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.Fulton pushed open the stable doors and ushered them inside.They found themselves in a vast stone-flagged room, lit by an enormous skylight.The stable furniture had been removed and workbenches loaded with tools lined the walls to their left and right.At the rear was a small forge and behind it a vast straggling pile of crates, boxes and barrels.Dominating the room was a set of heavy trestles.Resting upon them was a huge cigar-shaped object, covered with a massive tarpaulin.‘Well there she is,’ said Fulton proudly.‘The latest model.We had some sea-trials with an earlier model, but the Emperor wasn’t impressed.So I came up with this version, lots of improvements.I’m taking her down to Boulogne for sea-trials soon, but the Countess thought it would be safer for me to work on her here.’‘I should have thought Boulogne was pretty safe,’ said the Doctor.‘You’ll be surrounded by the Emperor’s armies.’‘Apparently we’ll also be surrounded by English spies,’said Fulton.‘Don’t want the British getting wind of her – or trying to blow her up.’‘I gather the Countess is your associate in this venture?’asked Serena.‘She’s been invaluable, especially financially,’ said Fulton.‘It’s a hell of a job getting any actual money out of His Imperial Majesty.He provides facilities but precious little cash.’‘Is the Countess providing technical help as well?’ asked the Doctor casually.‘Well, some,’ admitted Fulton.‘She’s quite a scientist herself.’‘Won’t she mind us coming here like this?’ asked Serena.‘She and the Doctor are old rivals.’‘So I gather,’ said Fulton.‘When she learned about our little chat last night she was pretty mad.I guess she must have had a change of heart overnight.She sent me a message early this morning and suggested I ask you both.’‘How very kind,’ said Serena.She looked hard at the Doctor, who shrugged.‘Is she coming herself?’ he asked.‘Maybe later,’ said Fulton.‘Well, let’s take a look at my Nautilus.’He went over to the trestles, unfastened the ropes and, helped by the Doctor, pulled away the heavy tarpaulin.The Nautilus was revealed.She was an impressive sight, thought the Doctor, especially for the year 1805.She was a copper-coloured, cigar-shaped cylinder about twenty feet long.A smaller half-cylinder of almost equal length was attached to the bottom of the hull forming a kind of keel.There was a small domed conning tower with a glass-covered porthole and a flat horizontal rudder.It didn’t look antiquated and comic at all, thought the Doctor.It looked sleek and streamlined and modern.And deadly.They walked around it admiringly, as the Doctor fired questions.He gently rapped the sides.‘Construction?’‘Copper sheets over iron ribs.She has to be strong to withstand the pressure.’‘How does she submerge?’‘She’s fitted with ballast tanks.She holds enough air to stay down three hours – and that’s with a one-man crew, burning two candles.She’ll carry up to three men at a pinch, but that cuts down the submerged time.’ He nodded to a row of cylinders against one wall.‘I’m planning to add a tank of compressed air to increase her underwater range when there’s a bigger crew.’‘How does it move?’ asked Serena.Fulton clambered onto the trestles, pulled on a set of guyropes and a fan-shaped sail rose slowly above the hull.‘Sail for when she’s travelling on the surface.’ He lowered it again.‘And how does she move underwater?’ asked the Doctor.‘That’s the one snag,’ admitted Fulton.‘There’s a propeller operated by an inside hand-crank, but that’s hellish slow to be honest; she just creeps along.I tried to rig up an engine using steam power, but that’s pretty tricky underwater.’‘Can’t the Countess help?’‘She has – at least, she’s tried.She’s come up with some kind of newfangled propulsion unit, something totally revolutionary.But it’s so advanced I can’t work out how to install it.To be honest, I’m getting worried.’‘How about armaments?’‘Latest thing,’ said Fulton proudly.‘Torpedoes, air propelled.Travel two hundred yards underwater.My own invention.’ He pointed to a row of slender cylinders.‘There’s a rack of them over there.’‘Very impressive, Mr Fulton,’ said the Doctor.‘Very impressive indeed.’‘Thanks a lot,’ said Fulton.‘Of course, it all depends on how she performs on the sea-trials,’ he went on.‘Out at sea things are very different from inside a nice safe and dry workshop.’‘This new system the Countess has come up with,’ said the Doctor casually.‘What’s its operating principle?’‘Beyond me,’ said Fulton frankly [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]