In which the villain is unmasked, a mystery is solved and love comes into own
SHE crumpled the paper in her hand, dropped it to the floor. Her wits and courage had returned to her. She drew herself up in womanly dignity, and her eyes met Herzton's with no sign of fear. "Well?" she demanded. "Is that surrender?" he asked. "I shall have to know your terms-and your guarantee."
“You talk of guarantee? You have no alternative.” But his mood suddenly changed. He was again the suave, courteous Professor Herzton.
“You are a-beautiful creature,” he smiled down upon hier. “You are worth all you have cost me. But first, I have a little entertainment for you.” He moved the control, and the elevator sped upward.
Át the landing of his floor the professor stopped the car. He looked keenly along the passages before opening the door.
“Ah! I see they are now bringing their united wits to bear upon an investigation of my laboratory,” he mocked. “While they pursue their enquiry you will come with me.”
He took her arm in the strong grip of his talon-like fingers.
“Professor Herzton,” the girl protested, trying to free herself. He merely tightened his hold upon her.
“You will do as you are told,” he said. “Now, and henceforth. I once offered you terms, and you refused; now I dictate them.”
He hurried her toward his rooms, but, when nearing them, swung her along a panelled passage to the left. A small electric light glowed from a bracket on the wall. Herzton reached up to the switch and turned it. The light glowed on, but the panel in front of them silently swung inward.
“Rather clever, don’t you think?” he enquired, as though casually asking her commendation. “When one stands on a certain plug in the floor and turns the switch, a little motor, concealed in the wall, swings the door open. Go in.”
She hesitated, and his grip tightened until she thought it would crush her arm.
“Go in,” he repeated, and she obeyed, he following at her heels.
The chamber in which she found herself was a tiny ,room not more than six by twelve feet. The walls were bare except for some electrical instruments which she did not understand. There was no window, and, apparently, no door; the panel behind them had already closed, burying itself in the bare wall. At one end of the little room was a table topped with a glass mirror set at a slight incline; at the other a stand supported an instrument somewhat like a small telescope mounted on a frame.
“I promised you some entertainment,” said Herzton. “What do you see in the glass?”
For the moment, at least, nothing was to be gained by resisting him. She bent over the inclined mirror. “Myself,” she answered.
“Ah, what more beautiful sight!” He brought his head close to hers and his reflection leered back upon her. The triumph of possession was in his eyes. “How Often I have thought of you, my beautiful one, and awaited the moment when our lives should blend as now ôur reflections do.” His cheek touched hers.
“Please do not mock me, Professor Herzton,” she begged. “If this is your idea of entertainment it is a very cruel one indeed.”
“Cruel? Nothing to what I shall show you presently.”
He pressed a switch in the wall. Instantly a new reflection appeared in the glass. She saw a larger room filled with much mysterious apparatus. There were two doors, both closed, but no window.
“They are slow,” he grumbled. “Ah, here they come.”
One of the doors swung open and the generous form of Inspector Malcolm filled the space. He surveyed the paraphernalia for a moment in apparent mystification, then moved inside, making way for Anderson, Angus Hensley, and the othpr members of the party.
“They are investigating the secret room,” Herzton explained.
Gladys watched the scene before her, fascinated. She knew she was observing a drama—a drama of life and death. Before this greater tragedy her own fate seemed an impersonal matter of little moment.
“But how do you do it?” she found her lips saying. She could not help admiring the diabolical genius of the man.
“Rather clever, isn’t it?” It was apparent that the professor enjoyed compliments on his ability. She noted the fact; that way might lie some hope. “But quite simple,” he went on. “The periscope principle. That is the famous secret room of the mysterious Professor Herzton. These men you see are investigators. Look at Anderson handling that instrument! He expects it to explode. For all he knows it may be used for inflating tires. Now the great Inspector Malcolm
comes to his assistance. They converse, no doubt, in highly technical terms. See, they are concentrating their massive minds upon it—a truly herculean experience.”
So Herzton gloated on, mocking, while the girl was held in a fascination which for the moment displaced alarm for herself and those silent figures moving before her in the glass.
“What are you going to do to them, Professor Herzton?” It was an entreaty rather than a question, born out of the depths of her concern.
“My dear, the performance has scarcely started, ^ ou may have observed—as they have not—that the door through which they entered is closed. Evidently, too, they have not as yet noted your absence. It is an innocent-looking door, but lined with steel. Their combined strength would not move it the thickness of a razor blade. They are my prisoners, and that is my death dungeon. Whether they come out alive depends on you.”
“On you. It is a position of some responsibility in which you find yourself. But see! They have discovered the other door. They are going to open it. Watch closely; this will be of special interest to you.”
The menace under his mocking tones chilled her to the heart. The door to which they had come apparently led into another room, hidden still deeper in the recesses of the building. It was bolted, but Malcolm drew the bolts. He and Anderson were peering inside. They started back as though hurled out by an unseen force; then, with gestures of great excitement, rushed through the open door.
