by Anthony Pelcher
In an inner room they found
a diabolical machine.
To the accompaniment of a
crashing roar, not unlike rumbling
thunder, the proud Colossus
Building, which a few minutes
before had reared its sixty stories
of artistic architecture
the blue dome of
the sky, crashed
in a rugged, dusty
heap of stone,
brick, cement and mortar. The steel
framework, like the skeleton of some
prehistoric monster, still reared to
dizzy heights but in a bent and twisted
shape of grotesque outline.
No one knew
how many lives
were snuffed out
in the avalanche.
As the collapse
occurred in the
early dawn it was not believed the
death list would be large. It was admitted,
however, that autos, cabs and
surface cars may have been caught under
the falling rock. One train was
known to have been wrecked in the
subway due to a cave-in from the surface
under the ragged mountain of
The litter fairly filled a part of
Times Square, the most congested
cross-roads on God's footstool. Straggling
brick and rock had rolled across
the street to the west and had crashed
into windows and doors of innocent
small tradesmen's shops.
A few minutes after the crash a mad
crowd of people had piled from subway
exits as far away as Penn Station and
Columbus Circle and from cross streets.
These milled about, gesticulating and
shouting hysterically. All neighboring
police stations were hard put to handle
the growing mob.
Hundreds of dead and maimed were
being carried to the surface from the
wrecked train in the subway. Trucks
and cabs joined the ambulance crews
in the work of transporting these to
morgues and hospitals. As the morning
grew older and the news of the
disaster spread, more milling thousands
tried to crowd into the square. Many
were craning necks hopelessly on the
outskirts of the throng, blocks away,
trying vainly to get a view of what
The fire department and finally several
companies of militia joined the police
in handling the crowd. Newsies,
never asleep, yowled their "Wuxtras"
and made much small money.
The newspapers devoted solid pages
in attempting to describe what had happened.
Nervously, efficient reporters
had written and written, using all their
best adjectives and inventing new ones
in attempts to picture the crash and the
hysterics which followed.
When the excitement was at its
height a middle-aged man,
bleeding at the head, clothes torn and
dusty, staggered into the West 47th
street police station. He found a lone
sergeant at the desk.
The police sergeant jumped to his
feet as the bedraggled man entered and
stumbled to a bench.
"I'm Pat Brennan, street floor watchman
of the Colossus," he said. "I ran
for it. I got caught in the edge of the
wreck and a brick clipped me. I musta
been out for some time. When I came
around I looked back just once at the
wreck and then I beat it over here.
Phone my boss."
"I'll let you phone your boss," said
the sergeant, "but first tell me just what
"Earthquake, I guess. I saw the floor
heaving in waves. Glass was crashing
and falling into the street. All windows
in the arcade buckled, either in
or out. I ran into the street and looked
up. God, what a sight! The building
from sidewalk to towers was rocking
and waving and twisting and buckling
and I saw it was bound to crumple, so
I lit out and ran. I heard a roar like
all Hell broke loose and then something
nicked me and my light went out."
"How many got caught in the building?"
"Nobody got out but me, I guess.
There weren't many tenants. The
building is all rented, but not everybody
had moved in yet and those as had
didn't spend their nights there. There
was a watchman for every five stories.
An engineer and his crew. Three elevator
operators had come in. There
was no names of tenants in or out on
my book after 4 A.M. The crash musta
come about 6. That's all."
Throughout the country the
news of the crash was received
with great interest and wonderment,
but in one small circle it caused absolute
consternation. That was in the
offices of the Muller Construction Company,
the builders of the Colossus.
Jason V. Linane, chief engineer of the
company, was in conference with its
president, James J. Muller.
Muller sat with his head in his hands,
and his face wore an expression of a
man in absolute anguish. Linane was
pacing the floor, a wild expression in
his eyes, and at times he muttered and
mumbled under his breath.
In the other offices the entire force
from manager to office boys was hushed
and awed, for they had seen the expressions
on the faces of the heads of
the concern when they stalked into the
inner office that morning.
Muller finally looked up, rather hopelessly,
"Unless we can prove that the crash
was due to some circumstance over
which we had no control, we are
ruined," he said, and there actually
were tears in his eyes.
