THE PURPLE DRAGON by pengxiuhui


									                            THE PURPLE DRAGON
                 A Doc Savage Adventure By Kenneth Robeson
               Originally published in DOC SAVAGE Magazine September 1940

                                                           A Complete Book-length Novel
                                                           by KENNETH ROBESON
                       Could even Doc Savage best this master trick-
                       ster who short-circuited the minds of men?

               Chapter I                                  He disappeared one night from a
             A KIDNAPING                         small Colorado town, where he had been a
                                                 local citizen for ten years, and he was not
         THE vanishing of Hiram Shalleck did     seen again. No one in the little Colorado
not get the attention it should have received.   town associated a newspaper story that
                                                 broke in Chicago some days later with Hiram
                                                 Shalleck, and no one dreamed that he played
2                                          DOC SAVAGE

a role in a rather weird affair that received                 ON the night he vanished, two men
nation-wide notice not long afterward. Hiram          appeared at Hiram Shalleck’s lunch wagon,
Shalleck’s          disappearance         naturally   coming openly, driving an old touring car. It
occasioned some comment, and the sheriff              was only ten o’clock, but already most of the
and other peace officers made discreet                town was asleep. The arrival of the two men
inquiries, but learned nothing that they              was not noticed.
considered particularly significant.                          One of the men got out of the car
          One thing which the sheriff of the          and went inside. He was a small man,
Colorado town discovered in the course of             excellently dressed, and a pencil-thin
his investigation was that no one could recall        mustache decorated his upper lip, while a
hearing Hiram Shalleck mention anything               green silk handkerchief was tucked in his
about his life previous to the time he had            breast pocket. The man walked to the
appeared in Lamar—the town was Lamar—                 counter, stood there, and when Hiram turned
ten years before. Although voluble and well-          around, the man held a gun in his hand.
read on current affairs, Hiram Shalleck had                   Hiram’s         eyebrows    lifted,   but
shunned all reference to his earlier history. A       otherwise his stolid features showed no
stocky, broad-shouldered man, blue-eyed               emotion. “If this is a holdup, you’re in for slim
and fair-haired, Hiram Shalleck had                   pickings,” he said. “There ain’t ten bucks in
appeared in Lamar, carrying a battered                the cash register.”
suitcase, his arrival creating no comment.                    The small man’s thin lips split in a
Little notice had been taken ten years ago            humorless smile. “Still the same old kidder,
when Hiram Shalleck purchased a lunch                 aren’t you, Joe?” he said conversationally.
wagon and opened it for business. He got              “No, I ain’t down to ten-buck holdups yet.
little trade at first, but after a while his lunch    Close this flytrap and grab your hat. We’re
wagon served as a hangout for schoolboys,             taking a little trip.”
and parents never had any cause to                            Hiram’s big shoulders went up and
complain. Hiram with unfailing good humor,            down. “My name’s not Joe, and I don’t know
kept any spirit of rowdiness to a minimum,            what you’re talking about,” he said flatly. “But
and would not allow even an adult to take an          you’ve got the winning argument in your
intoxicating drink in his place.                      hand.”
          The sheriff was a thorough man—he                   “You were always smart, Joe,” the
found that the lunch wagon was locked                 other chuckled. He emphasized the name
securely, that there was even some small              Joe, and his small eyes twinkled, as if over
change in the cash register. Hiram had                some secret joke.
occupied a small sleeping room at the rear of                 Hiram          said    nothing      more.
the lunch wagon. Clothes were hanging                 Methodically, he finished straightening up, so
neatly in a small closet and in a small               the place would be ready to open in the
bureau; there was no sign of disorder. There          morning, for Hiram Shalleck did not yet know
wasn’t a single personal item in the room to          that he would not see his lunch wagon or
show Hiram Shalleck had a living friend or            Lamar again.
relative—or enemy—outside of Lamar.                           The street outside was deserted.
          There was one strange thing—but             When they reached the car, the driver looked
the sheriff didn’t pay much attention to it.          up from under a slouch hat. “Any trouble,
          Shalleck evidently was a great              Dude?” he asked lazily.
admirer of a man named Clark Savage, Jr.,                     The dapper little man chuckled
and known as Doc Savage. He had clipped a             again. “The big mutt doesn’t know what’s
great many newspaper and magazine                     ahead of him. He was gentle as a lamb.”
articles relating to Doc Savage, and had                      Hiram Shalleck might have tried to
several books the latter had written. The             get away then, but had no chance, for Dude
sheriff, of course, was convinced Shalleck            jammed his gun hard in Hiram’s ribs, forced
could have had no real connection with Doc            him into the rear seat of the car. The driver
Savage. But the sheriff was wrong,                    said nothing more, but seemed to know
surprisingly wrong.                                   where he was going, for he headed south,
                                                      taking the road toward Springfield and the
                                                      open prairie, and, once outside the town,
                                                      increasing the car’s speed. They drove
                                    THE PURPLE DRAGON                                              3

almost ten miles, then turned west on a road
that was little more than a trail, bumping
along for a mile or so.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
                                  DOC SAVAGE AND HIS PALS

Wherever big-time criminals rear their heads, wherever trouble breaks in a big way—there you'll
find Doc Savage and his pals on the job. They think fast; judge fairly and shrewdly; hit hard. Doc
was raised from the cradle for his unique job of righting wrongs, punishing evildoers, getting a
break far the underdog. He’s one of the worlds most skilled surgeons, and many a seemingly
hopeless criminal has undergone an operation in Doc’s up-state "college" to emerge as a useful
citizen with no knowledge of his dark and vicious past.

A leader has to have the right followers to get things done. And here's Doc Savage's unusual

HAM.—Brigadier General Theodore Marley Brooks, if you want to be formal. He's a clever
lawyer, a terrific fighter. He has a sword-cane tipped with a sleep-producing drug that he uses
with effect when the going gets tough.

MONK.—He looks like a gorilla. Yet a letter addressed to Lieutenant Colonel Andrew Blodgett
Mayfair would reach him. He's a slam-bang fighter who enjoys hard going, and although he
doesn't look it, is a chemist skilled in all the subtle secrets of the laboratory.

RENNY.—He's at the top of the engineering profession, this Colonel John Renwick, and he
hasn't hands like a quart pail for nothing; doubled into fists, they've put a period to many a fight.

LONG TOM.—He's a veritable wizard in electricity. And don't ever think he can't fight, just
because he looks delicate.

JOHNNY.—William Harper Littlejohn is the archaeologist and geologist of the group. He's a
fitting member of one of the greatest groups of altruistic adventurers ever met, anywhere!

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
                                                            “More than that,” the pilot added, and
        Then they reached the plane. It was          there was something like awe in his voice
standing on the flat, rolling prairie, far enough    suddenly, awe mingled with fear, as he
from any house that its arrival and departure        added, “You’re going to meet the Purple
would not be noticed.                                Dragon.”
        Two men appeared from inside of
the plane and strolled forward; one evidently
being the pilot, while the second held a                     HIRAM SHALLECK was tied firmly to
sawed-off shotgun.                                   a seat, and the plane took off. Strangely
        “Get out!” Dude ordered.                     enough, some of the worry had vanished
        Hiram got out and the man with the           from his features, and, instead, he looked
shotgun put aside his weapon while he tied           puzzled, and confident, also. “I don’t know
Hiram’s hands behind him. Dude spoke to              what you’re talking about,” he declared. “You
the driver of the car. He said. “You know            can’t scare me with silly talk about a Purple
what to do. Drive to Dallas, sell that car, then     Dragon. What the hell do you think I am, a
meet us as planned.”                                 dope? And besides, I know a guy named Doc
        Hiram could stand it no longer. “W-          Savage. Friend of mine. Ever hear of him?”
where are you takin’ me?” he asked thickly.                  “Doc Savage!” Dude jeered softly.
        “To meet an old friend of yours,”            “Just who would he be?”
Dude said.
4                                       DOC SAVAGE

          Hiram Shalleck’s jaw dropped. “You      in the center of a large room. There was a
mean to say you never heard of him?”              thick carpet on the floor, but otherwise the
          “Sure, I’ve heard of him. I was         room was bare of all furnishings.
kidding you,” Dude said scornfully. “I have                He could not see where the light
heard a few mentions of him. But that false       came from at all. It appeared to seep from
alarm couldn’t help you.”                         the ceiling and walls.
          “Evidently you don’t know Savage,”               Directly in front of him, some fifteen
Hiram Shalleck said.                              feet away, was a raised platform. Peculiar
          The guard with the shotgun stirred      curtains, seemingly of asbestos, shrouded
uneasily. “Shut ‘im up, Dude! Him talkin’         this platform. These curtains were drawn
about that guy Savage gives me the creeps.”       aside suddenly by invisible hands. And in the
          Dude laughed, but his eyes              same instant a sheet of flame burst forth.
narrowed. “Savage won’t know nothing about                 The flame roared directly at Hiram
this,” he said harshly. “And even if he did, he   Shalleck. He felt its hot breath on his face.
couldn’t do nothing about it.”                    He opened his mouth to scream. His mouth
          Hiram Shalleck’s blue eyes glowed       remained open, his blue eyes terrified and
stubbornly. “You’ll see,” he said. “You’ll find   horror-stricken.
out that Savage—”                                          For then he saw the Purple Dragon!
          “Shut up!” Dude snarled. “You talk               Dude was crouched outside the
too much, Joe.” He opened a bag and took          room where Hiram was held. There was a
out a hypodermic needle.                          look of fear in the little man’s eyes, but he
          Alarm showed on Hiram Shalleck’s        seemed held to his spot by some irresistible
flat features as the needle was jabbed into       attraction.
his arm. He opened his mouth to say                        Sounds, strange sounds, came from
something, but the words were kept back by        inside the room. Perspiration gathered in big
a hand jammed over his mouth, and after a         drops on Dude’s forehead, to roll unnoticed
time he went to sleep.                            down features that gradually grew white.
          He never knew how long he slept or               Then Dude could stand it no more.
where the plane took him—in fact, his             As if fighting a power stronger than himself,
memory of many things ceased at that              he raced away from the door, made his way
moment. He did know when he recovered             to the darkness of the night outside.
consciousness. He was in complete                          Dude considered himself hard.
darkness, and at first he thought he must be      Others did, also. They had seen Dude
asleep in his own bed in the back of the          murder with no more feeling than he
lunch wagon, for he had suffered no ill effects   displayed in killing a fly. But now Dude was
at all from the drug that had been given him.     sick. He was very sick.
          Then he knew that was wrong. He
was seated in a chair. He tried to move. It
was then he first felt panic. He wasn’t tied in               Chapter II
any way, but his muscles refused to obey                 THE DEAD LIVE AGAIN
          What he didn’t know was that he had             HIRAM SHALLECK awoke to find he
been given a second hypodermic injection,         was suffering a terrific headache. His mouth
one that had brought him back to                  had a terrible taste, and for a time he lay
consciousness, but which acted like an            quiet, suffering. Slowly his temper began to
injection of spinal anaesthesia, deadening his    rise.
muscles so he could not move.                             It undoubtedly had been some party
          A few minutes later, he thought he      the night before. Everything indicated that.
had gone crazy.                                   His eyes opened slowly, only to close again
                                                  as the bright glare of sunlight brought even
                                                  more pain to his head.
          THE light came first. It came slowly            But the one look had been enough.
and faintly—hardly noticeable at all to begin     He was in a hotel room some place, but it
with. It was a purple light.                      wasn’t a room he knew. From all indications
          As it grew stronger, Hiram Shalleck     he must have left the bunch he’d been with,
could make out that he was seated in a chair
                                   THE PURPLE DRAGON                                             5

left his own gang, then mixed with strangers.               That made him feel half-dressed. He
They’d given him a knockout drop, probably         hadn’t gone without that rod for years. In fact,
had rolled him, then put him to bed in a           it wasn’t safe to go without it.
strange hotel.                                              For a moment he thought of calling
          He got out of bed painfully and          one of the boys, of having a gun sent up to
started toward clothes that were strewn over       him. Then he remembered that he didn’t
a chair. He didn’t get there. He turned            even know just where he was.
instead, and made a dive for the bathroom.                  But it wasn’t that which stayed him
He was terribly sick for a while, but then he      as much as it was the thought of how the
felt better.                                       mob might laugh. And he didn’t like ridicule.
          Wavering a little, he returned to the    He should be able to get out O. K. and get a
clothes. A puzzled look crossed his flat face      rod without letting anyone know of the fix he
as he examined them. The clothes weren’t           was in.
his. He’d never seen them before. In fact,                  He looked at his hands. They were
they were of a style he wouldn’t be caught         trembling slightly. It wasn’t altogether from
dead in, knowingly. These were blue serge,         the hangover, he decided, but a drink would
cut on conservative lines. He preferred            do him good.
clothes you could see coming, with slash                    He slipped out of the hotel and found
pockets and wide-flaring pants cuffs.              he was on State Street in Chicago. That
          He felt in the pockets. There was a      didn’t surprise him. He’d known all along that
small roll of one-dollar bills. That was all, no   he was in Chicago. Somehow the street
letters, no keys—nothing to prove his              looked a little unfamiliar, but he couldn’t tell
identity.                                          at first why it seemed changed. He knew
          Scowling, he started to dress. It must   exactly where he was, knew he was within a
have been some party, he decided. He only          block of a favorite speak-easy.
remembered parts of it. But there had been                  He’d walked half of that block before
one exceptionally pretty girl present. He          he realized what it was that made things
remembered that, all right. A faint smile          seem different. He stopped, and perspiration
tugged at his lips. Called herself Marcella.       began to come out in beads on his round, flat
His smile broadened. He intended to see            face. He felt sure he must be going nuts.
Marcella again.                                             It was the automobiles on the street
          He turned toward a mirror to adjust      that were different. They were radically
his tie—and, halted in amazement. For a            different. They weren’t like the cars he’d seen
moment he stood perfectly still, too surprised     the day before, certainly weren’t like his own
to move. Then he leaned forward, stared            high-powered job. These were lower, sleeker
unbelievingly at what he saw.                      models.
          The face reflected in the mirror was              His mouth was dry, his eyes staring.
his face, all right, no question about that. But            Something was wrong.
it wasn’t the face he remembered from the                   Hiram Shalleck almost ran the rest of
day before. There were lines in it he’d never      the way down the block and around the
noticed before. He seemed fuller, fatter,          corner. He needed that drink, and needed it
someway, and not as hard as he had been.           badly. When he got to the state where he
          He shrugged finally, and turned          saw autos different from what autos should
away. He’d have to see a barber, get a face        be, then he must be very close to where he’d
massage. That was the answer. He’d just            be sent away to spend the rest of his life
been on too many late parties, had been            cutting out paper dolls.
drinking too much. Sure, that was all.                      Unheedingly, he brushed other
          But just the same a faint uneasiness     pedestrians from his path. He barely saw
gripped him, a strange feeling of something        them. He paid no attention to women’s
wrong that he couldn’t down.                       indignant stares or men’s muttered curses.
                                                            He dived through open doors, raced
                                                   to a bar. “A strong one, Mike. Make it a
        ONE familiar thing was missing, he         double,” he gasped.
noticed, as he completed dressing, and that                 He drank two in rapid succession
worried him also. His gun and shoulder             before he saw it wasn’t Mike behind the bar.
holster were gone.                                 His eyes narrowed, he glanced around
6                                       DOC SAVAGE

warily. Then his eyes closed and his features              “Never heard—” Hiram Shalleck
paled.                                            choked. His flat face became crimson. He
         “Another one, quick,” he said, and       said several words never heard in polite
his voice sounded strangled.                      society. “I suppose you never heard of
         Cautiously he opened his eyes and        prohibition either,” he concluded with broad
looked around again. He merely confirmed          sarcasm.
what he had seen the first time.                           “Not recently,” the bartender returned
         A stranger was behind the bar. The       without interest. He picked up Shalleck’s
bar itself was entirely new to him. There were    empty glass. “Want another, or do you want
new fixtures, there was a sign in the window      to go on telling jokes?”
advertising drinks. The bartender broke in on
his thoughts.
         “That’ll be a dollar five,” the                   HIRAM SHALLECK closed his eyes.
bartender said.                                   He kept them closed for a long time.
         Hiram Shalleck was fumbling in his       Cautiously, so the bartender wouldn’t see
pockets before he remembered that he didn’t       him, he took hold of one leg, and pinched,
have to pay for drinks—not in this section of     hard. Then he winced. He felt it all right. That
town, anyway. Mike might have bought new          proved he wasn’t asleep, that he wasn’t
equipment, might even have a new                  having a nightmare of some kind.
bartender, but that didn’t change things any.              Still with his eyes closed, he signaled
         “Put it on the cuff,” he snarled.        for another drink.
         The bartender was a short man with                He wasn’t asleep and he wasn’t
a big belly. He had a round face that had         crazy, he assured himself desperately. But if
been soured along with his disposition after      that was true, then what the hell was the
many years of listening to other people’s         matter?
troubles. He didn’t change expression in the               Usually, with several drinks under his
least. Still looking sour he reached down,        belt, he could recall everything that had
came up with a battered baseball bat, one         happened to him the night before, no matter
ordinarily used to pack down ice.                 how drunk he had been.
         “It’s still a dollar five, chum,” he              That was another funny thing. This
repeated.                                         time he could only bring up dim flashes of
         Hiram Shalleck swallowed hard,           what had gone on. There had been a big
moved his big shoulders. The bartender            party. He knew that. A lot of his friends had
waved the bat. Hiram Shalleck changed his         been there. He was sure of that, also,
mind, reached for the one-dollar bills in his     although for some strange reason he couldn’t
pocket.                                           seem to recall just which ones of the boys
         This fresh bartender would learn         had been present.
soon enough he had made a mistake,                         He shook his head, opened his eyes,
Shalleck told himself fiercely. But at that, he   grabbed the drink in front of him and gulped it
hadn’t been in this speak for some time;          down.
maybe he’d better try and find out what the                “Another,” he said thickly.
score was before he got tough. Everything                  “Cash,” the bartender returned
had been so strange.                              tersely.
         “When’ll Mike be back?” he growled.               Hiram Shalleck dug for cash.
         The bartender shrugged. “Don’t                    The last drink was doing something
know what Mike you’re talkin’ about, chum,”       to him. He could feel the hot liquor coursing
he replied indifferently. He rang up a dollar     through his veins, roaring in his head.
five on the cash register.                                 And suddenly he knew that he
         Hiram Shalleck felt his temper           should be afraid!
getting away from him in spite of himself.                 His eyes snapped open, he looked
“Mike Peacock, the mug that owns this             around fearfully. He was alone in the saloon,
place,” he half shouted.                          with the exception of the bartender. He
         The bartender’s sour face became         breathed a little easier.
even more acid. “Never heard of him,” he                   How could he have forgotten, he
said shortly.                                     wondered, no matter what had gone on. He
                                                  should be in hiding, he shouldn’t be running
                                  THE PURPLE DRAGON                                                  7

around town like this. For all he knew he’d       who cared, anyway? Had this smart punk of
already been seen, would walk into a spot as      a barkeep tried to pull some trick on him?
soon as he left the speak.                                He started to bellow out angrily.
           Then he sighed with sudden relief.     Quite by chance, his eyes fell on the date in
Maybe that explained the clothes he wore,         the masthead of the paper. His mouth stayed
his changed appearance. His friends had           open, everything seemed to swim about him.
done that for him, had fixed him so he                    The date read: “August 1, 1940.”
wouldn’t be recognized.
           Sure, that must be it. He laughed
jerkily, from his sudden release from fear.                  HIRAM SHALLECK stood as though
           But just the same he would have to     frozen, his eyes wild and staring. He stood
be careful. Pinkle and Gunsey had friends         there so long that the bartender began to
who might try to square things for them.          worry. This mug had acted like a nut ever
           Hiram Shalleck’s blue eyes narrowed    since he had come in. Perhaps he was
as he thought of Gunsey. The little rat had       getting ready to stage an insane riot. The
actually cried and pleaded for his life, as       bartender’s fist closed over the end of the
though that would do any good. Pinkle had         battered baseball bat.
had more nerve. He had still been cursing                    Shalleck paid no heed. Words were
when a bullet crashed through his brain.          coming from his numbed lips now. Mumbled
           That had been a clean job. Shalleck    words that didn’t make sense.
thought with satisfaction. No one had seen                   “Nineteen forty. It ain’t. It can’t be. It
him pick the two up. He’d actually made           was nineteen twenty-nine last night. Twenty-
Gunsey drive the car, had made the little rat     nine. Forty. Twenty-nine from forty leaves
take himself on his last ride.                    eleven.”
           The bartender was looking at                      He thought that over for a minute.
Shalleck curiously. He hesitated for a            How could it have been 1929 last night and
moment when Hiram called for another drink,       be 1940 this morning? The answer was that
then gave it to him.                              it couldn’t have been.
           Shalleck didn’t notice. He was                    He was insane. That had to be it.
remembering         things   now.     He    was   Either insane or not—
remembering how the newspapers had put                       Shalleck stopped trembling. His eyes
up another howl about gang rule when Pinkle       became hard and shrewd. He looked fiercely
and Gunsey’s bodies had been found.               at the plump bartender. The bartender took a
           Naturally, there was gang rule. Why    firmer grip on the ball bat.
not? And he was one of the big shots, or                     “Pullin’ a fast one, huh, wise guy?”
would be some day.                                Hiram rapped. “It won’t work.” He laughed
           Let’s see, it must have been two       mirthlessly.
weeks since he’d taken Pinkle and Gunsey                     It was all clear now—or at least it
on their little trip, but the newspapers still    seemed to be. This was all a plant.
were yelling about it.                            Everything had been a plant. Pals of Gunsey
           Shalleck grinned with pleased          and Pinkle must have been behind this. It
anticipation. He whirled toward the bartender.    was all being staged to make him think he
“Got a morning paper—the Trib or Herald-          was crazy.
Examiner?” he asked.                                         He shoved his glass across the bar.
           “The Herald-Examiner ain’t been        “Fill it up,” he roared.
published since last year,” the bartender                    One more drink and he’d get out of
grunted sourly, “but here’s a Trib.”              this place, duck out the back way, if need be,
           Hiram Shalleck paid no attention to    then look up some of the boys. After that he’d
the first part of the bartender’s statement. He   pay a visit to those who had known Gunsey
grabbed eagerly at the newspaper the other        and Pinkle, would find out who was behind all
brought out from under the bar, scanned it        of this. And after that—
swiftly.                                                     His lips cut back in a hard grin. No
           Slowly, his face fell. There was       easy death for those boys, like a bullet in the
nothing there about gang killings. Most of it     brain. They’d go out the hard way. Try to
seemed to be about fighting some place in         make him think he was nuts, would they?
Europe or Asia. When had that started? And
8                                        DOC SAVAGE

         Hair rose suddenly on the back of his     been. It hadn’t been recently, he knew. It had
head. His hand stopped halfway to his lips.        been a long time ago.
He thought frantically of the gun he should                 He looked again at the heavy-set guy
have been carrying. The door to the speak          and felt mild surprise. The guy was losing his
had opened and closed. Two men had                 scared expression, was actually looking as if
entered.                                           he felt greatly relieved.
         He tried to keep his hands from                    Hiram Shalleck looked first at the
trembling. Maybe this wasn’t the payoff.           man on his right, then at the one at his left.
Maybe these weren’t gunmen coming after            He smiled with false joviality, then pounded
him.                                               the bar with his fist.
         Desperately, his eyes flashed to the               “Hey, punk! Set ‘em up for my two
mirror back of the bar, caught the reflection      pals here,” he ordered.
of the two men who had entered. One of                      The bartender hustled to obey. He
those men had stepped up on either side of         strained his ears to hear what would be said
him.                                               next.
         Shalleck’s glass dropped from                      The thin, evil face of Gunsey turned
nerveless fingers. It broke when it hit the bar,   toward Shalleck. The little man held one
spilling the untouched drink. He didn’t even       hand suggestively in a pocket.
hear it. His eyes were bulging, his overtaxed               “So we’re pals now, are we?” he
brain was trying to credit something that just     sneered. “The last time we saw you—”
couldn’t be so.                                             Shalleck interrupted with a nervous
         On one side of him stood Gunsey,          laugh. “Just a little prank of mine,” he
whom he’d last seen sprawled beside a road         explained swiftly. “You two know I wouldn’t
dead from two bullets in the brain. On the         hurt you.”
other side stood Pinkle. And Pinkle also was                Pinkle lifted his hat significantly.
dead.                                              There was a white bandage around his head.
                                                            Hiram Shalleck’s big shoulders lifted
                                                   and fell in a sigh of pure relief. His last doubt
               Chapter III                         had been dissipated. He wasn’t crazy—he
              GUNS SPEAK                           was just the victim of an odd string of
         THE bartender’s sour face was                      Gunsey and Pinkle undoubtedly
puzzled. He looked at the two newcomers            were going to try and take him for a ride.
curiously. They paid no attention to him.          Even that was all right. He’d figure how to get
They were staring fixedly at the heavy-set         out of that as time went on. It was enough for
figure between them.                               the moment to know that the world was back
         The bartender thought he had never        on its regular orbit. And that meant the
seen a man look as scared as the heavy-set         newspaper he’d just looked at must be a
guy did. His features were bloodless, he was       fake, also. It was still 1929. It couldn’t be
hanging on to the edge of the bar to keep          1940.
from falling.                                               “You guys sure fixed up a nice plant
         For the first time, the bartender         for me,” he said, and tried to make his voice
noticed that there was something familiar          admiring. “For a time you had me thinking I
about the erratic customer who had downed          was crazy. This newspaper was a clever
drinks in such rapid succession. For that          touch. Why, it even had me thinking it was
matter, it seemed to him that he should            1940.”
recognize the last two men who had come in.                 Pinkle picked up the drink in front of
         Despite his sour expression, the          him, sipped it slowly. “It is,” he said calmly.
bartender had his pride. His chief boast was                Shalleck’s mouth dropped open, but
that he never forgot a customer’s face. It         only for a moment. Then he grinned weakly.
bothered him that he couldn’t identify these       “That’s O. K., Pinkle. Have your fun. But
three. Sometime, some place, he was sure           don’t rub it in.”
he must have encountered them.                              Pinkle set down his empty glass. His
         A scowl creased his fat features as       other hand came out of his coat pocket.
he tried to think when and where that had          There was a gun in the hand. He held it down
                                                   low, hidden by the bar.
                                    THE PURPLE DRAGON                                              9

