not see fish? — Azores asked.
— Perhaps — the captain answered. — But Ginzburg assures that he already saw something on this primitive screen.
Painful, long minutes passed. Azores kept the eyes glued from the screen. Suddenly he exclaimed:
— Look! The screen comes to life!
Makovsky looked and saw the inexpressive, blurring spots on a reddish-yellow background of the screen. They moved diversely and dropped out of sight, again appeared. One of them were allocated on the screen dark, others with lighter frame.
— This is fish — Makovsky quietly told.
Azores stared hard at a magic box.
— Well? — the entered Ginzburg asked.
— Look itself — the captain answered.
That only looked and cheerfully told:
— But why it is so vague? — Azores asked.
— Because fish it is far from the TV. We, obviously, about contour borders.
Azores already heard the term “jamb okonturivaniye”. When Ginzburg turned away to give the order by phone to the assistants, Azores looked at the screen again and screamed, joyfully surprised. He saw expressive outlines of the fish who flashed sideways and disappeared in the left corner of the screen. After the first the second appeared, then the third image of fish, more and more…
— To lower a trawl!
From the deck the excited voices, noise, a winch roar were distributed. Sailors developed the huge trawl hanging on a mast and lowered it in water. It lasted several minutes. Trawling fishing by means of the TV began.
In forty five minutes the trawl was lifted. He was full of fish and nearly broke from weight. Azores and Ginzburg ran away down, on the deck. Seamen shouted “hurrah” to the inventor.
— To swing, swing! — they shouted. Then seized Motya and threw.
— Devils! Already swings. Still overboard drop! — the happy inventor shouted.
The captain stopped this game, but did not make the prevention for misconduct. He understood mood of crew and itself was glad not less sailors.
MESSENGER OF ACCIDENT
Fishing went perfectly. The underwater eye faultlessly performed the work. Sometimes the screen suddenly grew stiff, a game of spots stopped — means, the trawler left a jamb. New searches were started, then the screen over again came to life. The skilled captain quickly defined “contour” of a jamb and now could conduct fishing until holds are filled to the full.
Trawlers left on trade for long time and wandered by the sea for months. Now the “able to see” trawler could perform a task for several days. What economy!
People, having forgotten about fatigue, about a sharp north, caught fish, filling holds. Fish was undressed and salted here, on the trawler — it was the real floating plant.
On the way back, as hurried, Ginzburg asked the captain to reduce the course to lower once again the TV in shallow water and to look at a bottom. The captain agreed, and the TV was lowered. Ginzburg watching the screen screamed and turned pale.
— What is? — the captain with alarm asked.
— We, apparently, found one of our dead of trawlers — Motya said.
The captain looked at the screen. Yes, there the stern of the trawler lying upside down accurately was seen.
Iron acquired small seaweed as if a moss. Everywhere five-pointed starfishes, crabs were seen, the fishes attracted with searchlight fire flashed… The inscription “Peak…” flashed.
— It is “Haddock” — the captain told. — The diesel trawler, it died together with “Perch” during a storm under December thirtieth, 1931. And so where “Haddock” died! And the last signals were accepted almost from Medvedki’s width.
— Could carry “haddock” on the South already overturned — Ginzburg stated a guess.
— A sad find — the captain sighed. He nearly died during that awful storm. — But for you, Ginzburg, of course, and suitable… Well, well, do not wave a hand. We understand each other. We found the trawler, and it lies superficially. Epronovtsa will lift him. At the bottom of the Barents Sea many trawlers — and ours, both German, and Norwegian, and English are buried. By means of your eye we will find and we will lift them.
News of the found “Haddock” scattered on the trawler. Seamen remembered the died companions, storm, storms. But unless all life not fight?
Cleared up. However, by the sea huge waves still went, but wind calmed down, clouds disappeared, in the sky the moon shone. Silvery reflections of moonlight danced on waves.
Azores approached a board and, rocking in a step to the steamship, stared in one point.
— What you look narrowly at? — Ginzburg asked.
— You see, shines as an asterisk — Azores answered, specifying afar.
— I see: the moon is reflected in waves.
— No, not the moon — Azores answered. — That shines a bottle.
— Well and that?
— And the fact that if it did not drown, so it was corked. In such bottles there are letters crashed, here that. It is necessary to catch this bottle.
Azores hurried to the captain. Makovsky listened to him without special pleasure. To catch a bottle in which, perhaps, there is nothing and — to waste time. On the other hand, sea traditions oblige: the bottle has to be caught. And it gave the command. The trawler reduced the course and stopped. Rolling amplified. Azores was strongly pleased with a new adventure.
Sailors estimated how to catch a bottle. It is inexpedient to lower a trawl: cells of its network were wide and the bottle would slip through them. The small network with small cells was found, it and caught a bottle.
Azores was not mistaken: the bottle hermetically was corked rubber up and in it paper was seen. The bottle was delivered in the captain’s cabin. Makovsky carefully took out a stopper and got the leaf curtailed into a tubule from a bottle. In a note widely it was written in English:
“On a case of death of the steamship “Leviathan”. I ask to deliver this note to Argentina, Buenos Aires, Litl Street, 344. To Zhuan Hurges.
Further there was a ciphered text — continuous rows of the letters printed on the machine. Right at the end, after the code — an addition:
“In the letter extremely important data. I ask to deliver with the courier. Costs of journey will be paid on the place.
If it is impossible to send with the courier, I ask to report on a bildapparata”.
Makovsky turned a leaf in hands and burst out laughing.
— Some odd fellow — he told. — Thinks that there will be people who will give up the business and will go at own expense to South America to find for the addressee and to transfer it the letter in hope for payment of expenses.
— And the addressee, perhaps, already died or left in the unknown direction — the navigator added.
— It is possible to photograph the letter and to send a picture — Ginzburg advised.
Azores before listening silently unexpectedly told:
— For me it is absolutely clear that Blasco Jurgues who died together with well-known “Leviathan” wished that his letter was transferred without publicity. The letter is ciphered not for nothing and if to transmit this code through many countries by telegraph or bildy, then, naturally, secret polices and the Ministries of Foreign Affairs of a number of the countries will become interested in it. Jury encoders will lose a dream and appetite, will not decipher this letter yet. Jurgues, obviously, was confident in ingenuity and nobility of into what hands its bottle will get. He asked to resort to a bildapparat only as a last resort. The last will of tragicly died person has to be executed.
— And suddenly this document contains weapon against us, the USSR? What if Hurges is an agent of the imperialistic power planning tricks against us? — the captain asked.