Cold Death by Kenneth Robeson
Chapter 1. HAND IN A CROWD
DOC SAVAGE knew a hand had touched his pocket. There was a swift,
wraith-like movement of fingers. Then the hand was gone.
The touch was fleeting enough, but Doc Savage knew it had not been
for the purpose of robbery. The fingers had not been explorative.
They had merely deposited something in Doc's pocket.
Doc Savage did not pause. Nor did he make any effort to apprehend
the man who had touched him. It would have been simple to have laid
hands upon him, corded bronze hands; to have trapped him.
Doc knew the man was not a thief. He was aware nothing had been
removed. Doc pressed the back of a hand on the outside of the pocket
and felt a square white card.
The man who had placed it there had slipped aside in the crowd. No
doubt, he believed he had succeeded in delivering his message without
being detected. If he had known Doc Savage better he would have known
this to be an impossible feat.
It was Doc's principle to avoid public encounter unless the
circumstance was compelling. He contented himself with a second's
glimpse of the man who had touched him. He saw the back of a
The hair was scraggly, unshorn. This strung from under the frayed
brim of a disreputable hat. The neck was scrawny. Little more than a
bony upper spine with skin wrapped around it.
Doc Savage removed the card from his pocket. He did not slacken
his speed. He had been moving through the Wall Street crowd with the
easy movement of a jungle animal. Though there was a press on the
sidewalk, it being five o'clock, it was amazing how this
bronze-skinned man avoided contact with others.
Doc was careful to hold the card by its edges. The hands of the
scraggly man had been bare. There should be fingerprints.
Doc cupped the card. His eyes flicked across it. Doc's eyes were
like flaky gold with stirring whirlwinds in their depths. The
whirlwinds seemed to move more rapidly now.
For a few seconds there was a haunting, trilling note. Those who
might have been watching the smooth, bronze face of Doc would have
detected no movement of his lips. There were many thus watching, for
the man of bronze was a marked figure.
The trilling seemed to emanate from all of his huge, symmetrical
body. It was a sound of which Doc himself was hardly conscious. It
might presage danger, or that the man of bronze was upon the eve of a
The message on the card in his hand was brief, but explicit:
TO CLARK SAVAGE, JR:--IF YOU WOULD PREVENT DEATH, DANGER TO
THOUSANDS, CALL UNION 0-1214 TO-NIGHT AT EIGHT.
The words had been printed with a leaky pen. There was no
signature. But the back of a man's head was all the signature Doc
would need. Intuitively, he knew he would see the man again. Perhaps
DOC SAVAGE continued through the Wall Street crowd. Now he moved
with greater speed, but still he touched no one.
The man of bronze had an errand in Wall Street. He completed his
brief business before returning to his headquarters. But his mind was
busy with the problem the card in his pocket might represent.
Because of his amazing adventures, his world-wide assistance to
those in trouble and his punishment of crooks, Doc Savage was always
besieged with appeals. A few merited his attention.
And he was likewise a target for many who feared him. Even this
small card in his pocket might be the bait for a trap.
When he had returned to his laboratory, Doc set about reading what
he considered vastly more important than the mere printed words on
the white card. This laboratory, on the eighty-sixth floor of
Manhattan's most impressive skyscraper, was most amazing in its
Not even the latest equipment of the police or the Federal
department of justice equalled the means here for scientific
investigation. In addition, as the man of bronze had entered, the
doors of smooth, chrome steel closed him in. No locks appeared on
these doors. But their electroscopic fastenings made them possible of
opening only to Doc and his five companions in adventure.
Doc first dusted the card bearing the mysterious message. The
distinct imprints of a thumb and forefinger appeared. The card was a
trifle grimy. The hand delivering it had been that of a man who
worked. The soiled spots had a brownish tinge.
The bronze man dropped a colorless liquid upon these spots. The
reagent brought out a definite greenish color.
For the time, Doc made no further tests. He had arrived at one
conclusion which was significant. The hands placing the card in his
pocket had been those of a working chemist.
THE bronze man placed the card carefully in a glass case. The
voice of a man was speaking from the library adjoining the
laboratory. It was fretful and complaining.
"You danged shyster! I waited where you said, but you didn't show
up! Dag-gonit, you won't get the chance to stand me up again!"
The speaker was Lieutenant Colonel Andrew Blodgett Mayfair. His
voice was shrill and childlike. But his appearance was that of an
ungainly ape covered with reddish-brown hair. Because of this, he was
known as "Monk." He was one of the world's leading industrial
Monk had been speaking into the telephone. The man he had called a
shyster was Brigadier General Theodore Marley Brooks, otherwise known
as "Ham." He was the legal luminary of Doc Savage's group.
Hearing Monk's voice, Doc Savage removed the card from the glass
case. He came into the library and laid the card on the table before
"I received this about three hours ago," Doc stated. "Those
greenish spots were brown."
Monk touched the edge of the card.
"The No. 7 reagent brought out the green."
Then he named a little-known chemical which had an acid
"That is correct, Monk," the bronze man approved. "The card was
placed in my pocket."
A huge man with a melancholy face peered at the card and frowned
solemnly. He was Colonel John Renwick, the engineer of the group. The
hand "Renny" extended toward the card lacked little being the size of
a ham. He read the words gloomily.
"Union Exchange, huh?"
The third man in the library said, "That's over in Jersey. And
every time we have business with Jersey there is trouble."
This man had an unhealthy pallor. He was small, compared to the
others. But many larger men had been sharply surprised by his
strength and fighting ability.
He was Major Thomas J. Roberts, electrical wizard. His appearance
had given him the name of "Long Tom."
AS Long Tom finished speaking, a clock started chiming with
Doc Savage crossed to the desk and picked up the telephone. The
clock chimes touched the final stroke of eight o'clock with a
"Union 0-1214," said Doc, when he had the New Jersey
A voice started to speak from the other end.
Without preliminaries, the voice said. "You're Doc Sav--"
Then it seemed as if the receiver had exploded. The voice was
sliced off. No reverberation followed. There was no lingering roll of
sound, such as could have been expected if the instrument had
remained even for a few seconds in service.
"That was a powerful blast," Doc said. "The phone was torn out.
The man who tried to talk was an old man."
Doc didn't explain further. He didn't waste more time in speech.
He had thumbed the receiver bar. Two minutes later, he was given a
trace-back on the Jersey call.
"Blind number," he said to the others. "It's off the
Newark-Trenton highway in a marshy strip."
Doc moved ahead through the outer door. His three companions
paused only to make a swift collection of a few special devices they
might need. The bronze man did not seem hurried, but the others were
compelled to move fast.
Doc's special elevator dropped with the speed of a rocket. It
slowed with a cushiony rebound, when it reached the bronze man's
private garage in the basement. Doc's long low car, with its
extra-powerful motor under the long hood and its windows of
bulletproof glass set in armor steel, glided toward the Holland
Chapter 2. THE HOUSE IN THE MARSH
SHORTLY before the eight o'clock telephone call made by Doc
Savage, a battered old roadster turned off a paved New Jersey
highway. Headlight beams laid ghostly fingers across a foggy strip of
When he was perhaps a mile and a half from the main highway, the
driver abruptly switched off the lights. He parked the little car in
concealment of bushes beside a crooked lane.
Climbing from the car, the driver walked cautiously ahead. Dim
lights made a blur in the fog. They indicated some habitation.
Close up, this might have been seen to be an old log house. It
appeared to squat gloomily in the murky depths of the Jersey marsh.
The bulk of its presence was marked only by faint illumination from
an upper window and one slanting finger of dancing, vari-colored
light emanating from what seemed a mere slit at ground level.
From the basement, or some underground chamber, came a low
throbbing. A trained observer would have said delicate machinery of
some sort was being operated. Apparently, there was but one outside
watcher. And his figure was only a furtive shadow among other
sinister shadows cast by this strange, penetrating light.
At times, the escaping light gave forth a rainbow glow.
A rutty, obscure road that was little more than a twisting trail
through overgrowths of waving swamp grass apparently was the only
traffic communication between the old house and the highway of
civilization, some two miles distant.
Across the swamp a pair of telephone wires had been strung along
available trees, most of them gaunt-limbed and dead.
In the upper story of the old house there was no movement. Except
for the faint light at the one window, there was no evidence the
structure was then occupied by a living person.
THE man from the roadster apparently feared something or some one
within the old log house. As he walked, it might have been observed
he was a vague, catlike figure. He kept to the tall marsh grass
beside the road, pausing every few yards to listen intently.
In the swamp at a point off the road, some considerable distance
from the old house, was a single glowing eye of fire. The man hissed
an oath under his breath. He crossed the soggy, yielding ground with
such quick lightness his feet seemed to leave no imprints.
Before he reached the spot, the red eye of fire winked out.
"Hunter maybe," the man murmured. "Well, he's picked a poor spot
for a camp."
As if the possible presence of another human no longer interested
him, the luminous-eyed man retraced his steps. He glanced at the
radium hands of a wrist watch.
"The time is near," he mumbled, "if old Jackson hasn't been having
Picking out a slightly higher, dry spot some two hundred yards to
one side of the house, the thin figure became a motionless part of
the deeper marsh shadows. His thin lips continued to emit whispered
"The great Doc Savage will be calling at eight o'clock, or old
Jackson has guessed him wrong."
Again he glanced at his watch. It lacked five minutes to eight
o'clock. There was no doubt but he had some objective which was
closely related with the phone call Doc Savage had been requested to
make from Manhattan.
"It won't work out," he muttered suddenly through gritted teeth.
"And Doc Savage saw me. I could feel him looking at the back of my
head. I never really touched him, but somehow I believe he knew I was
The radium hands of the wrist watch showed two minutes to eight
o'clock. To the watcher's apparently raw-nerved senses, the lonely
marsh had become alive with voices. His teeth chewed nervously at his
He glanced at a dead-armed tree. It seemed almost as if he were
waiting to read the message that might go out over the wires he knew
were strung there. The thin threads of communication between this
eerie desolation and the teeming modern heart of Manhattan.
One minute to eight o'clock. The spear of multi-colored light
piercing the slit of the underground window of the squatting old
house winked out. The wind moaned a little, as if the withdrawal of
the rainbow gleam were a signal.
The catlike man became rigid. He glanced over his shoulder. The
red eyes of fire deeper in the marsh had not reappeared. Perhaps this
unexpected camper was no longer in the swamp.
From the heart of the marsh, from no definite direction, came a
low whirring sound, vicious as the warning of a poisonous
The cat-eyed watcher had reared to his feet. He had turned and was
running away. The soggy ground of the swamp rocked and swayed. The
earth heaved with a convulsive, shuddering blast.
THE explosion started at the place of the old house. A knife of
giant flame shot upward and moved with ripping effect across the
The fleeing man was twice hurled from his feet. Each time, his
face and clothing were befouled by the ooze in which he fell.
The man staggered at last to the side road. The slicing
destruction that had seemed almost to be racing with him, had died as
swiftly as it had come. The blast had been accompanied by an
expanding phosphorescent glowing of steely blue light.
As the fugitive from his own apparent terror reached the spot
where he had concealed his roadster, darkness again had enwrapped the
silence that was of itself, by contrast, terrific. Over all of the
marsh, the air had taken on an icy chill.
The dank, sulphuric odor of death permeated the country for many
miles. Shuddering, the man leaped into the roadster. He glanced only
once at the place where the old log house had squatted evilly in the
Only blackness, emptiness was there. There was no light of any
sort. Not even the deeper, bulking shadow that had been the
Something like hatred twisted the man's thin face. His lips
slavered and his eyes burned. Then he turned the old roadster and
sent it leaping away over the rutty side road toward the main
Chapter 3. THE CANAL OF DEATH
THE mysterious watcher had ample time to get far from the scene of
the explosion before State police were aroused to investigate. The
narrow lane to the old log house was some ten miles from the city of
Some time, therefore, elapsed before the tearing jolt of the blast
had been definitely traced. But cars of the State police were
blocking the marsh side road when Doc Savage drove into it.
"Holy cow! What a job!" growled Renny. "Look, Doc! It's a canal,
straight as if it was laid out with instruments and this was intended
for a feed reservoir!"
Renny saw everything from an engineer's point of view.
"It does seem to have remarkable symmetry," replied the man of
bronze. "It's the first explosion I ever came upon that seemed to
have been done to a geometrical pattern."
"Howlin' calamities!" muttered squat Monk, his homely, apelike
features showing puzzlement. "It's about the completest mess I ever
"Complete's the word, all right," assented Long Tom. "And it looks
as if it wiped out some high-class electrical machinery. Look here,
They were then beside a deep, rounded crater. It could be seen
from a few remaining foundation stones imbedded in the earth that
this had been the site of a house. But underneath it the ground had
been scooped out as if by the swing of a giant shovel.
On three sides of the cavernous hole in the spot where the house
had stood, the explosive force had apparently lifted directly upward.
An ordinary powder blast, if of sufficient strength and buried
deeply, could have done this.
But Doc was coming to some startling conclusions, as he glanced
along the fourth side of the explosion crater. Instead of spreading
in a mushroom burst, the blast had been definitely directional.
Passing up, for the moment, the smashed electrical equipment Long
Tom had pointed out, Doc led the others away from the blast's place
of origin. They saw the explosive force had moved laterally along the
ground, cutting through the marsh by reason of the road having curved
in a wide bend more than two miles in extent.
The great ditch that had been cut was as evenly grooved along its
sagging banks as if a steam shovel had heaved out the soggy mud.
Where the house had been, this canal was its exact width. As Doc and
his companions made their way along the sucking marshland, the cut
They had proceeded about a fourth of a mile, when Renny grunted,
"Doc, would you look at this!"
A man lay at the edge of the knifed-out ditch. The torso, head and
arms were there. The legs were missing. The man had been sliced in
half. It was as if a giant cleaver had suddenly descended.
A shotgun and a pack showed the victim had been a hunter.
Doubtless, he had made his lonely camp, waiting for dawn and the
first flight of fowl. Ashes of a dead fire were near by.
Doc examined the explosion cut more closely under his generator
flashlight. The character of the clean incision in the soft earth and
the phenomenon of the hunter's body having been neatly severed in the
middle were supplying him with information.
LONG TOM said, "There's a busted electrical machine back there.
Something must have gone up accidentally. But that would mean
tremendous voltage. Giant generators would be needed to create the
energy for a lightning blast like that. Unless--"
"Unless," said Doc, "the secret of cracking the atom has been
coupled up with transmitted electromagnetic force, or something
similar to that."
A short distance from the dead man, possibly a mile from the
annihilated house, the canal cut petered out. It terminated in a
rising indentation only a few inches wide and an inch or two
Doc had placed the warning message card in his pocket. Now he led
the others rapidly toward the site of the greater explosion. In all
that mass of scattered wreckage, the State police had passed up the
thought of discovering fingerprints.
Doc produced his own outfit. He had noticed every detail of the
wrecked electrical machine indicated by Long Tom. A polished copper
ball had fallen to one side. With State police watching curiously,
Doc dusted the gleaming surface.
The lines of a forefinger, then of a thumb, took form. Under a
powerful glass, Doc studied the grimy message card, then the
convolutions and whorls of the lines on the copper ball.
Returning the card to his pocket, he said, "One and the same man,
a scraggly little fellow with the prehensile type fingers."
A State police sergeant stared at him.
"You're Doc Savage, aren't you?" he inquired.
"Wouldn't worry any more about those prints then," said the
sergeant. "If he was in there, he isn't much use to anybody now. Come
over here, Mr. Savage."
The man who had been in the house would neither be a menace nor a
help to any one again. Only one foot remained, the leg severed
roughly at the top of a high-laced boot such as a man might be
wearing in the marshy ground.
Doc only glanced at it.
"No," he said, "this wasn't the man. It's some other person. I
think this may be the one who was on the phone."
DOC'S final words were addressed in a low tone for his own
companions only to hear. Doc was piecing together the scanty material
Some one in the house in the marsh must have known he was under a
sentence of death. At least he was aware of some menace hovering over
him. This other man, he of the scraggly person, had been sent with a
That might be it, but Doc was not thoroughly satisfied. Perhaps
the person, or persons, responsible for the gruesome tragedy might
have a reason for bringing him to the scene. This thought stuck with
He pondered the possibility of this having been a demonstration.
The messenger might have intended to have him on the telephone when
the blast was set off. He would be sure Doc Savage would go directly
to the scene. Then his purpose had been fulfilled.
No more likely evidence appeared in the wide-flung jangle of house
wreckage. The booted foot was all that told a man had been in the
house. Doc led his men to his car.
DURING the investigation of the explosion, an automobile had been
playing hide and seek with State police and other cars arriving at
the scene of the great explosion. Several times, the automobile was
swung into side roads as sirens screamed warnings that forces of the
law were arriving.
At last, the police having passed, the elusive car came into the
main highway and sped northward toward Newark.
A motorcycle patrolman who had remained watching the highway was
hidden around a curve as the speeding auto flashed by. He immediately
swung onto the concrete and gave chase.
The motorcycle forged abreast of the auto's rear fender. The
driver of the car jammed his foot suddenly on his brakes. The auto
swayed and rubber squealed. When it skidded, the motorcycle patrolman
hadn't a chance.
The motorcycle catapulted into the air. It turned over three
times. The policeman became only a limp bundle in the ditch.
The driver of the car glanced along the highway. No other lights
were showing. The man talked rapidly for perhaps a minute. It was
peculiar behavior, for he seemed making some sort of a speech.
Then he climbed from the car. He kicked around in the loose soil a
few yards from where the motor cop lay motionless. The driver then
got back under the wheel and the car sped toward Newark.
By this time, some of the State police were returning from the
scene of the explosion.
When Doc Savage and his men reached this spot, a State police car
had just discovered the policeman in the ditch. The motor cop was
beginning to revive. He had only been knocked out.
He was able to say it was a car of well-known make, that had
wrecked him. The license plate had been smeared with mud.
Doc eased from his car.
Two other police cars stopped. Passing motorists halted their
machines. Soon there was a small crowd around the motor cop. The
man's face was badly slashed.
From the last of the civilian cars to stop, three men got out.
None noticed the driver of this car turn off into a near-by side
road. At this moment, the small group around the injured patrolman
had frozen to silence.
From the wall of foggy darkness over the marsh beside the highway,
floated a high-pitched voice.
"Doc Savage beware! Do not seek more information! I cannot be
overcome! I control the world's most terrible force of destruction! I
will not brook interference! For I am--Var!"
The mysterious voice ceased abruptly.
"Holy cow!" grunted Renny. "What is it, Doc?"
DOC had scanned every foot of the near-by ground. It had been much
trampled. The flashlight produced nothing.
"We'll have a look along the edges of the marsh," advised Doc.
"You might try kicking around a bit in the loose grass."
Monk's short body with his gorilla arms trailing vanished in the
fog. The chemist peered closely from the eyes deep-set in rolls of
"Dag-gone it!" he growled. "I did hear it!"
He was not referring to the sepulchral tones coming from nowhere
on the highway. Monk had heard another faint voice. It had sounded
like a man's hoarse cry for help. Where any one needed help, there
might be a fight. Monk pushed forward hopefully.
Separated from his companions, Monk decided he would rather handle
this alone than wait and miss it. Pushing deeper into the marsh, he
saw a man waist-deep in the sucking mud of a bog. The man was sinking
deeper with each second.
"Keep your chin up, fella!" Monk called, and started to wade into
From the tall grass, figures sprang upon him. There were three of
the men. They had Monk at a disadvantage. He was already knee-deep in
the bog. One man hurtled through the air and landed on Monk's back.
It was his mistake.
Monk's long arms snapped up and back. His clasped hands hooked
behind the other man's head. Monk's shoulders barely twisted and the
man turned over twice in mid-air before he splashed face down in the
Unable to release his mired feet, Monk whipped a fist into another
man's face. The man sat down with a whoosh! The third man had been
more wary. He had held back. When he moved, a thick, heavy club
swished down upon Monk's unprotected skull.
Monk fell as if he had suddenly sunk in the quagmire. Oozing mud
and water choked his mouth and nostrils.
AFTER several minutes of fruitless searching for the origin of the
spoken warning, Doc, Renny and Long Tom came back to the highway.
They waited ten minutes, but Monk did not appear.
A big car, with a rear trunk compartment opening under the wide
seat, came from the side road a hundred yards away. Unnoticed, it
wheeled into line with the parade of cars now returning to the city
from the scene of the explosion.
Doc and the others combed the marsh for more than an hour. Then
Doc summoned Renny and Long Tom.
"They've got Monk," he said. "I found the place in the swamp where
they fought it out."
Doc had retrieved Monk's muddy hat.
Chapter 4. GHOST VOICE AGAIN
"FURTHER search here would be useless," announced Doc Savage.
"Monk's captors undoubtedly have returned directly to the city. I
judge that, for the present, he will be unharmed. We are confronted
by an organization in control of a hitherto unknown force."
In a remarkably brief space of time, Doc's car was piloted down
the ramp of his special garage under the skyscraper headquarters.
When they had ascended, the bronze man apparently had arrived at some
For some time, he said nothing. His smoothly corded hands were
assembling some small, but powerful, electrical amplifying coils. His
knowledge of explosive forces, especially of electromagnetic energy
and powerful rays and waves surpassed that of any other living
When he spoke, Doc's words had little connection with what his
hands were doing.
"There is a woman in the strange happenings of the night," he
"Holy cow!" exploded Renny. "I didn't see any evidence of
"Yes, there is a woman in it," stated Doc. "She was speaking, only
a murmur, but perhaps arguing with this man who calls himself Var.
All of us heard a ghostly voice in speech. I was listening to two
Renny exhibited no further surprise. Doc's auditory perception was
maintained by his daily two-hour exercises on a specially devised
scale of vibrations. His hearing was selective.
"You're planning some form of new electrical detector," Long Tom
remarked, watching Doc's skillful bronze hands assembling some wound
copper coils and a series of tiny, but powerful, generators to be
combined in a single power unit.
"Hardly that," stated Doc. "The explosion was brought about most
likely by the accidental unleashing of tremendous electrical force. A
hitherto undiscovered means of producing high voltage seems to have
been involved. The day is close when we shall find vast explosive
energy confined in small, compact machines."
THE special device established in the elevator corridor of Doc's
headquarters gave a warning buzz. In the square of glass at one side
of the laboratory a figure appeared, walking from the elevator toward
Doc Savage's door.
He was a youthful, smiling-faced telegraph messenger. His
expression seemed proof he was somewhat awed, but much pleased, at
this opportunity to visit the headquarters of the famed Doc
The messenger stood by as Doc signed the book and opened the
yellow envelope. The message read:
HAVE UNEARTHED BONES OF PREHISTORIC PLATYPUS WHICH PRE-DATES
PALEOZOIC MAMMALS STOP WILL BE DOMICILED AT CASPER FOR FORTHCOMING
FORTNIGHT IF YOU SHOULD DESIRE TO COMMUNICATE
"Johnny" was William Harper Littlejohn. He was the archaeologist
and geologist of the Doc Savage group. For several weeks, he had been
in Wyoming investigating a new discovery of prehistoric bones.
When the book was signed, the messenger reddened a little and
stammered, "M-Mr. Savage--c-could I just have one look into your
Absorbing the telegram, Doc said, "Certainly. Stand here by the
The youthful messenger gasped as he gazed upon the hundreds of
glittering devices of polished metal and glass within the big
"Gee!" he exclaimed. "Gee!"
He turned and walked toward the outer door, crossing the office as
if he were a little dizzy from what he had seen. At this instant, the
ghost voice came again, thin but strident.
"Doc Savage--I am too strong even for you! I have your man Monk!
Keep out of this or he will be destroyed without a trace! One by one,
your other companions will be taken! You, too, must die if you
persist! Nothing can stop me before my purpose has been accomplished,
for I am--Var!"
The messenger boy stopped an instant, eyes widening. He looked at
Doc and his two companions. None of the three had spoken. The
messenger turned and fled toward the elevators.
"Holy cow!" growled Renny. "They've planted something here while
we were out! Come on, Long Tom!"
Long Tom joined him in the beginning of a search. They were
pulling out desk drawers. Long Tom started to lift a corner of a
Doc picked up the telephone. He gave the number of the nearest
telegraph office. In a few seconds he replaced the instrument.
"We won't tear up the place," the bronze man announced, calmly.
"The voice walked out with our smiling messenger boy. I could have
stopped him, but just now, perhaps, it is better to permit this Var
to play his hand a bit farther. There has been no telegram sent from
"No message?" grunted Long Tom. "Then this fellow who calls
himself Var must know all about us and what we're doing."
"That's it," Doc said, grimly. "Var not only has remarkable
scientific knowledge, but he is clever-brained in other directions.
Brothers, we are opposed to perhaps the most dangerous mind of our
A BUZZ of the desk phone interrupted further speech. Doc picked up
"This is the police commissioner. Doc Savage? . . . Well, there's
Hades popping! You're probably the only man who can be of help. This
is something too big for my men to grapple with."
Doc said, "What is it?"
"It looks as if that explosion over in Jersey wasn't any
accident," said the commissioner.
Doc said nothing, waiting.
"And we're up against something else," continued the commissioner.
"The next blast is scheduled for Long Island. It's due to happen any
time! You know J. Afton Carberry, the fellow who made millions
lending money in South America and Europe?"
"I know him," said Doc. "Retired after the depression trimmed many
other financiers dealing in foreign stuff. Disappeared for a year.
Announced he was writing a book on cellular origin of the human
species. Quite a smart chap."
"You know everybody," grunted the commissioner. "But Carberry
isn't so smart, right now. He's scared green! Called in a few minutes
ago. Had a crazy warning, he said, from some sort of a voice where
there wasn't anybody. Carberry's lost his head!"
"What was the message?" interposed Doc. "Did it fix a time?"
"Nearly as he could repeat it, the message said: 'You have
forty-eight hours to accede to my demand and place your fortune at my
service. Other financiers will be quickly forced to follow your lead.
I have a force none can oppose. Before dawn, you will see a
demonstration of it. You can't combat me, for I am--Var.'"
"I shall be awaiting you at Carberry's home," stated Doc.
The bronze man delayed only to direct Long Tom to carry out the
electrical experiment he had begun. The electrical wizard returned
reluctantly to the laboratory.
"You'll accompany me, Renny," Doc instructed.
Renny, who had gathered part of the phone conversation, already
was inside a special bulletproof vest of Doc's invention.
The bronze man flowed toward the rocket elevator. They dropped
with the speed of a falling plummet to the basement garage. Doc's
powerful, armored car threaded through the thinned traffic of the
While he drove, Doc was considering the possibilities of the
threat against J. Afton Carberry. Doc's amazing, many-sided brain
also was recalling all known forces which might be employed to give
explosive energy a definite path of destruction.
Chapter 5. MONK IS SILENCED
AT the moment Doc Savage and Renny were speeding to the home of J.
Afton Carberry, Monk awoke in a coffin-like space. His long arms and
short body were folded and cramped. A hard metal wall jammed his head
down upon his thick neck. His feet were drawn up.
For once, Monk was thankful his legs were shorter than his
"Dag-goned if I ain't dead an' buried!" he grunted, trying to
wedge himself into an easier position. "Nope, I ain't dead. My head
must've been busted wide open."
Monk breathed with laboring lungs. His mighty chest heaved with
the effort to extract a supply of ozone from the foul air in the
confined space. Strength flowed back into his body.
"Anyway, I ain't in the graveyard yet," he muttered, "or I'd 'a'
been smothered. An' by the calamities, I ain't staying here!"
Monk's body, housing the strength of half a dozen ordinary men,
began to swell. He filled his lungs to capacity and his iron chest
heaved. Elbows levered against the walls of his metal prison.
The maker of the trunk under the rear seat of the automobile had
not designed it to withstand any such concentrated dynamite. The
metal clasp and the brass tongue of the lock snapped. The curved
upright lid of the underseat trunk flapped open with a bang.
Monk's landing was in keeping with his apelike contours. He hit on
his feet. Low growls of warning, amazement, impinged on his hairy
ears. A man uttered a low curse and hurtled toward him. Other figures
converged in a rush.