"No doubt about that," agreed Linane,
"but I can swear that the Colossus
went up according to specifications and
that every ounce and splinter of material
was of the best. The workmanship
was faultless. We have built scores of
the biggest blocks in the world and of
them all this Colossus was the most
perfect. I had prided myself on it.
Muller, it was perfection. I simply
cannot account for it. I cannot. It
should have stood up for thousands
of years. The foundation was solid
rock. It positively was not an earthquake.
No other building in the section
was even jarred. No other earthquake
was ever localized to one half
block of the earth's crust, and we can
positively eliminate an earthquake or
an explosion as the possible cause. I
am sure we are not to blame, but we
will have to find the exact cause."
"If there was some flaw?" questioned
Muller, although he knew the answer.
"If there was some flaw, then we're
sunk. The newspapers are already
clamoring for probes, of us, of the
building, of the owners and everybody
and everything. We have got to have
something damned plausible when we
go to bat on this proposition or every
dollar we have in the world will have
to be paid out."
"That is not all," said Muller: "not
only will we be penniless, but we may
have to go to jail and we will never
be able to show our faces in reputable
business circles again. Who was the
last to go over that building?"
"I sent Teddy Jenks. He is a cub
and is swell headed and too big for his
pants, but I would bank my life on
his judgment. He has the judgment of
a much older man and I would also
bank my life and reputation on his engineering
skill and knowledge. He
pronounced the building positively
O.K.—100 per cent."
"Where is Jenks?"
"He will be here as soon as his car
can drive down from Tarrytown. He
should be here now."
As they talked Jenks, the youngest
member of the engineering force,
entered. He entered like a whirlwind.
He threw his hat on the floor and drew
out a drawer of a cabinet. He pulled
out the plans for the Colossus, big
blue prints, some of them yards in extent,
and threw them on the floor. Then
he dropped to his knees and began poring
"This is a hell of a time for you to
begin getting around," exploded Muller.
"What were you doing, cabareting
"It sure is terrible—awful," said
Jenks, half to himself.
"Answer me," thundered Muller.
"Oh yes," said Jenks, looking up.
He saw the look of anguish on his
boss's face and forgot his own excitement
in sympathy. He jumped to his
feet, placed his arm about the shoulders
of the older man and led him to a chair.
Linane only scowled at the young man.
"I was delayed because I stopped by
to see the wreck. My God, Mr. Muller,
it is awful." Jenks drew his hand
across his eye as if to erase the scene
of the wrecked building. Then patting
the older man affectionately on the
back he said:
"Buck up. I'm on the job, as usual.
I'll find out about it. It could not have
been our fault. Why man, that building
was as strong as Gibraltar itself!"
"You were the last to inspect it,"
accused Muller, with a break in his
"Nobody knows that better than I,
and I can swear by all that's square
and honest that it was no fault of the
material or the construction. It must
"Must have been what?"
"I'll be damned if I know."
"That's like him," said Linane, who,
while really kindly intentioned, had always
rather enjoyed prodding the
"Like me, like the devil," shouted
Jenks, glaring at Linane. "I suppose
you know all about it, you're so blamed
"No, I don't know," admitted Linane.
"But I do know that you don't like me
to tell you anything. Nevertheless, I
am going to tell you that you had better
get busy and find out what caused
"That's just what I'm doing," said
Jenks, and he dived for his plans on
Newspaper reporters, many of them,
were fighting outside to get in. Muller
looked at Linane when a stenographer
had announced the reporters for the
"We had better let them in," he said,
"it looks bad to crawl for cover."
"What are you going to tell them?"
"God only knows," said Muller.
"Let me handle them," said Jenks,
looking up confidently.
The newspapermen had rushed the
office. They came in like a wild
wave. Questions flew like feathers at
Muller held up his hand and there
was something in his grief-stricken
eyes that held the gentlemen of the
press in silence. They had time to
look around. They saw the handsome,
dark-haired, brown-eyed Jenks poring
over the plans. Dust from the carpet
smudged his knees, and he had rubbed
some of it over a sweating forehead,
but he still looked the picture of self-confident
"Gentlemen," said Muller slowly, "I
can answer all your questions at once.
Our firm is one of the oldest and
staunchest in the trade. Our buildings
stand as monuments to our integrity—"
"All but one," said a young Irishman.
