Series:Action Adventure Short Stories Collection
Twenty Fathoms Down
FICTION / Action & Adventure
The Caribbean is a fortune hunter’s dream, salted with the gold of galleons long ago claimed by the deep. Now Hawk’s headed for the Windward Passage of Haiti to stake his claim. But a rival team has also picked up the scent, and they’re willing to turn the sea red with blood to get to the gold first.
Fighting off ruthless competitors is nothing new to Hawk ... but fighting off a beautiful woman is a different story. Is she an innocent stowaway or a seductive saboteur? Between the cool millions lying on the bottom of the ocean, and the boiling-hot race to grab it, Hawk’s about to find the answer and make a discovery Twenty Fathoms Down that will blow you out of the water.
“Primo Pulp Fiction.” —Booklist
Twenty Fathoms Down Glossary
Stories from the Golden Age reflect the words and expressions used in the 1930s and 1940s, adding unique flavor and authenticity to the tales. While a character’s speech may often reflect regional origins, it also can convey attitudes common in the day. So that readers can better grasp such cultural and historical terms, uncommon words or expressions of the era, the following glossary has been provided.
ballast tanks: tanks in the bottom and sides of a submarine that are flooded with sea water, making the submarine heavier and permitting it to descend beneath the surface of the sea. When the submarine is ready to come to the surface, air is pumped into the ballast tanks, which pushes out the water through vents and makes the submarine light enough to rise.
bead on, take a: to take careful aim at. This term alludes to the bead, a small metal knob on a firearm used as a front sight.
“bears”: from the phrase “come bear a hand,” which means to lend a hand or bring your hand to bear on the work going on. Bears refer to those who are helping.
belaying pin: a large wooden or metal pin that fits into a hole in a rail on a ship or boat, and to which a rope can be fastened.
bends, the: a condition caused by a rapid substantial decrease in atmospheric pressure when coming up from deep-sea diving, characterized by the formation of nitrogen bubbles in the blood and severe pain in the lungs and joints.
binnacle: a built-in housing for a ship’s compass.
bitt: a vertical post, usually one of a pair, set on the deck of a ship and used for securing cables, lines for towing, etc.
bone in the teeth: said of a ship speeding along throwing up spray or foam under the bow. The phrase comes from the image of a dog, merrily running with a bone in its teeth.
Ciudad de Oro: (Spanish) City of Gold.
cock-and-bull story: a tale so full of improbable details and embellishments that it is obviously not true.
Colt .45: a .45-caliber automatic pistol manufactured by the Colt Firearms Company of Hartford, Connecticut. Colt was founded in 1847 by Samuel Colt (1814–1862), who revolutionized the firearms industry.
corselet: part of a diver’s suit consisting of a breastplate made of copper or iron, shaped so that it fits comfortably over the shoulders, chest and back. Once in place, the corselet is bolted to the suit and the diving helmet is then locked onto the corselet.
cutlass: a short, heavy, slightly curved sword with a single cutting edge, formerly used by sailors.
diving piano: the name given to the collection of levers in a submarine’s control room that operate the diving and resurfacing mechanisms.
dogs: any of various hooked or U-shaped metallic devices used for holding, gripping or fastening.
fathom: a unit of length equal to six feet (1.83 meters), used in measuring the depth of water.
galleon: a large three-masted sailing ship, usually with two or more decks; used mainly by the Spanish from the fifteenth to eighteenth centuries for war and commerce.
gangway: a narrow, movable platform or ramp forming a bridge by which to board or leave a ship.
G-men: government men; agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
grandstand play: a showy action or move, as in a sport, in order to gain attention or approval.
Haiti: country in the Caribbean occupying the western part of the island of Hispaniola. The other half is occupied by the Dominican Republic.
halyard: a rope used for raising and lowering a sail.
hawser: a thick rope or cable for mooring or towing a ship.
jackstaff: a flagstaff at the bow of a vessel, on which a small national flag, known as a jack, is flown.
Jacob’s ladder: a hanging ladder having ropes or chains supporting wooden or metal rungs or steps.
lungs: underwater breathing apparatuses. Between 1929 and 1932, two US naval officers developed a Submarine Escape Lung that consisted of an oblong rubber bag that recycled exhaled air. Called the “Momsen Lung” after the name of one of the officers, it hung around the neck and strapped around the waist and allowed for slow ascent to avoid the bends.
out on my feet: in a state of being unconscious or senseless but still being on one’s feet—standing up.
painter: a rope, usually at the bow, for fastening a boat to a ship, stake, etc.
plate: precious metal.
pulmotor: a mechanical device for artificial respiration that forces oxygen into the lungs when respiration has ceased because of drowning, etc.
quintal: a unit of weight equal to one hundred pounds.
Scheherazade: the female narrator of The Arabian Nights, who during one thousand and one adventurous nights saved her life by entertaining her husband, the king, with stories.
scuppers: openings in the side of a ship at deck level that allow water to run off.
stand on and off: to keep at a safe distance; to sail alternately toward and away from shore so as to keep a point in sight.
sweeps: long, heavy oars.
thwarts: seats across a boat, especially those used by rowers.
tin fish: a submarine.
tramp steamer: a freight vessel that does not run regularly between fixed ports, but takes a cargo wherever shippers desire.
transom: transom seat; a kind of bench seat, usually with a locker or drawers underneath.
truck: a piece of wood fixed at the top of the highest mast on a ship, usually having holes through which ropes can be passed to raise or lower sails or flags.
under weigh: in motion; underway.
weather eye open, keep a: to be on one’s guard; be watchful.
weigh anchor: take up the anchor when ready to sail.
West Indies: a group of islands in the North Atlantic between North and South America, comprising the Greater Antilles, the Lesser Antilles and the Bahamas.
Windward Passage: a channel between Haiti and Cuba that connects the Atlantic Ocean with the Caribbean Sea.