THEY were in a dimly lighted concrete garage. Monk saw it was
apparently in the basement of some larger building. Heavy iron doors
were closed and barred. Monk lithely evaded the first rushing figure.
With an incredibly fast sweep of one arm, he gripped the man's thick
neck. His assailant was heavy, but Monk's iron muscles contracted
with the force of an immense rubber slingshot.
His attacker was lifted from his feet. His body traveled a short
arc through the air. The man's head deeply dented the metal back of
the car above the flapping lid of the trunk. He collapsed to the
floor without a groan. The human skull was never designed for
withstanding such an impact.
A jungle bellow issued from Monk's throat.
"C'mon, you yella rats!" he growled. "Come an' get it!"
Three men, relying on strength of numbers, accepted the
Both of Monk's fists made definite, sickening contact with flesh
and bone. One of his feet twisted between the third man's legs. He
sprawled on top of his two companions. Others were coming at him, but
Monk glimpsed one man standing back.
This man was short of body, broad of shoulders and face. His small
eyes glittered piglike in rolls of eye-rimming fat. In his moon face
the mouth was a small aperture. Set above a double chin that was
adding a third roll of lard above his collar, the tiny mouth gave him
a grotesque appearance.
Monk saw he was badly outnumbered. Leaping clear of the floor on
his short legs, he projected his body between two more men. The backs
of their heads cracked the floor. Another man hit Monk a dizzying
blow behind the ear with some blunt weapon.
Monk staggered. He was facing the moon-faced fellow with the
little rat-hole for a mouth. The man had a polished piece of metal in
one hand. It was shaped like the round box for holding steel tape.
From this box a slender stream of sizzling vapor shot into Monk's
Monk gritted his teeth against the pain. It was an ammonia gun.
Blinded, scarcely able to breathe, Monk went to his hands and knees
under a rush of bodies. A minute later he was firmly bound about the
arms and was being propelled up a stairway.
MONK'S captors placed him in an elevator operated automatically.
Eyes smarting from the burning fumes of the ammonia gun, Monk could
only guess at the number of floors they ascended. Then he was led
along a hallway.
One of the men swore and muttered, "Where's that button,
Though he was only beginning to see dimly, Monk knew it was the
moon-faced man who was called "Wheeze."
"Right under--siss--that little picture--siss--by the molding,
dumbhead!" came the reply in the wheezing voice. Wheeze talked like a
chronic case of asthma.
Monk could see enough now to know they were in the room of an
elaborately furnished apartment. A panel in the wall swung open. It
revealed a spiral stairway. The mean snout of an automatic was pushed
into Monk's back.
At the top of the stairway they emerged into a vaulted room of
lavishly rich fittings. The walls of the room were odd. They were
covered with paintings in oil. All of these represented some of the
lower forms of marine life. In spite of his ticklish position, Monk
was intrigued by this unusual display of art.
"Nobody but a nut'd ever lived in this dump," he muttered.
He heard one of the men address Wheeze by another name. It was
McGovern, apparently his last name.
"Soft pedal the titles, Smoke," rapped Wheeze. "Stick to the
handles the chief tacked on."
By that, Monk judged the chief of this gang was not among those
Monk was pushed into a chair. Wheeze came and stood before
"So you're the big ape Doc Savage uses for some of his chemical
tricks!" he stated. "Well--siss--there's one or two little tricks we
want to find out. Also, mister, you're going to tell us something
about Doc Savage's set-up. There are several things we need to
"Try an' make me!" gritted Monk.
Wheeze's little mouth puckered and his small eyes gleamed
"I gather from all those misfit words, you imagine you're not
going to talk, eh?" he sissed at Monk. "Well, we'll see. Smoke, is
the convincer all set?"
The man called "Smoke" smiled genially.
"The convincer's always ready," he put forth. "Right this
A single wide glass door was opened at the side of the room.
MONK was pulled to his feet and propelled into the adjoining
space. This was a bare, small room with enameled walls and no
furnishings. The single man occupying it required no chair. He was of
shining armor metal and he stood erect in the middle of the
The binding cords suddenly fell from Monk's arm. But two men with
automatics poked the snouts into his ribs.
"We try to avoid shedding the blood of any person," Wheeze sissed
in a sanctimonious voice. "Every man's blood must be on his own head.
Monk was shoved close to the armored figure. He saw the
contraption was some sort of robot. It appeared to be hollow, and
large enough to admit the person of a very large man.
Monk's still-smarting eyes blinked at the robot's half-bent arms.
For in the metal fingers were clutched two long-pointed knives. These
were directed inward toward the robot's gleaming breast. It looked as
if the metal man was thinking of taking his own life.
In one enameled wall was a black switchboard. It contained a
complicated array of electrical switches, coils and other gadgets. In
its center was what seemed to be the circle of an enlarged
"Everybody quiet!" ordered Wheeze. His companions instantly became
silent. None even moved. "Now watch, you wise ape!"
One man stepped to the switchboard and turned a button. When he
stepped back, Wheeze spoke in a low tone.
"Do your stuff, big boy," he said.
Slowly, the metal arms of the robot moved inward. The pointed
knives approached two slits in the armored breast. The movement was
so slow as to be almost imperceptible.
Slowly, chillingly, even though the shining figure was but cold
metal, the arms continued to bend. The points of the knives
disappeared into the shell-like cavity of the robot's chest. A
minute, two minutes passed. Monk growled in his throat.
Both knives at last were buried to their hilts. The mechanism
ceased to whirr.
"Just one little word will do it," murmured Wheeze. "One little
whisper, or a sneeze--and the mike picks up the sound and starts the
robot. We're going to leave you with the convincer. After I've
attended to some special business, we'll come back. If you've kept
that big yap of yours quiet that long, maybe you'll be about ripe to
loosen up with some conversation!"
"That's what you think!" barked Monk. "You'll get nothin' outta
"That'll be just too bad--for you," sissed Wheeze, softly.
THE automatics crowded Monk's spine, then his stomach, as the
metal robot opened on oiled hinges. Helpless to resist, he was shoved
inside. His long arms were forced into the bent hollow of the robot's
arms. The torturing device was swung shut.
The speech control button on the switchboard was off while this
took place. Wheeze looked up into Monk's orbs blinking through the
armored eye-holes of the robot.
"Now you can talk your head off--or your heart out," grinned
Wheeze. "Ready, Smoke! Everybody out! Click 'er on!"
Wheeze followed his men through the single door of glass. It
closed silently. Monk could see the men outside talking, gesturing.
He could not hear their voices. He was alone with the robot and his
thoughts in the soundproof room.
Monk glanced over at the round disk of the big microphone. He
could see the long knives inverted directly toward his heart. Many
things came to Monk that he would have liked to have said.
But he took it out in thinking.
Chapter 6. COLD LIGHT STRIKES
MONK was confident Doc Savage would pick up his trail quickly. He
would have been much more downcast had he known that Doc and Renny
were at this moment rushing along a Long Island road.
The man of bronze was even now scrutinizing a lowering sky over
Little Neck. This exclusive residence section just within the
boundary line of New York City, was sleeping. Great elms spread
protective arms over the homes of millionaires.
At the terminus of a scattered row of ornate dwellings, was set
the colonial-style mansion of J. Afton Carberry. Unlike the others,
the Carberry pile of architecture was ablaze with lights. When they
were half a mile from the place, Doc and Renny could see this glaring
illumination against the trees. The light was reflected with a dull
glow upon the low-flying clouds.
"Holy cow!" grunted Renny. "You'd think a smart guy like this
Carberry would have more brains than to light his house up like a
Christmas tree! Suppose this Var fellow happened to be flying around
upstairs? What a swell target that would make!"
"Good guess, Renny," approved Doc. "That's the way it may come
this time. We'll see what we can do about it."
Police were thickly spotted in the Carberry grounds. The white
gravel of the driveway showed like a winding serpent among the trees.
It was perhaps two hundred yards from the entrance gate to the
Doc drove about fifty yards along the gravel. His own powerful
motor was only a whispering song under the car's long hood. The
humming drone that swiftly increased to a drumming throb among the
scudding clouds, was distinctly audible.
"And there you are--" Renny began to say.
A NARROW band of blue-steel light shot from the murky sky. Like a
long silvery knife, it stood out against the night. Its point touched
the driveway only a few yards ahead of Doc's car. But it was moving
swiftly, swinging directly toward the car itself.
Doc pulled the steering wheel around, swerving the car into the
trees. With a swift movement, he pushed Renny to the outside.
Renny's big body was through the door. Doc slid from under the
wheel. His heels crunched in the gravel. With gliding speed, he moved
to one side. His direction was toward the house.
"The thing can't miss it!" Renny yelled. "All those lights
It was one of the few times in his life that Doc Savage failed to
hear distinctly. The drums of his ears suddenly thundered. It was as
if a gigantic knife of ice had been thrust all the way through his
body from his brain to his toes.
Doc's arms and legs were instantly numbed. His motor nerves
refused to respond to the bidding of his brain. His keen sight was
dimmed by a frost that seemed to rim his eyes. He felt himself
"Cold Light," was Doc's instant thought. Like the illumination
created by the inhabitants of The Land of Always-Night. Only their
light was cold and harmless. This was deadly, more like a bath in
Doc was temporarily paralyzed. He tried to warn Renny to keep
away, but no words issued from his constricted throat. He felt
consciousness fading. Then he was suffused with a vast warm wave. By
comparison, it was like a fire that set his skin prickling and
brought waves of jerking pain to his muscles.
Slowly, Doc got to his feet. Overhead, the airplane was flying
low. It carried no riding lights, but the descending spike of cold
light revealed it as a small dark object.
RENNY had whipped out his super-machine pistol and was shooting
into the air. His fire was futile. The plane was beyond the reach of
the mercy bullets. Renny was beside Doc again. Police surged toward
"Get back, all of you!" warned Doc. He hadn't raised his voice. He
never did. The peculiar quality of Doc's calmest words always carried
to those listening.
The rare, mellow whistle filled the space around him. The sound
may have come from his lips. But it seemed an aura of vibration that
always thrilled its hearers with the imminence of deadly danger. Doc
guessed what was coming.
The air sucked away. Renny and the nearest coppers felt as if they
were standing in a vast vacuum. Their mouths opened and their chests
heaved as they gulped for breath. The air seemed to have been
snatched from the depths of their lungs.
Doc's eyes were fixed upon the Carberry mansion. He expected to
see the million-dollar mass of architecture disintegrate. But the
residence remained intact.
From the thicker woods well back in the wide estate came the roar
as of a rushing wind. The sound was of cyclonic intensity. In the
hurricane hiss of displaced air came the crackling report of great
trees being snapped off.
The long spike of blue-steel flashed off. It was as if a switch
had been thrown in the midst of chaos. The rolling reverberation of
the long explosion abruptly died. Only the trembling ground, the
hissing, sighing echoes across the countryside, the heavy bumping and
plopping of falling trees and shorn branches remained as an aftermath
of the blast.
POLICEMEN were climbing to their feet, dusting off their clothes.
For a minute, no one moved, either toward or away from the scene of
the bursting Cold Light. That is, none but Doc Savage.
Instead of heading for the spot where the blast had taken place,
he was moving toward the Carberry mansion. Doc's stride was
unhurried; but Renny, who immediately followed, was forced to shuffle
into a trot to keep up with him.
The drumming of the plane was dying away. It was flying out over
Long Island Sound. With the stoppage of the Cold Light, the pyramid
of blue flame had suddenly disappeared. It had seemed to ascend for
half a mile or more. Doc wondered if the Cold Light had remained on,
would the flame have reached the plane.
Renny was at Doc's shoulder. They passed the policemen guarding
the Carberry doors. Inside, Doc instantly identified the financier,
though he had seen only his photographs in the news.
Carberry's face was the color of gray chalk. The area of color
denoting his terror extended up his high, narrow forehead into the
baldness between strangely thick tufts of graying hair.
The man was so tall, he was compelled to bend and droop his narrow
shoulders to hold a shivering, sobbing woman in his arms. Doc, for
the moment, believed this woman to be the financier's daughter. She
appeared to be only about half the age of the retired capitalist.
The woman was wearing a lacy negligee. Her skin was smooth,
velvety. Renny paused admiringly. The woman's face was white as
polished ivory. All color had been drained from it. Apparently, she
had just come into the room, aroused by the explosion.
"Darling! Oh, what is it? What is it?"
The hand of the financier on the woman's shoulder was blue-veined
and thin. It trembled as he gently patted the woman's alluring,
"It's--it's nothing much--dear," the man quavered, hoarsely.
Doc walked toward them. Carberry stared at him an instant, then
his lips parted in a half fearful smile.
"You're--Doc Savage," he said, controlling his voice with an
effort. "The commissioner said he would call you. I've never met you,
"And you are Mr. Carberry," Doc stated.
"Yes; and this is Mrs. Carberry, Doc Savage."
The woman gave him a tremulous smile. Her slight body
BEFORE Doc could acknowledge the introduction, another voice
interrupted. At its first note, Carberry stiffened, and his arm fell
away from his wife's shoulders. His slightly protruding eyes of a
light-bluish shade roved quickly, desperately about the room. Doc was
reminded of some scared animal in a trap.
"Holy cow!" ejaculated Renny. "It's coming from--"
The bulky figure of the engineer barged across the room in the
direction of the wide chimney. Doc laid a hand on Renny's arm.
The voice had addressed itself to J. Afton Carberry. Now it spoke
with a sibilant, ghostly cadence:
"Carberry--now you have seen a demonstration of my power! You have
forty-eight hours! I shall communicate with you at the expiration of
that time! I shall find you wherever you are! I need your millions! I
know the police have appealed to Doc Savage! This time, he will fail.
For I am--Var!"
Renny's keen instinct for direction had been correct. The voice
was coming from the fireplace, from the chimney. A log blazed between
the tiled sides.
Heedless of the blaze, Doc thrust his body into the chimney
opening. Looking upward, he had the glimpse of a head silhouetted
against the sky, a shadowy, shaggy head.
Showering ashes and fire as he emerged into the room, Doc was at
the outside door in a flowing stride. The policeman at the door gaped
after him. He had hardly seemed to move, but he was already at the
corner of the house nearest the chimney.
From there, Doc seemed almost to float up the wall of the house.
The residence, with its many slight projections, was like a smooth
road to the bronze man.
Doc bounded onto the roof. As he came erect, lead pounded the
overlapping slates at his feet. An automatic was spitting fire from
the opposite end of the mansion center gable. But fast as the
attacker had been, Doc was far to one side as the remaining slugs
came higher in a searching stream.
Then Doc pivoted. The ground was thirty feet below. He poised only
an instant, then sprang outward. He alighted with the cushioned ease
of a body set on coiled springs.
Gliding toward the corner of the house, Doc encountered two city
coppers in uniform. One was holding an automatic that still smoked.
He was saying, "I think I got the guy! He fell off the roof!"
Doc halted the two men. "You just shot at a man on the roof?"
"Sure!" said the cop. "I al--good gosh! It's Doc Savage! Was that
you up there?"
"I was on the roof," observed Doc. "Did you see another man come
down, or running away?"
"I heard a noise up there," said the cop, "but it must have been
you I shot at. I didn't see any other man."
RENNY was inside investigating the chimney. The log fire had been
drowned. No marks appeared to show that anybody or anything had been
in the chimney aperture.
Carberry was sitting on a couch. His wife still clung close to
"What would you advise us to do, Mr. Savage?" Carberry asked.
"I'd take Mrs. Carberry and go away as secretly as possible," Doc
advised. "Make it a point not to inform even your servants of your
destination. I hope within forty-eight hours we may have something
more definite on this man who calls himself Var."
Doc and Renny departed from the house. Doc slipped under the wheel
of his car. His intended destination was the nearest airport. He had
little hope of tracing the Cold Light plane, but believed
communication with some of the airports might give him a lead.
Renny exclaimed, "Look at this, Doc!"
The engineer had noticed the leather flap of the side pocket was
open and lifted as if to attract attention. Renny held two square
white cards. One was small, the other large. The larger card showed a
printed message under the pencil ray of Doc's flashlight.
The small card bore words plainly written with bright blue ink.
There was no attempt to disguise the hand of the man who had written
Admit bearer with password to inner circle. I am--Var.
"What do you make of it?" said Renny.
"Read this," replied Doc, passing over the larger card.
Go at once to Washington. Yellow house in 14th block on K Street.
Third from corner. Do not delay. Var will be there at 4 a.m. this
morning. He has tricked Ham into meeting you there. They will not
kill Monk until he has talked with you. The password for the card is
"Rav Rules." Var's name reversed.
The card was unsigned. Under the pencil ray it showed stains of a
brownish tinge. Doc was sure the fingerprints would be the same he
had encountered twice before. The man whose fingerprints were on the
polished copper ball at the death house in the marsh, had escaped the
Chapter 7. MONK SNEEZES
MONK, at this moment, would have been relieved if he could have
known of the new cards in Doc Savage's possession. But no hint had
been given he was not to die before he talked with Doc.
The enlarged microphone on the black switchboard seemed to wink at
him ominously. Monk could almost hear it speaking with its own
"Talk, go on and talk! Why don't you say something?"
The thing seemed to be mocking him. Monk not only had no desire to
talk now. He was fairly sure he never would talk again. He had no
especial fear, but he couldn't avoid looking at the two pointed
knives. He kept recalling how slowly they had been pushed into the
slits that now faced his own gorillalike breast.
Monk could see the movements of the men in the larger room with
its unique oil paintings. Wheeze McGovern had been giving orders for
nearly half an hour. Monk was sweating, wondering how long this phase
of the little game was to be continued?
Like Doc and his other companions, Monk could read the lips of
others. When the men were facing him, he could understand what they
were saying as well as if they had been beside him. So, he understood
when Wheeze picked out six of his men and ordered them to
WHEEZE picked up the telephone. He was facing the glass door of
the soundproof room.
Monk read Wheeze's lips. The moon-faced boss of this group of men
was calling a telegraph office. Monk saw that he called himself Doc
Savage. Wheeze was giving a message. It was addressed to Theodore
Wheeze recited the message slowly. Monk quickly realized a trap
was being set for his bickering lawyer companion, Ham. The message,
as it was being given, was telling Ham to go at once to Washington.
There he was to meet Doc Savage in a yellow house on K Street. The
house was designated as the third house from the corner in the
Even as rage fairly sizzled through his veins, Monk made a mental
note of the address. He was amazed at the knowledge possessed by this
Wheeze. It struck Monk that Doc and his friends must have been under
some malevolent eye, or rather many such eyes, for considerable time
before to-night's flashing events.
For Wheeze had the name of the hotel in Manhattan where Ham was
attending a gathering of noted legal personages. Monk knew it,
because Ham had ditched him on a theater date to go to this
Monk came then to the brink of apoplexy. It was more than the big
chemist could endure, trying to maintain silence and keep his hide
The surge of blood to his head brought a sudden, fierce desire to
sneeze. His huge arms were tightly locked in the robot's terrible,
hollowed sheets of armor.
Monk's sneeze exploded loudly in the soundproof room. The robot's
armor instantly vibrated. Somewhere close beside him, a motor had
The fearful knives began their cruelly slow descent toward the
slits over Monk's heart. Their needlelike points gleamed with wicked
MONK felt the arms of the metal man slowly drawing inward. Silence
being no longer of consequence, he released a flood of choice
Slowly, slowly, the knives pushed inward toward the slits over his
heart. The motor, pulling the inexorable arms with torturing delay,
kept up a steady whirring. In the other room, Wheeze was standing
with the gloating smile of some vile beast of prey.
Two men remained with Wheeze. Because of the soundproof doors,
Monk's unfortunate sneeze and his following outburst had been
At that instant, the inwardly moving knives entered the slits.
Their needle points touched Monk's shrinking skin. They became
painfully penetrating agony which he could no longer evade. Two or
three minutes would be required before the slicing edges touched a
vital spot. When they did, they would release a scarlet flood which
could never be stopped by human agency.
But the knife points were never destined to reach Monk's heart.
The first touch freed all the electrifying rage so long pent up in
the big chemist's huge body. His sudden bellow might have come from
the snarling throat of some trapped jungle beast.
Monk drew gallons of air into his capacious lungs. His body
swelled. The mammoth shoulders were bowed and braced. The long arms
contracted and then expanded.
The slender rods of universal jointage necessary to operation of
the robot's arms were of strongest steel. But, after all, they were,
by the requirements of space, very slim. Monk's giant arms, driven by
his released fury, were gigantic in their expansion.
"Hold 'er, Ham!" he bellowed. "Dag-gone it, shyster! I'm
He voiced the truth. The rods of slender steel were snapping. They
made cracking sounds, as if a man's finger joints had been bent
backward. The ribbed fastenings of the metal man snapped asunder.
MONK did not heed the rake of the knife points across his
hard-muscled breast. He did not even pause to regret the absence of
his special bullet-proof vest, because he did not feel the slicing of
his flesh. The trickling of blood also went unnoticed.
For Monk had torn loose the robot's jointed arms. He swung one in
each ponderous hand.
Wheeze and his men had been turned from the glass door of the
soundproof room at the instant catastrophe overtook their torturing
metal man. They wheeled on their toes only when the ape-like shape of
Monk crashed through the thick transparent plate.
One of the men whipped out an automatic and fired pointblank.
Steel-pointed slugs played jangling sparks of fire from one of the
swinging metal arms in Monk's hands. Chewed lead stung one of the
enraged chemist's hairy ears.
A shot from the blazing automatic flew across the room and scarred
one of the oil paintings. It completely erased a fantastic conception
of nonexistent marine life. The thing was a slimy creature on oils,
half human, half crab.
Monk did not observe this despoilation of weird art. One of his
armored weapons had cracked the forearm bones of the man who had been
shooting. He was a giant of a fellow, but he howled in agony and fell
writhing to the floor.
Wheeze's other companion hurled a heavy vase off a table. The
improvised weapon shattered to bits across Monk's iron-hard forehead.
A little blood trickled into the chemist's eyes. His other armored
weapon struck this man's thigh bone. He joined his broken-armed
partner in howling on the rich Oriental rug.
Wheeze had slipped through the smashed glass door. Something on
the switchboard crackled with lurid blue flame. Short-circuited wires
blanked out. The rooms were plunged into Stygian darkness.
Monk found his special generator flashlight. The beam was pointed
as a pencil. He sent it roving about. There was no sound. Then in the
distance somewhere, was a wheezing laugh. A door slammed shut.
Wheeze had escaped.
Realizing the tricky affair of the concealed stairway they had
used in bringing him in the house, Monk at once decided pursuit would
be useless. Besides, more important business confronted him. He must
get a warning to Doc. Perhaps he could head off Ham from starting for
Vainly, Monk jiggled the receiver bar of the phone. The wire was
dead. Wheeze had thoughtfully removed this means of communication.
His flight had been solely in the interest of saving his own
APPARENTLY the battle in the penthouse--Monk had discovered his
prison quarters to be such--had been unheard by the residents of
apartments in the twelve-story building. The apartment directly
underneath was vacant, though its furnishing were rich. The shorted
wires from above had also plunged this place in darkness.
Monk found and employed the concealed stairway. He buzzed for an
elevator. The car was automatic. Monk made the street with a
blank-faced doorman staring after him.
Monk noted the apartment building was a block west of Central
Park. Covering blocks with his rapid, ungainly stride, Monk reached
Though it was well after the hour for the Broadway deluge of
humanity at theater closing time, Monk found himself caught in a
flowing river of men and women. He marked this was not the usual
after-theater crowd of dressy individuals.
It was a crowd with a distinct disharmony of apprehension, of
fear, in some their voices approaching terror.
A husky-voiced newspaper vendor threaded through the human
"Read all about it!" he bawled. "Big explosion in Manhattan! Var
will blow up whole city block! Read it!"
Monk plowed his way to the man. He snatched a paper.
"Howlin' calamities!" he squealed. "I've gotta get to Doc!"
Monk headed for a public phone booth. He dialed the number of
Long Tom's voice came impatiently. A call had instructed him to
stand by for another message from Doc. The bronze man had said he
would have some plans for Long Tom to work out in connection with a
new machine he called an "ex-neutralizer."
If it could be made to work, Doc wanted it to combat the Cold
Light ray. Long Tom saw a night of work ahead. He wished the bronze
chief were here to direct him, instead of sending his instructions by
He was relieved, however, to hear Monk's voice.
"WHERE'VE you been?" demanded Long Tom. "What happened?"
"Let it ride," said Monk. "Where's Doc?"
"Headed for Washington," replied Long Tom. "But here's Renny.
He'll talk. I've got a job to do."
"Where in time have you--" Renny began.
"Dag-gone it!" interrupted Monk. "Tell me something! What's going
"This fellow who calls himself Var has turned all Hades loose,"
obliged Renny. "The latest is his announcement with that ghost voice
of his that he's blowing up a whole city block in uptown Manhattan at
nine o'clock in the morning. That's to-day. Turned the voice loose in
one of the newspaper editorial rooms. The big town's gone batty over
"You tellin' me!" grunted Monk. "Where's this blow-up comin'
"Over in the upper East Side," said Renny, giving an address only
two blocks from the East River. "This Var warned the police to clear
the whole block of those who wanted to keep on living. He said the
blast would rock the town and destroy everything directly in its
path. Said he doesn't want any loss of life."
"Dag-gone it, Renny!" rapped Monk. "What are we--"
"Coming to that, Monk. Doc's in a Red Arrow transport plane.
Called in by radiophone. Said if I found you, we're to get into that
block Var is planning to shoot off and see what we can find. I don't
know what we're to look for. But it'll take me an hour to fight my
way over there and--"
"See you when you get there," cut in Monk. "I'm on my way."
MONK reached a taxicab by the simple expedient of hulking his
ponderous body directly into the crowd.
News bulletins were running in the lights around a building near
VAR ANNOUNCES THE EXPLOSION IN MANHATTAN WILL TAKE PLACE AT 9 A.M.
HE SAYS IT WILL BE CUT LOOSE FIVE MINUTES AFTER THE PASSING OVER
MANHATTAN OF THE WASHINGTON-NEW YORK PASSENGER-AND-MAIL PLANE.
Monk's cab pulled away.
Chapter 8. TRAIL OF A SHADOW
WHILE Monk was on his way to the menaced block in Manhattan,
following Doc Savage's instructions to his headquarters, the man of
bronze had taken up another trail. Rather, Doc had put himself
directly in the way of a shadow he believed was watching his
Word of the new threat of the Cold Light over Manhattan had caused
the bronze giant to send Renny to join Long Tom at headquarters. At
this time, Doc knew nothing of Monk's escape.
The ray of Cold Light causing the explosion at the home of J.
Afton Carberry had given the bronze man something definite with which
to grapple. Doc's intricate knowledge of all forms of electrical
energy had taught him that some of the most potent electromagnetic
forces could be lessened, or neutralized altogether, by the setting
up of other similar but opposing rays or waves.
He had left Long Tom working upon an electrical experiment. It
came to him how a possible neutralizing force could be created to
combat the mysterious Cold Light. As ex-neutralizer. That would be
As Doc worked out this idea, he was speeding toward the Red Arrow
passenger airport. He had instantly decided to follow the bidding of
his mysterious messenger and go to the yellow house in Washington.
Ordinarily, the bronze man would have used one of his own fast planes
for the trip.
But he judged he was being closely shadowed. By going directly to
the passenger port of the Red Arrow, he would be followed. Doubtless
the emissary or enemy of Var, whichever he might be, also would
become a passenger on the plane.
From a concealed vantage, after booking his seat, the bronze man
waited. He saw all other passengers go aboard. He smiled grimly as he
watched the last man to take his seat.
Then Doc himself vanished into the wash room. In a few seconds,
the plane would be taking off. When it took the air, no person
remotely resembling Doc Savage was aboard.
IN Seat No. 7, on the right-hand side of the Red Arrow passenger
plane, sat an ugly specimen of humanity. Nature had been unkind,
apparently, in the beginning of the man's career. He had been endowed
with ropy, tow-colored hair and washed-out, pale-blue eyes.
In size, the man was of magnificent proportions, except for the
hunching of one shoulder and a malformation of his neck. Added to
these marring features, the man's nose had been broken and badly set.
