The Crazy Indian can be found in






AT EIGHT O'CLOCK in the morning—especially a morning that promises to be a hot summer's day—that part of Manhattan Island located at the lower end of New York's financial district is pretty much deserted. The nation's great financial wizards just don't get up that early.

In fact, the district was somewhat below the end of Number One Broadway, which made it the Battery, the very southernmost end of the stony rock pile bought for a few dollars from some Indians. The sudden change in the neighborhood, as you emerged from Broadway into the Battery, was somewhat startling.

There was a park. Bums still slept on paper-covered benches. More papers littered the grass, and a few more disreputable-looking characters slept there. One old fellow sat up and sleepily scratched his head, looking around for his shoes.

Buildings of assorted sizes and ages faced Battery Park. Beyond was the choppy sweep of the Harbor. Some energetic little tugboats scurried up and down, the first indication of activity for that particular day.

Therefore no one noticed the Indian. Not that New Yorkers would have paid the Indian any undue attention. You see just about anything cockeyed in Manhattan. It is said that strangers travel to New York to study the natives of that city, rather than the other way around.

Also, the Indian wasn't dressed like an Indian is usually dressed.

He wore plain store variety clothes. He was hatless, and his black straight hair gleamed in the early morning sunlight. He was about the tallest Indian imaginable. His skin was the color of well-cured leather, and his eyes were cold black.

For the past hour the Indian had been making regular trips, at exact ten-minute intervals, to the building across from the east side of the park. The building was still locked, and the Indian sat there on the one deserted park bench, a straight ramrod of a figure, and watched the doorway of the delapidated office building.

The structure was in sharp contrast to the imposing buildings that started at Number One Broadway. It was ancient. The grandchildren of countless generations of pigeons used it for a nightly roost. Bronze work on the entrance doors was green with age.

Finally, near nine o'clock, a man in overalls unlocked the front doors and propped them open with a wedge. The fellow disappeared into the cavernous interior of the place again.

Instantly the tall, wide-shouldered Indian was on his feet. He quickly crossed the street and, sharp black eyes first searching right and left along the street, he dived into the doorway as if a coyote was after him.

HE FOUND the directory on the lobby wall. There were only six floors, and on two of these were no tenants listed at all. Which gives you some idea of what people thought of the building address.

Obviously the Indian could read. He noted the name listed for the fifth floor. It was the only tenant on that floor. The directory said: ADVENTURERS, INC.

The Indian made a satisfied grunting sound in his throat and turned away. He saw the elevator cage nearby. It was the old-fashioned type visible through open grillwork. The man in overalls sat on a stool inside the cab, reading the morning newspaper.

The Indian was just turning away from the directory when sharp heels tap-tap-tapped along the marble hall. Ancient dusty walls threw back the sound as though resentful of the intrusion.

It was a girl, a tall, a straight-shouldered girl in a gabardine skirt and sweater. Both fitted nicely in the places where they were supposed to be filled out.

The girl paused a moment, adjusting her eyes to the dimness inside the lobby. The sudden change from bright sunlight had left her partially blinded.

The Indian saw this. He took advantage of it, pressing farther back into the corridor, flat against the wall, almost as if he were scared to death about something. If the girl had come directly to the bulletin board she would have seen him standing rigidly there. Instead, she moved directly to the elevator and stepped inside.

"All right," she said impatiently. "Let's get up to the fifth floor . . . Adventurers, Incorporated."

"It's the heat," the elevator operator—he was well over fifty and kindly mannered—said to the girl. "Makes people restless and fidgety. A pretty girl like you shouldn't let it get you. I always say—"

"Please!" the girl said.

"All right, all right, miss."

The elevator operator started to close the gate, peered through the diamond-shaped openings at the Indian back there in the gloom. He had seen the man come in, but had not recognized him as an Indian.

"Where do you want, mister?" he called out.

The tall black-eyed Indian took out of there as if released by a spring. He streaked toward the front doors.

The girl saw him. She stared. Then she yelled, "Mike!"

Pushing past the elevator operator she dashed into the hallway and started pursuit. "Mike!" she called again. "Mike, wait!"

SUNLIGHT struck the coppery red of her lovely hair as she reached the sidewalk. The Indian had just turned the nearby corner. She dashed that way—and almost collided with a patrolman who was just crossing the street.

