THE EVIL GNOME by jianghongl


									                          THE EVIL GNOME
             A Doc Savage Adventure By Kenneth Robeson
              Originally published in DOC SAVAGE Magazine April 1940

                                               A Complete Book-length Novel
                                          by KENNETH ROBESON
     Even Doc Savage found something new in science and resourcefulness!

            Chapter I                      quite innocent on her part. For all that
       THE HOT-COLD DAY                    Lion did was look for a job.
                                                   To begin with, Lion was almost
        LION ELLISON got into a mess in    broke, and she figured that practically
a very simple way. The whole thing was     nobody could be needing a job worse at
                                           the moment.
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         Secondly, Lion was a female               crowded to the curb to watch, and being a
animal trainer, so jobs in her line were           seasoned showman, she cast a
scarce, the circus business having stayed          speculative eye over the crowd. She
in the dumps in which it had fallen. Lion          could tell from the interest shown by the
was very good at her trade, but there just         gillies and thistle-chins—circus lingo for
weren’t any jobs. Cats were her specialty.         the local inhabitants—that this was a
She could handle any kind of cat. Burly            good show town, and no boomer stand.
roaring lions and striped spitting fiends of                The parade came. She watched.
tigers got on stools when she pointed her          First marched the windjammers, the band,
finger at them.                                    in sartorial glory and melodic uproar.
         If you have any idea that a female        Then the bulls, the elephants. And all the
wild-animal tamer must be a lady devil             gaudy rest of it. The convicts, or zebras.
minus horns and entirely without the usual         The big turkeys—ostriches. Two hogs—
equipment of heart and soul and likes and          hippos—in a cage. A cage of old folks—
dislikes—and nerves—which other people             monkeys. And another cage of zekes—
have, you had better get rid of the idea.          hyenas, also called gravediggers. They
They’re not like that, particularly Lion           were all there, all the great stupendous
Ellison.                                           and unsurpassed wonders and marvels of
         Nor do they have to look like             the civilized and uncivilized world that
young witches. They can be entrancing              make up the stock in trade of a fairly good
creatures as was Lion Ellison, although            circus. All thundered past in spectacle
admittedly not all of them are. Like a             and glory, spangles and silks not very
mountain flower in June. Like a strain of          noticeably frayed.
lilting music at dusk. Also a little like the               Lion breathed rapidly and was as
excited scream of herald trumpets just             excited as a little girl seeing her first
before something great is to happen. All           parade, only with a feeling that was
of that was Lion Ellison. She was a small          deeper. It was marvelous. Her eyes were
thing. Audiences loved her, and so did             moist. She hadn’t realized how she had
circus people—and so had the head                  been missing it all.
gaffer of the last show that Lion worked.                   She went to see about the job.
The head gaffer had given her a kiss,                       The advertisement had appeared
minus permission, so immediately they              in a newspaper and Lion had clipped it;
had quite a clem. A clem is a fight. It was        she now carried it with her. She just about
out back of the crumb castle, which is the         had it memorized:
cookhouse. The head gaffer got a black
eye. Lion got the sack, for the head gaffer                 ANIMAL           TRAINER—Girl,
happened to own a good part of that                experienced finker, no First of May,
particular mud-opera.                              handle babies, stripes, all cats. Top pay.
         All of which explained why Lion           Apply Room 12, Voyagers Hotel,
happened to be getting off a train in              Kirksville, Missouri.
Kirksville, Missouri, and looking ruefully
into her purse which she found, as she                      Lion Ellison considered that a
had expected, contained only six dollars           divine providence had directed this
and some odd cents.                                advertisement specifically at her, because
         “Well, it can’t get much worse,”          she was an experienced finker, which
Lion said grimly.                                  meant a circus performer, so certainly she
         This thought was an error.                was no First of May, which meant a
         Lion checked her suitcase, then           newcomer to the profession. She could
walked uptown. The circus was in town.             handle babies, which were pumas;
She could see that. The tack-spitters—             stripes, which were tigers, and any other
bill-posters, called tack-spitters from their      big cat. She also could use some of that
habit of spitting tacks on a magnetic              top pay.
hammer—had done a good job of                               The Voyagers Hotel was a rather
plastering the town.                               nice-looking hostelry. Room 12 proved to
         Suddenly she heard martial music          be on the second floor. Lion knocked.
and knew the parade was coming. She                         “Goodness!” she exclaimed.
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DOC SAVAGE. A remarkable man of perfect physique and highly developed brain who
makes a profession of righting wrongs and punishing evildoers. He is one of the nation's
outstanding physicians and a skilled scientist.

 RENNY. One of Doc's most valued assistants, an engineer of world-wide reputation and,
as it happens, a whale of a guy in any kind of a fight. He tops six feet in height, and he's
200 pounds in perfect shape.
MONK. Also a great rough and-tumble fighter. But more—he's a renowned chemist. He
doesn't look it, though. He's a hairy, homely man—which doesn't keep him from thinking
he's a wow with the ladies. His nickname fits him better than his real name—nothing less
than Andrew Blodgett Mayfair, if you please.

HAM. A lawyer—and part of the cream of his profession. Brigadier General Theodore
Marley Brooks—which is how his mail is addressed—looks the part, too. He's one of the
half dozen best dressed men in the country. And can he fight! His favorite weapon for
special occasions is a useful sword-cane, tipped with a drug which puts his opponents
into a quick and harmless slumber.
JOHNNY. An authority on geology and archaeology. Those are big words, but they're
nothing to the many-syllabled tongue-twisters that William Harper Littlejohn—Johnny to
you—uses in intimate conversation. He's gaunt and unhealthy-looking—a fact which has
led many a thug to get the very erroneous idea that he's a pushover in a fight.
LION ELLISON. An animal trainer. She can make roaring lions and spitting tigers climb
up on stools and like it. She can handle men, too, for she's long on looks and has what it
NEDDY ELLISON. Lion's brother, who didn't have as much on the ball as Lion, but who
wasn't lacking in skill as a circus stunter.
ELLERY P. DIMER. A banker who had so much money that it got him into plenty trouble.
DAN MEEK. A candid-camera fiend, whose hobby didn't do him so much good, either.
BURDO BROCKMAN. Another man with so much money that he couldn't count it—but
he had more than mere money.
ELMO HANDY ANDERSON. A tough baby that you wouldn't like to meet in the dark—
and not too often right out in the light of day.
THE RUNT. A small package of poison who fought humanity with most
astounding weapons.
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         The little old man who had                         “That’s exactly right.”
opened the door must have been                              “Hm-m-m.”
exclaimed at a great deal by persons who                    “It worked, you see.”
were seeing him for the first time,                         “But wouldn’t it have been simpler
because he smiled.                                 to advertise for me by name? The way it
         “I got used to startling people a         was, you just advertised for a woman
long time ago.” He stepped back. “Won’t            animal trainer.”
you come in?”                                               The little old man smiled and
         “I’m sorry,” Lion said.                   shook his head. And Lion, watching him,
         He reminded Lion of one of the            was suddenly conscious of a strange
“old folks”—the monkeys. He had never              feeling about him. She didn’t exactly
been very tall, and age or something had           dislike him. But he was so strange, and
shriveled him about as much as a man               he looked so unusual, and even his voice
could be shriveled. On second glance,              was a little weird. Creeps. That was it. He
Lion decided it was not age that had               gave her the creeps.
shrunk him. He probably was no more                         Then Lion got a heart-tightening
than forty. But he was like some thing out         shock.
of a funny paper or a fairy tale.                           “It’s something your brother
         He wore a tight skullcap that             wanted me to do,” the wizened man said.
might have belonged to a necromancer,
and a flowing robe of dark-blue velvet that
might have been a bathrobe or a lounging                     TO understand just why Lion
robe, yet did not quite look like either of        Ellison was so heavily shocked, you have
these. Yes, decidedly like something out           to know about her brother, Ned. Neddy
of a funny paper or a fairy tale. Unusual.         Ellison was his name, and he had always
Something like a gnome.                            been a prissy kind with milk for a brain
         Lion pulled out the ad. “I’m Lion         and nothing much for a backbone. Not at
Ellison,” she said, “and I’ve come about           all like Lion, who had sparks and
this job.” She took a deep breath and              electricity for a brain, and steel for a
smiled and began selling herself. “My              backbone. One was strong, the other
father and mother were circus, and so              weak. So it had not been good for Neddy
were my brother and myself, all our lives,”        Ellison to grow up around a circus.
she explained. “I’ve worked with cats for                    There are two sides to circus
several years, and I lost my last job when         business, one of them good and the other
we had a strike and the owner of the               not so nice. There are the legitimate
show got ugly and closed everything                animal and aërialist acts, the things that
down and took it to winter quarters. Here          the crowds come to see, which are good;
are some of the cat acts I have worked—”           on the other hand, there are the grifters,
         “Never mind,” said the wizened            the lucky boys and their cappers who go
man who looked so much like a gnome.               after the strawberry shortcake, as the
         Lion felt a wrenching inside her.         easy money is called. The right side and
She had the sickening thought that maybe           the wrong side of circus business. A man
the job had been filled.                           with a weak character sometimes has
         “But—” Her words stuck.                   difficulty distinguishing the right from the
         “There’s no job.”                         wrong in everyday life, and in the bizarre
         Lion felt hopelessness creeping.          existence of a circus where life is
         “There never was a job,” the              distorted, the distinguishing of right from
shriveled little man continued. “Never a           wrong becomes doubly difficult.
job. You see, this was all a scheme.                         Not that Lion believed her brother
Something I tried. I wanted to get hold of         had been an outright crook. But she had
you, but I didn’t know your address, and           always been afraid for him.
so—”                                                         But two weeks ago, her brother
         Lion blinked. “Do I get this right?       had died. She hadn’t been notified. She’d
You put that advertisement in the paper in         only seen the newspaper stories. They
order to get in touch with me?”
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must not have been able to find her               found herself staring at what              was
address, or something.                            obviously an unfinished letter:
         Killed when his parachute failed
to open, the news items had said. It              Dear Sis:
seemed that Neddy Ellison had been                          If this letter seems incoherent, it is
making jumps for a group of planes and            because I’m rapidly going mad. For hours
pilots who were accompanying a circus to          and hours, I’ve been almost frantic. And
do skywriting and advertising, and                now, finally, a solution has come. I have
entertain with jumps and stunts. That             thought of a man who can solve this. The
Neddy Ellison had nerve enough to be a            only man in the world, probably, who has
‘chute jumper hadn’t surprised Lion; there        ability to handle the matter.
had never been anything wrong with the                      You remember the man whom
nerve of any of the circus Ellisons. His          you once told me you wished I
parachute hadn’t opened. The headline             resembled?
said:                                                       As soon as you get this letter, I
                                                  want you to take it to him.
       CIRCUS STUNTER KILLED                                I’m going to write you the whole
                                                  story. It is an incredible, horrible story. It
          Lion stared at the little old man.      isn’t even earthly. Nothing in the Arabian
          “You . . . you knew my brother?”        Nights or any fairy story ever equaled—
she breathed.
          He did not answer; he only stared                It was her brother’s handwriting.
at her, and there was something—it might          She was sure of that.
have been in his eyes and it might not—                    Unexpectedly, Lion jumped. The
that made a coldness go up and down               wizened man had touched her shoulder. “I
Lion’s back. His eyes were strangely              am sorry,” he said. “I must go.”
piercing, she noted.                                       Lion shook her head. “I fail to
          After moments passed and he             understand this.”
had not spoken, Lion said, “Say, what is                   “It is perfectly simple.” The little
this, anyway?”                                    man seemed somewhat impatient. “Those
          There was a slight movement at          are your brother’s belongings. He wanted
his mouth, a twist that was sly and               you to have them.”
quizzical, and he walked to the dresser—                   “But why should you go to all that
it was an ordinary hotel room with bed            trouble to see that I got them?”
and dresser and rug and telephone stand                    The other shrugged and glanced
and two chairs—and brought back a                 toward the door urgently. “I’m sorry. I
bundle. The package might have been a             must be going.”
laundry bundle containing half a dozen                     Lion decided she had changed
shirts. It was tied with stout brown paper.       her mind about this shriveled little ogre.
          “Yours,” the man said. “He              She didn’t like him. Furthermore, she had
wanted you to have it.”                           a feeling that if she was around him much
          Lion put the bundle on the bed          longer, he would terrify her. She didn’t like
and untied the string and opened the              people who scared her. Suddenly she
paper.                                            was angry at him, and she stood up.
          “Oh!” she said, and her heart                    “Now wait a minute!” she said
came up in her throat. These were her             sharply. “There’s something wrong about
brother’s personal belongings, the little         this!”
intimate things which he had always                        The little old man looked at Lion,
prized. Lion saw neckties, a scarf, cuff          then did a strange thing. He began to
links, watch chain that she had given him.        laugh, and his laughing was not loud but
She was shocked, and found herself                ugly and cackling like the vocal efforts of
biting her lips to keep the tears back.           a hyena. Involuntarily, without knowing
          With shaking fingers, she picked        exactly why, Lion shivered. The little man
up a letter which she had noticed. It bore        backed to the door, opened it, stepped
her name, but the envelope was not                out into the hall and closed the door.
stamped. She took out the contents,
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         When Lion looked out into the                      “Pardon me,” she said, “but is it
hall—an unpleasant kind of fascination             cold?”
had held her rooted in the room for a                       “Huh?” He stared.
second or two—she saw no trace of the                       “I . . . er . . . just wanted to know,”
fellow. She failed to understand how he            Lion explained.
had vanished so quickly.                                    “Do you feel sick or something?”
         Lion walked out on the street             He frowned at her. “Or is this a new kind
carrying the bundle under her arm. It was          of pickup? If it is, I don’t mind telling you
warm. Two planes were circling in the hot          that I’m a deacon in my church, and not
sunlight several thousand feet above her           interested—”
head, skywriting an advertisement for the                   “If you can’t answer a civil
circus. She walked slowly, enmeshed in             question,” Lion said, “would you mind just
her thoughts.                                      walking on?”
         She could not get rid of a feeling                 The pedestrian scowled, didn’t
of ghostly unreality about her whole               know what to do.
meeting with the wizened man, and the                       “This is the coldest day we’ve had
sensation puzzled her. She did not have a          recently!” he snapped at last, and walked
temperament inclined to become jittery             on with dignity.
without cause. She could walk past a                        Lion stared after him. She
graveyard at night and probably                    decided it would make her feel better if
experience fewer qualms than the                   she could laugh lightly, and she did so. It
average. Yet there had been something              didn’t help much.
about this meeting, a masked quality she                    Nor did it help her frame of mind
could not define. She shivered. Creeps. It         when it gradually dawned on her that she
had given her the creeps.                          was ravishingly hungry. Strange. She had
         Then Lion Ellison crossed the             consumed a late and hearty breakfast,
street. It was a warm summer day when              and she had no business being hungry at
she started across the street, but when            this time of day, and certainly not this
she got to the other side she found that it        hungry. She felt practically famished.
had suddenly become a cold day.                             There was a drugstore nearby,
                                                   and on the window a sign said, Try Our
                                                   Jumbo Sandwiches. The combination was
               Chapter II                          too much for Lion. She entered, selected
              DID I KILL?                          a deserted booth at the back, and
         IT happened so suddenly, and it                    She did some thinking. The
was so unexpected, that the real                   bundle which contained her brother’s
significance did not dawn upon her                 belongings—she still had that. She placed
instantly. She made an instinctive gesture         it on the booth seat beside her. She put
to draw her coat to her throat and hunch           her purse on the table. It was a black
her shoulders against the chill wind. Then         patent-leather purse, a large one; she had
she came to a wrenching stop.                      learned to like large purses, for with a
         Cold? But it had been warm,               circus you were always traveling and you
almost hot, a moment before!                       needed a place for knickknacks.
         The impossibility of it made her                   She examined her clothing. She
start to give a nervous, self-conscious            was dressed exactly the same. Nothing
laugh, but the laugh didn’t quite jell. She        seemed changed. The whole thing must
did the natural thing, glanced at the              be an acrobatic of her imagination.
heavens to see if a storm was blowing up.          Possibly she had been worked up over
There were a few clouds, cold and gray-            finding there was no job, and receiving
looking.                                           her brother’s belongings, so that she
         Lion made a grim mouth and got            hadn’t noticed it was cold until she started
in front of the first pedestrian who               across the street. And yet she distinctly
approached. A man.                                 remembered that it had been hot.
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       Deciding to repair her make-up,            feminine enough to care less about a
she opened her purse, and thus found the          murder than a story concerning a fashion
knife.                                            trend. But the headlines gripped her.
                                                           The governor of the State had
                                                  been murdered.
          THE knife was such an ugly thing                 The murder of a governor was
that she jerked her fingers back                  sensational enough to arouse her interest.
involuntarily. It had a long blade, double-       There was a huge picture on the front
edged and concave ground like a straight          page; because such was her habit, Lion
razor, and the hilt was very plain. A knife       read the cutlines below before she looked
made for nasty work. Nor did the dry              at the picture. The cutlines said:
stains, dull-red in color, on blade and hilt,
do anything to improve the aspect of the                 ACTUAL PHOTOGRAPH OF
thing.                                                     MURDERESS IN ACT
          Lion snapped her purse shut
hastily and sat there. Her fingers took a                 This photograph of the murder of
drinking straw and crushed it and tore it.        the governor was taken by Dan Meek,
For now she was suddenly and                      902 First Street, a candid-camera fan who
unaccountably scared.                             happened to be passing the governor’s
          She knew—it was more than a             office at the time. The photo, probably
vague feeling now—that all was not right.         one of the most remarkable ever
She did not know what it was, but                 snapped, shows every detail of the crime
something uncanny and not immediately             during commission. The murderess is
understandable had occurred. A frosty             plainly recognizable, and the knife she
sort of fright began creeping through her.        used can be identified. The knife has not
          “Waiter,” she said, “will you get       been found.
me a late newspaper?”                                     Immediately above the picture
          When the paper came, she stared         was a caption in heavy type which said:
at it unbelievingly, finally exclaimed, “But
this is impossible!”                                   TWO THOUSAND DOLLARS
          “Eh?” The clerk was puzzled.               REWARD FOR THIS GIRL KILLER!
          “Thursday—this says today is
Thursday.” Lion shook her head. “Isn’t this              But Lion paid no attention to the
Monday?”                                          reward offer. She was staring at the
          “Thursday,” the clerk corrected,        murderess in the picture. The murderess
and walked away.                                  was herself.
          Having bought the paper on a
hunch, Lion realized that she had
discovered her worst fears more than                        IT was not easy to comprehend;
justified.      Something      extraordinary      in fact, she did not realize the truth at first.
assuredly had happened. Her sandwich              Not until she held the newspaper up
came, and in spite of the turmoil of              beside the mirror that was built into the
surprise in her mind, she seized the              end of the booth and compared her
sandwich and began wolfing it. That was           reflected likeness with the printed one.
another thing—being so hungry.                    The same. Even the frock. Hat. Shoes.
          It was all so uncanny that Lion felt    Handbag. The things she wore now were
like steadying her mind by reading about          identical with those in the picture.
wars and football games and such                            Lion stared at the knife, then with
civilized things. She glanced over the            horror tightening every fiber of her body,
headlines, noted among other items that           she snapped open her purse and
the wars were still going full blast in           compared the ugly blade therein with the
Europe and a new neutrality debate had            depicted murder weapon. Identical.
started in the Senate.                                      It was very quiet in the drugstore.
          The principal news story on the         There were no other customers, and only
front page was one about a murder: Lion           two clerks were on duty, both of these
first started to skip this because she was        standing together at the cigar counter,
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bending over a picture magazine. The                        The drugstore had a back door,
fountain compressor motor ran, making a            close at hand. Lion stood up. She had the
low whine.                                         presence of mind to behave as casually
         Lion shuddered, closed her purse          as she could, to walk slowly, until she
wildly. She had to make a great effort to          reached the door. She was perfectly sure
read the murder story in the newspaper.            she was going to escape—the lights were
         The printed items were lengthy,           turned off in the back of the store and it
but Lion discovered they were composed             was gloomy.
mostly of a synopsis of the governor’s                      Because the officer noticed her
rather spectacular career as the State’s           instantly, Lion knew he had come in
chief executive, and as a brilliant                looking for her.
prosecuting attorney who had sent many                      “Hey, you!” he shouted.
noted criminals to prison. The truth                        Lion put her chin out, glued
seemed to be that little was known of the          elbows to her sides, and began making
actual murder.                                     speed. She hit the door, sloped through,
         No one had seen the murderess             flipped the panel shut behind her. She
enter or leave the governor’s chambers.            had no plan. Just to run.
“It might well have been a ghost murder,”                   The door opened onto a side
said one portion of the story, “had it not         street. No one was in sight. Lion kept
been for the stroke of luck which brought          going. The package of her brother’s
candid photo fan Dan Meek, of 902 First            belongings handicapped her somewhat,
Street, to the scene with his ever-ready           but she decided not to drop it. An alley
camera.” The article stated that the               appeared. She veered into that.
camera bug, Dan Meek, had made an                           But the cop had seen her. His
ineffectual effort to pursue and capture           excited yell came down the street, a
the murderess, but she had escaped                 gobbling noise. Gun sound and bullet
through a door, which she had locked.              report followed almost instantly. The lead
         Police had found fingerprints of          struck something and climbed away up to
the murderess on the governor’s desk               the sky, screaming.
and on the door through which the candid                    Lion’s feet made a hard grinding
cameraman had chased her. The                      on the alley concrete. There were no
fingerprints were reproduced on an inside          windows, only a few doors, all the latter
page of the newspaper.                             closed. Far ahead, almost at the end of
         Lion pressed her fingers on the           the block, a truck stood.
glass top of the booth table and compared                   It was a small truck with a van
the prints with those in the paper. She            body bearing the name of an electrical
was no fingerprint expert, but they looked         concern. Lion dived behind the wheel.
identical to her.                                  Thank God, they had left the key. She
         “I’m an accused murderess!” she           threw the switch, stamped starter and
thought wildly.                                    accelerator. Lead came through, making
         While she was thinking this, a            splinters in the back and leaving a round
policeman came into the drugstore.                 hole and a jagged crack in the windshield.
Obviously, he was looking for her.                          The motor caught, gears gnashed
                                                   steel teeth, and the truck went out of the
                                                   alley with about the same commotion as a
          Chapter III                              scared hog.
         THE instant she saw the                            THE town had a population of
policeman, Lion knew he had come for               around ten thousand, so Lion was not
her, but afterward she wondered if it              long reaching the outskirts. Luck led her
couldn’t have been a bit of clairvoyance of        onto an almost deserted road. She saw a
her over-stimulated imagination. The               pond, a grove of trees, and driving the
officer might have strolled in for a soft          truck into the trees, she left the machine.
drink or cigarettes.                                        She moved about, watching, for a
                                                   time and decided that no one had noticed
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her. On second thought, she investigated          in rather plain language just the kind of a
the rear of the electric company’s delivery       person she had hoped he would be. She
truck. There were tools, coils of wire,           remembered the quarrel distinctly. It had
lengths of conduit, an old radio. There           come out of a clear sky while they were
was also a long white coat, doubtless             discussing an article they had been
worn by the electrical service man to             reading about a man named Doc Savage,
protect his clothing. It bore the company’s       a rather spectacular individual who,
name. Lion put it on—wrong side out, so           according to the magazine article, made a
that the name did not show. She left her          profession of aiding the oppressed,
chic hat in the truck, convinced that her         righting wrongs and punishing evil-doers.
rather luxuriant brown hair would be less                  “Sounds to me like everybody
conspicuous. That hat had stood out               was playing this Doc Savage for a
plainly in the murder photograph. Then            sucker,” Neddy Ellison had said
she left.                                         contemptuously. “The smart guys in this
          The act of walking did something        world are the guys who see that they get
for which she was grateful. It cleared her        theirs.”
mind, enabled her to get a better grasp of                 The remark had enraged Lion.
the situation.                                    She’d been worried about Neddy at the
          Seeing the problem clearly did          time; he’d been talking too much about
not make it sensible. She was wanted by           easy money. So they had quarreled, and
the police for murder. The killing of a man       Lion had finally voiced the angry wish that
of whom she had hardly heard, and                 Neddy had a few of the qualities of Doc
certainly never met. Fantastic was a mild         Savage.
word for such a thing.                                     Lion looked at the letter in her
          There was one thought she tried         hand.
to keep away. When it first flashed into                   “I don’t see anything,” she
her mind, it was sickening enough to bring        remarked grimly, “to prevent me from
her up short.                                     finding out whether this Doc Savage is
          Was it possible that during some        what they cracked him up to be.”
kind of a mental lapse, she had actually
committed the murder? Was she a
murderer?                                                  LION left the brush patch and set
          Most imperative of all, what could      out in search of a telephone to contact
she do? How could she help herself?               Doc Savage.
          An idea hit her, so she glanced                  She might be taking a foolish trip.
about to make sure no one was in sight,           She wondered. Her circus upbringing had
then climbed through a barbed-wire fence          given her the direct opposite of a gullible
into some brush where she was hidden              nature, so she was not inclined to believe
from view. She opened the bundle of her           much that she read. Yet the magazine
brother’s effects, went through the stuff,        that had carried the article about Doc
but found nothing that could be construed         Savage had been a periodical of national
to explain anything. She ended the                circulation with a vaunted reputation for
inspection with her brother’s unfinished          accuracy. The story about Doc Savage
letter in her hand. Her eyes ranged the           had read as though it were exaggerated,
missive. And suddenly one sentence                Lion recalled. The things printed about
jumped out at her:                                him had sounded suspiciously like the
                                                  kind of ballyhoo they used around the
       You remember the man whom                  circus.
you once told me you wished I                              It was a neighborhood grocery
resembled?                                        store, not too tidy and full of the usual
                                                  smells. It was located near the State
        The reference, Lion realized,             Teachers College, which was probably
would have been meaningless to anyone             why it had a pay telephone. College
but her self. In fact, the reference was          students had written feminine names and
obviously to a long-past quarrel with her         telephone numbers on the wall around the
brother, during which she had explained           instrument. Lion got her six dollars
10   xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx DOC   SAVAGE xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

