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"Look out," he warned. A click sounded as the two carhons drew apart, and a turquoise light filled the room.

HENRY LEVERAGE is one of the most famous scientific fiction writers of the decade. He is the author of "Whispering Wires," the famous book which was afterwards produced as a play and which enjoyed an unusually long and successful run in New York before touring the country. In addition to his many popular novels, he has written more than two hundred short stories.

Soon after the success of his first book, he wrote "The White Cypher," "Where Dead Men Walk," "The Shepherd of the Sea," "The Ice Pilot," the "Phantom Alibi," "Purple Limited," producing a first-class novel nearly every year of his writing career. He is the inventor of various electrical devices for magnetic transmission on automobiles, and an E.E. graduate of the University of Colorado. (1916)

In this story he gives us a fast-moving tale founded on logical scientific principles.

A crook has a fortune within his reach when an old, old weakness threatens to take it from him. What does "Big Scar" do?


Author of "Whispering Wires"

TWO men sat in the back room at McGann's. One was a big man with a scar. The other was Rake Delaney.

The big man leaned over the table and coiled three powderstained fingers about a shell-glass of whiskey.

Delancy glanced down his long lashes and stared into a bubbling circle of imported ginger ale.

"Here's tu crime," said the big man who was sometimes called Big Scar, alias Illinois Pete.

Rake Delaney, otherwise Edwin Letchmere, more often known as Sir Arthur Stephney, frowned swiftly, as he did most things, and eyed the whiskey disapprovingly.

"A man never opened a safe on that stuff, Scar." Big Scar flushed with a livid V showing through the stubble upon his jaw. "I'm takin' a vacation, Rake!"

Rake tilted a plaid cap from his forehead and leaned back. He roamed the room with a dart of his light-grey eyes. He crossed one leg over the other and drew out from an inner pocket a platinum and gold cigarette case from which he removed a cigarette that was neither monogrammed or branded.

Lighting this cigarette with a scratch of a match on his heel, he said, between intakes of smoke:

"Speakin' of cribs and crimes—strong boxes and repositories of wealth—have you noticed the news items on the green glow?"

"Green Wot?" Big Scar shelved forward a bushy pair of iron-grey brows. He eyed Rake. "Come clean!" he rumbled. "Talk down tu me. None ov that highbrow patter."

Rake doubled the fingers of his right hand and gazed at his polished nails. They were as slender and as almond-shaped as a woman's.

He lifted his stare and locked glances with the big man. "The Green Ray, or Glow, Scar," he said, "is the very newest thing out in the field of electricity and research. It has been promised for some time. A British review foretold the discovery. It remained for Professor Pascal of Ossining to supply the missing link—a prism made of a rare crystal found only in Boulder, Colorado."

"Wot's that got to do wid us?"

"You remember how we took the big box in Frisco with thermite?"

"That was hell's own stuff. I burnt my earth-pieces." Big Scar called his feet "earth-pieces" or "dogs."

"And the cannon-ball safe in Salt Lake City? Do you recall how we cracked that?"

"With soup, dinny an' nitro after yu had painted a back-curtain tu th' jewelry store wot was so real I bumped into it."

Rake rubbed his nails on the palm of his left hand.

"The Green Ray," he said, "is the last word in camouflage—a much-worked term. It was discovered too late to be used in the war."

"Wot is it?"

"Absence of most light. Polarized light. A cold light that's green as grass. A vibration from a common center that acts. just opposite to the rays of ordinary light."

"I don't get yu."

"You will. Suppose light is caused by heat. Then what would you get by subjecting the same light-forming filament to extreme cold down to a degree or so above absolute zero?"

"You'd get nothin'."

The Green Ray

"OH, yes, you would! You'd get almost negative-light. I understand that Professor Pascal has been working twenty years on the invention. He holds that his discovery would have revolutionized methods of warfare—that men would have fought in the darkness of their own making—that day would have been turned into night within a radius limited by the power of the Green Ray apparatus."