          “My fun is just beginning,” he said                Carefully he set down the coke
flatly. “Take it easy now, just like yuh told us    glass, his sour features flabby, cold
to do. Walk out without making any fuss.            perspiration beading his face.
We’re goin’ for a little ride.”                              His memory had clicked now, and he
          Shalleck’s blue eyes were feverish.       almost wished it hadn’t. The two little guys
He turned toward Gunsey. The little man was         who had come in last had looked like a
grinning mirthlessly. A gun was in his hand,        couple of gun punks who had been with the
also.                                               Cicero mob back in the ‘20s. They had been
          “You laughed when I begged for            killed back in 1929.
mercy,” he gritted. “Let’s see how you can                   Joe Mavrik, right-hand killer for Pal
take it.”                                           Hatrack, the Big Boy, was supposed to have
          With Shalleck between them, the two       been the one who had taken them on their
gunmen eased to the door, moved swiftly to          last ride. And Mavrik had vanished a few
a car at the curb.                                  days later.
          The bartender’s sour features were                 Yet the third guy who had been at
more puzzled than ever. He looked after the         the bar, the one who had come in first, had
three for a moment, started to go to a phone        been Joe Mavrik.
at the rear, then changed his mind.                          Two men who had been dead eleven
          What he’d seen and heard sounded          years and the killer who was supposed to
ominous. It had sounded like the old gang           have executed them had been standing
days, when killers picked their victims up in       before his bar drinking together!
daylight, took them for a ride and left their                With legs that barely supported him,
riddled bodies by the roadside.                     the bartender turned and lumbered toward
          But those days were past. This was        the telephone. Weakly he called the police
1940, not prohibition times.                        station. When ghosts started drinking
          Nevertheless, there had been              together, it was time to get help.
something very, very strange about what
he’d just seen.
          It might be the smart thing to call the            JOE MAVRIK, alias Hiram Shalleck,
police, to report what he’d heard. The              was in a spot where he needed help, also.
bartender scowled. That wouldn’t be so hot,         But for the moment, he didn’t recall that.
either. If he did that, the cops might think his             The human mind can take only so
saloon was a hangout for gunmen.                    much before it jumps the trolley. Joe Mavrik’s
          If he could only just think where he’d    mind had taken that much, and more.
seen the three before. He was more sure                      It was some time before he was
than ever that he had seen them sometime—           aware of what was going on around him.
either in person or their pictures on the front     Then he found he was in the back seat of a
pages of the newspapers.                            sedan. A little man was seated beside him,
          Absently, he fixed himself a coke,        holding a gun tightly in his ribs.
spiked it with a little lemon juice and gulped it            Mavrik felt himself all mixed up. He
down. What was it now that the first guy had        knew that he was Joe Mavrik, that he was a
asked him? Oh, yeah, he’d asked for Mike            big shot in this town, and that he was being
Peacock; seemed to think he owned the               taken for a ride. Two men he had thought
place.                                              dead had caught him without his gun and he
          Again the bartender tried to think.       was going to pay the penalty for
Mike Peacock! There had been a guy around           carelessness.
by that name once, but hell, he’d been dead                  At the same time, another part of his
for five years or more.                             mind seemed to be telling him that he wasn’t
          Let’s see, Mike had run a speak           Joe Mavrik at all. He was Hiram Shalleck. He
during prohibition days—                            ran a small lunch wagon somewhere,
          The bartender’s eyes popped               enjoyed a quiet, law-abiding existence.
suddenly. Why, Mike Peacock’s speak had                      He tried to figure that out, but finally
been right where this saloon was now. And           gave it up as a bad job. He couldn’t even
the first mug had thought it was still a speak,     seem to remember the name of the town
and that Mike owned it. That was crazy,             where he had the lunch wagon, but he knew
10                                       DOC SAVAGE

it was a long way from Chicago, and in a very      nothing happen to his friends. Then he
much smaller place.                                seemed to think he was in an airplane.
         His temples ached, and he felt as if               After that, his face changed. It
his brain were on fire. He felt dizzy, also, but   became horrible to see, and his voice
probably that was because of the drinks he         dropped to a whisper. “The Purple Dragon!
had had. And that was funny also, for usually      The Purple Dragon that tears your mind
he could handle three times as many without        apart!”
showing or feeling any effects from them.                   The driver had speeded toward a
         But then, again, it wasn’t so strange.    side street at Mavrik’s first outbreak. There
After all, while he was running his lunch          was little traffic on the street. No one paid
wagon he had never taken a drink. And he           any attention to Mavrik’s cries.
had been running that lunch wagon for years.                After a little, the driver turned around,
Or had he?                                         looked questioningly at the small man with
         He shook his head desperately.            the gun. The small man nodded.
Everything was going round and round. One                   “The nut-house idea is out now,” he
moment he was Joe Mavrik. The next he was          said flatly. “This punk will start remembering
Hiram Shalleck. That didn’t make sense, but        more and more.”
he seemed to be able to recollect events in                 The driver shrugged, turned the
the lives of both.                                 machine toward the country. His attitude
         He turned toward the little man at his    became grim and businesslike. Joe Mavrik
side. His voice was hoarse. “What’s the            relapsed into silence. He had no thought of
score, Gunsey? Or are you Gunsey? Gunsey           peril now, no fear of personal harm.
is dead. So is Pinkle.”                                     His mind, he knew, was on the verge
         “Sure they are,” the little man           of figuring out the answer to all that had
answered surprisingly. His voice was               happened. He’d thought he’d had it a few
smooth, almost soothing.                           minutes before, but he hadn’t, quite.
         Joe Mavrik’s voice rose to a shriek.               He no longer thought of himself as
“Then what is this all about? Where are you        Joe Mavrik. He was Hiram Shalleck again.
taking me? Who am I?”                              Slowly, piece by piece, he tried to fit together
         The little man did not answer. The        what had happened.
driver gave one quick glance behind him,                    He’d been kidnaped, had been taken
then turned his attention back to the street       on a mysterious airplane ride. That he
ahead. He swerved under the El, passed two         remembered. And then had come the Purple
cars and stopped for a traffic signal.             Dragon!
         Mavrik-Shalleck glanced about him                  Cold chills raced up and down his
wildly. Directly opposite the car was a            spine. He shifted his thoughts as quickly as
bookstore. There was a picture in the              he could. He didn’t like to remember that part
window, a picture of strong, bronzed               of it.
features.                                                   But what had happened afterward
         The sign above the picture read:          was hazy. There had been a big party, it
                                                   seemed, although that sounded ridiculous.
GET THE LATEST DOC SAVAGE MAGAZINE.                And a lot of his friends had been there. But
                                                   no, they hadn’t been Hiram Shalleck’s
        Mavrik-Shalleck’s eyes fastened on         friends, they had been friends of Joe Mavrik.
the picture. The eyes were blank for an                     After that he had awakened in the
instant, then they flashed with sudden             hotel. But how had he got to that hotel?
knowledge.                                                  He was aware suddenly that the car
        “Now I know,” he cried. “Get me to         had stopped. He looked around curiously,
Doc Savage! Take me to him right away!”            then stiffened.
                                                            The car was no longer on a main
                                                   highway. It had been driven into underbrush
         WORDS continued to babble from            along a secluded side road. And Pinkle, the
his lips. They were strange words, for the         driver, was turning around and looking at
most part. He shrieked that Doc Savage was         him. There was a gun in Pinkle’s hand.
his friend, that the bronze man would let
                                   THE PURPLE DRAGON                                          11

         The driver looked at the little man       care of him. The stake’s too big to let
beside Mavrik-Shalleck. “In the car?” he           anybody stop us.”
asked quietly.                                               The driver said nothing. He shivered
         “And mess up the upholstery?” the         slightly.
little man retorted. “Hell, no!” He punched
Mavrik hard in the ribs with his gun. “Pile out,
         Dazed, his mouth dry and hot,
Mavrik opened a door, staggered outside the
car. He knew suddenly that he was going to
die, and he didn’t want to die.
         He threw his arms up about his
head, as if that would protect him from the
bullets that were to come. “Don’t! Don’t!” he
         Then he turned and tried to run,
awkward and clumsy in his haste.
         The little man who had been in the
back seat with him sighed resignedly. “I                        Chapter IV
thought maybe he’d be different, but he ain’t,”            A SPOTTER SPOTTED
he complained. The gun in his hand bounced
as it spurted hot lead.                                      DOC SAVAGE probably should have
         Mavrik-Shalleck screamed just once        been shivering. Certainly, anyone else would
before he died.                                    have been, in his place.
                                                             Doc Savage was taking a shower. At
                                                   least that’s what he called it. The average
         THE little man put the gun away and       person would have called it torture.
went to the trunk at the back of the car.                    The shower seemed to have been
Methodically, he changed clothes. Then he          located in a giant icebox. Thick layers of ice
got out a mirror, wiped grease paint and           clung to the sides of the room. The
make-up from his face.                             atmosphere was below freezing.
         He no longer looked like Gunsey.                    Water jetted from a spray overhead.
Had Hiram Shalleck still been living, he           The water couldn’t have been warm to start
would have recognized him now as the little        with. It froze almost as soon as it struck the
man who had taken him from the lunch               floor.
wagon at the point of a gun, the one who had                 Doc Savage stood directly beneath
been called Dude.                                  the spray. The ice-cold water bounced from
         Carefully, Dude Starg arranged the        the bronze skin, plastered down hair that was
green handkerchief in his breast pocket.           only a shade lighter than his body. He
         “The only thing I regret is having to     seemed to be doing his best to turn into a
cut off my mustache,” he grumbled                  human icicle.
disgustedly.                                                 Seen fully clothed, Doc Savage did
         The driver also had removed make-         not seem to have such a marvelous
up from his face. After that he got a blanket      physique. But now every lithe, smoothly co-
from the rear of the car and went to Mavrik-       ordinated muscle could be seen radiating
Shalleck’s riddled body. He rolled the body in     power. Those muscles had been developed
the blanket and, with Dude’s help, carried it      since childhood by a series of exercises that
back to the car.                                   had made the bronze man the most nearly
         “I still hope Doc Savage don’t get        perfect physical specimen of his day.
wise to what’s going on,” the driver grunted.                And the cold shower was part of the
         Dude Starg laughed shortly. “Forget       training he submitted to, part of the long
it,” he rasped. “The Purple Dragon’s job will      rigorous process that had inured his body to
be all done before that false alarm ever finds     both heat and cold, had made it possible for
out about any of this. And even if he did try to   him to stand conditions that would have been
monkey in—the Purple Dragon would take             fatal to the ordinary mortal.
12                                      DOC SAVAGE

        (In these accounts of the exploits of     giving him a puritanical look. Now he
Doc Savage are recorded many things               retreated toward the door through which he’d
accomplished by Doc which should not be           entered. “I’ll wait in the office. I’ve got
attempted by ordinary individuals. This ice-      something there that will interest you.”
cold shower is one of them, and we wish to                  The bronze man nodded. A moment
point out the possible danger in it to readers,   later he stepped into a small dressing room
who should not attempt it, at least, until        adjoining the shower. He dressed swiftly.
checking with their physician.—The Editor.)                 When he emerged he showed no
                                                  signs of the terrific cold he had just endured.
         For there was nothing supernatural                 Doc        Savage’s        headquarters
about Doc Savage. His condition was the           occupied the entire eighty-sixth floor of New
result of untold hours of training and work,      York’s largest skyscraper. The bronze man
training that had developed his mind as well      moved now through sleeping quarters into a
as his body until now he was recognized as        laboratory that was the most complete in the
one of the foremost leaders in almost every       city. A few doors beyond was his main office.
branch of learning. “The Mental Marvel” the                 Renny was seated in a chair, his
newspapers called him.                            severe features more grim than usual. He
         He reached out a powerful hand,          was holding a newspaper clipping in his
turned off the overhead spray. Almost             hand.
instantly a door opened, a big man stepped                  Without a word he handed the
in. He handed Doc a huge towel.                   bronze man the clipping. Doc glanced at it.
         The big man was fully clothed, but                 A low, trilling sound filled the room.
his teeth chattered as he watched Doc
Savage kick free from the ice about his feet,
massage his body rapidly.                                   RENNY did not seem surprised. The
                                                  trilling sound seemed to come from every
                                                  place in the room, yet from no one spot.
                                                  Renny knew it was made by Doc Savage. It
                                                  was the only sign Doc ever gave when
                                                  anything unexpected happened. The bronze
                                                  man was reading the clipping.
                                                            The clipping was not a long one. It
                                                  was from a Chicago newspaper. It said:

                                                            MURDER DISCOVERED

                                                            The remains of a body identified as
                                                  that of Joe Mavrik, once connected with the
                                                  powerful Hatrack mob of prohibition days,
                                                  was discovered today in underbrush along a
         Colonel John Renwick could stand a       country road thirty miles north of the city.
lot himself, but he was frank to admit he                   Mavrik, who disappeared in 1929,
didn’t like cold. Known as Renny to his           shortly after the murder of two other
friends, a famous engineer, he was one of         mobsters, had been shot to death. Although
Doc’s five aids.                                  little more than a skeleton remained,
         Renny towered a good six feet four.      identification was made from a fragment of a
He must have weighed at least 250 pounds.         finger that still retained a section of skin.
Bony monstrosities of fists dangled from the                The slain mobster was once known
ends of enormous arms. Renny was proud of         as the right-hand man of Pal Hatrack, who
those fists. One of his favorite tricks was to    died recently in a Federal prison. Police had
slam them through the solid panel of a heavy      long believed Mavrik dead, but until today
door.                                             had been unable to uncover any real clue to
         “Holy cow, Doc, I still don’t see how    his fate.
you do it,” he complained. His face was                     At the time of his disappearance,
severe, his thin mouth compressed tightly,        Mavrik was being sought for questioning in
                                  THE PURPLE DRAGON                                            13

the killing of Gunsey Murphy and Pinkle           citizens, capable of supporting themselves,
Smith, two Cicero gunmen.                         and harmless to others.
         From the condition of the body the                 That is where the “college” came in.
coroner said he believed Mavrik must have         Dangerous criminals whom he captured were
been killed at least eleven years ago,            taken there. Doc’s skilled fingers performed
probably in revenge for the slaying of Gunsey     brain operations upon them.
and Pinkle.                                                 When they departed from the
                                                  institution, all memory of their previous life
         Doc Savage looked up. Gold flakes        had left them. Certain nerves had been cut,
appeared to dance in his eyes. Those eyes         isolating parts of their brains. Then they had
had a peculiar, hypnotic effect. “What            been re-educated. They had been sent back
checking have you done?” he asked quietly.        into the world under new names, freed from
         “I telephoned the sheriff at Lamar.      all connection with their past.
Hiram Shalleck disappeared a week ago.                      Doc Savage himself established
The sheriff was curious, but I didn’t tell him    these men in business. He usually located
why I wanted to know about Shalleck. What I       them far from the scene of their original
don’t understand is why they think this           crimes, safe from the danger of casual
murder was committed eleven years ago,”           recognition by former associates.
Renny complained.                                           And, feeling himself responsible for
         The bronze man shrugged slightly.        them, he endeavored to keep track of all who
“Arranged that way, the killers know there will   had        undergone      the     “regenerating
be little or no police investigation,” he said    operations.”
quietly. “Otherwise, had it appeared a recent               A clipping bureau aided in this. All
slaying, the mystery would have attracted too     clippings referring to the men either under
much attention.”                                  their new or old names were sent to him at
         “If it was Shalleck, and if it was a     once.
recent slaying,” Renny said soberly.                        Joe Mavrik had been one of those
         Doc Savage did not respond. He           who had tangled with Doc and lost. The
turned to a telephone, called the Cook            encounter had been in Chicago while Doc
County coroner at Chicago. When he                had been on another case, years before.
identified himself, his questions were                      Doc had established Mavrik as
answered readily.                                 Hiram Shalleck, had provided him with the
         The bronze man’s gold-flecked eyes       money to open the lunch wagon at Lamar.
were stern as he turned back to Renny.                      “Could anything have gone wrong so
         “Examination of the skeleton showed      that Shalleck suddenly remembered he’d
that Mavrik once underwent a skull                been Joe Mavrik?” Renny asked hesitantly.
operation,” he said softly.                       Renny didn’t think that anything Doc did ever
         Renny whistled. “Holy cow! Then it       could go wrong, but it was the only possible
was Shalleck. It was one of your graduates.”      explanation he could see for what had
                                                  happened. “Could he have gone back to
                                                  Chicago himself, and been recognized by
         DOC SAVAGE said nothing, but             some hood that still would have been laying
Renny knew what he was thinking. The              for him?”
bronze man took a great interest in what his                Doc Savage considered for a long
aids called “graduates” from a small, upstate     moment, gold-flecked eyes thoughtful.
“college” that Doc operated.                                “A severe shock might produce such
         Doc Savage did not like to kill, even    a condition,” he conceded. “In non-technical
when fighting the most desperate criminals.       language, such a shock might produce a
He never did, unless it was absolutely            short circuit in the brain, re-establishing
necessary to save the lives of others. Yet        contact with that portion which had been
often he had captured men whom it would           rendered inactive.”
have been dangerous to release.                             “A severe shock,” Renny mused.
         He might have seen that they were        “But nothing like that—”
sent to prison. He didn’t. He saw no reason                 He broke off suddenly. A howl broke
why society should support these men when         from his thin lips. He rose a good foot straight
they might be turned into law-abiding             up from his chair.
14                                     DOC SAVAGE

         HUGE, powerful hands caught him
under the armpits, lifted him to his feet
despite his weight. Renny whirled furiously,
then gaped.
         Facing him was a hairy creature not
much more than five feet tall, with long arms
that hung below the knees. Tiny eyes peered
from beneath shaggy eyebrows. The
creature’s squat, round figure appeared
enormously powerful.
         “Holy cow, Chemistry!” Renny
exploded. “If somebody’s been teaching you               There was a commotion behind
new tricks, they’d better unteach them.”         Ham, and a second hairy figure eased into
         Renny rubbed the rear part of his       the room.
anatomy furiously.
         A roar of laughter came from across
the room. Renny looked up belligerently.
Standing in a doorway was a lean, slender
figure dressed in the height of fashion. He
twirled a cane in one hand.
         “Ham, were you behind this?” Renny


                                                          Renny might have been forgiven for
                                                 his mistake. Chemistry was an anthropoid
                                                 ape that Ham had picked up on a Central
                                                 American adventure. And the resemblance
                                                 between Chemistry and Monk was startling,
                                                 except that Monk usually wore clothes.
                                                          Chemistry waddled up to Monk, put a
         Ham, otherwise Brigadier General        hairy arm around the latter’s neck. Monk’s
Theodore Marley Brooks, tried to answer, but     face got red as he tried unsuccessfully to free
couldn’t. Harvard’s gift to the legal            himself from the affectionate grip. Ham went
profession, a noted lawyer, Ham was              into another burst of laughter.
speechless with laughter. The answer came                 “I thought you knew me well enough
from an unexpected source.                       to know the difference,” Monk said
         The hairy creature pulled himself       accusingly at Renny. Monk, known formally
erect. “Daggonit, Renny,” he piped, “you lose    as Lieutenant Colonel Andrew Blodgett
a bet for me.”                                   Mayfair, had a thin, childlike voice when he
         “Monk!” Renny’s features tried to set   was embarrassed, and he was embarrassed
in severe lines but he smiled in spite of        now. One of the most famous chemists in the
himself.                                         world, he was sometimes overly sensitive
         “Yeah,” Monk answered bitterly.         about his resemblance to the ape family, a
“Ham bet if I came in like this you’d make a     fact that brought great pleasure to Ham.
mistake, and you did.”
                                  THE PURPLE DRAGON                                            15

         The dapper lawyer controlled his         window of Doc Savage’s office. Through the
mirth with an effort.                             powerful lens he was able to see everything
         “Monk owes me a dinner, theater          that went on.
tickets and has got to dig up a date for me,”              And he could tell what was said also.
he explained gleefully. “He bet me that much               Ears Dugan had once suffered from
that you wouldn’t mistake him for Chemistry.      deafness. He had learned to read lips. That
Getting the date will be the toughest thing for   was why he had been picked for the job he
him.”                                             was on.
         Renny suddenly remembered his                     As he “heard” Doc’s decision, knew
injured anatomy, and glared at Monk. “You’ll      that the bronze man and his aids were going
lose more than that if you jab me with a          to investigate Joe Mavrik’s murder, he
needle again,” he threatened irately.             laughed without mirth. Deliberately, he
         A sheepish grin spread over Monk’s       compressed the telescope, put it away and
homely face. “But it wasn’t a needle,” he         made his way to where he could descend
explained. “It’s a new chemical I fixed up,       stairs to the street. His job was done.
one that gives the ‘hot seat’ instead of the               There was a cockiness in his attitude
‘hot foot.’“                                      as he went on his way. The “boss” paid off
         Renny started to reply. Doc’s calm       well for jobs that were done right. And this
voice interrupted.                                one couldn’t have been done better.
         “If the horseplay is over,” the bronze            Doc Savage wasn’t so tough after all,
man said quietly, “we have some business to       Ears Dugan decided. And if he tangled with
consider.”                                        the Purple Dragon—well, no one could tangle
                                                  with that, and win!

         THE bronze man gave Monk and
Ham a brief digest of what he and Renny had                    Chapter V
learned.                                                  AN ODD CONFESSION
         “Daggonit, Doc,” Monk said. “It
sounds like something for us to mix into.                  EARS DUGAN should have stayed
There might even be some fighting.”               on the job for a few minutes longer. If he had,
         “But no girls were mentioned,” Ham       he probably would have been surprised. But
put in slyly, “so I don’t think you’d like it.”   he wouldn’t have known what was said in
         “There is just one odd fact I did not    Doc’s office after that, even if he had
mention,” Doc went on. “When I talked to          remained.
Chicago, the coroner told me the story of a                Doc turned his back to the window.
bartender there who had telephoned that he        And when he spoke he used a tongue that
had seen three ghosts. One of those ghosts        few persons knew. He spoke in ancient
was supposed to have been Joe Mavrik. The         Mayan, a language he often adopted when
other two were men Mavrik killed eleven           with his aids and when he didn’t want others
years ago!”                                       to know what he was saying.
         “It certainly seems that there may be             “We have been watched,” the bronze
a lot more to it than appears on the surface,”    man said. “In fact, a watcher has been on the
Renny put in sagely.                              job for three full days. But until now I did not
         “We shall see,” the bronze man said.     know why, so I made no effort to stop him.
         Two hundred yards away another           Now it appears it is in connection with this
man had been doing a lot of seeing. He was        case.”
using a telescope to help him do it.                       Monk’s eyes bulged. The hairy
         He wasn’t a big man, and he was          chemist rather prided himself that he had
dressed in nondescript clothes. About the         good eyesight. He had been looking out the
only unusual feature about him was his ears.      window, felt sure he would have noticed
Those ears were twice as big as the ordinary      anything unusual in the buildings near them.
man possessed.                                    And he had seen nothing.
         The ears had pointed forward as he                “But how—” he blurted.
peered through the telescope as if to help
him “hear” what he saw. In one way, he did.
For he had the telescope focused on the
16                                      DOC SAVAGE

          Doc gestured toward a small device               Sid Lenner had been one of his
on the desk before him. “A light refractory       favorite “graduates.” Lenner had shown more
detector,” he explained briefly.                  intelligence than the usual graduate. He had
          Monk gulped. It sounded simple. But     developed into a valuable mechanic, had
the hairy chemist knew better, even though        been employed by Doc as engineer on the
he could easily understand the principle          bronze man’s yacht.
behind the device Doc had developed.                       Only a week before Lenner had been
          All light reflected from glass at an    given leave to go on a fishing trip.
angle is broken into varied wave lengths.                  “His wife called,” Doc explained
Light from an ordinary windowpane would           tersely. “Lenner’s skeleton was found by a
give a far different result than that from a      creek near Liberty, New York.”
prism of any kind. It was apparent the                     “Skeleton!” Renny’s big fists opened
detector Doc was using had been built to          and closed as if he wanted to use them on
spot reflected light rays that came from any      someone.
type of curved lens, such as that used in                  He could figure out the rest of the
either a telescope or field glasses. Thus he      story himself. Lenner’s death also would be
could easily learn if anyone was watching his     laid to an old murder.
office.                                                    Lenner wasn’t his real name. He
          “As I say,” Doc was continuing, “I      once had been an important lieutenant for a
saw the man three days ago and took steps         New York crime ring—until he’d visited Doc’s
to identify him. He is easily recognizable by     hospital.
unusually large ears. Ham, you and Monk                    In investigating his case, Doc had
follow him. Find out where he goes.”              found that Lenner was married. His wife had
          The pair raced from the room,           left him when she had discovered he was a
Chemistry with them.                              criminal. After Lenner had been rehabilitated,
          As Monk pulled on clothes hurriedly,    Doc had seen to it that the wife was well
Chemistry picked up a camera from a table.        cared for, although Lenner never knew that
Solemnly he put the strap around his neck.        he had been married.
          “Daggonit, Ham,” Monk complained.                But naturally, when the remains of
“If that ape’s got to go with us, at least make   the body had been found, the police had
him leave that camera home. I’m sorry you         gotten in touch with the widow. And the
ever taught him to take pictures.”                police in this case, as in the one in Chicago,
          “Remembering some of the candid         would think they were dealing only with an
shots he’s gotten of you, I don’t blame you,”     old murder, would make no real effort to
Ham responded loftily. “But he goes—and           investigate.
the camera goes.”                                          “There must be a link some place,”
          Later, much later, Ham was to regret    Renny said thickly. The big engineer had
that decision.                                    grown to like Lenner.
          As they sped for the high-speed                  “Leaner also was once connected
elevator that would drop them to street level     with Pal Hatrack,” Doc reminded gently.
in record time, giving them a chance to pick               Renny frowned. Hatrack was dead.
up the big-eared watcher, they heard Doc’s        He had died in prison. And he had been in
eerie whistle.                                    prison several years before his death.
          Monk wanted to stop. So did Ham.                 Why, then, would men who had been
But both knew they had no time to spare.          connected with him long years before be
They raced on, Chemistry with them.               getting killed now? Certainly, if Hatrack had
          In the office behind them Doc was       wanted vengeance for anything, it would
replacing the telephone receiver he had           have been carried out before his death, not
taken down a minute before.                       afterward.
          “Another one,” he said simply.                   Hatrack had been one of the really
          Renny looked astonished. “You           big shots of prohibition days. Some went
mean another ‘graduate’ gone?” he asked           even farther and said he had been what
incredulously.                                    fiction writers called a “crime czar,” the brains
          Doc nodded, his gold-flecked eyes       behind organized crime in all parts of the
flashing strangely. “Sid Lenner,” he said.        country.
                                      THE PURPLE DRAGON                                            17

