Caleb and Lacey began at once to overhaul the diving-gear. The air-pump was set close to the sloop’s rail; and a short ladder was lashed to her side, to enable the diver to reach the water easily. The air-hose and life-lines were then uncoiled.
Caleb threw off his coat and trousers, that he might move the more freely in his diving-dress, and with Lonny Bowles’s assistance twisted himself into his rubber suit,—body, arms, and legs being made of one piece of air-tight and water-tight rubber cloth.
By the time the sloop had been securely moored, and the boom-tackle made ready to lift the stone, Caleb stood on the ladder completely equipped, except for his copper helmet, the last thing done to a diver before he sinks under water. Captain Joe always adjusted Caleb’s himself. On Caleb’s breast and between his shoulders hung two lead plates weighing twenty-five pounds each, and on his feet were two iron-shod shoes of equal weight. These were needed as ballast, to overbalance the buoyancy of his inflated dress, and enable him to sink or rise at his pleasure. Firmly tied to his wrist was a stout cord,—his life-line,—and attached to the back of the copper helmet was a long rubber hose, through which a constant stream of fresh air was to be pumped inside his helmet and suit.
In addition to these necessary appointments there was hung over one shoulder a canvas haversack, containing a small cord, a chisel, a water-compass, and a sheath-knife. The sheath-knife is the last desperate resource of the diver when his air-hose becomes tangled or clogged, his signals are misunderstood, and he must either cut his hose in the effort to free himself and reach the surface, or suffocate where he is.