"Wot good would it be tu us?"

"What good was thermite, or the oxy-acetylene blow-pipe or the electric-arc or freezing a strongbox after filling it full of water so that the door will come off when the ice expands?"

"They helped make th' coppers wild?"

"Yes! And the Green Ray will make wilder, Scar. See the game? A Green Ray outfit set down by the door of a bank in the daytime. The switch turned on. The place becomes greenish-a pit where striking a match is like putting it in ink. Nobody can see anybody. We put the cleaner on the vault and go out through a window."

"How far does this green thing glow?"

"Professor Pascal announced at the meeting of the Illuminating Engineers of America that he already had succeeded in getting almost complete darkness within a radius of seventy feet. The darkness thins out then for another thirty feet. That was with the energy necessary to run a quarterhorse-power motor—the same size as was in that electric drill you threw into the Chicago Drainage Canal when we got that Post Office on LaSalle Street."

A steely glitter showed in the yegg's eyes. He upended his whiskey glass and wiped his mouth with his left hand.

"You're a clever brain-worker," he said, "but this green thing is tu damn deep fer me. How can we get one ov 'em?"

Rake glanced around the room and then drew a newspaper clipping from his pocket. He slanted it toward the light which came from a cluster overhead.

"Planet," he said incisively. "Ad in the Planet this morning. Professor Alonzo Pascal—'A.P. of Ossining'—wants a staid reliable butler with references from former employers. English preferred. Happened to see it, connected his initials with his name, connected the name with green darkness and the meeting of the Illuminating Engineers where he spoke. All follows clear."

"Clear as mud!"

"Easy, easy," Rake whispered without moving his lips. "Deduction works for us as well as the police. You are going to Ossining tomorrow and get that job. I'll fix up your references—one from England—one from Canada and one on Plaza stationery."

"Hell no!"

"Oh, yes, you are." The cracksman's voice changed to a metallic command. "You're going up there and be Professor Alonzo's butler. You'll locate his drawings and blue-prints on the green glow apparatus. Perhaps he has a laboratory in the house. We'll steal his idea and rip the country wide open from New York to 'Frisco. We'll make a million in twenty days!"

Big Scar's eyes gleamed with prospects of sudden wealth.

"Why not go up there an' cop th' machine?" he asked. "That would be quicker."

"We don't know where it is, yet. It may be there and it may be somewhere else. It is up to you, Scar, to locate it. Then we'll act l"

"How about clothes?"

"I'll supply them."

"An' th' reference?"

"I know a place on Grand Street where I can get anything printed from a passport to a bank note. I'll have the letters written on three kinds of typewriters and aged with coffee."

Big Scar square-set his jaw.

"Mitt me!" he said, thrusting over two fingers. "I'm going tu blow now, Pal. I'll see yu here in th' morning. I've got a meet with a broad on Third Avenue. 'Mary Pickpockets' is her moniker. Some they call her Melissa, but her name is Mary."

"Look out for the ladies," said Rake as the big safe-blower rose and started for the side door of McGann's.

The voice that rumbled back was also a warning: "You're no one tu tell me that, Rake."

Rake lifted the ginger-ale bottle from its holder and poured the remains of the fluid into his glass. He rose after drinking the liquid, laid a bill upon the table and glided toward the narrow entrance to the "temperance bar."

Plans Are Laid

HE passed through and out into the street. He hurried south and signalled a taxi three blocks away from the saloon. He spent the early evening in fevered work. The letter-head forms were upon a press as he left the printing office which was run by a proprietor who scanned the news from Russia like a bomb-thrower.

The matter of the butler's costume for Big Scar was attended to. The clothes were packed into a kit-bag which was plastered with English labels. These objects Rake purchased from a half-fence, half-pawnbroker on the Bowery, who kept open after six o'clock.

He met the yegg at McGann's saloon in the morning. Rake's instructions, shot through clean teeth and narrowed lips, were direct enough to resemble a field marshal's.