“Watch closely,” Herzton whispered in her ear. “This is going to be good.”
Malcolm and Anderson were dragging something out of the other room. As it came into the range of the glass Gladys saw that it was a human form, the form of a man, apparently in a semiconscious condition. The face turned upward, and she reeled back into the arms of her captor.
“It’s Gordon Brace,” she gasped.
“You’re right,” Herzton returned, like a master commending a pupil for a clever answer. “What a memory you have! Now, look again. This, too, is going to be good.”
Another form was dragged out among the thoroughly excited and mystified group. They crowded around so that for some moments she was unable to see the face. When at last they parted enough to give her a view, it was the face of a stranger.
“I do not know him,” she breathed.
“Not personally, I think, but by reputation. You have heard of Miles Freeman?”
Her memory shot back to the transcripts of Vera Masters and the immediate purpose of Kent’s flight into the north.
“But Miles Freeman,” she exclaimed. “How can he be here?”
“I am a man of mystery, Miss Hensley,” he replied with mocking deference. “But see! They are bringing out another.”
It was true. A third form was half dragged, half assisted into the range of her vision. It was Williams, the chauffeur.
She turned to Herzton. “Tell me, please, am I really seeing these things, or are you tormenting me with some clever illusion?”
He was pleased with her mystification and with her growing respect for his powers. “Would an illusion be as clever as this?” he asked. “And would an illusory Williams walk about the room, albeit a little shakily?”
But a fourth form made its appearance. This, even before she saw the face, she knew to be Morley Kent.
For some minutes she remained speechless, watching the excited hubbub reflected in the glass as though she had been some gentle bird transfixed by the eyes of a serpent. Then she turned to Professor Herzton. She was calm, collected, and her eyes met his, fearlessly.
“What is your price?” she asked.
“It is early to speak of that,” he answered. “Are you not interested in these visitors? I arranged their presence as a special treat for you.”
“Indeed I am interested,” she said, taking the cue that he hungered for flattery. “You amaze me, Professor Herzton, even while you frighten me.”
“Frighten you? My dear!” He laid a hand caressingly upon her arm. “I would not frighten you. But I am just giving you a glimpse of my power. Do you not think it is very wonderful?” He was eager to feast upon her approbation.
“More wonderful than anything in the world,” she breathed, in all sincerity. “Tell me—how do you do it?” “All in good time, all in good time,” he answered. “For the present—here they are.”
HERE they were—there could be no doubt of it. The glass showed them, now, the centre of an excited knot; by their gesticulations the nature of their explanations could be guessed. Suddenly all eyes turned to the door of'the larger room in which they were now standing, as though one dread question had presented itself to each mind simultaneously. Mr. Hensley tried the door with his hand, but it did not respond. Then Malcolm threw his great bulk against it. As Herzton had predicted, it gave not the thickness of a razor blade.
For some moments Herzton watched the glass with undiluted satisfaction. Then, “It is time for the final act,” he said. He pressed a button in the wall.
“What did that do?” she asked. She was prepared for anything now, for any surprise and for any sacrifice. It seemed, indeed, that she had already made the sacrifice, and that she observed these diabolical doings from a detached position as some disembodied spirit might have done. Only when she looked again upon the form of Morley Kent was she conscious of the beating of her heart.
“That,” he explained, “is just a little expression of my consideration for them. I might allow them to suffocate there slowly; the room, as you may have observed, has no ventilation. But I am now admitting a gentle flow of gas; a very distressing gas, it is true, but one which will do its work within half an hour. Is not that very considerate?”
“Again I ask you, Professor Herzton, what is your price? I will pay anything I have for the lives of the people in that room.”
He seemed to consider. “That is magnanimous on your part, Gladys, but why should I bargain, seeing that you are in my power quite as much as they? I may set my price without making their release a condition of it. Indeed, I would be foolish to let them out now at all. They wquld repay my generosity by combining to hound me to death.”
“But if you murder them—and it is murder—you will be hounded to death anyway. The thing could not long remain a secret,” she argued.
“No one would connect me with it,” he answered, confidently. “All who could give evidence against me, except you, are already in that death trap.”
Doubting no longer that she was in the hands of a genius who had gone mad in his prying into invisible forces, Gladys herself turned to invisible sources of power. Fragments of Mr. Rogers’ theory—religion, philosophy, or science, it mattered not—that every human mind is a radio set capable of establishing, if it will, contact with the central station, arose in her
memory at that moment. Silently but desperately, she flung her soul out in an effort to establish that
Suddenly it became apparent that the presence of the deadly gas had been discovered by the prisoners in that mystery room. The paralysis of a moment gave place to a paroxysm of action. The men seized the instruments and apparatus with which the room was equipped and dashed them in futile fury against the door, the walls, even the ceiling.