         But even if that were true, it didn’t                  “Lefty Worts disappeared eleven
explain why men who once had been                      years ago this month,” he snarled. “No trace
associated with him should be put on the               of him has ever been found.”
spot at this late date, particularly when these                 “Sure, he ain’t been found,” the other
men had forgotten they ever had known                  agreed. A perplexed look was coming into his
Hatrack and were leading law-abiding lives.            eyes also. “But you’re mistaken about the
         The big engineer shook his head in            time, sarge. I don’t know why yuh keep
perplexity.                                            saying ten and eleven years ago. It was last
                                                       night. And the reason yuh ain’t found Lefty’s
                                                       body is because we hid it. We dug a hole
          RENNY wasn’t the only one who felt           down in the basement and buried it.”
baffled. The sergeant on duty at the Forty-                     The sergeant bit his lips. He got up
eighth Street police station looked as if he           carefully from his chair, walked around the
couldn’t believe his ears.                             desk until he could reach out and grab the
          The sergeant was a beefy man. His            cab driver by the collar.
normal complexion was florid. Now it was                        Then he yanked the other erect. One
dangerously red.                                       calloused palm smacked hard against the
          “Get outta here with your fairy tales,”      cabby’s face. After that he yanked the man’s
he roared. “I ain’t got time to listen to pipe         head back until he could look into his eyes.
dreams just because you want to go to jail             There was a peculiar look in those eyes.
and get some free meals.”                                       The sergeant leaned forward,
          The man in front of the desk bowed           smelled of the other’s breath. All he could
his head doggedly, but he didn’t get out. His          smell was garlic. He caught hold of the
clothes were old, but clean. On his cap was            cabby’s coat, yanked it off, pulled up the
pinned a cab driver’s badge.                           sleeves beneath. The cabby’s arms were
          “I’m tellin’ the truth, sarge,” he said      dirty, but there were no betraying scars of
desperately. “I killed the guy. I didn’t intend        hypodermic marks such as would have been
tuh do it. But I did. Now I got to pay the             the case if he’d been using dope.
penalty.”                                                       The sergeant came to a sudden
          The sergeant held himself in with a          decision. His bellow brought two cops
visible effort. He planted his elbows firmly on        rushing from the squad room.
the desk, thrust his chin forward. He said with                 “Lock this bum up for an hour or so,”
dangerous calm:                                        he directed.
          “Jest tell that yarn once more, punk!”                Then the sergeant called the
          The cab driver seemingly did not             homicide department.
recognize the threat. He worried his cap in
his hands.
          “Like I told yuh, sarge. I was in the                THE homicide dicks were skeptical
Green Mill last night when this guy come in.           also. But it was part of their job to run down
He was gunnin’ for me, see. And he went for            every murder tip. They went to the place
a rod. I just got mine out first, was all. I give it   where the Green Mill once had opened its
to him.”                                               doors to unwary suckers. The place had
          “The Green Mill,” the sergeant said          been turned into a bookshop.
fiercely, “was a clip joint on Fifty-first. It’s               The proprietor protested, but the
been closed for ten years, to my knowledge.”           dicks were firm. They went down into the
          “Sure, it’s a clip joint,” the cab driver    cellar and went to work with picks and
agreed. “But it ain’t closed. When Lefty came          shovels.
in—”                                                           It was four hours before they found
          “Lefty!” The Sergeant forgot that he         the body. Or rather what once had been a
was going to keep his voice down. He                   body. Dental work identified it as having once
bellowed. “Lefty who?”                                 walked around under the name of Lefty
          “Why, Lefty Worts. Yuh know him,”            Worts.
the cab driver said reasonably.                                After that the cabby was taken into a
          The sergeant’s complexion got even           squad room and questioned. He talked freely
redder. That hadn’t seemed possible. It was.           enough. He even knew about the gun that
                                                       had been found beneath the skeleton.
18                                     DOC SAVAGE

         The dicks reasoned he couldn’t have     whirl around and give Monk a dirty glare,
known about that unless he really was telling    mistaking him for the ape.
the truth about the murder. But they were                  Chemistry really was taking pictures.
mad just the same. For the cabby wouldn’t        Ham had seen to it that the ape got a
admit that the killing had been back in 1929.    foolproof camera. It was an expensive
         “It was last night,” he howled. He      gadget, but a good one. It was of the type
repeated that many times.                        with an automatic built-in light meter and a
         Finally one dick thought to ask him     universal lens. When Chemistry pointed it
why he had confessed. The answer came as         and pressed a button the picture was
a complete surprise.                             snapped. And the ape had been trained to
         “The Purple Dragon told me to,” the     press a second button also, one that rolled
cabby whimpered. The cabby became the            the film up ready for another picture.
picture of terror.                                         Monk and Ham, with Chemistry
         To all questions about the Purple       trailing them, made rapid time. Despite the
Dragon he merely sobbed hysterically, “I         handicap of Chemistry’s picture-taking, they
don’t know! I don’t know!”                       eeled their way swiftly through the crowd.
         Finally the dicks became convinced                When they reached the vicinity of the
that he either was telling the truth or was      building where the watcher had been
crazy. They inclined to the latter opinion.      stationed, they separated. That is, Monk and
         The newspapers did, also. It was the    Ham separated. Chemistry stayed with the
consensus that the hackie’s conscience           dapper lawyer.
finally had bothered him so much that he had               Monk and Ham had worked together
confessed to the ancient murder, but that at     so often that there was no need to exchange
the same time he had been canny enough to        words on what had to be done. Each knew
think up a yarn that would let him off on an     the routine perfectly. Taking different paths,
insanity plea.                                   they checked side streets with the skill of
         Investigation of the cab driver         long practice.
revealed that he was known as Burt Wheeler.                The hairy chemist was the one to
But when his fingerprints were taken it was      locate their quarry. There was no mistaking
found that once he had been known as Al          Ears Dugan. His nickname was too realistic.
Spears. He had a record, but it wasn’t a         The huge-eared man was walking down Fifth
lengthy one.                                     Avenue. Even when he didn’t think he had
         Only one significant fact was           anything to be afraid of he seemed to slink
contained in the record, and that was missed     along.
both by the police and the newspaper                       Ham was a block away. The dapper
reports. But then, they hadn’t connected the     lawyer jumped suddenly as a hot streak of
case in Chicago and the case at Liberty with     fire seemed to course up one arm. He looked
the cabby’s queer confession.                    angrily at an oversized wrist watch he wore
         A notation by some police officer of    on one wrist, and said several words that
the late ‘20s had stated that Spears had         hadn’t been included in his Harvard course.
been seen hanging around with some               After that he stood silent for a moment, then
mobsters known to belong to Pal Hatrack’s        started off at a dogtrot. He soon caught up
Chicago gang. It wasn’t known whether            with Monk.
Spears had been taken into the crowd or not.               “You hairy relic of the Stone Age,” he
                                                 raged angrily. “If you don’t quit experimenting
                                                 on me—”
           Chapter VI                                      Monk looked at him innocently. “I
        MONK FINDS A TRAP                        was just letting you know I’d found our man,”
                                                 he said plaintively.
        CHEMISTRY embarrassed Monk                         Ham said some more words, and
when they reached the street in pursuit of the   Monk grinned again. He’d lost a bet to Ham
big-eared man. He wanted to take the picture     not long before, but now he felt better. He
of every pretty girl they encountered.           caught Ham looking at the wrist watch, and
        This would have been all right, but      grinned even more broadly.
too often the girl so photographed would                   The “wrist watch” really was a
                                                 communicating device, often used by Doc
                                     THE PURPLE DRAGON                                           19

and his men since an adventure long before.          that shrug he would have recognized it. It
Each “watch” could send and receive                  was one of the cute gestures that had
microwaves that transmitted messages in              attracted him when he had attended his last
ordinary code by pulsations of heat against          party. But Hiram Shalleck was dead.
the skin.                                                     The girl got into a cab and gave an
         Monk wore a similar “watch.” But in         address. The cab sped away.
Ham’s case, the hairy chemist had dabbed                      Monk and Ham with their hairy
chemical on the back of the “watch” so that          companion also were in a taxicab. A hundred
the first microwave received produced a              feet ahead of them, Ears Dugan was in
really powerful hot flash.                           another taxi. Ears seemed to be heading
         “I was just fixin’ it so you’d wake up if   uptown now.
I ever had to signal you,” Monk explained                     At Forty-second Street, Ears got out
innocently.                                          of his cab. His trailers did the same. Then the
         Ham glowered, then turned to bark at        slinky-appearing man went down to the
Chemistry. The ape had stopped to take a             subway. The others followed.
picture of another pretty girl.                               Ears didn’t seem to know that he
         Neither Monk nor Ham noticed the            was being followed. In fact, he didn’t. But he
subject of Chemistry’s last photographic             went through the usual tricks just the same.
effort. If they had, they might have                 He would get on a subway, then jump off just
remembered it later, when it would have              as the doors closed. Then he would reverse
saved them much trouble. But then, the girl          his tactics, and wait until the last possible
had dodged out of sight almost as soon as            moment, then board a train and go to the
the camera clicked.                                  next express stop.
         Monk and Ham hurried on after the                    Even though he apparently was just
big-eared man.                                       going through routine moves, he might have
                                                     shaken less experienced trailers. As it was,
                                                     he had no luck.
        AS the hairy chemist and the dapper                   Finally, he evidently decided the
lawyer vanished down the street, the girl who        coast was clear. He boarded a downtown
had been the object of Chemistry’s attention         express and parked himself comfortably
stepped from the hallway into which she had          behind a newspaper. Monk and Ham rode
darted.                                              downtown with him in the car behind.
        A figure that would have done credit                  Ears left the train at Chambers Street
to any bathing beach was clad in the type of         and strode confidently toward an ancient
clothes called “smart.” Large brown eyes             office building. Without a backward glance he
looked from under soft black hair. Red lips          entered, walked up to the third floor.
curved invitingly, and a dimple showed in one                 Ham, drifting ahead, saw him enter a
smooth cheek.                                        door unmarked by advertising. The dapper
        But only for a moment did the dimple         lawyer grinned, motioned Monk to follow him.
show. Then the girl’s eyes narrowed, her red                  “Daggonit, he doesn’t even make it
lips set in a hard line. She walked rapidly          tough enough to be interesting,” Monk
toward a corner drugstore and sought a               complained.
phone booth.                                                  “He probably thought he was dealing
        She did not identify herself when the        only with an antediluvian mind like yours,”
phone      was      answered.       She      said    Ham explained loftily.
expressionlessly: “You were right—as usual.                   For just a moment the two paused
Ears was spotted. The ones they call Ham             motionless outside the door Ears had used.
and Monk are on his trail.”                          Chemistry watched them with interest
        Words sputtered swiftly from the             showing in his small red eyes. The ape
telephone receiver. The girl sighed wearily. “I      carefully swung his camera so that it hung
understand. I don’t think Ears will be able to       behind his back.
shake them either. I’ll carry out instructions.”              “We’ll smash in, grab ‘em, and make
        She hung up slowly, stood for a              ‘em talk,” Monk whispered fiercely.
moment motionless.                                            Ham nodded. His face set in harsh
        Then she shrugged slightly and went          lines. He reached forward, grabbed the
back to the street. Had Hiram Shalleck seen
20                                      DOC SAVAGE

doorknob firmly, then thrust it open swiftly.     this afternoon. You are Dr. Constantine’s
The three smashed into the room.                  new patients. Now just sit down and he will
         And then they stopped. They              be here shortly.”
stopped with looks of utter amazement on                   “Patients!” Monk and Ham gasped
their features. Even Chemistry appeared           the word in unison.
surprised.                                                 “Of course” the girl said, pleasantly.
         This was the room Ears Dugan had         “As you no doubt know, Dr. Constantine is
entered. There was no question about that.        recognized as one of the outstanding
And there was no other door, no other             authorities on the cause and cure of mental
possible way in which he could have gotten        delusions and—”
out.                                                       The girl went on talking. Monk and
         But Ears wasn’t there. The room’s        Ham no longer were listening.
only occupant was an exceptionally pretty                  Ham was staring about the office
girl, seated behind a typewriting desk. She       blankly. Could he have been mistaken? Had
was looking at them with startled                 the big-eared man really gone into another
amazement.                                        office? He shook his head. That couldn’t be.
         Ham gulped with embarrassment.           Was he really in need of mental treatment,
For once, even his glib tongue failed to find     then? It had to be that or—
the necessary words. Monk’s homely face                    Once more he glanced about the
turned a dull crimson.                            office. It was equipped like that used by a
         Chemistry stared a moment, then          professional man. A huge bookcase against
jumped up and down, gibbering with                one wall was filled with brown-backed
excitement. Ordinarily, Monk or Ham would         volumes. There were one or two straight-
have paid attention to that. It was the ape’s     backed chairs and a soft divan. The walls
regular welcome when he met someone he’d          were bare, except for one or two pictures.
seen before and liked. This time, no one paid              Ham glanced at one of the pictures,
any attention.                                    casually at first then more intently for just an
         The girl apparently recovered first.     instant before swinging his gaze away.
“You were looking for Dr. Constantine?” she                Monk was muttering, “We get into
asked quietly.                                    the office of a bughouse doctor. An’ maybe
         Ham       gulped       again.     “Dr.   that’s where we belong.”
Constantine?” he repeated uncertainly. “Is he              Ham straightened to his full height,
a big-eared man?”                                 bowed politely.
         The girl shook her head, and now                  “I am afraid we are all mistaken,” he
she smiled faintly. Monk swallowed hard and       said suavely. “My friend and I are not mental
drew his features down into a scowl.              patients. But on the other hand I fear we
         “We saw a big-eared man come in          made an error in the office we entered. The
here,” he announced belligerently.                man we seek is undoubtedly not here, so—”
         The girl shook her head with tolerant    He turned toward the door.
amusement. “I am sure you must be                          Monk looked at him bewilderedly.
mistaken. This is Dr. Constantine’s office. No    When Ham changed tactics like that, he’d
one has entered here for the last hour.”          discovered something. The hairy chemist
         “Daggonit, Ham—” Monk began.             glanced around the room, and his jaw
         Some of Ham’s usual aplomb had           dropped.
returned. One upraised hand stopped Monk’s                 He was looking at the same picture
outburst. “I am sure we are not mistaken,”        that had caught Ham’s attention. The dapper
the dapper lawyer said smoothly. “I don’t         lawyer caught Monk’s arm, tried to pull him
know just what is going on around here, or        out the door. Monk jerked free. A bull-like
just where you enter into it, but—”               roar burst from his hairy throat.
         Then Ham stopped. He stopped                      “Daggonit, we weren’t mistaken,
because the girl behind the desk had risen,       Ham,” he bellowed. “There’s a trick door
was coming toward him, an expression of           some place. The guy we want is lookin’ at us
solicitous concern on her pretty features.        through that picture over there right now!”
         “Now, now, that’s all right,” she said            Ham groaned. Desperately he tried
soothingly. “I understand. I didn’t at first,     to yank Monk back. He was too late.
although I had been told you were coming up
                                     THE PURPLE DRAGON                                             21

        The false bookcase swung outward.            desk, then tried to get out of the way of the
Men poured into the room. More men rushed            milling fighters.
at them through the door behind them.                          The second man Monk kayoed
                                                     knocked the desk over as he fell. The girl
                                                     gave a faint cry of fear and pain as the edge
          AUTOMATICALLY,         Monk’s      fists   of the desk caught her across the toes.
came up. He plowed forward swinging, a grin                    Monk stopped for just an instant.
on his homely face. There was never any              Whether he intended to go to her aid or not,
mistake about it—Monk liked to fight.                he never knew. He never had the chance.
          But even as he went into action, the       Stopping was a mistake. It gave a tall, husky
hairy chemist knew he had made a mistake.            thug a chance to bring down his lead-
Too late he realized what Ham’s change of            weighted blackjack. It caught Monk across
front had meant.                                     the top of the head.
          The dapper lawyer also had spotted                   The hairy chemist lost all interest in
the watching eyes, peering through holes cut         later proceedings.
in the picture on the wall. But Ham hadn’t                     Chemistry’s fighting methods were
gone off half cocked. He’d figured, and              different. His two long, hairy arms swept out,
figured correctly, that they’d probably walked       grabbed a struggling victim in each arm, then
into a trap.                                         butted their heads together. The method was
          But Ham had thought also that they         perfectly efficient—except that it left him no
might get out of that trap if they pretended         defense from the rear. He was the second
they had been mistaken. Then they could              casualty.
have investigated more carefully, and have                     Red rage swam before Ham’s eyes
called for help if they needed it. Monk’s            as he saw Monk and Chemistry go down. He
precipitate action had ruined all of that.           put on a one-man riot that any Hollywood
          Their attackers numbered at least a        producer would have given a swell fortune to
dozen men. Most of them were armed with              film.
blackjacks.                                                    But his downfall was anticlimactic.
          Neither Ham nor Monk stood a               He really knocked himself out. Jumping
chance,       even      with   the     not-to-be-    forward to hang a right on a thug who was
underestimated assistance of Chemistry. But          kicking Chemistry in the ribs, he tripped over
if they knew that, they gave no indication of        one of the men he himself had laid low.
the fact.                                                      As he fell, his head struck the edge
          Ham’s sword-cane was knocked               of the overturned desk. At that moment
from his hand before he had a chance to              pulsations came from the oversized wrist
unsheathe it. A hard-swung billy narrowly            watch on his arm. Ham never knew it.
missed his head.                                               Renny was the one who was trying
          The dapper lawyer cast dignity to the      to signal Ham. The big engineer was working
winds. He dived forward, knocked the legs            with a duplicate “watch” in Doc’s office.
from under two oncoming thugs, then                            Messages were sent by operating
bounded to his feet, his back to a wall. His         the stem of the “watch” much in the same
arms darted in and out with astounding               way a telegrapher operates his key. Renny
rapidity, while his footwork would have done         kept at his task for many minutes. Slowly,
credit to any pugilist.                              perspiration began to form on the engineer’s
          Monk was more direct in his fighting.      brow.
He leaped to meet the on-comers halfway.                       “Holy cow, Doc! I can’t get an
The first man wore a surprised expression as         answer.”
a hammerlike fist caught him on the jaw,                       The bronze man had been reading a
threw him backward against his companions.           group of afternoon newspapers, seated
          The hairy chemist howled in delight,       behind his desk. Doc’s expression did not
brought his left up from the floor and downed        change, but his gold-flecked eyes whirled
a second foe.                                        peculiarly.
          Then came his undoing. The girl                      “It is possible that they are in one of
really was responsible for that. When the            the so-called ‘dead spots’ where the signals
onslaught started, she had darted behind her         do not reach,” he suggested quietly.
22                                      DOC SAVAGE

         Renny nodded, but he was not             man’s socks, when a glance would show no
convinced. He didn’t believe Doc was, either.     weapon was hidden there.
Doc usually tried to spare everyone worry but              The machine Doc was operating
himself. And the “watch” signal device had        broadcast a powerful, penetrating vibration,
been proven efficient too many times.             one that would pierce leaden walls even
         The telephone rang briskly. Doc          radio waves would not answer. It set up
answered, spoke briefly. His low trilling         vibration only in the particular type metal
sound filled the room as he hung up the           concealed in the socks.
receiver.                                                  And when that vibration was felt,
         “Another one,” he said briefly. “Sid     Doc’s men answered, no matter where they
Turley!”                                          were, or what they were doing. They raced to
         Renny’s huge fists opened and            the nearest telephone or cable office, or
closed. “Another graduate?”                       grabbed the fastest plane they could find to
         Doc nodded, without words.               get them to where they could report in. It was
         “Dead?” Renny grated.                    a summons none would ignore.
         “Vanished,” Doc replied. His low,                 Thirty minutes later two reports had
pleasing voice apparently had not changed,        been received. One came from Major
but there was a note in it that brought the big   Thomas J. Roberts. Long Tom, as he was
engineer’s head up sharply. Doc rarely used       known, was using his electrical genius on a
that note. When he did, the consequences          gigantic power project in South America. The
were usually bad for those who opposed him.       second came from William Harper Littlejohn.
Doc took more than a personal interest in his     Johnny, the archaeologist of the group, was
“graduates.” He felt a deep responsibility for    with a scientific expedition in far-off Asia.
them.                                                      There was no word from Monk or
         Thoughts raced through Renny’s           Ham! And it was then the three men
head. First there had been Shalleck, found        appeared.
dead in Chicago. Then there had been the
skeleton found at Liberty. Now there was a
report of a disappearance. And there was                      Chapter VII
always the cab driver who had confessed the                STRANGE CALLERS
ancient murder. He too had been a graduate.
         Renny’s glance fell on headlines of               A WARNING light showed suddenly
one of the papers on Doc’s desk.                  in the panel above the doorway. That light
                                                  did not flash when visitors came by the usual
     DRAGON FORCES CONFESSION                     method of the elevator; it showed only when
        OF ANCIENT MURDER                         someone approached the suite of offices by
                                                  the stairway.
         “There couldn’t be anything to that               That there were three of them was
‘purple dragon’ theory,” he said hoarsely.        apparent at once. The photo-electric eye that
“Holy cow, we know there ain’t any such           guarded the end of the hallway where the
thing.”                                           staircase    was      located    flashed   that
         Doc did not reply for a moment, and      information. And the men were coming softly
Renny looked at him sharply.                      and guardedly.
         The bronze man apparently did not                 Renny moved toward the door. His
notice. Instead, he walked to a small cabinet     huge fists were knotted.
at one side of the room, opened the doors.                 Doc still sat at his desk. The bronze
Varicolored lights appeared as Doc pressed        man had turned slightly, so that he had a
several buttons. A low, roaring hum filled the    clear view of the door. Other than that, he did
room.                                             nothing. Doc often permitted his men to work
         And then Renny really did feel worry.    off surplus energy when he felt it would do
He knew what Doc was doing.                       them good, let them handle situations alone,
         All the bronze man’s aids wore           even when he could have helped them.
specially made socks. In the heels of those                He was doing that this time.
socks a small piece of metal was cleverly
hidden. Experience had shown that even the
most careful searchers seldom removed a
                                  THE PURPLE DRAGON                                             23

     As Doc watched from the desk, the door swung open and Renny hauled in the men!

         The door swung open with startling                And the man on the floor, the one
swiftness. Three men fairly poured into the       who was squealing, was Sid Turley—Turley
room.                                             whose wife had reported he had
         Renny leaped forward. His gigantic       disappeared, and whom Renny had believed
arms swept out, encircled the three from          to have been another victim of the Purple
behind. Despite their bulk, he heaved them        Dragon.
from the floor, shook them violently. Heads                Turley scrambled to his feet. His thin
banged together.                                  face was scared, his eyes haggard. The two
         As quickly as he’d nabbed them, the      men with him appeared frightened also. One
big engineer turned loose. One of the three       was Slats Murphy. Murphy, scarecrow-lean
went to his knees, the other two staggered.       with a face old beyond his years, had been a
Renny caught the nearest by the coat collar,      killer. Now he was employed in an
spun him slightly so that he had a clear shot     undertaker’s. The other was Frank Long, the
at the other’s jaw, started an iron fist on a     youngest of the three. Long, who had just
bone-crushing journey.                            been starting his criminal career when he
         “Renny!”                                 tangled with Doc, had developed into an
         Doc Savage did not speak loudly.         excellent auto salesman.
His voice was quiet and controlled as usual.               But he didn’t look like a salesman
But Renny stopped as if frozen, his big fist      now. He looked like a man who expected to
suspended in midair.                              die at any moment. His usually good-natured,
         The man who had fallen to the floor      florid features were drawn and set, his eyes
was squealing in fright. “Don’t let him hit us,   evasive.
Doc! Don’t let him hit us! We came for                     Sid Turley scuttled across the room
protection, not for a row!”                       toward Doc, casting apprehensive glances
         Renny’s face turned red slowly. For      over his shoulder at Renny. Murphy and
one of the few times in his career he looked      Long moved with him.
abashed.                                                   “Yuh got to save us, Doc!” Turley
         He recognized the three men now.         pleaded frantically. “It’s goin’ tuh get us if you
They were three more graduates of Doc’s           don’t. The same thing is goin’ tuh get us
upstate “college.”                                that’s got Monk and Ham.”
24                                     DOC SAVAGE

         Renny’s breath came in sharply, he               A gun was jabbed almost into his
leaped forward, huge shoulders hunched.          ear. A second weapon was pushed hard into
Steel fingers grabbed Turley by the neck,        the back of his neck.
shook him violently.                                      “Stand still or we’ll kill you!” Sid
         “Do you know anything about Monk        Turley shrilled excitedly. “Doc, don’t you
and Ham. Where are they? What happened           make a move or we’ll blast the head off this
to them?”                                        big imitation strong man of yours!”
         Turley’s face started to change color
as he gasped for breath.
         “We don’t know anything about ‘em,               DOC was still seated behind the
except we were told they’d been caught,”         desk. For the moment he did not move, nor
Frank Long put in hurriedly.                     did he speak. Gold flakes appeared only to
         “Take it easy, Renny,” Doc advised      move faster in his impelling eyes.
quietly.                                                  It wasn’t often the bronze man
         Renny took a deep breath. Slowly his    conceded that he’d made a mistake. He did
grip relaxed on Turley’s neck.                   this time.
         “Now tell us what you know,” the                 Doc had known from the time the
bronze man said to Turley.                       three men had entered the office that they
         The little man rubbed his neck          weren’t afraid of being caught by the Purple
violently. Deep marks showed where               Dragon. He knew they had already seen the
Renny’s fingers had gripped.                     Purple Dragon.
         “Somebody’s after us. The Purple                 Renny should have realized that
Dragon’s after us,” he said hoarsely. “We got    also, but the big engineer had been too
to pay for what we did before we ever met        worried about Monk and Ham to catch it.
you.”                                                     None of these whom Doc Savage
         “The Purple Dragon?” Doc prompted       had sent from his upstate hospital ever
softly.                                          addressed the bronze man familiarly as Doc.
         Sid Turley nodded energetically.        Nor did any retain the slightest recollection of
“Half a dozen of us got warned. We was told      his previous life.
this here Purple Dragon that made that cab                Yet almost the first words Sid Turley
driver confess was going to get us too. We       had said revealed the little man remembered
was told that Monk and Ham already had           his past. And from what Doc had deduced so
been grabbed.”                                   far, whatever the Purple Dragon was, it did
         “And how were you told?”                return the past to men who should never
         Turley glanced at Slats Murphy. The     have remembered it.
tall, funereal-appearing man spoke up, his                Doc had halted Renny to begin with
voice deep and impressive. “First by             because he had hoped to obtain information
telephone, then by a more frightening            from the trio. But Renny had balked that by
method,” he intoned.                             his impulsive action in falling into the trap the
         Sid Turley added, “Somebody got to      three had laid.
us, each of us, last night, while we was                  And the three had been canny. They
sleepin’. They put a mark on us, then            had made no attempt to get the drop on
telephoned today to tell us that showed just     Renny while they were still near the door.
how easy we was goin’ to be to take.”            They undoubtedly knew that Doc’s office was
         “A mark? Let’s see it?” Renny moved     equipped with many safety devices that
forward.                                         would have prevented their ever getting near
         Frank Long was the one who moved        the bronze man.
to obey. Long opened his coat and vest,                   Instead, they had waited until they
pulled up his shirt. “Look here,” he             were almost on top of the desk.
suggested.                                                And they had been shrewd in
         Renny leaned forward to look. His       another way, also. They without question had
body was between the three graduates and         known that Doc and all his aids wore
Doc.                                             bulletproof underwear, were immune from a
         And that, he found, was a mistake.      bullet in the body. But no one, not even Doc,
                                                 could be immune from a bullet in the head.
                                   THE PURPLE DRAGON                                             25