His cheeks were puffed and had an unhealthy pallor.
In the No. 2 seat, on the left-hand side of the plane, a little
man sat hunched into the big collar of an overcoat. Only the peak of
his slouch hat was visible. For more than half an hour, this
passenger had not moved.
The bucking of the plane in many of the air pockets was trying
even to some of the veteran passengers. Suddenly, in the recovery of
a level keel, something of minor importance happened in the pilots'
cabin. A service wire in the passenger cabin was short-circuited for
the fraction of a second.
The mishap was sufficient to blow out a fuse. Gasps came from
"Never mind," came the calm voice of the trim stewardess. "It's
only a fuse. The co-pilot will fix it."
The co-pilot, pushed his way along the aisle. In Seat No. 2, the
collar-concealed head of the little man slowly turned. The movement
brought a little scream from one of the women who had been chewing
The homely mug in Seat No. 7 was watching with interest.
The shock to the timid woman was amply justified. For the eyes of
the man in Seat No. 2 glowed in the darkness with the luminous fire
of a predatory cat prowling the night. In them, one other man in the
plane read hatred colored by fear. Such as might cause the beady eyes
of a rat to shine with desperation when cornered.
When the fuse was replaced and the lights came on, the ugly mug
from Seat No. 7 got up and followed the co-pilot toward the control
"What do you want?" growled the co-pilot. "Passengers have got to
stay in their seats! Hey! Nobody's allowed up in--"
The ugly mug calmly disregarded the admonition. Pushing past, he
went through the little door. Inside, concealed from the passengers,
he murmured a few words directly into the ear of the pilot at the
"Never mind! Skip it!" barked the pilot at his scowling partner.
"Take a seat in back a few minutes! It's O. K.!"
The puzzled co-pilot went back and slipped into Seat No. 7. The
pale-eyed, broken-nosed passenger had slipped into the co-pilot's
seat and pulled on the radio earphones.
FOR the space of some eight or ten minutes, this strange
substitute for the regular man at the secondary controls seemed very
much at home. As he talked into the phone, his gloved hands played
automatically on the control wheel.
Any person would have supposed he was a flier. The veteran Red
Arrow pilot was not even supposing. He knew well enough the man with
the broken nose was a better flier than he would be if he lived a
couple of centuries. His conversation to the ground finished, the
ugly mug relinquished his place.
"Thanks," he said to the pilot. "I'll remember the favor."
The co-pilot still scowled, as he came up to swap places with the
extraordinary passenger who could so readily make hash of all the
rules. But the passenger did not notice this. He was, without seeming
to do so, absorbing every visible detail of the little man in Seat
From this position, it could be seen that the man whose eyes had
been luminous in the darkness was rather an inconsequential
personality. Every article of clothing appeared to have been worn to
the point of dissolution. His hat brim was soiled and frayed. His
overcoat collar was faded and threaded out. The man's collar looked
This scraggly appearance was continued to the man's person. His
hair was stringy and uneven. His face was hatchet-thin, with an oddly
turned-up nose. The chin was long-pointed and stubbly with beard. The
man's Adam's apple rambled up and down.
He displayed no interest in what was transpiring in the plane. In
his now normal eyes was a disappointed look. The man he had come
aboard to find had not appeared.
The scrambled-faced passenger returned to Seat No. 7. When the
cabin radio started staccato bulletins of the menace hovering over
Manhattan, the man seemed to have dropped into a doze.
THE scraggly little man in Seat No. 2 was the last person to
alight from the plane at the Washington airport. He scrutinized each
of his fellow passengers hopefully, as they passed him. With a grunt
of disappointed resignation, he climbed from the plane.
Walking over to the information desk, he inquired, "Has any other
passenger plane or private crate from New York landed in the past
"Yes, a White Liner came in, half an hour ago," the girl said.
The little man's face brightened some. He went toward the taxicab
stand with short, hopping steps. Entering a taxi, he rode only to the
first darkly shadowed avenue.
Leaning forward, he handed the driver a dollar, and said, "Keep
moving. I'm leaving you here."
He was back among the trees when another taxicab came from the
direction of the airport and turned the corner, following the first
car. The luminous eyes shone more brightly as this cab passed.
"Had me fooled, all right," he muttered. "But I guess this puts me
one up on him."
When the first of the taxicabs stopped and turned after proceeding
a couple of blocks, the broken-nosed man in the second cab observed
that it was empty.
"Expected he would do that," the man remarked to himself. "All
right, driver. Take me to Dupont Circle. I'll walk the rest of the
The open radius known as Dupont Circle was not far distant from a
yellow house in the fourteenth block on K Street.
THIS yellow house in Washington was, before the day was very old,
to become a rendezvous for several mysterious figures. With Doc
Savage already near this house in a guise which had passed him on the
Red Arrow plane, Ham summoned by a faked telegram and Monk aware of
the trick, the identity and intentions of the scraggly little man
remained an enigma.
And while Monk was delaying a possible effort to assist Ham in
order to investigate the threat of a new explosion in Manhattan,
still another puzzling figure was planning a trip to Washington.
This last man had been pacing the floor of a palatial apartment
during the greater part of the night. He was walking restlessly up
and down at the time the blast shook the home of J. Afton
This apartment was near the west side of Central Park.
The man was known as Charles Arthur Vonier, noted explorer.
Vonier had heard radio announcements of the Carberry explosion.
There had been a police report saying that even the redoubtable Doc
Savage was baffled; that the police commissioner believed the blasts
were planned by some scientist who was remarkably sane.
Vonier had switched off this report impatiently.
"And I'd counted on Doc Savage to--" He broke off the muttered
Vonier was an emaciated, seemingly bloodless man. His thin,
sensitive nose was a single arching bone with tautly drawn skin
covering it. His eyes were set under projecting caverns of his bony
skull. But they were intensely blue, and coldly direct. Even now,
under apparent stress that made his bony hands fumble, the eyes were
A spread newspaper on the table headlined the New Jersey log cabin
explosion. Vonier opened a library table drawer and drew out a sheet
of paper. On it were scrawled words in bright blue ink.
The explorer sucked his lips between teeth protruding from his
skeleton-hard jaws. He folded the paper and placed it in his
Picking up the desk tray of pens and ink, he selected a bottle.
The tray was of old, soft gold done in finely wrought hand carvings.
It was reminiscent of the workmanship of one of the lost, though
highly civilized, mountain folk of Indochina.
VONIER let a single drop of the ink fall from the bottle on a
square of white paper. The color was brightest blue.
"The strange trick of circumstance sometimes will involve the most
innocent," he murmured. "Doc Savage's microscopic eyes never would
overlook a detail like that."
He replaced the bottle, with his smile becoming whimsical.
Apparently, a vein of humor lay under the explorer's unappealing
A woman's dress rustled. Vonier arose to greet his wife.
"I'm glad you came in, my dear," he said. "I can delay no longer.
It is necessary that I make personal contact with Doc Savage, at
The woman's voice was throaty but calm.
"Do you think it's best?" she said. "I can't quite understand why
you must see him."
Mrs. Vonier was slender of figure, as revealed by the silken gown
of scarlet. Her features were clear-cut and regular.
"I've discovered it is always best to strike the first blow, to
meet an enemy before he gets himself set," stated the explorer. "I
have been busy. Doc Savage will be on his way to Washington. I shall
see him there."
"You will be careful?" the woman pleaded. "After all the dangers
"Bosh!" interrupted Vonier. "Doc Savage must have the message. The
news will have it that the bronze wizard is baffled by these strange
explosions. As usual, the news is undependable!"
Vonier called a private air field. It was apparent he was ordering
one of his own planes tuned up for a quick takeoff to Washington. As
he was preparing to depart, the phone buzzed.
The call was long distance. It was from Washington. From Vonier's
words, some special emergency had arisen in his affairs. Before he
replaced the receiver, he said, "I shall take care of that. I am just
preparing to leave for Washington."
Chapter 9. MONK'S SWEET TOOTH
ABOUT the time the plane of Charles Arthur Vonier was being
prepared for a quick flight to Washington, Monk was impatiently
pursuing his investigation on the East Side. He had discovered the
warning of the threatened explosion had created pandemonium.
There was the block where the fiendish Var had announced the Cold
Light would strike at nine o'clock of the following morning.
A few policemen were being overrun in their effort to keep order
without resorting to the use of their sticks. Occupants of many
surroundings blocks were joining the general exodus.
There were perhaps some two hundred families living in this
six-story block. The street level housed small shops. All of the
several hundred persons involved seemed determined to be the first
out with their various belongings.
Monk, to gain entry, kept close to the police. The squad had
discovered nothing that savored of a planted explosive. Monk aroused
the policemen's interest when he produced his pocket chemical
With a colorless liquid, an instantaneous reagent chemical, Monk
made a quick analysis of each spot on the walls or elsewhere, when it
seemed the stain had been recently made. He was aware that some of
the most deadly explosive could be employed in liquid form. Perhaps
even in the character of some powerful chemical that could be dried
and still continue to send forth some vaporous element for many
After several efforts, however, Monk wondered if all the scores of
families in the block threw cups of coffee at each other.
A BOOMING voice announced Renny had arrived on the trail of Monk.
When the big engineer swung his many pounds of brawn through a door,
Monk was preparing to depart. He had been through all the block.
"Doc's worked out an idea to stop that Cold Light ray," Renny told
Monk. "Doc explained it to Long Tom by radio-phone from a Red Arrow
plane on the way to Washington."
"Now why would Doc go by one of the passenger planes?" wondered
"Don't know, but it's my guess he's laying a trap for somebody,"
said Renny. "Anyway, this thing he calls an ex-neutralizer may stop
the explosions, if Long Tom can get the right gadgets together."
Long Tom, at the moment, was attempting to step up an electrical
current to sufficient power for creation of an electromagnetic
ex-neutralizer on the principal of the Hertzian wave. Long Tom was
familiar with the practical application of the Hertzian wave, or ray.
It had been employed for the killing of airplane motors at a
No place remained where it seemed likely the smallest sort of bomb
could have been hidden. Renny and Monk agreed the explosive force of
Var was carried in his mysterious, terrible Cold Light.
"I'll stick here an' see if the cops give it another going over,"
said Renny. "You've got me worrying about Ham. All he ever carries is
that trick sword cane, an' if they stick him in some robot like you
say you were in, he wouldn't have much use for a cane."
Monk chewed thoughtfully on a gumdrop. Some child had left a paper
bag of the candy on a sink drainboard in the hasty exodus. The
thought of Ham in the hands of Var's ruthless agents turned the candy
suddenly bitter in Monk's mouth.
"Dag-gone it! Nothin' even tastes right!" complained Monk, and he
spat out the gumdrop.
MONK stopped on his way to the Hudson River warehouse hangar where
Doc's private planes were kept, to phone Long Tom again. Long Tom
"No, nothing new," he said.
Monk took off from the Hudson River in one of Doc's fastest
amphibian planes. The cabin craft shot across the murky night sky at
a speed of nearly three hundred miles an hour.
Monk felt somewhat ill. He attributed this to apprehension for the
safety of Ham. He had a bitter taste in his mouth. It had been there
since he had left Renny with the police on the East Side.
The big chemist had the feeling he had overlooked something
vitally important in the block threatened by the Cold Light. He felt
it was something he should have recognized. Anyway, the sooner he got
to Doc, the quicker the thing might appear.
Doc's uncanny power to read the thoughts and reactions of his five
companions had been the salvation of Monk on many occasions. It was
much the same with the giant fist-slinging Renny. Doc had extricated
Renny and Monk from many hazardous spots.
IN the East, slight streamers of light were telling of an early
dawn. The dawn over Manhattan that was the beginning of a chaotic
Monk had planned to leave Doc's plane at a Washington airport and
there take a taxicab to the vicinity of the address he had heard
Wheeze McGovern give in the telegram sent to Ham.
Over the suburbs of the capital city, Monk angled to a lower
altitude. On half throttle, the small plane skimmed along a couple of
hundred feet above the tops of the trees.
Suddenly, Monk angled even lower. A blotch of bright yellow had
appeared among the greenery. Monk took one of Doc's own inventions,
an electronic glass, or, rather, powerful binoculars created by Doc
on the electronic principle. The lenses of this telescopic device not
only brought distant scenes close to the eyes, but they also
amplified them in the vision much the same as radio tones are
amplified for the listener by the loud-speaker.
One look through the glasses, as he held the little plane in a
tight spiral and Monk growled in his throat.
"Howlin' calamities!" he barked. "I got here just in time! Hold
'em, you dag-goned shyster! I'm comin'!"
Monk shoved the plane into a dive. The staccato thunder of its
direct drop awakened hundreds of Washingtonians before their usual
hour of arising.
Chapter 10. HAM'S IN A JAM
BRIGADIER GENERAL THEODORE MARLEY BROOKS'S arrival in Washington
somewhat preceded the coming there of Doc Savage, and of Monk. If Ham
had called Doc's headquarters after receiving the bogus telegram from
Wheeze McGovern, the outcome might have been different.
Ham was a natty figure, as he yawned his way from a passenger
plane. He was wearing a spiffy topcoat, with a light hat pulled with
jaunty effect over one eye. He swung what appeared to be a light
In reality, it was the sheath for a sword blade of the finest
steel. Several inches of the sword tip covered with an anaesthetic
drug. The smallest prick with the point was sufficient to render an
opponent temporarily insensible.
Ham, at this moment, knew little of the Var explosions. Only the
radio report of the Carberry blast and the warnings of the expected
attack upon Manhattan had reached him.
Though uninformed of his companions' connection with the rapidly
developing menace, Ham suspected this sudden call in the night might
have some connection with it.
Ham left the airport in a taxicab. He gave Dupont Circle as an
address close to the residence where he had been instructed to
It was somewhat puzzling why Doc should have commanded a meeting
at the unearthly hour of four o'clock in the morning. Ham alighted at
Dupont Circle and made his way toward K Street. The yellow house was
anything but modest. Its golden-yellow bulk affronted its more
Heavy curtains were drawn at the windows, but knifelike lines of
brilliant light appeared at the edges. A dim light burned in the
entrance hall. The front door was set in a deep alcove approached by
a wide porch.
Ham's step was light as he crossed the porch. His fingers twiddled
the cane in a flourishing circle.
IT was the mistake of an unseen man, that he growled a command to
others instead of attacking silently. Ham's reaction to the menacing
voice was instant. His heavy cane was traveling in a vicious arc
before he had seen any person or any movement.
The swinging cane rapped the man flatly across one ear. The man
grunted once and slipped to his knees.
Ham bounced the cane from the fallen one to a spot above a white
face that loomed up from the alcove. A ringing rap of metal on hard
bone and a howl of pain was the response.
If all of his unexpected assailants had been on the one side, Ham
might have disposed of the four who had been in ambush. But two
others were behind him. Ham heard their rush and attempted to draw
the rapier blade from its sheath.
A hard-knuckled fist struck his spine a paralyzing blow at the
base of his skull. A sinuous arm enwrapped his throat, snapping his
head backward. The dim light in the entrance hallway danced, then it
went out completely.
THE light came back, but now it was a painful glare against Ham's
aching eyes. The lawyer was seated in an old-fashioned chair of the
Victorian period. Before he looked into the faces of his captors, he
noted the big room was furnished with articles antique collectors
like to call "Early American."
Ham guessed shrewdly this old Washington home had either been
leased or purchased furnished, for whatever purpose the gang
surrounding him intended using it. Glancing at the nearest men, he
quickly revised the thought of a "gang."
Ham counted eleven men. Voices of others sounded from another room
in the rear.
"Quite a reception committee," Ham drawled.
One man, with mild blue eyes, blinked behind thick lenses.
"I can't say exactly what the chief may want," he volunteered.
"You will be given a message later. You are to be informed that you
are at the mercy of Var. Your friend--the chemist you call Monk--has
been in Var's hands for several hours. The chief instructed you were
to be told that Monk will be destroyed by the armored robot in which
he is now imprisoned, if you refuse to do exactly as you are told.
Your leader, Doc Savage, has been rendered helpless."
Ham's keen face sobered at the reference to Monk. The man's words
were too sincerely spoken to have been an invention. But at the
statement Doc had been rendered helpless, Ham grinned.
The speaker withdrew and the men swung into small groups. They
talked in low tones. Ham's eyes had been busy every minute he had
His sword cane, still intact, he noted was only a few feet away in
a corner. Two buttons controlling the lights were plainly in view on
the wall, a little to one side of the cane.
MORE than Ham's eyes had been at work for him.
On the middle finger of his right hand was what appeared to be a
gold ring of heavy pattern. Concealed by his back, Ham had crossed
his pliant fingers.
One crossed finger pressed a spot in the head of the ring. Ham
suppressed a grimace. A sharp, tiny blade had darted along his palm
and the wrist above it.
But the blade, operated on the spring forming the inside of the
gold ring, had darted inside the cord tying his wrists together and,
in turn, his body to the heavy chair. The deft finger worked rapidly.
The spring recoiled and the blade dropped back. Again, it was sent
darting along his palm.
Ham knew blood was oozing from the cut in his hand. He maneuvered
to keep its dripping from being noticed by pulling his hands well
upon the chair's cushion. The cord parted. There were still several
wrappings to be sliced.
The front door buzzer burred viciously. Ham risked severing an
artery with his swift play of the blade of the ring. He was still
tightly held as four men moved in a group toward the door.
"It will be Var's messenger, but take no chances," warned one of
"I wouldn't know if it were Var himself," growled another. "I've
never seen him."
"None of us have, except Wheeze," the first man replied. "But make
sure of the password and the card."
The four men were in the hallway. The eyes of all the others were
fixed in that direction. Ham's hands were slippery with blood, but he
was free. He waited tensely until he heard the outer door's bolt
being drawn. Now or never, he decided.
Heaving his body forward, he kicked the heavy chair sidewise. It
caught the nearest man in the stomach. Ham's lithe figure reached the
wall. One hand was clicking the light buttons as the other grasped
the sword cane.
THE room was plunged into darkness. One of the buttons had also
switched off the dim light in the entrance hallway. The outer door
had opened and a heavy voice had muttered, "Rav rules!"
For three or four seconds no one moved, except the man who had got
the chair in his stomach. Ham grinned to himself over his temporary
advantage. Though dawn was breaking outside, the heavy draperies over
the windows excluded all light.
Ham played his sword blade, sharp as a razor, in experimental
thrusts. The point contacted a yielding body. A man grunted with
pain. He thumped to the floor on his face. This terminated the
Ham could hear the rush of bodies. His sword blade became a
darting tongue. It barely pinked two more men. A couple of others
fell over this pair as they went down.
"Look out!" cried a voice. "He's got the sword out of that
One man started dragging back a curtain to let in light. Another
man knocked him aside.
"Keep 'em closed, you fool!" he commanded. "Get him quick!"
The order was easily given. Laying hands upon the waspish, elusive
figure of the fencing lawyer was much more difficult. One man had
filled his hand with a silenced automatic. A yellowish-blue tongue of
fire licked across the room.
At that instant, one man became distinctly visible to Ham. Or,
rather, his eyes could be seen. They seemed to float into the room
without a body. They glowed with the luminosity of a cat's eyes on
the prowl at night.
"Put up that gun!" said a high-pitched, strident voice. "He isn't
to be hurt, understand?"
The gun ceased to flame. The eyes came directly toward Ham, as if
their owner could see the lawyer plainly in the darkness. A door
opened toward the rear of the house. Faint light from somewhere above
revealed a narrow stairway. Ham shifted sidewise and pinked another
man. Two of the gang rushed, and collided with each other.
Ham was backing toward the narrow stairway. He figured if he could
reach it he could stand off an army, as long as the order held
against shooting him. The room he was leaving was filled with milling
men, seeking him in the darkness.
The luminous eyes floated to one side. Apparently this man was
withdrawing. The eyes vanished.
Ham had his feet on the bottom stair. Here, he could be plainly
seen. He started backing slowly upward.
From the gloom of the space Ham had just vacated came an eerie,
mellow sound. It was like the low piping note of some rare tropical
bird. The softly whistled cadence filled all the rooms for an
interval of a few seconds.
"Who did that?" rasped a voice.
The short puzzled oaths following, filled Ham with elation. Doc
Savage was among the men in that room. None had ever before heard the
peculiar emanation of sound that came from the bronze man.
The realization of Doc's presence strengthened Ham. Whirling the
sword point, he retreated up the stairs. A dozen men crowded after
him, but carefully maintained a discreet distance. Ham found two more
flights and backed up these.
One of the men below him laughed.
"Let him go!" he ordered. "He can't get off the roof! We'll have
him! Where's the little persuader?"
HAM had determined to make a stand in the narrow stairway below
the skylight leading to the roof. Only one man at a time could reach
him. He had hoped he would be safe. Nothing but bullets would ever
get past the shimmering sword blade.
Something did get past it. This was the "little persuader" the man
Ham was smiling. He was really enjoying his position, especially
since he was aware Doc was at hand. At any instant, he expected a
tornado to break loose. He waited hopefully, prepared to launch
himself downward as soon as Doc went into action.
Ham could picture the amazement when the bronze man exploded in
the midst of these men. Not even the gigantic Renny, or the apelike
Monk, was half the equal of Doc when he started using his mighty
fists. But the group clustered at the foot of the stairs remained
Suddenly, there was a sizzling stream ascending. It was being shot
from a small, circular affair; such as would hold a steel tape line.
Ham gasped. He was compelled to use his left arm to shield his face
Ammonia fumes were clogging his nostrils. He couldn't breathe.
Then he heaved himself upward and his shoulder carried away the
window sash of the skylight. Inhaling a long breath, Ham bounded to
As other feet pounded on the stairs, Ham sprang to one side. He
was confident he would discover a near-by tree or some other means of
descending from the four-story roof. He realized his mistake too
late. He should have held his opponents at the top of the narrow
Now some ten men were in the open on the roof. They were grimly
determined on recapturing their prisoner. Half the men carried short
clubs and other improvised weapons. Ham spotted a chimney and backed
up to it.
His enemies ringed him closely. In the dawning light, they were
able to keep clear of his flying sword. Ham was deliberately
refraining from taking the offensive.
Doc was there somewhere. He wished he knew Doc's plans. The bronze
adventurer always had carefully calculated reasons for his every
action. That Doc had done no more than apprize Ham of his presence
was proof he had some definite goal.
Ham wished he knew more to guide his own play. He scrutinized the
faces around him. He was fairly sure two persons were missing from
the ring of men now closing in.
From the stairs came a high-pitched voice. There was a scuffling
sound. A body bumped in the hallway below the roof. Almost at once,
an ugly, malformed face appeared in the skylight.
A deep voice complained, "Some guy down there made a mistake! He
swung for me, but when I tried to grab him, he got away!"
"It's all right, Gobo!" ejaculated one of the men, quickly.
"That probably was Scraggs! I was taking you to him when this
sword slinger broke loose! Come here and help grab this fellow!"
THE hulking man who came onto the roof had puffed, unhealthy
cheeks. His tow-colored hair was matted and his nose was broken. Of
all the men Ham had seen, this was the only one who had the marks of
being a bruiser. Ham smiled inwardly. He knew this man to be Doc
Savage. Ham knew now whence the whistle had come.
It had been this man's voice at the entrance giving the password,
Without glancing at Ham, the new arrival said, "Circle the chimney
and get him from behind! The chief said he didn't want him injured.
He wants to use him!"
Ham judged he should make a final pretense of fighting his way
out, then permit himself to be overwhelmed. The bronze man had not
looked at him directly. In fact, Doc was warily closing in on him
Ham deliberately pinked another man. Then a club was flung at him.
His sword arm took the blow and Ham staggered.
Low overhead, a small airplane suddenly roared in a dive.
It was Monk, coming in from New York.
AFTER sighting the vividly yellow house, Monk pulled Doc's small
amphibian into a tight spiral.
Two maple trees grew beside the four-story house. They were spaced
so near each other, their leafy branches seemed to be interlaced.
Monk drew in one long breath, shifted the plane elevators and
He clicked off the ignition as the trees, the house and the lawn
leaped up to meet the hurtling plane. With wind screaming in the
wires, the diving ship thrust between the trees. The silvery wings
stripped off. The speed of the cabinet fuselage was slightly
The next instant, Monk was being carried through the wall of the
yellow house with the speed of a stone thrown from a catapult. The
forward part of the cabin was crushed. Through this aperture, the
body of Monk continued onward.
Monk's rebound to his feet was fast. It was as if his ungainly
body were made of rubber. He was in an upper room of the house.
Dashing through the first doorway, Monk glimpsed two men dropping
down the stairway from the roof.
Each carried a short club.
The big chemist's cry was one of delight. One man threw his club.
He was not quick enough. Monk's long arms had reached. The men were
of average size. Both were taller than Monk. But their heads took the
impact of the hallway wall at the same instant.
Monk had heaved one over each shoulder. Plaster and laths
scattered under the blows from their skulls. Monk's broad shoulders
filled the narrow stairway and the skylight. He gained the roof.
Two other men were quick enough, one with his fists and another
with the flat side of an automatic pistol. They hammered at Monk's
head as he came up. The chemist's breath hissed through his teeth. He
caught an ankle and twisted once. The owner squealed with pain and
dropped the gun.
BACK in Manhattan, Monk had been given no chance to replace the
super-machine pistol Wheeze's men had taken from him. Now he caught
up the automatic from the roof. He was about to shoot at another man
rushing toward him, but he refrained.
There now were only six men on the roof around Ham. Monk contented
himself with rushing into the attackers, the automatic swinging as a
To Monk's disgusted amazement, Ham had dropped the point of his
"You would bust in on a gentlemen's party!" came sharply from Ham.
"Can't that ape brain of yours understand when one is just
Monk's short legs pivoted him to a stop. His homely face went
blank with amazement.
"Well, I'll be flabbergasted!" he jerked out. "You tricky low-down
shyster, now what are you--"
Ham's surprising words pulled his eyes away from his closest
enemy. One of the short clubs smacked him viciously behind the ear.
Monk folded to his knees and fell forward. His hard skull had barely
resisted the impact. His senses had faded out.
Ham groaned. He hadn't meant that to happen. He had hoped to see
Monk seized. But it was too late for regret, now. The broken-nosed
man with the washed-out blue eyes had glided swiftly between Monk and
the man with the club.
"Don't hit him again!" he commanded in a guttural threat that got
instant respect. "The chief doesn't want these fellows hurt!"
It had been Doc's unspoken order that had caused Ham to prevent
Monk from finishing the job of cleaning up the roof.
Ham had seen the lips of the broken-nosed man moving just as Monk
sprang into the encounter. He had read the brief message. All of
Doc's men were expert lip readers. Doc had said:
"Hold it, Ham--stop Monk--let them take you--escape police--we
Doc believed he was on a trail that would lead quickly to the Cold
Light murderer. Perhaps they could discover Var in time to avert the
menace over Manhattan.
Chapter 11. VAR BLINDS HIS TRAIL
HAM and Monk, securely bound, were shoved into two closed cars.
There were three cars in waiting. These leaped away along an
Ham and Monk were unloaded at the rear of an isolated, tumble-down
house at the northern edge of Washington. Nine men, with Doc, had
accompanied the cars. Behind these cars, trailing them until the
prisoners had been taken inside, was a small, battered roadster.
The driver of this car was the little man with the scraggly face
and clothes. He halted his small car a block away and made his way
cautiously forward. Unseen, he slipped through a window into the
basement of the old house. In the darkness of the cellar, his eyes
took on the luminous propensities of a prowling cat.
Keeping to his role, Doc Savage saw Monk and Ham deposited
temporarily in a small room with boarded windows. The other men
assembled in a larger room with cheap, rough furnishings. High,
narrow windows gave forth a little light.
As Ham was dumped unceremoniously on the floor, Doc made an
excellent pretense of handling him roughly. At the same time, he was
"Follow all instructions. These men mean nothing. They seem
expecting this Var himself."
Ham was astute enough to play his part.
Though Doc's role of the broken-nosed thug had been a surprise,
his actions had been cleverly carried out. The men of the Var ring
apparently were unsuspecting. Doc's swift analysis of their character
led him to believe that several were far more intelligent than the
average type of criminal.