In different manners, reaching down to the bed rock of their natures, the different prisoners looked into the eyes of death. Malcolm and Anderson wan still impotently flinging themselves and whatever they could lay their hands upon against the unyielding door. Kent and his three companions stoically awaited whatever must be. Dr. Alstice, Mr. Hensley and Powers were seen in grave discussion, as though they explored all reason for some avenue of escape.
“Death is necessarily a distressing experience, Gladys,” Herzton remarked, with the utmost detachment. “But it is purely physical. Everything is physical. Even the love I have for you, and the love you presently will have for me, are but chemical reactions.”
“The love I presently will have for you?” she repeated. “Professor Herzton, for you I never can have anything but hate and contempt.”
He smiled, as one who can take his time. “But that is part of the price, Gladys. You asked me to name the price. You need not offer me your physical self; it already is in my power. I can take it. But your love—that is something you must give. Also you must give it with your whole heart, utterly, without reservation.” “That cannot be done. It is impossible.”
“Nothing is impossible. See, I will help. Where is your compact?”
“My compact?” she asked in surprise. “What do you want it for? I didn’t bring it with me.”
“That is unfortunate. I have duplicate discs, but they are in that room at present occupied by our visitors. But if mechanical appliances fail us we can always come back to first principles. I am interested in making you the subject of an experiment.” With his tiger agility, he was behind the peculiar instrument at the end oí the room, training it upon her. Rays of a violet color, like toy lightning, played over her body. >
She was conscious of something drawing her toward him, something sinister, deadly. (
“Professor Herzton, what are you doing?” sh« demanded.
“My child, I am demonstrating to you the greatest invention of all ages, the invention which is to make me master of the world. I am defeated for the momenf by a combination of fools and circumstances. Another month—another week—and I should have perfected it.1 Then the whole world would be mine. Gladys, can you picture that? The whole world mine? I have found a secret of which the greatest inventors before me have not even dreamed. I can make you think what I want you to think; do what I want you to do. I can make you love me. I can make the world obey me. I can set nations at war. I can dictate terms of peace. I can make myself king, emperor, of the world.”
Continued on page 26
Continued, from page 24
The attraction he played upon her drew her in spite of herself. Suddenly she thrust by the machine and flung her arms about him. “Martin, I love you. I am yours, utterly. But save those poor souls. Remember, I love them, too.”
Her hands were on his face, about his neck. At the touch of her warm flesh, the man of science was routed; even delight in his experiment could hold him no longer. He seized her; drew her to him savagely; smothered her with kisses.
“Turn off the gas, Martin,” she pleaded, as he held her in his arms. “You will do that much for me?”
“For you what would I refuse to do?” He operated certain switches. “That will give them a supply of oxygen.”
She rewarded him with an answering caress. “Now set them free,” she begged.
But on that he was firm. “No, I cannot do that. They will not suffer with a good current of fresh air coming in; let them stay until they are found. Meanwhile we shall be far away.”
“We, Martin? Where?”
“I have acted quickly, as I always do. A boat sails for England tomorrow. We can reach it by airplane tonight. A suite on that boat is reserved for Mr. and Mrs. Herzton.”
“When are we to be married, Martin?” she asked.
“That is a formality which the captain of the boat could perform—only we won’t be there.”
“Not there, Martin? Where, then?”
He laughed gently, enjoying her mystification and the respect it implied for his commanding will. “I am not so simple as that, my child. We would step off the
boat at Liverpool into the hands of the police am much too clever for that! I have found a young man and his bride who, for the sake of a free honeymoon, have agreed to travel as Mr. and Mrs. Herzton. That is all I asked of them, and all I explained. They can do the explaining when they are arrested.”
He had abandoned the machine to hold her in his arms, and already the sudden, violent attraction she had felt for him was subsiding. Even as he held her in his arms she shuddered at his ingenuity and utter disregard for others.
“And we?” she repeated.
“We board a tramp steamer for South America.
Professor Herzton can be trusted to put its wireless out of business. We shall travel simply as Mr. and Mrs. Martin, and no suspicion will attach to us. Buenos Aires is a beautiful city. There we shall establish ourselves. There I will complete my invention. When I come back it will be as master.”
“It will take money,” she said.
He held her close until she felt the outline of a stout package in the inner pocket of his coat. “Ten thousand dollars, my dear,” he chuckled. “The ten thousand that was to finance our friends, Kent and Williams. I owe that to you, and it is very fair that you should help to spend it. I have other securities, too, which can be cashed later on.”
“Then it is settled. I am to go with you, and these people are to be free.”
“It is a bargain, although I give them more mercy than they deserve. I do it for your sake, because ...”
She was standing with her back toward the panel which served as the only door to the little cell, her head held close to him, when suddenly she felt his body grow tense, and his sentence remained unfinished. Looking up, she saw wild eyes gazing past her toward the panel. His hold on her loosened and she turned her head. The panel was moving! Slowly, certainly, the little motor was grinding it open. A moment later, the burly figure of the policeman Murphy appeared in the aperture.