The guns on Renny were placed where they           several powerful fans. The fine powder that
would do the most damage.                          had been in the air soon vanished.
          “Come out from behind that desk.                  Renny knew what that powder was.
Stand up and turn your back. Then strip!” Sid      He had merely forgotten for a moment that
Turley rasped at Doc. The little man’s voice       Doc might get a chance to get it from the
had changed now from fear to exultation.           equipment belt the bronze man always wore
          “If you don’t, we’ll be pleased to       about his middle. A highly concentrated
make a cadaver of this overweight punk,”           anaesthetic,        it    brought         instant
Slats Murphy promised solemnly.                    unconsciousness to anyone who breathed it.
          “Don’t do it, Doc. Holy cow, don’t do    Doc’s one word in Mayan had told Renny
it,” Renny pleaded, almost tearfully.              what to expect.
          The big engineer knew now the error               Both the bronze man and the
he had made, knew the danger Doc was in.           engineer had held their breath until the
For he knew Doc would do anything to save          anaesthetic had taken effect.
the life of one of his aids.                                Renny turned toward the three prone
          There was only one thing to do,          figures. “I really ought to throw these scum
Renny decided swiftly. He’d jerk up, would         out of the window, turning on you like that,
meet his end like a man. That, at least, might     after all you’ve done for them,” he said
give Doc a chance.                                 vengefully.
          The bronze man saw Renny’s                        Doc shook his head. “They were not
muscles bunch. He spoke one word, swiftly,         to blame,” he explained quietly. “The same
and Renny froze. The word he spoke was in          thing has happened to them that has
Mayan.                                             happened to others. In some way their brains
          “What did you say?” Frank Long           have been short-circuited, so that they have
barked suspiciously.                               been returned as they formerly were.”
          Doc did not reply. Calmly, quite as if            “And were used in an effort to kill
he did not know these men intended to kill         you,” Renny added spitefully.
him when he was helpless, he got to his feet,               “Instead of which, they may help,”
stepped away from the desk.                        Doc said. “Take them to the back room and
          Then he turned his back, removed         tie them securely. “
his coat and tie with quiet deliberation.                   Renny obeyed swiftly, carrying a limp
          The three gunmen were watching           figure under each arm, with the third tossed
him, fascinated. They had never expected to        over one big shoulder. He knew what Doc
get the great Doc Savage at their mercy so         intended to do. The bronze man possessed
easily. It just showed that even the best of       most unusual powers of hypnotism. When
them could be taken.                               the three recovered consciousness, Doc
          Doc appeared to have difficulty in       would question them. If they did know
loosening his shirt. It had a zipper up the        anything, they would reveal that knowledge.
front, and the zipper seemed to have stuck.                 The big engineer returned to the
He tugged at it patiently. When the zipper did     office as Doc finished re-dressing.
come free, it shot up with unexpected speed,                “Holy cow, the Purple Dragon must
Doc’s hand with it.                                really be afraid of you, Doc, to try this hard to
          A moment later, and a very fine, thin    get you,” he observed.
haze seemed to be settling in the room.                     “I expect you are right, my friend. I
None of the gunmen noticed it.                     really think you are,” a strange voice
          The haze fell lower. Fine grains of      interposed smoothly.
powder dropped down on the faces of the                     Renny spun toward the door in
three would-be killers.                            surprise. He had forgotten that door had
          It was only seconds after that when      been left ajar. Now it was wide open. A
the three gunmen dropped also. Their               stranger stood there, face solemn and
weapons fell from nerveless hands. They            benign.
themselves folded up limply on the floor.
          “Thanks, Doc,” Renny said simply.
          The big engineer pulled erect, sped
to a window, opened it, then turned on
26                                       DOC SAVAGE

              Chapter VIII                                  “It really is a case for your talents
           AN EXPLANATION                          alone, Mr. Savage,” he said convincingly. “A
                                                   case where you alone might do better than
           THE stranger walked leisurely across    an army of police.” He paused, his smile
the room. He was gray-haired, neither large        becoming slightly uncertain.
nor small, but with an air of assurance that                Fielding Falcan took a long breath. “It
could only have come from long contact with        is this way. This man is a genius of his kind. I
the public. Unusually heavy eyebrows,              have known him for years. He is a master of
undoubtedly artificially blackened, added to       many arts. But recently, I am afraid, he has
his dignified impression.                          become slightly deranged. A tragic death in
           “Allow me,” he said pleasantly, and     his family caused that. As a consequence he
held out his card to Doc Savage.                   has set himself up as judge, jury and
           The bronze man did not even glance      executioner over the lives of scores.”
at it. “Sit down, Mr. Falcan,” he invited                   “You mean—” Doc prompted.
calmly.                                                     “I mean that in some way he has
           “Ah, I see you know me,” the other      perfected a method that carries criminals
smiled. “That will make my task easier.” He        back to the time and scene of their crimes.
seated himself deliberately.                       And when this happens, he decrees death.
           Renny’s eyes narrowed slightly. He               “He is determined to rid the world of
had recognized the other also, although he         criminals who in some manner have
had never met him personally.                      managed to cheat the law.”
           This, then, was Fielding Falcan, once            There was a long moment of silence.
known as the most famous—or notorious—             Doc Savage did not move. Only Renny
criminal lawyer in the United States. Falcan       leaned forward.
apparently had dropped active practice in                   “It checks, Doc, it checks,” the big
recent years, at least his name hadn’t been        engineer said hoarsely. “That would explain
in the headlines lately, but he was reputed to     why your ‘graduates’ are being made victims,
have a legal mind that even Ham respected.         it would explain—”
           But Renny remembered, also, other                “And what is this man’s name, Mr.
things Ham had said—that Falcan was not            Falcan?” Doc asked politely.
always careful how he used that mind, that                  Fielding Falcan sat up straighter in
he had used it more often to balk justice than     his chair. His face whitened slightly, but his
to aid it.                                         voice was firm as he spoke.
           “You spoke of having a task, and                 “His name is Grover Tiler. You will
intimated it had to do with the Purple             find him—”
Dragon?” Doc reminded softly. The bronze                    Blam!
man was completely relaxed in his chair,                    A terrific explosion came from a
appeared almost indifferent.                       room far back among Doc’s suite of offices.
           Fielding Falcan ran one hand                     An instant later came a scream. It
through his unruly growth of gray hair and         was a scream of mortal pain and terror. The
laughed shortly. “A task I do not like,” he        scream was cut off almost at once.
confessed, “since it has to do with a client.               It was cut off by a second explosion,
But this is one time I believe I must align        one far greater than the first!
myself on the side of law and order.”                       Renny had moved the instant the
           Doc said nothing. His gold-flaked       first explosion sounded. The big engineer
eyes whirled peculiarly.                           was on his feet, and he was fast. But fast as
           “It is this way,” Falcan went on, and   he was Doc Savage preceded him.
all at once he seemed slightly ill at ease. “I              The bronze man was only a flash of
believe I know who the Purple Dragon is—or         motion as he sped toward the back room
rather, who is behind the Purple Dragon. I         where Renny had taken their three captives.
believe I know his object. And he must be                   A faint acrid odor was in the air, the
stopped, I know that. But I hesitate to turn       odor of high explosive. Mingled with it was
him over to police who might be brutal.” He        another odor—one that, once experienced,
stopped, smiled winningly.                         could never be forgotten. The odor of fresh
                                                   spilled blood.
                                  THE PURPLE DRAGON                                             27

          The door of the room where the
prisoners had been tied were shattered. The                   RENNY notified the police. As he did
room itself was a shambles.                       so, he noticed that Doc had gone to his
          Doc paused briefly, Renny at his        laboratory, that scientific workshop that was
shoulder. The big engineer had witnessed          the marvel of all who had seen it.
much violence in his lifetime, but this was a                 Doc Savage was going into action.
scene he knew he would never forget.                          Renny asked no questions as the
          Parts of three bodies literally         two left the office, went to the street. It rarely
plastered the walls, ceiling and floor of the     did any good to ask the bronze man
room. Whatever crimes Sid Turley, Slats           questions. When he felt like giving
Murphy and Frank Long had committed in            information he would, but not before. But he
the past were now atoned for.                     did try a feeler or so.
          “Return to the office and see that                  “If this Grover Tiler is the man back
Falcan remains. I want to talk to him some        of this, and he is trying to bring to justice
more,” Doc clipped.                               those who have escaped punishment, he’s
          Renny was glad to go. But he found      certainly making enough pay off,” Renny
the office vacant. Falcan had vanished.           volunteered.
          The big engineer grabbed a                          The bronze man said nothing. Renny
telephone, called the lobby of the office         sighed.
building. He was just too late, Falcan already                “But it seemed to me this Fielding
had left.                                         Falcan acted suspicious also. Maybe he’s
          Renny shrugged slightly. The            just trying to put the blame on this guy Tiler.”
criminal lawyer could be found easily enough                  Doc walked steadily on, headed
later. He returned to the scene of carnage.       toward the restaurant usually frequented by
          Doc Savage had pulled the shattered     him and his aids. Renny glanced at him slyly.
door of the room back in place, and Renny                     “Then again—” he started. He
flushed slightly when he realized the             paused.
meaning of that. Evidently, the bronze man                    Doc Savage had broken his even
had wanted to spare his aid the gruesome          stride, had darted forward suddenly, grabbing
job of investigating that had to be done.         a newspaper from a sidewalk stand. It was
          The job did not take long.              the latest afternoon edition.
          Later, police experts were to spend                 The bronze man’s low, peculiar
hours going over the room, examining every        trilling filled the air.
scrap of evidence in an attempt to determine                  Renny leaped forward, looked over
just what had happened.                           Doc’s shoulder. His eyes grew large. His jaw
          Doc’s trained senses solved the         moved up and down but no words came.
problem in minutes, not hours. He emerged                     On the front page of the newspaper
from the room with several small fragments        was a picture, a picture spread over four of
of leather in his hand.                           the eight columns.
          “Whoever sent them here also                        The photograph apparently had been
supplied them with special belts,” he said,       taken in prehistoric surroundings. There were
and his voice had an unwonted sharpness.          huge trees and tropical growth on all sides. In
“Those belts were filled with explosive,          the background was a cave, before which
attached to some sort of timing device,” the      burned a small fire. Several hairy, swarthy
bronze man explained. “The three men really       figures were seated about the fire, too small
were walking bombs. One bomb evidently            to see clearly.
went off first. In the instant before the other               But there was no mistaking Monk
two exploded, one of the victims had time to      and Ham—that is, none of their friends could
scream.”                                          fail to recognize them. They were in the
          “Holy cow, then whoever sent them       foreground of the picture.
here expected them to die as soon as they                     Hair, even more hair than usual,
had killed us,” Renny said shakily.               covered Monk’s apelike frame. An equal
          “Or expected us to be with them         amount of hair covered the body of the
when the bombs exploded,” Doc pointed out         fastidious Ham. Their faces looked dull,
quietly.                                          stupid, even bestial.
28                                        DOC SAVAGE

        Long tails were attached to the rear        bushy eyebrows. A muffler was pulled up
of the bodies. They were hanging from trees         high around his neck, as if against the faint
by those tails. Near them was Chemistry,            chill in the air.
also hanging by his tail.                                     Occasionally Falcan would stop and
        The caption over the photograph             glance behind him. Again he would pause
read:                                               and stare in a shop window, seemingly
                                                    interested in the display.
PURPLE   DRAGON    SHOWS     WHAT                             Finally he smiled contentedly. He
HAPPENS TO THOSE WHO OPPOSE HIS                     was not being followed, he assured himself.
EFFORT TO RID WORLD OF CRIMINALS                              Falcan was an excellent criminal
                                                    lawyer. But some of his former clients could
        The explanatory matter underneath           have given him pointers on how to detect a
was written in a kidding vein. But neither Doc      shadow. He did not even notice the figure
nor Renny found it humorous.                        that drifted along behind him on the opposite
        Briefly, it explained that the picture      side of the street.
had been brought to the newspaper by a                        The figure was not one to attract
messenger who had disappeared at once. A            attention even in the daytime. It was not
note with the photo had explained it was from       surprising the man was not particularly
the same “Purple Dragon” that had made the          noticeable at night.
taxicab driver confess an eleven-year-old                     He was dressed entirely in black, the
murder.                                             clothes hanging from his slight but
        The newspaper article concluded:            surprisingly agile body. Dark-colored glasses
                                                    covered eyes that were mild and wore a
         The Purple Dragon explains that            perpetual look of shy kindliness. In one hand
these men were attempting to balk him in his        was an ebony cane, but a cane evidently with
announced purpose of bringing criminals to          a soft rubber point since it made no sound
justice. As a consequence, the Purple               when it touched the pavement.
Dragon had transported them back through                      Fielding Falcan stopped in front of a
the centuries until they now not only               large office building. It was not the building in
resemble their earliest ancestors, but think        which he had his own ornate quarters, but he
and act as those ancestors did.                     seemed        well   acquainted      with     his
                                                    surroundings as he slipped inside, took an
          “Holy cow, Doc,” Renny expostulated       elevator to the eleventh floor.
violently. “We can’t have this. We can’t have                 Scarcely had he disappeared than
anyone treating Monk and Ham that way.”             the black-clad figure of his shadow eased
          Doc Savage looked up slowly. There        into the building. He also seemed to know
was a peculiar glint in his gold-flecked eyes.      where he intended to go. He laughed
When he spoke, it was not as Renny had              mirthlessly as he saw where Falcan had
expected, but it did set the big engineer to        signed himself as “John Smith” in the register
thinking.                                           used to record late visitors. His own name he
          “I believe,” Doc said slowly, “that we    signed as “John Jones.” Then he took an
will find there is far more behind this than just   elevator to the twelfth floor.
an effort to bring criminals to justice.”                     Beneath him, Falcan was using a
          “I’d like to see that Fielding Falcan     key to enter an office. The sign on the door
right now,” Renny exploded. His big hands           read “John Smith.” The black-clad man used
were working.                                       a key of his own to enter an office directly
                                                    above. And the sign on that door read “John
        FIELDING FALCAN was evidently                         Once inside the office, the black-clad
taking precautions that no one see him just at      man moved swiftly. He stepped to a spot he
that moment.                                        seemed to know well, a spot that
        The gray-haired lawyer was slipping         examination would have shown was exactly
along a side street not far from Times              over the telephone Falcan was using in the
Square, but in a section almost deserted,           office below.
now that office hours were over. His broad-                   The rubber tip was pulled from the
brimmed hat was pulled down far over his            end of the ebony cane, and the cane planted
                                  THE PURPLE DRAGON                                          29

firmly on the floor. From the handle of the               Vaguely, Ham was aware that
cane came a small earphone, which the            certain muscles along his spine were
black-clad man pressed close to one ear.         contracting and expanding. He knew
          Fielding Falcan made several           somehow that this was what caused the
telephone calls. He spoke swiftly and at         swaying motion he felt.
some length each time.                                    Then he became aware that his
          Above him, the black-clad man          position was even more unusual than he had
smiled queerly. His mild, shy eyes held a        first thought. When his eyes were fully open
strange look.                                    he was looking down at the ground, as if he
          Silently, he restored the ebony cane   were hanging suspended that way.
to its original form. A few moments later, he             With an effort he twisted his neck
left the building.                               around, looked behind him. Somewhere
          As he reached the street two men       along the line, he found, he had sprouted a
were passing. One held a newspaper, was          tail. The tail was wrapped around a thick limb
showing the other the jungle-scene picture       of a tree. In fact, he was suspended in the air
on the front page.                               by that tail. He experienced no surprise at the
          The black-clad man didn’t seem like    discovery. That seemed to be something he
the kind inclined to mirth, but he laughed       was accustomed to also.
then. He laughed long and silently.                       Motion flashed above him in a
                                                 nearby tree. Ham’s teeth bared, a strange
                                                 growling noise came from his throat.
            Chapter IX                                    The growl was answered by one
      A PREHISTORIC BATTLE                       equally as fierce. A hairy figure with long
                                                 arms swung down toward him. Ham felt his
         HAM was laughing also. At least he      own arms reaching out, realized that he was
was going through the motions, although his      filled with desire to rend and tear with his
mouth was twisted into a grimace more than       teeth.
anything else. And the noises that were                   Then the onrushing figure paused. A
issuing from his throat hardly sounded           different kind of noise came from it. A more
human.                                           mild, soothing noise. Ham felt strangely
         When he first heard those noises he     complacent. For a few moments he rocked
thought someone else was making them. It         back and forth at a more rapid rate.
took a long time for him to realize the sound             And then he paused. Unintelligible,
was coming from his own lips.                    queer gibberish rolled from his lips. His eyes
         Next he became aware of a swaying       became small and blood shot. He tried the
motion. That was peculiar also. He seemed        same growls he’d used before.
to be rocking gently back and forth, but when             They were to no avail this time.
he put down his arms and legs there was                   Another hairy figure swung from a
nothing to support them.                         second tree, also hanging by its tail. And this
         Opening his eyes was quite a job,       one was far bigger and more menacing-
but he finally managed it. Even when he did,     appearing than the first one Ham had seen.
he couldn’t see very well. Or at least he                 Tiny red eyes glared back at Ham
hoped that was what was wrong.                   from under thick eyebrows. Huge hands on
         He apparently was in a forest of        the ends of long, hairy arms flexed with
some kind, but the scene wasn’t a familiar       hideous meaning.
one. The trees were different someway,                    And this relic of the Stone Age was
seemed more to resemble tropical growth          making sounds quite as fearsome as those
than anything else. The underbrush around        coming from Ham. Actually, they sounded to
the foot of the trees looked that way also.      Ham even more terrifying.
         Dimly, far back in his brain,                    The big ape was increasing his
something seemed to be trying to tell Ham        swing. It would only be a moment or so
that this wasn’t as it should be. But another,   before those powerful hands caught Ham by
and seemingly more active, part of his brain     the throat. Something told Ham that would be
accepted it as something to which he was         a disagreeable experience.
well accustomed.
30                                      DOC SAVAGE

                          He acted without conscious volition. His mind
                          told him he was back in the Stone Age again!

         He twisted around violently, tried to            In that moment he realized that the
go the other way. He moved all right, but not     huge ape he had tried to flee wasn’t an ape
just as he had expected.                          at all—or at least he wasn’t supposed to be.
         His tail broke. He fell to the ground.           It was Monk. And the smaller ape,
         That fall did something to Ham. It       the one that had first moved toward him, was
broke the nightmarish fever that gripped his      Chemistry.
brain. For a moment he was quite conscious.               Ham lay quite still on the ground for
                                                  a few seconds, trying to figure it out.
                                  THE PURPLE DRAGON                                           31

          After his first real flash of           thinking a little more clearly after he’d been
consciousness, everything started to get          severely jarred by a fall.
mixed up again. Monk and Chemistry were                    If a shock had worked for him, why
with him; they had all been knocked out in a      wouldn’t it for Monk?
terrific fight; a pretty girl was involved in              He moved forward toward the tree,
some way.                                         stumbled over a rock. After that he acted
          Then cold perspiration jumped to        without conscious volition. His mind told him
Ham’s features. There was a Purple Dragon         he was back in the Stone Age again.
also, a Dragon that breathed real fire. There              But his original instructions to his
had been something horrifying connected           muscles were carried out. He stooped down,
with that Dragon some way, something that         picked up the stone, hurled it hard and true.
had torn at the mind. Ham tried to think just              The rock struck Monk almost on the
what it was.                                      back of his head. It made a quite audible
          Growls came from his throat, he         clunk.
glanced around angrily. A short distance                   And intelligence flashed in Monk’s
away, but on a higher level, was a cave. A        small, red eyes. The hairy chemist squirmed
small fire was burning before that cave and       around to see what was holding him up.
around it stood several fur-clad figures.         When he found it was a tail he caught hold of
Huge, stone axes were in their hands. They        the tree limb, pulled himself up until he could
were looking at Ham warily.                       release that tail, then dropped to the ground.
          Ham felt that he should run.                     He was quite unprepared for the
Something told him these men were his             sudden, vicious attack launched on him by
enemies. But another, stronger impulse told       Ham.       Monk      acted   instinctively—and
him to stand fast. He threw back his head         unwittingly did the best thing he could have
defiantly, and more strange noises came           done.
from him.                                                  He swung a hard right to Ham’s jaw.
          The fur-clad figures vanished hastily            The once-dapper lawyer blinked; he
inside the cave.                                  started thinking again. “Greetings, brother of
          In some manner, Ham seemed to           the Stone Age,” he said solemnly. Then he
know that this was a time before recorded         doubled up with laughter. “If you could only
history began. There were no cities, no           see yourself. If you could only see how right
airplanes, no civilization. There was only this   I’ve been all along, how you really are a relic
jungle that stretched endlessly in all            of prehistoric times—”
directions, filled with fearsome animals and               “Why, daggonit, you ex-tailor’s
small men who swung stone axes.                   dummy,” howled Monk. “If you’re the one
          Ham looked up again at the figure of    who got me in this fix—”
the big ape swinging above him. For a                      He halted suddenly, face serious. A
second time the brain cobwebs vanished.           haunted, fearful look crept into his small red
          He began to laugh. He realized this     eyes. Ham’s laughter ceased as quickly. The
had been what he was really laughing at           lawyer darted quick, anxious glances around
when he first became aware of his                 him.
surroundings.                                              Both were remembering.
          He’d always known Monk was
related to the ape family. But until now he’d
never known just how close that relationship              MONK glanced cautiously at Ham.
was.                                              The hairy chemist appeared embarrassed,
          Monk appeared to understand that        and very few things except feminine attention
he was being laughed at. He made frantic          ever embarrassed him.
efforts to free himself, to get down to where             “Daggonit, d-do you remember seein’
he could wrap his long arms around his            something that resembled a Purple Dr-
tormentor, use those powerful hands on            Dragon?”
Ham’s throat.                                             Ham nodded.
          Ham sobered. Where they were,                   Monk sighed with relief. “Then I ain’t
what it was all about, he still had no idea. He   quite as crazy as I thought. But—” He
knew that his own brain was far from clear.       hesitated, peering cautiously in all directions
But he did remember that he’d started             and lowered his voice to a whisper. There
32                                         DOC SAVAGE

was more than a trace of worry in that voice.                  “Then we’re not back in the Stone
“D-did it make you afraid, too?”                     Age,” Monk growled.
         Ham squared his shoulders. He gave                    “Of course not,” Ham said scornfully.
the impression of straightening a smartly            He acted as if he’d known it all the time.
tailored coat—but he wore no coat, he really         “That is, maybe you are, but I’m not.”
wore nothing but a hairy fuzz. “An optical                     Ham glared defiantly about. His gaze
illusion of some kind, a trick,” he said, but his    centered on the forest back of Monk. The
voice lacked conviction.                             joyful light went out of his eyes. Involuntarily
         The hairy chemist shuddered slightly.       he took a step backward. “M-maybe,” he
“T-there’s more to it than that. T-that Dragon       qualified weakly.
seemed to tear into my mind, to do things to                   Monk spun, then halted, long arms
me—”                                                 swinging about to his knees. The hairy
         “And there was a warning,” Ham              chemist wondered if this was a nightmare
added swiftly. He seemed to have forgotten           just starting, or if the whole thing had been a
that only a moment before he had even                nightmare.
doubted the existence of the Purple Dragon.                    He wondered, too, just when he had
“We were warned to stay out of the Purple            been right—when he’d thought he’d been in
Dragon’s affairs, to let him administer justice      the Stone Age, or when he had believed it
as he wanted. If we didn’t—”                         was all a put-up job.
         “—then we’d be put back to the                        Then he decided he might never
same place where we are now and left here,”          know.
Monk finished anxiously. His homely face                       Creeping through the jungle toward
lengthened plaintively.                              them were two of the most vicious beasts he
         “W-where are we, Ham?”                      had ever seen outside a museum. In
         Ham shook his head. For an instant          appearance they resembled the more vicious
his eyes became cloudy again. “I . . . I’m not       types of dryopithecus, believed by scientists
even sure when we are,” he confessed.                to have been the forerunners of all
         There was a sudden clattering above         anthropoids.
them. Chemistry dropped beside them,                           Certainly it could not be the twentieth
chattering merrily. He alone seemed satisfied        century. No dryopithecus had been known to
with his surroundings. He plucked curiously          exist for thousands of years.
at Monk’s hairy tail.
         Monk paid no attention. He seemed
trying to think. “I . . . I’ve heard superstitions            CHEMISTRY was wise. He took one
of people moving back and forth in time,” he         look and swung up swiftly into the nearest
muttered. “D’you suppose we’ve done that,            tree.
somehow?”                                                     That should have been tip-off
         Ham shuddered. With an effort he            enough for Monk and Ham. It wasn’t. But that
brought himself erect.                               was because they were still confused as to
         “You’ve always been basically               what century they were in.
prehistoric,” he snapped. “And I don’t like that              Instead of taking to the trees, they
era.”                                                looked around for weapons. Two flimsy-
         A sudden howl came from Monk.               appearing clubs were all they could find.
Ham looked up, startled. Chemistry was               They grabbed them eagerly.
dancing around excitedly. In his hand he held                 Monk didn’t wait for the dryopithecus
the tail that had been attached to Monk’s            to bring the fight to him. And that was
hairy figure.                                        another error. He gave a shrill yell of anger
         “Daggonit,” Monk howled. “Sometime          and charged in. Ham probably would have
that ape is going to go too far—” He halted,         more sense, but it never had been Ham’s
crimson showed beneath his hairy face.               habit to let Monk fight alone.
         Ham roared. “Chemistry does you a                    He gave his imitation of how a
favor and you don’t know it.” The lawyer’s           prehistoric ape should bellow going into
spirits seemed to have soared. “Now we               battle and followed Monk.
know we’re not nuts. This is a put-up job.                    The dryopithecus didn’t even pause.
That tail was hooked on to your body with            They came on as relentlessly as two
wire. Mine is, too, I expect.”                       machines. Monk’s club went up, came down
                                  THE PURPLE DRAGON                                             33