The bronze man was confronted with the problem of being almost
sure two or three had never before engaged in a crooked enterprise.
It made their association with Var all the more puzzling.
ALL had the air of expectant waiting. This was suddenly rewarded
by the tones of a high-pitched voice. This came from a ventilator
leading up from the basement.
"Brothers of the ring! Our action here has been deferred! The
chief has decided to wait until after the Cold Light has fallen upon
New York! Then Doc Savage's man will receive the message he is to
deliver to the White House! The Manhattan explosion will make certain
a commission will be formed as Var wishes! Coming from Doc Savage,
the word to the White House will be impressive enough to gain
attention! Bring in this man Ham!"
Ham's legs were now tightly bound, as well as his arms. He was
carried in and placed in a chair.
Doc unostentatiously shifted his position closer to a door he had
marked as leading to the cellar of the old house. He was convinced he
knew the owner of that voice. His character study brought before him
a skinny neck in which a nervous Adam's apple would be jumping up and
Doc knew these men never had seen their chief, the man called Var.
The strangely delivered message was the first direct link that seemed
to connect with the perpetrator of the Cold Light explosions. The
voice spoke again briefly:
"Five of you will remain here to guard the prisoners! The others
will go at once to the place designated! We will then--"
The speech was cut off abruptly by a smash of Doc's mighty fist. A
panel of the locked basement door was shattered to splinters. The
door was of ancient, flimsy construction. The lock was torn loose and
went flying down the basement stairway.
Though the bronze man apparently made no leap, his feet were on
the damp concrete floor of the cellar when the lock banged with a
ringing sound. His surprising movement and his quickness converted
the room he had just left into roaring confusion.
In the basement's gloom, Doc flashed the searching ray of his
generator flashlight. His other hand held a stupefying capsule no
larger than a small glass pill. He located the cold-air shaft leading
from the dead furnace.
Doc had expected to see the figure of the scraggy little man
crouched somewhere close by. He was surprised to see no one. Swinging
the light around, he discovered the small basement room seemed to be
One more glance was sufficient to reveal the clever trick
performed by this elusive emissary of the man Var. The cold-air pipe
had been dislodged close to the outer wall of the foundation. One
stone had been removed. The aperture led into the ventilator located
in the room above. Var's messenger had apparently been crouched on
the ground outside the house.
THE man had ceased speaking when the basement door crashed. He had
vanished so swiftly Doc could not hear his running feet. Before Doc
could reach the stairs, the men above were descending upon him.
Doc flipped a gas capsule and it fell at the feet of the foremost
man. But the rush carried the men over the gas before it could become
effective. The bronze man was holding his own breath. Then an
automatic pistol slashed its blaze into the gloomy basement. And a
sizzling stream of ammonia searched for Doc's eyes and nostrils.
With his eyes tightly closed, Doc charged directly into the
members of Var's ring. Though he was not breathing, the ammonia was
pungent in his nostrils. Two men crashed into opposite walls under
fists so fast and so effective they had no chance to use their
weapons against them.
But one man had fallen, locking his arms around Doc's legs. The
bronze man staggered. He was free in an instant, and the other man
had rolled over limply. Doc's thumb had simply pressed into a clotted
nerve group in the ringster's neck. The man would be paralyzed for
Five men in all cluttered the basement floor, as the bronze man
reached the top of the short stairway.
In a determined effort to free himself and go to Doc's aid, Ham
had succeeded only in upsetting the chair. He was squirming on the
As Doc reached him, a car roared away outside. Doc sprang to a
window. In the space of seconds, he was back and had sliced the cords
from Ham's arms and legs.
"The other room, Doc!" gasped Ham. "They've done something to
Monk! If they've put him out, I'll run them to the end of the
But apparently the men who had escaped had not put Monk out. They
had taken him with them. The room was empty.
Doc and Ham got to the outside. Two of the three closed cars were
still there. But the hoods of both motors were thrown open. The
ignition wires had been ripped loose from the instrument boards.
The fleeing car was just disappearing on a side road, headed in
the direction of the city.
DOC'S deduction was almost instant.
"Wherever they had Monk a prisoner, he saw too much," he stated.
"Var needs your legal experience for some purpose, Ham. But this
probably upsets his idea. He'll go ahead now with that explosion in
Manhattan. We must return at once!"
"But how about Monk, Doc? I could make a try at--"
Doc looked thoughtfully into the sky to the eastward.
"I'm very sure Monk right now is on his way back to New York," he
He did not explain his reason for believing this.
Before they had reached a corner where a taxicab could be
summoned, the thin glass shells had been removed from over the eyes
of flaky gold. Their hypnotic pools again stirred with little
Doc was thinking the luring of Ham and then himself to Washington
had been for the purpose of making sure they would not be in
Manhattan at nine o'clock this morning.
The taxicab was rushing toward the airport. Doc saw he would have
just time to catch the plane that would arrive in New York at the
time set by Var for the explosion of the city block.
He said to Ham, "You'll wait and take the White Liner back. It
arrives an hour after the Red Arrow. If there is a little man on
board with a ragged haircut and a loose Adam's apple, we want to know
where he goes. His clothes are as ragged as his hair; and if you
happen to hear him speak, it will likely be the voice that came
through the ventilator."
"Would that be the one I heard them call Scraggs?" Ham
"The name would fit, and you couldn't miss him," said Doc. "He'll
be on one or the other of the planes."
Doc's conjecture was partly correct. The scraggly little man at
that moment was preparing to board a plane. But it was neither the
Red Arrow nor the White Liner.
VONIER, the explorer, was in the waiting room at the Red Arrow
airport. His intense blue eyes lighted a little when his gaze
automatically followed the turning of all faces toward the big man
who came unhurriedly through the wide doors.
"I can well believe all the adventures credited to him," murmured
the explorer. "He looks like a bad one to get in anybody's soup."
Ten seconds later, Vonier added, again to himself, "It's almost
unbelievable, but I'd bet my last dollar Doc Savage knows I've been
waiting here in the hope of catching him. And he hasn't even seemed
to glance this way."
This was true. The smooth, bronzed face had not once turned in the
explorer's direction. The eyes of flaky gold had not appeared to have
observed any person in particular. Then Doc walked across the big
room and stopped before Vonier.
"A man I've always wanted to meet," the bronze man stated, as if
introductions already had been effected. "Your paper on your last
trip into the Arctic afforded me great pleasure. I'm glad to meet you
here, Vonier. You came here to meet me, did you not?"
Vonier fixed him with a steady gaze. Then he glanced down his thin
nose and shook his head.
"That savors of the occult, Savage," he smiled. "No other person
on earth, except my wife, knew I had it in mind to find you in
Washington. Are you a mind reader?"
"Not at all, Vonier," Doc smiled in return. "By this time, all
Manhattan is stirred by something of which it never before heard.
That is Cold Light. You are one of perhaps only seven men in New York
who has seen Cold Light, even though it is of a far different
variety. The other six men are my five closest companions and
"Yes," assented Vonier. "That is true, but how would that give you
such absolute certainty?"
"You knew we had visited, months ago, the caverns of the strange
race in the Arctic ice field," added Doc. "You had learned that we
have been drawn into the mystery of the man called Var. Perhaps you
have learned something you believe I should know."
VONIER laughed shortly, a note of uneasiness. He glanced around as
if making certain they could not be overheard.
"It may sound simple enough to you, Doc Savage, but the average
man would suspect you of being linked up with the supernatural.
However, it is something more vital to me than you think. Something
that impelled me to reach you as quickly as possible."
"Then you've had a message from this Var," Doc stated. "It is
perhaps his idea that he can use your vast knowledge."
Vonier spread his thin, bony bands.
"I give it up," he said. "Probably you know all that is in the
"Hardly that," the bronze man smiled. "But we've only two minutes.
I must be in New York at nine."
"I knew that, and it was why I was waiting here," Vonier said. "As
soon as we are aboard the plane, I'll show you the note that has kept
me awake and which seemed unbelievable until last night. I am
threatened with death if I do not join Var's organization."
The pilot grinned down at Doc Savage as he climbed aboard. Because
of an emergency, the same flier was taking the early morning Red
Arrow plane back to the Newark Airport.
Vonier had maneuvered a seat next to the one Doc had thoughtfully
reserved on his arrival in Washington. The seat just ahead of Doc was
vacant. He thought the passenger had missed the plane, if it had been
engaged, for the door was being closed.
Then the door reopened and a breathless man came in. The pulsing
blood had reddened the bald spot between tufts of white hair. Doc
recalled that only a few hours before that same bald spot had been
the color of gray chalk.
The man was Carberry, the retired financier.
CARBERRY'S pale-bluish eyes, slightly protruding, seemed to jump
with recognition at the sight of Doc Savage. He extended one thin,
"I wish I'd have known you were in Washington, Doc Savage!" he
exclaimed. "I'd have asked you to go with me to the Federal agents!
Even with all that has happened, the government agents don't want to
take this thing seriously!"
J. Afton Carberry was shaking. His hands jerked continuously. He
had apparently not noticed the explorer, Vonier, until the latter had
"I believe we've met, Carberry," he remarked. "You may recall I
had occasion to congratulate you on your book dealing with the origin
"Yes--oh, yes!" admitted Carberry. "That is right. We were on the
same program at the museum. However, Vonier, I've never taken my own
theories seriously. I've made a hobby of many curious things. After a
man's made his money, that's about all he has left."
Doc apparently was watching the preparation for the takeoff. He
was studying both men. They were the direct opposites of each
Vonier might perish in any one of countless ways, but his nerve
never would be shaken.
Carberry was of a volatile disposition. The menace over him had
apparently unnerved him to the point of physical discomfort. His
blue-veined hands continued shaking.
"I thought you had planned to take Mrs. Carberry away," suggested
"Yes--oh, yes--I have," the financier replied. "She is perfectly
safe where she is. I'll admit, though, I'm gravely concerned over
this thing. This man Var's a dangerous maniac!"
"That's not my idea," disagreed Vonier. "So far as I've learned
it, his scheme of destruction is too perfectly planned in detail to
be the work of a lunatic."
Carberry seemed to be fumbling for a reply. The Red Arrow plane
had taken off and circled with the wind on its tail. It was already
making up the lost time of departure in the direction of Manhattan.
Then came the voice. Thin, but stridently clear, it filled the space
of the passenger cabin:
Eyes of those in the seats leaped from one to another. All had
heard of Var's mystic warnings.
Vonier looked steadily at Doc Savage, a slight smile on his lips.
There had been a pause in the voice.
"Yes, Doc Savage," he said, calmly. "I think this Var is
Chapter 12. DEATH OVER MANHATTAN
IN the passenger cabin, the first excited murmuring of the inmates
hushed. Only the steady beat of the motors could be heard.
Then the voice again:
"This is my final warning! Doc Savage, you will forget what you
have learned! One of your men is in my hands! Vonier and
Carberry--you will do as already instructed! This is my final word!
For I am--Var!"
The voice seemed everywhere. It had the elusive quality of
direction which a good ventriloquist imparts. Doc's hypnotic eyes had
observed Vonier and Carberry in turn.
Carberry was shaking as if with palsy. Vonier was calmly rubbing
one finger along his thinly arching nose.
Then Doc was on his feet. Swiftly he directed the stewardess, "Go
through every article of the women's baggage." There were four women
aboard. "I'll take the men myself."
The stewardess hesitated. The broad-faced pilot had given the
controls over to the co-pilot. His mirror had shown the excited
movement in the cabin, though he had not heard the voice.
Taking a cue from the attitude of the stewardess, a male passenger
started to say, "By what right have you--"
"You'll do as Doc Savage directs!" snapped the pilot "He has full
police authority on the Red Arrow lines!"
The bronze man's hunt was quick but thorough. The stewardess aided
as best she could.
DOC and the others missed seeing a hand steal through a two-inch
opening of a window ventilator. A small object started on a mile drop
to the gliding earth below.
Vonier suddenly exclaimed, glancing at his wrist watch, "We're a
little late, aren't we, pilot? It's two minutes to nine o'clock."
The pilot, moving back toward his cabin, sighted through a window.
The sky needles of Manhattan were shining in the brilliant sun only a
few miles ahead.
"Ten minutes or so off schedule," the pilot grinned. "We've been
held up a little. Figured maybe you folks would appreciate a
grand-stand seat in the sky for the big blow-off down there--if there
Clearly, the pilot was doubtful of the reason for all the madness
"For Heaven's sake, man!" gasped Carberry. "You mean we'll be over
Manhattan at nine o'clock?"
"Correct, brother!" The pilot's grin broadened. "It oughta be
worth an extra fare!"
"I'd say we are in the safest possible spot," stated Vonier,
"Perhaps," said Doc Savage.
Vonier leaned closer to him.
"When we get down, Savage," he said in a low tone, "I believe I
have something new on the formula for Cold Light. I'd like you to see
The explorer's lips were drawn back from his skeleton hard jaws.
Even with his coolness, the smile was gruesomely reminiscent of a
"I'll appreciate that greatly," Doc replied.
DOC SAVAGE, during the flight to Washington, had worked out and
transmitted to Long Tom the formula for creating the ex-neutralizer
with which he planned to combat the destructive Cold Light.
While in the role of the broken-nosed man, he had employed the
plane's radiophone to good advantage. His instructions to Long Tom
had been detailed and explicit.
Doc had brought an advanced theory into practical working form
with less than an hour of thinking.
Back in Manhattan, Long Tom was at work in the creation of a
machine that would build a wall. Doc had enlarged upon an idea of a
ray to meet a ray. He had so analyzed the explosion at the home of J.
Afton Carberry as to become positive it had a double origin.
From some inexplicable source, perhaps from the magnetized earth
itself, a gigantic destructive force had leaped to meet the ray of
Cold Light. Therefore, a neutralizing ray to clash with that other
ray in its death-dealing path would hardly be sufficient.
Doc judged the force must be something more like a wall. That
would be the answer. An electromagnetic wall which the Cold Light ray
could neither penetrate nor cross.
Just now, with the Red Arrow plane flying toward the sky line of
Manhattan at a speed of more than two miles a minute, Doc was hoping
Long Tom might have the new machine ready for its first test.
And the explorer, Vonier, was calmly telling him he had something
new to offer on the formula of Cold Light. The bronze man studied the
intensely blue eyes of the man. Vonier's eyes were the exact shade of
the bright blue ink on the passport card that had admitted him to
Var's inner organization.
An aquamarine blue. The kind of a blue that only the occasional
artistic genius can capture in oils on a canvas.
The financier, Carberry, his thin lips twitching, also was
observing Vonier closely. Though Vonier's words regarding the formula
had been directed at Doc only, Carberry's straining ears had caught
them. The financier apparently was in that state of extreme fear
which led him to suspect any person who might be familiar with such
mysterious elements as Cold Light.
AS the island of Manhattan swam closer, with the broad Hudson
widening into the harbor below, the Red Arrow plane was between five
and ten minutes behind its schedule. The good-humored pilot angled
the plane lower.
It was exactly nine o'clock.
Around the Red Arrow passenger plane the sky was empty. Plainly,
other pilots were not interested in occupying grandstand seats for
the explosion. The police commissioner, taking every precaution, had
issued an explicit order grounding all aircraft in the Manhattan
But that order had failed to reach the Red Arrow pilot.
Apparently, another pilot also had disregarded it. But this second
plane was at so great an altitude as to be indistinguishable against
the sun from the ground level. If it was seen at all, it appeared as
only a possible tiny black speck in the observer's eye.
It was a small plane and it was flying at an altitude of more than
four miles high.
As Carberry announced the time as nine o'clock, a steely-blue ray
knifed downward from the higher heavens. Though the daylight was
clear, this spikelike band could be plainly seen. It struck instantly
all the way to the earth below.
Crowds back of police lines blocks from the heart of the
threatened area gasped. To these hundreds of thousands of spectators,
it seemed as if the fiendish hand of the destroyer above had directed
the Cold Light ray directly upon the Red Arrow passenger plane.
The hushed crowds saw this. Simultaneously, a chilling blast of
air swept across all of the central Manhattan area. The normal
breathing of the terror-ridden, but curious, multitude of citizens
was sharply interrupted. The air was sucked upward in a mighty
Then the air came slapping back with the force of some tangible
substance. Thousands of those closest to the explosion area would
have been blown from their feet, had not the packed mass of the crowd
kept them erect. The whole sea of upturned faces seemed to rock in a
slow, rippling wave as individuals fought to maintain their
THE six-story block designated by Var instantly ceased to exist.
In its place arose an intense blue cloud. This was seen by those at a
distance as a gigantic pyramid with a pointed apex reaching toward
the sky. The blueness of the sky seemed dim in comparison to the
color of the geometrically formed blast of vapor.
From this leaping, single tongue, wreckage spewed over many
The island of Manhattan swayed. New York was given a brief
demonstration of what it feels like to be caught in an
In the Red Arrow plane, Doc Savage had seen the first flash of the
Cold Light. So highly keyed were the reactions of the bronze man's
senses, he had seen something so clearly that he had arrived at a new
conclusion in the infinitesimal part of a second.
Some force more definite than the magnetic response of the earth
itself was leaping to meet the chilling ray of deadly Cold Light.
From below, the strange blue vapor of the blast was rushing
upward. All of the sustaining air had been instantly sucked away from
the propellers and wings of the Red Arrow plane. Débris was
riding into the sky on the aquamarine pyramid.
All the air seemed to return upon the passenger plane with
cyclonic assault. The Red Arrow ship was whirled over and over. It
became a mere helpless leaf blown by a hurricane.
Chapter 13. MONK BAILS OUT
AT the moment the Red Arrow plane plunged into a seemingly fatal
spin, Monk was awakening to aching consciousness. Though his skull
was hard as granite, the battering of the past hours had been such as
to have given a stone monument a headache.
Monk's first impression was that he had been carried away in a
boat. Then he quickly realized the jerking lurches of the floor on
which he was lying could mean only one thing. He was traveling in an
Monk flexed the muscles of his long arms and short legs. All of
his bones were intact. Moreover, his feet and hands were free.
Clearly, some one among his recent enemies must be foolhardy.
Then Monk became aware his freedom of body did not afford all the
opportunity he had believed. He was breathing with difficulty. All
his body was cold. When he moved his arms, he discovered they were
This was no phenomenon. For the huge, apelike chemist was slowly
being frozen. The temperature about him was several degrees below
zero. The plane was riding at a high altitude. The rarefied
atmosphere did not provide oxygen enough for his unaccustomed lungs.
This and the frigid bath prevented his greatly abnormal strength from
Twisting his head, Monk peered through narrowed eyes under his
gristly, jutting brows. He was in a small cabin plane. The ship had
twin control seats. A man occupied each of these.
MONK could see their faces in a cabin-view mirror above the
instrument board. The man then handling the plane was smoothly sleek
and dark-skinned. He had not been among either of the groups Monk had
The pilot was stamped mostly by a gold-toothed smile--a fixed
smile of evil, as it showed in the strip of mirror.
The man in the other seat was scraggly of person and clothing.
Monk did not know this, but it was the mysteriously moving Scraggs.
Doc had guessed Scraggs might be returning to New York on either the
Red Arrow or the White Liner plane. For this, Ham's departure from
Washington had been delayed in the hope of picking up the trail of
the elusive messenger for Var.
Monk lay quite still, watching the two men. The plane was still
taking on more altitude. The chemist gritted his teeth to prevent
their chattering. He was gathering strength for an attack.
His big hands cautiously explored his clothing. Not a weapon or
device had been left upon his person. He must depend upon his bare
hands alone. Monk grinned to himself. There were only two men.
The luminous dial on the instrument board showed a few seconds to
nine o'clock. The gold-toothed man muttered, but his words were
snatched away by the thundering beat of the propeller.
Scraggs's long, wraithlike hands took over control. Monk saw the
other man was bringing forth a flat instrument. This was somewhat the
shape and size of a large-calibered automatic pistol.
But the metal was of steely blue. Monk judged it was some new
alloy of which he did not know.
The gold-toothed man pressed one side of a series of buttons
appearing on one side. From the device came a vicious whirring, much
the same vibrant sibilancy as that of a rattlesnake about to
Monk identified the sound as coming from some tiny, but powerful,
generator. The gold-toothed man pressed another button.
The scraggly little man drew Monk's gaze. He had cried out
sharply, as if in warning. The plane's motor had missed. It was
coughing in the midst of what had been a smooth rhythm of power.
Monk crouched. His chance was at hand.
THE little plane was staggering with a slowing propeller. An oath
ripped from the gold-toothed man. His thumb pressed a trigger on the
side of the steely blue instrument.
Monk could not have told if the air in the small cabin suddenly
took on more frigidity. The cold about him already was under the zero
But his skin suffered, a tingling, prickly sensation. Thousands of
tiny needles seemed to be thrusting into him.
Monk saw an edged ray of light directed at the floor of the
plane's cabin. Though knifelike, it had an weird, intangible quality.
For it was passing directly through the metal that formed the plane's
fuselage. The gold-toothed man was pointing it downward.
One second or five, Monk could not have told.
Some tremendous, invisible force was lifting the whole body of the
small ship. It was as if the blue Cold Light itself was a motive
force impelling the plane upward.
At that instant, the motor died.
Monk was in the act of springing at the two men. But he was held
back. The support whirled from under his feet.
The scraggly little man at the controls dived into the metal frame
of the windshield glass. His thin body collapsed between the
The gold-toothed man had shut off the cold-producing beam. This
was a convulsive, automatic act, rather than one of intent. The
sender of the explosive ray into the heart of Manhattan was hurled
into the roof of the plane.
MONK felt as if he were in the exact center of a whirlpool. His
body shuttled this way and that, twice banging his hard head. But he
kept his senses.
The plane did a complete wing-over and went into a tail spin.
Monk, fighting against being knocked out, could tell the
convulsions of the ship were due to something far different from
ordinary air current. The plane seemed to be plunging into a vortex,
a vacuum of the sky.
This was in reality the vaporous burst shooting upward from the
heart of Manhattan. Even in that flashing instant, the Cold Light
having been flicked off, the cloud began to recede.
Below, bricks and metal were raining upon the city. Thousands of
skyscraper windows were being smashed. For blocks around the center
of the blast the windows and many walls of older buildings had
Monk got a grip on one of the control seats. His mighty muscles
held him until he could get into position. The bucking, whirling
plane at first resisted every effort to throw the ailerons and
elevator into neutral.
Without much hope, Monk pressed the inertia starter. To his
immense surprise, the propeller whirled and the motor caught. He
battled the ship to a level keel.
Monk then had time to notice his battered, unconscious airmates.
The scraggly man had a deep cut across his forehead. His sunken
cheeks looked bloodless. But one long-fingered hand moved at random
over his skinny breast.
The other man could no longer indulge in a gold-toothed smile.
Nose, mouth and chin had been flatly smashed. Blood seeped over his
chin. But he was still breathing heavily.
From one of the wings came a crackling, tearing sound. The plane
staggered and fell off. It was temporarily out of control with a
flapping aileron. Monk shifted the side sticks to compensate for the
Monk saw the plane had dropped nearly two miles in its dive into
the turmoil of the explosion. All possibility of gliding to a landing
field was removed.
Ten thousand feet below loomed the green expanse of Central Park.
But now, only the greenery of the trees was showing. Monk had hoped
there might be space enough on one of the lawns to land the plane.
All these areas were black, packed with terrified humanity.
Monk could mark the sea of white, upturned faces. To attempt a
landing would kill and injure many persons.
AS packed mobs sometimes will, the thousands now in Central Park
saw doom rushing downward and remained motionless. It was the
individual thought, also as crowd madness, that death would hit only
the other fellow.
Monk set the stabilizer device on the controls. This could not
compensate for the damaged wing. The plane started a slow, circling
The two unconscious men were wearing seat-pack parachutes. In a
cabin rack were two other 'chutes.
Monk did not hesitate. Before he slipped into the harness of the
air life preserver, he lifted the limp form of the gold-toothed man.
Pushing him through the door, Monk ripped the man's 'chute as he sent
him hurtling into space.
Five seconds later, Monk muttered, "I done all I could--"
The parachute of the monster whose hand had rocked Manhattan had
only halfway blossomed. Some of its cords had tangled. The small
umbrella only partly checked the descent of the body, then it was
torn apart by the rushing wind.
Var's aide, probably his chief lieutenant, fell nearly two miles.
The body struck the cornice of a skyscraper. Dismembered, every
possible identifying feature of the man was lost.
Nor was there about his clothing any mark or papers by which he
might have been traced.
The plane continued its crazy circling, as Monk pulled back beside
the slight figure of the scraggly little man.
"Dag-gone it!" muttered the big chemist. "I wouldn't wanta see
that happen again!"
Once more, he tried the controls. The whirling motion had
disrupted the plane's tail assembly. The elevator was tightly
The packed vista of Central Park was rushing upward. Monk made a
quick, determined effort. He let go of the controls when he had made
sure the plane would crash among some of the trees, well away from
the densely packed crowds.
With a growl, he caught up the light figure of the scraggly man.
The ground was still nearly a mile below. A strong wind had whipped
up following the explosion.
Monk stepped off into space. The light little man was in his huge
arms. Their bodies cleared the gyrating plane by only scant
MONK was somersaulting, but his head was clear. One thick finger
hooked into the little man's parachute ring. He ripped the pack. The
'chute spread. As it checked their momentum, Monk let go his hold. He
feared their combined weight might tear the umbrella apart.
He pulled his own ring when he was still two thousand feet up. The
'chute billowed and danced under his weight. Caught by the wind, it
drifted rapidly south.
With some satisfaction, Monk saw he would fall below Central Park.
He was dropping toward the Seventh Avenue hotel section around
Fiftieth Street. Just before a flat roof offered the best chance of
landing safely, Monk could see small, blue-coated figures rushing
along the avenue.
Then it came to him that he was falling from the plane that had
brought madness, destruction and death to Manhattan.
"Dag-gone it!" he mumbled. "Now I'm in for it!"
His feet struck the roof of a hotel some three blocks from Central
Park only a few seconds after the Cold Light plane tore itself to
fragments in a treetop. As Monk regained his balance and struggled
out of the 'chute harness, all of the hundreds who could reach the
spot were tearing away the loose parts of the Cold Light plane.
When police arrived on the scene, the Cold Light-ray gun had
Monk made for the nearest skylight and pried it open. It had been
locked, but lock, bolt and all the fastenings came loose in his
ponderous grasp. They might as well have been made of
papier-mâché. Monk was in a hurry.
He slid down the steep stairs leading to the roof. Numerous brawny
arms of the law were waiting to receive him.
Regardless of Monk's protests of innocence, they took him to
headquarters on suspicion of being connected with the Cold Light.
Chapter 14. A GIRL SEEKS SCRAGGS
AS the Red Arrow passenger plane winged over in the first mad
hurricane of the explosion, the dozen passengers were pitched from
their seats. All except the seemingly cool and imperturbable man of
Doc Savage had set his cablelike tendons for the shock. His
fingers were locked in the back of his seat.
Doc saw the pilot had been conked. The co-pilot was a limp bundle
under his own wheel in the control room.
The motors threatened to tear themselves loose from their
The pilot had been flying low. That is, rather low over the
sky-piercing masses of Manhattan. Doc had a glimpse of thrusting
towers. The superb heights of the Radio City buildings glittered
near. They were dangerously close.
Even under this stress, the bronze man's eyes of flaky gold got
camera flashes. He was seeking reactions of those closest to him.
His bony legs thrust out as braces, Vonier, the explorer, was
calmly seeking to prevent himself from being tossed about with the
other passengers. And across his skeleton-hard mouth lay a faint
The financier, Carberry, was jammed between another man and the
roof of the cabin. The roof was now under their feet. Blood oozed
from a cut in Carberry's forehead.
The man's countenance looked as if every drop of life fluid
already had drained through that single gash over one eye. The scared
chalky pallor had been replaced by the grayness usually seen only on
the face of a corpse.
Carberry did not seem to be breathing.
THE man lying beside Carberry was evidently a traveling salesman.