'VTOT until that moment did Gladys recall that she had not seen Murphy among those trapped in the gas chamber.
Her mind, flying from conjecture to conjecture, was suddenly arrested by a scream from Herzton. It was the scream of a wild animal, of a beast of the jungle. With amazing strength he tore his precious instrument from the stand on which it stood and hurled it at the policeman. Murphy, with equally amazing dexterity, dodged the missile and it went crashing to the floor. The next moment both Herzton and Gladys were looking up the barrel of Murphy’s revolver.
“All right, fire!” Herzton defied, holding the girl as a shield before him.
“Come out wid yez and get arrested dacently,” the policeman commanded.
“You may as well come,” said a voice which, to Gladys’s amazement, she recognized as that of the maid Manners. “The jig is up, and you’re up with it. You are a very clever man, Professor Herzton, but the cleverest crook sometimes makes a mistake. You made yours when you forgot that I knew about this secret cell and how to open it. Remember the time it suited
your convenience to lock me in it, and it pleased your vanity to show me how the door was operated? Men learn many new things, Herzton; women never forget old things. He is your prisoner, Murphy, but take no chances. Put the bracelets on him at once.”
A gulf of a million years separated Herzton from the wild animal he was a moment before. Again he was the suave, cultured gentleman.
“You are making a grave mistake,” he said to the policeman. “You have listened to this crazy woman, and intruded very rudely upon the privacy of myself and my fiancée. But that will be excused even now if you apologize arid retire.”
“Apologize, is it? Retire? Not till I’ve seen ye to yer bed! Come out now an’ get arrested dacently!” Herzton had released his hold of Gladys. “Excuse me, dear,” he said, with great apparent tenderness: “I suppose I had better humor him.”
He stepped through the panel, but as Murphy made way for him he seized the policeman’s revolver. There was a fight for the weapon, during which it flew from Murphy’s hand and slid along the floor. Breaking free, Herzton rushed for it, but not before Manners had swooped down upon it. Pursued by Herzton, the woman fled down the corridor toward the elevator shaft, Murphy and Gladys following close behind.
Manners reached the elevator, but the doors were locked. She turned, and Herzton was upon her like a wild animal. There was a flash, a cry, and two form3 writhed on the floor.
They drew the woman from the groaning heap, and found that, save for the shock of Herzton's frame against her, she was uninjured. The groaning ceased, the body twitched prodigiously, drew up into a contorted mass, then slowly settled down in a lifeless heap.
For some moments the three survivors looked on this piece of sudden wreckage, this blown-out fuse, in silence. Astonishment at the turn of events robbed them of speech.
Murphy was the first to find words. “My evidence will be ‘killed in self-defense’,” he said.
“And mine will be the same,” Gladys agreed. Then, without warning, the world began to swim in circles, and she collapsed into the arms of the policeman.
The astonished watchman answered Manners’ franÄ ringing of the elevator bell. “Get us down, and get* taxi,” she ordered. “Miss Hensley has fainted.” Having given what help he could, Murphy turned hfe attention to the other members of the party. Herzton’s trapdoor, although impregnable from the inside, opened readily to his hand, and Murphy’s big countenance beamed in through the aperture. The little group surged about him, exultant over their own release and clamoring with concern for Gladys, who had been missed just as they began to discover the presence of the poison gas.
Continued on page 28
Continued from page 26
“Miss Hensley has gone home with Manners,” Murphy explained. “A little upset, she was, at seein’ a man killed before her eyes.”
“Prepare yerself for a shock, Mr. Hensley, but ye’ve lost an ould an’ disrespected employee. Professor Herzton collided with the wrong end of a police revolver. He’ll take a bit of ontwistin' to get him into his box.”
They surveyed all that was left of Herzton, and Inspector Malcolm, in making a quick inventory of the effects on the body, exhibited to the astonished onlookers a thick parcel of money.
“This seems to be yours. Mr. Hensley,” he said, “but with your permission I will place it in safe keeping until the legal formalities are discharged. He was all primed for a getaway, wasn’t he?”
They covered the body with a canvas from one of the machines to await the coroner, Murphy meanwhile giving such light on the event as he could. His report of the timely and unexpected arrival of Manners, and the tragic part she had played in the last half hour, was received with astonishment, almost incredulity.
“Let us return at once to the house,”
Dr. Alstice suggested, when they were able to think clearly again. “Miss Gladys may need my attention.”
UPON arrival at Hensley House Dr.
Alstice immediately devoted himself to Gladys, while Mrs. Hensley—now thoroughly concerned for her daughter— and the woman Manners, hovered about him. Meanwhile, in the smoking room an excited group were exchanging facts and deductions.
“But how in the world . . . where did you all come from?” Mr. Hensley wanted to know, addressing himself in particular to Kent. “We thought you were away in the north ...”
“Probably under arrest." Malcolm added.
“And no doubt we should have been, but for an extraordinary piece of good luck,”
Kent returned. “After a hunt through the wilderness, which I will not stop to tell you of just now, we all came up together.