"You are right. All but one," confessed
Muller. "But that one, believe
me, has been visited by an act of God.
Some form of earthquake or some unlooked
for, uncontrolled, almost unbelievable
catastrophe has happened.
The Muller company stands back of
its work to its last dollar. Gentlemen,
you know as much as we do. Mr. Jenks
there, whose reputation as an engineer
is quite sturdy, I assure you, was the
last to inspect the building. He passed
upon it when it was finished. He is at
Jenks arose, brushed some dust from
"You look like you'd been praying,"
bandied the Irishman.
"Maybe I have. Now let me talk.
Don't broadside me with questions. I
know what you want to know. Let me
The newspapermen were silent.
"There has been talk of probing this
disaster, naturally," began Jenks. "You
all know, gentlemen, that we will aid
any inquiry to our utmost. You want
to know what we have to say about it—who
is responsible. In a reasonable
time I will have a statement to make
that will be startling in the extreme.
I am not sure of my ground now."
"How about the ground under the
Colossus?" said the Irishman.
"Don't let's kid each other," pleaded
Jenks. "Look at Mr. Muller: it is as
if he had lost his whole family. We
are good people. I am doing all I can.
Mr. Linane, who had charge of the construction,
is doing all he can. We believe
we are blameless. If it is proven
otherwise we will acknowledge our
fault, assume financial responsibility,
and take our medicine. Believe me,
that building was perfection plus, like
all our buildings. That covers the entire
Hundreds of questions were parried
and answered by the three engineers,
and the reporters left convinced that
if the Muller Construction Company
was responsible, it was not through
any fault of its own.
The fact that Jenks and Linane
were not strong for each other,
except to recognize each other's ability
as engineers, was due to an incident
of the past. This incident had caused
a ripple of mirth in engineering circles
when it happened, and the laugh was
on the older man, Linane.
It was when radio was new. Linane,
a structural engineer, had paid little
attention to radio. Jenks was the kind
of an engineer who dabbled in all sciences.
He knew his radio.
When Jenks first came to work with
a technical sheepskin and a few tons
of brass, Linane accorded him only
passing notice. Jenks craved the plaudits
of the older man and his palship.
Linane treated him as a son, but did
not warm to his social advances.
"I'm as good an engineer as he is,"
mused Jenks, "and if he is going to
high-hat me, I'll just put a swift one
over on him and compel his notice."
The next day Jenks approached
Linane in conference and said:
"I've got a curious bet on, Mr.
Linane. I am betting sound can travel
a mile quicker than it travels a quarter
of a mile."
"What?" said Linane.
"I'm betting fifty that sound can
travel a mile quicker than it can travel
a quarter of a mile."
"Oh no—it can't," insisted Linane.
"Oh yes—it can!" decided Jenks.
"I'll take some of that fool money
myself," said Linane.
"How much?" asked Jenks.
"As much as you want."
"All right—five hundred dollars."
"How you going to prove your contention?"
"By stop watches, and your men can
hold the watches. We'll bet that a
pistol shot can be heard two miles away
quicker than it can be heard a quarter
of a mile away."
"Sound travels about a fifth of a mile
a second. The rate varies slightly according
to temperature," explained
Linane. "At the freezing point the
rate is 1,090 feet per second and increases
a little over one foot for every
"Hot or cold," breezed Jenks, "I am
betting you five hundred dollars that
sound can travel two miles quicker than
"You're on, you damned idiot!"
shouted the completely exasperated
Jenks let Linane's friends hold the
watches and his friend held the
money. Jenks was to fire the shot.
Jenks fired the shot in front of a
microphone on a football field. One of
Linane's friends picked the sound up
instantaneously on a three-tube radio
set two miles away. The other watch
holder was standing in the open a quarter
of a mile away and his watch
showed a second and a fraction.
All hands agreed that Jenks had won
the bet fairly. Linane never exactly
liked Jenks after that.
Then Jenks rather aggravated matters
by a habit. Whenever Linane
would make a very positive statement
Jenks would look owl-eyed and say:
"Mr. Linane, I'll have to sound you out
about that." The heavy accent on the
word "sound" nettled Linane somewhat.
Linane never completely forgave
Jenks for putting over this "fast one."