"Get up to Ossining with this keister!" he ordered. "Go right to Professor Alonzo and tell him you've come to stay. Force yourself on the job. Telephone me here at the first chance. We must have the blue-prints and specifications of the green glow apparatus by this day, week."

Big Scar already looked the part of an English butler a little down on his luck. His collar was low. His vest was almost white. He had shaved to a blue-quick. His nails were trimmed.

He took the keister, or kit-bag, squared his shoulders and said before he left the saloon:

"'E's probably a rum cove, that perfessor. 'E's goin' tu look these phony references over wid a microscope."

"Let him look! They're gilt-edged. The thing to do is to get planted in his house. Look out for the skirts in his establishment. Remember it was a moll who beat us on that New Orleans touch. You told her too much, Scar."

"You're no one to warn me," chuckled the yegg. "It's booze that gets some ov us and it's the' joy broads that get th' others. You're softer than I am when it comes to a real, fine skirt. So long, Pal."

Rake sat down at a table in the back room and reviewed the plan he had laid out for the theft of the blueprints or the salient ideas connected with the green glow apparatus. He mentally pictured the professor as a doting old fool who would be easy. He saw visions of a dash across the continent and a trail of wrecked banks behind him. It was an idea worthy of a master criminal. It would be new. Also, there were no women to frustrate the course of action.

Women, reasoned Rake, were the yeast and the leaven of this life. They were the unstable compound in any crime. A coldly calculated plan might vanish into nothing if a woman were involved. They acted by no set rules. He recalled a number of instances where great jobs had been spoiled by the female element.

There was little Mickey Gleason with his tray of diamonds and Fanny Burke who insisted on wearing them to a Police Chiefs' Convention. There was Saidee Isaacs who sent her unfaithful lover to prison in order to be sure that he was true to her.

It was with relief that Rake learned, in the late afternoon, that Big Scar had secured the job at Ossining. The yegg's voice was elated as he related his experiences over telephone wires between a ]West1chester drug store and McGann's sound-proof booth.

"And there's no skirts in th' house," the safebreaker said. "There's nobody but me, now and th' perfessor—a queer bloke. Something happened, Rake. Every servant blew out ov th' perfessor's shack. There's burnt matches in th' pantry. There's a bloomin' window or tu smashed. There's a part ov a coat hangin' tu a spike on th' back fence."

"He must have turned on the Green Ray, Scar."

"That's it! There's a work-place in th' basement with three bull-locks on th' door. He's roaming around th' house an' shoutin' fer more servants. He must have had five or six. Two maids, a valley, a chauffeur and a chef. They all blew! That's why he advertised in the Planet."

"A chauffeur?" asked Rake. "I can drive a car."

The Valley Job

"COME up, then, Pal. Take th' valley job. I'll tell th' old cove I know ov one what worked fer Sir Hector MacKenzie. I'll describe yu. We'll sap th' old guy on the beezer an' cop th' works."

"Easy on that rough stuff," Rake said as the telephone diaphragm clicked. "Go easy, Scar. Tell the professor that there's a high-class valet coming north and you'll intercept him. Tell him not to get any more servants. We want to be alone in that house." Rake hung up the receiver and stepped from the booth. That afternoon he went to Ossining by train.

Gliding along swiftly he covered the mile and a half from the station to Professor Alonzo's mansion which was perched on a hill overlooking the Hudson and the grey walls of Sing Sing.

Rake's costume would have delighted his underworld admirers. His prematurely grey hair was covered by a loud plaid cap. His suit was black. His shoes were square toed and brilliantly polished. The bag he .carried had been the property of a broken sport who had been thrown upon the harsh shores of the Bowery.

Rake carried a blued-steel automatic in a sling under his arm. His cuff-links were hollowed out to receive two one-thousand-dollar bills. His fountain pen was a flash light. There were saws, such as are used by jewelers, in his heels. A collection of keys on a ring would open most any ordinary door. The references he carried were calculated to disarm suspicion. One was from Sir Hector McKenzie of Ottawa. The other two went on to state that James Beaucannon was a "faithful valet of the superior order."