Gordon had found Freeman, and Frank and I had found Gordon. Piecing together what we knew and-what we suspected, we figured that we had more combined evidence than Herzton would be willing to face, so we decided to come back unexpectedly, beard him in his den, and force him to show his hand.”
“But how did you get through the police?” Malcolm interrupted, still secretly worried over the failure of his confrères to run them down.
“A bit of luck, as I said. We were making across country on our way out, taking a chance. One day we got hopelessly lost, and wound up in the evening at our starting point. There we learned that the police had passed through on our trail during the day. By getting ourselves lost in a maze of rivers and lakes, we had thrown them off the scent. We hired a guide, travelled all night, and in the morning reached a point where we could hire an airplane. In it we flew right down without mishap, landed a short distance outside of the city, hired a car and drove straight to the works. There we called on Professor Herzton.”
“And wasn’t he cool?” said Gordon Brace, taking up the thread. “Received us as though we were long lost brothers. When we charged him with working some kind of deviltry from that citadel of his, he was positively pained that we could think such a thing. Offered to show us all over—show us everything. We went through the rooms you all know, and then through one which he keeps for his secret experiments. There was a lot of apparatus which he talked about plausibly, and then invited us to inspect a room still farther in. Standing back courteously to let us pass, he manipulated something which silently closed the door and locked us in. There we were, like rats in a trap, and beginning to go under from suffocation when you let us out.”
Kent had just time for a word with Powers and Vera when Dr. Alstice returned from the sick room.
“Gladys will be all right,” he said, “but it may take time. She has been under phenomenal strain—a strain which perhaps even she did not fully realize, running
back over a period of weeks. She is in good hands, and I have left word to be called instantly if required.” There was a sigh of relief, and then eagerly again they fell to discussion of the events of the day, each advancing his own theories or deductions but without arriving at any conclusion. It was long past the dinner hour, but no one seemed to think of eating.
“I must confess it is beyond me,” Mr. Hensley declared at length. “But we should make some arrangement to follow up the various clues that have been presented. The investigation cannot stop now.”
“I was going to suggest that,” Kent replied. “Just now, perhaps, we are all too keyed-up to do our best thinking. If you would give me authority to go through Herzton’s rooms I might find something that might throw light upon it. I am a bit of an investigator into natural forces, and I would be glad to put my time and service at your disposal.”
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A Romantic Novel of an Amazing Masquerade
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“A good idea,” Mr. Hensley agreed. “How long will you want?”
“I might be able to report progress by tomorrow night.”
“Good. Then let us meet here again after dinner tomorrow.”
“There’s just one little difficulty,” Inspector Malcolm interrupted. “There are warrants out for three of these men. It is my duty to take them into custody.”
Kent, Williams, and Brace looked at each other. There was no doubt as to the technical soundness of Malcolm’s position.
“I think you might accept their parole for twentyfour hours,” Mr. Hensley suggested. “I will add my personal guarantee. First thing in the morning my lawyers will take the matter up with the authorities, and any bonds that may be required will be forthcoming.”
Malcolm was apologetic. “Of course you understand, Mr. Hensley, I only want to do my duty.”
“Of course. But remember, you did not capture these men. They came back of their own will. With everything in their favor to stay, they are not likely to slip away on you again.”
So assured, but still shaking his head, the inspector agreed.
Kent sidled Dr. Alstice into a corner. “Any chance of seeing Gladys?” he whispered.
“Not a chance,” the doctor ordered, “until I say so.” Brace, too, had a whispered conversation, with no more success.
KENT went straight to his lodgings to snatch a little sleep. In the morning, rested, bathed, and shaved, he looked out upon a world familiar yet strange. It seemed ages since he had gone on his flight into the northland. The problems before him were baffling, but his body was hard knit; his muscles like iron. Health tingled in his veins. And fate was playing into his hands. Herzton was out of the way, the missing money had been found, and Mr. Hensley had singled him out for attention and confidence. It was good, too, to look again on Vera and Powers; they seemed to give him anchorage at a time when the course of events wat running so swiftly it might well carry him off his feet. His one concern was for Gladys. He telephoned the house at an unseasonable hour, and a watchful nurse assured him that Miss Hensley seemed to be doing all right, bid; was still unconscious. With that he would have to be content until Dr. Alstice called later in the morning.
After breakfast he visited Hensley House, but there was nothing new to report concerning her condition. He had a long and earnest conversation with Mr. Hensley, and they drove together to the plant. There, armed with carte blanche authority, he began his investigations. During the day he had interviews with Manners, with Anderson and Malcolm, with Brace and Freeman, and with officials at the works, and before night he was able to piece together a most remarkable chain of facts and deductions.
Not one of the interested group of the night before was absent when, at the stipulated time, Kent joined them again at Hensley House.