For he still clutched a sample case by its handle. He was very much
alive. His free hand clawed for some new support, as the plane winged
completely over for the second time.
With this new somersault, Doc saw the towers of Radio City rushing
upward. A bare thousand feet more and the Red Arrow ship would be
split into fragments over one of the edges of the cornices.
The bronze man's movement toward the control cabin was neither a
leap nor a hurried swinging of his body. Everything within the big
plane was topsy-turvy. The stricken passengers were huddled lumps
either of inert flesh and clothing, or squirming bodies seeking some
relief from the pain of many hurts.
The man of golden bronze glided through and over all of these. The
motors were threatening to shake the fuselage to bits. Upside down
though it was, Doc performed the feat of getting into the pilot's
Gripping the control wheel with one hand, he got the safety belt
around him. The pilot had not been using it. His copilot had been
hooked into his own. His raglike body still clung there.
Now the earth, or the tangled, menacing part of it that was
Manhattan, was for the moment the bronze man's sky. As he took the
controls, the air of the explosion rushed back. The propellers bit
into the atmosphere as if it were a swiftly flowing stream.
Looping a passenger plane, even with the combined power of its
motors, is among the unrecorded feats of the world's greatest pilots.
But the Red Arrow ship had succeeded in winging over on its back.
Doc played the controls with hands as strong and sensitive as
those of some master pianist. The motors had more than full power
now. The ship was a leaf apparently in the rushing wind from the Cold
DOC started the nose climbing into that turbulent river of air.
The wings screamed. It almost seemed as if no human agency could have
constructed materials capable of resisting the tearing strain.
But the bronze man put the plane up and over. Bumps and groans
rolled from the passenger cabin. Those still conscious suddenly found
their positions reversed. The floor once more was under their
With the plane upright, Doc was forced to throw the ship into a
bank that almost stalled its motors. Even Vonier's eyes flickered
then. One wing tip had come so close it appeared to brush the sharp
corner of the tallest Radio City tower.
Doc leveled off. The plane was shooting directly toward another
clifflike skyscraper. The distance was only a matter of yards.
Similar masses of gleaming granite and glass hedged the ship in on
two other sides.
Doc saw he was trapped. No human hand could ever pilot a plane
over these heights. There was no space in which to circle in even the
sharpest stalling bank.
Only parts of seconds separated the Red Arrow craft and all in it
from crashing head-on into one or the other of the buildings. The
speed was terrific. There could be but one answer to that.
Doc's golden eyes flashed downward. This was well within the area
that had been deserted. Some scattered débris from wrecked
buildings had fallen to the streets.
Doc was thankful this was Manhattan. In almost any other city
there would have been interlacing wires, phone and power poles. Here
there were none.
The spread of the big plane was so nearly the width of the Street
that the wing tips grazed the buildings on either side. Doc, without
apparent anxiety, without a tremor of those bronzed, sure hands, was
coolly flying the Red Arrow ship along a street.
Doc had no time to think about what street it might be. The signs
flew past in a blur. He saw only that a wider space loomed ahead.
The nearest open space was the widening triangle of Broadway and
Seventh Avenue between Forty-third and Forty-seventh Streets.
Doc depressed the elevators suddenly. The nose whipped up. The big
plane seemed almost to hang suspended by only the power of its
motors. The wide wings were flat against a vertical wall of air.
THE Red Arrow ship dropped. Its landing wheels were in the exact
middle of Broadway. One wing tip was over a sidewalk. The plane shot
forward. A deserted bus had been left standing in the middle of the
street, just before the explosion.
On one side reared the curved, cave-like entrance to a subway
station. Between the bus and this obstacle, the wings were trapped.
One wing struck the bus and half of it was sheared off. The cabined
fuselage skidded on one side.
Those of the nearest crowds behind the police lines were breaking
through. Ambulances and police squad cars that had been held in
readiness before the explosion racketed into a combined screaming of
Doc was out of the control room of the plane. Lifting a woman in
his arms, he carried her to the door. The metal frame had jammed. Two
men were frantically trying to pry it loose. The door was
Without releasing the burden of the woman, Doc's cabled hand
closed on a metal part where the glass was broken out. The tendons of
the arms stood out like whipcords. Metal crunched and ground. The two
men gasped as the door twisted out of its frame.
Vonier was just behind Doc. He was carrying the limp figure of
Carberry. The financier's eyes opened. He moaned and tried to stand.
Supported by the explorer, he succeeded.
Vonier was looking directly at Doc. The bronze man was making his
third trip from inside the plane. Two police doctors were working
over the victims.
"It's a miracle!" said one of the medical men. "Nothing but shock,
concussion, three with minor fractures and bruises."
Some ten minutes elapsed before all were out and the medical men
were ready to start three patients to the hospital. Doc stood flexing
his muscles. Not a mark, bruise or scratch marred the smooth bronze
skin. He was glancing around the circle of faces of those who had
been in the plane.
Suddenly, the voice that had startled all in the plane, that had
put a whole city in terror, spoke:
"Doc Savage--my power has been proved! The world is in my hands!
Stop before it is too late! You and your friends will be the next to
go! One of my own aides is close beside you! I am--Var!"
The financier, Carberry, gave a great convulsive gasp. Vonier
uttered a low, short oath. He and Carberry were darting sharp glances
at the others who had been in the plane.
THE man who had been carrying a salesman's kit grew suddenly pale.
His eyes were widening upon Doc. The bronze man's lips had not moved.
His flaky, golden eyes now were turned upon this man. They were
hypnotic orbs, that seemed for an instant to hold the man.
Then Doc moved slowly toward him.
Doc had simply applied his ventriloquistic talent. So adept was he
in this especial ability that none would ever have known the latest
voice of Var had issued from his own motionless lips.
The voice had been thin, strident, but clear. It might have come
from any spot within a fifty-foot radius. But upon that one man who
knew of only one source from which the real voice of Var might be
summoned, there was the immediate palsy of fear.
Doc was beginning to believe that the voice also fell with dire
significance upon the startled ears of another man within the
passenger group. Because of this second theory, he permitted the
salesman passenger to recover enough to begin edging back through the
The bronze man's eyes again were upon Vonier. The explorer was
smiling, but his lips were drawn back from the skeleton teeth.
"Pretty good," he murmured. "In fact, almost perfect, Doc Savage.
I wonder if the doctors have finished with the others, if one would
have a look at my arm? I think it's broken in two places."
Doc was forced to admire the man's stoical calm. His left arm was
not only broken, but in one place a sharp splinter of bone had been
pushed through the skin.
Doc shifted his eyes back to the salesman. He saw only his back.
The man was getting away. Doc took one step.
A girl's anxious voice inquired suddenly, "I'm looking for a
passenger named Scraggs? He was to have arrived on the Red Arrow
plane at nine o'clock. Have any of you seen him? He is a little man,
wearing very old clothes. His hair is long and kind of ragged."
DOC pivoted slowly. He was instantly struck by the woman's
clear-cut beauty. Her face was as perfect as an etching, as a carved
cameo. Perhaps it was her apprehension for the safety of the man she
sought. Her voice was edged by a sharp, metallic quality.
The pilot had recovered consciousness.
"We had such a man booked, miss," he said. "He went down with us
on the Washington flight, but I guess he missed the plane coming
back. He had his seat reserved, but at the last minute another man
came with a note and took it. Maybe he knows; he's that--"
The pilot to whom Doc Savage had amply repaid the favor extended
to him on the Washington flight, gave a quick look at his grounded
"Why, I guess he's gone," added the pilot. "He looked like a
salesman. He was here a minute ago."
This clicked with Doc. He was sure the pseudo salesman had been
the medium of bringing Var's voice into the plane. Now it was
indicated he had been in the seat reserved by the man called
The bronze man pondered deeply. Who, then, really was Var? And who
was the woman whose voice had murmured in accompaniment to the first
manifestation of Var's ghostly tones on the New Jersey highway?
"Oh, then he must still be in Washington!" the girl breathed.
Then, unexpectedly, she looked at the bronze man and said, "You're
the famous Doc Savage, aren't you?"
Did the girl's wide-spaced eyes express fear or were they merely
widened in wondering awe at being brought in contact with the world
famed adventurer? It was difficult to judge.
Doc quickly decided she was a rare combination. The girl had
unusual beauty. Her quick glance was one of keen discernment. Not
often had the bronze man been thus studied and measured by a
In the brief space of seconds, this girl had weighed him. Her
brows contracted in a little frown. The bronze man read in her clear
eyes what might have been either a great grief or a lurking fear.
Doc inclined his head and replied, "I am Doc Savage."
At that, the young woman turned, as if she had lingered too long.
Her slender figure, cloaked in a coat of light blue seemed to melt
into the crowd. Vonier and Carberry, watching Doc, scarcely detected
the movement which took him from their view.
One second, the girl and Doc were there. The next, both had
DOC had suddenly determined the loose and puzzling end of the Var
mystery lay with the little man Scraggs. He did not think the strange
girl believed Scraggs still to be in Washington. She would know where
to seek him next.
The girl's forward progress seemed impeded by the pressing of the
crowd. The bronze man suffered no such impediment. His lithe body
passed through the river of humanity without the touching of any
The girl disappeared around a corner. Doc stepped aside to the
curb to evade a packed group of chattering bystanders.
"You have something to explain, Mr. Savage!" rapped a commanding
voice. "One of your men was in the plane of that blasting devil up
there! We've got him! The commissioner wants to talk to you!"
Several hundred policemen in uniform, and others in plain clothes,
were in Broadway and adjoining streets. They had been called in from
outside precincts to serve as explosion guards. Four of these blocked
The force held Doc Savage and his men in the greatest respect.
These men were respectful. But their manner showed firm intention to
carry out the order they said they had been given.
Doc considered quickly. Had it been Ham recaptured, or had it been
Monk in the Cold Light plane?
Before he had time to question, the four policemen, guns pressed
to his sides, were indicating he should get into a closed squad car
standing near by. Doc made no protest.
The bronze man was quick to sense a deception. These men were not
policemen. But he decided the command to attempt the trick must have
come directly from the controller of the Cold Light.
Being taken to Var would be much more important than following a
will-o'-the-wisp trail of the girl in blue.
The bogus squad car jerked ahead. Then quick hands closed the
curtains. Revolvers were jammed viciously into Doc's sides.
"Step on it, Smoke!" one of the men snarled.
Chapter 15. THE MAGNETIC WALL
A SHORT time before the crash, Long Tom had been working at
headquarters, as directed by Doc. Multiple coils, amplifiers,
condensers, compact generators and other electrical appliances were
Before the Cold Light blast had struck, Long Tom had believed
Doc's experiment was on the verge of success. At this time, Renny had
been with the electrical wizard.
Long Tom grinned up at him. His face was jubilant.
"We've got it!" he exclaimed. "Doc's ideas always work! Now why
couldn't I have thought out this one myself?"
Renny grunted. He knew all about his own profession--engineering.
But Long Tom's gadgets always filled him with suspicion, until he saw
them in operation.
"Now watch this!" Long Tom directed.
THE box the electrical expert had created was covered with a
variety of indicator needles. It was about one foot square, but
barely three inches thick. It was packed with amplifying coils and
Long Tom's own special generators of diminutive size.
When he threw a switch, there was a whirring sound. But there was
no visible ray.
"Holy cow!" grunted Renny. "How would I know anything about
something I can't see?"
It was true. The ray or emanation from one side of the box was
But Long Tom knew the electromagnetic ray had been created. It was
more than a mere ray. It spread invisibly in the shape of a mammoth
fan. At the distance of a few yards, it became a wall extending from
floor to ceiling of the laboratory.
Renny grunted several times in the following few minutes. It was
his way of displaying appreciation. For he saw the ex-neutralizer cut
off in turn the violet ray, the X ray and a dozen other such
The interruption of a high-frequency current was disastrous. A
polished globe exploded and rained fragments among the retorts and
tubes of fragile glass. A fuse went out, and for a few seconds the
laboratory was in darkness.
"Take it easy, Long Tom," advised Renny. "Maybe this thing will
kick back on you."
"It's absolutely harmless!" insisted Long Tom. "Wouldn't hurt a
With the lights on, he again turned on the ex-neutralizer. He
directed it as a dividing wall across the laboratory.
There were two rats in a cage. On these Monk had been testing the
effectiveness of certain anaesthetic, but non-injurious,
The invisible electromagnetic wall was projected toward the cage.
Without special intent, Long Tom shifted the box.
"Holy cow!" grunted Renny. "Now you've done it! Wouldn't hurt a
The rats didn't even squeal. Both dropped as if bullets had been
imbedded in their scanty brains. When Renny reached the cage, they
were still and dead.
"Don't let that thing touch me!" cautioned Renny, hastily. "The
rats went out like a light!"
"Now what could have done that?" muttered Long Tom.
His homely face registered deep gloom. His tone indicated he would
have liked to put responsibility elsewhere. But it was his job. In
some uncanny fashion, the ex-neutralizer had become a death ray.
Long Tom set to work with frantic haste. He wished heartily that
Doc were here to advise him. In a few minutes, he believed he had
found the flaw, and remedied it. But just then, he had no further
opportunity for proving his theory.
Renny was glancing at his watch. He went through the door to the
window of the outer office.
"Nine o'clock, Long Tom!" he called. "If there's to be fireworks,
they're due right now! Holy cow--"
His words were snatched away by the reverberating blast.
"Good gosh!" exclaimed Long Tom. "There's the Red Arrow plane! Doc
was coming back on it!"
The pair saw the Cold Light ray, steely-blue in color, seeming to
cut through the big passenger plane. Renny seized a pair of the
electronic binoculars. His breath hissed from his big chest, as the
Red Arrow ship winged over and over like a leaf in a cyclone.
Immediately after the crash of the plane, Renny and Long Tom had
sought to trace Doc Savage. Contact with the police proved to them
the bronze man had apparently been duped and taken prisoner.
They also learned that Monk had been aboard the Cold Light plane
and had been taken by the police. In the meantime, another man also
was trailing Doc's captors.
THE little man known as Scraggs, who had escaped with Monk, was
running along a street on the East Side.
Scraggs's progress was much like that of a fleeing rat. His thin
body slithered through holes where there didn't seem room for a man
to pass. His frayed hat was pulled low.
Scraggs was abruptly halted. It was the girl in the bright blue
"Oh, it's you!" she exclaimed. "I was at the plane that fell! You
weren't there! I started for the old houseboat hangar! You said you'd
meet me and that--"
Her words tumbled out. Scraggs pushed off her detaining hand.
"Go back to the house in the woods!" his thin voice commanded
stridently. "I haven't time to explain! You'll have to wait for me
"But, Scraggs, I saw Doc Savage!" the girl insisted. "We've got to
do something quick! We've--"
Scraggs interrupted impatiently, already moving away.
"I know more about that than you do!" his thin voice rasped. "And
that's what I'm on my way to do!"
The girl remained motionless for a long minute after Scraggs had
disappeared. Her perfectly chiseled features were as set as a marble
mask. The paleness of either deep despair or implacable purpose only
enhanced the cameolike beauty of her face.
DOC SAVAGE had hoped the police trick, on the part of the crooks,
would lead him straight to the man known as Var. Even after the car
curtains were drawn, Doc permitted his captors to think he had been
Doc knew nothing of the man Scraggs having witnessed his departure
from the wrecked Red Arrow plane. Nor did he know of Scraggs having
been in the Cold Light plane and having been saved by Monk.
From Scraggs's dash toward East River, the little man evidently
knew more of Doc's destination than the bronze man himself could have
But the bronze man's thought was that this was the quickest and
surest way to come face to face with the Cold Light destroyer.
Doc's conjecture was roughly shattered. The car was jouncing along
a water-front street on East River. Without any warning, one of the
guns was whipped from his side.
The weapon crashed on his skull with stunning effect. Fighting
back a swimming black cloud, Doc felt his arms gripped to his sides.
A hoodlike affair was pulled swiftly over his head.
Under ordinary conditions, the bronze man had defeated the purpose
of assailants who sought to administer an anaesthetic. His ability to
hold his breath was that of the longest-winded pearl diver of the
South Seas. Some of these divers had been known to remain under water
for periods of three to four minutes.
Only half conscious, suffocated by the sack over his head as well
as by the etherizing vapor clouding his throat and nostrils, Doc lost
all knowledge of what was transpiring.
AS he slowly recovered, the bronze man had no means of knowing how
many hours had elapsed. He was only sure the day had passed. The pall
of night was relieved by twinkling stars he could see through a
Under Doc, the floor quivered, jerked. Thunder beat upon his ears.
His first effort to move convinced him a thorough job of tying had
Rawhide thongs had been expertly bound, not only around his arms
and legs, but another had been passed around his throat. This had
been secured by spikes or staples to the floor, or to a wooden
The long, coffinlike space in which he lay was moving. Up and
down. Speeding ahead. The dipping motion was sickening.
Doc knew instantly he was in an airplane.
There was no pilot at the controls. Twisting his head with great
effort, Doc could see no other person in the cabin. He was alone. A
side roll of the plane revealed rows of long white wave tops not so
The bronze man was hurtling out to sea on a one-man flight. But no
other man controlled the plane and Doc had been rendered
Chapter 16. THE DIVE OF DEATH
DOC attempted to roll over. The rawhide thong around his neck cut
off his breath. So rigidly were his arms and legs bound with many
wrappings, the bronze man could obtain no leverage against the
He tensed his throat muscles and put his weight against the
rawhide. This prevented the cord choking him, but his weight was
Now he could see the lights of the plane's instrument board. He
saw that his fate had been made cleverly, fiendishly sure. The plane
was controlled by an automatic radio device. But in this plane the
alternative hand controls had been removed. Only the special
mechanism which operated the small cabin ship on waves of sound, was
The monster Var had taken no chances. Even were Doc Savage by some
of his almost supernatural powers able to free himself, no means had
been left for controlling the ultimate destiny of the plane now far
out over the ocean.
The plane suddenly dipped in a breath-taking dive. But it only
swooped down close to the surface and then zoomed for altitude. Doc
put all the strength of his neck against the binding thong. It would
Even in this terrible predicament, Doc was thinking back. There
was this Scraggs. Furtive, elusive, ratlike Scraggs. Afraid of being
identified with his own efforts. Scraggs had acted at first as if he
was trying to avert the explosions of the Cold Light, to stop the
evil workings of the mysterious Var.
Doc pondered another item. Who was this girl seeking Scraggs? When
Var's voice had first been heard, a feminine voice had murmured with
it. Circumstances, as yet, had led to no definite conclusion.
Doc could almost feel the landing gear of the plane slapped by the
tops of the ocean swells, as the little ship dived again. The rawhide
thong was slowly lessening his freedom to breathe.
Up again. Higher this time. Doc had been awaiting the moment when
the plane would be sent farther up. He could almost see the brain
reasoning out the finish. For the last dive, the Var operator,
perhaps Var himself, would cause the plane to take on more
This would make certain the disrupting effect of the final drop.
If Doc's throat muscles had not been held as rigidly as a bar of
iron, the drying rawhide would have throttled him before this
The plane was still climbing. Doc's super-sense put every nerve on
the alert. Slowly, he forced his head over. The bronze skin rasped
from his neck as he turned. He was looking into the shadowed space at
the rear of the coffin-like cabin.
From the darkness a voice spoke. It was thin and strident.
"I guess you've had enough to know Var is ruthless! He will stop
What seemed to be a bundle of disreputable, unkempt clothing
rolled into view and stretched into a skinny, little man.
IT was Scraggs. In the semidarkness of the plane's cabin, his eyes
glowed like a cat's.
Doc eyed him closely. Scraggs had a pointed knife in his hand. It
moved toward Doc's throat. The bronze man was helpless.
But the furtive, elusive Scraggs had only good intent in this
movement. The edged knife slit the tightening rawhide thong at Doc's
throat. The plane still was climbing.
The knife slid down along the other bindings. Doc stretched his
cramped arms and legs, got to his feet.
"Thanks," he said. "That's a good turn I'll not forget. But how
did you happen to be here?"
Scraggs's tongue licked along his bloodless lips.
"I overheard what had been planned when you returned to Manhattan.
There were too many for me to try to rescue you. I beat them to the
plane and hid in the cabin. I thought I could get you out before it
was sent off, but now--well, now there ain't anything we can do."
Scraggs's explanation sounded sincere. Anyway, it was clear the
furtive little man was in the same tight spot as Doc.
The nose of the plane suddenly dipped. The struts screamed in a
full-powered dive. Doc pushed Scraggs ahead of him. He forced open
the door of the plane against the terrific pressure of the wind.
"Jump from the door!" commanded Doc. "You will have to hurry!"
"But I can't! We'll be killed! No! No!"
Scraggs pulled away. Plainly, he feared the plunge into the open
sea. Doc's strong hand gripped his shoulder and the little man
winced. He was powerless to resist the viselike hold.
Then the plane suddenly leveled off. The swells were again so
close, the white teeth of the combers could be seen plainly.
Doc let go of Scraggs and sprang to the radio mechanism. His
corded hands fastened on the machinery. With one wrench, he had
ripped the controls loose. Wires snapped under his super-human
strength. Ailerons flapped. The tail assembly jerked loose, erratic
With crumpling, devastating force, the ripping propeller smashed
into the sea. The plane's tail, went up and the little ship went far
under the surface in its final dive of death.
Chapter 17. SCRAGGS JOINS DOC
Doc could easily have freed himself. His enormous lung capacity
made him as nearly an amphibian as it is possible for any man to be.
As the plane cracked up and sank, Doc had absorbed enough air to keep
him alive for several minutes.
Instead of pulling himself out he let go his supporting hold.
Scraggs's first scream died in a gasping gurgle. Doc groped his way
to the confined space where the little man was trapped. Gripping
fingers fastened on a bony ankle.
Fortunately, the amount of air in Doc's lungs increased his own
buoyancy. Pulling Scraggs's shoulders into a scissors hold of his
locked legs, the bronze man used his hands to drive them toward the
Even Doc's tremendous lung capacity was tested. When his head
emerged, the first long breath pierced him like many tiny knives. He
rolled, treading. Scraggs was shifted over one arm.
From the bronze man's clothing came a special restorative
chemical. Doc's trained hands forced the water from Scraggs's lungs.
A tiny needle pierced the little man's muscles near his spine.
With briny water slapping and stinging his eyes and nostrils, the
little man gasped and started kicking. Doc turned him on his back.
Perhaps one man in a million could have fixed direction as the bronze
man accomplished it.
Lying too low in the sea to glimpse the lights of shore, Doc
simply made a quick study of the stars. He fixed the position of the
Great Dipper. This lined with the North Star. Doc rolled and
commenced swimming shoreward with the moaning Scraggs.
One hand held the little man. The other arm and his legs beat the
swells with churning impact. Doc's progress was much like that of the
porpoise. To gain speed, his mighty body plunged under some of the
The distance may have been two miles or five. Doc's tireless limbs
moved with the speed of motor-driven pistons. Even so, nearly an hour
elapsed before he was pulling Scraggs from the frothing wash onto a
landing of flat rocks.
Scraggs's thin body was draped with clinging kelp. The weeds gave
the little man the appearance of some drowned sea animal. Doc worked
him back to consciousness again.
STRANGE combinations were forming theories. Scraggs's appearance.
The Cold Light of the explosion and the blast itself, with the queer
coloring of aquamarine. The few words, in the plane, of the explorer,
Vonier, and the financier, Carberry, over some of their theories.
All of these seemed to trend to the sea. They touched upon the
mysteries of the vast, little-known life of the oceans themselves. In
the analytical brain of Doc Savage, they became a directly separable
The greatest source of life lay in the sea. Therefore, why not the
most terrible forces of destruction?
Scraggs began talking in a hoarse, strained voice:
"Who--who saved us?" he stammered. "Who--who got us out?"
"We had luck," Doc stated. "The tide was with us."
Scraggs sat up, staring at him. The man's eyes glowed with a hint
of phosphorescent light. It was this made him resemble a cat in the
Doc's own flaky eyes also were glowing. He shot a question.
"You're safe now. Who is Var?"
Scraggs cringed as if he had been struck a blow. His thin lips
"I--I can't tell you that," he mumbled. "Because I don't know.
I've never seen him. Yes, you believe I've been working for him. I
have, but never directly."
The little man clearly was on guard. There was something he did
not intend to reveal. The bronze man's hypnotic eyes held the sunken
orbs of the other.
"No!" the little man almost shouted. "You're trying to make me
tell something I don't know! I never saw Var, I tell you! But he
murdered my best friend--the scientist, Jackson--and I was his
There now was sincere grief in Scraggs's voice.
"Jackson was the man killed in the first explosion?" the bronze
man suggested. "Before he could talk over the telephone? You put a
message in my pocket, then I conjecture you went back to the house in
Scraggs stared at Doc.
"No--yes, I did go back," he said. "I saw Jackson killed. I
couldn't stand it. I ran away. I didn't dare be found there. Jackson
was the best and kindest and smartest man that ever lived! He was
inventing this explosive for the man who called himself Var."
"DIDN'T Var come to the house in the marsh?" questioned Doc.
"Yes; but only at night, and I was never permitted to see him,"
insisted Scraggs. "I knew some experiments were planned. Jackson told
me where one test was to be made. That was one in the woods near
Carberry's home in Little Neck. That's how I happened to be out
"The message indicated Jackson was afraid," Doc said.
Doc knew part of what Scraggs was telling must be the truth, but
only part of it.
"Yes," said Scraggs. "At the last, Jackson was afraid. The chief
kept him a prisoner in the house. There was no way out, except by the
one road and it was guarded."
"Var seems to have many men," said Doc. "They are not ordinary
"No--I don't know--well, yes, you are right," stammered the little
man. "Var has a big organization. All of his men are smart. Jackson
told me Var had first planned to use his explosive for establishment
of a new social justice."
"Jackson told you all of this?"
"Yes, yes, he told me!" exclaimed Scraggs. "I'm being honest with
you. Jackson sent me with the message to find you. It was too late.
Var's plans were complete. He had no more use for Jackson."
"You want to avenge the death of your friend and employer, is that
it?" said Doc.
"Yes, that's it," replied Scraggs. "I've tried to help you all I
could. Can't you see--I even hid in the plane to try and rescue you;
then we were both trapped and you saved me--"
"Are you sure there wasn't some way to have controlled that plane
without the radio, some way that you knew?" Doc quizzed.
"No; I expected to get you out before the plane was sent off East
DOC pondered this quickly. Had Scraggs a reason of his own for
wanting to appear as the bronze man's rescuer? It might be a part of
Var's plan to establish a closer contact with Doc's movements.
Scraggs suddenly interrupted his flow of thought.
"But I want to have your help," Scraggs said. "I'll go with you
and your men. I know much I can tell you. There are several places
you would never find alone. I'll help you, if you'll let me stay with
Doc considered this a moment, without speaking. Then Scraggs
seemed to recall something important.
"Doc Savage!" he cried. "While you have been here, some of your
own men may have been wiped out! I've heard of a new plan of Var's.
He intends to get your men in your headquarters, maybe blow up the
Scraggs was trembling. There was evidence of desperate sincerity
in his warning.
"You can come with me," the bronze man decided. "We will find an
At about this time, Ham was arriving by a White Liner plane at the
Chapter 18. HAM GETS POISON
HE was his usually natty-appearing self, as he alighted from the
passenger plane. The waspish, well-clothed figure took on a hasty
stride. He pushed impatiently into the crowd awaiting arrival of
"I might have known I wouldn't have any luck!" he muttered.
Scraggs had not been aboard the White Liner. Ham believed the man
he wanted would be on the Red Arrow.
The excited comment of those around him and screaming headlines
informed Ham the Manhattan explosion had taken place on schedule. Ham
seized a paper as he entered the limousine used by the air transport
company to carry passengers back and forth between Manhattan and the
Reading avidly, he groaned.
"Good heavens!" he grunted. "It can't be possible! Not Doc!"
The edition of the newspaper he had bought had been issued within
a few minutes after the Manhattan blast. This story had it the Red
Arrow plane had crashed against a building in Radio City.
Ham felt for his handkerchief. A small box was in the pocket. The
box had been slipped into his coat either on the plane or in the
airport terminal buildings.