changed into quarters, dimes and nickels.                     She was almost certain to be
When she took down the receiver,                    arrested—if she remained in Missouri.
however, she smiled grimly.                                   It was a time for desperate
         To her complete astonishment,              measures.
the operator eventually reported that the                     Lion made a grim mouth. “I’ve got
office of Doc Savage in New York would              it!” she said suddenly.
accept a collect call.                                        It was late afternoon when Lion
         Lion came very close to the                cautiously parted dry weeds at the edge
mouthpiece. “Put them on. . . . Is this Doc         of a cornfield and studied the airport.
Savage?”                                            There were two planes standing on the
         “No.”                                      field, one a large and fast craft, the other
         “Well, put him            on,” Lion        a slower two-place sport craft. Lion
requested.                                          decided on the big plane; it exactly suited
         “Not a chance,” the voice                  her needs, providing it was fueled.
informed her. “He’s not in town.”                             There was a slight drawback to
         Lion bit her lips, listened to the         her plan in the shape of a car full of State
voice asking, “Is           this     something      troopers who were parked near the office.
important?”                                                   Lion was thoughtful for a while,
         “It couldn’t be much more                  then she retreated. Twenty minutes later,
important,” Lion said grimly. “How will I           she ran across a yard and entered a
get hold of this Doc Savage? Where can I            farmhouse. It was milking time; the farmer
find him?”                                          and his wife were out at the cow lot. Lion
         The distant listener did not seem          went to the telephone.
much impressed by the imperativeness in                       She called the airport and said, “I
her voice. He said, “As I see it, there are         want to talk to the State troopers. . . .
only two things you can do. You can wait            Hello, police? This is the girl you are
and call again in the morning, or you can           hunting for the governor’s murder. Do you
go ahead and tell me your troubles.”                want me to surrender? If so, will you
         “Who are you?” she asked.                  come to a farmhouse five miles south of
         “Monk,” the voice explained. “The          the airport and half a mile east of the
full name is Lieutenant Colonel Andrew              highway?”
Blodgett Mayfair. I’m one of Doc Savage’s                     Lion slipped out of the farmhouse
five assistants.”                                   without being observed. She heard a
         Lion deliberated. This was a               motor roar, saw the patrol leave the
serious matter; it was no exaggeration to           airport in rocketing haste.
say that her life was at stake. It wasn’t                     It was not much trouble for Lion to
any kind of job for assistants to be                reach the large plane. She lost no time. A
handling; Lion wanted the main guy                  glance showed her that the craft must
himself.                                            have been recently refueled; the tanks
         “When did you say Doc Savage               were full. She worked with the starter
would be back?” she asked.                          mechanism until the motor whooped into
         “In the morning,” Monk explained.          life.
“And there’s absolutely no way of getting                     Two men ran out of the office,
in touch with him until then.”                      yelled something she could not hear. She
         “I’ll try to tough it out,” Lion said,     gunned the engine, sent a cloud of dust
and hung up.                                        rolling over the men. Wheel brakes
                                                    released, the ship sped across the field,
                                                    making a drumming sound.
         LION ELLISON started to leave                        Lion had once been an aviation
the grocery store, stopped just inside the          bug, and she’d had about fifty hours of
door, watched a car of the State police             solo. That was enough. She hauled back
cruise slowly by. The two officers in the           on the wheel, took the ship off. The craft
machine were looking at everything very             was very fast; within a few seconds, the
intently. “Hunting me,” Lion thought, and           airport range station with its radio
shivered.                                           transmitter towers was below her.
    xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx THE   EVIL GNOME xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx 11

         There was haze, with visibility                   “Great snakes!” the manager
limited to about ten miles, so a very few         gulped, and leaned weakly on the
minutes put her out of sight.                     counter.
                                                           At this point, the operator came to
                                                  the counter, walking angrily. He leveled
         THE State police who had taken           an arm at the business scattered out on
the wild-goose chase to an imaginary              the counter.
farmhouse were not pleased when they                       “Who got them messages off my
found out what had happened.                      spindle?” he demanded. “Hell, they
         The story naturally came smoking         haven’t all been sent! Can’t you see
out in the newspapers.                            they’re not marked off?”
         It must have been seven                           The manager swallowed twice,
o’clock—the sun had been down less                nervously loosened his necktie. “Did you
than an hour—when a wizened little man            see that queer-looking little man who was
appeared at the local telegraph office.           just in here?” he asked.
Sticking out of his pocket was the                         “Ain’t paid to look at customers,”
newspaper which contained the story of            said the exasperated operator.
Lion Ellison’s escape by airplane. The                     “If I didn’t know there wasn’t such
item referred to Lion as “the unidentified        a thing,” muttered the manager, “I’d say
murderess.”                                       that shriveled guy was one.”
         “I would like,” he said prissily, “to             “One what?”
receive a record of all telegrams sent this                “A he-witch, I would call it,” said
afternoon.”                                       the manager grimly.
         “I’m sorry,” said the manager, “but               It was possibly thirty minutes later
the last time I heard, we weren’t showing         when the long-distance operator in the
our sent messages without a court order.”         telephone       office   had    a    peculiar
         “I would show them to me if I            experience. She didn’t realize just how
were you,” said the shriveled man.                peculiar the experience was, due to the
         The manager had sized up his             fact that she had a heavy date for a dance
visitor and didn’t like him. There was            after she got off work, and she was giving
something spooky about the fellow. The            that some pleasant thought.
impression was not one that could be                       She missed her pad of toll tickets,
easily defined, yet it was pronounced.            the record of long-distance calls that had
         “Get a court order, buddy,” the          been made that day. “Now I’ll catch it,”
manager said. “Or else quit bothering             she thought.
me.”                                                       But she found the call ships lying
         The shriveled man shrugged, but          on the edge of a desk nearby.
there was a slyly quizzical expression on                  It was probably fortunate for the
his face, a look that was half gnome and          telephone operator’s peace of mind that
half fox. He turned and walked out                she did not try to figure out how the slips
through the door.                                 got there. She presumed the chief
         The telegraph-office manager             operator or someone had picked them up
grinned in relief.                                and left them there.
         Then he all but screamed.                         A bit later, the wizened little old
         Because there, suddenly and              man sat on one of the benches on the
inexplicably on the counter, directly under       courthouse lawn. His gnome-like vaguely-
his nose, was a heap of telegrams which           sinister visage was pensive. He muttered
were marked as sent. The afternoon’s              under his breath, like a witch making
business. A moment before the business            verbal mumbo-jumbo over an evil brew.
had been in the cubbyhole under the               He mumbled, “So she telephoned Doc
counter, with some of the messages                Savage. That is too bad. There was no
hanging on the spindle back at the                need of them both dying, but it will have to
operator’s desk. Now the whole thing had          be. Too bad.”
appeared on the counter.
12   xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx DOC   SAVAGE xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

              Chapter IV                                    Lion moved toward the back of
            THE TRAPPERS                            the lobby.
                                                            The elevator, she discovered,
         LION ELLISON had never seen                was an automatic one. There was no
New York City before. She looked at the             operator. There were merely two buttons,
metropolis, all splendid in the morning             one labeled “Up,” the other “Down.” And a
sun, and thought, “My friend, you’re lucky.         small plaque over the “Up” button said,
Yes, you are.” Which was a fact, because            “Clark Savage, Jr.,” with modest letters.
she was not in truth a very expert pilot,           Lion shrugged and gave the button a
and she had flown twelve hundred miles              poke.
or so from Missouri and hit New York City                   The door shut silently and the
square on the nose, and she hadn’t had a            cage raised upward so swiftly that Lion
map.                                                had to swallow and pump at her ears with
         She was wondering where to                 her palms to equalize the pressure. Then
land. Locating an airport without a map             the cage stopped. The door, however, did
would be a difficult proposition; anyway,           not open.
she wasn’t sure she wanted to set down                      Lion jumped when a voice
on an airport—an alarm would doubtless              addressed her from overhead.
have been broadcast for her and the                         “If you will remove that knife from
plane     she     had       purloined.     She      your purse,” the voice said, “you will be
compromised by circling and flying away             admitted.”
from the town and landing in a pasture. It
wasn’t as smooth a pasture as it had
appeared from the air, and she left the                      LION glanced upward, saw where
plane standing on its nose with the                 the voice came from—there was a small
undercarriage somewhat askew. She                   loud-speaker, hitherto unnoticed, in the
would have to pay for the damage                    cage roof. But just how the unseen
somehow—another thorn in the brier                  speaker had known there was a knife in
patch.                                              her handbag was a dumfounding mystery.
         The money she had left took her                     “Who are you?” Lion asked
to New York, to Grand Central Station,              uncertainly.
which was the busiest spot she’d yet                         “Ham Brooks, an associate of
seen. Subways were mysteries to her;                Doc Savage,” the voice said. “What about
she promptly got lost in one. It was eleven         the knife?”
o’clock before she arrived in front of the                   Lion said, “I’ll put my purse on the
skyscraper which housed Doc Savage’s                floor.”
headquarters.                                                She did so. At once the elevator
         She’d read about this particular           doors opened and the young woman
building, so she’d been prepared to be              stepped out into a modestly decorated
awed. But not prepared quite sufficiently.          hallway, the walls of which were
It was exactly what they’d said it was.             completely blank except for one door, a
Stupendous. Eighty-six stories it towered,          bronze-colored panel which was labeled,
not counting the dirigible mooring mast             Clark Savage, Jr., in plain letters.
that some dreamer architect had added to                     There was another small door at
the top, and which had proved about as              the side of the elevator, and from this a
useful as a pair of tonsils.                        man appeared. He was a lean, thin-
         She walked into the place and              waisted man with good shoulders, the
was awed by its modernistic magnitude.              wide mouth of an orator, and a high
The size, if nothing else, made the lobby           forehead.
breath-taking. There was a phalanx of                        Lion pointed at the elevator. “You
elevators.                                          got an X ray on that thing or something?”
         Lion went to a uniformed elevator          she demanded. “How did you know I had
starter, asked, “Doc Savage’s office?”              the knife?”
         “Private lift in the rear,” the starter             “X ray is right,” Ham Brooks said.
said.                                                        “What!”
    xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx THE   EVIL GNOME xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx 13

          Ham said, “We take a few                telephone calls—as indeed they recorded
precautions around this place.” He                all calls to the headquarters—and that he
studied her with growing approval and             had recognized her voice. “Conjecture,”
Lion began to get the impression that he          he explained. “You made a fast trip to
was susceptible to feminine charms.               New York.”
“Something we can do for you?” he                           Lion said, “I stole a plane.”
asked.                                                      “We knew that.”
          “Doc Savage,” Lion said. “I want                  Lion stared. “How?”
to see him.”                                                “Newspapers.”
          Ham studied her, his intent eyes                  “Then I expect I had better be
searching and weighing her. Then he               telling my story,” Lion said grimly.
walked into the elevator, picked up the                     She proceeded to tell everything
handbag which contained the knife. “This          that had happened to her from the time
way,” he said.                                    she read the newspaper want ad for a
          They passed through the door            woman animal trainer. She spoke
with the unobtrusive lettering into what          haltingly at first, but more smoothly as she
seemed to be a reception room furnished           found her confidence in the big bronze
with a conventional array of comfortable          man increasing.
leather chairs, a deep rug, and two                         Having finished, she looked
unusual items—an enormous inlaid table            levelly at Doc Savage.
that must be worth a small fortune, and a                   “If I’m guilty of murdering the
huge steel safe.                                  governor, I’ll take my medicine,” she said
          And a moment later, Lion was            tensely. “I’m certain enough that I’m not
facing Doc Savage. She knew instantly             guilty to take my chances. Will you help
that this man was Doc Savage. She                 me?”
knew, too, that the magazine article which                  The bronze man nodded without
she had read long ago had not                     delay. “We will,” he said.
exaggerated as much as she supposed.
          The Man of Bronze, the article
had called Doc Savage. It was                              THE bronze man glanced at Ham,
appropriate. Tropical suns had given his          added, “We might listen to her story
skin a bronzed hue that time and                  again, so that she can tell if she left
civilization    probably     would    never       anything out.”
eradicate. There were other impressive                     Ham nodded, and they passed
things about him—his eyes, for instance.          through a room which seemed to be a
They were strange golden eyes, like pools         library, containing a great array of
of flake-gold always stirred by tiny winds.       ponderous-looking scientific tomes and
Powerful eyes, with something hypnotic            entered a laboratory which Lion, although
about them.                                       she was no scientist, could see was
          Only when Doc Savage was close          equipped with remarkable completeness.
to her did Lion realize his size. He was a                 From    a    complicated-looking
giant, but of such symmetrical muscularity        contrivance, Ham removed what might
that there was nothing abnormal about his         have been a reel of steel wire. He placed
appearance; one had to see him standing           this on another device, explaining, “Your
close to something to which his size could        conversation was picked up by concealed
be compared to realize how big he was.            microphone and recorded on this wire
          His voice was low, resonant, and        with magnetism.”
gave an impression of controlled power.
“You are the young woman who                               (Magnetic recording of speech
telephoned last night from Missouri.”             upon hardened steel wire has long been
          Lion asked, “How did you know           feasible. There is a possibility that this will
that?” in a startled voice.                       eventually replace the conventional form
          The bronze man’s flake-gold eyes        of recording by a needle digging a groove
and       metallic    features     remained       in wax.)
inscrutable. He did not explain that his
aids had made a recording of her
14   xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx DOC   SAVAGE xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

          Lion bent and listened to the                       “Absolutely.”     Lion    made      a
playback, somewhat self-conscious at                hopeless gesture. “But what help is it?
first, giving more attention to her voice           The letter doesn’t tell anything, except
than to what she had said. But soon she             that my brother had found out about
realized the purpose of letting her listen to       something strange and incredible and
what she had said—she began to think of             horrible.”
things that she had left out, small items                     Doc Savage glanced at Ham
for the most part.                                  Brooks, who had been sitting in on the
          When the playback finished, Ham           conference, but saying nothing. Ham said,
said, “As a lawyer, I have frequently found         “Her brother found out something, was
this method of stimulating the memory to            killed to silence him. And Miss Ellison,
be valuable. Do you recall anything                 here was framed because it was feared
important that you left out?”                       her brother had told her what he had
          Lion    considered.     “I   barely       learned.”
mentioned my brother,” she said. “I . . . er                  Ham was enthusiastic about his
. . . possibly should have given you more           theory, plunged on. “You know what my
detail about his character.”                        guess would be? Just this: They killed her
          “How do you mean?” Doc Savage             brother, then searched his belongings and
asked quietly.                                      found this unfinished letter. They figured
          Lion had the courage to call a            maybe it was a false start he’d made on a
spade a spade, even if the matter was as            letter which he’d finally written and sent to
intimate as a member of her family.                 Miss Ellison. So—presto! They had to get
          “Neddy,” she said, “wasn’t above          rid of Lion—Miss Ellison. There you are—
becoming involved with crooks.”                     Motive and everything.”
          “You have any reason to believe                     Lion shook her head grimly. “It
he was a crook himself?”                            isn’t that simple. There’s something eerie
          The girl’s chin went up. “I don’t         and fantastic about it. Something that—I
accuse my brother. He is dead. But he               don’t know how to describe it—is ghostly
was—well, he was always fascinated by               and unearthly.”
the easy money and the grifters who                           Ham smiled confidently, said,
made it around the circus.”                         “Tush, tush. Your imagination, no doubt.”
          “He was traveling with a flying                     “Imagination—nothing!” Lion was
circus?”                                            irritated. “I tell you, that wizened little old
          Lion nodded. “And he was killed.”         man was like . . . like something ugly out
          “His parachute failed to open.”           of a fairy story. I don’t think he’s human.”
          “So the newspapers said,” Lion                      Ham opened his mouth to
admitted grimly. “I have no details. This           answer, but the telephone rang. He
happened only a few days ago. I wrote—I             picked up the instrument. “Yes. . . . You
didn’t have the money to go myself—for              what? . . . Great mackerel! Hold the wire.”
more information, but there had not been                      Ham then looked up and
time for an answer.”                                muttered, “Speaking of the devil—who do
          Doc Savage was thoughtful, and            you think Monk just caught trying to make
Lion watched him. She was finding it easy           a sneak up here? No one else but our
to talk to him, discovering that his quiet          friend whom we were discussing—the
manner made her feel better. The bronze             mysterious runt.”
man said, “Do you still have the package                      Lion stared. “You mean—”
of your brother’s belongings which the                        “None other. At least, the way
small, shriveled man gave you?”                     Monk describes him, he’s the shriveled
          “Here.” Lion had retained the             little man who handed over your brother’s
bundle in spite of all her troubles.                belongings in Missouri.”
          She opened it and they examined                     “But how did he get here?” Lion
the contents.                                       ejaculated.
                                                              “That is what we will find out,”
                                                    Doc Savage said grimly. “Tell Monk to
       DOC indicated the letter. “This his          hold him.”
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        Ham spoke into the telephone,                      They put their ears to the door
looked up to say, “Monk says he’s got him         and listened. They could hear their
locked in a room.”                                prisoner making rather strange sounds.
                                                           Renny opened the door a crack.
                                                  An unusual sight confronted them.
           Chapter V                                       The wizened little man—he was
     THE MYSTERIOUS RUNT                          as hideous as any frightening dwarf ever
                                                  concocted by a movie director for a horror
        MONK had caught the wizened,              film—was standing in the middle of the
gnomelike little old man sneaking into the        room making gestures with his hands,
private garage which Doc Savage                   sounds with his mouth. The hand motions
maintained in the skyscraper basement.            were meaningless. Or were they? He
From this garage, a private—it was                seemed to be molding something in the
secret,    also—elevator       led   up    to     air.
headquarters.                                              “Acts like an African witch doctor,”
        Monk had accosted the little man.         Monk grunted.
The latter had instantly drawn a revolver,                 The little man stopped and stared
which Monk had taken away from him                at them. His eyes had a blazing intensity.
with great alacrity.                                       He said, “You will release me at
        Monk grinned at his companion.            once!”
“You figure we caught a crook?”                            His demand was not loud, but it
        “Holy cow! Why else would he be           contained such firmness that Monk
sneaking in here?”                                involuntarily stepped back, then caught
        The speaker was a third member            himself and blocked the door. “No dice,”
of Doc’s squad of associates, Colonel             Monk growled. “Doc is gonna be down
John Renny Renwick. He had been with              here in a minute. He’ll have a raft of
Monk when the capture was made.                   questions.”
        Now Renny walked over to an                        “I will answer no questions!”
instrument panel and made some                    snapped their remarkable captive.
adjustments with switches and knobs.                       “Did you ever see truth serum
The basement garage, like the entire              work?” Monk leered at him. “Doc has his
skyscraper         headquarters,         was      private stock of the stuff.”
cobwebbed with burglar alarms; one of                      The small man drew himself up.
these alarms was responsible for their            The intensity of his passionate rage was
capture of the marauder.                          around him like heat. “You fools! Don’t
        Renny, in a rumbling voice that           you realize that you are dealing with no
was like an agitated bear in a deep cave,         mere man? That I am no ordinary mortal
said, “Now, listen. . . . Isn’t that our new      such as you?”
mascot doing some yelling?”                                Monk and Renny discovered they
                                                  were     getting     uncomfortable.    They
                                                  exchanged glances, suddenly stepped
        THEY had heaved the gnomelike             back, and slammed the steel door on their
prisoner into a tool room just off the            prisoner.
garage. This room, about the size of a                     There was a small aperture in the
Pullman compartment, was windowless,              door for ventilating purposes. The voice of
made of concrete reinforced with steel. It        their captive, rather muffled, came
was sometimes used as a vault.                    through this.
        The door was a great slab of the                   “I am going to demonstrate what I
same kind of steel that goes into the             mean,” the little man was telling them, “by
construction of battleship gun turrets.           disappearing from this room.”
        Monk opened the door. He jerked                    The room was in effect a vault.
his head back, slammed the door.                  The threat of the little man was ridiculous.
        “Little runt tried to knock my            Both Monk and Renny suddenly began
brains out with his shoes,” he complained.        laughing.
16   xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx DOC   SAVAGE xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