in a tremendous blow that should have             There had been something almost too
broken the animal’s back.                         smooth about the gray-haired criminal
          The club broke, instead.                lawyer.
          Monk gave a yell of dismay, turned               Fielding’s office was in one of the
to run. Ham tried to do the same. They were       towering buildings on Forty-second Street.
too late.                                         And this one had the name, “Fielding Falcan,
          The beasts swarmed over them,           Attorney-at-law,” on the door.
pinned them to the ground.                                 But Falcan wasn’t there. A clerk was,
          It seemed only minutes after that       however.
before Monk reared up, fully conscious                     The clerk sighed with relief as Doc
again. To his surprise, he found Ham also         and Renny appeared. “Mr. Falcan told me to
sitting erect.                                    wait here until you arrived,” the clerk
          Ham was dressed in his usual,           explained. “I was afraid that you might not
impeccable style. Monk found that he also         put in your appearance tonight.”
was fully clothed.                                         Renny cast a surprised look at Doc
          Standing before them, a damp cloth      as the clerk handed the bronze man an
in her hand, was the pretty girl they had         envelope-inclosed message. This certainly
found when they had entered the downtown          didn’t look as though the criminal attorney
office in pursuit of Ears Dugan. A solicitous     had anything to hide.
expression was on her face.                                The bronze man’s expression did not
          Monk glanced around hastily. He and     change. He scanned the message swiftly,
Ham were seated on the floor of that same         handed it to Renny. The message read:
downtown office. Ham’s features were clean-
shaven. There was no trace of the hair that                I am sure that you will want more
had covered it.                                   information after the affair at your office is
          The homely chemist’s senses reeled.     settled. In case I am not here, I trust this will
He’d never passed out in his life before, but     serve.
he felt as if he were going to do so now.                  The man I named, Grover Tiler,
          The girl noticed it. She stepped        whom I sincerely believe to be behind the
toward him swiftly, ran the damp cloth across     Purple Dragon, is a recluse, and a wealthy
his brow.                                         recluse. His home in the Catskills is guarded
          “Now, now,” she soothed. “Both of       by many mechanical devices, but I feel sure
you just remain quiet. I am afraid you have       you can reach him if you so desire.
had a severe attack of the type of mental                  I do ask, however, that you avoid
illness with which you are afflicted. Only a      violence, if possible. Tiler is a client of mine,
moment ago you each seemed to think you           and he has been my friend. But if you do
were fighting some animals. Before that, you      want my help in any other way, do not
thought you were fighting a crowd of men.”        hesitate to call on me.
          Ham’s jaw dropped, and remained                                         Fielding Falcan.
that way. The girl gave his brow a swipe with
the cool cloth also.                                       Accompanying the note was a well-
          “Do not be alarmed,” she said softly.   drawn map showing the location of Tiler’s
“The doctor will be here any moment now. I        mountain home.
am sure he can help you.”                                  “Express our thanks to Mr. Falcan,”
                                                  Doc Savage told the clerk. “And tell him I
                                                  believe this will be all the aid we need.”
          Chapter X                                        “Do you think we’ll find Monk and
   AN UNEXPECTED WELCOME                          Ham there?” Renny burst out as they sped to
                                                  the street.
       DOC and Renny wanted to help                        Doc did not answer at once. Instead,
Monk and Ham also. But they were                  he hailed a cab and gave an address, “The
handicapped by not knowing just where to          Hidalgo Trading Co. wharf.”
go.                                                        Renny had expected that. Few knew
       But Doc did not veto Renny’s               it, but Doc Savage was the Hidalgo Trading
suggestion that they call on Fielding Falcan.     Co. And the big warehouse on the Hudson
34                                       DOC SAVAGE

contained a great deal of equipment used by                 That would not have been the case
the bronze man and his aids.                       had Doc noticed it, but Renny was using the
         They wasted no time now. Less than        only infra-ray-type telescope, and the big
half an hour later, they were on their way to      engineer’s attention was centered too much
call on Grover Tiler. A trim autogyro, with        on the house he’d seen.
Doc at the controls, shot up almost silently                “You hit it right on the dot, Doc,” he
through an opening prepared for it in the roof     whispered. “It looks like an imitation castle. It
of the trading-company warehouse.                  even has a stone wall and a moat about it.”
         At an altitude of 5,000 feet, Doc cut              Doc nodded. His keen eyes didn’t
on a powerful propeller, and turned the blunt      need a telescope to make out the house. It
nose of the craft to the north.                    stood out starkly against the horizon. With
         Another craft was also speeding in        gyro blades fanning the air almost
that direction—and with the same destination       noiselessly, the bronze man drifted the craft
in view. It was a speedy cabin plane, and had      overhead, then slowly let it drop downward.
taken the air a good hour before Doc and                    From the air, the grounds around the
Renny got started.                                 house had looked bare. It was only as they
         Besides the pilot, the plane carried      came closer that they could make out a lawn
two passengers. One was very dignified and         almost covered with varied types of
gray-haired. The other was small and nattily       shrubbery.
dressed, with a green handkerchief in his                   Renny signaled Doc to the right and
coat pocket. Their air was grim and                the gyro dropped silently to the only landing
businesslike.                                      available—a small cleared space behind a
                                                   garage. When the gyro touched earth it was
                                                   completely hidden from the house by that
          THE autogyro did not have the            garage.
speed of the cabin plane. But Doc had                       For a moment both the big engineer
selected the gyro because neither he nor           and Doc Savage sat perfectly still, listening.
Renny knew exactly what type of landing            Only a few bird noises broke the silence.
field they might find near Tiler’s home.           Renny was glad when Doc lifted up lithely,
          Besides, the gyro made their task        dropped quietly to the ground.
more simple if Tiler really did have his                    The bronze man motioned Renny
grounds protected by burglar alarms or other       back as the engineer moved to come
devices. Doc could set it down almost              alongside. From the equipment vest he wore
vertically, and on a spot not larger than          about his waist, Doc drew an object
fifteen feet square.                               resembling a photographer’s ordinary light
          More than an hour elapsed before         meter. It was a light meter, at that—but not
the bronze man signaled they were nearing          for ordinary light. Carefully the bronze man
their destination. Instantly, Renny went to        swung this back and forth, first high, then
work.                                              low, and then from side to side.
          He pressed a button at the side of                Even from where he stood, Renny
the cockpit, peered through a telescope that       could see the sudden flash of light that
led down through the bottom of the autogyro        illuminated the meter. For a moment Doc
and could be turned in any direction.              studied the dial, then he ducked far over, and
          No light appeared, but every detail of   motioned Renny to follow suit.
the terrain below showed up clearly in the                  The big engineer didn’t have to ask
telescope.                                         questions. He knew what the device was,
          The device was utilizing infra-ray       knew also that it had been perfected by Doc.
beams, invisible to the eye, but which made        It was the only known instrument, so far as
the landscape clearly visible through the          Renny had ever heard, that would detect and
special glass used in the telescope.               give warning of a photo-electric ray—a ray
          On a road far below, Renny saw an        that, broken by a passing object, would
automobile speeding swiftly toward a huge          sound an alarm.
house located on the top of a small                         Doc had detected such a ray leveled
mountain. Renny thought nothing about that         just about at a man’s shoulder. By ducking,
automobile at the time. The fact that he’d         they had avoided it.
even seen it soon slipped his mind.
                                    THE PURPLE DRAGON                                            35

          They stepped forward more briskly                  There was only one occupant of the
then, only to freeze motionless as sound            living room. He was a long, slender man,
came. It was sound to raise hair even on the        dressed entirely in black. He was lying
neck of a civilized man. The sound was the          outstretched on the floor, one arm under his
horrible hunting cry of the wolf.                   head as if he were sleeping—except that his
          “Tiler is clever,” the bronze man         chest showed no signs of breathing, and
whispered softly.                                   crimson was trickling from a dark spot on his
          “W-what was it, Doc?” breathed            head. The crimson was forming an ever-
Renny.                                              widening circle. A note lay nearby. It read:
          “We evidently are not the only ones
near,” Doc explained briefly. “The cry of the              TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN:
wolf was a mechanical one, so evidently it is               I, Grover Tiler, being of sound mind,
the alarm sounded when a photo-electric ray         am ending my own life. But I would like to
is broken.”                                         confess before I go that I have been the
          Even Doc Savage’s exceptionally           master mind behind the Purple Dragon terror.
keen ears failed to catch the slightest hint of     I know that Fielding Falcan suspects this,
movement. Whoever had been responsible              and has told Doc Savage of his suspicions. I
for sounding the alarm evidently was                thought I could be above the law myself and
immobile, afraid to move.                           exact retribution from those who had
          But     what     Renny     could    not   escaped punishment for their crimes. I think I
understand was why there was no sound               have done some good, but I also foresee that
from the owner of the house, why Tiler didn’t       I might end up doing evil. I am taking this
do something to show that he knew he had            way out rather than face that prospect. If Doc
unexpected guests.                                  Savage finds this, I know he will be glad to
          A gray-haired man and his small,          learn that his men, known as Monk and Ham,
nattily dressed companion might have                are soon to be released unharmed on my
answered that question. But they weren’t            orders.
talking. They were huddled far back under a                                           Grover Tiler.
big tree, invisible in the darkness.
          Renny shifted impatiently. If Monk                  “Holy cow,” Renny rumbled. “Why, I
and Ham were in this house, then the                don’t—”
continued silence was more than ominous; it                  Whatever else Renny intended to
might mean the likable chemist and dapper           say remained forever unsaid. The big
lawyer were beyond help.                            engineer never did know what Doc had seen
          Doc Savage must have had the              that alarmed him.
same idea. He said nothing, but he started                   Renny knew only that he suddenly
ahead suddenly, and this time he moved              seemed to have been hit by a bronze
swiftly.                                            whirlwind, a whirlwind that spun him around,
          With Renny at his heels the bronze        then crashed him downward. His next
man rounded the front of the house, raced           impression was of falling, as if through
toward the porch. Then his pace slowed.             limitless space.
Renny’s breath came in sharply.                              After that he knew nothing.
          The front door of the big house was                Still huddled under the big tree, gray-
opened wide. Light streamed out from the            haired Fielding Falcan and nattily dressed
hallway inside.                                     Dude Starg also felt as if they had been
          Only for an instant did Doc slow,         seized in the hands of a giant.
then he redoubled his speed, mounting the                    A terrific explosion broke the silence,
steps with one quick leap. A moment more            an      explosion     that    re-echoed     and
and he was inside the house, heedless of the        reverberated for minutes.
fact that he might be running into a trap.                   The big house on top of the hill
Renny caught up with him as Doc stopped at          seemed literally to dissolve into space.
the entrance to a large living room.                         Falcan and Starg were thrown a
          Whatever Renny had expected to            score of feet backward by a gigantic blast of
find, it certainly was not the sight that met his   air.
36                                   DOC SAVAGE

                        Whatever Renny had expected to find, it cer-
                        tainly was not the sight that met his eyes!

         Bruised and torn, they staggered to    Dude, calloused killer as he was, was
their feet, stared wonderingly at the space     shaken.
where Grover Tiler’s home had been. Even                “The nutty son of a cook,” he
                                                breathed. “First he bumped himself off, then
                                   THE PURPLE DRAGON                                             37

he left a trap so that he got Doc Savage and                Monk and Ham whirled as if on a
that big mug with him as well.”                    single pivot. Three men were crowding in
         “At least he saved us the trouble,”       through the doorway. They wore the white
Falcan said huskily.                               jackets and caps of hospital attendants. Two
                                                   were carrying strait jackets.
                                                            This time neither Monk nor Ham had
             Chapter XI                            to ask each other even an unspoken
        A STRANGE JOURNEY                          question. They had no intention of going to
                                                   any asylum.
          THE girl, who finally had identified              They leaped into combat so swiftly
herself as Marcella Walling, nurse for Dr.         that even the husky attendants had no
Constantine, the outstanding alienist, stuck to    chance. They were bowled over before they
her story.                                         knew a fight had even begun. Monk put his
          “You two, with this ape of yours,” she   full weight behind his first blow. The man he
said—and for the first time Monk and Ham           hit didn’t even touch his feet on his journey
noticed Chemistry still was with them, his         across the hallway. Ham hit his man nearly
camera around his neck—came bursting in            as hard. The third victim was unfortunate. He
here like madmen, insisting you were after a       got hit by both Monk and Ham.
man with ‘big ears.’ Then you went into your                The pair didn’t wait. Cops might be
fit. I could only judge that you thought you       on the way, for all they knew. They got out of
were fighting, by your jumbled conversation,       there fast.
although part of the time you were making                   They were a dozen blocks away
noises like animals. I’m no mental expert, but     before they noticed           the newspaper
I am convinced you are in need of Dr.              headlines.
Constantine’s services, whether you believe                 Those headlines told of the death of
so or not. Will you sit down quietly and wait      Clark Savage, Jr., and his associate, Colonel
for him?”                                          John Renwick.
          An unspoken question and answer
passed between Monk and Ham. Each could
read the doubt in the other’s mind. Neither                BOTH Monk and Ham had heard
was sure that the girl wasn’t correct. Too         reports of Doc Savage’s death before, and it
many strange things had happened, and not          wasn’t until they read the story beneath the
the least of these was to recover                  headlines that they became really alarmed.
consciousness in the same room where they          The account concluded:
believed they had been attacked and
knocked out long before, only to be told only               So terrific was the explosion that not
a few minutes had elapsed.                         even one sizable piece of Tiler’s house has
          Ham looked at the girl gravely. For      been found. And since eyewitnesses place
the first time, she was showing nervousness.       both Mr. Savage and Colonel Renwick in the
That was easy to understand, if her story was      home at the time, as well as the owner, Mr.
correct. Who wouldn’t be nervous, even a           Tiler, there seems no doubt that all three
nurse, if she thought she was alone in a           perished. Authorities, searching for definite
room with two madmen?                              clues, report the finding of several blood-
          “I believe, Miss Walling,” Ham said      splattered boards. These will be analyzed to
gravely, “that we really should leave.             determine whether the blood was that of
Perhaps we will get in touch with your Dr.         humans or of some animal. At a late hour the
Constantine later.”                                cause of the blast still was unknown.
          The girl did not seem to be paying
attention. She was looking at someone or                    Monk went to a newsstand and
something behind them. Ham heard the door          bought several other papers. All had virtually
open softly.                                       the same story on the reported demise of
          “At last!” Marcella cried joyously.      Doc and Renny.
Fear left her eyes suddenly. “I thought you                 It was Ham who found the second
never would come. Please take care of these        article of interest. It was an editorial. He read
two men before they become dangerous.”             it excitedly:
38                                         DOC SAVAGE

          In connection with the upstate blast                 “Look!” he said. “That date! It says
that killed Clark Savage, Jr., and Colonel           it’s the fourteenth. And if you’ll remember it
John Renwick, as well as Grover Tiler, there         was the twelfth when we started out to trail
was an unconfirmed rumor in the underworld           Ears Dugan.”
today that Tiler really was behind the                         Comprehension dawned on Ham. He
mysterious Purple Dragon, of which we have           let out a very undignified roar. “Then that girl
been hearing so much of late. Savage and             did lie,” he shouted. “Let’s go back there right
Renwick reputedly were on the trail of this          now. I want another sock at those so-called
so-called Dragon.                                    hospital attendants.”
          Whether true or not, we cannot say,                  But the attendants weren’t there.
but it is an interesting theory. It is interesting   Neither was the girl. The office was vacant.
to note, also, that at least two more men            And for the first time Monk and Ham realized
went to police today to confess ancient              that some place in the shuffle they had lost
crimes—and in both cases they provided               Chemistry.
clinching evidence against themselves. At                      Their first impulse was to try to pick
the same time, a skeleton, the sixth of its          up the trail at once. Then they decided
kind, was uncovered by police in an isolated         against it. It might be better if they got back
lot. Although evidence indicated the skeleton        to Doc’s office, and kept in close touch there.
had been buried only recently, physicians                      They didn’t intend to give up hope for
said the man who had once owned it must              Doc and Renny too soon. The report of their
have been dead for years. The remains were           death might be so—but they still didn’t
identified as those of a once-notorious              believe it.
gangster, long missing from his regular
          If all this be the work of the Purple               THERE was at least one other
Dragon, we are not so sure that work should          person who read the report of the deaths with
be stopped. At least a lot of crimes, once           marked disbelief. At least disbelief was his
listed as unsolved, are now solved. The              emotion as he read the headlines. Later he
police are receiving valuable assistance,            wasn’t so sure.
whether they know it or not.                                  The man was in a hospital bed.
          There is only one thing that makes         Bandages covered most of his head. From
police doubt that the Purple Dragon might be         certain dull aches it seemed that he had a
all he claims, that his only motive is to see        fractured rib or so. Outside of that, he wasn’t
criminals who have escaped the law receive           certain of anything.
proper punishment. That is the fact that in                   He had been conscious for some
every case linked to the Dragon so far, the          time before he saw the newspaper, but had
victim once was connected in some way with           kept that fact to himself. When his nurse left
the more-than-notorious Pal Hatrack. This            the room, leaving the paper temptingly near,
indicates it all might be for revenge.               however, he hadn’t been able to keep his
          One of those who confessed today           hands off it, even though moving was no
even mentioned Hatrack during his ravings.           pleasure.
Undoubtedly it has no connection with the                     After he had finished reading the
case, but it is interesting. It seems Hatrack        explosion story, the paper dropped from his
had the habit of telling his men to remember         limp fingers.
the names of certain race horses for him,                     The newspaper said he was dead.
such as “Fred Fisher in the first.” He warned        After reading the story he could see why
each man never to forget the name of the             police had so reported. And perhaps he was
horse or the race—                                   dead. But Renny didn’t believe it.
                                                              After careful consideration, however,
        “There’s a lot more, but that’s not          he decided that was the only fact that he
important,” Ham said. And thereby Ham                could swear to. Where he was, how he had
added himself to the list of poor prophets.          gotten there, why he hadn’t been killed, all
        Monk failed to make the proper               were questions that needed answers.
answer. He was staring at the paper in his                    It seemed certain that he hadn’t been
hand with a rapt and silly grin.                     taken to a hospital anywhere near the scene
                                                     of the explosion. Doc and his aids were too
                                  THE PURPLE DRAGON                                            39

well known most places for them to attempt       question. Surely you must know where you
to conceal their identities without disguises,   are. This is El Paso, Texas, of course.”
and bandages hardly served that purpose.                 Renny dropped back as if shot. El
         Renny tried to reach down and get       Paso! And last night he had been in New
the newspaper he had dropped. If he could        York.
see that again at least he would know where              He closed his eyes weakly. It was all
he was.                                          too deep for him to figure out.
         One of the homeliest nurses he had
ever seen balked that. She didn’t even
speak. She simply entered the room and                       Chapter XII
pushed him back into his bed.                           DOC TAKES A CHANCE
         “Any movement at all might be
dangerous for you,” she said severely.                    OTHER         strange    things    were
         “What’s wrong with me?” Renny           happening in the border town of El Paso,
complained.                                      also.
         “Concussion—for one thing. A few                 One was the actions of a small,
broken ribs, for another,” the nurse snapped.    nattily dressed man with a green
         “Concussion, as you know,” Renny        handkerchief in his pocket.
said, “sometimes plays pranks with the                    Dude Starg also had reached El
memory. How long have I been here?”              Paso early that morning. Leaving Fielding
         “Why, Mr. Smith, you don’t look like    Falcan to tell the story of the mysterious
the kind of man who would lose his memory.       explosion that had “killed” Doc and Renny,
But if you must know, you were brought here      Dude had raced to their plane and sped on
early this morning by a very handsome man.       an errand of his own.
He said you had been in an automobile                     Once in El Paso, he had made
accident.”                                       several mysterious telephone calls. Not long
         Renny digested that information         after that, he began to receive a steady flow
slowly. The “handsome man” undoubtedly           of visitors at his hotel room. A majority of
referred to Doc. That was a relief, although     those visitors were of the type the hotel
he had felt sure from the beginning that Doc     management would just as soon have
was safe. And Doc had registered him under       dispensed with, but Dude tipped lavishly, so
the name of Smith.                               there was no complaint.
         “D-did I do any raving—talk about                It was well along in the afternoon
anything I shouldn’t?” he asked hesitantly—      before he got the information he evidently
then added hastily, as he saw the nurse’s        was after. He wrote down an address and
expression harden, “I mean about business        smiled for the first time that day.
secrets, or anything like that?”                          Then he made one more telephone
         The nurse shook her head and her        call. Two men showed up at his room not
face softened. “No, nothing like that. You did   long after that. They resembled each other
some talking though. You must have been          so much that they might have been brothers.
reading about that awful ‘Purple Dragon’ in               Each was tall, huskily built, with cold,
New York, for you mentioned that several         expressionless eyes. And a close observer
times.”                                          would have noticed that each wore a
         Renny blinked. And then something       shoulder holster.
struck him suddenly. The nurse spoke of                   A few minutes later, they left the
New York as if it were some distance away.       hotel together. None of the three noticed the
And earlier she had said he hadn’t been          ragged peon who had been idling across
brought in until morning. The explosion had      from the hotel most of the day.
occurred early the evening before.                        As the three took the streetcar that
         The big engineer half raised up from    would carry them across the border into
his bed, eyes wide.                              Jaurez, the peon also was aboard. The peon
         “Say,” he shouted. “Just where am I,    showed no interest in the three “gringos.”
anyway?”                                         Instead, all his attention seemed to be
         The nurse took a startled step          centered on the straw he was chewing.
backward. “Why, Mr. Smith. What a foolish
40                                      DOC SAVAGE

         Not far on the Mexican side of the               The ragged peon returned to El Paso
border, one of Dude’s two gunmen dropped          also. The peon had gold-flecked eyes. Those
from the streetcar. The second got off a block    eyes were flashing strangely.
farther along. Dude waited still another block.
         The peon got off when Dude did, but
the Dude paid no attention to him. All                      THE eyes were the first thing Renny
Mexicans looked alike to Dude.                    noticed when a caller was brought to see
         Dude walked swiftly toward one of        him. Otherwise, it is doubtful that even Renny
the poorer sections of Jaurez. Occasionally       would have known Doc Savage.
he consulted the paper he held in his hand.                 Doc had discarded his peon
         Converging toward him were his two       disguise, but the bronze man still was
gunmen. They stopped near an adobe shack          keeping his identity secret. He still appeared
that looked as if it had been abandoned. One      handsome, but he was the perfect movie
of the gunmen went to the rear door. The          version of a traveling salesman, clothes and
other joined Dude in front. Dude walked to        all.
the door boldly, rapped hard.                               “This is the kind man who brought
         The silence inside was broken by the     you here this morning,” the homely nurse
sound of a gun hammer being drawn back.           explained before she disappeared from the
Dude spoke swiftly.                               room. She actually smiled.
         “It’s Dude Starg, Red. I’ve got some               Renny smiled contentedly, but his
news for you.”                                    voice was filled with complaint. “Dang it, Doc,
         For long seconds nothing happened.       here I thought I was in New York and I find
The gunman with Dude flattened himself            I’m in Texas. I read that I was dead, and
against the adobe wall, so that he couldn’t be    have just decided that I should be but ain’t.
seen from the inside.                             What is it all about?”
         Then, at last, the door opened. It was             Doc came as close to smiling as he
a surprisingly thick door, and it opened          ever did. There was good reason for Renny’s
slowly. The muzzle of a gun appeared first.       confusion.
Dude stood calmly, hands at his side.                       “I am sorry to have manhandled you
         “It’s O. K., Red,” he said               last night, but it was necessary,” he said
reassuringly.                                     quietly. “I should have suspected we were in
         The man called Red growled softly,       danger sooner, but I did not, so quick action
but opened the door wide. His gun arm went        was necessary.”
down. One of Dude’s hands shot out like a                   Renny was willing to bet no one else
snake, caught the other by the shirt front and    could have got them out alive.
yanked. The red-haired man was pulled clear                 “I saw at the last instant that an
of the doorway.                                   explosion was coming,” Doc continued. “I
         The gunman beside the door brought       also saw one possible chance of escape.
the butt end of his automatic down hard on        Tiler, as you know, once was one of the great
Red’s head. Red collapsed.                        builders of magician’s equipment in the
         “Neat,” Dude said approvingly.           country. His home, as I suspected, had many
         The second gunman came around            trapdoors and trick devices. I saw signs that
from the rear, grinning. He and his pal took      led me to conclude there was a slide from the
the redhead between them, moved slowly            living room into the basement. I could only
down the street.                                  hope the slide led to safe shelter of some
         “Red may be worth $25,000 to the         kind. It did.”
F.B.I., but I think he’s going to be worth ten              “Hey,” Renny objected. “How did you
times that to me,” Dude chuckled.                 know a blast was coming? How did you spot
         No one paid any attention as the red-    the trick door?” Renny didn’t admit he hadn’t
haired man was taken into a second shack          known about Tiler.
not far away. No one, that is, except the                   Doc ignored the questions. “Your
ragged peon who had materialized from             head unfortunately struck a brick wall as we
somewhere.                                        fell,” he went on. “But being beneath the
         Not long after that Dude went back to    explosion, the force of which went up, and
El Paso. He left the redhead guarded by the       also landing in a steel ‘escape cage’ such as
two gunmen.                                       magicians use, we were not seriously hurt.
                                   THE PURPLE DRAGON                                           41