“Well, Kent, have you got to the bottom of it?” was Mr. Hensley’s greeting. “But to begin with, perhaps I had better set your mind at rest on a personal matter. My lawyers have been very active today with the authorities, and I am able to assure you and our friend Williams here that the charges against you will be dropped. As for you, Gordon, a man has been killed, and it is not so easy to dispose of the case. There will be some formalities to observe, but you need have no misgivings as to the outcome. The situation is thoroughly understood, and, while I am not saying that your planting of a gun was altogether justified, there will at least be no occasion for your making your will or putting your affairs in shape for a long absence. Now, Kent, tell us what you know.”
The young inventor rose to his feet, and all eyes were turned intently upon him.
“To begin,” he said, “I must thank all those who have so wonderfully co-operated) with me during the last few hours. Particularly Miss Manners. She has placed before me information which otherwise could not have been unearthed in months, if ever.
“Miss Manners—I will continue to speak of her in that way, although that is not her name—is, in reality, a married woman. Through some situation which does not concern us, she. came under the hatred of her husband. To cover her tracks she committed a fake suicide by drowning. In some way,Herzton learned’ her secret, and has used it to maintain control over her, threatening to disclose her whereabouts to her husband if she did not do his bidding. It is for that reason Ij continue to speak of her as Miss Manners, and I ask)! you all to do the same.”
There was a murmur of assent, and Kent continued; “Herzton placed Manners in your household, Mr. Hensley, because he wanted a spy inside the fortress, so to speak. He arranged a secret telephone connection with her room, by means of which they kept each other informed. Also, he concealed a very ingenious dictaphone in this desk in your smoking room. The wif© runs down the leg to a brass plate which has been substituted for the usual glider, and which in turn connects with another brass plate inserted in the floor. It was part of Miss Manners’ duty to see that this desk was kept in the exact position which would enable Herzton to listen in on your conversation whenever he found it of interest to do so.”
Examination of the desk disclosed the truth of what Kent had said. With a rising tide of interest and astonishment, the little company hung on his words.
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“But these are only minor matters. They might be called the recreations of a great inventor. In his radio researches Herzton had stumbled on the thought that just as sound and light are transmitted by vibrations, so possibly the very emotions of the mind may be transmitted. After all, sound in the form of speech is only an artificial way of transmitting what is in the mind. The vocal cords, the lips, the ears are in a sense merely mechanical contrivances for that purpose. Words are not thoughts; they are merely expressions of thought. The thing is to transmit the thought itself. We all know that that occasionally happens. We ‘sense' the presence of another person in a dark room, although we may not hear a sound. We meet a stranger, and before a word is spoken we have a favorable or unfavorable reaction.
“Herzton conceived the idea that it is possible to invent a machine which will transmit thoughts or moods from the operator to a second person unaware of the operation. He went on the theory that every brain is a radio receiving and broadcasting station. Some stations are, of course, immensely more powerful than others, but no station is so powerful that of itself it can establish complete mastery. His idea was to aid it by mechanical means.
“As you know, Mr. Hensley, you gave him a free hand in the arrangement of his laboratory. He divided the floor space allotted to him into rooms according to his own whims. There is not even a blueprint of them at the plant. Partly as a precaution and partly as an exercise in invention, and partly to humor a feeling of being some new kind of lord enthroned in a new kind of castle, he equipped these rooms with such things as gas tanks, electrically operated doors, periscope communication, and so on. This was his base, but his real field of action was within your family circle, Mr. Hensley.
“Now about the machine itself. Unfortunately, in our efforts to break out of the room in which we were trapped last night, the delicate machinery was so smashed that nothing remains complete. I have pieced together what I can, but the result is inadequate. However, it is apparent that he had invented a highly sensitive diaphragm which, hanging close to his head in a room specially treated to exclude sound waves and radio waves, responded to the vibrations of his mind. This was only achieved by intense concentration; so it was physically impossible for him to remain at the machine for any great length of time, or to use it very frequently. Communicating with this diaphragm was a device for amplifying or ‘stepping-up’ the vibrations. By an adaptation of the beam principle of wireless telegraphy, these amplified vibrations were projected in the desired direction through an instrument something like a telescope.
“Aside from the rooms used for his laboratory, Herzton had partitioned off a little cell in which were controls governing the poison gas tanks, the movements of doors and so on, and, I am also glad to record, the supplying of fresh air. In this spot were, so to speak, the throttles by means of which he could operate his deadly machine, and reflectors by means of which he could see what was going on in any of the rooms. On one occasion his vanity tripped him into showing this room to Miss Manners, and into boasting how it could be used in emergency. I can only account for this by his desire to impress her with his power and his genius, and his utter confidence that she would be afraid to betray him.