         Monk slammed home the big bar                          Chapter VI
which secured the steel door on the                           THE JAIL TRAIL
         “I’d like to see him disappear                        DOC SAVAGE owned a matter-
now,” Monk said grimly.                             of-fact temperament. He was not easily
                                                    startled nor readily confused; he had
                                                    trained himself to look deeply and with
         DOC SAVAGE, Ham Brooks, and                suspicion into anything that appeared
Lion Ellison arrived in the basement                supernatural,        to   search   for   an
garage. The girl was excited, and Doc               explanation. He took no stock in ghostly
Savage outwardly emotionless. Ham was               manifestations or magic in any form.
accompanied by Chemistry, his pet                   Monk and Ham and Renny were almost
chimpanzee, which bore a startling                  as hard-headed in these matters as their
resemblance to Monk. Ham had originally             bronze chief.
acquired the animal to aggravate Monk,                         Monk and Renny finally got their
had later become quite attached to the              astonishment sufficiently in hand to give a
pet.                                                coherent explanation of what had
         Doc asked, “Where is the                   occurred. The others listened.
prisoner?”                                                     Renny finished, “We caught him;
         Monk pointed at the steel door.            we locked him in there; he said he was
“In there.”                                         gonna vanish—and he did.”
         “Well, trot him out,” Ham said                        Monk scowled belligerently at
peevishly, “and we’ll see who he is and             Ham. “And don’t try to tell me it didn’t
what he wanted.”                                    happen.”
         Monk unbarred the steel door,                         Lion Ellison now shook her head
opened it and stepped inside. He popped             slowly. “There is something weird about
out within a split second. Coffee cups              that little man. I told you that.”
would hardly have fitted over his eyes.                        “A man is a man.” Monk muttered,
         “He done it!” Monk squalled.               “and one of them ain’t much more weird
         Only Renny understood the exact            than the next one.”
significance of what Monk said. Renny                          Ham said, “Except that this one
roared, “Holy cow! He couldn’t have!” and           could vanish out of the equivalent of a
dived into the little room which had such           bank vault.”
solid walls of steel-reënforced concrete.                      Doc Savage moved away from
The big-fisted engineer floundered around           the group. The bronze man had hardly
in the gloom. “Bring a flashlight,” he              spoken, and his apparent unconcern had
yelled.                                             caused Lion to glance at him once or
         Ham walked into the cubicle, said,         twice. She seemed dubious about his
“Plenty of light comes in from the garage.          ability; it didn’t seem to her that he was
There’s nothing in here. Why all the                even interested in the matter.
fuss?”                                                         The young woman drew Ham
         “Nobody here—that’s just it.”              aside and said in a low voice, “He doesn’t
Renny sounded as if he was about to                 seem very enthusiastic about this.”
strangle.                                                      “Who, Doc?” Ham smiled wryly.
         The significance of the thing              “You don’t know him yet. If you mean that
dawned on Ham and the others. They                  he isn’t excited—I don’t believe I ever saw
stared incredulously. Ham demanded.                 him really excited.”
“You mean to tell us you had the man                           Without offering any explanation
locked in there? You’re not kidding?”               of what he was doing, Doc Savage left the
         Monk made gasping noises,                  garage. He evidently went up to the
finally managed, “I tell you the mysterious         eighty-sixth floor laboratory, because he
runt did just what he said he’d do—                 returned with a number of bottles, some
disappeared!”                                       empty and some containing chemicals,
                                                    and an atomizer, litmus paper, and other
                                                    devices which Lion didn’t recognize. He
    xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx THE   EVIL GNOME xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx 17

entered the vaultlike room where the              out of that cannon was similar to what
prisoner had staged his miracle. He               happened to them now.
squirted chemicals in the air with the                      Eventually, the bullet of a car
atomizer, fooled around with the litmus           stopped. They pulled themselves together
paper, and in general—as far as Lion              and got out. They had gone a long
could see—accomplished nothing.                   distance through a tunnel.
         “It’s got him fooled,” she                         Lion glanced about; her mouth
whispered to Ham.                                 and       eyes     became       round  with
         Doc Savage’s bronzed features            astonishment. She stood inside a vast
were inscrutable, although his flake-gold         building of brick-and-steel construction
eyes seemed more animated. “Probably              that looked strong enough for a fortress.
we should go to Missouri,” he said, “and          There was an assortment of planes
pick up the mystery there.”                       ranging from a huge streamlined thing
         Lion Ellison had discovered              that had speed in every line to a small
already that she was going to be                  bug of a ship that had no wings whatever,
somewhat puzzled by Doc Savage. She               only windmill blades that probably whirled.
had expected something spectacular of             All of the planes were amphibian, she
the bronze man, and nothing of that               noticed; they could operate from land or
nature had occurred. Or had it? His aids          water. There were boats as well, lying in
had captured the wizened little man, it           slips. She saw a small yacht; she stared
was true.                                         in astonishment at a peculiar-looking
         Lion soon got a fresh dose of the        submarine which was equipped with a
awe which had overwhelmed her when                protective framework of big steel sledlike
she first arrived at the bronze man’s             runners. A submarine for going under the
headquarters. She began to realize that           polar ice, she realized suddenly.
the establishment was more unusual than                     “Why—this is amazing!” she
she had imagined. Doc Savage gave low-            exclaimed.
voiced orders; she overheard enough to                      “Doc’s hangar and boathouse,”
know that he was directing the others to          Monk explained. “On the Hudson River
pack light equipment which could be               water front. From the outside, looks like
carried by plane. So they were going to           an ordinary brick warehouse.”
fly. She presumed they would take a taxi                    Lion stared at Doc Savage. She
to an airport—but she got a surprise.             had completely revised her opinion of the
         Because Doc Savage had                   bronze man.
enemies, and these occasionally watched                     “All of this must cost a mint of
the skyscraper exits and made trouble, he         money,” she said. “Where does he get all
had arranged a unique and fast method of          of what it takes?”
travel from      the eighty-sixth floor                     Monk grinned. “Oh, he picks up a
establishment to the hangar where he              penny here and there.”
kept his planes. This conveyance was a                      “Maybe I’d better tell him I’m
contraption which Monk called the “go-            broke. I can’t pay for all of this.”
devil,” and other things not so polite. Lion                Monk smiled again. The source of
was introduced to the device. She found           Doc Savage’s wealth was a mystery, the
herself stepping into a cylindrical, bullet-      solution known only to the bronze man
shaped car which was padded, very                 and his five associates. Doc Savage had
crowded once all were inside, and which           a fabulous gold hoard deep in the
traveled in a shaftlike tube. Doc threw a         unexplored mountains of a remote Central
lever. There was a roaring whoosh! and            American republic—a vein of gold that
other phenomena.                                  was almost a mother lode, and watched
         In a circus where Lion once              over by descendants of the ancient
worked, there had been a gentleman who            civilization of Maya. On any seventh day,
made his living by being shot out of a            at high noon, Doc Savage had but to
cannon into a net. He had tried to interest       broadcast a few words in the Mayan
Lion in the projectile job, and she’d tried it    tongue—a language which they had
out before hastily declining. Being shot          reason to believe no civilized person other
                                                  than themselves understood—and the
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message would be picked up in the lost                       Lion indicated the wrinkles. “You
valley. Days later, a mule train loaded             sure these will come out?”
with gold would come out of the jungle.                      “Easily.”
The source of wealth had come to Doc                         Lion said, “They’d better!” rather
Savage as a result of an unusual                    fiercely. The bronze man had applied a
adventure; the hoard was his to draw                chemical to her face; it had felt like her
upon only as long as he used the wealth             tongue after taking a bite of green
in his strange career of righting wrongs            persimmon.
and punishing evildoers.                                     The remainder of the flight was
         “All aboard,” Renny called.                uneventful, except for speed. The pace of
         They used a plane of moderate              the plane was breath-taking. They were
size and great speed. It taxied out through         very high, but visibility was good, and Lion
the electrically opened doors of the big            picked out Columbus, Indianapolis,
warehouse-hangar,       bounced      across         Springfield, in faster order than she had
Hudson River waves for a while, then took           believed possible. “I wouldn’t have
the air.                                            believed this,” she said.
                                                             “It’s not so remarkable,” Monk
                                                    said; then reminded her, “The regular
         THEY had flown across most of              passenger line makes it from New York to
Pennsylvania when Lion gave a violent               St. Louis in about six hours.”
start, sprang up, hurried forward and                        Lion watched below. She saw
clutched Doc Savage’s shoulder.                     Hannibal, Missouri, sprawled on the
         “They’ll recognize me!” she                banks of the Mississippi about which Mark
gasped. “The police. That picture. I can’t          Twain had written so much. Later she
go back to Missouri.”                               pointed, said, “There’s Kirksville.”
         The bronze man had been flying.                     Doc Savage landed, putting the
He glanced at the instruments, noted the            plane down with hardly a jar. They taxied
altitude was above eighteen thousand,               toward the edge of the field, where the
then threw a lever which connected up               office and the red-and-white beacon tower
the robot pilot. He slid out of the pilot’s         stood. Doc cut the motors.
seat.                                                        A taxicab was parked near the
         “We brought along a make-up kit            office, the driver standing beside the
to take care of that,” he explained.                machine. “Wanna cab?” the driver called.
         “Disguise me?”                                      “You bet,” Monk shouted.
         “Yes.”                                              The driver got into the cab, rolled
         Lion shook her head. “We used              the machine toward them, and stopped
make-up around the circus, so I know                when he was very close. Three men—
something about it. I doubt if you can              they had been concealed in the back
make a disguise effective.”                         seat—scrambled out.
         “We can try,” the bronze man said                   The three men had guns and
quietly.                                            badges that either said, “Sheriff,” or
         Twenty minutes later, Lion                 “Deputy Sheriff.”
examined herself thoroughly in the mirror.                   “I’m sheriff of the county,” one
She saw a little old lady with grayish hair,        man explained. “Just take it easy while we
pale-blue eyes that were rather staring,            look you over.”
discolored teeth—and wrinkles. The gray                      Other, armed deputies came out
hair was the result of dye; she had                 of the office one after another until a
expected that. The changed color of her             round dozen had appeared. Some had
eyes—pale-blue instead of warm-brown—               revolvers; more of them carried rifles and
was the result of colored caps of                   shotguns.
nonshatter optical glass which fitted on                     “A regular army of duck hunters,”
the eyeball; Lion had heard of invisible            Monk muttered.
glasses of that character, so she was not                    “Shut up,” the sheriff told him.
too surprised. But the wrinkles bothered
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                   The machine stopped very close—and three men
                     who had been in the back seat scrambled out!

       A man brought a fingerprint outfit.                “You’re all under arrest,” he said.
They took Lion’s prints, compared them            “The charge is accessory after a murder,
with some they had in their possession.           shielding   a    murderess,     and    the
Then the sheriff made a short speech.             prosecuting attorney will figure out what
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            Chapter VII                             you helped disguise her. We figure that
         MYSTERY MURDER                             hooks you up with complicity in the
         THE jail had been built a long                       “We’re innocent,” Renny rumbled
time ago, Monk concluded after a round              angrily.
of his cell, during which he gave the bars                    The sheriff snorted. “I suppose
of each window a thorough shaking. “Age             the girl is innocent, too.”
has just toughened this place,” he                            “I am,” Lion snapped.
decided.                                                      The sheriff snorted again.
         They had been searched and                           “You’re all so innocent,” he said
confined to the cell, and on the other side         grimly, “that they’ll probably hang you.”
of the bars now stood the sheriff, his
deputies, some city police and the
prosecuting attorney. The spectators were                    THE sheriff returned to his office
staring at the prisoners, particularly Doc          in the courthouse, put his feet on his
Savage, with much interest, but no                  desk, lit a cigar and engaged in some
sympathy.                                           self-satisfied contemplation. He was not
         Ham walked over, shook the                 unaware that he had some famous
heavy door indignantly and shouted,                 prisoners in his jail, but he was
“Listen, you guys, don’t you know who               determined not to be swayed by that. The
you’ve locked up?”                                  law was the law, as far as he was
         “Said he was Doc Savage,” the              concerned.
sheriff answered, unimpressed.                               He did some pondering about the
         “Doesn’t that mean anything to             tip that had enabled him to make the
you?” Ham yelled.                                   arrest. It was a telephone tip, and the
         The sheriff filled his pipe and            voice had impressed the sheriff as being
struck a match without any show of                  somewhat creepy.
concern. “You fellows trying to tell me                      The sheriff now had a visitor. He
how important you are?”                             was a shriveled little gentleman, very
         Ham peered at him and decided it           dapperly dressed, with a camera flung
was hopeless to try to bluff the man. Ham           over his shoulder, a sheaf of copy paper
made aimless gestures with his hands—               in one hand and his vest pocket full of
he was at a loss without the sword-cane             cigars and pencils.
in his fingers—and finally threw up his                      “I’m Marty McNew from the St.
arms in disgust and turned to the others.           Louis Daily Examiner,” the visitor
         “What’ll we do now?” he groaned.           explained. “Understand you’ve arrested
         “We’d better think it over,” Monk          the girl who murdered the governor? How
said.                                               about it?”
         “Nope, let’s try something you can                  “Hope so,” the sheriff said.
do, too,” Ham suggested.                                     “Heard there were some men with
         Monk was too concerned with                her?”
their plight to recognize the insult. It was                 “Fellow named Doc Savage,” the
as solid a jail as he had ever seen. The            sheriff admitted. “Also three others named
sheriff was not an impressionable                   Ham Brooks, Monk Mayfair, and Renny
individual, so there was small likelihood of        Renwick.”
his releasing them. The prosecuting                          “You going to hold them all in
attorney also looked as if he was                   jail?”
ambitious.                                                   “Hell, yes!” the sheriff said. “They
         The sheriff rapped on the cell             were helping a murderess, weren’t they?”
door and made a parting announcement.                        The visitor smirked. He asked a
         “The governor of this State was            few more routine questions, presented the
murdered, and that girl has been                    sheriff with cigars, and left.
identified as the murderess,” he                             The sheriff was thoughtful after
explained. “You were with her. We found             the fellow left. “Something familiar about
a make-up kit in your plane, so we know             that man,” he thought, “but I can’t quite
                                                    place it.” He puffed at the cigar, made a
    xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx THE   EVIL GNOME xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx 21

blue fog of smoke, and suddenly bolted                      THE banker, Ellery P. Dimer, had
upright in his chair.                             been a leading citizen of Kansas City for a
          “That was the man who tipped me         long time. He was noted for his charity
off that Doc Savage might show up here            and a benevolent understanding of the
in a plane with the girl!” he exploded.           frailties of human nature. Also he had
          The thought was startling, so           what was generally considered to be one
much so that he abruptly discarded it as          of the widest circle of acquaintances of
too fantastic for consideration. It’s my          any man in the State. He knew everyone,
imagination, that’s all, the sheriff thought.     had been everywhere. He owned a lusty,
          After he had left the sheriff’s         hail-fellow-well-met personality, which
office, the wizened little man entered a          was sometimes attributed to the fact that
car and drove out into the country. The           he had once owned a circus, and for
quick darkness of early winter had fallen         years had been in the carnival business.
when he stopped his car close beside a            Even now, he was reported to have
deserted farmhouse.                               interest in several circus outfits.
          The car, without giving that                      But Ellery P. Dimer was a good
appearance, was bodied with armor plate,          banker.
had windows of thick gelatinous-collodian                   That morning, when he dressed,
sandwich glass which was the nearest              he shoved an efficient-looking automatic
thing to bulletproof that science had yet         pistol in his coat pocket. His wife noticed.
developed, and the tires were filled with                   “Why are you carrying a gun, Ell?”
sponge rubber instead of air. The little          she asked anxiously.
man was careful not to roll the window                      Dimer      shrugged,       grinned
down very far.                                    somewhat too expansively. “Just taking it
          “How behaves the world?” he             down to one of the bank messengers.
asked.                                            Think nothing of it, darling.”
          “Without understanding for the                    His wife was not entirely satisfied.
unseen man,” a voice answered him from            It seemed to her that he had been worried
inside the rattletrap of a farmhouse.             for several days past.
          Evidently this was a password.                    Ellery Dimer drove to the bank
The little man seemed satisfied.                  himself, although he usually let his
          “They are in jail, all of them,” he     chauffeur perform this task. He took a
said. “That is unfortunate, but I do not see      roundabout route.
how it can be helped. They were fools                       He went immediately to the
who did not understand. They would not            collection department, which maintained a
have listened to me.”                             highly efficient group of information-
          There was brief silence inside the      getters who were called collectors by
farmhouse, then a voice asked, “You               courtesy, but were more in the nature of
have something further in mind?”                  private detectives.
          The little man shook his head in                  “You got anything on those three
the darkness. He appeared sad.                    men?” he asked.
          “I have knowledge of a banker in                  He was handed three envelopes,
Kansas City,” he said. “His name is Ellery        each of which bore a name. The names
P. Dimer. You know about him, I believe.”         were Burdo Brockman, Elmo Handy
          “Yes.”                                  Anderson, and Danny Dimer.
          “It is unfortunate about him, too,”               “Are those the three?” the head of
the little man said, his voice more               the collectors asked.
macabre than usual. “It seems that he is                    “That’s them.”
going        to     die    under       strange              Banker Dimer shoved his jaw out
circumstances.”                                   grimly and carried the three envelopes to
          Having completed this rather            his private office. He opened them,
enigmatic conversation, the shriveled man         studied the contents at length. Only once
drove away.                                       did he speak, and then it was a single,
                                                  explosive word.
                                                            “Hideous!” he said.
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          Later he snapped on the                   Kansas City’s very effective city jail. The
interoffice communicator and summoned               charge was murder.
his bank officers, as well as the head of                   Another factor did not help.
the collection department and three of his          Examiners discovered a shortage of two
principal operatives. These persons                 hundred thousand dollars in the stock of
assembled in the office.                            cash which should have been in the
          “I’ve called you here,” announced         vaults.
Ellery Dimer, “concerning a matter which
has completely amazed and horrified me.”
          He frowned at them and took a                          Chapter VIII
deep breath.                                                    VAGUE TRAIL
          “I am not going to beat around the
bush,” he said. “This thing came to my                       THE Adair County sheriff—
attention through my half-brother, a man            Kirksville, Missouri, was in Adair County—
by the name of Danny Dimer. I am going              was a conscientious man. When he saw a
to tell you the whole truth, then we are            copy of a Kansas City paper containing
going to decide—”                                   the story of the fantastic death of Banker
          It was then that his throat got cut       Ellery P. Dimer, he went to the
from ear to ear, the knife appeared in his          prosecuting attorney.
chest and he began screaming.                                “That kind of puzzles me,” he
                                                             “Puzzles you how?”
         ELLERY DIMER did not emit                           “Remember how this girl insists
much of a scream. Mostly it was gurgle.             she has never been anywhere near the
And a thin horrible crimson spray flew              capitol in Jefferson City, and didn’t even
over some of those assembled in the                 know the governor?”
room. An assistant cashier fainted without                   “This Lion Ellison, you mean?”
making a noise.                                              “Yes.”
         The      murder     was       utterly               “I don’t see any connection.”
impossible.                                                  “I just had a hunch.” The sheriff
         Dimer had stood there, unharmed            picked up the paper, added, “Think I’ll let
and speaking firmly. Then his throat was            ‘em look at this. Might come to
open and leaking. The knife was sticking            something.”
out of his heart.                                            He walked over to the jail and
         The dead man fell to the floor.            handed the newspaper to Doc Savage.
         One of the collectors folded over          The bronze man read the item about the
a wastebasket and was sick. Every face              banker’s murder, but his metallic features
in the room had drained. For moments                did not change expression.
there were no sounds but those made by                       “Know anything about that?” the
the man draped over the wastebasket.                sheriff asked.
         Eventually they collected their                     “Nothing worth repeating,” Doc
wits and called the police. And the officers        admitted.
were anything but receptive to the story.                    “You haven’t given explanation of
         The homicide officers, having              why you were in company of this girl,” the
listened, held a private consultation.              sheriff said.
         “The story they’re telling can’t be                 “Would it have got us out of jail?”
true,” growled the officer, “therefore                       The sheriff grinned thinly. “Not
they’re lying to cover up.”                         much.”
         “Sure. One of them killed Dimer.                    After the sheriff departed, Doc
The others are lying.”                              Savage passed the newspaper to the
         “Or they all conspired to kill him,        others. Renny scowled, rumbled, “Holy
more likely.”                                       cow!” He stared at Doc Savage. “This
         So all of the bank employees who           helps explain why we were framed into
had been in the room when Ellery Dimer              jail.”
died shortly found themselves inside
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         “We were framed, undoubtedly,”                     As more hours passed, it became
Doc admitted.                                     increasingly evident to the others that Doc
         Monk said, “Sure we were. And            Savage was waiting for something. It was
my bet is that our shrunken little wart of a      late that night—it was as dark outside as
friend is behind it. He tipped off the cops       a bat’s idea of Valhalla—when their
that we would probably land here with             curiosity was satisfied.
Miss Ellison. He found out in New York                      A voice arose from the street that
that we were helping Miss Ellison, so it          ran along one side of the jail. The voice
was natural for him to guess we would             was that of a very tall and very thin man—
head here. So he tipped the cops off, got         in fact, this individual came nearer to
us locked up, and now he’s going ahead            being a walking skeleton than it seemed
with another murder.”                             possible of any man. His clothing fit him
         Ham shook the newspaper                  about as gracefully as sacks draped on a
violently and objected, “But this murder          framework of broom handles.
was impossible! Several people in the                       This ambling string of bones was
same room, all of them claiming they              apparently singing. However, the words
never saw the murder committed. It                he was using were not English; it was
couldn’t have happened.”                          extremely unlikely that they would have
         Monk snorted.                            been intelligible to anyone on the street.
         “Listen, we had that runt locked in      The language was Mayan—the ancient
a room, and he vanished,” the homely              vernacular of Maya which is a lost tongue
chemist reminded. “That couldn’t have             as far as modern civilization is concerned.
happened, either.”                                Doc Savage and his five aids spoke the
         Doc Savage’s regular bronze              lingo, used it to communicate whenever
features were inscrutable, but there was          they did not wish to be understood by
thought behind them. His thoughts were            others.
numerous and complicated, but they                          Monk heard the voice, gave a
amounted to one thing, which was the              leap, jammed his face to the window bars.
simplest fact of all. They could not                        “Johnny!” he exploded.
accomplish anything while locked in jail.                   Lion     Ellison     noticed      the
                                                  excitement, whispered, “What is it?”
                                                            “It’s old Johnny—the walking
         EACH of them had been                    word factory,” Monk explained. “In other
consigned to a different cell, Renny              words, William Harper Littlejohn, the
getting the cubicle which was strongest,          eminent archaeologist and geologist and
probably because his big fists looked so          user of big words, who is one of our
formidable.     There      was      nothing       gang.”
extraordinary about the jail construction. It               Doc Savage went to the window,
was just a good jail that was rather              called down to Johnny in Mayan, asking,
ancient.                                          “Have any trouble?”
         Monk and Ham and Renny                             “What do you mean—sneaking off
glanced thoughtfully at Doc Savage from           on a hot mystery like this without telling
time to time. They were wondering why             me?” Johnny sounded indignant.
the bronze man was remaining in jail.                       “You were in the Painted Desert
They did not doubt that he could escape           country excavating a village of the early
whenever he wanted to—Monk had                    basket-weaver era,” Doc Savage said.
whispered as much to Lion Ellison, but            “We didn’t want to take you away from
the young woman was skeptical.                    your work.”
         “Escape from jail whenever he                      Johnny explained. “I flew up here
wishes?” The girl shook her head                  as soon as I could. This is the first chance
dubiously. “But they searched him. They           that I figured it was safe to talk to you.”
searched all of us when they locked us in                   “Everything set?” Doc asked.
here. What’ll he use for a key?”                            “I’ve got my plane in an oatfield
         Monk looked at her and shook his         out east of town,” Johnny said. “I’ve
own head. “You’re still underestimating           rented four cars, and they’re parked in
Doc,” he assured her.                             four different directions from this jail so we
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can get hold of one regardless of what              himself as an actor. His groans reeked of
direction we have to run.”                          agony and approaching death.
         “Good,” Doc Savage said. “I was                      Big-fisted Renny boomed, “Hey,
waiting on you.”                                    jailer! You better see what’s wrong with
         Doc Savage moved back from the             this guy.”
window abruptly; he had heard a small                         The jailer presumed they were all
sound. The jailer walked up to the cell,            locked in cells, so he had no fears about
muttered, “What the hell was that noise?”           entering the runway. He came in boldly
and finally moved away. After the man               and did not notice Doc until the bronze
had gone, Doc passed low-voiced                     man’s fingers were about his neck.
commands to the others.                                       Doc did not choke him. He
         “We’ll try a break now,” he said.          exerted pressure with fingertips on
“There was not much sense in attempting             strategic nerve centers which produced
it until Johnny showed up, as it was                quick unconsciousness. The man would
reasonable to suppose he would.”                    be out for fifteen or twenty minutes, and
         In searching the bronze man, the           eventually reviving, would have nothing
sheriff had not neglected to pry up his             more than a slight headache to show for
shoe heels to make sure there were no               his experience.
cavities inside. But what the sheriff had                     The fellow had the keys. Doc got
failed to do was cut into, or jab an ice pick       them, worked with the lock until he had
through the heel itself. Such an operation          released his three men and Lion Ellison.
would have shown the little glass-lined                       One other cell was occupied, the
vial which had been cast into the rubber            inmates being petty criminals, who had
when the heel was molded.                           been picked up for local crimes. These
         Doc unscrewed the metal cap of             small-time crooks had been watching with
the vial, exposing a nib of glass which he          silent interest, but now one of them spoke
broke off.                                          grimly. “If this is a break—it won’t stop
         He walked over to the door,                halfway,” he snarled. “Turn us loose, or
began to apply the liquid contents of the           we’ll raise such a hell of a roar that you
tiny vial to the locking bars, a drop at a          won’t have a chance of lamming.”
time. The moment the stuff touched the                        Doc said, “We’ll have to do
metal, pronounced reaction took place.              something about that,” and walked to the
The metal seemed to turn to rust, swelling          cell. He unlocked the door, stepped
as this occurred.                                   inside.
         Monk craned his neck to watch                        There were blow noises, a yip or
the operation in the pale light that came           two of agony, and then quiet. The bronze
from the single bulb in the runway; the             man stepped out and locked the door
homely chemist grinned. He knew the                 again.
chemical composition of the potent acid,                      “They’ll probably revive about the
somewhat corrosive in nature, which                 same time as the jailer,” he said.
quickly disrupted the molecular structure                     They had no trouble walking out
of a metal.                                         of the jail. But once on the street, there
         Later Doc shoved, and the cell             was plenty of difficulty.
door came open.                                               There was a blinding flash of light.
                                                    It turned all the street white, lasted but a
                                                    fraction of a second.
        THE bronze man carried only the                       “Photo flash!” Monk shouted.
one vial of acid; he had used all of it on          “Somebody took a picture.”
the bars. Releasing the others in that                        Monk’s      bellow    flushed     a
fashion was out of the question.                    photographer out of a gloomy doorway
        “Monk,” he suggested, “suppose              across the street. The man ran with long-
you get sick.”                                      legged anxiety to get away from there.
        The bronze man moved rapidly to                       Doc Savage stopped Monk, said,
the outer door, stepped close beside it,            “He just took a picture. Catching him will
pressing to the brick wall. Monk got the            do no good.”
idea and began groaning. Monk fancied
    xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx THE   EVIL GNOME xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx 25

                  The jailor came in boldly and did not notice Doc
                 until the bronze man’s fingers were about his neck!

