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The Dream Doctor

19. The Submarine Mystery
"The Star was not far from right, Walter," he added, seriously. "If the battleship plans
could be stolen, other things could be-- other things were. You remember Burke of the
secret service? I'm going up to Lookout Hill on the Connecticut shore of the Sound with
him to-night. The rewrite men on the Record didn't have the facts, but they had accurate
imaginations. The most vital secret that any navy ever had, that would have enabled us in
a couple of years to whip the navies of the world combined against us, has been stolen."
"And that is?" I asked.
"The practical working-out of the newest of sciences, the science of telautomatics."
"Telautomatics?" I repeated.
"Yes. There is something weird, fascinating about the very idea. I sit up here safely in
this room, turning switches, pressing buttons, depressing levers. Ten miles away a
vehicle, a ship, an aeroplane, a submarine obeys me. It may carry enough of the latest and
most powerful explosive that modern science can invent, enough, if exploded, to rival the
worst of earthquakes. Yet it obeys my will. It goes where I direct it. It explodes where I
want it. And it wipes off the face of the earth anything which I want annihilated.
"That's telautomatics, and that is what has been stolen from our navy and dimly sensed by
you clever newspaper men, from whom even the secret service can't quite hide
everything. The publication of the rumour alone that the government knows it has lost
something has put the secret service in a hole. What might have been done quietly and in
a few days has got to be done in the glare of the limelight and with the blare of a brass
band--and it has got to be done right away, too. Come on, Walter. I've thrown together all
we shall need for one night--and it doesn't include any pajamas, either."
A few minutes later we met our friend Burke of the secret service at the new terminal. He
had wired Kennedy earlier in the day saying that he would be in New York and would
call him up.
"The plans, as I told you in my message," began Burke, when we had seated ourselves in
a compartment of the Pullman, "were those of Captain Shirley, covering the wireless-
controlled submarine. The old captain is a thoroughbred, too. I've known him in
Washington. Comes of an old New England, family with plenty of money but more
brains. For years he has been working on this science of radio- telautomatics, has all
kinds of patents, which he has dedicated to the United States, too. Of course the basic,
pioneer patents are not his. His work has been in the practical application of them. And,
Kennedy, there are some secrets about his latest work that he has not patented; he has
given them outright to the Navy Department, because they are too valuable even to
patent."
 
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