Socially they were always more or less
at loggerheads, but neither let this feeling
interfere with their work. They
worked together faithfully enough and
each recognized the ability of the
And so it was that Linane and Jenks,
their heads together, worked all night
in an attempt to find some cause that
would tie responsibility for the disaster
on mother nature.
They failed to find it and, sleepy-eyed,
they were forced to admit failure,
The newspapers, to whom Muller had
said that he would not shirk any responsibility,
began a hue and cry for
the arrest of all parties in any way concerned
with the direction of the building
of the Colossus.
When the death list from the crash
and subway wreck reached 97, the
press waxed nasty and demanded the
arrest of Muller, Linane and Jenks in
no uncertain tones.
Half dead from lack of sleep, the
three men were taken by the police to
the district attorney's offices and, after
a strenuous grilling, were formally
placed under arrest on charges of criminal
negligence. They put up a $50,000
bond in each case and were permitted
to go and seek further to find the cause
of what the newspapers now began calling
the "Colossal Failure."
Several days were spent by Linane
and Jenks in examining the wreckage
which was being removed from Times
Square, truckload after truckload, to a
point outside the city. Here it was
again sorted and examined and piled
for future disposal.
So far as could be found every brick,
stone and ounce of material used in the
building was perfect. Attorneys, however,
assured Linane, Jenks and Muller
that they would have to find the real
cause of the disaster if they were to
escape possible long prison sentences.
Night after night Jenks courted
sleep, but it would not come. He began
to grow wan and haggard.
Jenks took to walking the streets
at night, mile after mile, thinking,
always thinking, and searching his
mind for a solution of the mystery.
It was evening. He had walked past
the scene of the Colossus crash several
times. He found himself on a side
street. He looked up and saw in electric
Munsterbergen, the Mad Musician
Concert Here To-night.
He took five dollars from his pocket
and bought a ticket. He entered with
the crowd and was ushered to a seat.
He looked neither to the right or left.
His eyes were sunken, his face lined
Something within Jenks caused him
to turn slightly. He was curiously
aware of a beautiful girl who sat beside
him. She had a mass of golden hair
which seemed to defy control. It was
wild, positively tempestuous. Her eyes
were deep blue and her skin as white
as fleecy clouds in spring. He was
dimly conscious that those glorious
eyes were troubled.
She glanced at him. She was aware
that he was suffering. A great surge
of sympathy welled in her heart. She
could not explain the feeling.
A great red plush curtain parted in
the center and drew in graceful folds
to the edges of the proscenium. A
small stage was revealed.
A tousle-headed man with glaring,
beady black eyes, dressed in black evening
clothes stepped forward and bowed.
Under his arm was a violin. He brought
the violin forward. His nose, like the
beak of some great bird, bobbed up and
down in acknowledgment of the plaudits
which greeted him. His long nervous
fingers began to caress the instrument
and his lips began to move.
Jenks was aware that he was saying
something, but was not at all interested.
What he said was this:
"Maybe, yes, I couldn't talk so good
English, but you could understood it,
yes? Und now I tell you dot I never
play the compositions of any man. I
axtemporize exgloosively. I chust
blay und blay, und maybe you should
listen, yes? If I bleeze you I am chust
Jenks' attention was drawn to him.
He noted his wild appearance.
"He sure looks mad enough," mused
The violinist flipped the fiddle up
under his chin. He drew the bow
over the strings and began a gentle
melody that reminded one of rain
drops falling on calm waters.
Jenks forgot his troubles. He forgot
everything. He slumped in his seat
and his eyes closed. The rain continued
falling from the strings of the
Suddenly the melody changed to a
glad little lilting measure, as sweet as
love itself. The sun was coming out
again and the birds began to sing.
There was the trill of a canary with
the sun on its cage. There was the
song of the thrush, the mocking-bird
and the meadow lark. These blended
finally into a melodious burst of chirping
melody which seemed a chorus of
the wild birds of the forest and glen.
Then the lilting love measure again.
It tore at the heart strings, and brought
tears to one's eyes.
Unconsciously the girl next to Jenks
leaned towards him. Involuntarily he
leaned to meet her. Their shoulders
touched. The cloud of her golden hair
came to rest against his dark locks.