        Monk growled, “That guy was a                      THE car which Johnny had
newspaperman from a Kansas City sheet.            secured—he’d had a frenzied time renting
I remember seeing him around the jail             four     machines     without    attracting
today.”                                           suspicion, he explained—was an ancient
        They discovered Johnny. The               sedan which deserved a niche in the hall
elongated archaeologist and geologist             of fame because of the noise it made. The
was waving his arms to get their attention.       headlights gave just a little more
They ran toward him.                              illumination than candles.
                                                           Doc Savage asked, “Your plane is
                                                  close to town?”
26   xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx DOC   SAVAGE xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

         “Four or five miles.”                      yourself be seen any more than
         Monk ejaculated, “Hey, we can’t            necessary.”
run away from this thing! We gotta lick it!”                 “Why should I keep out of sight?”
         “There will be enough police in            Johnny asked.
that town,” Doc explained, “to find us if we                 “Because anyone who took the
stayed. Furthermore, we have no clues in            trouble to investigate could learn you
Kirksville.”                                        were a member of our outfit,” Doc
         Monk grumbled, “I don’t see                reminded him.
where we’ve got any clues anywhere.”                         Monk put in, “What he means is
         “There’s that murder of the                that you’re about as inconspicuous as the
banker in Kansas City,” Ham reminded.               Eiffel Tower.”
         “Yeah, and Kansas City is full of                   Johnny sighed resignedly and
cops. Furthermore, the cops would have              remained behind. Doc put the plane into
found any clues that had been lying                 the air, lifting the ship over a hedge, and
around.”                                            pointing it southeast to avoid the
         Johnny got behind the wheel and            government airport at Millard, where the
drove the noisy car to the highway, turned          attendants would doubtless make note of
south and took the first main road left             any passing planes.
turn. The road was blacktopped, and the                      Ham stared back            at the
pale headlights were almost useless.                headlights of Johnny’s old automobile. “I’ll
         “Where are we headed for, Doc?”            bet he keeps under cover—about like a
Renny asked.                                        Fourth of July celebration. He likes his
         “You remember that picture of the          excitement too well.”
governor being murdered?” Doc asked.                         “If he’d been in that jail a couple
         Lion said suddenly, violently, “I’ll       days, he’d be careful,” rumbled big-fisted
never forget it! Last night, all the time I         Renny.
was trying to sleep, I couldn’t see                          Lion Ellison came forward and put
anything else.”                                     a hand on Doc Savage’s arm. Excitement
         “It was taken by an amateur                made her fingers bite at his arm like jaws.
photographer named Dan Meek, 902 First              “Do you have truth serum that you can
Street, in Jefferson City.”                         give this photographer? I’ve got to know
         Ham, astonished, demanded,                 whether he saw me—well, like the picture
“Where did you get that information?”               showed.” Her voice was strained.
         “The newspaper that published                       Monk, who had overheard her,
the picture. The information was in the             said grimly, “We’ll crack that egg without
cutline underneath the photograph.”                 any trouble.”
         The old car gave a great jump,
seemingly trying to swap ends, as Johnny
turned into a farm field. Weeds threshed                      Chapter IX
against the chassis. Johnny had wheeled                THE IMPOSSIBLE MURDER
his plane behind a thicket of scrub oak
and maple trees which grew thickly on a                      OVER Jefferson City, visibility
spot where a house must once have                   was good. They could discern the capitol
stood. Leaves were gone from the                    building, a thing of domed magnificence
maples, but frost-painted foliage was still         like alabaster in the moonlight, with a
thick upon the scrub oaks.                          fountain that was like a jewel before it,
         “Johnny,” Doc said                         then the lazy silver ribbon of the Missouri
         “Yes?”                                     River. And spread behind were the bright
         “You weren’t in that flashlight            sparks of the city lights, with the State
picture the newspaper photographer took.            penitentiary a ponderous mass off to the
There is nothing to prove that you helped           left.
us escape. And if this car is found here,                    Doc said, “We had better avoid
they will know we left by airplane. You             the airport.”
had better return the rented cars, and                       This plane, which was one
keep an eye on things. And don’t let                Johnny had taken to the Painted Desert
    xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx THE   EVIL GNOME xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx 27

on his archaeological expedition, was one         himself     by       concentration      and
of Doc Savage’s ships, hence equipped to          persistence.”
operate from either land or water. Doc
cranked up the landing gear, swung north
and dropped toward the surface of the                      THE building was old and made
river. There were silencers into which he         of brick that an expert readily could have
cut the motor exhausts, reducing them to          told had come out of the kilns before the
a thick whisper.                                  turn of the century. It was a mongrel thing
         A little muddy water spotted the         probably called an apartment house, but
windows and dampened the metal-wing               hardly entitled to the name. There were,
skin when he landed.                              as nearly as Doc and the others could tell,
         “Wonder if Johnny had standard           four apartments, the two upstairs being
equipment aboard?” he said.                       reached by separate wooden stairways
         Standard equipment included a            that could have been improved with paint.
collapsible boat, and a miniature edition of               Doc Savage gestured the others
an outboard motor that had a great deal           up the stairs; bringing up the rear, he
more power than its appearance                    performed two operations. At the bottom
indicated.                                        of the stairs, he sprinkled thickly a grayish
         Monk rummaged for a while,               powder that might have been dust. Well
announced, “Here they are.”                       up the stairs, almost at the top, he
         Three quarters of an hour later,         scattered a different powder, this one
they were dragging the collapsible boat           more yellowish in hue.
upon the baked mud bank of the river not                   Lion watched, whispered, “Where
far from the capitol. They carried the little     did he get—”
craft to a wad of black shadow under a                     “Johnny had some equipment
bush and left it there.                           cases in the plane,” Monk breathed.
         Doc Savage took the lead. The                     “Pipe down,” Ham said in a low
streets were deserted, and seemed                 tone. “I think Dan Meek is at home.
doubly cold because they had been                 There’s a light.”
chilled by their ride on the river. Doc                    Dan Meek had no hair on his
Savage moved well in the lead.                    head. He had very large white teeth, most
         Lion touched Ham’s arm and               of which he displayed in a big grin, but the
asked, “How does he know where we’re              grin loosened at the ends and finally
going?”                                           collapsed as he stared at them.
         “Doc? I’ve seen him do this so                    “You’re under arrest,” Monk
often that it doesn’t surprise me any more.       announced loudly. “We’ve got all the
He probably saw a map of Jefferson City           goods on you. The little runt confessed.”
somewhere at some time.”                                   Monk liked violent actions, and he
         Ham      shook      his    head   in     was not bashful about taking liberties with
admiration. “I think Doc puts more time in        the truth.
on memory development than anything                        The amateur camera fan, Dan
else in that daily exercise routine.”             Meek, staggered back. A wintry
         “Routine?” Lion was puzzled.             expression of horror twisted his face.
         “The aërialists and acrobats with                 “I . . . he confessed—” His voice
a circus have to practice, don’t they?”           was a gurgle.
         “Of course.”                                      Monk followed up, got him by the
         “Well, every day since I’ve known        necktie and yelled, “He laid both murders
him, Doc has expended at least two hours          onto you, the dirty double-crosser.”
on what I guess you would call an                          Dan Meek was losing color;
exercise routine. It’s an amazing thing. He       ordinarily he had a skin that was as
has scientific methods of developing all          tanned as a well-baked loaf of bread, but
his senses and mental abilities. As you           it had almost turned to the hue of
get to know him better, you may be                unbaked dough. His hands made don’t-
inclined to think he’s a little inhuman—but       know-what-to-do motions.
as a matter of fact, he’s an example of the                Monk, really convinced he was
degree to which a man can develop                 getting somewhere, bore the camera bug
28   xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx DOC   SAVAGE xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

back to a chair, sank the man in it, and                     “I don’t know anything about the
jammed their faces close together.                  banker’s killing,” he said levelly. “I
Monk’s face was an object calculated to             remember reading it in the newspapers.
induce considerable fright.                         What’s mysterious about it? They
           “Tell us the truth!” Monk roared.        arrested six or seven people for the
“That’s the only way you can stop ‘em               banker’s murder, didn’t they?”
from hanging you until you are dead.”                        Ham said, “The people in the
           Dan Meek’s mouth behaved like a          room with the banker claim they did not
fish out of water. Monk got him by the              see what killed him.”
throat, lifted him up by pressure and                        Dan Meek snorted. “You believe
choked him somewhat. “Hanging by your               that, I suppose? Hell, of course they saw
neck until you’re dead!” Monk shrieked.             it. They’re probably all in it together.”
“See how it feels!”                                          Doc said, “We had better begin
           Monk figured he was doing very           on the murder of the governor.”
well. But the effect of surprise wore off, so                “Yeah?” Dan Meek scowled.
that Dan Meek got his mental feet back                       “You saw it, didn’t you?”
on solid ground. Two hot spots of color                      “So what?”
flamed in his cheeks. Suddenly he                            “There is no object in becoming
planted a hard right hook on Monk’s nose.           hard-boiled,” Doc said without emotion.
           Monk staggered back, grabbed                      Dan Meek bristled, took a step
his nose and honked and blew in pain.               forward and leveled an arm. His voice
           “I’ll tear ‘im apart!” Monk squalled.    was almost a shout. “You’re not keeping
“I’ll liquidate him!”                               me,” he yelled. “I’ve got you pegged!”
           “On the contrary,” said Dan Meek,                 Monk said, “I’m gonna peg you if
“you’ll behave in a civil manner, or get a          you don’t behave!”
chair broken over your head.”                                Dan Meek was not impressed. “I
                                                    saw your pictures in the newspapers,” he
                                                    shouted. “You were arrested in Kirksville
         DOC SAVAGE had moved to the                for helping the girl who murdered the
far side of the room, where there was a             governor.” He swung, stabbed his arm at
door. He passed on into a dining room               Lion. “And that’s the girl!”
furnished with a dining suite that was very                  Monk said, “We’re gonna have to
new and shiny. Beyond there was a                   get this cookie into a corner.”
kitchen, ordinary except that it contained
a refrigerator so new that the interior had
not yet been unpacked.                                       THE prisoner scowled and shook
         On the rear steps—they were a              his right fist at them. “Get out of here all of
steep wooden tunnel sloping down in the             you!” He did not seem in the least afraid
chill blackness—the bronze man planted              of them. “I’m going to call the police.”
the two powders in the same fashion as                       Doc Savage removed a flat metal
when he had entered. The dust-colored               case from his coat pocket, opened it and
particles on lowermost steps; the                   began placing the contents on the table.
yellowish powder higher.                                     “Truth serum?” Ham asked,
         He went back and took over the             looking at the case.
questioning of Dan Meek. The bronze                          Doc nodded.
man made his voice persuasive, firm                          Dan Meek looked a little less
without being dominating. He said, “We              certain of himself. His hands tightened
are investigating the murder of the                 and he said angrily, “You fools! You can’t
governor, and the murder of a banker                keep me here.”
named Ellery Dimer, in Kansas City, and                      “Can’t keep you—that’s crazy
we would like to have any information you           talk.” Monk glowered at him. “I personally,
can give us.”                                       with one hand, could keep a dozen guys
         Dan Meek had completely                    like you right here.” Then the homely
recovered his self-possession. He stood             chemist narrowed one small eye; an idea
with legs wide apart, hands on his hips.            had hit him. His face sobered.
      xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx THE   EVIL GNOME xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx 29

Doc Savage struck the panel and knocked it open—but Dan Meek was on the floor—dead!

            Abruptly Monk walked to one of                    Ham winced at the tone, looked
  the doors, slammed it, and put his back           bewildered, but went over to the window
  against the panel.                                and made an examination, then said,
            “What’s got into you?” Ham              “They’re locked inside. Both of them.”
  demanded.                                                   Doc Savage had not contracted
            Monk ignored Ham, looked at             Renny’s excitement. He knew the big-
  Renny, and said, “You remember that               fisted engineer had remembered the
  little runt in New York? That room? And           fantastic escape of the wizened little man
  how he got away from us?”                         from the garage vault in their New York
            Renny remembered, and not               skyscraper headquarters. But now
  pleasantly. The big-fisted engineer made          something happened that changed Doc’s
  a jump for the other door and turned the          attitude.
  key in the lock. “Holy cow!” he yelled at                   He had caught an odor—it was
  Ham. “Look at those windows and see if            an odor which was formed through
  they’re locked on the inside!”                    reaction when two powdered chemicals
            Ham stared at him. “You gone            were combined, even in the smallest
  crazy?”                                           quantities; the particular two chemicals in
            “Are the windows locked!” Renny         this case being those he had sprinkled on
  roared.                                           the stairs, front and rear. So someone
30   xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx DOC   SAVAGE xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

had come. Some person—or thing of                               The animal life in Dan Meek’s
substance—which        moved      with   an         body was dead now, so that all physical
absence of noise that was ghastly.                  movement had ceased.
         “Locking the doors and windows                         Ham had been staring fixedly at
won’t help you!” Dan Meek shouted. “It’s            Dan Meek: his eyes had hardly shifted.
too late—”                                          Ham’s legal training and his long practice
         Doc Savage moved then. He put              of law had, probably excepting Doc
all his strength and agility into a violent         Savage, given him a more matter-of-fact
lunge for the door, bowled Monk out of              mind than any of the others. So
the way, struck the panel and knocked it            something like this was a far greater
open. There was a small vestibule, an               shock to him.
outer door. He thrust that open.                                Dan Meek had fallen where he
         It was then that Dan Meek began            had been standing, the two parts of him
to beat the floor with his fists. Doc heard         dropping together, the head tumbling over
the frantic pounding, stopped, ran back             a little to one side. The beating which his
into the room.                                      fists had given the floor had been a death
         Monk, Ham, Renny and the girl              throe or some kind of reflex—much as a
were all staring, reduced to a hypnotic             chicken kicks after its head is pulled off.
silence by what they were seeing.                               Suddenly Ham began speaking.
         It was stupefying, that thing              His voice was toneless, as if it might have
happening before their eyes. Impossible.            been made by one of those new
Their minds refused to accept it.                   machines that make the tones of a voice
         No one moved, really, for                  without any of its human quality.
moments, but it made no difference                              “There was nothing to show how
because, by all practical standards, Dan            it happened,” he said. “We were standing
Meek was dead, his head having been                 here. And then, suddenly, Dan Meek was
separated from his body.                            falling—and his head came off.”
                                                                Ham looked around with an
                                                    utterly foolish grin on his face. “That’s as
              Chapter X                             crazy as anything, isn’t it? It’s silly. A man
            POLICE CHASE                            oughta laugh at it, hadn’t he?”
                                                                Ham’s lips peeled off his teeth.
          LION ELLISON fainted then, and            He began to titter in high falsetto.
went down, her body twisting as she sank                        Doc Savage took hold of Ham’s
so that she had turned completely around            arm, led him to the door, and when Ham
by the time she was down. She made no               still tittered, slapped him. Then he shoved
sound, except for the breath rushing past           Ham out in the hall. The dapper lawyer
her lips.                                           stood there, hands opening and closing,
          Monk lunged, caught her, kept             and got control of himself.
her head from striking the floor.                               “Thanks,” he muttered. “That
          “She’s fainted,” the chemist              thing gave me the talking willies. First
croaked.                                            time it ever happened, I think.”
          Renny made a gurgling sound                           Doc went back into the room. He
that was all horror. His huge hands                 said, “Everyone be as still as possible,”
leaped out, clamped upon a chair, and he            and moved over and fastened an ear
began to club at the air in the room. He            against the wall to listen. He thought of
struck grimly, with terrific force, always          another and better way to pick up
slashing out at empty air. He did not hit           sounds—he drew a pocketknife which he
anything, although he covered the entire            had located on Johnny’s plane and
room; and finally he backed into a corner,          brought along, opened the knife, sank the
holding the chair out in front of him like a        blade deep into the door casing. Then he
lion tamer being menaced by an invisible            gripped the handle with his teeth. He
beast. He had not spoken; he did not                knew from experience that he could pick
speak now.                                          up vibrations—such as footsteps—much
                                                    more readily in that fashion.
    xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx THE   EVIL GNOME xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx 31

         He waited for a long time, then          unconsciousness. Ham watched Doc
was thoughtful. At length, he got down on         curiously.
all fours and began going over the floor of                 Ham Brooks had developed a
the room. The carpet was not new;                 keen brain, and he was not without
neither was it old, and its design was            analytical ability as far as reading clues
made up of browns and reds and blues.             was concerned. Most good lawyers are
Doc searched with his hands as much as            semidetectives.
his eyes.                                                   But Ham failed to see any
         It was his fingers which found           significance whatever in a certain
dampness, and his handkerchief showed             photograph which seemed to interest Doc
that the moist spot was red. Blood. The           Savage greatly.
spot was perhaps two feet long, not much                    They had found Dan Meek’s
more than two inches wide. The cut place          photographic dark room. It was in the
in the rug was about a yard from the              attic, reached by a ladder which lowered
bloodstain. It was a narrow slit, six inches      from the ceiling of a large closet. There
in length. Doc pulled the fabric apart at         was the usual equipment of trays for
the cut; there was a gash in the floor            developer, shortstop and hypo, and a
which, as nearly as he could judge,               good enlarger of the automatic focusing
extended over half the thickness of the           variety. There were partially used boxes
hardwood flooring.                                of bromide papers, and jars of stock
         Renny had come into the room             developer solution and hypo.
and was watching. He said, “That                            Dan Meek’s pictures were in a
bloodstain and the cut in the carpet mean         steel filing cabinet. There were scores of
anything to you, Doc?”                            them. Doc Savage leafed through the
         “It probably explains,” Doc              photographs rapidly, not expending a
Savage said quietly, “why we weren’t              great deal of time on any one of them.
killed along with Dan Meek.”                      Abruptly, he began drawing pictures from
                                                  the file; he spread several out for Ham’s
          DURING the next few minutes,                      “Recognize them?” he asked.
Doc Savage did a number of things which                     “No, I never saw—wait a minute!”
the others failed to understand. It was not       Ham stared.
exactly clear, for instance, why he had                     It was the wizened little man who
Monk and Renny and Lion Ellison—the               had given Lion Ellison her brother’s
young woman had revived—leave the                 belongings—the strange little fellow who
house immediately, instructing them,              had been seized by Monk and Renny in
“When you get outside, separate. Each             New York, and who had vanished. They
take a different direction. Walk two blocks,      recognized him from the description Monk
hide yourself in the darkness and wait.           and Renny had given.
When you hear three sharp whistles, go                      Ham studied the picture, said, “He
to the spot where we left our boat on the         had about as much taste in clothes as a
river bank.”                                      color-blind clown.”
          “You mean we’re not to come                       “The fact that Dan Meek had
back here?” Monk said.                            these pictures of him proved the two were
          “Not unless you hear yells for          friends,” Doc reminded.
help.”                                                      Doc Savage spent some time
          Ham soon found himself alone            examining the pictures. Then, to Ham’s
with Doc Savage. The dapper lawyer was            astonishment, the bronze man selected
still without his cane, and was lost when it      one of the least interesting photos of the
was not in his hands; it was a sword-             wizened man. The picture which Doc took
cane, and he had carried it almost                didn’t even show a recognizable likeness
continuously for years. He had even had           of the subject’s face.
Monk concoct a chemical with which to                       In this photograph, the little man
daub the end of the sword, thus making a          seemed to be seated on the edge of a
slight prick of the blade produce quick           fountain or possibly a small ornamental
                                                  fishpond. He had his chin cupped in his
32   xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx DOC   SAVAGE xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

palm, obviously posing as a thinker. Ham                     Lion Ellison and Renny were
gave close attention to the remainder of            there. The girl explained, “We were
the picture, but he could discern nothing           hidden, and the police didn’t see us. We
more interesting than an assortment of              heard your whistle and left.”
rocks, water that was distorted by                           Standing on the baked-mud bank
reflection, and a portion of a tree or two.         of the river, Monk made a growling noise.
         This was the picture which Doc             “Those cops were tipped off.”
Savage took with him when they left the                      Renny’s rumble was violent. “Holy
apartment.                                          cow! Course they were. Just like when we
                                                    landed in Kirksville.”