“Well, he began his experiments, using Miss Manners at first as the receiving depot. This was not satisfactory. She
was partly in the secret, and Herzton felt that a demonstration, in order to prove anything, would have to be on some person who knew nothing about it. He selected Miss Hensley. At first he got no results, and he concluded that the vibrations he was able to send out were not sufficiently powerful to be effective, unless he could find some way to focus them on the person toward whom they were directed. At this juncture he either invented or discovered a formula for treating an alloy so that it had the effect of attracting the vibrations, concentrating them much as a telescope concentrates light waves. He employed some form of magnetism, but what it was we shall never know, because we may be sure he was much too shrewd to leave his formula on record.” ’ ^ , *
V ENT took a small object from his ^ pocket. It had the appearance of copper, and was about the size of a one-
“This is what he produced. It has the appearance of copper, but . has been treated in such a way that it attracts the emotion waves passing near it. 'It attracted his emotion vibrations as a magnet attracts steel. Roughly, it serves the same purpose as the aerial for your radio set. I found this concealed behind a false back in Miss Hensley’s vanity case.”
There were exclamations of surprise and much examination of the copper disc.
“Yes. Miss Manners knew it was there, and, as I said, she has been of great service to me. It was her business to see that the disc was in the proximity of Gladys when Herzton was ready for an experiment. When this disc came within her aura, her mind was directly affected by the emotion impulses sent out from Herzton’s machine.”
“But why,” Mr. Hensley interrupted, after a silence in which the significance of this revelation settled home upon them, “why should he have selected my daughter, of all people, for such purposes?”
“I think his course was logical enough,” Kent answered. "In the first place, he was able, through Miss Manners, to check accurately the results. And if he could bring Gladys under his influence it would not only prove that he had discovered a great new natural law, but it would open the way for his marriage into the family. The next step would be your retirement, with Herzton as president of the company. Then, with all the equipment and resources of the Hensley Radio Corporation at his command he would be ready for his real adventure.”
“His real adventure?”
“Yes. But I must come to that later. Well, he began his experiments and had a measure of success. When Gordon was out one evening with Gladys, desiring to break up the party, he transmitted to her a mood of haste. That was where I came into the picture. The mood persisted while we were in the taxi together. She left her purse with the compact in the taxi, and it seems to have affected the driver, at least to some extent, on his return journey. The next day he sent Galut as his representative to the coroner’s inquest. When Miss Hensley’s testimony was favorable to me, Galut slipped out,; telephoned his chief, who immediately subjected her to the influence and re-* versed her attitude. In the same way he1 influenced her at other times. But one thing balked him. Obviously, without disclosing the machine, he could not operate it while in her presence. He was powerless at the very times when he most wanted power.”
Kent paused, and a murmur ran through the little group. They waited for him to continue.
“You spoke of Herzton's real adventure,” Dr. Alstice reminded him.
“Yes. As his invention developed, its almost infinite significance became more and more apparent. This was but the tiny stream which would grow into a river that would flood the world. It was at the same relative stage as the telephone was when it was first demonstrated that sound could be transmitted half a mile. Herzton’s mind was able to conceive its ultimate possibilities. Given the correct principle, it was only necessary to multiply the power sufficiently in order to dispense with the discs and bring everyone under the influence. The necessity for secrecy made it impossible for him to establish a high-powered plant. This he hoped to do after he had gained control of the Corporation. Then, by charging the ether with a certain type of vibration he could bring about the desired mental reaction in millions, in hundreds of millions, of his fellow men. Each human station would in turn rebroadcast its emotions, so that they would sweep around the world as a patriotic fervor sweeps through a nation at the outbreak of war. The phenomenon of war patriotism, or mob violence, or religious mania, for example, can be explained only on the theory that otherwise normal minds have come under the control of a dominating influence. Herzton dreamed of himself creating and applying that influence. Don’t you see? It would make him master of human thought, or, rather, it would replace rational action by emotional impulse, and that, in turn, could be used to make him master of the world.
“For a time all went-well, but the very immensity of such possibilities began to unbalance his mind. He became incredibly suspicious. No miser ever hoarded his gold as Herzton hoarded his secret, and in everyone he met he began to see a potential enemy. He became suspicious of Gordon Brace, who was working out some perfectly legitimate experiments of his own, and set Galut to spy upon him. Although confident of his ultimate success, he began protecting his discovery by basic patents, disguising their purpose so that not even the Patent Office would know what he was aiming at. It was in this connection that he ran into conflict with Freeman’s patent, and fell into a panic to get control of it. The talk about needing it for a static eliminator was just a blind. He honored me also with his suspicion, and was devising means to put me out of the way.
“His undoing dated from the killing of Galut. As he had now no outside agent except Miss Manners, who was showing signs of revolt, his suspicions were redoubled, and he began to feel that his enemies were closing in upon him. By a ruse which was designed to place Miss Hensley in a wrong light, he obtained my fingerprints and turned them over to the police, thus connecting me with the shooting of Galut, as I had happened to be with the unfortunate man at the time of his death. Yes,” he added, answering a note of surprise from his auditors, “I was with Galut when he was shot. I will not go into details here, but Gordon knows the story, and my evidence will be at his disposal when he needs it. Herzton took advantage of the situation to present me with the alternative of imprisonment or flight. Manners, as his agent, removed the money that was to have financed our search for Brace. I said ‘as his agent’; she reaped no profit from it herself, and, as you know, the money was found on Herzton’s body.