Their hands found each other with
gentle pressure. Both were lost to the
Abruptly the music changed. There
was a succession of broken treble notes
that sounded like the crackling of
flames. Moans deep and melancholy
followed. These grew more strident
and prolonged, giving place to abject
howls, suggesting the lamentations of
The hands of the boy and girl
gripped tensely. They could not help
The violin began to produce notes of
a leering, jeering character, growing
more horrible with each measure until
they burst in a loud guffaw of maniacal
The whole performance was as if
someone had taken a heaven and
plunged it into a hell.
The musician bowed jerkily, and was
There was no applause, only wild
exclamations. Half the house was
on its feet. The other half sat as if
glued to chairs.
The boy and the girl were standing,
their hands still gripping tensely.
"Come, let's get out of here," said
Jenks. The girl took her wrap and
Jenks helped her into it. Hand in
hand they fled the place.
In the lobby their eyes met, and for
the first time they realized they were
strangers. Yet deep in their hearts
was a feeling that their fates had been
"My goodness!" burst from the girl.
"It can't be helped now," said Jenks
"What can't be helped?" asked the
girl, although she knew in her heart.
"Nothing can be helped," said Jenks.
Then he added: "We should know each
other by this time. We have been
holding hands for an hour."
The girl's eyes flared. "You have no
right to presume on that situation,"
Jenks could have kicked himself.
"Forgive me," he said. "It was only
that I just wanted so to know you.
Won't you let me see you home?"
"You may," said the girl simply, and
she led the way to her own car.
They drove north.
Their bodies seemed like magnets.
They were again shoulder to shoulder,
"Will you tell me your name?"
"Surely," replied the girl. "I am
"What?" exploded Jenks. "Why, I
work with a Linane, an engineer with
the Muller Construction Company."
"He is my father," she said.
"Why, we are great friends," said
the boy. "I am Jenks, his assistant—at
least we work together."
"Yes, I have heard of you," said the
girl. "It is strange, the way we met.
My father admires your work, but I
am afraid you are not great friends."
The girl had forgotten her troubles.
She chuckled. She had heard the way
Jenks had "sounded" her father out.
Jenks was speechless. The girl continued:
"I don't know whether to like you or
to hate you. My father is an old dear.
You were cruel to him."
Jenks was abject. "I did not mean
to be," he said. "He rather belittled
me without realizing it. I had to make
my stand. The difference in our years
made him take me rather too lightly.
I had to compel his notice, if I was to
"Oh!" said the girl.
"I am sorry—so sorry."
"You might not have been altogether
at fault," said the girl. "Father forgets
at times that I have grown up. I resent
being treated like a child, but he
is the soul of goodness and fatherly
"I know that," said Jenks.
Every engineer knows his mathematics.
It was this fact, coupled
with what the world calls a "lucky
break," that solved the Colossus mystery.
Nobody can get around the fact
that two and two make four.
Jenks had happened on accomplishment
to advance in the engineering profession,
and it was well for him that he
had reached a crisis. He had never believed
in luck or in hunches, so it was
good for him to be brought face to face
with the fact that sometimes the footsteps
of man are guided. It made him
begin to look into the engineering of
the universe, to think more deeply, and
to acknowledge a Higher Power.
With Linane he had butted into a
stone wall. They were coming to
know what real trouble meant. The
fact that they were innocent did not
make the steel bars of a cage any more
attractive. Their troubles began to
wrap about them with the clammy intimacy
of a shroud. Then came the
Next to his troubles, Jenks' favorite
topic was the Mad Musician. He tried
to learn all he could about this uncanny
character at whose concert he
had met the girl of his life. He learned
two facts that made him perk up and
One was that the Mad Musician had
had offices and a studio in the Colossus
and was one of the first to move in.
The other was that the Mad Musician
took great delight in shattering glassware
with notes of or vibrations from
a violin. Nearly everyone knows that
a glass tumbler can be shattered by the
proper note sounded on a violin. The
Mad Musician took delight in this
trick. Jenks courted his acquaintance,
and saw him shatter a row of glasses
of different sizes by sounding different
notes on his fiddle. The glasses
crashed one after another like gelatine
balls hit by the bullets of an expert
Then Jenks, the engineer who knew
his mathematics, put two and two together.
It made four, of course.
