Wednesday, August 25, 2021

"There Came a Wild Scream from the Blackness of the Sea, a Swish of Foamy Water, As If of a Momentary Fight—Then Silence"

"Deep Sea Treasure."
By Arthur B. Reeve (1880-1936).
Illustrations by Harold Anderson (1894-1973; HERE).
First appearance: Boys' Life, January 1924.
Short short short story (4 pages).
Online at (HERE).
     "He had brought up a skull . . ."

One of the oldest human criminal activities leads a scientific detective to employ one of the newest forensic techniques . . . .

Main characters:
~ Walter:
  "Only a few days before, Kennedy and I had arrived Nassau in the Bahamas on a vacation, the winter following the radio detective episode."
~ Craig Kennedy:
  "You're as fine a gentleman as ever scuttled a ship or cut a throat!"
~ Ken Adams:
  "It looks as if one of the party was double-crossing the others."
~ Erickson:
  "Captain Duval was—murdered!"
~ Harry Davison:
  ". . . had embarked in his father's two-hundred-foot power yacht, Diving Belle, on a treasure hunt with two chums of his college fraternity . . ."
~ Nanette Duval:
  "The girl's eyes flashed dangerously as she spoke."
~ Guy Duval:
  "I tried to be good and brave . . ."
~ Coralie Adams:
  "In her hand was a copy of the same wireless that had come to us."
~ Captain Ray:
  "No good will ever come of that treasure hunt!"
~ Bob Barrett:
  "To our surprise we saw that he was swathed in bandages."
~ Burleigh:
  "It was Burleigh who had organized and engineered the treasure hunt . . ."
~ Colwell:
  "You see, we have a wonderful deep-sea diving outfit which will enable us to go down even fifty fathoms, three hundred feet . . ."

References and resources:
- "Nassau in the Bahamas": Tourists seem to love it:
  "The city's proximity to the United States (290 km east-southeast of Miami, Florida) has contributed to its popularity as a holiday resort, especially after the United States imposed a ban on travel to Cuba in 1963. The Atlantis resort on nearby Paradise Island accounts for more tourist arrivals to the city than any other hotel property of Nassau. The mega-resort employs over 6,000 Bahamians, and is the largest employer outside government" (Wikipedia HERE).
- "these here rum-runners": It wasn't all fun and games when it came to evading the 18th Amendment (in force from 1919 to 1933), but it could be lucrative:
  "At the start, the rum-runner fleet consisted of a ragtag flotilla of fishing boats, such as the schooner Nellie J. Banks, excursion boats, and small merchant craft. As prohibition wore on, the stakes got higher and the ships became larger and more specialized. The rum-runners were definitely faster and more maneuverable. Add to that the fact that a rum-running captain could make several hundred thousand dollars a year. In comparison, the Commandant of the Coast Guard made just $6,000 annually, and seamen made $30/week. These huge rewards meant the rum-runners were willing to take big risks. They ran without lights at night and in fog, risking life and limb" (Wikipedia HERE).
- "a land haunted by memories of buccaneersBlackbeard, Teach, a host of other scurrilous old worthies": The more flamboyant the criminal, it seems, the more people remember him:
  "Buccaneers were a kind of privateers or free sailors peculiar to the Caribbean Sea during the 17th and 18th centuries. First established on northern Hispaniola as early as 1625, their heyday was from the Restoration in 1660 until about 1688, during a time when governments were not strong enough and did not consistently attempt to suppress them" (Wikipedia HERE).
  "Edward Teach (alternatively spelled Edward Thatch, c. 1680 – 22 November 1718), better known as Blackbeard, was an English pirate who operated around the West Indies and the eastern coast of Britain's North American colonies. Teach was a shrewd and calculating leader who spurned the use of violence, relying instead on his fearsome image to elicit the response that he desired from those whom he robbed. He was romanticized after his death and became the inspiration for an archetypal pirate in works of fiction across many genres" (Wikipedia HERE).
- "the difficult process of reconstructing the faces of human beings": Still being used today:
  "Forensic facial reconstruction (or forensic facial approximation) is the process of recreating the face of an individual (whose identity is often not known) from their skeletal remains through an amalgamation of artistry, anthropology, osteology, and anatomy. It is easily the most subjective—as well as one of the most controversial—techniques in the field of forensic anthropology. Despite this controversy, facial reconstruction has proved successful frequently enough that research and methodological developments continue to be advanced" (Wikipedia HERE).
- "A star shell!": Let there be light:
  "Typically illumination flares burn for about 60 seconds. These are also known as starshell or star shell" (Wikipedia HERE).
- Arthur Reeve teamed his well-known scientific detective Craig Kennedy with Ken Adams, evidently to appeal to a younger demographic, in eight adventures in Boys' Life in 1923-24 (FictionMags data):
  (1) "Craig Kennedy, Radio Detective" (serial), Boys’ Life, October 1923, etc.
  (2) "Deep Sea Treasure" (short story), Boys’ Life, January 1924 (above)
  (3) "A Son of the North Woods" (short story), Boys’ Life, February 1924
  (4) "The Polar Flight of ZR-10" (short story), Boys’ Life, March 1924
  (5) "The Honor System" (short story), Boys’ Life, May 1924
  (6) "The Return of the Bon Homme Richard" (short story), Boys’ Life, July 1924
  (7) "The Ghost Chase" (short story), Boys’ Life, September 1924
  (8) "The Voice in the Dark" (serial), Boys’ Life, November 1924, etc.
- Our latest contact with one of Arthur Benjamin Reeve's stories was "The Curio Shop" (HERE). You might also enjoy Reeve's nonfictional article, "In Defense of the Detective Story," which we highlighted (HERE); the offsite link still seems to work.

No comments:

Post a Comment