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
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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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CAST OF CHARACTERS IN "THE EVIL GNOME”
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
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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—
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.
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx THE EVIL GNOME xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx 7
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
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.
DESPERATE WINGS EAST
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
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx THE EVIL GNOME xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx 9
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
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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.
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.”
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx THE EVIL GNOME xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx 15
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
18 xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx DOC SAVAGE xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
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
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx THE EVIL GNOME xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx 19
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
20 xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx DOC SAVAGE xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
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,
“Hideous!” he said.
22 xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx DOC SAVAGE xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
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
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx THE EVIL GNOME xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx 23
“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
24 xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx DOC SAVAGE xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
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
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
36 xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx DOC SAVAGE xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
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
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
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx THE EVIL GNOME xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx 37
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
“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
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
38 xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx DOC SAVAGE xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
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.
40 xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx DOC SAVAGE xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
“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
“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.
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx THE EVIL GNOME xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx 41
“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.
42 xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx DOC SAVAGE xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
“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
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx THE EVIL GNOME xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx 43
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.
44 xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx DOC SAVAGE xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
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.
48 xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx DOC SAVAGE xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
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
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,
“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
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
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