"Listen, Linane," he said to his co-worker:
"this fiddler is crazier than a
flock of cuckoos. If he can crack
crockery with violin sound vibrations,
is it not possible, by carrying the vibrations
to a much higher power, that
he could crack a pile of stone, steel,
brick and cement, like the Colossus?"
"Possible, but hardly probable. Still,"
Linane mused, "when you think about
it, and put two and two together....
Let's go after him and see what he is
Both jumped for their coats and hats.
As they fared forth, Jenks cinched his
"If a madman takes delight in breaking
glassware with a vibratory wave or
vibration, how much more of a thrill
would he get by crashing a mountain?"
"Wild, but unanswerable," said Linane.
Jenks had been calling on the Mad
Musician at his country place. "He
had a studio in the Colossus," he reminded
Linane. "He must have re-opened
somewhere else in town. I
"Musicians are great union men,"
said Linane. "Phone the union."
Teddy Jenks did, but the union gave
the last known town address as the
"He would remain in the same district
around Times Square," reasoned
Jenks. "Let's page out the big buildings
and see if he is not preparing to
crash another one."
"Fair enough," said Linane, who was
too busy with the problem at hand to
choose his words.
Together the engineers started a canvass
of the big buildings in the theatrical
district. After four or five had been
searched without result they entered
the 30-story Acme Theater building.
Here they learned that the Mad
Musician had leased a four-room suite
just a few days before. This suite was
on the fifteenth floor, just half way up
in the big structure.
They went to the manager of the
building and frankly stated their suspicions.
"We want to enter that suite
when the tenant is not there," they explained,
"and we want him forestalled
from entering while we are examining
"Hadn't we better notify the police?"
asked the building manager, who had
broken out in a sweat when he heard
the dire disaster which might be in
store for the stately Acme building.
"Not yet," said Linane. "You see,
we are not sure: we have just been
putting two and two together."
"We'll get the building detective,
anyway," insisted the manager.
"Let him come along, but do not let
him know until we are sure. If we are
right we will find a most unusual infernal
machine," said Linane.
The three men entered the suite
with a pass-key. The detective
was left outside in the hall to halt
anyone who might disturb the searchers.
It was as Jenks had thought. In
an inner room they found a diabolical
machine—a single string stretched
across two bridges, one of brass and
one of wood. A big horsehair bow attached
to a shaft operated by a motor
was automatically sawing across the
string. The note resulting was evidently
higher than the range of the human
ear, because no audible sound resulted.
It was later estimated that the destructive
note was several octaves
higher than the highest note on a
The entire machine was in a
heavy wire-net cage, securely bolted to
the floor. Neither the string or bow
could be reached. It was evidently the
Mad Musician's idea that the devilish
contrivance should not be reached by
hands other than his own.
How long the infernal machine had
been operating no one knew, but the
visitors were startled when the building
suddenly began to sway perceptibly.
Jenks jumped forward to stop
the machine but could not find a switch.
"See if the machine plugs in anywhere
in a wall socket!" he shouted to
Linane, who promptly began examining
the walls. Jenks shouted to the
building manager to phone the police
to clear the streets around the big
"Tell the police that the Acme Theater
building may crash at any moment,"
The engineers were perfectly cool in
face of the great peril, but the building
manager lost his head completely and
began to run around in circles muttering:
"Oh, my God, save me!" and other
words of supplication that blended into
an incoherent babel.
Jenks rushed to the man, trying to
still his wild hysteria.
The building continued to sway dangerously.
Jenks looked from a window. An
enormous crowd was collecting,
watching the big building swinging a
foot out of plumb like a giant pendulum.
The crowd was growing. Should
the building fall the loss of life would
be appalling. It was mid-morning.
The interior of the building teemed
with thousands of workers, for all
floors above the third were offices.
Teddy Jenks turned suddenly. He
heard the watchman in the hall scream
in terror. Then he heard a body fall.
He rushed to the door to see the Mad
Musician standing over the prostrate
form of the detective, a devilish grin
on his distorted countenance.
The madman turned, saw Jenks, and
started to run. Jenks took after him.
Up the staircase the madman rushed toward
the roof. Teddy followed him
two floors and then rushed out to take
the elevators. The building in its mad
swaying had made it impossible for the
lifts to be operated. Teddy realized
this with a distraught gulp in his
throat. He returned to the stairway
and took up the pursuit of the madman.