She clutched the officer's arm, gave the arm a shake, and said worriedly, "Catch him. Hurry!"

The patrolman had seen the tall, dark-skinned man turn the corner. He had not noticed that the man was an Indian, or a frightened one. He was a young, long-legged cop with a good jaw. The jaw pushed forward with determination as he looked at the attractive red-haired girl.

"You bet I'll catch him for you!" promised the patrolman.

He plunged up Broadway, his whistle sounding as he ran. His long legs gobbled up distance.

The girl saw him turn down a side street. Apparently the Indian had disappeared in that direction. She waited, tapping a foot, an uneasiness in her clear gray-green eyes.

Ten minutes passed. Finally the lanky patrolman returned. He was breathing hard. His face was flushed.

"Where's Mike?" the girl demanded.

"If you mean that guy I was chasing for you," said the cop grimly, "he's gone. Like the wind! My God, I never saw anyone run as fast as him!"

"Don't be silly!" snapped the red-head.

The young patrolman rocked back on his heels. He looked at her curiously.

"Come again?" he prompted.

"I said, don't be silly. You ought to be ashamed of yourself, a young man like you! "

The cop frowned at her. For such a pretty girl, the young woman certainly had a fiery disposition. Maybe the red hair explained it.

"Mike—the fellow you were chasing," she went on, "is over one hundred years old. And you couldn't catch him!"

That tears it, thought the young officer. Whacky, she was!

"Now, look—" he started.

"Huh!" repeated the girl. "You ought to be ashamed."

She turned abruptly on her heel and hurried toward the old office building facing the Battery.

The patrolman stood there with his mouth open, staring after her slim, shapely, taut figure.

Naturally he couldn't see the change that had come into the red-haired girl's eyes. Anger had been quickly replaced by a troubled expression.

"Damn!" she murmured to herself as she swung into the cool, shadowy hallway of the old building. And then, again, "Damn!"


CHAPTER II

THE plane, sitting on a ramp at LaGuardia Field, gleamed like bright silver in the hot morning sunlight. Low-winged, sleek, it carried two engines and looked as it it were built for unusual speed.

A ground crew fussed around it. The pre-flight check had already been made, yet the five men looked over the ship again.

The big plane was parked near the hangar of a private, charter air line well down the huge field. It appeared to be brand new.

Inside the plane, the fat man—the sole passenger—sat and fussed also. He was a round man—round chins, florid round face, a fringe of gray hair forming a round halo around his otherwise bald head. He mopped perspiration from his face, grunted as he raised up to stare out the window, sat back again and grunted with displeasure.

Forward in the large cabin, the door to the pilot's cockpit unlatched and the tall wiry man in uniform stepped into the cabin aisle. The pilot glanced at his watch and moved up the aisle toward the fat passenger.

"Benson should be here," he said.

"Dammit, yes!" said the fat man. "What's keeping him?"

The pilot shrugged his shoulders a little. "I can't imagine, Mr. Marsh. He told you ten o'clock, didn't he?"

"Yes. Then I phoned him and changed it to nine o'clock, as I told you a while ago. Now it is ten, and he isn't here yet. I haven't all day!"

"I'm sorry," murmured the tall pilot.

"A lot that helps. A fine way to handle a buyer for this ship! I have to be in Washington this afternoon."

"He ought to be here any minute."

"He'd better!"

The fat man was Jordon Marsh. It was said he had made his millions in the coffee business in South America. Then he'd become interested in politics. Money had bought him a high political position in Washington. He was an ambitious fat man. Money got him the things he wanted. His small, round, dark sharp eyes told you he was a man who wouldn't be kept waiting. Patience was not one of his virtues.

"I'll turn on the air-conditioning," said the pilot, and he returned to the cockpit, latching the small connecting door behind him.

In the quiet of the empty cabin, Jordon Marsh could hear a faint, vague murmur of voices as the pilot conversed with the first officer of the flight, up there in the cockpit.

Footsteps sounded atop the portable steps at the rear doorway and a man in white jumpers entered the plane. He looked like one of the mechanics.

"Mr. Marsh?" he asked.

The fat man jerked his head impatiently. "Yes, yes?" he snorted.

"It looks like we'll have to make the flight without Benson. It won't make any difference."

"What do you mean, it won't make any difference?" demanded Jordon Marsh.