Across the box were printed a few words:
I TAKE THIS MEANS OF GETTING THIS STRANGE POISON GAS TO DOC
SAVAGE. WHEN PLACED IN WATER, THESE PILLS FREE ENOUGH POISON VAPOR TO
KILL HUNDREDS. I BELIEVE ONLY DOC SAVAGE CAN ANALYZE AND DISCOVER
THEIR FORMULA. WHEN HE HAS DONE THIS, HE CAN COMMUNICATE WITH ME AT
BOX 1131, QUEENS POST OFFICE.
Ham opened the box. It contained four round pills, about the size
of small marbles. These were of jellylike substance.
Ham carefully replaced the poison gas pills.
But more recent editions of the newspapers in Manhattan caused Ham
to forget the pills of poison gas. He read that Doc had saved the Red
Arrow plane. But his jubilation was short-lived.
For the papers had reported the manner of Doc's disappearance. The
police were futilely searching for four phony coppers in a bogus
squad car. Monk had been freed by the police and had joined his
companions at Doc's headquarters. Ham hastened directly there.
MONK and Ham might have been expected to congratulate each other
on their separate escapes from Var's clutches.
Ham's mouth twisted into a sneering grin, as he looked at the big
"So they got one look at that classic profile of yours in the
explosion plane," said Ham, "and then they jumped out. Well, that mug
must have been a shock!"
"Howlin' calamities!" squealed out Monk's high-pitched voice. "An'
it takes a smart shyster like you to get me conked when all I'm doin'
is tryin' to save your worthless skin! Tellin' me to quit on that
roof! Sayin' you're just practicin'!"
Monk referred to the encounter on the Washington roof where Ham
had heeded Doc's instructions and stopped the battle with Var's
"What's the latest news of Doc?" inquired Ham, anxiously, of Long
Tom and Renny.
"That's just our trouble," grunted the worried Renny. "There isn't
any. Nothin' to start on or get a hold on. Do you suppose we'd be
coolin' our heels here, if we had a lead? We've been hoping every
minute the police would report something to start us off."
"So the fake police car went up in thin air?" mused Ham, aloud.
"Went toward East River?"
"Yeah," said Long Tom, "but the river patrol hasn't reported a
The day's shadows lengthened. Toward night, a much subdued and
unusually timid Broadway was flashing its first lights.
"I've got it! I've found it!" Long Tom suddenly proclaimed.
"Found what?" groaned Renny. "A way to discover where Doc's gone?
That's all I want to know right now!"
"Well, no," admitted Long Tom gloomily. "Nothing like that. But
his electromagnetic wall is O. K. I've fixed it so it wouldn't harm a
"You said that before," complained Renny. "An' look what happened
to Monk's rats."
"Aw, rats!" muttered Long Tom. Then he brightened visibly. "That's
the idea," he added. "Monk, how about getting us some more rats?"
Grumbling that something might happen, Monk finally agreed and
THE three companions left in the laboratory made a concerted
spring for the front office when the phone buzzed. Ham picked up the
Thinly, stridently, a voice started speaking:
"We have Doc Savage! You will never see him again! To-morrow, the
afternoon Washington-New York express train will be next to feel the
power of Var! Tell Ham, the lawyer, he must go back to Washington! If
Ham goes to Washington and follows instructions, the train will be
saved! I am--Var!"
With a bitter invective, Ham jiggled the receiver bar. A half
minute later, he replaced the instrument.
"The operator says it's a dial phone in a public booth somewhere
and can't be traced," he informed the others. "Brothers, we're faced
by a situation that seems to be beyond our control. Only one thing:
the voice didn't say Doc had been killed. And if he hasn't, we'll see
him again and it won't be long."
Monk came back, bringing two rats in a wire cage. They were
common, gray rodents.
Monk set the cage at one end of the long, spacious laboratory. He
joined Renny and Ham at one side, watching Long Tom.
"Now," said Long Tom, "the Hertzian ray already has been perfected
to the point where it will kill electrical force at a great distance.
It can be used to stop airplanes in the air. But this is the first
electromagnetic force to neutralize any other electrical ray."
Long Tom moved a switch. Generators whirred in the square, flat
box. The ex-neutralizer wall formed an invisible partition across the
"Dag-gone it!" squeaked Monk. "Even if they was rats, y'
needn't've murdered 'em! I was wantin' 'em to try out a new kind of
Long Tom stared mournfully at the wire cage upon which the
ex-neutralizer was directed.
The pair of gray sewer rats had rolled on their backs. Their legs
were rigid. They hadn't even kicked.
"Holy cow!" barked Renny. "See that you keep that thing turned off
the rest of us!"
LONG TOM'S hand was moving to switch off the ex-neutralizer. Monk
started over to examine the rats. The apelike chemist jumped back as
if he had been stung.
"Howlin' calamities!" he ejaculated. "Wouldja look at that! Keep
that death machine on, Long Tom! Keep it on!"
A mysterious, deadly ray of Cold Light sliced through the thick
stone and steel of the Manhattan skyscraper as a knife might have
passed through soft cheese. It penetrated half of the laboratory.
Seen close up, it was like an edged, flat band of bright blue
steel. Long Tom backed hastily toward the open office door. Thus the
box in his hand cast a fanlike ray that covered every inch of the
test room from floor to ceiling.
"It works! By heavens, it works!" he shouted.
The skins of every one prickled with the sensation of cold.
But the deadly, explosive Cold Light did not reach its objective,
whatever it might have been.
Its frigid band reached Long Tom's invisible electromagnetic wall.
There it was abruptly cut off. The magnetic insulation converted half
the laboratory into an impregnable refuge. Ham, Monk and Renny were
within this haven.
For a long minute, the Cold Light remained fixed into the room. In
the streets below thousands of persons saw it shining across the
Crowds scurried for shelter.
Then the Cold Light disappeared. A traffic policeman had fixed its
origin in a near-by skyscraper. Within ten minutes squads of
policemen were scouring this building. But they found nothing.
The Cold Light then was being reported from farther uptown. In
reality, it had come from several miles. Its penetrating ray had
pierced scores of office buildings, mostly emptied for the night.
Nothing had interfered with its progress until it had encountered
Doc's electromagnetic wall.
The four men felt as if they were freezing. The Cold Light had
vanished, but the temperature of the room rose slowly.
Monk found chattering speech. The ex-neutralizer had been switched
"Lookit!" he shouted. "The rats! They've come back to life!"
WITH Long Tom's ex-neutralizer turned off, the gray rats were
frisking about as if they had never been laid cold.
"Dag-gone it!" squeaked Monk. "That's nothin' but a hypnotizin'
machine! Long Tom, you try it on me! Betcha it won't knock me
Ham laughed derisively.
"Hypnotism takes effect on the brain, Monk. That wouldn't be much
use as a test," he suggested. "Rats have got some brains."
"Howlin' calamities!" squeaked out Monk. "Maybe you think that
shyster brain of yours would help!"
"I suggest we test it together," remarked Ham. "Suppose we both
walk through it?"
Long Tom demurred. But the rats apparently were wholly unharmed.
He figured he could switch the electromagnetic wall off, if the two
bickering friends showed any evidence of succumbing.
Again, the invisible wall partitioned the laboratory. Long Tom
directed it deliberately upon the rats' cage. The rodents blinked
their beady eyes and promptly curled up their toes.
Side by side, Ham and Monk walked around the long table filled
with globes, retorts and a variety of tubes. Monk edged a little
ahead. Part of his great bulk was in the invisible wall.
Ham's own waspish body was touching it.
"Don't feel a thing," asserted Monk, and moved across. "C'mon,
shyster. You scared?"
Renny and Long Tom had their eyes fixed on Ham and Monk. The
latter two were looking at each other, keeping up a fire of sarcastic
conversation. Thus none of them saw the Cold Light ray suddenly
The blue-steel band knifed through the skyscraper wall. Monk's big
hands went to his face. He was almost blinded by chilling cold. Ham,
seeing something was wrong, reached for him. His own body had not yet
crossed the protective ex-neutralizer.
The door opening into the outer office burst open.
From the doorway came the weird, mellow warning of Doc Savage.
THE bronze man was standing there. His wet hair and skin were
smooth and sleek. Just back of him stood the sodden figure of
"Stay where you are, all of you!" Doc commanded.
His flaky gold eyes caught and followed the shifting Cold Light.
He saw it dissolve in the electromagnetic wall.
Long Tom moved to flick off the ex-neutralizer switch. Doc seized
Long Tom's wrist.
"Leave it on," he directed. "Wait until the Cold Light stops. It
would get all of us!"
Monk staggered back to the safe side of the electromagnetic wall.
His huge body shook as with an ague. He felt as if he were
Monk's bulk struck Ham and sent the slighter figure of the lawyer
to his knees.
"You big, blundering ape!" sputtered Ham. "Look where you're
"I think Monk just saved our lives," Doc said, calmly.
Scraggs's mouth twitched, as he stared at the Cold Light ray.
"It didn't explode," he muttered, amazedly. "But I was right, Doc
Savage. You see, I was telling you the truth."
Ham walked toward him. "You were in that house in Washington. You
know what all this is about."
"I'm not so sure Scraggs does know all about the Cold Light ray,"
said the bronze man. "Perhaps he helped to save your life. If you had
crossed the ex-neutralizer, all of us would have been
Chapter 19. PLOTTED POISONING
AGAIN, the Cold Light had been withdrawn. For the second time
during the evening, the police were unsuccessfully seeking its
source. It had been directed upon Doc Savage's stronghold from a new
Doc directed Long Tom to set about duplicating the ex-neutralizer
at once. Scraggs watched silently. The bronze man apparently ignored
him, but he was studying the little man's reactions closely.
"We'll probably need as many machines as we can get together," he
advised. "At least, we'll need two to try and save the express train
you've told me about."
Ham had told Doc of the threat against the train, but had made it
a point to keep Scraggs from hearing. Now Scraggs looked up with
"You know about the train?" he exclaimed.
Ham looked intently at Scraggs.
"Perhaps, Doc, if Scraggs stays with us there won't be any need to
save the express," he said, significantly.
"It wouldn't make any difference," Scraggs muttered. "But if you
could prevent an explosion here, you could do it there."
"That's what we hope to do," Doc stated.
Doc produced a thin book from inside his shirt. Fingers flicked
through the pages.
Monk could see the riffled pages. The little book was illustrated
by brightly colored plates. Monk grunted and peered more closely.
"Dag-gone it!" he exclaimed. "I've seen somethin' like that
Doc glanced at him quickly.
"Sure of that, Monk? When did you see it?"
"Can't seem to remember where or when I saw it, Doc, but I know I
The book's illustration was a picture of marine life. It was done
in intense blue. The figure shown was apparently half human, half
crab. Gold letters gave the name of the author.
The writer was Vonier, the explorer.
Clearly, Vonier had had good reason for his admiration for and his
disagreement with Carberry, the financier, over a treatise Carberry
had written. For Carberry's one plunge into science had dealt with
the cellular origin of the human species.
Such a study must necessarily lead to the established origin of
all life; that of the sea.
THE phone rang. It was Vonier, calling from a booth in the
building lobby. Doc invited him to come up at once. If Vonier
recognized Scraggs, his impassive face gave no hint. But Doc marked
Scraggs staring intently at the explorer.
Vonier's arm was neatly bandaged in a sling. His bony face was as
calm as ever. He announced he believed an attempt had been made on
"When I reached my home and went into my office," he explained,
quickly, "I found these in my desk top. I couldn't have missed
He produced two jellylike globules, no larger than marbles.
"A note was with them," Vonier said. "It was signed just, 'A
Friend.' It directed me to analyze them for a mysterious poison, and
said the pills possessed a rare form of germs that could be employed
to pollute the whole water supply of a great city."
Ham was staring at the man. Scraggs arose and walked nervously
about the laboratory.
"The note said they contained germs to be released in water?" Ham
questioned. "Then the first thing you probably would do would be to
put one of the balls in water to see what would happen. Then why
Doc said, "Perhaps that was what was wanted, Vonier. To have you
place them in water."
"I thought of that," remarked Vonier, dryly. "That's why I came to
you. You are reported to be a wizard on the safe analysis of any form
Ham took his own "poison pills" from his pocket. He laid them on
the desk. Then he produced the note he had received. Doc read it at a
Vonier's lips were drawn in a smile over his skeleton teeth.
"I would say the whole thing's the work of our good friend Var,"
he stated. "I've heard the Cold Light ray has been jumping about
again to-night. Something has gone wrong. There has been no
explosion. So Var seems out to get us by a more devious device."
Doc said, "I'll analyze these pills." He glanced at the nervous
Scraggs. "In the meantime, I'll place them in the laboratory safe
where I keep my radium. Even poison gas can't escape from that."
This safe, heavily insulated with lead and a special rubberlike
composition, contained Doc's radium. It was one of the largest
amounts in the world in the possession of a single individual.
SCRAGGS watched the pills being locked away. His eyes glowed as if
a sudden idea had struck him.
"I'm going out for a while," he said. "When I return, I may have
something important to tell you, Doc Savage."
Doc merely nodded. Ham's face was dark with suspicion, as Scraggs
sidled toward the elevators.
Doc apparently gave the matter no further attention. He turned to
"Did any one of your household observe any suspicious person?"
"No," said Vonier. "Only the Japanese houseman was there. Mrs.
Vonier has gone to our house on the shore. I'm convinced this Var
means business. You are more of a threat to him than I am, Savage,
but I haven't the slightest intention of complying with his demand
that I join his organization."
Another phone call came from the skyscraper lobby. It was the
hoarse, strained voice of Carberry, the financier.
"In heaven's name, let me come up and stay with you to-night!"
came the excited voice. "I don't believe Var intends to wait
forty-eight hours. He has learned I was in Washington. Now there has
been an attempt to poison me!"
Doc's flaky golden eyes glinted strangely.
"Come right up, Carberry," he invited.
He told the others what Carberry had said. Vonier seemed about to
impart something more of importance, then he merely said, "I think
perhaps when you get to the bottom of this Cold Light thing, you'll
find yourself mixed up with some of the mysteries of our little known
Monk gulped, started to speak, and changed his mind. It had come
to him where he had seen the picture of the half-crab and half-human
creature. It had been one of those done in oil on the walls of the
room where he had fought Wheeze McGovern's men!
Doc had slipped Vonier's book on marine life into a drawer of his
CARBERRY was a shaking figure when he entered. His protruding eyes
appeared ready to jump from their sockets. The bald spot between his
white tufts of hair had a ghastly hue.
"What? You here, too, Vonier?" were his first words. "I'm glad to
see you're safe! I was afraid to stay out at my home, and I don't
dare risk being trailed to where my wife is hidden!"
"You said an attempt was made to poison you?" suggested Doc. "It
would be some sort of pill?"
"How in heaven's name did you know that?" exclaimed Carberry,
producing a little box.
"Holy cow!" grunted Renny. "They're different! Look like sugar
"Yes--yes--that's it--and that's where they were!" stammered the
financier. "In the sugar! A houseboy got hold of one. The butler
found him dead. He had turned purple. After the butler went through
the sugar and found these, I thought you could find out more quickly,
Savage, what they are."
There were two square cubes. Though they were white and shaped
like sugar, a close inspection proved them to be less granular. There
was a smooth crust hardened over a jellylike substance.
In a few seconds, the new poison pills were behind the thick,
insulated door of the laboratory safe.
Long Tom came in, announcing he had the second ex-neutralizer
ready. Doc invited Vonier and Carberry to witness a demonstration on
several different electrical rays.
"Could one of them be made for me, Savage?" questioned Carberry.
"I'll let you name your own price if--"
Doc interrupted. "We never accept pay for what we do, Carberry.
But you're welcome to any safeguard we can devise. I would suggest
both you and Vonier remain here to-night. You shall sleep between
invisible walls of the ex-neutralizer."
DURING the night, Doc Savage perfected a plan for saving the
Washington-New York express from the Cold Light threat. In the early
morning, Long Tom and Renny left the headquarters. They were carrying
the ex-neutralizer boxes. Their destination was the Hudson River
hangar where Doc's planes were kept.
Ham and Monk were on their way to the warehouse hangar by a
different route. Doc Savage followed another direction.
Carberry had left with Vonier, saying he would stay with the
explorer during the day.
"Daylight braces me up," the financier announced. "But when night
comes, I begin to get the jitters. And my forty-eight hours are up
to-night," he added.
"We'll be back late this afternoon," said Doc. "Meet us here again
Though Carberry seemed to have some doubt as to Vonier, it was
apparent he did not want to be alone.
Doc had not informed either the explorer or the financier of their
destination. After communicating with the railroad offices, Doc had
advised that the Washington-New York express be allowed to come
through on schedule. He had suggested, however, that a regular train
for passengers be run as a second section.
Only the necessary crew was to be carried on the first
Doc was at the controls of the plane. Long Tom was making sure the
ex-neutralizers were in perfect order. If the warning from Var had
been genuine, and none thus far had failed, the Washington-New York
express would have one invisible passenger.
The name would be Death!
ABOUT the moment Doc's special cabin plane was taking off from the
Hudson River, a window was softly raised high in the tower of
Manhattan's tallest cloud-piercer.
The afternoon had seen the advent of a slow, drizzling rain. It
had misted over the city with the usual smoky fog. No person in the
street below could have seen the slender rope swaying from the high
Nor did any person observe the slim, shadowy figure coming down.
The man was light, his body almost wraithlike. Though supported only
by his hands, he swung out over space with a confidence of movement
which proved he was accustomed to great heights.
The man's feet poised lightly on the ledge of an eighty-sixth
floor window. A blunt instrument appeared in one hand. The glass
crashed inward to the rug without much sound.
An instant later, the intruder had raised the sash and admitted
In the office, he produced a case of small instruments. The locked
laboratory door yielded to a control electroscope like that used by
Doc Savage and his men.
From his clothing came a flat, metal case. A button was pressed
and a tongue of purple flame was reflected. This flame increased in
The insulated laboratory safe was not burglarproof. The insulating
composition and the lead were relatively soft materials. After two
minutes, a square opening appeared under the flame.
The intruder chuckled. Again the purple flame licked out. But this
time, it did not seem to be of a destructive nature. Rather, the cut
square of the safe door had been replaced.
The flame curled over the surface. The figure emitted another
ironic chuckle. The square was being "healed" into place.
Afterward, an observing eye might have noted the rewelding of the
crevices, but the average person, would not have known the wall of
the vault had been tampered with.
Shortly thereafter, the outside door of Doc's headquarters opened.
A man came out and took the stairway upward. From the window a few
floors above, the thin rope was drawn in. The window was closed.
The "poison pills" were no longer in the vault. They were close to
a water faucet in the laboratory. Perhaps it was only by chance that
a faulty valve caused dropping water to dampen the surface of the
metal on which the "poison pills" had been laid.
Chapter 20. THE WALLS OF LIFE
EVEN while the mysterious visitor was in his laboratory, Doc
Savage was piloting a cabin plane over the eastern Pennsylvania
hills. He was following a train to set the plane down. He selected a
flat field where a paved highway paralleled the railroad track.
Apparently a worried engineer had been expecting them, for the air
brakes started steel grating on steel as Doc and his four companions
appeared on the track ahead. The youthful fireman's eyes rolled as
Doc's bronze figure swung up on the grabiron into the cab.
"You get up front," Doc told Long Tom and Monk. "One on each side
of the pilot. It's a ticklish spot for riding, but we'll want every
possible inch of the train covered by the ex-neutralizers. Turn on
the machines and keep the rays playing. They're effective for at
least a thousand yards; perhaps more. Renny and Ham and I will take
the rear end."
Monk growled and grunted as he clung to a pilot standard with one
arm and worked the ex-neutralizer wall.
"I'll betcha," he squealed above the rush of the wind and the
pounding of piston heads, "that fashion-plate shyster has found
himself a soft seat on the cushions!"
"You keep that box working!" shouted Long Tom. "And slant it
The invisible walls formed two magnetic shields, as the
Washington-New York Express gathered speed.
Instructing Ham to continue a patrol through the coaches, Doc took
Renny with him to the observation platform on the rear car. He had
judged the Cold Light, if and when it came, would have to be directed
from an airplane or from some automobile on the highway.
In case the danger came from above, Long Tom had been instructed
to swing to the locomotive stack and cover the top of the train. This
feat Long Tom was ready to perform.
By Doc's instructions, the engineer kept the train to the low
speed of around thirty miles per hour. Renny and Doc on the
observation platform were scanning every passing auto and every
distant plane in the sky.
The cars of the express poured into a shallow grade cut. It roared
out onto a long straightaway. Half a dozen cars were in view on the
Making sure his own special grenades--a powerful chemical
explosive--were at hand, Doc scanned each of these cars in turn.
Nothing out of the ordinary showed for some time.
WHEN the Cold Light ray flashed on, it came from a distance. The
edged band, blue-steel in color, was striking across the country from
a wooded spot nearly two miles away.
The knifelike emanation played along the sides of the speeding
cars. Doc breathed with relief.
For when the ray struck the invisible wall of the ex-neutralizer
on that side, it seemed to waver, then dissolve.
But a big closed car between the train and the wooded spot was not
so fortunate. The driver of this automobile was speeding. His car was
passing the train.
The Cold Light played upon the driver. It seemed to jump along
with the automobile. Doc saw the driver stiffen in his seat.
Then the man reared up, took his hands from the steering wheel and
clawed blindly at his face. He pitched forward, his head striking the
The automobile left the highway. Careening down the bank, it
somersaulted twice and came to rest on flattened wheels. Two men were
The first person to reach the scene of the crash reported, to the
unbelief of others, that the driver and his companions seemed to have
been frozen stiff. Three were dead. The other was seriously hurt.
The bronze man waited neither for the slowing of the train or for
inspection of the wrecked car. Dropping to the ground, Doc's feet
seemed to glide along the gravel. He was upright when he let go, and
landed on his feet with a single bound over the right-of-way
Renny followed. His huge body lacked the springy resiliency of the
Renny failed to compensate for the speed of the train. His big
feet tangled. With an enraged bellow, he started rolling. It was well
his muscles were iron-hard and his neck was thick-sinewed.
After the third somersault, Renny managed to stagger to his feet.
He was close behind Doc.
Following orders, the train proceeded on its way. Ham, Monk and
Long Tom stuck by it. Monk saw Doc and Renny speeding across the
near-by field over the highway.
There seemed to be no side road leading from the wooded spot to
the main highway. Doc noted the square mile or so of bushy expanse
appeared to have no visible outlet. Renny was forced to give all he
had to keep up with the bronze man.
Doc did not seem to run. His speed was evolved from a gliding,
sinuous movement in which all of his trained muscles coordinated. In
even the crisis of this seeking of the maker of Cold Light, Doc's
brain was working on other angles of the problem.
Monk had informed him of his recognition of the illustration in
the Vonier book on marine species. In Vonier's well-done treatise on
little known elements of the deeper oceans were many direct
references to as yet undiscovered atomic energy greater than anything
the world's leading scientists had revealed.
Doc could readily understand how Vonier might be valuable indeed
to Var. The man who, according to Scraggs, had started out with the
idea of reforming world society and now wanted world domination,
might well find an individual of Vonier's erudition immensely
valuable to his further schemes.
Var also might fear Vonier possessed a knowledge that would enable
him to solve the mystery of the Cold Light force.
Doc considered this point. How much did Vonier really know of the
elements that might have gone into the creation of Cold Light as a
The bronze man also pondered the actions of the mysterious
Scraggs. The presence of Vonier, or something connected with the
failure of the Cold Light to explode in the laboratory, had caused
the little man to invent an excuse to get away. Doc was sure of
Then there was the girl in blue who had been seeking Scraggs at
the wrecked Red Arrow plane. There had been a woman close to Var, as
he had uttered his message after the first of his explosions.
Each of the suspects had a woman closely related to him or his
THE bronze man and Renny arrived at the fringe of woodland.
They paused a moment, listening. Birds trilled in the brush as if
nothing had been there to disturb them.
The strip of woods was about a quarter of a mile in width. Its
extent in the other direction could only be guessed.
"You take the other side," directed Doc. "Keep under cover of the
trees and move quietly. If you run onto anything, fire the
Doc was gone, slithering through the bushes. His progress was that
of a jungle cat or a deer.
Renny's woodcraft was not nearly so skillful. Doc heard the huge
engineer crashing into the brush.
Doc weaved from side to side. His swiftness covered half the
wooded strip thoroughly. Under the trees the ground was damp and
Only a keen eye would have detected the dull coppery shining of a
bit of metal at the bottom of a shallow pond. Doc scooped up the
It was a narrow cylinder of brass. It much resembled some form of
cartridge, open at one end. It seemed to have contained a sort of
explosive powder and had been recently fired.
The empty shell bore no imprint of hammer pin. If it had been
exploded, the force had been other than by impact. He instantly
decided the cartridge had contained some element employed in the Cold
The mystery of this was heightened by the absence of any
footprints or marks around the edges of the little pond.
Doc's gaze roved upward. A freshly broken leaf dangled on its
stem. Bark had been slightly scraped on a branch. The stunted trees
here were close together.
It was plain enough some acrobatic individual had swung along from
tree to tree. A second later, Doc was in the branches.
A few yards above the ground, he followed a trail in the trees
that led toward the other side of the woods. Pausing, he listened for
Renny. There was only silence.
Renny must be near. He called cautiously. He received no
WHEN Renny parted from Doc, he proceeded to the opposite side of
the wooded strip. The air was balmy. The whole scene was peaceful.
Renny plunged into the trees. Underbrush impeded his progress.
He had covered perhaps two hundred yards. Birds hushed into
silence close around him, but when he paused the distant ones resumed
their trilling. Apparently, nothing had disturbed them.
Suddenly this was changed. Renny came upon a robin on the ground.
The red-breasted bird was hopping about aimlessly. Sometimes it fell
When Renny pursued, the robin seemed not to see or hear him.
A half-grown rabbit lay on its back kicking. The little creature
appeared to be recovering from a blow. Renny picked it up. The body
The rabbit had been almost frozen.
Recalling the effect of the Cold Light in the laboratory, Renny
was instantly on guard. Still no sound or movement disturbed the
bush. Renny pushed through a tangle of berry bushes.
Directly in his face, an icy wall sprung up. The Cold Light ray
filtered through trees as if they did not exist. Renny was bathed in
an icy chill. The effect was much the same as liquid air.
The engineer had seen no one. He had heard no movement.
Instinctively, he attempted to draw his supermachine pistol. His
fingers clawed stiffly. His arms were almost instantly numbed.
Renny tried to shout. His throat was constricted. His tongue was
powerless to utter a sound. The engineer was the first person upon
whom the Cold Light had been directly played.
Renny felt as if his whole body were being frozen. But he tried to
struggle onward. He went to his hands and knees. He crawled
Blurred figures came from the bush around him. Tape was slapped
over his mouth and eyes. Thongs enwrapped his arms and legs. His
stiff form was lifted and carried to an automobile.
Warmth returned to Renny. This was a warm wave. Renewed
circulation brought tingling pain all over his body. Much the same as
when frostbite is being relieved too quickly.
The automobile jounced and jumped over the rough road.
"Why didn't we wait and grab Doc Savage himself?" growled one
harsh voice. "With him at liberty, anything might happen!"
A hoarse voice, strangely familiar, replied curtly.
"Keep your advice, Smoke! He's being saved for the big blow-off!
The world may suspect, but none will ever be able to prove what
became of this so-called invincible bronze man!"
Renny strained at his bindings. The effort availed nothing.
PERHAPS five minutes later, Doc Savage came upon the spot where
Renny had been seized. Tracks of the auto ran out to the highway. By
this time, there were many cars moving.
The man of bronze whipped back to the spot where he and his men
had landed their plane before boarding the train. Trailing the car in
which Renny was a prisoner was impossible. But Doc was convinced he
could quickly gain a lead to the place where Renny would be
Chapter 21. THE WOMAN IN IT
DOC SAVAGE had instructed Monk, Ham and Long Tom to join him at
the Hudson River hangar, when they arrived back in New York. The man
of bronze planned to visit the penthouse apartment where Monk had
first been held prisoner.