          “Removing you from the house, I                  Renny wanted to protest some more.
saw a plane taking off not far away. I was         He took one look at Doc’s features and held
fortunate in being able to identify markings       his tongue.
on the ship, and to trace it. So I obtained a              In that, he was much better than his
plane and followed. The trail ended here.”         homely nurse. She talked for days about
          Renny sighed. There was no use           returning to her patient only to find the room
asking any more questions, he knew. But            vacant, with both patient and visitor gone.
there were so many details Doc was omitting
that he would have liked to have heard
about.                                                       DUDE STARG waited for darkness
          He understood how Doc’s keen             before returning to Jaurez. But he wasn’t idle.
eyesight might have seen the plane                 He spent the time arranging to smuggle Red
markings, and he supposed he could guess           into the United States. And since Red was
the rest of it. Doc had pulled wires—and he        going to be very unwilling to return to the
knew many of them, and had traced the              United States, where he was wanted for such
plane through airports at which it had             crimes as murder, mail robbery and bank
stopped for gas. Another wire had been             robbery, that took some arranging.
pulled to obtain a plane immediately for the                 But at dinner time Dude was in a
pursuit.                                           very jubilant mood. Everything was going
          It was a tribute to those who had        fine. And there wasn’t a thing to worry about
aided Doc that they had kept his secret, had       now that Doc Savage was out of the way.
not disclosed that he had escaped the blast                  Of course, some of the bronze man’s
alive.                                             aids might try to cause trouble, but Dude
          “What happened here?” Renny              wasn’t concerned about them.
asked at last.                                               Dude ate leisurely, then made a
          “Another victim had been selected        telephone call to New York. He couldn’t resist
for the Purple Dragon,” Doc said calmly.           boasting a little.
          Renny gasped, then brightened.                     “A coffin floats, you know,” he said
“Then you’ve got a lead at last? The Purple        cryptically. “It’s in the bag.”
Dragon didn’t end with the blast last night?”                Dude might not have been quite so
          “It did not end,” Doc agreed.            confident if he had known what was going on
          “What do we do?” Renny asked             in Jaurez, but then he didn’t know. For that
anxiously.                                         matter, the two guards he had left with Red
          The bronze man examined him with         didn’t know much about it either.
skilled fingers. And Doc was known as one of                 Neither guard saw the two ghostly
the world’s outstanding physicians and             figures who eased up to the adobe shack just
surgeons. A slight frown creased his               after dusk. If they had, they wouldn’t have
forehead as he completed his examination,          believed their eyes, anyway. One of those
but he said nothing.                               figures looked just like Red, even to a mole
          Instead, he took a small hypodermic      under the right eye. Doc Savage had made
needle from the equipment kit about his            good use of his powers of observation. He
waist, filled it with a clear liquid and shot it   had made better use of his art of make-up.
into Renny’s arm. The big engineer felt better               The two guards were jeering at their
almost immediately.                                prisoner. They thought it humorous that Red
          “You should be fit enough to carry       was trussed up so he couldn’t move a
out your part,” Doc said finally.                  muscle. They thought it even more humorous
          After that he talked swiftly and         that he was in a coffin. The lid of the coffin
clearly. A strange look came to Renny’s            was off now, but soon it would be fastened
severe features.                                   securely. Then it would be taken to the
          “But, Doc,” he protested weakly,         smugglers who had guaranteed its safe
“you’re taking too big a chance! If anything       delivery on the other side of the Rio Grande.
should go wrong—”                                  From there—well, a plane covers a lot of
          “We will hope that nothing does go       territory in the course of a night.
wrong,” Doc said briefly. “Now, dress quickly                Then the guards went to sleep. Or at
and leave by the fire-escape window. You           least they thought they must have dozed off
know what is to be done.”                          for a few minutes. They didn’t see the fine
42                                        DOC SAVAGE

powder that drifted into the shack—a powder         week. It would keep anyone asleep that
Doc Savage had used once before with such           long—even Doc Savage, if he was still alive
quick results.                                      so he could go to sleep.”
          The guards knew they couldn’t have                 Dude jabbed the hypo roughly into
slept long. When they recovered, they saw           an exposed place on his captive’s arm,
Red was still safe in the coffin. He seemed         jabbed the needle home.
still to be sleeping.                                        Doc did not move. The bronze man
          The guards decided not even to            fully realized the chance he was taking, knew
mention the episode to Dude when he                 that Dude probably wasn’t boasting about the
arrived. Dude sometimes had a quick                 potency of the drug he was using. But the
temper.                                             bronze man never attempted to run from
          But Dude was still in a good humor        trouble, even unexpected trouble. He made
when he came for one last check before the          no fight now.
night’s proceedings began.
          The dapper little killer had barely
noticed a big sedan that had passed him                          Chapter XIII
shortly before he reached the shack. Had he                    THE ANKLE CLUE
got a clear look at the driver’s face he would
have been far from good-humored.                             STILL worried about Doc, Renny
          Renny was at the wheel. And in the        drove directly to the offices where he knew
back seat, concealed under several lap              he would find an F.B.I. man.
robes, was the real Red. Red was                             A few pedestrians gaped in surprise,
unconscious. He would stay that way for             but none offered to interfere as the big
some time.                                          engineer opened the rear of the sedan, threw
          Renny drove boldly across the bridge      the lap robes off the sleeping Red, and
to the American side. The Mexican customs           hoisted the man’s unconscious form over his
officers merely waved him on. At the                shoulder.
American side he stopped—but only for an                     The broken ribs complained slightly
instant. He whispered a few words to the            at the burden, but the injection given Renny
officer who came out to his car, and that was       by Doc had numbed the pain to a great
all.                                                extent.
          “Good luck,” the officer said. “I can’t            “I believe you fellows want this guy,”
know anything about this officially, of course.     Renny said calmly as he entered the F.B.I.
But I hope that Red fries. We’ve been trying        offices. He dumped Red’s limp form onto the
to lure him on this side of the river for six       floor.
months.”                                                     The F.B.I. agent in charge rose
          Renny smiled and drove on. But he         calmly, came from behind his desk, took a
didn’t feel much like smiling. Doc Savage had       good look at Red, and held out his hand to
taken Red’s place. The bronze man had               Renny.
explained he believed that the simplest and                  “Thanks, pal. Carter’s the name. If
quickest method of getting firsthand contact        there’s any particular favor you’d like to have
with the Purple Dragon. Renny hoped so, but         done for you sometime, let me know.”
he feared something might go wrong, that                     Renny smiled. “I’ve got one right
Doc might be taking too many chances.               now. Keep this mug on ice for at least a
          Renny would have been more                week. Don’t let anyone know you have him.”
worried had he remained near the shack and                   Carter’s eyebrows lifted slightly, but
watched what happened after Dude arrived.           all he said was, “A pleasure. We’ll want to
Dude strutted over and looked down at his           talk to him some in private, anyway. In return,
captive.                                            however, there are a few questions I’d like to
          “Sleepin’, heh?” he sneered. “Well,       ask, Colonel Renwick.”
he’s going to take a longer nap than he                      The big engineer started. “I was
figures.”                                           afraid you’d recognize me,” he said.
          Dude pulled a hypodermic from his                  “I presume you are working on the
pocket. It was fully loaded. “Cost me a C-          Purple Dragon case?” Carter asked politely.
note to get this,” he bragged, “but it’s filled
with dope that’ll keep this mug asleep for a
                                   THE PURPLE DRAGON                                             43

         “Asking officially, or off the record,”   reputed to have one of the best in the legal
Renny countered grimly.                            profession.
         The Federal operator hesitated.                     When he received the call from El
Then he shrugged. After all, the F.B.I. hadn’t     Paso he showed that he had another kind of
been called in on the case, and besides he         vocabulary as well. It was one that would
knew of other work Doc and his aids had            have made him the envy of any old-time
done. “Off the record,” he conceded. “And for      mule-skinner. He spoke at some length
your information, I might say we have a few        without repeating himself. Then he pushed a
theories ourselves.”                               button.
         “I’m listening,” Renny said.                        There were a lot of buttons on
         “We naturally have kept up with the       Falcan’s desk. The one he pushed was off at
case,” Carter explained, “and it has struck us     one side, indicating it should bring something
as significant that all victims of the so-called   special.
Dragon were once associated with Pal                         It did. It brought Marcella Walling.
Hatrack.”                                                    The girl’s features were rather worn,
         Renny nodded. “We noticed that”           her usual radiant beauty had paled slightly.
         “Hatrack, as you undoubtedly know,                  Falcan gave what he thought was a
once was virtual czar of all rackets and           very pleasing grin. Unconsciously he patted
crimes in the country. But are you aware also      his gray hair, fingered his necktie. Even when
that Fielding Falcan, the famous criminal          thoroughly angry, Falcan was always
lawyer, actually was chief of his legal staff?”    appreciative of a pretty face.
         “We have considered Falcan in                       Then his mood hardened. “Sit down,”
connection with the case,” Renny said              he commanded abruptly. The girl sat down.
noncommittally.                                              “I am pleased with your report on
         Carter put handcuffs on Red. “I           Monk and Ham,” Falcan complimented. “You
talked with one man who said he had seen           are quite an accomplished actress. Now, I
the Purple Dragon,” he went on, and he             have another job in prospect for you, one I
shuddered slightly. “I almost knew fear            think will eventually suit you better. But that
myself. It does something horrible.”               wasn’t why I called you in here. You have
         Renny agreed silently. Carter talked      been a party to a great many things I have
on. It was some time before the big engineer       done so far. I do not want you to miss what
could get away.                                    happens next.”
         When he did manage to leave, he                     Falcan’s keen eyes were fastened on
thought regretfully of the time he had lost, but   the girl’s face. He intended to miss no
he thought also that it probably wouldn’t          possible change in expression.
make much difference. It did. For he was                     If Marcella Walling did change
spotted as he reached the street.                  expression in any way, he didn’t see it. He
         Starg had paid off his two guards         had forgotten that only moments before he
when Red’s coffin-clad figure had been             had complimented her on her ability as an
turned over to smugglers. The guards had           actress.
returned to El Paso.                                         “First, however, I want to ask you a
         They saw and recognized Renny as          question or so,” he went on smoothly.
he was getting into the big sedan.                           “Without the directing genius of Doc
         The guards had worked for Starg.          Savage, do you consider Monk, say, as a
They didn’t know what the present deal was,        person of sufficient intelligence to carry on in
but they had been given a New York                 his place, possibly interfering with my . . . ah
telephone number to call if anything               . . . work?”
developed concerning Red they thought                        Marcella Walling shook her head
should be reported.                                without hesitation. “How about this other
         First they tried to get in direct touch   person, this Ham?”
with Dude. They found he had just left by                    For the first time the girl hesitated. A
plane. So they called New York.                    strange look flashed in her eyes. It was there
                                                   only for an instant—but Fielding Falcan saw
       FIELDING FALCAN had often been                        “Ah! Perhaps you feel slightly
complimented on his vocabulary. He was             romantic toward that overdressed fop,” he
44                                       DOC SAVAGE

said silkily. “I would not, if I were you. Would   not know. But it was certain that she was
you like to visit the Purple Dragon?”              involved.
         Marcella Walling shook her head                     They went to the downtown office
vigorously. “No! No! And you are mistaken,”        where they had first seen her.
she cried. She was almost too emphatic. “I                   It was Monk who discovered they
am sure Ham has no great intelligence,             were being followed. The fellow wasn’t really
either.”                                           very good. He made the mistake of having
         Fielding Falcan stared at her for long    his cab trail that used by Monk and Ham
seconds. “Do not forget the final task I have      without instructing the driver not to stay too
in mind for you,” he said finally.                 close.
         Without waiting for an answer, he                   The fellow did have sense enough
swung to the phone on his desk.                    not to stop and get out at the same place
         He made several calls. “There must        Monk and Ham did. He rode a full two blocks
be no slip-up this time,” he ended in each         beyond before he stopped. Then he started
case.                                              to slip back cautiously. He wasn’t cautious
         Marcella Walling sat silently and         enough. Monk met him halfway.
patiently. Whatever her thoughts might have                  The hairy chemist just stepped into a
been, nothing showed on her features.              hallway and waited. When the fellow came
                                                   by one of Monk’s long arms reached out and
          MONK and Ham were looking for                      Even those close to the fellow at the
those features at that very moment. They           time couldn’t have sworn whether he had
would have been very glad to have known            been attacked or whether he’d turned into the
where she was, and particularly that she was       hallway of his own accord.
linked with Fielding Falcan.                                 Monk took the man up to the top of
          But at that time they didn’t even        the flight of stairs. A glance around assured
know Fielding Falcan was connected with the        him this place would be as good as any
case in any way.                                   other.
          For long hours they had taken turns                He thrust his homely face into the
keeping watch in Doc’s office, hoping for          other’s mug. He waved a big fist menacingly.
word either from the bronze man or Renny.          “Now talk! Daggonit, who told you to follow
They had tried all the usual communicating         us?”
devices without avail.                                       The     other    was     undoubtedly
          One of those devices should have         frightened. He didn’t seem to know whether
worked, the one Monk had nicknamed the             to be more afraid of Monk or of talking. He
“hot foot.” It was this device Doc had used        tried to compromise. He pulled a knife.
while trying to trace Monk and Ham.                          Monk swatted him. He didn’t intend
          But at the time they had used it,        to hit real hard. His temper got the best of
Renny had been in a hospital bed, and              him. From the way the would-be knifeman
naturally without his socks, while Doc could       folded up, it was apparent he wouldn’t be
hardly have worn them while playing the part       able to talk for some hours.
of a barefooted peon. Neither could they                     Accordingly, Monk and Ham returned
wear their oversized wrist watches under the       to the office of Dr. Constantine. No one was
circumstances.                                     there. They hadn’t thought anyone would be.
          Now they had decided they had                      After a time they got hold of the
wasted enough time. They didn’t like to think      janitor. He didn’t know anything. Offices in
of it, but perhaps Doc really had been killed.     this building often were rented by the week,
In that case, there was only one thing to do,      and for cash.
only one thing the bronze man would have                     Monk and Ham questioned tenants
wanted them to do.                                 of adjoining suites. A couple admitted they
          They would have to break the case        had seen the very pretty girl Monk described,
themselves; would have to find and put an          but they didn’t know anything about her.
end to the Purple Dragon.                          Then Ham got a brainstorm. The news-
          They knew only one place to start.       dealer on the corner wasn’t blind, and those
That was by tracing Marcella Walling. Just         who aren’t usually have an eye for a pretty
what connection she had with it all they did       ankle.
                                  THE PURPLE DRAGON                                             45

        This one did. He admitted it freely.      known it, they probably would have gone
After a little more questioning and the           ahead just the same.
influence of a big bill, he admitted he had                For a five-dollar bill, the taxi driver
seen the girl they were asking about, and         admitted taking Marcella Walling in his cab,
added, “The last time I saw that skirt she was    and not only that, he agreed that he knew
in company of a guy that looked just like this    where he had taken her.
mug here.” He pointed to Monk.                             “A classy dump on Fit’ Avenue,” he
        “Chemistry!” exclaimed Monk. Ham          nodded.
howled.                                                    “I am an attorney,” Ham said
        They had to wait half an hour before      smoothly. “I have some questions I desire to
the cab driver they wanted returned to his        ask the girl.”
stand. The delay proved expensive for them.                “In dat case I’ll take youse there,” the
        Had they been thinking, they might        cab driver said, adding hopefully that “it’ll be
have realized that anyone who covered his         a dollar nin’y-five on the meter.”
tracks as well as the Purple Dragon would                  “It’s worth another five,” Ham said
take no chances; that a watcher probably          instantly.
would be around to see that no one took                    The cab was ancient in appearance,
undue interest in the office of Dr.               but it had a good motor. It started uptown at
Constantine.                                      a rapid rate.
        There was. That watcher reported in                “At that, I hope we don’t run into the
as soon as he saw the pair talking to the         Purple Dragon again,” Monk said suddenly.
news dealer.                                      “T-that is, when we can’t fight back.”
                                                           Ham’s lips tightened. The well-
                                                  dressed attorney seemed to have the same
            Chapter XIV                           thought. “I’d still like to know just what
          DEATH SENTENCE                          happened,” he admitted, “but I’d prefer to
                                                  have someone tell me about it.”
         FIELDING FALCAN was amazed.                       Monk’s face lost its strained look and
The Purple Dragon had warned both Monk            he glanced sideways mischievously at Ham.
and Ham what would happen to them if they         “What about the girl? Seems to me I saw you
butted into the case again. The gray-haired       looking at her with a lot of interest.”
lawyer really had thought that would be                    Ham started to reply. A resounding
sufficient.                                       crash stopped whatever remark he might
         Publication of that newspaper photo      have made.
also had been designed to make the pair                    Their cab did a half-pivot, skidded
ridiculous, to really laugh them out of the       dolefully along until it came up against the
chase.                                            curb.
         Evidently, Monk and Ham had been                  In front, their driver was telling the
underestimated.                                   pilot of a big truck just what he thought of
         For      some     moments,      Falcan   him.
considered the question thoughtfully. Things               The truck driver piled out. Two
were moving at a fast pace. It wouldn’t be        helpers got out with him. Their appearance
long until the usefulness of the Purple           was decidedly menacing.
Dragon was ended. But there must be no                     “Help me, youse guys,” the cab
delays or interruptions now.                      driver appealed, and grabbed a crank as he
         A slow grin spread over Falcan’s         piled out of his battered taxi.
face. After all, he had been a criminal lawyer             Monk started to follow. Ham grabbed
for many years. There were few tricks he          him by the arm, pulled him back.
didn’t know. This time he would try one of his             “Careful,” he warned, suddenly
own. He made his preparations swiftly and         serious. “This has all the earmarks of another
smoothly.                                         trap.”
         Monk and Ham were completely                      Monk grunted scornfully, but he
ignorant of the fact that anyone was              delayed for a moment just the same. It did
interested in them at all. But even if they had   seem too many things happened to them
                                                  whenever they got interested in Marcella
46                                        DOC SAVAGE

         The truck driver was a big guy. He         you haven’t got Red at all. If anyone is in that
dodged the crank the cab driver swung,              coffin, it is Doc Savage.”
planted a huge fist in the cabby’s face. The                   Dude Starg turned several colors in
cabby lost all interest in proceedings.             rapid succession. “B-but this guy looks just
         Then he walked over to the cab door,       like Red,” he finally protested weakly.
yanked it open and stared in belligerently at                  Falcan cooled down suddenly. “And
Monk and Ham.                                       that convinces me it is Doc Savage. Check at
         “I hit that poor mug of a driver, but it   once. Here is how you can tell—”
was probably youse guys’ fault,” he bellowed.                  Perspiration streaming from his face,
“Youse was having him drive so fast he              Dude returned to his plane. It was only a few
smashed right into me.”                             minutes’ job to take off the top of the coffin.
         He reached into the cab, tried to get      Then he did as Falcan had ordered. He
hold of Ham.                                        pulled back the eyelids of the man inside.
         Monk kicked out. The point of his toe                 Falcan had been right. Those eyes
caught the truck driver in the belly.               were gold-flecked. The man was Doc
         The big man grunted and stepped            Savage.
back. Monk got out—with both arms                              For a second time, Dude went to
swinging. The truck driver looked surprised         report. When he returned his face was
as a right caught his jaw. He sat down              vicious.
abruptly.                                                      “Plans are changed slightly,” he
         Ham also got out of the cab. For           snarled angrily.
some moments a lusty free-for-all was in                       The plane’s pilot looked at him with
progress. Then, just when they were winning         mild curiosity.
handily, the two Doc Savage aids were                          “You mean this guy is not going to
slugged from behind, knocked down. Each             call on the Purple Dragon?”
felt a sharp sting in the arm. And that was all                Dude shook his head. “Not this bird,”
they did feel—for some time.                        he growled. “He’s the toughest customer to
                                                    kill that I’ve ever met, but he’d have to be
                                                    made of asbestos to get out of what I’m
          DUDE STARG also was reporting to          going to do to him.”
the gray-haired criminal attorney. Dude was                    The pilot yawned. “Going to kill him
still very pleased with himself.                    first?”
          “Landed safely at LaGuardia Field,”                  “Hell, no!” Dude rasped. “He’s going
he barked jubilantly. “The cargo is safe, and       in alive and come out a dried-up skeleton.
will be unloaded in a few minutes. Want it          There’s only one thing I’m sorry about. I put
taken to the usual place?”                          so much dope in him in Juarez that he won’t
          Dude’s      self-satisfied expression     be conscious to know about it.”
changed as words sizzled in his ear. Falcan                    Swiftly he put screws back in the top
was using his mule-skinner vocabulary again.        of the coffin.
Finally, he slowed down long enough to tell
Dude what he feared.
          “Those guys got out of the blast                       Chapter XV
somehow,” he bellowed. “The big one,                          HELD FOR MURDER
Renny, was seen coming out of the F.B.I.
offices in El Paso. Do you know what that                   MONK recovered first. To his
may mean?”                                          surprise he emerged from unconsciousness
          Dude gulped, and admitted that he         with an almost clear head. Then he began to
might have a faint idea, but that he didn’t         wonder if his head were so clear after all.
want to think about it.                                     To begin with, he didn’t recognize his
          “I’ll think about it for you,” Falcan     surroundings. The last he remembered, there
roared. “I’ll do better, I’ll tell you about it.    had been an auto accident.
Through friends I still have in the government              But he wasn’t in jail. He was sure of
service I found that Renny delivered Red to         that.
the F.B.I. at just the time you thought you                 Cautiously he opened his eyes a
were starting with him here. And that means         second time and glanced around. Then he
                                   THE PURPLE DRAGON                                            47

shut his eyes fast. His first look had been        apparent cause. Just the same, things were
confirmed.                                         strange, and there was an air about this
         He was lying flat on his back on a        apartment he didn’t like, an ominous air that
thick, luxurious rug. He was in a room that        filled him with foreboding.
was both tastefully and expensively                          Chemistry was acting queerly now,
decorated and furnished.                           also. The ape seemed to be doing his best to
         And he wasn’t alone. From some            try to tell them something, dancing around
place along the line, Chemistry had                oddly. Monk noticed casually that the ape still
reappeared. The hairy ape was squatting            had his camera swung around his neck.
patiently on his haunches, waiting for Monk                  Then he noticed something else that
and Ham to stir and move.                          made him forget about Chemistry. There was
         But the most shocking thing was           a picture on the wall, a picture of a very
Ham’s appearance. Ham looked as if he had          beautiful girl.
been on the losing end of an argument with a                 It was a picture of Marcella. And on a
steam roller. His clothes were torn and dirty.     table near the door were the hat and jacket
There were scratches on his features. And,         he had last seen Marcella wearing.
most ominous of all, there was a big splotch                 “Marcella!” Monk called sharply.
on the front of Ham’s shirt that could only                  The only answer was another groan
have been caused by blood.                         out of Ham. “You surely don’t want her to see
         Cautiously Monk rolled over, felt         you, looking like you do now,” the lawyer
Ham’s pulse. It was throbbing strongly. Even       argued.
as Monk felt it, the no-longer-dapper lawyer                 Monk didn’t reply. He’d at last found
groaned once or twice and opened his eyes.         a mirror. And he found that he also looked as
         Ham looked directly at Monk’s             if he’d been run through a sausage grinder.
homely features. He didn’t seem to like what       His face also was scratched, his clothes torn.
he saw either. As Chemistry ambled forward,                  A startled exclamation from Ham
grunting contentedly, Ham’s eyelids went           caught his attention. The lawyer had rolled
tight closed and he let out another moan.          over, had started to get up. Then he had
         “I knew it would happen to you some       halted, still on his hands and knees. Ham’s
day—and you never were a candidate for a           eyes were focused toward a door that
beauty prize,” Ham muttered plaintively.           evidently led into a bedroom.
         “What do you mean?” Monk growled                    Monk looked that way quickly. His
sourly. “You oughta get a load of how you          jaw fell. He likewise froze motionless.
look.”                                                       From under the closed door rolled a
         “Go find a mirror and look at yourself,   small pool of ever-widening crimson!
you ape!” Ham protested weakly. The lawyer
kept his eyes shut.
         Monk growled and got to his feet. It                FOR long seconds, the silence was
was then he noticed that the room they were        unbroken. Then an angry growl came from
in showed signs of a fight. A chair or two had     Monk. He started forward. Ham leaped to his
been knocked over. Books had been thrown           feet. Together they opened the door, looked
off an end table.                                  inside.
         The hairy chemist stood perfectly                   Monk’s guess had been right. The
motionless for an instant, listening intently.     next room was a bedroom. But it didn’t look
There wasn’t a thing to be heard, not even         as though anyone would sleep there for
street noises from outside. They were in an        some time.
apartment, he decided, and evidently a                       The room showed evidence of a
soundproof one at that. But even so, it was        terrific combat. Furniture was broken. A tall,
strange there wasn’t noise of some kind, no        full-length mirror was shattered.
matter how slight.                                           The crimson pool extended only a
         He moved across the room, and to          short distance into the room. But there was
his surprise he found he was creeping along.       no body there. Whatever or whoever had
For some strange reason hair was rising on         suffered the wound had been removed.
the nape of his neck.                                        Ham wet dry lips. His usual
         Monk growled angrily. He was letting      assurance had slipped from him. There was
his nerves get the best of him, and for no
48                                      DOC SAVAGE

questioning doubt in his features as he                    But even as they ran, both Monk and
turned to Monk.                                   Ham were doing their best to repair their torn
         “D-do you suppose it was us—”            clothing, so that it wouldn’t be too noticeable.
         Monk swallowed hard. “I . . . I was               Scarcely two minutes later and they
wonderin’ that too,” he said. His voice was       had reached the ground floor. It took them
thin and uncertain.                               only seconds to open the barred fire-escape
         Ham looked down, and his already         door and slip into the small alleyway outside.
white features became more ashen. A gun           Then they were running swiftly from the
was lying almost at his feet. Gingerly he took    scene.
out a handkerchief, then picked the gun up                 The last thing they heard was more
and sniffed the muzzle.                           sirens as additional police arrived.
         “Fired—and recently,” he retorted
         Monk nodded dumbly. He was ready                  A CRUISING cab took the three to
to believe almost anything.                       the building where Doc had his office. It was
         Ham slipped the gun in his pocket,       a silent trip. Each was busy with his own
his manner suddenly businesslike. With quick      thoughts, and those thoughts weren’t
strides he crossed the room, raised a             pleasant.
window.                                                    Something was screwy, very screwy,
         “We’ve got to find out where we are,”    Monk knew. But he couldn’t explain it just the
he started. Then he stopped.                      same.
         With the window raised, sound came                The whole thing looked like a frame-
in from the outside. But it wasn’t sound either   up. But if it was, it had been excellently done.
Monk or Ham wanted to hear. It was the wail                On the other hand, he thought
of a police siren.                                gloomily, he and Ham might really have been
         The hairy chemist glanced quickly at     responsible for what had happened. Doped
his partner. Ham leaned out of the window         and unconscious, there was no telling what
cautiously, taking care not to expose himself     wild actions they might not have tried.
too much in case anyone was looking up                     Then he gulped, and his small eyes
from below.                                       gleamed. That didn’t check out either. They
         A moment later, the lawyer grunted       hadn’t been alone in the apartment, that was
and swung around swiftly. “Police!” he            sure. And someone had walked out of
rapped. “We’ve got to get out of here, and        there—whether it was the person who had
get out fast.”                                    been wounded or still another actor in the
         Monk nodded without hesitation.          strange drama, he didn’t know. But it was
There was no doubt in the mind of either but      apparent that someone had walked out—else
that the police were on their way to this         why wasn’t there a body around?
apartment. And both knew what the result                   The tip given the police proved that
would be if they were found there. They           also. Someone did know what had occurred
would never be able to convince the cops          in the apartment, someone who had given
they hadn’t been responsible for whatever         the alarm.
had happened.                                              They dismissed the cab half a block
         The only thing to do was to get out      from their destination, slipped into the
and try to solve the mystery before the police    building through a door to the cellar, and took
learned they had any connection with the          Doc’s special, high-speed elevator to the
case.                                             offices above.
         With Chemistry trailing them, they                “I’ve got an idea,” Ham said. He
dashed into the hallway, raced toward an          gestured slightly toward the camera
inclosed fire escape at the rear. With luck,      Chemistry had around his neck.
they should be able to get out before the                  Hope flared swiftly in Monk’s eyes.
cops posted a guard at the back.                  Ham was right. There was a chance
         Chemistry had difficulty keeping up      Chemistry had taken a picture that might help
with them. They went down the stairs as if        them. In fact, he was almost willing to bet the
the Purple Dragon itself was after them.          ape had snapped a shot or two. The only
                                                  question was whether there had still been
                                                  any unused film in the camera at the time.
                                  THE PURPLE DRAGON                                             49