"Benson's tied up. Just phoned the field office. He says to take you up, see how you like the way the ship handles, the pressurization and so on at high altitudes, then if everything is satisfactory you can close the deal for the plane afterwards. He'll be here by the time we return."

"That's a hell of a way to treat a customer!" said the fat man.

"Sorry . . ." murmured the mechanic.

The fat man snorted.

The mechanic went to the doorway, said something, and the remaining four members of the ground crew came aboard. They each took a seat.

"The boys want to take the flight too," explained the mechanic. "They've never been up in this new job."

Without pausing to see if this was agreeable with Jordon Marsh or not, the mechanic slammed the door firmly and turned the latch. He went forward, used a key to open the narrow door to the pilot's compartment, closed it behind him.

THE first motor was started. It sputtered a bit, then settled into a vibrant roar. The second followed. Power pulsed through the entire plane.

Shortly they taxied out to the end of a long runway. The pilot made his checkoff. The great engine roar shook the plane as the powerful motors were rewed up.

"Noisy," commented the fat man sourly.

One of the ground crew said, "Reflection of sound against the earth. You lose that as soon as we get in the air."

Jordon Marsh grunted.

Brakes were released and the plane edged out onto the runway, awaiting the signal from the tower. A moment passed. Then they were taking off.

Jordon Marsh thrilled to the surge of power that held his huge frame back against the seat. He liked power in anything.

Shortly they were airborne. The big ship climbed smoothly and steadily. The thousands of homes and apartments in Queens, below them, shrank to matchbox size. They headed toward the lower end of Manhattan, crossing the East River.

The air-conditioning had cooled the interior of the cabin somewhat, nevertheless Jordon Marsh was still perspiring. He turned once, looking at those who accompanied him. The men were all silent, merely sitting there.

Fine company, he thought.

He sat gazing out the window as the ship continued to climb. It didn't level off, but kept going higher and higher. They were over New Jersey now. He knew the countryside below. It wasn't the first time he had flown.

Fifteen minutes passed. The earth became a silent, unreal, miniature world far below them. Twice Jordon Marsh frowned as he gazed downward from the window.

Finally he remarked to one of the men behind him, "We're still heading west."

"That's right," agreed the member of the ground crew.

Marsh said, "The flight is only for a half hour. The orders were to merely circle over Manhattan. Why are we going straight west?"

"Guess," said the man nearest him.

"I don't like this!" rapped the fat man, and he got up and went toward the door at the front of the cabin. He tried the door, found it latched, pounded on the panel with a huge list. While he waited, he turned and looked at the other passengers. For the first time. and with some uneasiness, he noted their blocky jaws and hard features. It occurred to him that they did not look like regular air line personnel.

The cockpit door opened. A stranger stood there in front of him, not the head pilot who had talked to him earlier. He was a thin, trim man with cool gray eyes.

"Well?" the stranger said.

"What is this?" demanded Jordon Marsh. "Why aren't we staying over New York?" He leaned over, glanced out a window again. "We're still going west."

"He doesn't like it," said one of the men behind him. The fellow gave a peculiar, brittle laugh.

"I think," suggested the man in the cockpit doorway, "you'd better get Mr. Marsh some warmer clothes out of the cargo compartment. It will be quite cold where we're going."

"Going where?" asked the fat man uneasily.

The man merely smiled. "Now, look—" Jordon Marsh started, and he moved grimly toward the seated man. "Somebody's going to explain this, and damn' quick! "

He seized the first man he came to by the collar, yanked him out of the seat. For all his size and fatness, Marsh was quick-moving and powerful.

A FIGHT got underway in the narrow passage. The other crew members joined in. The fat man's huge size was a disadvantage to them. He bowled men over with his size. His hamlike fists slugged out. Men cursed.

The man from the cockpit came down the aisle. "We can't have this," he was saying coolly. "A good thing I prepared for this trip. Here, you guys, hold him still. What the hell's the matter with you?"

Marsh struggled with four men at once. Even at that, he managed to jerk around and stare at the speaker. He saw the instrument that looked like a hypodermic needle in the thin, trim man's right hand. He saw the man's intention, and tried desperately to break loose and knock the instrument aside.

But now he was held rigidly. His coat sleeve and shirt beneath were yanked back and the long needle jabbed into his arm.

"Brother," said the thin, small man, "you got a long trip ahead and you'll need some rest. It'll do you good."