          THEIR departure from           the
apartment was about as peaceful as a                             Chapter XI
riot. It began when Monk suddenly                              PICTURE CLUE
charged into the apartment. Monk was out
of breath, so excited that he gobbled                         LIKE a frozen bird, the plane
when he tried to talk.                              stood on the cold river. There was a white
          “Cops!” the homely chemist                fuzz of frost on the wings, and the river
managed to bark finally. “The whole                 water itself was steaming in the cold. With
neighborhood is full of cops. They’re               no regrets whatever, Doc and the others
sneaking up on this place. Saw the squad            quitted the unstable little collapsible boat;
cars unloading ‘em. I tore out down the             they folded the tiny craft, hauled it inside
street to warn you. It was dark, and they           after them. Then, standing in the cabin,
didn’t see me.”                                     they windmilled their arms to restore
          “The police,” Doc Savage said             circulation, and blew on their fingers.
grimly, “would be a perfectly logical                         Doc Savage produced the
development. Let’s get out of here.”                photograph which he had taken from Dan
          They went down the stairs in              Meek’s assortment; he passed it to the
rattling haste, only to have a voice shout,         girl.
“Stop, you three! This is the law!”                           “That’s him.” Lion’s tone was
          Doc whistled three times shrilly—         strained, and her face had even become
the signal agreed upon to send Renny                a trifle pale as she looked at the picture.
and the girl back to the river.                     Still without making comment, Doc
          Blinding white light pounced upon         Savage took the photograph back. He
them. The police had turned on                      stowed it away carefully.
searchlights.                                                 Ham said, “I still don’t see where
          “Smoke bombs,” Doc directed.              that picture is gonna do us any good.”
“Fill the street with them.”                                  Doc Savage did not volunteer any
          Monk, Ham and Doc Savage had              explanation. He went forward to the
all loaded their pockets with the little            control cockpit and got the motors turning.
smoke grenades, past experience having                        As soon as they were in the air,
taught them that the things were useful.            the      bronze    man      began     making
They began digging them out of their                adjustments on the radio. Watching
clothing, slipping the firing levers, and           closely, Monk perceived that Doc was
pitching them right and left in the street.         shifting the transmitter to the eighty-meter
The little metal globules made popping              amateur phone band.
noises and sprouted fat mushrooms of                          Cutting in the microphone, Doc
smoke. The searchlight beams faded out              began repeating, “Calling Kansas City.
in the sepia pall.                                  Calling Bill Larner, or any twenty-meter
          “We better keep hold of each              phone in Kansas City.”
other,” Doc said. They moved down the                         Later, he signed with the call
street. There was yelling, a few shots and          letters of Johnny’s plane, and listened.
considerable confusion. But Doc Savage                        Lion looked at Monk, asked, “Who
and the others arrived, unharmed, on the            is Bill Larner?”
river bank something near thirty minutes
    xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx THE   EVIL GNOME xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx 33

         “Why, he’s—” Monk hesitated,             Burdo Brockman, Elmo Handy Anderson,
finally said, “He’s a fellow who sometimes        and Danny Dimer.”
works for Doc Savage.” Which, as Monk                      “What did the investigation show
well knew, was a somewhat negative                about the three?” Doc asked.
description of Bill Larner. But to make the                “Haven’t found out.”
girl understand all about Bill Larner would                “Continue investigating.”
have taken a great deal of description.                    “Sure. Will you keep tuned in on
For instance, Monk would have had to tell         this wave-length?”
her about the strange institution which                    “Each hour on the hour,
Doc Savage maintained in upstate New              whenever we can.”
York for the curing of criminals—a hidden                  “Swell. Signing off.”
place, the existence of which was                          Monk had overheard. He said
unknown to the outside world.                     thoughtfully, “Burdo Brockman, Elmo
         To this remote spot, Doc Savage          Handy Anderson, and Danny Dimer.
sent such criminals as he happened to             Never heard of them before. Danny
catch; there they underwent delicate brain        Dimer. . . . Ellery Dimer was the banker’s
operations at the hands of specialists            name. Might be some connection there.
trained by the Man of Bronze, operations          Father and son, or something.”
which wiped out all memory of the past.                    “Are fathers in the habit of having
After this, the “patients” received a course      detectives collect information on their
of training calculated to fit them as useful      sons?” Ham demanded.
citizens. Monk and the others frequently                   “Suppose you explain it, then,”
referred to the place as the “college.”           Monk snapped.
         Bill Larner was a graduate of that                Doc Savage had turned the
college; once he had been the associate           controls over to Renny—all of the bronze
of a notorious criminal, but Bill Larner          man’s associates were skilled pilots—and
himself did not know this. He only knew           had moved back to the big chart-table
that he hated crime and criminals, and            used by whoever was navigating.
that Doc Savage was the symbol of his             Switching on the light, he scrutinized the
own belief.                                       picture he had taken from unfortunate
         Eventually Doc Savage got in             Dan Meek’s collection.
touch with Bill Larner, who was an                         Ham said, “That thing still don’t
amateur radio bug, and asked him to               mean anything to me.”
investigate, then make a complete report                   “Notice the pool,” Doc suggested.
of the murder of the banker, Ellery P.            “The reflection on the water.”
Dimer.                                                     Ham grunted excitedly, thinking
                                                  he was going to see something
                                                  sensational, and stared. He turned the
        WHEN Bill Larner called back—it           picture to different angles, frowning.
had taken him hardly more than two                         “House,” he muttered finally.
hours, and the plane was again at rest on         “Reflection of the door of a house.
the Missouri River, this time near                Apparently a front door, because you can
Waverly, Missouri—he had a fairly                 make out the street number of the house.”
complete preliminary report. Doc Savage                    “The number is 4786.”
listened for some time, aware that he was                  Doc Savage’s flake-gold eyes
not receiving anything of value. Then             were excited in a quiet, tense way as he
suddenly he interrupted, “Hold it, Larner.        said, “The ugly little man looks perfectly at
Repeat that last item.”                           ease, as if he had been round that house
        “Police have ascertained,” said           a great deal. If we can find the house,
the distant voice of Bill Larner, “that just      perhaps we can locate someone who will
prior to his death, Banker Ellery Dimer           put us on his trail.”
went to the collection department of his                   “But just a number won’t find a
bank, which is nothing more or less than          house for us,” Ham grumbled. “It may
the banks’ private detective agency, and          take a long, long time to locate a house
had them get all the dope they could on           with a door that looks like that one. It’s a
three people. The three were named                common kind of a door, anyway.”
34   xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx DOC   SAVAGE xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

         Doc said, “Not a common street             Johnny had been contacted by portable
number, though. A number like that                  radio.
means the house is in the forty-seventh                      Lion Ellison said nervously, “This
block. How many streets in Kirksville are           radio talking you’re doing—isn’t there
forty-seven blocks long?”                           danger of being overheard? And can’t
         “Not many,” Ham admitted. “Hey!            they locate your transmitters with direction
Wait! How you know it’s in Kirksville?”             finders?”
         Doc indicated the photograph.                       Monk       explained that.    “Our
“That is a very clear picture. Dan Meek             transmitters have got tiny scramblers on
might have been mixed up in something               them.”
mysterious that got him murdered, but he                     “Scramblers?”
was a wizard with a camera and dark                          “Little gadgets,” the homely
room. Those rocks—notice their texture.             chemist told her, “that mix up the voices
Native stone is limited around Kirksville.          until they can’t be understood, then
This happens to be the best type found              unscramble ‘em at the other end. If you’ll
around there; in almost any other part of           tune in a radio broadcast receiver on the
the State, a fountain pool would have               very short wave bands, such as the
been built of a better grade of stone.”             thirteen-meter band, you’ll probably be
                                                    able to pick up stuff that sounds like
                                                    somebody squawking through a tin horn.
          ASSORTED parts of the United              That’s          scrambled       radiophone
States have received praise from time to            conversation.”
time on their merits as the ideal spot in                    Doc Savage asked Johnny,
which to live, Florida and southern                 “Found out anything?”
California contesting for the tops in                        “Not a thing, except that there is
climate, New York City with the fastest             only one street in Kirksville with a forty-
night life, New Orleans the most                    seven-block number. It’s named Gibbs
delectable cooking, and the Jackson Hole            Street.”
country of Wyoming claiming the honors
for scenery.
          Almost entirely overlooked is                      GIBBS STREET, the outer end of
northern Missouri, particularly the section         it, had once been a subdivider’s dream. It
around Kirksville. And what does this               began downtown as did the other streets,
district excel in? Why, it’s probably the           but it extended out beyond any of them,
most placid and lowest-priced part of the           and for the last twenty blocks there was
United States in which to reside; possibly          hardly a house; in fact, the end of Gibbs
it is the most economical in the world, for         Streets was remote enough to be one of
it is certainly lower-priced than France            the local Lovers’ Lanes. It was not even
before the second great war, when                   graveled; grass grew in it, except for a
France was highly touted for its low-cost           pair of ruts.
living.                                                      “Here it is,” Monk whispered, and
          If a man wanted an utterly                the words were spurts of steam past his
peaceful spot in which to seclude himself           lips.
for leisure and cogitation, he could hardly                  They got down and crawled. Frost
do better than the section around                   speckled their clothing and chilled their
Kirksville, Missouri. The town itself is            hands. The ground was frozen a little.
slightly collegiate because of a State                       The house stood half out of an
Teachers’ College and an osteopathy                 amazingly thick grove of trees. A house
college, but otherwise it is benevolently           like something that was ancient and had
rural. The big night is Saturday, when the          started to creep out into the light, then
farmers all come to town. And the farmer            changed its mind.
is the most important article around there;                  “Older’n the Civil War,” Renny
everyone else lives off him.                        breathed.
          William Harper Littlejohn met Doc                  It   wasn’t.     But    it    was
Savage and the others when they landed.             predepression at the least, and a virgin as
                                                    far as paint was concerned. It had bulk,
    xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx THE   EVIL GNOME xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx 35

enormous bulk; two full stories and a             mind in an effort to make it an efficient
garret, rooms that sprawled and                   filing cabinet. Grope as he would, he
meandered in all directions with the big          couldn’t think why Burdo Brockman’s
colonial doorway as a starting point. That        name should mean something.
doorway had what everything else in the                    An ample man was this Burdo
house lacked—distinction.                         Brockman. He was like a big bulldog,
         The door, and the pool in front of       somewhat old and of pickled disposition.
it were undoubtedly the same that had             His hair was white and as tousled as
been shown in unlucky Dan Meek’s                  freshly picked cotton; his whiskers were
photograph.                                       reddish and hadn’t been cut for a week or
         It was getting daylight. Off in the      more. He had clear eyes. His clothes
distance a dog was barking, and roosters          were old, slouchy, had been very
were crowing at a farmhouse somewhere.            expensive when he bought them.
         Doc said, “It won’t hurt to watch                 Monk carne ambling around the
the back door. I’ll do that.”                     house muttering, “Doc, we can’t raise—”
         He crawled away from the others.         He halted and stared.
The weeds had not been cut all that                        “This is Burdo Brockman,” Doc
summer; they were high enough to                  explained.
conceal him.                                               “Burdo—”         Monk       grinned
         There was one thing noticeable           suddenly. “Ain’t this somethin’! Burdo
when you got very close to the house—             Brockman is one of the guys that bank
the thing wasn’t really as dilapidated as it      was havin’ investigated.”
looked from a distance. And it was                         Burdo      Brockman     interrupted
inhabited; there was a path from the rear         sharply, “Say, say, what goes on here,
door in which no weeds whatever grew,             anyhow?”
an indication the path had been used all                   “Did you know Ellery P. Dimer?”
that summer.                                      Doc asked.
         Renny beat on the front door.                     “Who’s he?”
Thunder like that could only come from                     “A banker who was murdered in
the engineer’s big fists. After the clamor,       Kansas          City       under—well—odd
there was silence—                                circumstances, to say the least.”
         The large, benign gentleman who                   “I never,” said Burdo Brockman,
came out of the back door was in a hurry.         “knew him.”
         Doc Savage stood up and said,                     “You knew he had been
“Good morning.”                                   murdered, though?”
         The man stopped, growled, “What                   “I think,” said Brockman, “that we
in the devil is this?”                            had better do some talking.”
         Doc Savage made a mental note.                    Monk said, “Yeah. We can talk
This benign old fellow was scared. He             about why you went sneaking out of the
had nerve. But he was nevertheless                back door when we turned up.”
scared.                                                    They entered the house. Doc
         “We are looking for—ah—the               Savage watched closely when Burdo
proprietor,” Doc explained.                       Brockman met Lion Ellison, but if the
         “That’s me—Burdo Brockman.”              sturdy old gentleman had ever seen the
                                                  young woman before, he was actor
                                                  enough to conceal it. Lion glanced at Doc,
        BURDO BROCKMAN announced                  shook her head slightly; Brockman was a
his name with a crochety abruptness, as if        stranger to her.
it was supposed to mean something. And                     Brockman abruptly pointed a
Doc got the feeling the name should carry         finger at Doc. “I think I know who you
weight. He searched in his memory,                are—the fellow they call the Man of
knowing the name was familiar, but failing        Bronze. Clark Savage, Jr. Am I right?”
immediately to recall it. His own failure to               Monk said, “That’s right. And the
pull the correct recollection out of his          rest of us are his assistants. Now—why
memory cells was vaguely irritating; he           were you taking a sneak?”
had spent countless hours training his
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         Ham punched Monk, said,                              Lion cried, “I saw a flashlight!”
“Listen, you homely wart hog, suppose               and ran for the spot where she had seen
you keep your bassoon out of it this time.          it.
You had no luck with Dan Meek.”                               Doc Savage did nothing very
         Brockman made a grunting noise.            drastic; he merely stood and listened. His
“Dan Meek—I believe I know him.” He                 sense of hearing was acute. He caught a
frowned at them. “Amateur photographer,             faint thump of a noise, got down and put
isn’t he?”                                          his ear against the floor.
         “He was.”                                            He decided that Burdo Brockman,
         “Eh?”                                      instead of rushing wildly out of the house,
         “He’s dead, too.” Monk scowled.            had gone into the basement.
“Under, like Doc said, circumstances that                     Monk got up off the floor, full of
were—odd.”                                          rage, and yelled to see whether he was
         Brockman suddenly sat down and             hurt. The yell was satisfactory. Monk hit
took his face in both hands. When he                the door again. This time, he broke it
looked up at them, there was something              down. He galloped around through
intense in his eyes. He said, “You better           various parts of the house and finally
tell me about these murders.”                       howled. “The place is empty. He got
         Doc Savage described, in a                 away.”
steady voice that had no noticeable                           Doc went to the back door, stood
emotion, the weird death of Dan Meek.               there. He heard a grating sound, decided
He slighted no details in telling how Meek          it was Brockman opening one of the
had been murdered before their eyes.                basement windows to crawl out.
The bronze man’s account of the affair                        The bronze man wondered how
acquired drama from the complete                    Brockman expected to escape from the
calmness of the recital to such a degree            house. He got the answer to that almost
that the others were holding the edges of           at once, when he heard a whine that was
their teeth together by the time he had             quickly stifled. A dog. Brockman had a
finished.                                           dog in the basement; apparently he was
         “That photograph,” Brockman                lifting the animal out of the window.
said hoarsely. “Have you got that?”                           Doc distinctly heard Brockman
         Doc handed him the picture.                growl, “Go get it, boy!” After that, there
Brockman took it, stared at it, holding it          was a slight thud some distance from the
assorted distances from his eyes, then              house. The man had thrown a stick and
shook his head.                                     sent his dog after it.
         “My glasses,” he apologized.                         Renny and Ham saw the dog. It
“Have to get them. This desk here.”                 was a large, dark animal, and in the foggy
         He went to the desk. From there,           murk preceding dawn, they thought it was
it was only one long jump to the door. He           Brockman.
made it.                                                      “There he goes!” Ham roared.
                                                              They set out after the dog. Monk
                                                    and Johnny and Lion joined them. The
            Chapter XII                             dog got scared, fled. They chased it.
        THE SUDDEN ASHES                                      “Heck, it’s a pooch!” Monk
                                                    barked, halting.
         MONK emitted a roar and made                         They raced back to the house,
for the door like a torpedo. But he had             and Ham yelled, “Watch it, Doc! This was
underestimated the strength of the                  only a dog.”
seasoned wood of which the door was                           There was no answer. They
constructed. He bounced back, sprawled              searched, cautiously at first, then with
on the floor, dazed.                                growing consternation. For there was no
         Ham took one window. Renny                 trace of Burdo Brockman, nor of Doc
took another. They were outside, and the            Savage.
room was full of the jangling of breaking
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         THE old house was furnished,                       “That I would know a real Indian
they discovered, to fit a man’s idea of           jungle if I saw one,” Johnny said with
complete luxury. There was nothing frilly         dignity.
or fancy, no article that would break                       “Isn’t this one real?”
easily. Nor were many of the articles                       “Phony.”
cheap.                                                      “You mean—”
         “Fellow    had    money,”    Ham                   “I mean,” said Johnny firmly, “that
remarked.                                         the jungle in these pictures was probably
         “And he liked to take it easy,”          never any nearer India than some New
Renny agreed.                                     York photographer’s studio.”
         The kitchen was well stocked with                  Monk grabbed the prints, eyed
food, and there was canned stuff in the           them closely. His knowledge of chemistry
cellar. But nowhere was there anything to         extended to photographic printing papers;
give them a line on Burdo Brockman. The           once he had worked several weeks
desk was empty, except for a litter of old        developing        a    high-speed   bromide
Kirksville daily papers, pen and ink, and         projection paper of high contrast for press
some stationery.                                  use.
         Johnny stared at the stationery.                   “This is a bromide paper,” Monk
         “I’ll be superamalgamated,” the          said, “and it is American paper—not
big-worded archaeologist and geologist            English, as you’d expect to find used in
remarked.                                         India.”
         “Huh.” Renny came over and                         “The animals in the photographs
stared. “Holy cow!”                               looked stuffed, now that you start thinking
         The stationery was printed:              about it,” Lion Ellison said. “I’ve worked
                                                  with real animals enough to know a
       RAJAH HUNTING LODGE,                       stuffed one when I see it.”
           SIMLA, INDIA.                                    “The pictures are phonies,” Ham
                                                  announced flatly.
          Monk remarked, “Funny kind of                     “Which proves what?” Monk
stationery for a farmer in Missouri to            asked.
have.”                                                      Renny consulted his wrist watch,
          “This Brockman wasn’t any               grunted and made for the door.
farmer, I’m betting,” Ham said. He                          “Where you going?”           Monk
prowled through more drawers in the               demanded.
desk. “Hey, look! More photographs!”                        “You remember Bill Larner in
          They fell upon the pictures             Kansas City?” Renny reminded. “He is
eagerly, giving them a thorough                   going to call us by radio every hour on the
inspection. They were hunting pictures.           hour. It’s that time now.”
Burdo Brockman was in all of them. In                       They had driven from the spot
some, he was standing upon a dead                 where they had left the plane in one of the
elephant, holding a rifle. In others, he          cars which Johnny had rented, and in the
crouched beside a slain tiger, with the           machine was Johnny’s portable short-
rifle. In fact, all of the pictures had the       wave radio outfit. The apparatus—it was
same theme—Burdo Brockman and a rifle             as compact as a suitcase, including
and a slain big-game animal.                      batteries—had been developed by the
          It was big-worded Johnny who            fifth member of Doc Savage’s group of
eyed the pictures and snorted.                    assistants, Major Thomas J. (Long Tom)
          “What’s wrong?” Monk asked.             Roberts, the electrical wizard, who was
          Johnny explained, not using big         not with them this time. Long Tom was in
words. “You fellows know that I’m a               England, working on some kind of a
geologist, and that as a geologist I have         super-detector for submarines.
some knowledge of what India really                         Bill Larner was enthused; they
looks like, not only the rock formations,         could tell from his voice that he had
but the vegetation as well.”                      accomplished something.
          “What are you trying to say?”                     “You remember those three men
                                                  the murdered banker was having
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investigated—the men named Burdo                            Bill Larner merely thought he was
Brockman, Elmo Handy Anderson and                   a man who had suffered the loss of his
Danny Dimer?” Bill Larner asked.                    memory in an accident, and had been
          “Sure. You got anything?”                 educated in Doc Savage’s institution as
          “Well, I got some dope—say, this          an act of kindness on the bronze man’s
isn’t Doc. Who is it?”                              part.
          “Renny Renwick.”                                  Monk and Ham wandered off
          “Oh, hello, Renny. I should have          together.
recognized your voice; better work on this
receiver of mine, hadn’t I? Hi! Well, I got
the dope that the bank-collection                              THE separation from the others
department turned up             on Burdo           precipitated Monk and Ham into an
Brockman.”                                          experience that came near standing their
          Renny said, “Swell. Brockman is           hair permanently on end, but that was not
the one we’re most interested in right              their intention. The reasons for their
now.”                                               getting together were probably twofold.
          “Brockman is a rich New Yorker,”          First, each wanted to get the other out of
the distant radio voice advised. “Owns              the company of attractive Lion Ellison.
factories and corporations and things.              Second, they were in a state of mind over
Richer than chocolate cake, but not very            the vanishing of both Burdo Brockman
well known because he doesn’t seem to               and Doc Savage, and they wanted to
be much of a society guy. Kind of the               soothe their feelings by indulging in a
retiring type. Right now, he’s in India, big-       good, satisfying quarrel.
game hunting.”                                                 They wandered around behind
          “He is like hell in India,” Renny         the house and came upon a path, and a
rumbled.                                            little later discovered a bulk in the trees
          “This report said he was.”                ahead. Ham quickened his pace and then
          “The report is wrong.”                    snorted.
          “Well, I wouldn’t know, would I?”                    “A strawstack,” Ham said.
          Renny asked, “What else you got                      “Yeah.” Monk was thoughtful. He
on Brockman?”                                       advanced, shoved an arm deep into the
          “Nothing. Nothing on the others,          strawstack, then looked knowingly at
either. I only got the report on Brockman           Ham. “I feel boards,” he explained.
this time. Could only cop one envelope                         “What?” Ham explored. “Say,
when I went down to the bank to get a               there’s a building of some kind inside
story, claiming I was a newspaper                   there.”
reporter. I’m going to make another trip                       “Sh-h-h.”
and try to cop a second envelope. Think I                      They listened, caught no sound.
can only get one at a time. This one was            Monk backed away a few yards and gave
on Brockman. Next time, I’ll get one on             his attention to the frost-whitened ground.
Elmo Handy Anderson or Danny Dimer.”                           “Hey, look here.” The homely
          “Thanks, Bill,” Renny said warmly.        chemist pointed. “Tracks.”
          “Oh, that’s all right,” said Bill                    Undeniably there were footprints,
Larner. “Doc Savage has done a lot for              and they led around to the back and
me, hasn’t he?”                                     ended against the strawstack.
          After the radio was switched off,                    “Must be a door there,” Monk
Monk looked at Renny and grinned and                whispered. “Stand back where you’ll be
said, “Bill Larner only knows about half of         safe, and I’ll try it.”
what Doc has done for him.”                                    “I’ll try the door,” Ham corrected.
          The reference was to the fact that        “You get back.”
Bill Larner, as a graduate of Doc’s                            The solicitude they were showing
criminal-curing “college,” had no idea that         for each other’s safety apparently struck
he had once been a bloodthirsty crook of            neither as being an incongruous contrast
a type he had been taught to hate while in          to their attentions, wordlessly expressed a
the institution.                                    few moments earlier, of tearing each
                                                    other limb from limb.
    xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx THE   EVIL GNOME xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx 39