          Even as the elevator reached Doc’s               Marcella wasn’t alone in the picture.
floor, Monk grabbed the camera from              Two other persons were there. One was
Chemistry, raced toward the excellently          crouching over, long arms half extended as
outfitted dark room that was one feature of      though ready to grab and crush. The other
the suite of offices.                            stood aside weakly, but with one hand
          Newspaper photographers have the       extended also.
developing of film and plates down to a fine               In that hand was a gun. Apparently
art. But Ham was willing to bet that even the    the gun had just been fired. There seemed to
most expert had never bettered the time that     be a faint haze, as if from powder above the
Monk made now. The hairy chemist didn’t          muzzle.
make a false motion.                                       The two men had their backs to the
          Ham sat nearby watching Monk work      camera. But there was no mistaking their
under the ruby light. It seemed Monk had         identity.
scarcely begun before the job was over. He                 They were Monk and Ham.
turned on a bright light, scanned the film                 “I . . . I can’t believe it!” Ham argued
swiftly.                                         weakly.
          He was near the end of the roll                  “It can’t be, but it is—” Monk began.
before he halted. For an instant, he studied a             The hairy chemist broke off. Ham’s
small square of the film carefully. A strange    head shot up. There was a heavy pounding
noise came from his numb lips. It was a          at the door to the office, a pounding that
noise Ham had never heard him make               could mean only one thing.
before—a stricken, childlike cry of grief.                 Ham looked at Monk, an unspoken
          With fingers that trembled, the        question in his eyes. Monk nodded. Ham
chemist fitted the film into a portable          went toward the door. Neither felt like running
projector that stood nearby. He darkened the     any more.
room, turned on the projector.                             The detectives who burst in were
          A picture flashed on a screen, a       grim and savage. Gone was the politeness
picture many times magnified, but clear and      usually shown Doc’s aids.
distinct in every detail.                                  “We don’t care who you are,” one of
          Ham cried out.                         them snapped out angrily. “All murderers
          The evidence was there, and it was     look alike to us. And you two are charged
evidence that looked like both of them faced     with murder.”
the electric chair!                                        Before Monk or Ham could move,
                                                 even if they had wanted to, handcuffs were
                                                 snapped on their wrists.
         CHEMISTRY evidently had been                      But even then, Ham could not
standing in the living room of the apartment     entirely forget his legal training.
when he snapped the picture. But he had                    “Just whom are we accused of
been close enough to the bedroom door so         killing, and when?” he asked mildly.
that almost every detail inside could be seen.             “You know well enough,” the
And it was a sight Monk and Ham knew that        detective snarled. “But just to show you how
neither would ever be able to erase from his     little chance you have, look at this!”
mind.                                                      With a triumphant air, the man
         Marcella was almost facing the          yanked a picture from his pocket. Monk and
camera. But it wasn’t the well-dressed,          Ham looked at it in bewilderment. It was
poised Marcella that Monk and Ham had            almost an exact copy of the picture Monk had
known.                                           flashed on the screen only seconds before.
         It was a girl that seemed in the grip   That must mean—
of almost unbearable terror. Every feature                 Life returned to Ham’s eyes. Color
was strained, her eyes were wide and             poured back to his features.
staring.                                                   “But look, man,” he said excitedly,
         And she had been in a battle. Her       “this picture isn’t proof that we committed a
clothes were ripped and torn, her gown           crime. Figure it out for yourself. Someone
hanging from one shoulder. Almost over her       else had to be present to take that picture.
heart there was a small, dark hole in that       That shows it was a frame-up.”
50                                       DOC SAVAGE

          “Daggonit, of course,” Monk cut in                Dude’s small shoulders straightened.
swiftly. “Even a detective ought to see that.”     That was an achievement of which anyone
          “And besides,” Ham rushed on, “if        could be proud, even if Red had got away.
there was a crime at all, you must have a                   Dude was still smiling faintly as he
body to prove it. And you haven’t got it—          swung the delivery truck through a gate into
there is no corpus delicti. “                      a dilapidated yard near the East River.
          A bulky detective smashed Ham                     A sign in front advertised the place
alongside the jaw. “Shut up and come along,”       as a junk yard. It looked it. At the rear of the
he roared. “You are a smooth talker, and you       sprawling yard was a shedlike structure that,
might have convinced us something was              surprisingly enough, appeared to be almost
phony, if it wasn’t for one thing.”                new and solidly built.
          “What is that?” Ham asked                         Dude swung the truck around
cautiously.                                        expertly, backed until the rear of the truck
          “We’ve got a witness who saw you         was flush with a door of the huge shed.
two and that ape of yours slipping along near               A dirty, malevolent face, almost
the water front with a bundle wrapped up in a      concealed by a huge growth of hair, peered
rug. We’re dragging the river for the body         cautiously from a window. Dude gave a slight
right now.”                                        signal. The shed door opened.
          Ham staggered as another lusty                    “All out,” Dude chuckled softly.
clout caught him across the jaw. He still          “Another live one goes in, and comes out
argued, was arguing, in fact, up to the very       long dead.”
time steel doors clanged behind them and
they were lodged in jail.
          If the Purple Dragon had wanted                   DUDE’S helper had evidently been
them out of the way, and had been behind           to the junk yard before. He didn’t wait for
what had occurred—which seemed likely—             instructions, but heaved at the heavy coffin,
then the Purple Dragon had done an                 pushing it into the shed. So cleverly was the
excellent job. Ham knew he and Monk really         job done, that no one on the street could
were in a tough spot.                              have told what had been delivered.
                                                            The man inside lumbered forward.
                                                   Seen at close quarters, he was a veritable
             Chapter XVI                           giant, clad in loose-fitting overalls.
           DEATH IN THE PIT                                 “The boss is sending almost too
                                                   many down here, Dude,” he complained. “By
         DUDE was driving what appeared to         and by someone may get suspicious.”
be a delivery truck. The sign on the side said              Dude’s grin faded. Cold light
it belonged to a bakery. If it did, it certainly   flickered in his small eyes. “I don’t think the
was not being used for its intended purpose.       Purple Dragon would like it if anything went
         In the inclosed rear of the truck was     wrong, Dummy,” he said softly.
a coffin. Inside the coffin was a figure so                 The giant’s face paled slightly
bound and taped that it could not have             beneath the dirt. His hand trembled as he
moved even if it had been conscious. And           reached forward, caught one end of the
there were so many wrappings on the figure         coffin, slid it spinning across the floor with
that it would have been difficult even to make     one tremendous heave.
out that it was the body of a man—a tall,                   “W-who is it this time?” he managed.
powerfully built man.                                       Dude’s smile returned. “It really is
         Seated on top of the coffin was           none of your business,” he said shortly. “But
Dude’s only assistant. Short and heavy-set,        this time I don’t mind telling you. It’s Doc
the helper, whom Dude addressed as Runt,           Savage.”
seemed entirely without nerves. He was                      The giant seemed to have trouble
calmly smoking a cigarette.                        breathing. If he had been frightened at
         Dude was feeling nervous, but             mention of the Purple Dragon, he seemed
everything should be all right now. Doc            almost terrified at mention of the bronze
Savage would soon be where he wouldn’t             man’s name.
cause any more trouble to anyone.                           “It c-can’t be!” he quavered.
                                   THE PURPLE DRAGON                                         51

          The stocky man who had ridden on                  DUDE was right in one respect. Not
the coffin laughed shortly. “Just take a look,     even Doc Savage could have lived if it had
chum,” he advised. He pulled a screwdriver         been he who had been tossed into the
from his hip pocket, removed the top of the        deadly lime.
coffin swiftly.                                             The only trouble was, the victim
          The giant eased forward, looked          wasn’t Doc Savage.
down. Involuntarily, he took a backward step                The bronze man, groggy as he had
as he saw the bronze face beneath him.             been from the effects of the anaesthetic he
          The stocky man laughed harshly,          had been given, had managed to throw off
leaned over, tugged the bound figure up until      his stupor before the plane reached
he could heave it over his shoulder. “Lead         LaGuardia Airport.
the way, chum,” he barked.                                  Physicians could have explained that
          The giant recovered himself with an      by citing cases of the amazing power the
effort. He glared defiantly at Dude’s sneering     mind has when it determines not to succumb
grin, then turned and strode swiftly across        to drugs. And once conscious, it had not
the room. At the far side he paused, took out      been difficult for Doc to work his way free
a key and unlocked a heavy door.                   from his bonds.
          The room inside was small. Almost                 Doc had been conscious when Dude
all of it was taken up with just one thing—a       Starg inspected him in the coffin at the
vat in the center.                                 airport, had known his disguise had been
          The vat was filled with liquid.          penetrated and had realized he could not
          Had Doc Savage been able to see          carry through his original plan. He had to
that liquid he would have understood some of       escape. A few moments later, and he had
the puzzles that had mystified police.             traded places with the man left to guard him.
          It was a mixture of quicklime.                    The bronze man never let even a foe
          Here it was that bodies of slain men     go to his death knowingly. He hadn’t done so
had been brought. Dropped into the                 this time. He had thought it more than
quicklime, their flesh had been eaten away,        reasonable to expect that the captive would
their skeletons bleached until it appeared         be inspected again before anything drastic
they had been dead for years. When the             was done.
killers had wanted their victim identified, they            Doc was too modest to realize just
had worked it so that a part of a fingertip        how much he was feared and respected by
would be left not too badly damaged.               those on the other side of the law, had not
          Now that the fatal moment had            known his erstwhile captors intended to kill
arrived, even Dude seemed a little hesitant.       first and investigate later.
But not so the stocky man who carried the                   When he fled the coffin, Doc slipped
bound and tied body.                               into a nearby hangar. After that he was busy
          He stepped forward swiftly—and           for a while, using his make-up kit.
heaved.                                                     He looked like a professional man, a
          The bound man evidently had been         lawyer or a doctor, as he emerged. His
chewing hard at the gag that silenced him.         bronze hair was gray; there were wrinkles in
Knowing death was near, he had made one            his forehead and around his mouth. Glass
final, tremendous effort to bite through that      lenses had been fitted over his gold-flecked
gag.                                               eyes so that they now appeared a dark-blue.
          He succeeded.                                     Without hesitation he walked toward
          There was a shrill, terrified scream     the administration building.
just before the body hit the deadly quicklime.              An air liner from the West had just
The man’s mouth was still open as he sank          landed. Among the passengers was a
beneath the surface.                               particularly glamorous star. New York
          Dude’s pent-up breath went out in a      reporters were out in force to meet her, were
long sigh.                                         firing questions at her from all sides.
          “Not even Doc Savage can live after               Doc paid no attention. His plan was
that,” he breathed.                                simple but vital. He wanted to keep secret as
                                                   long as possible the fact that he had
                                                   escaped, or at least keep his whereabouts
52                                        DOC SAVAGE

unknown until he had answered several                        The bronze man was polite.
questions to his own satisfaction.                  Seemingly he answered each question fully
         A habit of a lifetime betrayed him. Or     and frankly. It was only later that the
rather, the combination of that habit coupled       reporters realized how little information he
with the plight in which Monk and Ham had           had given them.
fallen.                                                      The report of his death had been an
         Doc’s glance fell on a newspaper           error, he assured them gravely. And if there
headline shouted in 144-point type                  was a Purple Dragon he had yet to see it. He
                                                    was sure he did not believe that anything
     TWO DOC SAVAGE AIDS                            could transport men into the past, and if there
                                                    must be a motive, as they suggested, he
       HELD FOR MURDER                              rather believed it must be materialistic. As far
                                                    as Monk and Ham were concerned, he knew
         A peculiar trilling sound, a sound that    only what they had told him, but he did intend
seemed to come from nowhere in particular,          to investigate.
yet from everywhere, filled the administration               Meager as the information was, it
building.                                           resulted in newspaper extras a half-hour
         A sandy-haired reporter, eyes              later. But then, the mere fact that Doc was
sparkling     keenly      behind    horn-rimmed     alive and not dead was sufficient for that in
glasses, was standing almost beside Doc at          any event.
the time. The reporter jumped as if he’d been                Those extras were read by a great
given the hot-foot, staring unbelievingly for a     many people. All of them were interested.
moment at the dignified figure at his right.        But there were several who were far more
         Then the reporter let out a yell, a yell   than just interested.
that could have been heard for half a mile.                  Their reaction served to bring things
         “Hell, fellows, forget that movie bum!     to a climax far sooner than otherwise would
Here’s a real story. Doc Savage isn’t dead.         have been the case.
He’s right here now. Alive!”
         Doc      Savage’s     features    didn’t
change. If the bronze man felt surprise or                     Chapter XVII
chagrin, he hid that fact excellently.
         He turned courteously toward the
                                                            RENNY GETS KISSED
crowd of reporters that stormed about him,
shouting questions.                                          RENNY also was rushing toward
         “Will you tell me about Monk and           adventure, but he didn’t know it at the time.
Ham first?” he asked quietly.                       The big engineer had grabbed a plane for
         The sandy-haired scribe obliged. He        New York as soon as he could, and he hadn’t
gave the story tersely but completely, as it        let affairs at El Paso delay him for long.
had been given to the newspapers by the             Actually, the air liner he was on was roaring
police.                                             over Manhattan toward LaGuardia Field at
         “Now answer our questions,” the            about the time Doc left there.
reporter begged eagerly.                                     Renny already knew about Monk and
         Doc nodded. “I’ll do my best,” he          Ham. A radio message to the pilot of his
agreed.                                             plane had been relayed to him while en
         The questions came fast and                route.
furiously. How had he escaped death? Was                     There never were any doubts in
there really anything to the fantastic story of     Renny’s mind. He was sure Monk and Ham
a Purple Dragon? If there was, did the Purple       had been framed. But somebody had to get
Dragon really want to rid the world of              on the job, and fast, to prove that fact.
criminals, or was there a more materialistic        Besides, he was worried about Doc. The
motive behind it? Was it true, as had been          bronze man took too many chances
rumored, that the Purple Dragon could               sometimes.
transport men into the past? Did the Dragon                  He learned Doc was safe just before
have any connection with the recent wave of         the plane glided down toward a landing. A
murders? Did he think Monk and Ham had              smiling stewardess brought him the news as
been framed, as they insisted?                      it had been picked up off the air.
                                   THE PURPLE DRAGON                                            53

          The stewardess knew Renny was                    The girl nodded. “Yes,” she
one of Doc’s men. She had hoped he might           confessed defiantly. “But now I want to undo
start a conversation, tell her some of the         some of the harm I have caused.” She
adventures he had experienced. She was             glanced nervously over her shoulder, out the
disappointed when he merely thanked her            rear window of the cab. “Just make sure we
absently.                                          are not being followed.”
          The big engineer was the first off the           Renny followed her example in
plane. He had no luggage to wait for. He           looking back. The road was clear. “You’re
raced toward the taxi line.                        imagining things,” the big engineer stated
          None was more surprised than he          flatly.
when a girl ran up to him, blocking his way,               Up in front, the cab driver grinned
then threw her arms around his neck, burying       slyly.
her face in his shoulder.
          “Oh, Don!” the girl sobbed loudly.
“I’m so glad you got back safely. Kiss me,                  THE cab driver was still grinning half
sweetheart”                                        an hour later as he slipped into a cigar-store
          Desperately Renny tried to free          telephone booth, dialed a number.
himself. “I’m afraid you’ve made a mistake—”                “You were right, chief, she’s ready to
he started.                                        rat on us,” he reported tersely.
          Then he blushed. The girl had pulled              Words sputtered into the receiver.
his head down, was holding up a pair of            The grin vanished from the cab driver’s face.
inviting lips. Even as Renny gulped, she                    “Naw. She didn’t spill nothin’ on the
yanked his head on down with surprising            way in from the airport. Kept insistin’ she’d
strength. Her lips landed somewhere in the         only talk to this Doc Savage. From what I
vicinity of his ear.                               gathered, seems like she went out there with
          “Play up! Play up!” she whispered,       some crazy notion of savin’ this Doc from
and there was desperation in her voice. “Get       somethin’, then found out he was O. K. This
me to a cab as quickly as possible, and            Renny guy showed up just as she was about
please help me keep my face hidden.”               to leave.”
          Renny swallowed hard. He had been                 Again the cab driver listened.
in many places where quick thinking was                     “Naw,” he repeated. “This guy didn’t
necessary, but never in one where he had           take her to Doc Savage’s office. She said
been thrown in contact with quite such a           somethin’ about being afraid that place might
pretty girl.                                       be watched. They’re in a hideout up here on
          What it was all about he didn’t know,    Eighty-first Street. I don’t think she’ll do any
but he did show that he could take things in       talkin’ until the bronze bird shows up.”
their stride.                                               The cab driver was correct on that.
          He wrapped one big arm about the         And Doc Savage was far downtown when
girl’s slender form, keeping her face pressed      Renny’s message reached him. In fact, the
against his coat. He even managed a grin.          bronze man was talking to the police
          “There, there,” he soothed moving        commissioner at the time.
swiftly toward a grinning cab driver. “I’m                  “I would like to offer you some hope,
home safe, and that’s all that counts.”            Mr. Savage,” the commissioner was saying
          A moment later and they were inside      sadly. “I like Monk and Ham myself, but the
the cab.                                           evidence against them is overpowering. I’m
          “And now what is this all about?”        even willing to admit that they did not commit
Renny demanded angrily.                            the crime in their right minds, and probably
          The cab whirled noisily, raced toward    will get off lightly. But when this Marcella
the city. The girl raised tragic eyes toward       Walling’s body is found, they must be tried
Renny.                                             for murder.”
          “I’m Marcella Walling,” she said                  Doc did not answer for a moment.
simply.                                            Heat impulses were flashing against his
          Renny started. “Marcella Walling!        wrist.
The girl Monk and Ham are accused of                        “May I used your telephone?” he
killing?”                                          asked quickly.
54                                         DOC SAVAGE

          The commissioner nodded, face               “For the present, I am afraid it would be too
showing surprise. Doc talked swiftly when the         dangerous for her. I wish, also, that you
connection was made, then extended the                would arrest the man who testified he saw
telephone toward the police head. The                 Monk and Ham carrying a body toward the
commissioner looked even more surprised. A            river. The man is a perjurer.”
moment later he looked as if he doubted his                    The commissioner nodded.
          “This is Marcella Walling,” came a
soft voice. “I am sorry I cannot explain to you                 HAM swallowed hard. Monk’s ears
fully now, but Mr. Savage will be able to do          got red. “Do you mean Marcella pulled this?”
so later. But I am alive. I never was in the          the hairy chemist moaned.
least danger. Ham and Monk were framed.                         Doc nodded.
Those pictures you were given were posed                        Ham said nothing at all. He looked
deliberately while they were under the                strangely abashed.
influence of a narcotic that prevented them                     “An’ we thought you were dead!”
from remembering what had happened.”                  Monk rumbled on. “How did you escape?
          The commissioner gulped. “Miss              Where is Renny? And how did you get us out
Walling—if you are Miss Walling,” he half             of here?”
shouted. “Do you realize you are confessing                     Doc did not answer. For the second
to a felony? That you have participated in a          time in minutes heat flashes came to his
hoax that may cost you dearly—”                       wrist. But there were only a few flashes this
          “I realize it may cost my life,” the girl   time. They stopped suddenly.
assured him gently.                                             The bronze man whirled toward the
          Doc reached forward, took the               street, led the way at a run toward his waiting
telephone from the commissioner’s limp                car.
hand.                                                           “Trouble,” he said briefly.
          “Shall we stay here or go to the                      With the skill of a racing pilot, Doc
office, Doc?” came Renny’s voice. “I thought          Savage sent his car speeding toward traffic.
maybe this would be the best place. We can            But even with that skill the trip to Eighty-first
stay here until you get Monk and Ham out.             Street was a slow one. It was near the rush
And maybe in the meantime this young vixen            hour. The streets were jammed.
will tell me what it’s all about.”                              On the way, the bronze man gave
          “Remain there,” Doc answered                his aids a brief summary of what had
briefly.                                              happened since he had last seen them. And
          Later, he was to regret that decision.      they reported as much as they knew of what
                                                      had happened to them.
                                                                Both Monk and Ham were as serious
         THE police commissioner still had            as Doc as they reached the apartment where
not recovered. His face mirrored doubt mixed          Renny had been waiting with Marcella
with genuine relief. Then suspicion flared            Walling. The apartment was one all of Doc’s
quickly.                                              aids used occasionally for sleeping quarters.
         “When you came in here you didn’t            So far as they knew, its existence was
know that girl had been found, did you?” he           unknown to outsiders.
demanded.                                                       But then, they didn’t know about the
         Doc shook his head.                          cab driver either.
         “Then how—”                                            None was surprised when they found
         The bronze man’s gold-flecked eyes           the apartment vacant. They had expected
flickered slightly. He motioned toward the            that. And the reason why Renny had sent
oversized wrist watch he wore. “A signaling           only a brief message was easily explained.
device,” he explained briefly. “And now, will                   There had been a fight, and a good
you release Monk and Ham?”                            one. But without question Renny had lost,
         The commissioner hesitated a                 scrapper though he was. On the floor were
moment longer. “It’s highly irregular,” he            shattered fragments of the oversized wrist
complained, “but under the circumstances—”            watch he had used to signal Doc,
         “I will guarantee that we will produce       undoubtedly broken in the fight.
the girl as soon as possible,” Doc promised.
                                   THE PURPLE DRAGON                                             55

          “Renny had time to send only three                 Doc, however, examined the body
letters,” Doc explained. The bronze man was        closely. His physician’s training indicated
far graver than usual. “Those letters were ‘F-     plainly the man had been dead only a short
A-L—’“                                             while, possibly not more than fifteen minutes.
          “Falcan,” breathed Ham.                            The bronze man recognized the
          “Of course,” Monk roared scornfully.     victim, but he said nothing. The last time Doc
          “We will call on Mr. Falcan,” Doc said   had seen the man he had been in Falcan’s
softly.                                            law office, had presented a note Falcan had
          All three understood they might be       left for Doc and Renny.
too late. Marcella Walling undoubtedly knew                  Monk and Ham made a quick tour of
too much to be allowed to live. And naturally      the apartment as Doc was inspecting the
Renny would have to be eliminated also.            body. Their report was one that all had
                                                             “Empty,” they said tersely.
            Chapter XVIII                                    “Falcan’s study is here on the right,”
         AN ALARM SOUNDS                           Ham added.
                                                             Doc nodded. If clues were to be
         FIELDING      FALCAN’S       bachelor     found, that was the most likely spot.
quarters consisted of a penthouse on one of                  All three saw the note at almost the
New York’s towering apartment houses.              same moment. It had been tucked under the
         The doorman insisted that Falcan          top of an old-fashioned desk. The note read:
wasn’t in. The clerk in the lobby gave the
same report. Falcan, they said, had gone out                I have been obliged to kill, and now I
with a friend—a male friend.                       must pay the penalty. Whoever finds this will
         Doc thanked him politely and left the     understand. Blackmail is a vicious thing. And
building. The bronze man did not seem to be        blackmailers deserve to die. There is no use
exerting any effort, but he moved unusually        looking for me. My plans have been made for
fast. He went around to the side of the            a long time. I intend to disappear, to vanish
building.                                          from this country.
         A moment more and he was going                                          Fielding Falcan.
up the wall like a human fly. Neither Monk
nor Ham showed surprise. They had seen                      “He’s already run out,” Monk said
Doc do that before. Doc entered a window of        excitedly. “Do you suppose that means
the inclosed, flame-proof fire escape. Then        Renny—”
he dropped a knotted rope. Monk went up it                  Monk didn’t finish, but Ham
easily. Ham almost as fast.                        understood what he meant. It did look as if
         Then the three were racing up the         Renny probably was already dead.
stairs toward the roof. There was a locked                  “I don’t think Falcan has left the
door at the top, but that delayed them only a      country,” Doc said calmly. “He may be dead,
few seconds.                                       however.”
         Doc drew a small instrument from his               Ham and Monk looked their
equipment kit and worked it expertly. The          amazement, even though they had often
lock yielded. Seconds later they were at the       seen Doc find things they had overlooked.
door to the penthouse.                                      “B-but,   Doc,”     Monk      objected.
         None expected to find Falcan home.        “How—”
They had believed the doorman and the                       Doc pointed to the note he held.
clerk. But Falcan’s residence should contain       “Falcan wrote this note all right,” he said, “but
some clue that would lead them to the              I believe he wrote it under duress. If you will
whereabouts of the Purple Dragon.                  look closely on the bottom of the paper you
         The door to the penthouse also was        will see another message he left.”
locked, but it offered no more difficulty than              Monk and Ham leaned forward. So
the previous lock had. Just inside, they found     faint as to be almost indiscernible, was one
the dead man. A bullet had taken off most of       word. That word had evidently been
his head.                                          scratched with a fingernail. It was:

56                                        DOC SAVAGE

                                                             That Doc felt so also was soon
          Doc found the sheet of paper with         shown. He pulled two strange-appearing
the names and figures on it. It looked like         pistols from the car, gave one to Monk, one
Greek to Monk, but the bronze man                   to Ham. The pistols had peculiar-looking
appeared almost satisfied, as if a theory had       magazines on the top. Designed by Doc,
been borne out.                                     they fired at very high speed, but they fired a
          There were many names and many            bullet that barely pierced the skin. They were
figures, such as “Fred Fisher in the First—60       effective, however, for each injected an
grand. Chase up on J. Harding—120 g.” At            anaesthetic        that         brought       quick
the bottom a total had been scrawled. The           unconsciousness.
total was more than five million.                            Getting over the fence was easy.
          Ham frowned slightly. There was           Doc drove the car alongside it softly. Then
something faintly familiar about one name on        each got on top of the car and jumped over
that list. Then he got it. It was “Fred Fisher in   the top strand of wire.
the First.”                                                  A few moments later, they had
          That editorial he had read had            drifted to the rear of the big, dismal-looking
mentioned that very name, had said Pal              building.
Hatrack, the racket king, had been in the                    Doc avoided windows and a door
habit of giving his men horse-race tips like        that loomed invitingly. Without question, the
that and telling them to remember them              place was protected by alarms of all kinds.
always.                                                      He produced a small object. In
          Ham thought he almost had it when         appearance it was something like a bicycle
a howl came from Monk. Monk was waving a            pump, except that a small tube extended
receipt book.                                       from the end, and on the side was a small
          “Got it! I think I got it!” the hairy     container.
chemist bellowed excitedly. “Look, Doc!”                     Doc worked the piston of the pump
          Monk thumbed through stubs of the         several times, very rapidly. Flames appeared
book rapidly. Each month there was a stub           from the tube at the other end. The flame did
showing $500 had been paid for rent of a            not extend far, but it was white hot.
warehouse. The address of the warehouse                      The bronze man held the flame
was out on Long Island.                             toward a blank space in the wall. The flame
          “What would a lawyer be doing with        did its work. Magically, it seemed, a hole was
a warehouse like that?” Monk demanded.              cut through iron sheeting and the wood
          The lobby clerk looked up in              beyond.
amazement as the three came down from the                    Doc entered first. He was gone for
penthouse in an elevator. His amazement             several minutes before he returned as
changed to horror a moment later.                   silently as he had left and motioned Monk
          “You’ve got a dead man up in              and Ham after him.
Falcan’s place,” Ham said calmly. “Better call               Cautiously, using no light, the three
the police.”                                        advanced, Doc in the lead, the others
          The clerk was still stuttering, still     keeping contact by touch.
trying to tell the doorman to stop them when                 There was a dry, dusty smell inside
they got into their car.                            the warehouse, and another smell also, one
          Doc     stepped      down    on    the    that seemed almost like that of sulphur.
accelerator. They hurtled in the direction of                After a few steps, Monk found Doc
Long Island.                                        was leading them up a stairway.
          It was just dark when they reached                 They were almost at the top when
their destination.                                  the voice came.
          The warehouse was in an isolated                   “Stand still or I’ll shoot!” it rapped.
spot. It was surrounded by a high wire fence.                Monk and Ham froze instantly. The
A brief investigation was all that was needed       mercy pistols in their hands came up ready
to show that the fence was wired to sound an        for action.
alarm.                                                       Doc’s voice came to them in a barely
          That information made Monk and            audible whisper. “It is all right,” the bronze
Ham feel easier. They were on the right             man said. “The voice is a mechanical device.
                                   THE PURPLE DRAGON                                          57