“Herzton had now reached such a frame of mind that, when he was asked to go to one of the branch houses, he suspected a trap. A few miles out of the city he left his train, hired a car, and drove back, arriving just in time to greet Freeman, Brace, Williams and me upon our return from the north. Having locked us up, by means of his dictaphone connection he learned of your plans to raid his laboratory. He was quite willing to
offer all of you up as a sacrifice to his genius, but Gladys he wanted for himself. He was able in some way to detach her from the company and get her into the little cell where she was found. But at this point Miss Manners’ smoldering disaffection burst into open revolt. She followed you to the works, where she ran into Murphy in one of the corridors hunting for Gladys. She led him straight to the secret cell, where Herzton had a miniature machine and was apparently using it for his own purposes. Either by design or a freak of chance, the first thing ha did, when discovered, was to ruin the machine. And the rest you know.”
YJLTHEN Gladys opened her eyes they looked into the familiar blue-tinted ceiling of her bedroom at Hensley House. Birds were singing in the trees outside, and a gentle summer breeze pushed forward and back through the open lattice.
Presently she stirred, and at that sign a bright face leaned over her.
“Don’t exert yourself, dear,” the nurse cautioned her. “You have given us three anxious days, but you are going to be all right now, aren’t you?”
“I feel all right, but I don’t remember. Have I been here for three days? What has happened?”
“Don’t worry about that. You will remember presently. Now I must call Dr. Alstice.”
The doctor found her rational and with a normal pulse. She was eager for explanations, but he was firm. “Not until this evening, when I call again. Your mother may see you, if she promises not to talk.”
The girl’s lips parted in a gentle smile. “That will be hard for mother,” she said.
“Tell me everything,” the girl pleaded, when he came again. “You see, I am quite strong.” She elevated two white arms in evidence of her recuperation.
“Yes, I believe you can hear it,” the doctor agreed. “And it will set your mind at rest. After we had gone to the laboratory that night, Miss Manners, believing that she might be of service, hurriedly followed us. In the main corridor she came upon Murphy, the policeman, searching for you. It seems that Murphy missed you before we entered the fatal room and immediately went to hunt for you. Manners put two and two together and her conclusions led her straight to the little cell in which you were held captive. You remember the fight that followed?”
She nodded. “Herzton was killed, wasn’t he?”
“Yes. Shot by Manners in selfdefense . . . They found the missing package of money in his coat pocket.”
“I know. He told me of it. I think it was to pay for our honeymoon.”
“You poor child! Well, after you collapsed, Murphy quickly released us from our trap, as the door opened readily from the outer side.”
She lay for some moments in silence. Then: “Is that all?” She was waiting for him to mention someone who seemed to be very near her in those days of adventuring in the unknown.
“No, not all. There has been much research and investigation, with some astonishing conclusions. But these things are much too complicated for you to hear or to worry your head over just at present.”
She sighed. “Very well; I suppose I must wait. But is there nothing?
“Oh, plenty. Murphy is promoted.” She brightened. “I am glad of that.” “Yes, Malcolm gave him great credit. And it seems likely that the charge against Gordon Brace will be dropped. At any rate, we have inside information that nothing will come of it.”
“I am glad of that, too.”
“And your father, I think, is taking Freeman into his organization. He regards him as a bright young man.”
“That is interesting.” She was trying to appear impatient.
“And ... let me see? Oh, yes. Manners stays on. With Herzton out of the way she will give us no more trouble.” “I am sure of that. She was the victim of circumstances.”
“Williams has gone north to bring back the plane, if he can find it in that million-mile flying field.”
“Good old Williams !” Something about him always had appealed to her.
The doctor paused, maliciously. “Now, is there anything else?”
Her heart would no longer be denied. “There is something else. You must not tantalize me, Dr. Alstice!” »
Strenuously the doctor clung to his professional attitude. “Why, yes, I had almost forgotten. Your father has already appointed a successor to Professor Herzton.”
“Dr. Alstice, if you don’t stop teasing me I will ring for mother. She will tell
“At least. But you interrupted me, my child. I was saying your father had
appointed a successor to Professor Herzton, but perhaps I had better let him speak for himself.”
“Dear dad, I haven’t seen him yet.” Quietly the doctor slipped from the room, holding the door ajar for an impatient visitor waiting outside. “Not more than five minutes,” he whispered.
Gladys heard feet moving across the floor, and waited for the cheery voice of her father. When it did not come she raised her eyes. They looked straight into those of Morley Ként.
For a moment the blood receded from her face; then it came back with a rush. “Morley!” she breathed, and held out her arms.
He knelt on the floor by her bedside while her fingers fondled his hair and found their way about his neck. Within his strong arms she felt herself lifted gently toward him. Then her eyes drew him downward and her lips met his.