"Ah, Joimes," said Big Scar opening the professor's door after Rake had sauntered up a driveway and had shuffled his feet along a leaf strewn porch.

"Ah, Joimes, so yu've come?"

"Is the professor in?"

"Right this woiy, Joimes, I'll take yu tu 'im."

Rake followed the yegg down a long, chilly hallway and into a room with a low ceiling whose walls were hung with oil paintings.

Professor Alonzo Pascal sat huddled between an open fireplace and a mahogany table that was strewn with sheets of paper and reference books.

Rake saw, with a sidelong glance, a polished head, a beetle-brow, pinched cheeks and lack-lustre eyes set in sunken sockets, like ultramarine jewels.

"The valley!" said Big Scar ponderously. "The man I spoke tu yu about, perfessor."

Rake drew forth his references. He passed them across the mahogany table. Dry fingers sorted them after a hand had hooked a pair of tortoise-shell rimmed glasses upon a hawk-like nose.

Pascal said nothing. He handed the references back to Rake. He turned to Big Scar in the doorway and pointed upward. He swiveled and started fingering sheets of paper with a dismissing gesture.

"A rum cove an' a miser," whispered the yegg as he showed Rake the old valet's room. "A bad guy tu work fer. No wonder th' other bunch blew. He's payin' me th' sum ov thirty dollars a month. He's got a bull-lock on th' wine cellar. It's alongside th' laboratory. There's wires enough running into that place tu start most anything."

"Easy," said Rake. He tossed his bag on a narrow bed and prepared to change clothes by stripping off his coat and vest. "Don't queer the game until I look around. Pascal may have dictaphones all over this house."

A day and a night of inspection passed before Rake obtained a working knowledge of the house and its eccentric owner.

He kept away from Big Scar for fear the safebreaker might drop an under-world term which would be caught by the professor. He explored the upper floors on a pretense of putting things in order. He found a wall-safe with a three-tumbler combination, behind a picture in the master's room. This safe came open under his skilled fingers after thirty-two minutes of work. There was little in it save a safe-deposit box receipt with Maynard Trust Company printed on the top. The box number was 713, which Rake memorized before he replaced the receipt in the safe.

Two other articles in the repository were interesting. One was the photograph of a girl which had been taken by a photographer in Portland, Maine. The other article was a package of letters written in a woman's angular chirography. They were dated ten years back and showed signs of fading.

Rake Searches the Laboratory

RAKE tossed these letters into the box with the photograph, then, thinking of his hasty action, he arranged them exactly as he had found them and closed the circular door with the combination at the same notch on the nickel-plated dial. It would never do to be careless in little matters.

Abandoning the upper part of the house, Rake looked over the basement and the main floor of the mansion. He thoroughly examined all of the professor's papers. He opened a score of books on Illumination and Light and Violet Rays and Higher Refraction in Relation to Modern Researches on Polarization.

Rake's fountain-pen flashlight spotted a telegram dated a week before he had arrived at the professor's. This message was from Boulder, Colorado. It stated that part of a Molobenthan crystal had been found. "Prepare to come," the telegram ended.

"Ah!" said Rake, "I'll stall the old boy West so Big Scar and I can prowl the laboratory."

He spent two hours over the professor's notes which he held to the moonlight which streamed through a window. The word Molobenthan occurred frequently. It was a kind of crystal sometimes found in Colorado. There were also references to high-frequency generators, amplifiers and negative rays.

Rake tiptoed to the table, arranged the professor's notes, then went upstairs to bed. He planned out each move. They dovetailed. He rose at sunup and strode through the kitchen where Big Scar was sitting, with an egg beater in his hand.

"See you later," said Rake over his shoulder, "I'm going to the telegraph office."