I did not take time to find how to disconnect it           They knew that, without doubt, they
after I found that it does not sound an alarm.”    had been drugged. That was why things had
          It was just as well it was dark. Both    seemed so hazy to them. And that was why
the hairy chemist and Ham would have               they had been fooled so completely.
shown the confusion they felt otherwise.                   “But there’s something wrong yet,”
          But a moment later they could not        Monk whispered softly. “Dope couldn’t make
hide their confusion.                              me imagine all them things alone. That there
          A pencil flash appeared in Doc’s         Purple Dragon—”
hands, shot its beam straight ahead. It was                He shut up. Ham didn’t answer. But
all Monk and Ham could do to keep from             he was thinking the same thing.
shouting out in alarm.                                     A short time later they reached
          Facing them were two vicious-            another room that Doc illuminated briefly. It
looking dryopithecus!                              meant nothing to Monk or Ham. It would
                                                   have meant a lot to Hiram Shalleck. He
                                                   would have recognized it as the scene of his
         DOC didn’t say anything. He didn’t        last big celebration. With stage scenery,
have to. Time was all that was needed for his      chairs and bottles, it resembled a prohibition
aids to figure it out for themselves.              speakeasy.
         The dryopithecus were no longer                   Doc slowed suddenly. Monk and
alive. In fact, they never had been. Now that      Ham halted. There was no noise, but both
Monk and Ham were no longer foggy of               Monk and Ham realized without knowing how
mind, they could see the animals had               they knew that they were no longer alone.
apparently been manufactured in the last ten               Doc moved away from them. He
years.                                             moved as silently as a shadow. From
         The reason they were no longer            somewhere up ahead came a startled
active was because no men were hidden              squawk.
inside them in the vacant spaces that had                  The bronze man’s aids understood
been left for such animation.                      then what had happened. Doc had
         And then Monk and Ham noticed             encountered a guard.
other things about the room they were in.                  They weren’t prepared, however, for
There were several artificial trees; there were    what came next.
huge canvases stretched on framework.                      Doc had surprised the guard all right,
Forest scenes had been painted on the              had rendered him unconscious with a single
canvases.                                          quick blow. But the guard had been standing
         Comprehension dawned, slowly and          directly before a signal button. As he
embarrassingly.                                    collapsed he hit that button.
         Monk didn’t say anything at all. Ham              Brilliant lights flared on. Somewhere
didn’t want to, but he spoke in spite of           in the distance an alarm sounded
himself.                                           deafeningly.
         “Now I remember,” he mumbled.
“There was a show on Broadway several
years ago that used such scenery, and also                   Chapter XIX
used fake animals like that.”                            THREE AGAINST A MOB
         Doc cut off the flashlight, led the way
ahead slowly.                                               THE alarm was shut off almost at
         Part of what had happened wasn’t          once. But, in the silence that followed, the
hard for Monk and Ham to figure out now.           sound of running feet could be heard. Men,
They had finally recognized where they were.       many men, were rushing toward the source
         The big warehouse was one that            of the alarm.
bought discarded stage scenery and                          Doc Savage acted quickly.
equipment. And they had been made the                       For the moment those summoned by
victims of such equipment.                         the alarm might think that it had been
         While neither would admit it, a big       sounded accidentally. They would know
load went off the mind of each. They had           differently if they found the unconscious body
been sane all the time.                            of the guard.
58                                       DOC SAVAGE

          The bronze man traded places with        bronze man was still wearing shoes he had
the guard.                                         taken from the unconscious Red back in
          It wasn’t quite as simple as that, but   Juarez.
it almost seemed so. Monk and Ham never                       Dude Starg had recognized those
had seen Doc work so fast.                         shoes, had realized he was facing Doc
          He shifted clothes, he applied make-     Savage.
up swiftly. There wasn’t time to do a thorough                The nattily dressed killer uttered a
job. He didn’t even try to do so. His face         scream of almost insane terror. He went for
appeared to change expression even without         his gun. His hand moved like a streak of light.
make-up, so adept was he at the art of                        Doc Savage moved even more
acting. The guard’s cap covered his bronzed        swiftly. The gun was knocked from Dude’s
hair.                                              hand even as it cleared the holster.
          Monk and Ham knew their part                        Others of the gunmen stood
without asking. They grabbed the still-limp        dumfounded, unable to understand what was
figure of the guard, sought a hiding place.        happening.
          That wasn’t so easy to find. Escape                 Monk had moved even as Doc
from the room they were in already was cut         Savage had done. The hairy chemist stepped
off. All they could do was dart behind some        from behind the scenery, raised the mercy
loosely piled scenery.                             pistol he held in his hand.
          The first of the attackers appeared.                Br-r-r-r-r-r!
Others materialized almost instantly. There                   The mercy pistol’s roar sounded like
must have been a score of them. All were           an oversized bull fiddle. The bullets struck
armed, all had their weapons ready.                the lights overhead. The lights shattered.
          Doc had made his eyes dull and                      But Monk had forgotten that the
sheepish, his face appeared crestfallen.           entire building was brilliantly illuminated.
          “It w-was a dumb-bunny stunt,” he        Light poured in from adjoining rooms.
stammered. “I . . . I musta dozed off and fell                Doc had not forgotten. In the same
against the alarm button.”                         instant that Monk fired, the bronze man’s
          Most of the armed men looked             second hand swept upward. A powdery red
relieved, put their weapons back in shoulder       haze poured from that hand, floated on the
holsters. Only the man who had been in the         still air. But only for a moment. Then a match
lead looked suspicious. He was a small man,        flared. The red haze was transformed into a
nattily dressed.                                   thick, choking screen of black smoke.
          “Got a cold or somethin’, Duncan?”
Dude Starg rasped. “Or have you been
drinkin’ on the job again?”                                 MONK and Ham dived forward to
          “Duncan” looked down sheepishly.         reach Doc’s side. They collided with some of
“J-just one or two, perhaps,” he confessed         the terror-stricken gunmen.
weakly.                                                     The fight was one that the hairy
          Dude snorted angrily. “If this job       chemist really enjoyed. It was the first time
wasn’t almost over I’d blast you for that,” he     he had been able to tackle overwhelming
snarled.                                           odds with a chance for victory. He had that
          Monk and Ham, behind the scenery,        chance this time because his opponents not
sighed with relief. Doc had put it over again.     only couldn’t see him, they didn’t know he
Not only their lives, but the lives of Renny       was there until he smashed into them. Monk
and Marcella had hung in the balance. But          didn’t try to use science. And it was
now—                                               impossible to pick his targets. He simply
          The hairy chemist groaned swiftly.       lashed out in all directions, his hammerlike
          Dude     Starg’s    expression    had    fists working like a riveting machine.
changed suddenly. An incredulous, almost                    Then strong arms seized the chemist
fearful look crossed his features. He was          from behind. Monk grunted in surprise. He
staring down, was staring at the shoes on          tensed his own huge muscles and heaved
“Duncan’s” feet.                                   desperately. His opponent was yanked from
          Doc was the first to realize the         his feet, but his grip about Monk didn’t break.
significance of that. There had not been time      They both went to the floor, and Monk
to trade shoes with the real Duncan. The           managed to get one arm free. He pounded
                                  THE PURPLE DRAGON                                             59

desperately. With equal force blows smashed      shots fired at him would have caught him in
into his own face. His already homely            the head.
countenance was again changed—and not                      The bronze man paused for a
for the better.                                  moment. He passed dark-colored glasses to
         All other sounds of conflict had died   his aids. Then he turned on a peculiar
out. Evidently he was left alone with the only   flashlight.
man brave enough to stand up against him.                  None of those seeking him saw the
         The fight never did reach a real        light from that flash. It was another of Doc’s
conclusion. The thick smoke in the room          adaptations of ultra-ray light, invisible except
vanished as quickly as it had appeared.          through special glass.
         Monk found he was staring into                    Then the three ran forward swiftly.
Ham’s tense features. Ham had his arm back       They could see what the “ghosts” were now,
for another blow into Monk’s face.               knew that they were nothing but cloth with
         “Daggonit, you sap!” Monk moaned.       skeletons drawn on them. But beside each
         “You dumb ape!” Ham retorted.           “ghost” crouched a gunman, ready to shoot
         They might have resumed the battle      at any flash of light.
if Doc hadn’t stopped them. The bronze man                 Doc’s course led toward the front of
had vanished from the room as soon as the        the building. They had almost reached there
smoke had hidden him from view. He               when the ghostly voice spoke again.
reappeared just as silently. “This way,” he                This time that voice was perfectly
called softly.                                   calm and assured. It was a familiar voice.
         Monk lumbered up as Ham bounced                   “Use of ultraviolet rays has long been
to his feet. They started toward Doc.            a pastime of mine, also, Mr. Savage,” the
         Blam! Blam!                             voice said. “I congratulate you. But now the
         A pistol spoke sharply, and from        time for play is past. I see that I must
close range. Monk grunted. The slugs had         convince you I mean business. I will. Step
caught him in the belly. Only the bulletproof    into the office directly at your right. Look in
underwear he wore had saved him. In the          the television set you see there.”
same instant all lights in the building went               “Fielding Falcan!” Monk roared. He
out. A ghostly voice reverberated hollowly:      glared around defiantly. He could not see
         “Doc Savage! You and your men           where Falcan was hidden, although he knew
cannot escape. Surrender now, and escape         he must be near. Monk wanted to go on, to
the Purple Dragon. Fight, and you will be        fight it out.
sent back into the world gibbering idiots.”                Doc stopped him. The bronze man
         Ham shivered slightly. Monk’s palms     was a judge of voices. And this time he knew
went moist with cold perspiration. The Purple    there was no bluffing. He turned into the
Dragon had treated them leniently before, but    office at his right.
this time—                                                 A television set was there, all right. It
         Doc broke the spell. He caught his      was turned on.
aids by the arm, pulled them.                              At first nothing was to be seen
         And then they saw the ghosts. Or at     except a bare room. Then a stage came into
least that is what they seemed to be.            view—a strange-looking stage.
Phosphorescent figures of skeletons reared                 “The room of the Purple Dragon!”
up in the gloom. The figures were spaced         Ham gasped.
wide apart, almost seemed to form a lane.                  The scene shifted again. It shifted to
Each of those figures held a gun.                Renny and Marcella.
         It was Ham who shot this time. He                 The two were seated directly before
grabbed his mercy pistol, blazed away at the     the stage of the Purple Dragon. They were
nearest of the “ghosts.” The mercy bullets       not tied, but they seemed unable to move.
had no effect on the “ghosts.” They did draw               Falcan’s voice came from the
a rain of lead from the darkness beside that     loudspeaker of the television set.
figure.                                                    “Nothing can save them—except
         Doc had yanked Ham forward as           you, Doc Savage. Surrender, permit yourself
soon as the dapper lawyer had fired. That        to be made a prisoner for a few hours, and I
was all that saved Ham, for some of the          shall spare these two. Refuse, and before
                                                 you can reach them the Purple Dragon will
60                                      DOC SAVAGE

tear into their minds. You will find they will            Inside the room of the Purple
never be sane again.”                             Dragon, Monk and Ham had stopped in
          For a moment Doc and his aids were      amazement. Three people were there, not
silent. The same sure conviction was in the       two. Renny and Marcella they had expected.
minds of all three. Surrender would not save      They had not thought to see the third.
Renny and Marcella. Neither would further                 Only Doc showed no surprise as he
fighting.                                         looked into the fear-stricken features of the
          They were really faced by a problem     real Fielding Falcan. Falcan also seemed
that had no answer. But all three knew what       paralyzed.
their answer had to be. Doc put it into words.            But he could talk. “Y-you were our
          “Tell us what you want us to do,” he    last hope,” he sobbed. “N-now that hope is
said calmly.                                      gone.”
                                                          “Daggonit,” Monk half shouted. “I’m
                                                  all mixed up. If you’re Falcan, then who is
          MONK and Ham could have been            that man outside?”
forgiven some show of emotion then. They                  “G-Grover Tiler!” Falcan stuttered.
knew something of what they were facing.                  “The real master mind behind the
And they knew Falcan was making no idle           Purple Dragon,” Doc added quietly. “As you
boast about the power of the Purple Dragon.       should have realized from what we
But now that the crisis had come, each            encountered tonight, he is a man who has
appeared just as calm as Doc.                     mastered magic and, in fact, tried about
          Falcan’s voice gave instructions.       everything, to further his evil plans.”
Those instructions were obeyed. Without
hesitation the three threw away their
weapons. They left the small room they were                   Chapter XX
in, walked down a hallway, then descended a             THE DRAGON BREATHES
flight of stairs.
          Standing far across from them was                EERIE, wild laughter floated through
the distinguished, gray-haired figure of          the room of the Purple Dragon.
Fielding Falcan. Beside him stood Dude                     “Yes, I am the real master mind,”
Starg. The little killer was grinning cruelly.    said Grover Tiler. He no longer imitated
          “Walk forward slowly. When you          Falcan’s cultured tones. “Falcan thought he
come to the big door on your left, open it and    was the brains. He even plotted to kill me, to
enter,” Falcan ordered sharply. “Try no tricks,   deprive me of my share in millions. But I
or those inside the room will be slain            fooled him, and now he is going insane or
instantly. And do not try to escape once you      going to die—as you are all going insane or
are in there. That is impossible”                 to your deaths.” The voice rose to a
          Without change of expression, the       hysterical pitch. “And I . . . I’m going to have
three walked forward. They knew that all they     all the millions!”
could do was to share the fate of those                    Renny turned agonized eyes toward
within, but they did not hesitate.                Doc. “I’m sorry I got you into this,” he said
          The gray-haired man grinned sharply     simply.
as the heavy door closed behind the trio.                  The bronze man did not reply.
Instantly he leaped forward, threw a steel bar    Instead, he took a certain powder from his
in place. The door would have withstood the       equipment vest, put some of the powder on
charge of a battering-ram.                        the tongues of Renny, Marcella and Falcan.
          “Got them,” the gray-haired man                  “Swallow that, and the anaesthetic
exulted. “Dude, round up those hoodlums of        that holds you paralyzed will be neutralized,
yours, get them in that steel room in the         you will be free to move,” he said calmly.
basement—then lock them in.”                               Grover Tiler’s wild laughter came
          Dude looked at him with narrowed        again. “And much good it will do you,” he
eyes. The gray-haired man nodded. “Right.         shrilled. “Watch. The Purple Dragon is soon
They are out now. Just two people share in        to appear.”
what we’ve got. You and me.”                               Lights in the room dimmed suddenly,
          Dude grinned again, a thin,             were replaced with a soft, purple glow.
murderous grin. He raced away.
                                  THE PURPLE DRAGON                                           61

         Marcella Walling began to sob softly.              Monk felt his senses reeling, felt as
“A-and I played a part in all this,” she cried.   he had felt once before. A queer, peculiar
         Monk looked at her scornfully, but       odor was in the room.
Doc said, “I think I understand your role, and              The flames darted out, then receded,
why you played it.”                               moved close, then backed up.
         The purple light was growing                       Ham was dizzy also, but he felt he
stronger. Fielding Falcan’s nerves gave way.      understood what Tiler was doing. Tiler
“I know what is going to happen. I know! I        intended either to kill or to drive his victims
know! Kill us, Doc Savage! Do not let us          insane, but he had a criminal’s egotism, he
suffer!”                                          wanted all his victims to know just how smart
         Doc ignored him. When he spoke it        he was before their end came.
was to his aids.                                            Doc evidently had the same idea.
         “The plot originally began, I believe,   But the bronze man had ideas of his own,
when Falcan, who had been Pal Hatrack’s           also. It had been apparent to Doc, from the
attorney, knew that Hatrack was dead and          first description of the Purple Dragon, that
decided to collect the millions the racketeer     either hypnotism or drugs were used to
had left behind. Is not that correct, Falcan?”    create the proper illusions in the minds of his
         The gray-haired lawyer nodded            victims.
dumbly.                                                     And the bronze man had been
         “But there was a catch to it,” the       prepared. He handed a small capsule to
bronze man went on. “Hatrack had hidden           each of his five companions. “Take this,” he
his money in many safe-deposit vaults in          said crisply. “Then turn around. Do not face
many different banks. Falcan knew this,           the fire.”
because Hatrack trusted him enough to leave                 Grover Tiler’s weird laughter came
the safe-deposit keys with him. Hatrack was       as an echo.
safe enough in this, because Falcan did not                 “Go on, Doc,” Ham urged. The
know what name Hatrack had used in renting        dapper lawyer was staring peculiarly at
each safe-deposit box.”                           Marcella Walling. He was remembering the
         “And there were millions waiting         bronze man’s words to her.
there. Millions!” Falcan moaned. “All there,                “Falcan contacted Tiler, I imagine,”
waiting for me to get them.”                      Doc said. Falcan nodded.
         “Falcan was smart,” Doc continued                  “And Tiler is one of the greatest
calmly. “He also had heard that Hatrack had       builders of magical equipment in the world.”
told different members of his mob to                        “He originally intended the Dragon
remember what they thought were tips on the       for vaudeville,” Falcan said numbly. “Then
races, such as ‘Fred Fisher in the First.’ What   vaudeville went out.”
that actually meant was that Hatrack had                    Doc nodded. “An alliance was made.
taken a safe-deposit box in the First National    Falcan, with the help of Dude Starg, started
Bank under the name of Fred Fisher.”              to round up former members of Hatrack’s
         “But I had to find out those names,”     gang. They found some of them had lost all
Falcan said. The gray-haired criminal lawyer      memory of their former lives. The Dragon
spoke as if in a daze. “I had to find the right   became doubly valuable.
men, those who had been told the things to                  “These men were brought here—
remember. And after that I had to make them       Hiram Shalleck was one of them. Under the
talk. That’s—”                                    terrible influence of the Dragon, their minds
         Falcan broke off. All in that room,      were short-circuited, they forgot their recent
except Doc, jumped. For heavy curtains were       lives, became again as they had been in the
pulling back from the stage at one end of the     past.”
room. And through the opening left in those                 “I can tell you what came next.”
curtains flames were shooting, hot, blistering    Marcella Walling’s voice was bitter, but a
flame.                                            certain grim courage seemed to sustain her.
         “That’s where I came in,” came                     “I was hired for the next act. Falcan
Grover Tiler’s shrill, mocking voice.             needed stage settings, he had to put his
         The flame darted out farther and         victims back in familiar scenes, make them
farther.                                          think it was 1929 or ‘28. They really forgot
                                                  the present and were living in the past. Then
62                                        DOC SAVAGE

he would give them drink, and after a while                  Those in the room of the Purple
they would tell him what he wanted to know.         Dragon had forgotten for a moment the
He would go to the right bank, and since he         terrible peril they faced. Tiler’s voice brought
could forge Hatrack’s writing, he would sign        that peril back.
the correct name and collect the money.                      Marcella Walling’s face became
         “This warehouse, all this stage            white, she seemed to sway. Involuntarily,
equipment helped him. But he needed actors          Ham took a step toward her. Monk’s big fists
and actresses, also. I was broke. He hired          clenched.
me on pretense of giving me a film test, told                Renny got out of his chair, came to
me I was to act out a scene. I did. In that         stand by Doc. He was ready to die, but he
scene I was supposed to shoot a man who             wanted to die beside the bronze man who
annoyed me. The gun had real bullets.”              was his idol.
         Ham gasped. Lots of things were                     Only Falcan broke down. The gray-
clear, things the girl didn’t have to explain.      haired lawyer went completely to pieces. His
Falcan had held the killing over the girl as a      hysterical cries filled the room, drowned out
club. She didn’t see any hope of escape. He         even the roar of flames that ever grew
had forced her to trap Monk and Ham. He             louder.
had forced her to play a part in the murder                  Those cries seemed to act as a spur
frame-up.                                           to Grover Tiler. “Here it is, damn you!” he
         “The     Purple     Dragon     snapped     shouted.
memories of its victims back to the date                     The curtains rolled back with a
Falcan wished,” Doc summarized swiftly.             sudden swing. The crimson of hot flames
“The stage settings did the rest. Those who         mixed with the dull light of the room.
showed signs of recalling what had                           And then they all saw the Purple
happened to them were slain and their bones         Dragon!
bleached. Others confessed to ancient
crimes. We became involved because of
Shalleck, so we also became enemies.”                        EVEN knowing it was an illusion, the
         Ham nodded. The dapper lawyer              Purple Dragon still was fearsome.
could figure out most of the rest of it for                  Ten feet high, with large staring eyes
himself. Falcan, as lawyer for Hatrack, knew        and slimy body, the “Dragon” was shooting
plenty of gangsters. He had used them to aid        multicolored fire from its open mouth.
him, with Dude Starg as their leader.                        Those eyes were weird and strange.
         Ham wondered why he hadn’t                 They sparkled with a hideous flame.
thought of Tiler before as still being living.               Ham felt his gaze riveted on those
Since Doc and Renny had escaped the                 strange eyes, felt his senses reel, felt as if
terrific explosion, there was no reason to          trip hammers were working in his brain, were
suppose the resourceful Tiler hadn’t                tearing that brain apart.
arranged an escape for himself. Then he                      Doc Savage did something unusual
recalled Doc saying Tiler apparently had            for him. He shouted.
committed suicide.                                           “Do not look! Fall on the floor!”
         Doc seemed to sense Ham’s                           It is doubtful if anyone but Doc
thought. “It was because I saw Tiler breathe,       Savage would have been obeyed. The secret
knew he was not dead, that I knew Renny             of those eyes never was discovered,
and I were in danger,” he explained. “And I         although it undoubtedly was a hypnotic light
saw two wires in one of Tiler’s hands. It           of some kind. Those in the chamber of the
seemed safe to assume an explosion of               Purple Dragon fell to the floor.
some kind was planned.”                                      The spell was broken.
         “And I did it cleverly,” came Tiler’s               Grover Tiler, standing safe behind
mocking voice. “I even made Falcan think I          the Dragon, operating the controls, gave a
was dead. I waited until he had collected all       wild, awful yell.
those millions for me. Then I went for him. I                He reached for a lever. Doc Savage
had to kill the fool clerk he had with him. But I   shouted again—he shouted a warning to
was safe. No one knows I live. No one will          Grover Tiler.
ever know. I—”                                               The magician, now stripped of his
                                                    disguise as Falcan, standing straight and
                                    THE PURPLE DRAGON                                           63

erect, dressed entirely in black, did not heed.     had intended to flee with that after wiping out
He pulled the lever all the way back.               all who even knew of the fortune or knew he
         A sheet of flame roared, a                 was alive. A time bomb was found near the
tremendous, blasting sheet that turned all it       cellar door where the gunmen were
touched to cinders.                                 imprisoned. They were to have died.
         Tiler had expected that flame to fill      Probably Tiler intended to kill Dude Starg
the chamber of the Purple Dragon. It did not.       also.
It roared backward.                                           The gunmen in the basement went to
         In an instant Tiler was turned into a      Doc’s upstate hospital. In some cases they
burned, charred skeleton.                           later took jobs that had been vacated by the
         Outside the big door that led to the       Dragon’s victims. But that was much later.
chamber of the Purple Dragon, Dude Starg                      Monk, for a time, was afraid there
heard a terrible scream. He had heard               was almost too much romantic interest
screams like that before. For an instant there      between Marcella Walling and Ham. Monk
was silence, then a voice came, a voice that        admitted Marcella was really a beautiful girl,
sounded like that of Grover Tiler.                  but he didn’t want Ham to marry.
         “You may open the door now, Dude,”                   Then Marcella’s affections had
the voice said.                                     seemed to cool. She remained Ham’s good
         Dude threw open the door. He never         friend, but that was all. Ham never knew
did know Doc had tricked him with                   what happened.
ventriloquism. Fielding Falcan rushed out.                    Doc did discover, but the bronze
         Falcan and Dude saw each other in          man never told. But for one of the few times
the same instant. Falcan knew Dude had              in his life he smiled. In one way it was Ham’s
double-crossed him. Dude knew that Falcan           own fault. In another it was Monk’s. If Ham
knew.                                               ever had learned, Monk would probably have
         Both went for their guns. Both guns        been made hard to catch.
blazed at the same moment.                                    Marcella asked Ham for his picture
         Doc Savage had leaped forward,             “so I can always visualize you as you really
trying to halt what he saw was coming, even         are, even when you are away from me.”
as he had tried to save Grover Tiler. He was                  Ham asked Monk to deliver the
too late. Both Falcan and Dude were dead.           picture. Monk delivered one all right, it even
                                                    had an inscription on it, but it wasn’t the one
                                                    Ham sent.
         LATER, much later, Monk, Ham and                     Marcella never did understand why
Renny figured out what must have                    Ham would want to shatter her ideals,
happened. Doc had disappeared for a time            particularly when he knew she liked well-
during the fight in the warehouse.                  dressed men.
Undoubtedly he had found the lair of the                      The picture she received was a very
Dragon. Doc rarely left anything to chance. If      much enlarged one. It showed Ham, covered
he and his men were caught, he knew they            with hair, hanging by his tail from a tree. The
might have to face that Dragon. He had              inscription on it read:
reversed the control wires that governed the
sheet of flame.                                             Clothes     can      hide   many
         Grover Tiler had died as a result of       imperfections. I want you to know me as I
his own monster, as many of Doc’s enemies           really am.
had died before. Falcan and Dude had died                                               Ham.
because of the very motive that had impelled
them to crime in the first place. Greed!
         A suitcase with nearly five million                          THE END
dollars in large bills was found in a safe in the
warehouse office. Collected by Falcan, Tiler
64                        DOC SAVAGE

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