         It was then that the event                        “We were in the house,” Renny
occurred.                                         puffed. “Didn’t see the fire at first, I
         The strawstack was in flames             reckon.”
before their eyes. Not only in flames—                     Monk pointed at the flames and
practically burned to the ground. They            asked in a hollow voice, “Do you see a
had been looking at an innocent-                  fire now?”
appearing strawstack which they knew                       Renny peered at him doubtfully,
wasn’t innocent. Now it was blazing,              finally turned to Ham and asked, “Has
practically consumed.                             Monk got hit on the head again?”
         Monk and Ham did what was                         “Getting hit on the head never
perfectly      natural    under     the           hurts him,” Ham said soberly. “I guess
circumstances—they got up and ran.                you see that fire, all right.”
                                                           “What kind of crazy talk is this? Of
                                                  course we see a fire. Looks like it was a
        Chapter XIII                              strawstack. Why’d you set it on fire?”
 THE UNEXPECTED PRISONER                                   “Us set it on fire?” Ham gaped at
          IT is an accepted fact in                        “Well, didn’t you set that fire?”
psychology that the human mind is largely                  “That fire,” Monk said, “just
a creature of habit and the product of            suddenly was.”
experience, which is probably another                      Monk and Ham circled the flames
way of saying that a man will believe only        dubiously. The heat of it was intense
what he has learned to be possible. That          against their faces; the smoke from it
a man will accept only what experience            made them cough. There was no doubt
has taught him is usual, is borne out by          about its reality, although they were
credibility that small children place in fairy    having difficulty accepting the concrete
tales; after a man grows older, and fails to      existence of anything about this
encounter either fairy or miracle, he             strawstack.
concludes neither exists.                                  Additionally,         it     became
          Monk must have been thinking            increasingly evident that there had been
somewhat along that line, judging from his        some kind of a structure inside the
remark after he stopped running.                  strawstack. But the nature of the thing
          “If this stuff keeps on happening, I    they would not be likely to learn, they
may get to believe it,” he said.                  concluded, because it developed that they
          Ham said hoarsely, “Did you see         were not going to be able to remain in the
what I saw?”                                      vicinity until the ashes cooled sufficiently
          “The strawstack turned to flames        for them to make an investigation.
and ashes in front of our eyes?”                           A man ambled out of the trees.
          “I didn’t see it turn—it just           They had never seen the man before, and
suddenly was flames and ashes.”                   he had no distinguishing feature except
          “On second thought—I don’t              that he wore overalls and was cross-eyed.
believe it.”                                               “Gee whizz!” He stared, his
          “Neither do I. Let’s go back and        crossed eyes very wide. “Lot of dry leaves
look.”                                            this time of year! Figure I better call the
          They went back through the              fire department. Don’t want no forest fire.”
woods and stood staring. There was no                      “Sure,” Monk said gloomily. “Call
doubt about there having been a                   the army and navy if you want to.”
strawstack, and there was less doubt                       The      cross-eyed      man—they
about it being in the advanced stages of          presumed he was a native who had seen
burning down.                                     the smoke—galloped away. He had been
          Renny, Johnny and Lion Ellison          gone four or five minutes when Monk
came dashing up, panting and wide-eyed            gave a nerve-shattered jump.
with curiosity.
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         “BLAZES!” Monk exploded. “He                        “You know what I think?” Ham
went after firemen. We can’t stay here.             asked thoughtfully. “I think those
We’ll get arrested!”                                letterheads of a hunting lodge in India,
         Being a fugitive from the law,             and those phony pictures of Burdo
particularly on a charge of complicity in           Brockman standing with animals he had
murder, was a new experience for Monk;              shot were part of a system Brockman was
he had momentarily overlooked existence             using to make people think he was in
of the fact.                                        India.”
         They dashed for their car and                       “Could be, at that,” Renny
lived through several sweating minutes              admitted. “Brockman could write a letter
before they loaded themselves and the               about the hunting he was doing, writing
two pets in the machine and got safely              like he was in India, and inclose a fake
clear of the vicinity. The fire apparatus—it        picture. Then he could mail the letter to
was a small chemical truck—passed                   somebody in India, who would remail it to
them, and it was trailed closely by a car           the United States.”
containing two State-highway patrolmen,                      “Which would mean,” Lion Ellison
which did nothing for the peace of their            interrupted, “that Burdo Brockman is a
nerves.                                             crook.”
         “I’m sorry about all this,” Lion                    Monk      had   been    unusually
Ellison said glumly. “It’s my fault, involving      thoughtful and silent. He came out of his
you in such a mess.”                                muse suddenly and poked Ham.
         “That’s all right,” Renny told her                  “I just remembered somethin’,” he
kindly.                                             said. “You recall when we was standin’ at
         “I don’t care—I feel bad about it,”        the strawstack? Well, the next thing we
Lion said. “If I hadn’t gone to you for help        knew, it was about burned down. But
after being accused of murdering the                when we saw that, we were sittin’ down.
governor, you wouldn’t be fugitives from            We should’ve been standin’, shouldn’t
the law.”                                           we? We had been standin’.”
         “This kind of thing is our                          “Well?”
business,” Renny reminded her.                               “Maybe that means somethin’,
         Johnny said sourly, using small            huh?”
words, “And sometimes strikes me that a                      “You figure it out,” Ham said
darn poor business it is, too.”                     sourly.
         The car was a sedan, neither                        The car rolled along, turned onto
large nor new, but fairly comfortable               a red shale road that was rough. Johnny
riding. They were traveling a side road             drove, keeping a close watch on the road.
that was dirt, but it had been dragged and          The others were silent. All of them were
was smooth. Around them were barbed-                worried.
wire and hedge fences, open fields, not                      When a calm voice spoke to them
many barns or houses.                               from a spot near their feet, Monk all but
         “It wouldn’t be so bad,” Ham               jumped out of the car.
complained, “if it made any sense. Miss
Ellison here was framed for the murder of
the governor. A banker in Kansas City                        THEY had in the excitement
was murdered in a way that looks                    overlooked the portable radio, which
impossible. Then a photographer was                 reposed on the rear floor boards. The
killed the same way. I ask you—does that            receiver portion of the machine had been
make sense or hook up together?”                    left switched on and turned to the wave-
         “The death of the photographer             length which the bronze man’s group
makes sense, all right,” Renny rumbled.             usually employed for communication.
“He was killed because we were about to             “Calling Monk or Renny or one of the
give him truth serum and get some facts.”           others,” the voice said. “Hello, some of
         “All right—take Burdo Brockman;            you.”
where does he come in?”                                      Monk snapped on the transmitter,
         “He ain’t in India,” Renny said            grabbed up the microphone and waited
meaningly.                                          for tubes to warm.
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         “Doc!” he exploded. “Where on            on a small lake.” Doc described the
earth are you?”                                   location of the lake accurately.
         It was undoubtedly Doc Savage’s                   “We’ll be there pronto,” Monk
words, but he did not answer the                  said.
question. Instead he said, “You might                      “Be careful of the police. They are
tune in on the State-police radio station at      looking for that car.”
Macon.”                                                    Johnny leaned back to say, “Yes,
         “Why?”                                   but they don’t know I rented four cars—or
         “Tune in, and you’ll see. Then           I hope they don’t.”
come back to this frequency.”
         Monk shifted the receiving
frequency to the police bank immediately                   IT was a small lake surrounded
below the broadcast wave-lengths, and             by trees and with a railroad close by; seen
fished with the tuning knob until he had a        from the road, the water was like a glint of
loud signal and a voice saying:                   steel. Renny guided the car—they had
         “—height over six feet. Very large       exchanged another machine for the one
man. Particularly huge fists. Sad-looking         in which they had been riding—off the
face. This man may be dangerous. Use              highway on to a byroad some distance
care.”                                            from the lake, and hidden from it by the
         Monk looked at Renny, said,              thick trees.
“Sounds like he means you.”                                Doc Savage came out of thick
         “These four men and the girl,”           scrub-oak brush. Dry, brilliant fallen
continued the radio announcer, “were last         leaves lay thick on the ground, but his big
seen at a burning strawstack near                 bronze form moved with very little noise.
Kirksville about twenty minutes ago.                       Monk alighted from the car and
There appears to have been some kind of           threw out his chest. “Like to see that
building inside the strawstack, so it is          fellow give me the slip again,” he growled.
believed this was the hide-out of the                      They moved through brush,
gang, and that it burned.”                        stooping and twisting to evade branches,
         Monk snorted. “So now our                stepping high and carefully to lessen the
hideout burned!”                                  rustle of leaves.
         The State-police radio man                        Abruptly there was a lane. A car
finished, “These persons will probably be         stood there, a big touring car with a
riding in a 1935 model Superior sedan,            wooden box built on the back so that the
black color. License Missouri 007-936.”           vehicle resembled a makeshift delivery
         “That’s this car!” Monk roared. He       truck.
stared at the others.                                      Doc said, “This is Brockman’s
         “You know what I think?”                 machine. He kept it in a shed in the
         “Same as the rest of us,                 woods some distance from where that
probably,” Ham said grimly. “That cross-          strawstack burned.”
eyed fellow who turned up at the                           “Kept it in a shed, eh?” Monk
strawstack fire wasn’t as innocent as we          frowned. “Looks as if he was fixed for a
figured. He recognized us, got the license        quick getaway.”
of this car, and turned it over to the                     “The man was badly worried
police.”                                          before we got there.” Doc opened the big
         Monk nodded, muttered, “We               box constructed on the rear of the coupé.
better see what Doc says about this,”             “I managed to get in here without being
shifted the wave-length back to their             noticed. So following him was no trick.
accustomed frequency, and picked up the           Look.”
transmitter mike. “Doc, the law is wise to                 Doc indicated a collection of stuff
us,” he said. “What’d we better do?”              that might have been found in the car of
         “You want to help me collar Burdo        any man who liked outdoor life—a fishing
Brockman?” Doc asked.                             rod, tackle box and some camping
         “Great blazes! You find him?”            equipment that included a cook kit. All of
         “I trailed him,” the bronze man          the stuff was worn; the cooking pots were
admitted, “to a spot several miles south,         black.
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         “Fingerprints!” Ham grunted, and                    He disappeared while            she
seized upon a sooty pot lid.                        watched him, merging with the shadows
         “Exactly,” Doc said. “Brockman             in some skillful fashion; later she
left some fingerprints on the steering              suspected that he was moving in the fog
wheel, and we had better compare them               close to the lake’s edge, but she was not
to be sure.”                                        sure.
         The prints were the same; they                      Doc Savage reached the cabin.
determined this easily, for they were clear         The lake fog swirled around him, clammy
prints, and all of Doc’s men knew                   and as cold as frost. He listened for a
something       about    the   science   of         while, and decided there was one man
fingerprinting.                                     moving inside. He advanced slowly. The
         “Boy, his hands were dirty.” Monk          ground underfoot was soggy, and covered
ran a finger along the wheel’s rim. “Soot.          with a frozen crust that broke with a faintly
Hey, this is soot!”                                 audible crushing underfoot.
         “So what?” Ham said.                                Then the dog came. It was a big
         “Well, that strawstack burned,”            dog, and it came fast, making one “woof!”
Monk reminded him. “And Burdo                       noise before it tried to take Doc by the
Brockman has sooty hands. Kind of a                 leg. He moved fast, diving and getting the
coincidence, don’t you think?”                      animal by both ears, holding its jaws
         “What do you make of it?”                  away, which would have settled the thing
         “All I make of any of this,” Monk          had not two more dogs arrived. The first
said gloomily, “is that my head is                  dog had looked big and fierce, but these
beginning to ache.”                                 two must be his pop and mom. Doc heard
         Doc Savage said, “Brockman                 them coming, saw them bulking big in the
should be down by the lake.”                        fog.
                                                             Both dogs hit him together, and
                                                    he was upset. The animals were big and
          A CABIN stood on the shore, built         well trained. They took hold of him, and
out partially over the water. It was a              their teeth hurt.
rambling shack of a thing, made of boards                    The noise the dogs made was
that had badly needed paint for five years          loud enough to be heard fully a mile
or so.                                              away.
          Daylight had come, but clouds                      A man crashed the cabin door
were piled up in the eastern sky to make            open and bounded out on the porch with
a dark rampart in front of the sun. It was          a repeating shotgun.
gloomy. Fog covered the lake surface to a
depth of fifteen or twenty feet, very thick
and dark fog that was like a layer of newly                  JUST how Doc Savage had
shorn, unwashed wool.                               managed to follow his peculiar occupation
          “A hide-out,” Monk surmised.              and still remain alive as long as he had
          “Scatter,” Doc suggested in a low         was a point that was puzzling to persons
voice, “and watch all sides of the place.”          not intimate with the bronze man. To
          Lion Ellison moved away, took             those who knew Doc, it was not a
concealment behind a tree from which                mystery, but a source of wonder. The
she could watch the west side of the                reason was very careful planning.
shack. But she did not give her attention           Forethought against every emergency,
to the house immediately; instead, she              and advance preparation.
kept her eyes on Doc Savage. She was                         Typical sample of his precaution
remembering how she had been                        was the assortment of small grenades
somewhat skeptical of the bronze man’s              which were packed in flat metal cases
ability at first. He was much different than        and used by himself and supplied to his
she had thought. He was a man of                    aids. These bombs were tiny and of great
amazing ability; just how remarkable he             variety.
was she had only begun to realize. Or                        The grenade—it was not very
hadn’t she felt this way earlier?                   much larger than a marble—which he
                                                    crushed between his fingers was made of
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thin-walled glass and contained a                 demanded, “How many guys in there? Did
combination of chemicals which had been           you see anybody when you trailed
concocted to frighten almost all animals.         Brockman here?”
The principle of their concoction was                      “Brockman walked straight into
simple. All animals have some odor which          the cabin and closed the door. He had a
frightens them—bear smell, for instance,          gun in his hand when he entered. I got the
being terrifying to most breeds of dogs.          idea there were four or five men in the
Doc had duplicated the odor with                  cabin, maybe more.”
chemicals, added those frightening to                      At this point, there was a
other common animals—he had even                  commotion at the cabin. Angry shouting.
added an acid typical of a deadly, stinging       Shots.
sea growth which was the thing most                        Renny’s voice bellowed, “They
feared by sharks—and the result was the           had a prisoner!! He’s gettin’ away!”
little grenade which he now broke.                         Doc had seen the man. He
          The dogs let loose, growled in          seemed to have both ankles bound. A
fright and backed away.                           rope dangled from one wrist. He was
          On the porch, the man peered            hopping, falling down, heaving up,
downward. The porch was high; he was              hopping again. He had a shotgun.
trying to see what was below in the fog.                   The man came out of the fog
He had unsafetied the shotgun, held it            some      distance    from     the   cabin,
ready.                                            miraculously unhit by shotgun fire, and
          “What’s wrong?” a voice called          toppled behind a tree.
from inside the cabin.                                     Monk barked, “I’ll see who he is,”
          “Dunno. Maybe the dogs caught a         and raced toward the man.
coon, or somethin’.” The man with the                      Suddenly Monk was squalling in
shotgun strained his eyes. Abruptly he            rage, and heading for the most
growled, “Hell! I’ll take a shot or two and       convenient tree.
scare the thing away.” He lifted the                       The prisoner they had just seen
shotgun.                                          escape from the cabin had thrown down
          Doc Savage threw another                on Monk with his shotgun and peppered
grenade. This one was high explosive. He          the homely chemist.
planted it against one corner of the cabin                 Monk got behind a tree,
and there was an ear-splitting moment             scratched the spots where the shot had
when the cabin corner came apart and              gone in, and said many loud words that
the porch ceiling jumped up, gave a big           he could never have taken to Sunday
flap as if it was trying to be a wing, then       school.
fell back.                                                 Renny boomed, “Hey, you—” at
          The shotgun wielder got up from         the hobbled man with the shotgun, but let
where he’d been toppled, made noises              it go at that when the man sent a charge
like a big frightened hog and went into the       of shot that knocked bark off the tree
cabin.                                            which sheltered the big-fisted engineer.
          Men inside the cabin got                         There was some more shooting.
organized quickly, for almost instantly           But none of it from the cabin. A minute or
shotguns began going off with cannon              two must have passed.
violence.                                                  Doc Savage was moving warily,
          Doc retreated. He had a great           approaching the man with the bound
deal of respect for a shotgun.                    ankles and the shotgun. He could see the
          From behind a tree, he called out       man distinctly, could have winged him,
sharply in the Mayan tongue. “Do not try          except that he had no gun. For a long
to use gas. The wind.”                            time, Doc had made it a practice not to
          A chill breeze was blowing from         carry a gun, feeling that the possession of
across the lake. It would sweep gas back          one would lead him to put too much
upon them if they released the stuff.             dependence on the weapon in an
          On the higher ground, among the         emergency—he had seen how helpless
trees, there was less fog. Monk, doubling         professional gunmen became when
low and zigzagging, joined Doc and                disarmed.
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         The man with the shotgun began                       “You don’t hear them, do you?”
staring at the cabin. Something seemed              The new Brockman shook his head
to dawn on him. He turned wildly in the             gloomily. “They had three canoes on the
direction of Doc’s men.                             back porch. All they had to do was drop
         “Hey!” he yelled. “Maybe I’ve              them in the water, get in, and paddle
made a mistake!”                                    away.”
         Monk said, “You sure did!” and                       Johnny       growled,     “I’ll    be
added some choice sulphur-coated                    superamalgamated!” He dashed forward,
words.                                              holding his arms up before his eyes as he
         “I’m Burdo Brockman!” the man              ran. He did not fear the shotgun pellets,
shouted.                                            except in his face, because he wore a
                                                    light undergarment of alloy chain mesh
                                                    that was impervious to ordinary bullets.
       Chapter XIV                                            He was almost to the cabin door
BURDO BROCKMAN, CRIMINAL                            when Doc Savage caught him and
                                                    stopped him. “Use our heads,” the bronze
         HAM called softly to Doc, “He              man warned.
sure ain’t the Burdo Brockman we                              Johnny understood. He ran
followed down here from Kirksville.”                around to the lake edge, stood there
         The new Burdo Brockman had                 listening. The bronze man was beside
not decided they were friends; he held his          him. Johnny whispered, “Hear anything?”
shotgun warily. “Who are you?” he                             Doc nodded. He said, “They are
demanded.                                           heading straight across.” Then he spun,
         Ham called, “Doc Savage’s                  called, “Ham, you and Renny are fast on
party.”                                             your feet. Go north around the lake and
         The new Brockman’s groan was               try to head them off.”
audible to all of them. He threw down his                     “Where’ll     you    be?”       Renny
shotgun.                                            demanded. “We don’t want to be jumping
         “Come here,” he wailed. “I’ve              on you by mistake.”
made a terrible mistake.” He stared                           “Swimming.”
hopelessly at them while they ran to his                      Renny looked at the water. There
side and sank in the shelter of a tree              was a fringe of ice like glass along the
clump.                                              edges. He said, “Br-r-r!” and ran away
         “I broke away from them,” the              with Ham.
man said. “When the shooting started, I                       Getting into the water was like
figured they had fallen out among                   entering a bath of sharp needles. The
themselves. I got my hands loose,                   bronze man’s routine of exercises—the
grabbed a shotgun, clubbed a man over               regular daily two-hour period which he
the head and jumped out of a window.”               devoted to scientifically developing his
         He was a long-legged, long-                physical and mental faculties—had
armed man who had a short body. His                 conditioned his body to intense shock;
face was somewhat red, his nose was                 nevertheless, he had to keep his teeth
slightly on the beak side, and he had a             clamped tightly to prevent them from
mouth that was wide, grim, lipless. He              rattling.
was the kind of man who gave the                              He swam a fast crawl, arms
impression of always going around                   coming up and lunging out ahead with
looking grim and forbidding. You looked at          machine regularity, a long line of swirling
him and instinctively knew that he worried          water and foam trailing out behind.
over details.                                                 When he came out on a muddy
         He pointed toward the cabin.               shore, it was close to three beached
“While I was shooting at you,” he said,             canoes. Paddles had been flung down
“they got away.”                                    carelessly beside the craft. He listened.
         Monk stared at the cabin. “How                       A motor car was leaving the
do you know they got away?”                         vicinity, traveling fast.
                                                              Enough frost still remained on the
                                                    grass to show footprints. Doc followed the
    xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx THE   EVIL GNOME xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx 45

tracks of the men who had been in the             ankles, although the bit of rope still
canoes, a trail that led him to an old            dangled from his right wrist.
cowshed. From there, tire tracks led to the                 Doc said quietly, “So you are
road.                                             Burdo Brockman?”
         Ham and Renny arrived, puffing,                    “Yes.” The man moved his gaze
clothing muddy.                                   from Doc to the faces of the others. He
         “They got away,” Doc said quietly.       must have seen disbelief. He seemed
                                                  embarrassed. “I don’t blame you,” he
                                                  said. “It is a fantastic thing.”
          THEY walked back to the canoes,                   “You don’t blame us for what?”
paddled across to the cabin, and Johnny           Ham asked.
met them. Johnny looked shocked, and                        “For not believing me.”
was perspiring slightly in spite of the cold.               “You haven’t told us anything
          “It’s luck-lucky you stopped me         yet.”
from charging into that cabin,” he                          Monk said, “He told me and Miss
muttered, using small words.                      Ellison his story.” The chemist glanced at
          “What ails you?” Renny peered at        the long-legged, sour-looking man.
him. “You look as if somebody had taken           “Maybe you better tell it again.”
the lid off and let you see the works.”                     The man took a deep breath and
          Johnny beckoned, and walked to          seemed to recite his whole story without
the cabin. He leaned in through a window          coming up for air. “I am Burdo Brockman,”
from which the glass had been broken,             he said, “and this is a fact you can
pointed. “Just suppose I had opened that          ascertain by consulting my lawyers, my
door.”                                            brokers or any of my business associates
          He meant dynamite. There was            in New York City. I am—ah—well, I own a
almost a case of it. On top of the                few factories and things. Three weeks
dynamite had been scattered a box of              ago, I was seized by four men I had never
caps. A heavy crowbar was propped                 seen before, put in a plane, and brought
against the door where a slight shock             here. They’ve been keeping me here
would dislodge it, causing the heavy bar          since. I do not know why. I do not know
of steel to fall on the caps. The shock           who the men are.” He scowled darkly. “It
would doubtless have detonated the caps;          is all a confounded mystery to me.”
the dynamite in turn would have                             Doc Savage made no comment;
exploded. It was an ingenious quick job of        instead, he walked through the cabin,
fashioning a death trap.                          making another quick search, after which
          Renny said hoarsely, “We better         he joined the others and voiced a
fix that thing before it takes a notion to go     warning. “There was a great deal of
off by itself.” He clambered in through the       shooting here,” he reminded them.
window.                                           “Someone is sure to come to investigate.”
          Doc Savage and Ham searched                       “Yeah, and the cops will probably
the cabin rapidly. They found evidence            get tipped off again,” Monk muttered.
that a number of men had used the place                     They went back to their car.
for some time. Judging from the stock of          There were seven of them now, including
food on hand, they had intended to use it         the man they had rescued, a well-packed
for a considerable period.                        load for the machine.
          In a table drawer, they found a                   The car rolled in silence. The sun
number of bills. They were made out to            had climbed above the bank of clouds
Elmo Anderson.                                    and was pouring cold-white light over the
          “Elmo Anderson.” Ham rubbed his         khaki-colored cornfields and the brilliant
jaw thoughtfully. “This hitches together,         foliage of such trees as had not yet lost
Doc. One of the three men the murdered            their leaves. The car had no heater; it was
banker was having investigated was                cold enough in the machine that they
named Elmo Handy Anderson.”                       could see their breath. The windows and
          Monk and Lion Ellison entered           shield soon fogged so that Doc, who was
the cabin, accompanied by the new Burdo           driving, had to keep rubbing the glass with
Brockman. They had freed the man’s                a palm.
46   xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx DOC   SAVAGE xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

         The new Brockman spoke                     “We haven’t”—before Monk stopped him
suddenly. “I think I am supposed to be in           with an elbow jab in the ribs.
India.”                                                      Doc said. “That doesn’t quite
         “Eh?” Monk stared at him.                  answer his description. By the way, did
         “That’s the trick they worked,” he         you know the cabin we just left was
explained. “I saw some stationery with the          occupied by Handy Anderson?”
name of a hunting lodge in India on it. I                    “What?” The man looked stark.
think they were using it to write letters to                 “Apparently it was. There were
my folks in New York.”                              grocery bills made out to that name in the
         Monk said, “But that picture—”             place.”
and Doc kicked him on the shin. “Ouch!”                      The other frowned. “Handy
Monk finished.                                      Anderson isn’t short or small. I told you
         “What did you say about                    that because I—hah, hah—was testing
pictures?” the long-armed man asked.                you. Handy is an elderly fellow with white
         Monk could think fast.                     hair that is always tangled, and he’ll
         “Why, we got a picture of a little         remind you of a bulldog more than
wizened guy,” he said. “I wonder if you             anything else.”
know who he is?”                                             Monk leaned over to Doc and
         They passed the picture of the             whispered excitedly, “That guy he just
mysterious runt, as Monk had taken to               described is the first Burdo Brockman we
calling him, back to their passenger, and           met. The one at Kirksville, where the
he examined the print. He pursed his lips,          strawstack burned.”
sucked at a tooth, scratched his chin with                   Doc turned around to look levelly
a fingernail. “No.”                                 at the man in the back seat. “Testing us,
         “No what?” Monk asked.                     you say?”
         “Never saw him before.” The man                     “I—I’m sorry.” The man grimaced.
looked up. “Is he involved in this?”                “This is all very mysterious and
         “That little runt,” Monk said grimly,      confusing.”
“is involved in something, all right. Maybe                  Doc said, “Have you any idea why
he is the something. He reminds me of               the man whom you have just described as
the guy who popped up when they rubbed              Handy Anderson should be masquerading
the lamp in that Aladdin story. To tell the         as Burdo Brockman?”
truth, we don’t know—”                                       The long-armed man leaned back
         Doc Savage interrupted quietly,            in the rear seat.
asking. “Mr. Brockman, have you ever                         “I’m dumfounded,” he said.
heard of a man named Danny Dimer?”
         “Never,” said the man promptly.
         “Or a banker named Ellery P.                       MONK          was         completely
Dimer?”                                             confused—Ham, Renny, Johnny and Lion
         “No.”                                      Ellison were in the same boat with him—
         Monk had been watching Doc                 and he could not have suggested their
Savage curiously out of the corner of one           next move. They would, of course, have
small, quizzical eye. It had occurred to            to avoid the police and arrest, for once
Monk that he had better keep still and let          they were in jail there was little chance of
Doc conduct this conversation.                      Doc’s influence getting them out, even on
         Doc said, “Mr. Brockman, do you            bail. The charge was murder—murder of
know a man named Elmo Handy                         the State’s governor. That Doc had
Anderson?”                                          contrived an escape from the Kirksville jail
         Their passenger reacted to that.           did not mean a jail could not be
He gave a jump, sat up very straight.               constructed strong enough to hold him.
         “Why, that’s my old handy man,”            Monk was confident there were quite a
he said. “Handy worked for me for years.            few bastiles which could hold the bronze
He’s a short, small man. Or haven’t you             man.
met him?”                                                   Monk could see nothing that they
         Ham, who also rode in the front            could do now except try to keep out of jail.
seat, opened his mouth and got as far as,
    xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx THE   EVIL GNOME xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx 47