He had his own reason for delaying this visit until nightfall.
Likewise, the bronze man wished his companions to remain away from
the skyscraper headquarters. For this, he offered no explanation.
Vonier and Carberry had said they would not return until darkness.
Vonier had not yet imparted his own theory of the Cold Light.
Leaving his companions at the Hudson River hangar, the bronze man
vanished. During the late afternoon, he was engaged in visiting
various real estate offices handling properties on Manhattan's East
He was especially interested in the block destroyed by the Cold
Light explosion. Darkness was falling over the city when Doc returned
to the hangar.
And the coming of night was bringing another moving angle of the
mysterious Cold Light.
THIS new angle revolved around an isolated house, buried deep in a
wooded section of Long Island.
The furnishing of this obscure house was exotic. A raftered room
with a high ceiling had heavy window drapes tightly drawn.
A woman sat in this room. Her features were flawless, of chiseled
perfection. But the face lacked any warmth. Grayish-green eyes were
like bright agate. A mask of a face. It might have been cast of
plaster of Paris. The mouth was a pallid curve of bitterness. When
she spoke, the name was hissed.
"Doc Savage! The luck of the devil's with him! The luck of Satan's
own imps! I should have used a knife in a crowd, as I suggested!"
She drew a thin, stiletto blade from a silver sheath in the bosom
of her dress. The blade was needle-pointed.
Somewhere in the back of the house was the tinkle of silver and
dishes. A soft-footed servant was moving about.
The woman walked with a sinuous movement to one of the heavily
draped windows. She pulled aside the corded cloth.
Overhead, the sky was speckled with coldly winking stars. The calm
peace of the night apparently stirred her to tigerish fury.
"The fool!" she said, venomously. "We're not safe until this Doc
Savage is put out of the way!"
She moved back to one of the chairs.
"He had the greatest power in the world and he can't get one man,"
she said in a low, brittle tone. "And now what is he doing? Since the
first night, I haven't been in on any of it!"
She crossed the room and pulled a silken cord. Two dark-skinned
men appeared from a rear room.
"Tako," the woman said, commandingly, "I want you and Scov to find
your master at once! Try the river place, and if he isn't there he
may be in the uptown apartment. You are to bring him here to me.
"I understand," said the man addressed. "And if he doesn't want to
The woman smiled, but it only made her mouth harder.
"You will bring him to me," she repeated, softly. "I will wait no
The two men withdrew.
Sparks glinted in the woman's grayish-green eyes.
"After all," she mused aloud, "the creator of the killing ray is
dead. He can never come back. Our supply is almost inexhaustible. The
secret of its origin is lost forever."
A GLASS clinked in another room. The woman arose and closed a pair
of heavy double doors. She turned a key in the great brass lock.
Crossing the room, she came to an alcove containing a case of
books. It appeared to have been built solidly into the structure of
The woman glanced at the draped window. She touched a light switch
and all but a single, dim eye faded out.
The woman moved one book. The bookcase swung silently outward.
Back of it appeared a solid steel door. She whirled the knob of a
A little light showed in the vaulted space behind the door. This
was high enough to admit the woman's figure.
There were a dozen piled cases. Each was about a foot long, and
possibly four inches in width and depth. They were like small caskets
of a dull, lusterless metal. Each casket was fastened with screwed
The woman's long fingers sought one of the clamps. She swiftly
unscrewed the casket fastening. The lid lifted. Under the raised top
she could see the contents of the little casket. She lifted it. The
weight did not appear to be great. Not as if the queerly devised
boxes contained jewels or other treasure.
Yet the movement of the woman's hands was almost caressing.
For perhaps two minutes, the woman stood motionless. Her lips
moved without sound. Whatever her ruthless purpose, it no doubt
involved the contents of the dull metal caskets.
As she stood thus, she could not see the key in the ponderous
brass lock of the double doors. This key was turning slowly. In the
room at the rear of the house had sounded a muffled blow. It had been
followed by a sighing moan.
The key was being turned so slowly from the other side of the
door, its movement was almost imperceptible. But, as it caught the
tumblers of the brass lock, there was a sharp click.
Without waiting to screw down the clamp of the small casket, the
woman sprang back into the room. The double doors were swinging back
on silent hinges.
In the aperture appeared a moonlike face. The small mouth was
merely a hole above a thick, double chin.
"You!" gasped the woman. "What's happened? What are you doing
WHEEZE MCGOVERN leered at the woman. His darting eyes had
confirmed his belief. She was alone. His gaze fell upon the open door
of the steel vault.
"Perfect! Better--siss--than I'd hoped for!" he wheezed. "Now just
The woman was transfixed for an instant.
"Where--where is Var?" she stammered. "Why--"
"Sent me to get 'em!" cut in Wheeze. "An' I see--siss--you were
"No! No!" The woman gave a little gasp. "You're lying! Var--"
Her slim hand pushed at the vault door. It was heavy. Two other
men crowded the door behind Wheeze. He rolled his fat body across the
room with incredible speed.
One of the woman's hands was caught and squeezed in the door she
fought to close. Wheeze McGovern's pudgy fist struck her under one
shell-like ear. The blow staggered her.
But with a furious hissing breath, she flung herself upon the
stout figure of Var's aide. Curved fingers clawed at his face. The
nails welted a bloody track across its moon-shaped surface.
"I know what you're after!" the woman screamed. "I'd been
expecting it to happen! Others have brains, if Var hasn't! But you'll
never get them!"
Wheeze snarled, and caught the woman's neck in a twist of his
heavy arm. Disregarding her clawing fingers, he forced her body to
"You listen to me--siss--an' maybe we can get together on this!"
he wheezed. "With the stuff we've got, we can have millions!"
The woman was breathing rapidly. Her eyes widened.
"Yes! I'd thought of that!" she said.
One hand was sneaking to the bosom of her dress.
"What would you do with them?" she added. "What do you think could
Wheeze McGovern laughed softly.
"What? Collect millions!" he gloated. "Why, I'd make the big boys
pay plenty! The time's ripe to collect!"
He had relaxed his hold on the woman. She came to her feet with
the quickness of a cat. There was a silvery, flashing glitter in her
For all of his apparently clumsy weight, Wheeze leaped aside with
agile speed. He ripped out an oath as the stiletto pierced the cloth
of his coat and ripped a furrow along the flesh of his arm.
"Why, you--siss--hellcat!" he grunted. "If you'd been only halfway
He was chopping out the words, even as his fingers closed on the
woman's throat. His strength bent her downward and backward. He
twisted the stiletto from her hand with a brutal force that cracked a
bone in the woman's slender wrist.
She tried to scream, but the grip on her throat was inexorable.
The face of chiseled marble turned slowly a greenish hue. Wheeze
threw her limp body to one side.
"Take her, Smoke!" ordered Wheeze. "An' tie her up plenty!"
He pushed into the vault. He rapped out a command to another man.
Wheeze's hands trembled a little, as he started passing out the small
caskets. Then he came to the last one.
This was the dull metal box the woman had partly opened. The lid
was up a few inches in the screw clamp. Wheeze gazed at the contents
of the casket.
"Not a bad idea," he muttered. "Might as well leave it like it
WHEN all the caskets were in the car standing in the driveway
outside, Wheeze re-entered. The woman's slim body lay in the cool,
green depths of a seaweed rug.
With her hands tightly secured and her ankles lashed to a heavy,
shell-like chair, the woman was powerless to move. Across her mouth
tape had been fixed.
"Not that it matters," grunted Wheeze. "Won't anybody be comin'
along this forsaken road. Nobody but Var would have the idea, and
that won't mean anything."
The woman's bosom was heaving convulsively. Her eyelids fluttered
open. In the gray-green depths of her orbs glowed killing hate.
Wheeze shivered and looked away.
Then he smiled a little. He went into the big vault. When he came
out, he had made sure the lid of the one casket remained open. He
left the heavy steel door slightly ajar. As he went out, he pushed a
The oddly furnished room was plunged in darkness.
In the darkness, the bound woman was staring at the partly open
door of the vault. None could see the terror that had replaced all
WHEEZE MCGOVERN'S closely curtained sedan swung onto the main,
paved highway about a mile from the house hidden in the woods. For
persons leaving the scene of a crime, the occupants of the car seemed
in no great haste.
Once the car speeded up, Wheeze laid his hand on the driver's
"There isn't any grand rush," he cautioned. "Nobody's chasin' us,
and this is one of the times--siss--we don't want to be picked up by
any speed cop. Take it easy."
The car proceeded at a sedate pace. It was a mile up the concrete
from the side road to the house in the woods. Two or three cars had
passed in the opposite direction. A couple had sped by toward the
city, where myriad lights were reflected in the sky.
Another car, with weak headlights, appeared, meeting the sedan.
The face of this driver was white and strained. The car was a
roadster, old and almost paintless. The man was driving fast.
In the darkness, Wheeze and his men could not distinguish the
face. If they had, their controlled speed toward the city might have
The driver of the roadster was the furtive, mysterious
Though Wheeze McGovern had not guessed the identity of the man in
the roadster, it was apparent Scraggs had recognized the other car. A
short distance down the road the little car squealed to a stop.
Turning, Scraggs was perhaps half a mile from the sedan. His foot
pressed the gas and he sped toward it.
It being early evening, traffic from the city showed a dozen
dancing headlights at the same time. Three other cars passed Wheeze
while Scraggs's car was creeping up behind the sedan.
The driver of one of these cars also slowed down. Only a minute
later, a big car whizzed by both Scraggs and the sedan, coming from
Out of the night, from the midst of the blazing headlights,
another light suddenly appeared. It was blue and cold: the Cold
Light. The happenings of the succeeding moments were so fast, an
observer would have had no time to fix details in mind.
Only it seemed the Cold Light had been directed at Wheeze
McGovern's big car. The blue-steel ray must have missed, for the
sedan abruptly spurted ahead.
The long beam of the Cold Light shifted from the highway. The
sender undoubtedly was seeking to pick out Wheeze. The knifelike ray
laid a silver pathway that could have been seen for miles. But for
only a second. Perhaps only a fraction of that.
The Cold Light picked out the wooded area from which Wheeze and
his men had lately emerged.
The following roaring explosion had the might of an unleashed
volcanic crater. Vivid blue flame rushed through the trees toward the
highway. An excavation the width of the East River was being ripped
across the formerly peaceful countryside.
For miles, the earth rocked and trembled.
THE suction of the tremendous blast was so great that a dozen cars
were caught in the fury of the air stream. They slid from the
highway, catapulting into the ditches. Two automobiles were deposited
up in the edge of the field through which the lurid blue blaze had
The Cold Light was flicked off. Instantly, the tumult and fury of
the main explosion died. Only the reverberations and echoes
At the scene of the apparent origin of the tearing explosion, when
the first State police arrived, was only an immense crater. Here the
woods and all the surrounding territory had been gouged out to great
depths. An area of more than ten acres was a deep excavation.
Not a stick or even the splinter of a tree remained. It was as if
the house, with its exotically furnished living room, had never
Though the Cold Light had deliberately sought out the sedan of
Wheeze McGovern, the car had escaped its direct force. Other cars
near by had hurtled from the highway.
Even before the tearing chaos of the explosion had begun to die
down, globules of sweat were popping from Wheeze McGovern's forehead.
His double chin trembled and shook.
"It--siss--got her! Step--siss--on it! No, wait!"
Ahead of the sedan, a closed car had turned over in the ditch. A
woman was crawling from a window. She was screaming. Blood ran from a
cut on her forehead. One arm dangled.
Wheeze sprang from the car. The woman moaned.
"Oh, my son! Please, my son's down in there!"
Wheeze got down and pulled the inert figure of a boy from the
crashed auto. The youth was undoubtedly past all human aid. Wheeze
opened the rear door of the sedan and got the body inside.
Then he helped the woman get in. He followed.
"Now you can--siss--step on it plenty!" he wheezed.
The sedan whirled cityward. The speed crept up past seventy miles
an hour. Two motor cycle cops flagged the car down.
"All hell's busted loose back there!" rapped Wheeze. "Maybe a
dozen people killed! We're getting this woman and the boy to a
The coppers saw five respectable-looking citizens. The woman with
the bloody face was an argument.
"Right!" assented one of the cops. "Hope you make it in time!"
The motor cycles sped on toward the scene of the explosion.
The policemen did not know when they passed a furtive figure
behind the fence over in a field. They did see a paintless roadster
upended on its nose.
The little man known as Scraggs crouched close to the yawning gash
of the Cold Light explosion. His luminous eyes glowed with hatred.
His tongue licked his thin lips with seeming satisfaction, as he
looked toward the place where the house had been.
Chapter 22. SHADOW OF DEATH
DOC SAVAGE used a plane to arrive at the scene of the latest Cold
Light explosion. He instructed his companions to be on their guard
and await his return to the hangar, before going to headquarters.
Havoc wrought by the new blast was such as to have destroyed any
further lead to the mysterious Var. A Long Islander divulged the
information that a woman with a number of servants had occupied the
The woman had been there only a short time. The house had been
privately built. Several hours' check-up would be necessary to
discover its owner.
Doc judged the Cold Light ray had been projected from an
automobile. The word of frightened witnesses bore out this
The bronze man spent no more time here. He was convinced that a
woman had died.
Returning to the Hudson River hangar, Doc announced, "We'll go
first to headquarters, then have a look at that penthouse west of
Central Park where Monk was imprisoned. Var's men might not use it
again, but there are some things there I should examine. We will take
the ex-neutralizers with us."
Reaching the skyscraper headquarters, the four men ascended in the
private, high-speed elevator.
In the foggy street behind them, a tall shadow moved from a
doorway. The man's hat was pulled low. His eyes burned in the
Waiting until Doc and his companions had vanished, the man drew
out a cigarette case. Gently, he tapped the smoke on the silver box.
He was watching the window of a tall building only a block away.
Other windows in the row on that floor were lighted. This one was
distinguishable by its darkness. But in its square, back space glowed
for an instant a tiny light. It was as if a man had just lighted a
The man in the street was computing the time required for one of
the regular skyscraper elevators to reach the eighty-sixth floor.
Unfamiliar with Doc's own speedy, private cage, the man had loitered
in the building lobby for some time previously. He had made a careful
check on the elevator indicators. He was sure he had the lifts timed
to the second.
A full minute passed, then seven seconds more. The man flicked on
his cigarette lighter. He swung it in three small circles past his
face. Then he stepped back into a doorway and applied the flame to
his own smoke.
His next movement was fast. With a bound, he crossed the pavement
and entered a low-slung car. The gears screamed protest. The driver
took the first corner recklessly. The car gathered speed. A red
traffic light loomed ahead.
The driver disregarded the signal, shooting across between a car
and a truck. He heard a policeman's whistle, but he only smiled. For
he had timed everything to make sure he would be at a sufficient
distance. By the time the angered traffic cop overtook him, if he
did, he was sure the policeman would have something else to take his
DOC and his men were a good three minutes ahead of the furtive
man's carefully plotted schedule when they reached the eighty-sixth
The outer door leading into the reception room opened. Doc stepped
inside. The bronze man's eyes went to the broken window. His
calculation and reaction was lightning fast.
Doc glided to the inner door leading to the laboratory. The door
Doc was carrying one of the ex-neutralizers. His hands moved with
incredible speed. The electromagnetic ray laid its wall across one
side of the big room.
"Cover the other side, Long Tom," he directed. "We are about to
entertain the Cold Light ray again."
Before he had finished speaking, the Cold Light had sliced the
laboratory. The blue-steel ray cut through the thick wall of the
building as if it were a fog bank.
"Howlin' calamities!" grunted Monk. "That fella Var don't seem to
know when to quit!"
But the Cold Light was effectively blocked by the ex-neutralizer
wall spreading its invisible fan from Doc's hands. Against this
strange electromagnetic force it wavered and dissolved. It played
with weird effects across the retorts and polished spheres of the
chemical and electrical equipment.
"Hold it," said Doc, calmly. "Here, Monk, take the box. We've had
a visitor while we were gone. If he had been able to replace that
broken window, I fear, brothers, we now would have joined the long
list of Var's victims."
While the Cold Light still played futilely against the invisible
wall, Doc strode across the laboratory. His eyes searched among the
clutter of tubes and glasses on the laboratory tables.
"Not anywhere here," he stated. "Keep the ex-neutralizers at work,
even after the Cold Light leaves. He might think to surprise us and
flash it back."
Doc's surmise was correct. The Cold Light vanished. It was gone
for a minute. The bronze man continued his search. Finally he shook
"We've had a visitor," he said slowly. "But he doesn't seem to
have left a calling card."
The Cold Light came back for a second visit. Its play was briefer
this time. Then it was switched off. Doc directed the ex-neutralizers
be set to protect the laboratory while they armed themselves.
HAM walked over to the laboratory sink. Immediately, he called out
to the others.
"Quick! Get out before the water hits these things!"
He was scooping up the four globular "poison pills" and the two
cubelike ones. The dampened area from the dropping water was within
an inch of touching the first of these. Ham had no doubt but that a
trap of deadly gas had been set for all of them.
"Our visitor had it figured too closely," said Ham. "In another
few minutes, the place would have been full of the gas, if that's
what these things are intended to do. We arrived just a little ahead
of the killer's schedule. Say! Scraggs knew where you put the poison
Doc looked at the white pellets lying in Ham's palm.
"Yes," said Doc. "Vonier and Carberry also knew. The Cold Light
might have been a diversion to keep our minds elsewhere. I'll take
those pills, Ham. We must find Renny."
Doc's assured manner informed his men he had arrived at some
definite conclusion which he was not yet ready to divulge.
Long Tom was bending in front of the leaden safe. His nervous,
long fingers were rubbing across the door.
"Used the torch on this to get them out," he remarked. "Neat a job
as I ever saw."
Doc wrapped the pills in a silk handkerchief and placed them in
DOC SAVAGE'S intention to investigate the penthouse where Monk had
whipped a robot might have been a great relief to Renny, if he could
have known of it. For Renny was conscious when he was carried up a
stairway. His eyes and mouth were taped, but sound and his sense of
direction informed him he was near Central Park.
Renny had counted floors while on an elevator.
"Holy cow!" he grunted. "You wouldn't think the boobs would be
that dumb! It's the same place they had Monk, or I'm no judge of
descriptions! This will be the first place Doc will make for!"
Renny's elation at the apparent dumbness of his captors was only
short-lived. He was dumped roughly into a room. This was so small it
seemed to be little more than a narrow closet. Renny's huge body
required considerable room.
The tape was suddenly and roughly torn from his eyes. Renny
mumbled a bellow of rage through his sealed lips.
"Go on and howl, big fellow!" said a hard voice. "You'll be glad
in a minute we're letting you look everything over!"
The man stepped back. Renny was amazed to discover he was looking
through a doorway where there was no door. The sides of the frame
were of gleaming copper strips. Renny had been placed far back in the
little room. He was perhaps ten feet from this metal-sided
The man who had spoken was standing with several others on the rug
of a curiously painted room. The walls were of aquamarine. Renny
stared at the opposite side.
Monk's story of the metal man he had ripped apart was proved. A
glass door had been shattered. An armless, broken robot stood in the
room back of the smashed entrance.
Renny stared at one of the weird oil paintings. It was that of the
half-crab, half-human figure depicted as arising from the
coral-strewn bottom of the sea.
So this was the picture on one of the colored plates in Vonier's
little book? Renny wondered how Doc had come upon that angle of
RENNY was sitting now, with his back propped against the back wall
of the closetlike room. He looked sharply at the men outside. He
judged that Var was not among those present.
One of the men said, "And right now, big fellow, you're figuring
how you might roll yourself outta that nice, little cell. Well, just
in case you try it, I'll give you something to think about!"
The man was at least six or seven feet distant from the
copper-plated entrance. He walked over to the far wall, threw an
electric switch and returned. In his hand he held an ordinary walking
stick with a thick, rubber tip.
He reached with the cane and pressed on the rug several feet from
the copper doorway. Instantly, there came a wicked crackling. An
electrical current of high voltage leaped across the space of the
entrance. It played with vivid flashes.
"You'll notice it's the works," said the man with the cane. "And
if my foot or your foot were where this cane is, there'd be nothing
left but to bring on the lilies. Now, big fellow, it's about six feet
from where you are to the doorway. The plate on your side starts only
a few inches from where you're sitting."
Renny could see he was hopelessly trapped. His mind leaped to
another angle of the ingenious death trap. Had Var's monstrous crew
thought of that? He wasn't left long in doubt.
"And now," continued his tormentor, "we will leave you. No doubt,
your brainy chief will think of this penthouse. He'll figure we
wouldn't be dumb enough to come back here after your ape-faced
partner escaped. But he'll want to have a look, anyway."
Renny tried his muscles against the multiple cords.
"So, Doc Savage will be along presently," the man went on. "We
won't be visible, but we'll be close by. Naturally, he'll make a hunt
for you. Probably won't believe you're here until he sees you in this
closet. That will be pretty.
"There you are. You can't talk or move. You can only use your
eyes. We'll leave a light on, so you can't be missed. No doubt, the
smart Doc Savage will immediately suspect the copper doorway is a
trap. But he can't know how far the plates reach under the rug.
"So your chief will walk up close enough to inspect the device."
The man used the cane again--"Like this!"
The walking stick was sheathed with metal. The rubber tip had been
worn thinner than the man using it had noticed. A blue electrical
spark suddenly played along the cane. It writhed and twisted around
the man's hand.
With an oath frozen on his lips, the victim succeeded in heaving
himself free. He rolled to the floor, cursing wildly. Renny detected
the odor of scorched skin and flesh.
The man got to his feet, his body shaking. He rubbed his burned
hand. His face was white.
Chapter 23. DEATH THREATENS DOC
RENNY could only stare at the fiendish trap. His tormentor had
presented only facts. Even Doc could have no reason to suspect other
than that the doorway itself was highly charged. Renny groaned under
the gagging tape. He hoped Doc and the others would believe it
useless to visit the penthouse where Monk had been held.
But at this moment, four figures were emerging from the skylight
of a roof less than half a block from the penthouse.
"So up here's where you chewed up an armored robot?" grinned Ham
maliciously at Monk. "And it didn't seem to make even a dent in that
"Dag-gone it!" squeaked Monk. "I'll bet that's an insult!"
Doc cautioned silence. Long Tom was following him closely, as they
kept near the coping walls along the street side of the roofs. Long
Tom was carrying one of the ex-neutralizers and Monk was burdened
with the other.
Doc expected to find the penthouse deserted. He reached the
shelter of a chimney where he could see the structure rearing above
the apartment house roof. To his surprise, the windows of the
penthouse glowed with mellow light.
Directing the others to keep back in the shelter of the shadows,
the bronze man glided forward. In the vague light his movement could
hardly be detected, so swiftly he moved from one shadow to
Doc flattened himself beside one of the windows. He was looking
into the room with vivid blue paintings. He saw the illustration
about which Monk had exclaimed in Vonier's book.
He saw another painting. The same figures had been in Vonier's
book. It looked as if the author had caused the room to be created.
The bronze man considered the relation of this room to the
Doc was using one thumb against the window casing. With only the
pressure of this, he was slowly raising the sash.
The room was in confusion. The drawers of a desk had been pulled
out. A few papers were strewn on the floor. There was other evidence
that several persons had taken a hasty departure. A door which
apparently led to a stairway was partly open. A man's hat and one
glove lay on the floor near this exit.
A bottle of ink had been spilled on the expensive rug. It was
logical the Var men might have fled hastily after Monk's escape.
Though a night had passed, if no person had visited the penthouse,
it was not unreasonable to suppose the lights might have burned all
day. Doc's instinctive senses put him on guard.
One bronzed hand gestured his companions to stay back. He eased
himself into the room.
DOC'S figure was fully revealed. He judged if this were a trap,
the time had come for it to be sprung. Nothing happened.
The bronze man studied the marine paintings intently. From an
inner pocket, he brought out Vonier's thin book. After a brief
comparison, he nodded. From another pocket came another book. This
second volume was not illustrated. It was a leather-bound volume. But
its text was printed in bright blue ink.
Looking at the picture of the half-crab, half-human figure, Doc
started reading the accompanying text, when, from across the room,
came a muffled, guttural sound as if some one were strangling. Doc
sought its source. He saw the closet-like room into which Renny had
His keen eyes saw the engineer's hunched figure. Though bound hand
and foot, his mouth taped, Renny was going through queer contortions.
Doc strode across the larger room.
Now he could see Renny's position more clearly. The big man's eyes
were blinking rapidly. His head shook violently. He was trying to
warn Doc of something.
The bronze man moved closer. He was only about eight feet from the
doorway. Renny moaned under the tape. He reared to his heels. He
lunged forward, heaving his big body directly toward the concealed
In his loyalty to the bronze man, the giant engineer counted his
own life a slight sacrifice. If he could only strike the hidden peril
in such manner as to prevent Doc Savage being electrocuted, Renny
felt it would be much more than worth the price.
Instinct developed in many situations of extreme danger, brought
instant understanding to Doc. As Renny hurled himself toward the
doorway, Doc's own springy body left the floor.
The almost simultaneous action of the two men carried their
leaping bodies clear of the floor. They were, for the moment, as
agile and fast as two great apes of the jungle. Two bodies cannot
remain suspended for more than the fraction of a second. Renny,
knowing the truth, groaned deeply in mid-air. He had accomplished
nothing. Doc would die along with him. The striking of their weight
would make the fatal contact.
MONK, as ever venturing beyond where he had been instructed to go,
had reached the window opened by Doc. He had watched the bronze man
as he paused in the face of danger to read a book, examine the
Now he witnessed the inexplicable action of his chief. Monk could
not possibly reach either of the flying figures. To his awe-struck
senses it seemed as if the bronze man and Renny were bent upon
annihilating each other. The purpose of this, Monk could not
His own instinct told him this was his cue to do something. It was
not within human possibility to reach either of the men. Monk did the
next possible thing. He had no conception of what it would
The ex-neutralizer box was in his hands. Monk flicked the switch.
The focusing slot of the invisible wall was pointed directly at the
Renny and Doc collided in mid-air. Big as he was, the breath
hissed from Renny's lungs. He strove to make his weight hurl Doc
They dropped together upon the rug between the deadly copper
plates. There was a lurid, blinding flash of high-frequency current.
Like the bursting of a freakish floating ball of lightning, the side
of the room where the switch was concealed exploded in blue smoke and
Renny and Doc rolled over together. Renny's breath was gone. His
ankles and his wrists were still tightly bound. He had leaped with
the propelling force of his corded leg muscles. Doc's quick hand
pulled the tape from the engineer's mouth.
"Holy cow, Doc!" Renny gasped, as darkness enfolded them. "Are we
"I'm all right," replied Doc, bounding to his feet. "We'll remove
these cords. We're due to have visitors."
Monk stood for a moment in petrified silence. As yet, he hardly
realized what he had done. Then he heard Renny and Doc speaking, and
the apelike engineer exhaled a mighty breath of relief.
"Howlin' calamities!" he grunted. "Somethin' sure busted
The something had been the invisible wall of the ex-neutralizer.
Before either Doc or Renny had hit the concealed plates intended for
the bronze man's electrocution, the electromagnetic ray had flashed
through the closet doorway.
The invisible wall had the effect of interposing an insulating,
non-conducting element in the space across which the high-voltage
current would have jumped. This intangible, yet powerful, force had
cut the circuit in such a manner as to short circuit the high-powered
wires at the hidden switchboard.
Fuses and a part of the board had gone out. With these went the
house lights. The strange room with its aquamarine paintings was
instantly a dark cavern.
EVEN as Doc's fast hands were slitting the cords off Renny, men
were pouring into the room.
"It didn't get 'em!" snarled a voice. "I heard them speak! We
can't take chances now! Let 'em have it!"
The bronze man's shoulder struck Renny and heaved him far to one
side. They rolled to the far wall on the deep rug.
Half a dozen flashes mingled with the vicious, whiplike crackling
of silenced pistols. Leaden slugs were ripping into the
copper-sheathed door frame.