The corridors were beginning to fill
with screaming men and wailing girls.
It was a sight never to be forgotten.
Laboriously Jenks climbed story after
story without getting sight of the
madman. Finally he reached the roof.
It was waving like swells on a lake before
a breeze. He caught sight of the
Mad Musician standing on the street
wall, thirty stories from the street, a
leer on his devilish visage. He jumped
The madman grasped him and lifted
him up to the top of the wall as a cat
might have lifted a mouse. Both men
were breathing heavily as a result of
their 15-story climb.
The madman tried to throw Teddy
Jenks to the street below. Teddy clung
to him. The two battled desperately
as the building swayed.
The dense crowd in the street had
caught sight of the two men fighting on
the narrow coping, and the shout which
rent the air reached the ears of Jenks.
The mind of the engineer was still
working clearly, but a wild fear
gripped his heart. His strength seemed
to be leaving him. The madman pushed
him back, bending his spine with brute
strength. Teddy was forced to the narrow
ledge that had given the two men
footing. The fingers of the madman
gripped his throat.
He was dimly conscious that the
swaying of the building was slowing
down. His reason told him that Linane
had found the wall socket and had
stopped the sawing of the devil's bow
on the engine of hell.
He saw the madman draw a big knife.
With his last remaining strength he
reached out and grasped the wrist
above the hand which held the weapon.
In spite of all he could do he saw the
madman inching the knife nearer and
nearer his throat.
Grim death was peering into the
bulging eyes of Teddy Jenks, when his
engineering knowledge came to his rescue.
He remembered the top stories of
the Acme building were constructed
with a step of ten feet in from the
street line, for every story of construction
above the 24th floor.
"If we fall," he reasoned, "we can
only fall one story." Then he deliberately
rolled his own body and the
weight of the madman, who held him,
over the edge of the coping. At the
same time he twisted the madman's
wrist so the point of the knife pointed
to the madman's body.
There was a dim consciousness of a
painful impact. Teddy had fallen underneath,
but the force of the two
bodies coming together had thrust the
knife deep into the entrails of the Mad
Clouds which had been collecting in
the sky began a splattering downpour.
The storm grew in fury and lightning
tore the heavens, while thunder boomed
and crackled. The rain began falling
This served to revive the unconscious
Teddy. He painfully withdrew
his body from under that of the
madman. The falling rain, stained
with the blood of the Mad Musician,
trickled over the edge of the building.
Teddy dragged himself through a
window and passed his hand over his
forehead, which was aching miserably.
He tried to get to his feet and fell back,
only to try again. Several times he
tried and then, his strength returning,
he was able to walk.
He made his way to the studio where
he had left Linane and found him there
surrounded by police, reporters and
others. The infernal machine had been
rendered harmless, but was kept intact
Catching sight of Teddy, Linane
shouted with joy. "I stopped the
damned thing," he chuckled, like a
pleased schoolboy. Then, observing
Teddy's exhausted condition he added:
"Why, you look like you have been
to a funeral!"
"I have," said Teddy. "You'll find
that crazy fiddler dead on the twenty-ninth
story. Look out the window of
the thirtieth story," he instructed the
police, who had started to recover the
body. "He stabbed himself. He is
either dead or dying."
It proved that he was dead.
No engineering firm is responsible
for the actions of a madman. So the
Muller Construction Company was given
a clean bill of health.
Jenks and Elaine Linane were with
the girl's father in his study. They
were asking for the paternal blessing.
Linane was pretending to be hard to
"Now, my daughter," he said, "this
young man takes $500 of my good
money by sounding me out, as he calls
it. Then he comes along and tries to
take my daughter away from me. It is
positively high-handed. It dates back
to the football game—"
"Daddy, dear, don't be like that!"
said Elaine, who was on the arm of his
chair with her own arms around him.
"I tell you, Elaine, this dates back
to the fall of 1927."
"It dates back to the fall of Eve,"
said Elaine. "When a girl finds her
man, no power can keep him from her.
If you won't give me to Teddy Jenks,
I'll elope with him."
"Well, all right then. Kiss me," said
Linane as he turned towards his radio
"One and one makes one," said Teddy
Every engineer knows his mathematics.