Everyone started to laugh.

The drowsiness flowed over the fat man swiftly. His knees started to sag. He was lowered into a seat, and the back of the seat was reclined so that they could stretch him out.

Shortly he slept.

One man had been fumbling through his own pockets. He swore. Next he searched in the cabin seats. After that he got down on his hands and knees and peered everywhere.

"What's got into you?" someone asked.

"Lost it," said the searcher. He appeared worried.

"Lost what, pal?"

"The Indian thing!"

All eyes swung toward the man who made the statement. Someone prodded, "You sure?"

"I ain't kidding, chum."

Everyone started searching the cabin. They all looked worried.


CHAPTER III

THE two men who waited just outside the fence that enclosed a walk bordering the airport were an unusual-looking pair.

One was a short, wiry, hard-bitten character with lively, bright-blue eyes. His homely face was tanned the color of oak. It was impossible to estimate his age. He could have been thirty or fifty. In turn, in his colorful career, he had been a tunnel sandhog, construction worker and prospector. There was not a corner of the world where he' had not sought adventure.

They called him "Buzz" Casey, and he was tough.

Right now he was muttering, "The hell with it! Rush must have made a mistake in the time. Let's shove off and eat.

The tall, gaunt looking man standing beside him frowned with annoyance. He said:

"The trouble with you is, runt, you got worms. Rush said to meet Jordon Harsh here, and we're going to meet him come hell or high water. Marsh is big money, you dope. Rush knew him once in South America. It must be something pretty good or Rush wouldn't chase us out here."

"Ha!" said Buzz Casey.

"Speak English." snapped the tall man with the gloomy face.

"Look," said the wiry little man. "We get here, see. Some mechanics tell us that new plane is due back herein a few minutes, see. Now it's an hour. And no plane . . . no Jordon Marsh, no nothing. I say, the hell with it. Let's eat."

Malcolm Dean—better known as the "Deacon"—continued to stare at his small partner as though the man were some kind of worm.

"Perhaps," he suggested, "it might be better if you weren't here when Marsh arrived. My God, where'd you buy that race tout's sport coat? You'd frighten off any client. And I've got a hunch this millionaire, Marsh, is a prospect. Rush said over the phone to be sure to meet him here.'

"This coat cost me ten bucks on Sixth Avenue," snorted Buzz Casey."

"You'd better not wave it near a bull," warned his tall partner.

"Aw, shuddup!"

They continued to argue.

Clothes were one of the things they argued about, for the Deacon dressed as somberly as his nickname implied. Dark suit, black tie, black hat suited his gloomy features. No one would have ever surmised that he was a naval hero, explorer, holder of various degrees in science and engineering. Like Buzz Casey, adventure had taken him to the far off corners of the world.

The two men formed two-thirds of the unusual organization known as Adventurers, Inc.

ANOTHER fifteen minutes passed. The Deacon stood there with his long boney hands folded in front of him. For the past five minutes his thumbs had been chasing one another in a twirling movement as he kept his hands folded.

Buzz Casey watched the twirling thumbs and there was a twinkle in his lively blue eyes. It was the one indication that the Deacon, his partner, was getting restless for action. You could always tell. When those thumbs started twirling, it paid to watch out. He did the same thing when he was spoiling for a good fight.

Abruptly the Deacon moved down the walk toward a gate. There was a sign that read: "No Admittance To Airfield." Ignoring it, the tall, gaunt man continued on to the field and approached a nearby hangar. Some men were standing there. They looked like mechanics.

Buzz Casey tagged along behind his partner.

The Deacon was talking to a field attendant when Casey caught up with him. The man was saying:

"Frankly, they don't know what to think. The plane was due back here an hour ago. They've tried to contact it by radio, with no results. Right now they're checking emergency landing fields in this area."

Apparently there was something wrong. The field attendants stood around in little groups, talking, their faces grim. Buzz Casey saw his partner slip the man a crisp, folded bill.

"What else?" the Deacon prodded.

"Well, I really shouldn't—" the attendant started. He looked at the bill. "A funny thing," he added.

"Yes?"

"No one has been able to check on the ground crew who serviced that plane," the attendant said, frowning. "The regular crew was due here on the field at ten 0'clock, but through some change in plans the plane took off before that. And this other crew, apparently, was aboard. No one knows who they were. There's going to be hell to pay!"