The bronze man was holding one of the anaesthetic gas
The gas capsule would have rendered any number of men helpless.
But Var's force was strong. Doc divined that not all were in the
room. Before Renny and he could make their way out, Renny might be
hit by the gas. The engineer was not capable of holding his breath
half as long as Doc.
More bullets were being poured across the room. Doc felt the
searing touch of one across his neck. Renny grunted. A slug was
buried in his shoulder. The bronze man caught Renny and made another
gliding change of base.
There came the sound of crashing blows. Monk was shouting.
"I'll pulverize y' for that!"
"Look out!" warned one of Var's men. "There's another one
The speech was sliced off with the cracking, splintering impact of
a blow. A box was shattered.
Monk had swung the ex-neutralizer box as a weapon. The man who had
spoken, and another man, crashed down in the darkness. The unexpected
landing of the apelike chemist into their midst was the beginning of
a frenzied battle.
Var's men were striking each other in an effort to put their
unseen foe out of business. Monk's long arms reached out and enfolded
victim after victim. When he drove them together, some heads were
irreparably damaged. Others were merely knocked senseless.
Var's men had ceased shooting. They were so tangled and scattered
by Monk's steam roller attack as to lose all sense of direction.
Those still on their feet could see only the dim square of light
coming from below. It marked the secret stairway from the
A few of Monk's victims were breathing heavily from the floor.
Then Renny let out a bellow.
"Stop it, Monk! You wanta break my neck!"
Renny heaved once. He was more than a match for the apelike Monk.
The chemist smashed into one of the oil paintings. There was
THE whole battle had taken up less than two minutes. Doc's pencil
of light from his generator flash picked out eight men huddled on the
floor. The bronze man gave several faces a brief study.
"The only way, brothers, we can help these men is to remove the
temptation that drew them into this," Doc stated. "They're men of
brains. Surgical treatment would do them no good. Remove the power of
Var and they'll return to their professions."
The sound of the retreating survivors of the encounter was dying
"There's only one thing here we want," Doc stated. Using the
flashlight, he slit one of the oil paintings free from the wall with
swift strokes of a knife. It was the picture of the half-crab,
half-human form. The oil work was on canvas, secured by its edges to
the wall of the room.
Then Doc said, "It's strange, Long Tom and Ham aren't here. They
must have heard the shooting."
The three men hurried through the open window to the roof. Doc
called out. Neither Ham nor Long Tom replied.
The bronze man led the way, gliding over a roof coping. Three
bodies were lying near an open skylight. It was quickly revealed that
none of the three was Ham or Long Tom.
Bending over one of the bodies, Doc pointed out, "Ham's sword got
The unconscious man's cheek had been pierced by the keen point of
Ham's cane sword blade. The anaesthetic drug had done its work. The
same treatment had been parceled out to the other two.
Examination showed the skylight of this roof had been smashed.
There was a small pool of blood near by.
Excited voices were coming up from the floor below. Doc led Monk
and Renny in a swift descent. Panicky residents of the apartment
house were pouring into the hallways.
Doc quickly learned a number of men had tramped through the upper
corridor. They had pushed their way to the roof. One man had heard
the scuffling noises of a fight.
"Then they came tumbling back down!" this man said. "They were
carrying one man! He had a camera box in his hands! They had
handcuffs on another man! He looked like a gentleman! Funny! Come to
think of it, all of them looked like gentlemen!"
"The other ex-neutralizer!" groaned Renny. "That lays us wide open
to the Cold Light ray, doesn't it, Doc?--since Monk smashed our other
ex-neutralizer in the fight."
"We'll not worry too much about that," said Doc, quietly. "We've
first got to find Ham and Long Tom. Come on, brothers. I have a
feeling we shall have visitors very soon at headquarters."
Chapter 24. THREE VISITORS
THE visitors to Doc Savage's headquarters numbered three. The
explorer, Vonier, was the first.
Doc noted that throughout all of the crowded events of the past
forty-eight hours, the explorer's fixed expression of cold detachment
had not varied.
Vonier drew the bronze man quickly to one side.
"Just in case something happens we can't control, I'd like you to
know one or two facts that might help you," he offered. "This Cold
Light, or the destructive force it represents, contains one element
to be found only at the greatest depths to which man has ever
descended in the ocean."
The explorer's smile gave him a derisive, cynical look.
"I'd guessed that," Doc replied, quietly. "I got the hint of it
directly from a book."
Vonier started perceptibly. His intense blue eyes became like
"Yes?" he said. "From a book? You've known then that I knew?"
"Could hardly avoid that," said Doc, "seeing you wrote the
"Marvelous!" murmured Vonier. "For the past two days and nights,
you haven't slept. You've been threatened by death from many
directions. Yet during that time you've read a book."
"Two books, to be exact," smiled the bronze man. "They are oddly
alike in many parts, though others are dissimilar. By the way,
Vonier, do you count artistic conception among your other varied
Vonier's reply was surprisingly direct, defiant.
"No," he said. "I'm not an artist. I didn't paint the pictures in
the penthouse, if that's what you mean? Now you'll be asking--"
"Well, yes," interrupted Doc. "Where have you been during the day,
and thus far to-night?"
"Many places. And alone mostly. I've been very busy."
"I judged you had," said Doc. "So you haven't been much comfort to
Carberry. I imagined he would stick by you."
"Carberry had several phone calls," Vonier stated. "He went away
to attend to some important business. He was still greatly scared,
but he said he would meet me here to-night." Just then, the
headquarters had a visitor. It was the financier, Carberry.
CARBERRY'S first words were, "I hear there's been another big
explosion. I'm almost afraid to walk in the streets. I've called the
police commissioner and asked for a special police bodyguard. I think
he'll be sending them up here."
"We will give you all the protection possible," Doc stated. "We
employ our own methods, and call upon the police only when some
matter should be brought to their attention."
"Indeed--well--you see--Savage, I'm terribly sorry," stammered
Carberry. "I'll call the commissioner at once. I feel safer with you
than I would with a squad of coppers. Let me have--"
"Never mind," interjected Doc. "I've been in touch with the
commissioner. He told me of your request. I've already instructed him
not to send his men. The commissioner himself is paying us a visit in
a few minutes."
"Oh, that's all right then," mumbled the financier. "I suppose
then you've turned those poison pills over to him?"
"No," stated Doc. "I shall analyze them myself. Some one tried
releasing the poison gas to trap us, so I'm carrying the pills with
"Carrying them with you, Savage?" His protruding eyes rolled.
"Don't you fear--well, mightn't something happen?"
The immediate entrance of the police commissioner interrupted Doc
from giving an answer.
The police commissioner was a stocky, red-faced man. For good
reasons, involving countless past services, his faith in Doc Savage
He had met both Vonier and Carberry. While he did not ignore the
importance of the financier or the cause of his fear of death, the
commissioner's attitude was abrupt.
After all, though he was a world figure, Carberry was but one
individual. The safety of millions had now been in the balance for
two days and two nights.
"We've got those men from the penthouse," the commissioner
announced. "We've been checking. Not one has ever been mugged. We
find they are doctors, professors and the like of that. Only two have
any kind of records. We believe they have been international spies in
Doc nodded. This confirmed his quick analysis in the penthouse.
None of these men had the kind of brains requiring the usual
treatment for the reformation of crooks.
Carberry arose. His terror seemed to be returning in force.
"I just remembered," he said. "I think I should go out and put in
a call to Mrs. Carberry. I want to know she is still safe."
"You could call from here," suggested Doc.
"Wait a minute," interrupted the commissioner. "I think Mr.
Carberry should stay with us. In fact, all of us have something we
ought to do at once. I've a dozen carloads of men on the way, but I
came directly because I have to admit I'm afraid they can't stop this
"Holy cow!" muttered Renny. "Aren't things never goin' to quiet
"We haven't any clue to your two men, Mr. Savage," the
commissioner went on. "But we have a phoned report that the Hudson
River warehouse where you keep your planes is to be the next spot
visited by the Cold Light."
"WE must proceed to the hangar at once," Doc stated. "We'll have
to do what we can to get the employees to safety. Some of the workers
are too loyal to flee from any danger."
"I know," said the commissioner. "We tried warning them by
"Get out the extra bulletproof vests," Doc instructed.
"Commissioner, you and the others need the protection. I believe this
is much more involved than a mere threat to destroy the hangar. It is
a deliberate scheme to have us go out there."
"If you think it is a trap--" began the commissioner.
"We shall go," said Doc, quietly. "Perhaps Vonier and Carberry
would rather remain here."
"Wouldn't miss it for a million," Vonier said, promptly.
"I wouldn't feel safe anywhere but with you, Doc Savage," declared
Doc was holding an extra bulletproof vest in his hands.
"We've all got our vests, Doc," said Monk. "Why are you taking
A thin voice interrupted from the doorway of the outer office.
"Your Hudson River hangar is the next place Var intends to hit,
Scraggs was standing there. His thin face was gray.
"I have been expecting you," replied Doc. "This vest is too big
for you, but you will be wise to put it on."
Scraggs's sunken eyes were staring now at Carberry, much the same
as he had looked at Vonier a few hours previously.
With Ham and Long Tom missing, there was ample room for the four
extra men in Doc's armored car. The bronze man sent the motor at high
speed across town.
ALL streets in the vicinity of the hangar were deserted. The
commissioner had caused police lines to be drawn several blocks from
the innocent-appearing old warehouse.
This building housed Doc Savage's latest in planes, his dirigible
and two types of submarines.
As they passed the final police line, Doc glanced at Vonier,
Carberry and Scraggs.
"I would suggest you leave us here. I will go ahead with my men
and have the watchman and the other men get out."
"I'd prefer to be in at the finish," remarked Vonier, crisply.
"I've a funny hunch this will be some sort of a showdown."
"I--I--wouldn't want to stay here alone," Carberry quavered. "I
mean with the police. I'd like to go along."
"I'm seeing this through," came the positive voice of Scraggs.
Doc never wasted words in argument. The strangely matched pair,
the explorer and the financier, had made their own choice. If they
could have seen Doc's flaky gold eyes at the moment, they would have
guessed the bronze man was not ignoring their safety as much as it
For Doc Savage had arrived at a direct conclusion with regard to
the Cold Light ray and its explosive effect. By simple elimination of
certain facts, he had reached the point of knowing much more than the
men accompanying him would have believed.
Doc was convinced there would be an explosion.
But right now, he was equally sure he had discovered the means of
controlling the blast and its effect. And he had no intention of
seeing the hangar destroyed.
The police lines took in a half circle about a half mile distant
from the warehouse hangar. More than five hundred coppers, all
heavily armed and instructed to permit no one to pass, formed the
guarding ring. Police patrol launches guarded the river side.
The coppers looked apprehensively at the dark canyons of near-by
deserted streets close to the hangar. The round-up had been made.
But this had not included buildings which seemed vacant. In the
lower part of another old warehouse were four automobiles. Each of
these cars carried eight or ten men.
Doc swung the car in front of the hangar. He regularly employed a
crew of a dozen mechanics and others.
Entering the hangar, Doc ordered all his employees to depart from
what he considered the danger zone surrounding the hangar. All
excepting one mechanic.
"The rest of you wait here," Doc instructed his companions. "I'm
sending up a plane. It's just an idea that came to me."
"You mean, you're going up?" queried Carberry.
"Rather a big chance to take, isn't it, Savage?" came from Vonier.
"Remember what happened to the Red Arrow ship, or would have if it
hadn't been for you?"
"No, I won't be going up," said Doc. "Just the plane."
Accompanied by the mechanic, the bronze man quickly moved one of
the amphibian planes. The little ship was equipped with a
radio-controlling robot. But unlike the plane in which Doc had been
sent out over the ocean, this ship had alternative hand controls.
The radio-robot could be cut off at any time by a pilot in the
ship. He then could handle the plane in the usual manner.
THE police commissioner went back with the departing hangar
employees to issue further instructions to his police lines.
Renny and Monk started an immediate prowl of the building.
Apparently, no one remained. Vonier and Carberry were left standing
together. Carberry, especially, seemed to prefer being where the
light was brightest.
Scraggs glanced furtively around. Then he vanished with the quick
movement of a scuttling small animal.
Carberry remarked to Vonier, "Savage seems invincible. Nothing
gets by him. But I'm afraid this time he hasn't much of an idea what
makes the Cold Light."
Vonier smiled thinly at the financier.
He said, "To put Doc Savage out of the running, you'd have to get
inside his mind. For example, right in the middle of this turmoil and
threats, he stops to read a book."
Carberry's eyes protruded more than ever.
"Read a book?" he queried. "What book?"
"Oh, the little thing I did on marine energy," replied Vonier,
lightly. "Perhaps he thought he had something there."
From the near-by warehouse, men were moving. They were keeping in
deep shadows. Doc Savage had ordered roof and river landing lights of
his hangar on at their brightest. Carberry and Vonier remained near
the open street door.
IN a nearer shadow inside the hangar, Scraggs was moving to
concealment. He watched intently as Doc Savage and the mechanic got
the small plane into its dockage ready for a take-off from the broad
river. Scraggs watched until he saw the man of bronze climb into the
The mechanic wound up the inertia starter. Apparently, it was
Doc's hand on the throttle. The bronze man revved the motor with a
warming burst. He remained in the cabin several minutes. Then he
idled the motor and emerged.
"We'll leave it idle," the bronze man stated. "I'll give it the
gun with the radio controls when I'm ready."
With the mechanic beside him, Doc started back across the hangar.
Sudden shouts, harsh oaths and the sound of blows broke from the
vicinity of the street door of the warehouse.
Doc glided into a run. The mechanic was close at his heels.
Half a dozen men swooped into the light where Carberry and Vonier
were standing. A blow sent the explorer to his knees. Two men had
seized his arms. He was being propelled toward the shadows.
Carberry was putting up a stiff fight.
Though a man of slight weight, the financier was surprisingly
effective. Nor, now that he was in physical combat, did he seem
With catlike movements, Carberry had disposed of two of his
attackers before Doc and the mechanic could make it halfway across
the floor. Another man seized the financier, only to go somersaulting
over Carberry's head.
But more men were pouring into the building. Carberry saw them
coming. Suddenly, his nerve seemed to desert him. The financier
turned and darted across the inside of the warehouse.
Vonier had shaken off his two attackers. To Doc's amazement, the
explorer also took to his heels. He ran after Carberry.
Renny and Monk came bursting from behind a plane. There were now
more than a score of men. They had started to pursue Carberry and
RENNY'S sledge-hammer fists disposed of four men in quick order.
Monk whooped shrilly and his long arms flailed a disconcerting
broadside of knuckles and elbows into the leaders of the rush to grab
Then a pistol flashed, and another.
"Let 'em have it!" wheezed a high voice. "Look out! Here's Doc
Over the arm of the moon-faced man with the rathole in the middle
of his countenance for a mouth appeared the snout of a machine gun.
He turned it directly upon the bronze man.
Any one looking on would have sworn Doc merely sidestepped the
stream of slugs without great effort. The fact was, Doc's reactions
under a pointed weapon were a split-second ahead of the gunman's
Wheeze McGovern cursed, and sought to bring the machine gun
directly upon the slithering figure of the bronze man. The mechanic
groaned with pain and sank to the ground. Some of the bullets had got
him in the stomach.
Doc became a moving streak, hurtling himself straight upon Wheeze
and his crackling gun. With all his massive weight, he dived under
the tearing streak of death. One shoulder struck Wheeze's stubby
There was a sharp crack. Doc rammed his head upward. With one leg
broken and all the breath gone from his body, Wheeze dropped his
As Doc came to his feet, he saw that Renny and Monk were being
overwhelmed by numbers. Renny was handicapped already by having a
bullet in one shoulder as the result of the penthouse battle. Now he
had a furrow across one temple and he was staggering groggily.
Monk cracked the heads of two men together, his favorite pastime.
Then he sprang to Renny's assistance. A pistol butt crashed down on
the chemist's head and sent him to his knees.
DOC SAVAGE exploded suddenly in the midst of the attackers. His
arrival had about the same effect as a cyclone ripping through a
field of dry corn.
Doc's iron knuckles played at the ends of his corded arms with a
speed too fast for the human eye to follow. When his knuckles landed,
one man stayed down.
Though there had been some shooting, the invaders of the warehouse
were now too closely packed to use their pistols. Nor did Doc or his
men attempt the use of weapons. In the bright light it was
mêlée for fists and muscles.
A group of six men remained on their feet. Seeing their leader,
Wheeze McGovern, was out, they started a retreat. As they withdrew,
two men drew their pistols. They now had a free play at Doc and his
They snarled hard laughs as they aimed the guns.
Two figures came lithely from the street outside. They were
disheveled objects. Cords still trailed from the legs of one.
Handcuffs held the wrists of both men. The mistake of Wheeze McGovern
had been that he had not manacled the men's hands behind them.
Long Tom was a slight specimen of manhood. He looked frail
compared to any other of Doc's men. But he could make the average man
very sick indeed in a fistic encounter.
This time, Long Tom had an advantage. He swung the heavy handcuffs
in sweeping arcs. Two men were mowed down with bleeding heads.
Ham, the lawyer, was quick as light. His favorite weapon was his
trusty sword blade. Lacking this, the steel handcuffs seemed to serve
very well. The manacles crashed on three heads before the men could
get themselves set.
Almost abruptly, there were only four or five men left of the
gang, and these were running toward the street.
"They won't find the cars they're looking for!" panted Ham. "Long
Tom tore out their ignition wire!"
Doc was starting toward the door of the lighted radio control
"Keep an eye on all of these men," he instructed. "You needn't
trouble about the one with the machine gun. He has serious trouble
with his legs."
Doc was in the door of the control room. A slim figure ran past
the edge of the lighted area.
The running man was Scraggs. He vanished in the direction Carberry
and Vonier had taken. Neither the explorer nor the financier had
reappeared, although all pursuit was definitely ended.
Doc stood before the radio controls. He closed a switch. In its
take-off dock, the motor of his small plane roared on fuller
The bronze man's hand moved over to the impulse that would control
the take-off. His hand never reached it.
The little ship suddenly lifted its tail and moved out upon the
river. Gathering speed, its nose lifted under an expert hand.
Some one was in the radio-controlled plane. It was being zoomed
into the air in the direction of the ocean by a human hand.
Doc's eyes held little golden whirlwinds of light.
He knew the mystery pilot of the zooming plane believed him still
to be carrying the "poison pills" in his pocket.
Chapter 25. THE RUNAWAY PLANE
THE police commissioner was in the doorway of the radio control
room. He stared at Doc Savage. Doc's feet were braced wide apart. He
was looking up at the sky through the observation window.
"You're sending up a plane with the radio robot?" questioned the
commissioner. "What's the idea, Mr. Savage?"
"It was my idea to send up a plane with the radio," stated Doc,
tersely. "Now, it's another idea altogether, and I don't know but
it's a good one."
Renny appeared beside the commissioner. He was mopping blood from
his long, solemn face.
"Holy cow, Doc!" he exclaimed. "I thought all the time that
skull-faced explorer would bear watching. He's in that plane! I saw
him run over that way."
Ham pushed his way in.
"You're wrong, Renny, this time," he interposed. "It's that ratty
little fellow Scraggs. I was watching him making for the plane when
Doc came in here. He's making a get-away!"
Doc smiled a little.
"Time will tell us that, and it won't be such a long time either,"
he said. "Has Carberry returned?"
"Not him!" supplied Monk. "The last I saw of him he was high
tailin' for the police lines!"
Doc was watching the riding lights of the small plane. The ship
had been sent steadily upward. It was nearly two miles high and its
lights had faded in the fog. Only the thin drone of its motor could
"Hope he stays that far up," said Doc, crisply. "Just the same,
I'd advise all of you to get back toward the police lines. I could
switch off the hangar lights, but I'd rather have him come back over
the river than try landing some other place."
"Why? Do you think he'll come back?" said the commissioner,
doubtfully. "I think whoever it is, he's making his get-away. He'll
probably land somewhere up or down the coast. I'll get to one of the
cars and send in a radio warning to be on the lookout for him."
"That will hardly be necessary," smiled Doc.
THE others obeyed the suggestion. They listened. They heard
nothing. Only Doc's keenly tuned auditory nerves had detected the
thrumming of the plane's motor growing steadily louder.
In fact, Doc was the only one among them who had not lost the
vibration altogether. Even at its farthest point away, the bronze man
had judged the plane to be nearly two miles high and still
The enigmatic smile deepened across Doc's bronze jaws.
He alone knew that the mysterious pilot of the runaway plane was
expecting to hurl destruction upon the warehouse hangar. That the man
at the controls was Var himself.
Var, at this instant, was sure he had the means of striking one
mighty blow. A blow that would not only wipe out Doc's hangar, but
end the lives of all of Doc's men and the police commissioner.
Moreover, Doc was now sure that Var's own men had turned upon him.
He could read only one answer to the attack of Wheeze McGovern.
McGovern, Var's chief aide, had made an effort to steal the Cold
Light gun. He lacked only this to complete the combination that would
make him the master of the shattering annihilator.
Once in possession of the gun, Wheeze McGovern had planned to
embark on a career of crime with his own selected companions. They
had seen the chance to extort millions from fear-crazed
Doc was sure Wheeze McGovern never would obtain that gun. Its
owner was flying high, high in the sky over the man he most feared
and hated--Doc Savage and his four valiant companions.
By a change of wind, the others now could hear the increasing beat
of the plane's propeller.
"Making for some inland field," said the commissioner. "He's
taking on altitude, thinking we'll have planes after him."
"He's taking on altitude," replied Doc, "but not through fear of
any other plane. He believes he's putting himself far enough up to be
beyond the danger of his own deviltry."
"I don't understand--" the commissioner began.
His words were lost in a shattering explosion. Only Doc had seen
that instantaneous flash of the Cold Light ray. It was no more than
the thousandth part of a second. For the Cold Light had no distance
to travel to reach its objective.
A lurid cloud of blue flame spread across the heavens. Its weird
illumination made all faces in the group seem pockmarked and gray.
Indeed, the face of the commissioner was a chalky gray.
The blue cloud was only a momentary flash that lighted the sky
from horizon to horizon. The blast was like the impact of a
The air about the group in the warehouse chilled. All of the
hangar lights went out as if a master switch had been pulled.
Then the silence was so complete each man thought his eardrums had
been hopelessly shattered.
Doc's radio plane had totally dissolved, as if it had never been.
From the lack of any tiny bit of falling wreckage, it was conceivable
that the terrible, close-up force of the Cold Light explosion had
disintegrated the ship into all of its component atoms.
And with the ship, the man whose ghostly voice had announced, "I
RENNY was the first to find speech.
"Blazes!" he muttered, hoarsely. "So that's the last of our
Ham found his voice and spoke in the darkness.
"That rat Scraggs, you mean!" he rapped out.
Two voices murmured close by. Footsteps approached slowly.
"Who is speaking of us?" inquired the calm voice of the explorer.
"We're here to talk for ourselves."
The eyes of Vonier were like bits of shiny blue glass against the
light. Beside him was the thin, shambling figure of the little man,
"I rather thought you would be around somewhere," said Doc Savage,
quietly. "I admit I was quite a bit mixed up for a while. But after I
discovered Carberry had written his book on the cellular origin of
the human species from oil paintings he had copied from your book,
Vonier, I made some other inquiries."
"Howlin' calamities!" squeaked out Monk. "And he was with us most
of the time!"
"Some of the time," corrected Doc. "But at no time when he was
trying to explode the Cold Light bombs."
"What do you mean, Doc, Cold Light bombs?" questioned Ham. "I've
never seen anything but the Cold Light itself."
"You carried some of them in your pocket for quite a while, Ham,"
said Doc. "I seem to recall you rescued all of us from being poisoned
by gas. You thought the intention was to kill all of us in the
laboratory by having them dampened."
"Good gosh!" exploded Monk. "And that shyster tries to pulverize
all of us with that weak brain of his!"
"I wonder," mused Renny, who had just thought of something. "Say,
Monk. Maybe Ham didn't do so bad. Come to think of it, you tried
eating one of the bombs in that Manhattan tenement. You thought it
was only a gumdrop."
Long Tom broke in.
"Listen, Doc!" he exclaimed, excitedly. "You had six of the things
in your pocket!"
"That's what Carberry thought," said Doc, calmly. "In fact, I had
them when we came here. It was my idea to send them up in that plane
and dive it into the ocean. I had hidden them in the plane. And
Carberry thought it was his chance to destroy his enemies.
"You see, some of his own men were double-crossing him. If I'd had
the Cold Light bombs in my pocket, it would have wiped them out as
well as us. In a way, he was driven to it, for this Wheeze McGovern
had turned on him."
THE little man, Scraggs, was muttering.
"And I discovered who Var was just too late," he complained. "I
was almost sure, and I learned where his wife was hiding. I was on my
way out there to-night, when Carberry met Wheeze McGovern's car on
the highway. I guess Carberry suspected Wheeze and tried to stop him
with the Cold Light."
"You knew there was something more, some element other than the
Cold Light ray that caused the explosions?" Doc suggested.
"Yes, I knew there was some sort of combination, for Jackson had
told me that," admitted Scraggs. "But it was only after I saw in your
laboratory those pills you thought were poison that I got a real idea
what the bombs might be. That's why I started out to find Mrs.
Carberry. I had a hunch the supply of bombs would be wherever she was
hiding. McGovern must have grabbed the bombs from the woman."
Scraggs shook his head sadly.
"That was a terrible thing!" he went on. "The Cold Light missed
McGovern's car. McGovern had the rest of the Cold Light bombs,
thousands of them, in insulated boxes. But the ray would have
exploded one of the uninsulated bombs if it came within a ten-mile
radius. That's why Carberry's wife never knew what happened. I
imagine McGovern had left some of the bombs open with that
"But," interposed the police commissioner, "how about the
explosion at Carberry's mansion? The voice he heard, that every one
"Among other things, I learned Carberry had been an actor, a
character man before he became wealthy," Doc stated. "He married a
young actress. After the murder of Jackson, the old chemist, they had
it all fixed to put on a show, a red herring across any trail the
police might pick up."
"That's right," said Scraggs, eagerly. "Only they had me fooled.
Jackson had told me there was to be a test in the woods at the
Carberry place, to frighten the millionaire."
A FLUTTERING figure came running from the street door. It was the
same lovely girl who had appeared at the smashed Red Arrow plane,
looking for Scraggs. All were amazed when she threw her arms around
the disreputable-appearing little man.
"Scraggs, honey!" she exclaimed. "Are you all right?"
Scraggs looked at the others sheepishly, but his thin arms went
around the girl.
"Meet Muriel Jackson, gentlemen," he said in a thin, proud voice.
"You see, it was her father--well, I had to get his murderer."
The girl's face was bathed in tears. She hugged the scraggly head
to her bosom.
"Well, I'll be dag-goned!" sputtered Monk.
The homely chemist had a weakness for beautiful women.
Doc turned to Vonier.
"You suspected Carberry from the first, didn't you?" the bronze
man questioned. "But you weren't sure?"
"Right again, as usual, Savage," said the explorer. "Old Jackson
read my book and came to me to explain his experiments with an
element I had mentioned found in the depths of the sea. I told him it
would be best to let it alone. He said he wanted the army and navy to
have it. I wasn't sure he had gone to Carberry, but he mentioned
having read the man's book and how like my own it seemed to be. So I
suspected he went to Carberry."
"Strange what angles a normally intelligent brain will take," Doc
said, slowly. "Carberry had a rich man's traditional respect for
property rights. He owned that Manhattan block he blew up. He was one
of the biggest stockholders in the railroad and he tried to blast the
express. In trying to cover up his trail, he laid the broadest
possible one for his own detection."
"He was especially good at laying false trails," added Vonier. "He
used a special bright blue ink in writing warning notes. It happens I
had used that same sort of ink. I have a bottle of it in my study.
Carberry adopted it."
"That clears that up," Doc stated. "I have seen the ink on your
"Saw it? On my desk?"
"Yes," replied the bronze man, "when I visited your study to
confirm a few deductions arising from your rather remarkable
"Is there anything on land or sea or in the sky you overlook,
Doc's quiet bronze smile was his only reply.