          He suspected Doc had more                        “You will have plenty of time,” Doc
tangible ideas. The bronze man had                explained. “They do not suspect that we
turned off the highway and was taking dirt        have the least idea what it is all about.
roads north and west heading in the               Certainly they won’t dream that we have a
general direction of the spot where they          great deal of dope on them—enough to
had left the plane.                               seize many of them.”
          Certainly there was nothing in                   The bronze man smiled. He was
Doc’s movements to enlighten Monk after           aware that the long-armed Brockman was
they reached the field where they had left        staring at him in droop-jawed amazement.
their plane. The ship still stood there.                   “They don’t know we’ve solved
Several farmers were walking around the           the mystery of those killings and the rest
big streamlined craft, but there were no          of the stuff they’ve pulled,” Doc added.
police in evidence.                               “So get going, fellows. Bring them in.”
          Doc drove past without stopping,                 Renny asked, “You mean all of
continued until he came to an abandoned           us? Monk, Ham, Johnny and myself?
farmhouse. It was not difficult, in this part     Everybody?”
of Missouri, to find abandoned farms.                      “Yes.”
Monk opened a barbed-wire gate, and                        Amazed curiosity got the best of
Doc drove through tall dead weeds to the          long-limbed Brockman. He clutched Doc’s
barn and ran the car inside.                      arm, demanded, “What on earth does this
          “Machine will be out of sight           mean?”
here,” he explained.                                       “It means,” Doc said, “that we’ve
          “It occurs to me,” Renny rumbled,       solved this mystery. And now we’re going
“that our plane is going to get some              to lay our hands on most of the men really
attention. A strange ship abandoned in a          responsible for these murders.”
pasture several miles from town is certain
to arouse comment.”
          “Well, I’ll be superamalgamated!”                    Chapter XV
Johnny exploded. “Once the police come,                    A TRICK PAYS OFF
they’ll investigate and find out the plane is
registered in Doc’s name.”                                  MONK, Ham, Renny and Johnny
          “Which will make it too bad,”           had one thing in common—they were not
Renny agreed.                                     mind readers. Hence they had no idea
          Doc Savage volunteered no               what Doc was talking about, and they
comment. He walked to the farmhouse,              were as surprised as anybody, but they
which was in fair condition. After working        had the judgment to make their
on the lock with a piece of wire, he got          astonishment look as much as possible
inside. He looked around and registered           like eager enthusiasm. Lion Ellison was
satisfaction.                                     probably less amazed; she had seen just
          “This will do,” he said. “Mr.           enough of the bronze man’s remarkable
Brockman and myself can stay here while           ability to be willing to expect anything.
the rest of you go and get those fellows.”                  “All right, Doc,” Monk said. “We’re
          “Go get what fellows?” Renny            off.”
blurted.                                                    Renny and the others walked to
          Doc brought his hand to his             the barn and climbed into the car. They
mouth and made a sound that was                   were silent—there didn’t seem to be
apparently clearing his throat. Actually,         anything to say. The sedan rolled through
the noise was a few Mayan words, the              the tall weeds to the dirt road, bumped
equivalent of, “Don’t give this away.”            over the grader rut and turned left.
          Renny blinked, understood, and                    Monk said, “That was one of the
said, “Oh, sure. I get you.”                      most unexpected things I’ve seen Doc
          “Take the car,” Doc continued.          do.”
“Leave the plane where it is. Mr.                           Renny, Ham and Johnny wrestled
Brockman and myself may need it for an            silently—and vainly—with their thoughts.
          “Right,” Renny agreed.
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         Lion Ellison said, “What are we            might be a good idea to go over there and
supposed to do?”                                    buy a chicken or something we can cook.
         “What we usually do in a case like         Want to go along?”
this,” Monk told her, “is stick around and                    “I—hm-m-m—guess not. I’m kind
keep an ear cocked at the short-wave                of tired.”
radio. Guess we’ll do that.”                                  “Be with you soon.”
         They drove on down the road.                         The bronze man moved away
         Back        in    the  abandoned           from the house and was soon lost from
farmhouse, Doc Savage went through the              sight in a cornfield.
motions of making himself comfortable.                        The man who had said he was
The place was bare. Going out to the                Burdo Brockman stood in the door staring
barn, the bronze man came back with an              after Doc. Nothing on his face was
armload of dry timothy which he had                 pleasant.
collected from the loft; he heaped this in a                  “This plays hell with our plans,” he
corner. “Do for a bed,” he explained.               growled.
         The long-armed, long-legged
Brockman stared at him in astonishment.
“We going to be here that long?”                             THE man who had said he was
         “It will take time.”                       Burdo Brockman forced himself to remain
         The other seemed to be in the              where he was until Doc Savage had been
grip of complete astonishment. He went              out of sight for some moments. By that
through the usual puzzle motions—                   time, impatience had got a little
scratching his jaw, rubbing his head and            perspiration out on his body. Finally,
screwing his face around in thinking                deciding it was safe, he lunged off the
shapes. Finally he muttered, “You have              rickety old porch, galloped through the
solved the whole mystery?”                          weeds, hurdled the barbed-wire fence and
         “Practically.”                             took out down the road. His haste-
         “What is back of it?”                      frenzied feet knocked up little dust puffs.
         Instead of answering the query,                     The plane—Johnny’s ship, which
Doc Savage seemed not to hear. He                   Doc’s party had been using—stood in the
leaned back, half closed his flake-gold             pasture, a great glinting metallic insect in
eyes, and after a moment indulged in                the morning sun.
what appeared to be philosophy. “You                         Several curiosity viewers—they
know, it has often occurred to me to                were      neighborhood       farmers—were
wonder whether the human race might                 examining the plane or loafing about
not be fundamentally evil. Otherwise, why           discussing crops and prices. A wagon and
should social behavior apparently be                two cars had stopped on the dirt road.
controlled by fear?” The bronze man’s                        The long-armed man studied the
flake-gold eyes rested on the other. “You           scene carefully.
do not understand what I mean, do you?                       “No cops,” he grunted aloud. He
Take this situation, for example. The thing         seemed very relieved.
could have been a great boon to mankind,                     The     man     straightened     his
but due to the evil texture of certain              clothing, brushed off the weeds and
minds, it is going to be anything but a             walked out boldly. He approached the
boon, unless we can stop it.”                       plane.
         “What you’re saying doesn’t make                    “Hi-yah,” he said to the farmers.
sense to me.”                                                “Howdy,” they greeted, and stared
         “You’ll understand when my                 at him curiously.
associates come back with the prisoners.”                    “My plane.” The man gestured at
         The bronze man got up, moved to            the ship carelessly. “Broke a little gadget
the door and stood there for a while.               in the engine last night and had to land.
         “Hungry?” he asked.                        Been to town and got it.” He spoke airily
         “Not very.”                                and with excellent convincingness. The
         “I am.” Doc stared off into the            farmers seemed unconcerned, not even
distance. “There is a farmhouse across              greatly interested in the machine. As a
the field three-quarters of a mile or so. It        matter of fact, planes were not unusual to
    xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx THE   EVIL GNOME xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx 49

any of them, and they were standing               o’clock; he began at the figure one and
around visiting, not gaping in awe at the         lettered the alphabet around the dial—he
aircraft.                                         started A, B, C, and so on—until he
          The man climbed up on the wing          reached the figure eleven, which proved
and unsnapped a port in the streamlined           to be the letter K. This was the key to a
cowling that gave access to the vitals of         code, it developed, because he began
one engine. He fumbled therein for a              speaking into the microphone words that
while, making a pretense of repairs, but          began with the letter K. He gave them in a
actually being careful to touch nothing.          rambling fashion, as they entered his
          Later, when he went to the plane        mind.
door, he found it locked. He swore under                    His calling went something like,
his breath, then demonstrated that he was         “Knee, knack, kidnap, kid, keg, keep,
quick-witted.                                     kaffir, kick—”
          He fumbled in his pocket,                         After he had called for a while, he
pretending to look for a key.                     signed off by simply saying. “Come in.”
          “Hell! I’ve lost my key,” he said                 His first call got no response, so
loudly. “Guess I’ll have to force the door.”      he scowled and tried again. He kept it up
          He got in easier than he had            for almost thirty minutes, and twice during
expected. One hard wrench snapped the             that interval rage so overcame him that he
door open. He clambered inside,                   pounded the empty seat beside him in
scrambled forward to the controls.                fury.
          The practiced manner in which                     “All right,” a voice out of the ether
the man fingered the controls showed he           said finally.
knew flying, but apparently he lacked                       The man recognized the voice.
experience with this type of ship. He             He snarled, “Where the hell have you
expended several moments familiarizing            been?”
himself with the instruments. All the time,                 “Keep your shirt on,” the voice
he kept throwing sharp glances over the           advised. “We just went out for lunch.”
vicinity. But the farmers did not seem                      “I told you, damn you, to keep
interested.                                       that radio on,” the man yelled.
          He tried the starters. They                       “What are you squalling about? I
growled briefly, then motors coughed blue         just talked to the boys who were in that
smoke and noise. Later, the plane took            cabin on the lake, and they got away in
the air in a manner that caused the man           fine shape. So everything goes smooth.”
to breathe, “Sweet!” under his breath. As                   The man in the plane swore
soon as he was lined out on a course, he          violently.
began using the two-way radio.                              “I’ve been trying to get hold of you
                                                  to tell you that Doc Savage’s men are on
                                                  their way to pick some of you up,” he
         THE little radio transmitter had a       shouted.
frequency-marked dial, so that setting it to                “Pick who up?”
a definite wave-length was a simple                         “I don’t know which ones. But Doc
matter. The man moved down into the               Savage has found out a lot more than we
short-band past twenty megacycles where           thought he had.”
a little power was sufficient for                           The distant man was inclined to
transmission over tremendous distance,            be skeptical and critical. He said, “What’s
then disconnected the “scrambler”                 the matter with you? Did they find out you
attachment.                                       weren’t what you pretended to be?”
         The man began calling, not using                   “They never suspected me.”
any call letters, which was a violation of                  “Then why didn’t you kill Doc
Department of Commerce law. As long as            Savage? That was why you jumped out of
he was operating a portable, there was            the cabin, pretending to be a prisoner,
little chance of a radio inspector with a         wasn’t it?”
direction-finder locating the transmitter.                  “I didn’t have a chance,” the man
         The man consulted his wrist              explained sourly. “They were all together
watch, noted that it was exactly eleven           until the last, and then Doc Savage pulled
50   xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx DOC   SAVAGE xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

out after a chicken before I could get a            man his chance to flee. Watching the
chance at him.”                                     fellow, Doc had known immediately that
         “Weren’t scared, were you?”                he was heading for the plane. He had
         The man in the plane swore                 gotten there first; there had been barely
violently. “The fact that we’re both mixed          time to explain to the farmers that they
up in this thing doesn’t give you any right         must act as if they hadn’t seen him get
to be impertinent. If you know what’s good          into the plane. Probably the farmers
for you, you’ll keep a civil tongue.”               hadn’t understood; but what they had
         “O. K.,” the other said soothingly.        comprehended were the ten-dollar bills he
“I didn’t mean anything by it. What have            had distributed to pay them for their
you got on your mind?”                              trouble. Yes, it had worked very nicely so
         “Get the men together. Assemble            far.
at headquarters. I’ll join you.”                              Doc got on the short-wave radio,
         “This must be serious,” the other          put it on his usual wave-length, and said,
said in an impressed voice.                         “Monk?”
         “It is.”                                             “Yes?” Monk’s voice said.
                                                              “The action in this thing is
                                                    swinging to Kansas City,” Doc said swiftly.
         THE       man      picked   up    a        “Burdo Brockman lived in Kirksville—
doubletracked railroad and followed it until        that’s why the thing started around there.
he reached the outskirts of Kansas City.            But now they’re moving in on Kansas
He swung over to the river and trailed it           City. You and the others had better get
around until the flat expanse of the                down here.”
municipal airport was discernible—then                        “May take us some time. We’ll
he changed his mind about landing.                  have to drive down in the car. Might have
         “No use taking chances,” he                some cop trouble.”
muttered.                                                     “Do your best.”
         It had occurred to him that Doc                      “Right. Where’ll we meet?”
Savage might have reached a telephone                         Doc explained where the plane
at Kirksville and in some fashion have              lay. “However, I will take one of the small
spread an alarm for the plane.                      radio outfits with me and try to contact
         He set down on the river itself,           you en route.”
cranking up the landing gear and handling                     The radio which the bronze man
the plane gingerly, for he had never                carried away from the plane was a
manipulated a seaplane before. He sent              compact little outfit of the “transceiver”
the ship against the bank with jarring              type, not much more bulky than a good-
force; the hull slid far up on the mud.             sized folding camera, very efficient to
         The man bounded out, lost no               horizon distance. It had a carrying strap.
time about leaving the spot.                                  It was snowing; the ground was
         Almost         immediately,      an        white, flakes were whizzing through the
apparently solid section in the wing of the         air like particles of glass.
plane heaved up, and Doc Savage                               Going up the river bank, he
clambered out of the recess that was                carefully stepped in the tracks of the long-
exposed. The thick streamlined wing had             armed man—a forethought, in case the
been      equipped      with    that  recess        man should come back.
specifically for stowaway purposes, such                      There was brush at the top. Doc
tricky devices being a part of the bronze           moved rapidly. There was a busy street
man’s stock in trade.                               off to the south, and the quarry had made
         Doc’s usually expressionless face          for that. When Doc located the fellow, he
showed pleasure. It had worked very                 had just reached the boulevard and was
nicely: The sending of his men away on a            waiting beside a sign that said, “Bus
trumped-up mission of seizing their                 Stop.” He was beating his arms in the
enemies—that had frightened the man                 cold.
who said he was Brockman into taking                          The bronze man had a trained
flight. The departure of Doc, ostensibly to         muscular ability that made him very fast
get a chicken for lunch, had given the              on his feet—but his speed was
    xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx THE   EVIL GNOME xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx 51

remarkable only when in competition with                   Doc took another cage, rode to
another human; against a bus, he did not          the sixteenth, got out and produced a
think much of his chances.                        sealed metal canister which looked like a
         So he veered left, ran, and              talcum-powder can, and in fact was
managed to find a taxicab—it was his              labeled as such.
idea to board the bus before it stopped for                He sprinkled powder on the floor
the long-armed man, if he had to—and              in front of the door of the elevator which
followed his quarry through the storm             the long-armed man had taken. Nothing
without difficulty. The man got out in the        happened, so he took the stairs to the
downtown district, not far from Seventh           next floor.
and Grand.                                                 He repeated the operation until
                                                  he reached the topmost floor, and still
                                                  nothing happened.
           Chapter XVI                                     Doc leaned against the wall,
        PENTHOUSE STORY                           disgusted and puzzled. The acid which
                                                  had been in the rubber container was very
          IT was one of Kansas City’s             potent—its vapor, present in unbelievably
largest buildings; even in New York City, it      minute quantities, would cause the
would have been rated a skyscraper.               normally bluish powder to turn red.
There was a bank of eight elevators, all                   The acid on the man’s shoes
operating, any one of which a visitor might       would leave vapor wherever he walked for
take.                                             a while, and the vapor was heavier than
          Since the day was rapidly turning       air so that it remained close to the floor.
into a blizzard, they were using the              But it hadn’t worked.
revolving doors. Sidewalks were crowded.                   While Doc was pondering, a rising
Doc was close to the man—thirty feet or           elevator went past. Went past. Something
so back—when the fellow entered the               strange about that, because this was
revolving door, and all set with what             supposed to be the top floor.
resembled a small rubber ball in his                       There was a stairway and a steel
hands.                                            door that he had presumed led up to the
          He threw the ball; it struck in the     elevator-machinery housing on the roof.
compartment of the rotating door with the                  The door was locked. He started
man near his feet. It burst, as it was            to pick the lock, then became cautious.
designed to do, and released a small                       He detached a small gadget of
spray of chemical that splashed on the            wires and tubes which had been affixed
fellow’s shoes and trousers cuffs.                inside the lid of the radio. A wire ran from
          The man glanced down, but the           this, and he plugged it into a jack on the
rubber container, having collapsed,               radio which utilized only the receiving
resembled a pencil eraser; he shrugged,           amplifier. He ran the gadget around the
went on.                                          edges of the locked door.
          It was fortunate, Doc reflected,                 The door was wired with a burglar
that he had used a tube of darkening stain        alarm—one of the most effective types
on his face and hands, and turned his             which utilized a circuit continuously
coat inside out. The coat was lined so that       charged with a small current which would
it reversed a different color and cut. Also       be broken the moment the door was
he had changed the color of his eyes by           opened. The gadget had registered
using the little tinted glass optical caps        presence of the tiny electrical field
such as he had employed in disguising             surrounding the alarm wires.
Lion Ellison much earlier. He had done
this in the taxi.
          He walked into the warm lobby of                THERE was a frost-glazed
the building and watched the indicator            window at the end of the corridor. Doc
over the elevator. The first stop the cage        opened it, and biting cold wind and cutting
made was on the sixteenth floor. That             snow particles whipped his face. He
helped.                                           studied the brick wall, the ornamental
                                                  coping, with no enthusiasm whatever.
52   xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx DOC   SAVAGE xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

         He climbed out and began going             fireplace was a den or living room—and
up, closing the window behind him. There            quickly settled into the deep snow. He
were hand holds—cracks between the                  used his hands to fill his tracks, then
stones into which he could wedge                    covered himself with snow as best he
fingertips—and ordinarily climbing would            could.
not have been treacherous, if one                            Within a few minutes, the howling
discounted the fact that to slip was death,         wind would obliterate traces of his
and the half-inch width of the fingertip            coming.
         The cold wind pounded his
clothing against his body; it pushed at                      FOR a long time in the room, they
him, and made a doglike whining around              talked about race horses and racetracks
the carved facets of the ornamental                 and gambling joints.
coping above. There was ice in some of                       When the talk swung to circus life,
the cracks where his fingertips had to              Doc sharpened his interest. After a while,
grip; at first, when his fingers were warm,         he had catalogued at least part of the
it was easy to tell when they were resting          men as to profession—evidently they
on ice, but soon the cold and strain made           belonged to a group of daredevils who
it nerve-shatteringly difficult.                    traveled      with     planes,      furnishing
         At length he swung over the                advertising and thrills for a circus.
coping and lay there on a narrow tarred                      There was a circus background in
ledge; he had only to get up and clamber            the mystery somewhere, Doc knew. Lion
over a low wall onto the roof. He was safe          Ellison’s brother had been a flying-circus
now.                                                employee, and Lion herself had belonged
         There was a penthouse atop the             to the circus. The circus thread even
skyscraper.                                         extended to Ellery P. Dimer, the murdered
         Some of the trees in the                   banker; he’d had a financial and personal
penthouse        garden      were    stunted        interest in various circuses and carnivals,
evergreens; the others were scrawny and             Doc recalled from a newspaper account
naked of leaves. There were flower and              of the man’s life.
plant boxes, the stringy contents looking                    The gang was assembling in the
as dead as bits of binder twine. The snow           room. That accounted for the idle waiting.
had drifted over everything.                        From time to time a new arrival appeared.
         Doc moved carefully, using a                        But at last an authoritative voice
hand to wipe out traces of his footprints           spoke out. “All right, guys. We’re pressed
as best he could.                                   for time. The bunch hasn’t arrived from
         He did not try to enter the                Kirksville yet, but we won’t wait on them.”
penthouse, feeling that opening a window                     Doc recognized the voice. It
or door would send a chill betraying draft          belonged to the long-armed man he had
racing through the place. He found a                trailed here, the fellow who had said he
niche, an angle between two walls, where            was Burdo Brockman.
the snow was deep and a window was                           “We’ve been working in separate
convenient.                                         groups,” said the pseudo Burdo
         And now he made use of another             Brockman. “Some of you may not know
accessory of the radio, this one a                  everything that’s been done. Part of you
contrivance no longer than an overcoat              went to New York with Danny Dimer after
button. It was a microphone, equipped               the girl. Some of you were in Jefferson
with a suction cup which would hold it to a         City. Others were here in Kansas City.
windowpane; wires ran to a small plug               And of course the boys from Kirksville
which fitted the receiver amplifier jack on         haven’t shown up yet.”
the radio. It was an ultra-sensitive                         The man cleared his throat
eavesdropping device.                               noisily.
         Doc      Savage      attached   the                 “We’ll have kind of a roundup of
contrivance very cautiously to a                    the situation,” he said. “But first, I want to
windowpane—he selected a window                     make damn sure everything is safe. Some
which he judged from the proximity of a
    xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx THE   EVIL GNOME xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx 53

of you go out and look around the                 performer that fitted her description, and
terraces.”                                        sure enough, she turned up.”
          Several men left the room in                     The      man     suddenly     began
obedience to the command. The                     laughing.
microphone pickup was very sensitive;                      “You know how the framing was
Doc could hear the men howl when they             done,” he reminded.
stepped out into the biting cold. His                      Then the speaker’s joy died a
unaided ears picked up the grinding of            rather cold death in his throat. “The
their footsteps as they walked around the         damned police didn’t arrest the girl in the
terrace.                                          Kirksville drugstore after we tipped them
          At least two men walked directly        off,” he said. “And she stole a plane and
past Doc, while he remained tense, ready          struck out for New York to get to Doc
to explode out of the snowdrift the instant       Savage, the little devil.” He swore
their footsteps stopped. But the men              violently. “So our troubles commenced.”
continued on.                                              “Where is Brockman now?” a man
          They assembled inside again,            asked.
and a man reported, “Nothin’ out there but                 “Oh, he got suspicious and
the cold.”                                        rushed down to that cabin of mine on the
          “Here’s a roundup of the                lake, and I had to grab him. The boys
situation,” the false Brockman announced.         coming down from Kirksville are bringing
“When we started this, it looked perfect.         him. Don’t worry about Brockman.”
Brockman didn’t suspect a thing. It looked                 “The guy to worry about is Doc
like everything was getting off to a smooth       Savage, eh?”
start, until that damned Neddy Ellison had                 “He’s been lucky so far, damn his
to go pure on us. Neddy, the young sap,           hide! His men grabbed Dimer in New
had been working in Danny Dimer’s flying          York, and Dimer figured he was lucky to
circus for quite a while, and Danny               even get away. We tipped off the police,
thought he was O. K. We needed O. K.              had Doc Savage put in jail when he came
guys, so we rung this Neddy Ellison in. As        to Kirksville, but he got out.”
soon as he found out there were to be                      “I’ve heard a lot about that bronze
killings, Neddy turned sanctimonious on           guy,” another man volunteered.
us. We had to croak him, and Dimer did                     “He moves fast,” growled the
that by fixing Neddy’s parachute.”                long-armed man who had masqueraded
          The speaker stopped to swear            as Brockman. “He turned up in Jefferson
impressively. “That fixed that,” he said,         City, and grabbed Dan Meek. He was
“except for one thing. After Neddy                about to use truth serum on Meek, which
Ellison’s parachute split and he hit the          would have been too bad for us.
ground, he took about fifteen minutes             Fortunately, some of the boys were
dying. He talked. Nobody but Dimer heard          around there, and they took care of the
him talk, so that didn’t do any harm—but          situation although they had to kill Meek.
we learned something that put us in a hell        They would have killed Doc Savage too,
of a spot. Neddy Ellison made a dying             except one of them was using a meat
statement that he’d wrote his sister the          cleaver from the kitchen, and the blade
whole story.”                                     broke off, which left them without a
                                                  weapon. They had no other weapon they
                                                  were willing to tackle Doc Savage with, so
        “IT then became necessary,”               they beat it without finishing him. You
continued the speaker inside the                  dopes! You realize what an opportunity
penthouse, “to put Lion Ellison where she         you passed up?
couldn’t do any harm. Some of the boys                     “You let Doc Savage and his men
were squeamish about killing a girl, so we        get away; and they came back to
decided to frame her. We didn’t know her          Kirksville and found Burdo Brockman.
address; we just knew she lived in St.            Brockman was suspicious. Brockman
Louis. And we knew she was a circus               burned his laboratory so they couldn’t find
performer. So we advertised for a circus          what was in it—”
54   xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx DOC   SAVAGE xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