"I should think so," said the Deacon solemnly.

Buzz Casey asked, "Hasn't anyone tried to check the plane in flight?"

"They're doing that now," said the man. He pocketed the bill, said, "Wait a minute," and disappeared toward an office in the hangar. He came back in a few moments.

"I don't understand it," he said tensely. "The plane was seen passing high over Pittsburgh. A TWA pilot bringing a Constellation into the field, there, saw it. Said it was flying plenty high and fast. No one has seen it since!"

"Flying where?" asked Buzz.

"West."

The two partners waited another half hour, but there were no further reports. The plane, it became apparent, had vanished.

They decided to return to the office and report to Rush Randall, the third member of their organization. They rode a cab back to the Battery.

The pretty red-haired girl was sitting there in the outer office in the old building facing Battery Park, and she looked as if ready to punch noses.

"ABOUT time!" she exclaimed, as they entered the room.

"Time for what?" said little Buzz Casey, a pleased grin touching his homely features as he saw the attractive redhead.

She had jumped to her feet, slim and pretty, her expressive eyes flashing. "I don't see how in the world you can expect to do business," she raced on. "Heavens, coming to work at this hour!"

Her gaze swept over Buzz, then went to Malcolm Dean's long, gloomy-looking figure. She said coolly, "You don't look like I've heard Rush Randall looks like." She said it as though she were disappointed.

The Deacon said quietly, "I'm not Rush Randall, ma'am. We are merely associates of his." He politely introduced himself and his partner. He looked puzzled. "I don't believe I recall you-"

"The name," the red-haired girl said sharply, "is Williams . . . Lucky Williams. I've got a different first name. but I don't like it. Don't ask me what it is. You just call me Lucky like everyone else does."

She talked rapidly as though she were all keyed up about something. She added, "This is certainly a funny-looking office for a business concern. Hardly a place to sit down, either!"

Buzz said, "We don't do business in the usual manner, Miss. We're different."

"I'll say!" snapped the girl.

Her description of the office was an under-statement, to say the least.

The big room was cluttered with an amazing collection. Sitting on a wide windowsill was a dumpy bronze Chinese figure that grinned at them fiendishly. Beside this was a beautifully made model of a three-masted sailing ship. In contrast, on the wall nearby, hung a large photograph of a lean, tall young man in a pilot's garb standing beside a fast, sleek-looking airplane.

There was a portable diving bell suitable for a shallow water diving, an assortment of hunting rifles in a wall case, a framed diploma showing that one R. ]. Randall was a graduate of M.I.T., and covering the entire floor an oriental rug that had not been cleaned in several years.

A huge desk was littered with nick-nacks that must have been gathered in the four corners of the world. Books and circulars were stacked on chairs. There was a sagging old couch with two colorful Indian blankets thrown in a heap atop it.

The girl's eyes swiftly inspected these things, then came to rest again on tall Malcolm Dean. "I should think you'd have a receptionist. I've been waiting for ages. A fine thing!"

Buzz Casey offered hopefully, "Look, miss, maybe we can be of service. You act like you've been chased by a polecat. Something wrong?"

"I want to see Rush Randall, that's what! I can't wait forever, either!"

The Deacon was moving toward the rear of the big room. He said quietly, "Rush should be in." He opened a heavy paneled door and continued through a room beyond.

"Come on," said Buzz Casey, and he and the girl followed.

THE next room they entered was also an office. None would have ever suspected its presence in this old rattletrap building.

Its walls were pine-paneled, and from floor to ceiling there were built-in bookcases. A massive, exquisitely hand-carved desk practically filled the room. The study was deserted.

They passed along a corridor from which doorways opened into rooms of a private apartment. At the rear of the hall they entered another office, and the girl was in for another surprise.

For the place was more of a laboratory than an office. Electrical gadgets were everywhere. There was a radio transmitter and receiving unit oi the type recently used in the armed services. There was equipment stacked in a corner, and it looked like the type of stuff carried on expeditions. There was a large desk in this room also, before a wide window that overlooked the Hudson River.

The man seated at the desk had been phoning. He seemed to be completing the conversation just as they stepped inside. They heard him say, "All right, keep checking, and call me."

He hung up and turned to look at them. Seeing the girl, he stood up. He got up, legs, body, arms straightening out into a very tall, very straight figure that was taller than anyone's in the r...

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