         “So     Brockman       burned     the      those Drive-It-Yourself places. What’s
laboratory!” a man ejaculated.                      up?”
         “Sure. Brockman didn’t want the                      Doc Savage told him what was
truth to get out. He was scared, and                up.
worried.”                                                     “You understand fully?” Doc
         “Was that when Brockman got                asked.
wise that you had stolen the thing?”                          “I think so.”
         “He was sure then. Before, he                        “What about Ham?” Doc inquired.
had just suspected.”                                          “R’aring to go,” Ham advised.
         “The way I understand the rest of                    The bronze man switched off the
it,” someone added, “you joined Doc                 radio,      reconnected        the     sensitive
Savage with the idea of getting rid of him          eavesdropping device.
yourself. What happened to that                               “How long will it take those guys
scheme?”                                            to get down from Kirksville?” the fellow
         The man who put this query was             asked.
the fellow who had just been criticized for                   “Not more than another half hour,”
the failure in Jefferson City.                      said a voice.
         The leader did not relish the                        Doc Savage recognized that
criticism. He swore. “There was no                  voice—not directly, but from the
chance to carry out my plans. But I found           description which had been given him
out the bronze guy was sending his gang             both by Lion Ellison and Monk and Ham.
to grab part of our outfit. I put a stop to                   It was the small, wizened man.
that, didn’t I?”                                    The mysterious runt, Monk had called
         “Let’s    stop    this    bickering,”      him. The little fellow who had vanished
interposed a fellow who had not taken               under such fantastic circumstances in the
previous part in the conversation. “What            basement garage of the bronze man’s
comes next?”                                        New York headquarters.
         “Plans.”                                             Doc continued listening, but there
                                                    was a silence that struck him—
                                                    unfortunately, he did not realize this until it
              Chapter XVII                          was too late—as being peculiar. He
              THE PRINCE                            turned over suddenly, dug a hole in the
                                                    snow, and put an ear against the cold
           DOC SAVAGE disconnected the              tiling of the terrace floor. But that was too
eavesdropping microphone from the radio             late also.
amplifier, and put the radio in regular                       There were seven or eight men,
operation. He held the microphone very              and they all landed on the snowdrift at
close to his lips, so that his voice was no         once, driving clutching hands into the
louder than a whisper, inaudible outside            snow.
the snowdrift. It was a little difficult to work              Doc tried to evade them, keeping
under the snow, but efficiency of the               under the snow. He kept the radio
short-wave radio should not be hampered             apparatus in his hand. But a man got hold
a great deal. The height of the skyscraper          of each of his legs.
roof should improve operation of the set.                     “Don’t kill ‘im!” a voice yelled.
           “Monk,” Doc said.                                  After the shout, Doc Savage
           The homely chemist’s response            stopped trying to keep under cover. He
over the radio was almost instantaneous.            came to his feet, deliberately used the
“Yeah, Doc.”                                        radio as a club—and struck. The little
           “How near are you to Kansas              radio was tough, downed two men, and
City?”                                              Doc kept on using it violently as a club,
           “We got a lucky break. Got to a          his idea being to mangle the apparatus as
town named Brookfield, saw a plane on a             completely as possible, so that they would
little airport there and rented it off the guy.     not recognize it as a radio. When the
We landed it on the edge of Kansas City,            radio was broken, he dropped it and they
and we just rented a car from one of                trampled on it some.
    xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx THE   EVIL GNOME xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx 55

         The bronze man kept on fighting,         many guys this bronze devil brought with
not with his full ability, but enough to          him.”
make it look good. Sufficient to keep them                  “I was alone.”
from realizing he was shamming.                             Anderson scowled at Doc. “I’ll
         He was beaten down, held arm             bet.”
and leg, and carried into the penthouse,                    “I stowed away in the plane.” Doc
to a room that was long and rather                explained the exact location of the plane
shoddily furnished, but warm from a blaze         on the Missouri River.
leaping in a fireplace at one end.                          Anderson      was   unconvinced.
         Nearly a dozen men were                  “Look this place over,” he ordered. “Give
present. Doc studied them, decided most           those elevator operators hell. They’re
of them were strangers to him, and none           getting a hundred a week not to let
of them important other than they fell into       something like this happen.”
the general classification of the enemy.                    At this point, another man
There were two exceptions.                        entered. He had a bundle of newspapers
         The wizened little man stood             under an arm. He stopped and stared at
there, an unlovely grin on his strange and        Doc in astonishment.
rather mystical face.                                       “Well, well—snap out of it!”
         “Danny Dimer,” Doc Savage said           Anderson rapped impatiently. “What do
dryly. “You operate a flying circus which         the newspapers say?”
does advertising and stunts for the                         The man handed over the
common garden or three-ring variety of            newspaper.
circus.”                                                    “The schedule of the prince has
         Dimer showed his teeth. “If I could      been decided upon,” he said. “He will
have gotten to you in New York, I would           register at a hotel, attend a banquet, and
have been spared this meeting.”                   be at the automobile show.”
         “You might have, at that,” Doc                     Anderson said, “That’s good. Just
agreed. “Not knowing your mysterious              so we know where he’ll be.”
method of murder, I would have been                         A man looked puzzled and asked,
lucky to escape.”                                 “Is this prince—”
         Dimer said, “So you’ve figured                     “He’s the next victim in an
everything out?”                                  instantaneous murder,” Anderson said
         “Not everything.”                        grimly.
         “He hasn’t,” interrupted the long-
armed man, “figured out how he’s going
to get out of this mess.”                                  DOC SAVAGE craned his neck,
         Doc studied the long-armed man.          got a look at the newspaper and identified
“You are Elmo Handy Anderson.”                    the prince referred to. He could have
         “So you figured I wasn’t                 made an accurate guess, anyway. Front
Brockman?”                                        pages of late had been devoted almost
         “Yes. You were Brockman’s                entirely to that prince.
assistant. Brockman is a scientist and                     Doc didn’t approve of the prince’s
inventor. When he perfected the thing you         visit. The prince himself was probably a
wanted, you stole it from him.”                   nice-enough guy; at least, he was patriotic
         Handy Anderson scowled. “How’d           enough to be making this American tour.
you figure that?”                                          He was Prince Axel Gustav
         “Brockman was worried when we            something-or-other of a neutral nation in
found him in Kirksville,” Doc said. “He           war-torn Europe, a little dab of a country
already suspected you. He escaped from            that was about to be gobbled up by the
us and went to your cabin—probably to             wolves. Prince Axel was making a “good
confront you with the truth.”                     will” tour of the United States. That
         Handy Anderson’s anger showed            shouldn’t have fooled anybody for a
how close to truth the guessing must have         minute, really. What Prince Axel Gustav
come. He got up swearing, yelling, “Half          something-or-other was doing was
of you guys scatter! Get out and find how         capitalizing on the well-known fact that
                                                  the Yankee public is generally a pushover
56   xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx DOC   SAVAGE xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

for the royalty racket. The Rumanians had           years ago, before he got to be governor. I
worked it back in the 1920s, the English            swore I’d pay him off.”
had worked it in 1939, and now Axel was                       A man was tying Doc Savage’s
trying it.                                          ankles, doing a slow but painstaking job,
           Putting it over, too. The                while two more stood by with sawed-off
newspapers and newsreels were giving                shotguns leveled.
him a lot of notice. True, as the royal                       The bronze man fitted together
purple went, he was small fry. But he was           what he had been hearing. Murder of the
a nice, photogenic kind of a guy with a big         governor, murder of Banker Dimer—those
grin and a good brand of English that was           crimes had been for a double motive. In
almost Yankee. His publicity men had dug            the banker’s case: Silencing and publicity.
up some gags for Prince Axel to use, so             In the governor’s instance: Revenge and
he was a wow.                                       publicity— Publicity!
           The real idea, of course, was to                   They had been killing, it
dupe your Uncle Sam and make him the                appeared, for publicity which was a
goat by getting him to intervene in the             motive as incredible and hideous as the
coming crisis in which Axel’s country was           murders themselves.
fairly certain, unless Uncle interfered, to                   The behavior of Anderson and
get gobbled up.                                     Dimer was peculiar. The two were staring
           The fact that Prince Axel’s              at each other again, and smirking with
country had been manufacturing cannon               increasing pleasure. At last, Anderson
and guns and shells by the shipload and             burst out in cackling mirth.
selling them to the enemy of the nation                       “Ten million,” he chortled.
that was about to do the gobbling—well,                       “Should be that much,” Dimer
that might have had something to do with            agreed, and rubbed his hands together.
it. But Axel was careful not to mention it.                   “We may be able to raise the
           Doc Savage watched Handy                 ante.”
Anderson and Danny Dimer.                                     “We can try.”
           The pair were looking at each                      Doc Savage watched them. He
other, and getting excited while they were          had guessed at a great deal about this
doing it. They were like two cats visioning         affair; much of the surmising had proven
a mental mouse, and licking their chops.            correct. But one thing still puzzled him—
           A man picked up the newspaper,           the motive behind it.
examined it, said, “It says here the police                   Dimer got up and walked around
have nothing new on the murder of                   the room excitedly, his evil little face
Banker Ellery P. Dimer.”                            warped with greed. “The killing of this
           Danny Dimer swore cheerfully.            prince should be enough for us to move
“That banker was my half brother, and a             into Europe,” he said. “The thing will get
fool. He had a name of being a right guy            worldwide publicity. It alone may be
in the circus business, so I figured he             enough to fix things so we can make the
would be glad to finance us on this                 deal.”
scheme. Hell—he knew too much before I                        Anderson nodded.
found out he wouldn’t touch it. So we had                     “First, we’ll go to Washington,” he
to put him away.”                                   said, “and approach the diplomats of
           Danny     Dimer     said,   “Nice        nations on both sides in the war. We’ll put
combination, too. We had to kill him, but           our proposition before them, and make
he was also prominent enough to give us             the deal with the highest bidder.”
the kind of a front-page murder we                            Dimer kept pacing. “Swell, swell.”
wanted.”                                                      “I think we can get more than
           “Like the governor, eh?” said the        ten,” Anderson continued. “Why, hell, if
man with the newspaper.                             we walk in and kill off the leaders and
           It was Handy Anderson who                main guys on one side of the war, that’ll
swore this time. “That damned governor              end the thing, won’t it? The other side
got me a stretch in the penitentiary while          should pay up—well—hell, the ceiling is
he was prosecuting attorney. That was               the limit.”
    xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx THE   EVIL GNOME xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx 57

         The man tying Doc Savage said,                     “Can we grab them?” Dimer
“This bronze guy is listening to you.”            yelled.
         “Fat lot of good it’ll do him,” Dimer            Crossbow wore a bandage over
said.                                             one eye, but his other orb glittered with
         Anderson suddenly leveled an             enthusiasm.
arm at Doc and roared gleefully, “We’ll                   “I don’t see why not,” he said.
knock him off like the prince. Make some
more good publicity for our system.”
         Doc Savage was grimly silent. He                      Chapter XVIII
understood the rest of it now. Murder to                    TROUBLE FOR HAM
advertise! That was what they had been
doing. A governor, a prominent banker,                      DIMER howled, charged out of
had been killed to publicize an unusual           the penthouse, and was trailed by all the
and incredible method of murder.                  gang but four. This quartet, armed with
         And once this murder method              shotguns, remained behind with Anderson
was built up, once the world was                  to guard Doc Savage and Burdo
convinced these men had an incredible             Brockman.
and unfailing way of inflicting death, they                 Brockman was slammed down on
were going to approach one side of the            the floor beside the bronze man.
warring coalition in Europe and try to get                  Brockman said, “I made one hell
themselves hired to kill the leaders of the       of a mistake. In Kirksville, I should have
other side!                                       told you the whole story. Instead, I
         The bronze man must have                 thought I could settle it all myself.”
looked utterly amazed, because Danny                        “You       already       suspected
Dimer laughed at him.                             Anderson, here, had stolen the stuff?”
         “Something new under the sun,            Doc asked.
eh?” Dimer said.                                            “Yes.” Brockman nodded. “I went
         The part of the gang that had            after him, thinking I would get it back. I
been in Kirksville arrived a moment later.        didn’t know he had a gang.”
Burdo Brockman was with them, a                             Brockman was bound hand and
prisoner. They were disheveled; two of            foot. Doc’s wrists were also tied by now.
them were slightly cut about the face and         He tested the lines, but not even his
hands.                                            strength would budge them.
         “What happened?” Anderson                          Brockman groaned. “I’ve always
asked sharply.                                    been a fool. Like to go off by myself and
         “Ah, dammit, we had an                   work in my experimental lab.” He glanced
automobile accident,” a man explained.            at Doc ruefully. “Being rich gets to be a
“Some lamebrain ran into us. Crossbow,            devil of a bore. I’ve been slipping away.
here, got banged over the head by the             Rigged it so my family would think I was
guy who ran into us. An ambulance came            in India, big-game hunting. Love my
and got Crossbow and started off with him         family, and all that. But they bore me.
to a hospital, but Crossbow got out               Kids are grown. My wife gone all the time
again.”                                           chasing around in society.” He groaned
         The man referred to as Crossbow          again. “But everything would have been
was the cross-eyed fellow who had                 all right if Handy Anderson hadn’t been a
appeared at the burning strawstack near           crook.”
Kirksville, the man whom Monk and the                       He fell silent and scowled
others had mistaken for a local citizen.          gloomily.
         Crossbow was excited. He had                       The gang which had gone after
something else on his mind.                       Doc’s men—it seemed impossible that
         “I didn’t tell you guys,” he barked,     they could have accomplished their
“but coming up here, I saw those four Doc         purpose so soon—returned, howling
Savage helpers and the girl.”                     gleefully over their success.
         Dimer made gurgling noises,
howled, “Where?”
         “In front. Watching this building.”
58   xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx DOC   SAVAGE xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

        Monk, Renny, Johnny and Lion                Seems he had noticed Crossbow and
Ellison were marched in, hands above                Ham were the same build. Only difference
their heads.                                        was Crossbow’s crossed eyes. So we
        Monk glanced at Doc, said sadly,            fixed that with a bandage.”
“The crooks! They sneaked up on us.                          Doc said, “Throw me a knife,
Couldn’t have managed it if it hadn’t been          Ham.”
so cold. Heater in our car must have had                     The knife landed at the bronze
us dopey, or something.”                            man’s feet. He got it, cut himself free and
        Anderson scowled. “Where’s the              heaved erect. He loosened Monk and the
other one?”                                         others.
        Dimer looked uneasy. “The fancy-                     “I will go after Dimer,” the bronze
dressing one, you mean? Ham Brooks, or              man said.
whatever his name is. He wasn’t with                         Dimer had gone into another part
them.”                                              of the penthouse, Doc surmised. The
        Anderson came over and slugged              bronze man moved in that direction.
Monk demanding, “Where is this Ham?”                         He found Dimer on his knees in
        “I don’t know,” Monk said angrily.          front of a large and obviously new steel
        The cross-eyed man, Crossbow,               safe. The man had opened the safe, and
stood back and smirked and looked proud             had taken a cardboard box therefrom,
of himself.                                         placed it on the floor in front of him and
        “Remember, it was me that got               was removing cotton packing carefully.
‘em caught,” he reminded.                                    Doc went silently for him.
        “We won’t forget that,” Dimer told                   The thing might have ended
him. He wheeled to Anderson, said,                  there, except for the yell and the blasting
“We’re fools to let ‘em stay alive. Thing to        reports of a repeating shotgun that came
do is get rid of them now.”                         from the room where Doc had left the
        Anderson nodded quickly. “You               others.
bet.”                                                        Dimer whirled, saw Doc, clawed a
        “What about having their dead               gun out of his clothing. He was like a
bodies appear all of a sudden in—well—              scared dog; he went over on his back,
how would the police station strike you?”           arms and legs flying about, as he tried to
        Anderson licked his lips. “O. K.”           get the gun in action. Doc fell on him.
        Dimer said, “I’ll get the stuff. Rest       Dimer had luck, and kicked the bronze
of you wait here.”                                  man in the face. It hurt. Pain blinded Doc
        He went out of the room.                    momentarily. Dimer fired. Missed. Doc got
        Doc Savage said, “It seems to be            hold of the gun arm and there was a dull
now or never.”                                      breaking sound and Dimer began
        The man called Crossbow sidled              shrieking in agony. The shrieking stopped
around until he was clear of the others             when Doc stroked the man’s jaw with a
and facing them. He had picked up a                 fist.
sawed-off shotgun. He lifted this weapon,                    Doc leaped up, hesitated. There
swept the group with its menace.                    was plenty of fight noise from the other
        “Everything better be slow                  part of the penthouse, but no more
motion,” he said.                                   shooting.
        Crossbow, it seemed, was Ham.                        Turning to the safe, the bronze
                                                    man searched.
                                                             There were about two dozen gas
            THE silence felt as if it was ready     masks of an ingenious type. They were of
to split.                                           rubber so thin that it was transparent, and
        Burdo Brockman broke it, asking,            they pulled entirely over the head. The
“But how did this man—”                             respirator portion of the masks was a
        Monk said, “Ham took the place              chemical filter not much larger than a
of the real Crossbow. We staged that                pocket watch. As masks, they were
automobile accident they mentioned. A               probably more ingenious than efficient;
friend of Doc’s named Bill Larner helped            but at least they would function for five or
us. Doc gave us the idea over the radio.            ten minutes.
    xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx THE   EVIL GNOME xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx 59

          The gas masks had another                         It was the perfect anaesthetic.
ingenious feature. They folded into little        That much, he knew. Science had sought
packets which were mounted on adhesive            this thing for generations, and doctors had
tape, so that they could be stuck to the          hinted it would be one of the great
skin anywhere under the clothing,                 contributions of all time.
preferably in a spot where they were not                    The       perfect     anaesthetic.
likely to be found in a search.                   Odorless, colorless, producing an instant
          The second item in the safe was         state of insensibility, with no sensation
the score or more of cardboard boxes.             whatever.      No      pain,  no     nausea
Each of these—Doc guessed that, after             afterward—not even a consciousness that
opening two—held a good-sized bottle of           the patient had entered an anaesthetized
particularly villainous-looking liquid.           condition.
          Doc put on one of the masks.                      A gas which doctors could use
          He took a bottle of the liquid and      with such smooth effects that the patients
went back to the fight.                           would not even know when they had been
                                                            A boon to surgery. And a sinister
         EVIDENTLY Monk and the others            weapon in the hands of crooks.
had collected all the shotguns but one                      Doc walked over to Johnny, said
and thrown them out of the window before          loudly, “Let them go! Take your hands off
the fight started, only to have the last man      them.”
endeavor to make a break when they                          Johnny made a very slight move
sought to disarm him. That accounted for          toward releasing the two men whom he
the absence of firearms in the fray.              had been fighting.
         It was a complete battle. Chairs,                  “Let them go,” Doc repeated
pictures, table legs, vases and other             loudly, and this time he took hold of
knicknacks were in the air. Renny was in          Renny’s arms and untwined them from
a corner, flailing furiously with his             their victims.
enormous fists. Ham was down. A man                         Johnny obeyed the command,
was choking Lion Ellison, but not very            very slowly, and without anything
successfully, for she had her thumbs in           approaching mental understanding. He
his eyes. Johnny had wrapped his                  did not know what was happening, would
elongated self around two opponents.              not remember afterward, so that this
         Doc uncorked the bottle and              interval would be a complete blank in his
threw the entire contents out into the air of     mind.
the room.                                                   But the period of Johnny’s
         Results          were        almost      unconsciousness would be more than a
instantaneous, and peculiar.                      blank. It would be a gap of which he was
         Monk had torn himself free of an         not aware. Awakening, he would not
opponent, knocked the man down. Monk              realize he had been gassed, would have
remained with his fist cocked.                    no suspicion that he had stood for
         As if through uncanny magic, all         minutes with no awareness of what went
action ceased. Johnny kept his long arms          on about him or what happened to him.
and legs wrapped around his two foes,             The      anaesthetic     was    undoubtedly
and they made no effort to free                   odorless and colorless; its effects seized
themselves. The girl and her assailant            upon the victim instantaneously, without
froze exactly as they were.                       even the sensations of becoming sleepy.
         No one, friend or foe, seemed to                   This stuff accounted for the weird
have the least realization of what was            murders. It explained how the wizened
going on, or have any emotion left, neither       little man—Danny Dimer—had escaped
hate nor rage nor fear.                           from the basement garage vault in the
         Doc Savage watched curiously.            New York skyscraper—he had simply had
The effects, he decided, were about as he         some of the anaesthetic concealed on his
had thought they would be. But his                person where Monk and Renny had failed
guessing had been only of a general               to find it when they searched. Dimer had
nature.                                           ejected some of the anaesthetic from the
60   xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx DOC   SAVAGE xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

vault, possibly through the ventilator in the       revive in the same spot where they had
door so that Monk and Renny had been                gassed her.
gassed. The vault door had not been                          Monk seemed a little confused
locked at the time, and Dimer had                   when he awakened.
experienced no trouble in walking out.                       He peered at the man he had hit
         This gas accounted for all the             just as the anaesthetic got him. The man
mysterious murders.                                 was now tied hand and foot. Monk looked
         In the case of Banker Ellery P.            at his own fist.
Dimer—and the photographer Dan Meek,                         “When I hit ‘em,” he muttered, “I
for that matter—the anaesthetic had                 sure wrap ‘em up.
simply been used to stop the mental
processes of a roomful of people while
the murderer, wearing a gas mask,                             PRINCE       AXEL         GUSTAV
walked in and committed the crime.                  something-or-other went back to Europe
         The        ideal      anaesthetic,         and his country wasn’t invaded because
undeniably.                                         the American government sent some very
         Doc opened the windows wide,               threatening notes, so Axel’s tour landed
letting the cold wind roar inside; carrying         under the heading of a great success.
hard particles of snow, and sweeping the                      But long before that happened,
gas out of the place.                               Doc Savage’s unique criminal curing
         He got ropes, tied the prisoners.          “college” in up-state New York got a fresh
Then he waited. He had no idea how long             batch of patients which included Dimer
the effects of the gas lasted. Only a few           and Anderson and their associates.
moments, probably, unless the stuff was                       And Burdo Brockman had made a
administered repeatedly, in which case              decision. “I can change their anaesthetic
the victim probably could be kept under its         formula,” he said. “I can do it. I’ll use one
effects for days. Lion Ellison had been             different chemical, and that will give it an
certain she had been out for at least two           odor and anybody who takes the stuff will
days—and it was fairly certain they had             certainly know they’ve been gassed. We’ll
kept her under the effects of the                   destroy all the present gas.”
anaesthetic long enough to take her to                        “You won’t make as much money
Jefferson City, where the governor was              out of it,” Renny reminded him.
murdered, and the anaesthetized girl                          Burdo Brockman grinned. “What
placed in posed photographs, so that she            the hell—I’ve got plenty of money.”
could be framed with the murder.
Evidently it was then that her fingerprints
had been planted, and the knife placed in                            THE END
her purse, as well. Later, she had been
taken back to Kirksville and permitted to
   xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx THE   EVIL GNOME xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx 61

                            The Boss Of Terror
And the boss of thrills, suspense and excitement, too, as you will
find when you read the complete novel in the next issue, with Doc
Savage and his pals finding themselves face to face with a terrible
adversary. Don't miss the coming issue if you want the tops in thrills
and excitement.

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