The professor was deep in his notes at ten A. M. when a messenger boy from Ossining arrived and rang the front door bell. Rake brought in the message, which he had prepared by bribing a night operator who was just going off duty.

"Wire for you, sir," he said, passing a tray over the table toward Pascal. "I signed and paid the boy ten cents for bringing it out, sir."

The professor seized the yellow envelope and tore off one end with shaking fingers. He rose and glanced at a little gold clock.

"Pack my bag!" he ordered. "I've got to go to Colorado."

A taxi churned to the gate after Rake had telephoned the station and the nearest garage. Pascal stood on the front porch. He repeated his instructions as to the ice, the windows and the furnace. He said going down the steps:

"Don't allow any of my relatives to come in the house. I received a letter from Maine, the other day, regarding one of them. Throw her out, if she comes."

Rake showed Big Scar the telegram as the auto honked and was gone. It read:

"Come to Boulder, immediately."

"Just enough and not too much," he said. "It worked!"

The yegg started toward the basement steps.

"Where are you going?" asked Rake.

"Fer some wealthy water from th' wine cellar. We can have a swell party. Old four-eyes won't be back fer two weeks."

"Hold on, Scar! No wine or women in this venture. Business first!"

The yegg frowned fiercely. He wet his lips and stared at Rake. A flash passed between the two men. It changed to concern as a whistle sounded outside. Footsteps grated across the front porch. The bell rang vigorously.

"Wot's that, Rake?"

Rake crouched and reached for the automatic. He straightened with a sudden laugh.

"Go to the door," he said.

Big Scar arranged the buttons on his white vest and lumbered through the portieres and along the hall. He peered between chintz curtains.

"Gol blyme!" he growled, "it's the postman!"

"Take the letters," said Rake.

A Woman Again

BIG SCAR opened the door. He spoke to the village postman. He closed the door and came through the portieres.

"Says 'Alonzo Pascal,' on the outside!" he exclaimed as he passed over a single letter. "We better not open it."

The cracksman pinched the envelope, reached over the table, lifted a pen-holder and thrust its thin end beneath the flap. He rolled the pen-holder until the flap was loosened completely.

Big Scar stared at Rake whose darting eyes swept across the message.

"It's from a woman, Scar. I'll read it. 'Betty, whom you have never met, will reach you early tomorrow morning. Take care of her, Alonzo, and listen to what she has to say. We are in dire poverty. Your sister, Grace.'"

Rake dropped the letter to the table.

"A skirt coming?" exclaimed Big Scar.

"Betty is coming. I wonder who Betty is?"

"Sounds like a hick name, Rake."

Rake shot a glance over the library. He remembered the child's photo and the bundle of letters he had seen in the safe in Pascal's room. Was there a skeleton in the old man's closet?

"Get busy!" he said tersely. "Lock all the doors and latch all the windows! We're going to rip open that laboratory and get away with the Green glow apparatus before Betty shows up. We've got all night."

"Let's wait an' see th' dame. Didn't th' scratch say that Betty never met th' old geezer?"

"It says that, Scar, but it doesn't concern us. What did I say about molls and this job? They're out of it!"

The yegg shrugged his shoulders and started examining the catches to the library windows. He passed into the hallway and placed a chain on the door. He made the rounds of the lower floor of the house and then came back to Rake.

"All set, Pal!" he said. "Let's go an' see what that miser has in th' basement. Me fingers have been itching tu rip off those bull locks."

Rake led the way into the hall and to a door beneath the front steps which opened upon a short Ending above a narrow flight leading to a concrete floor.

He whipped out his fountain-pen flashlight as Big Scar felt around in the gloom. The three locks to the laboratory were a kind known as 'thiefproof.' Rake waited until the yegg had struck a match and touched it to a gas jet. He pocketed the fountain pen flashlight and stared upward. He pointed a steady white finger.

"Power meter," he said. "See, it is for power service only. Those leads run into the laboratory."

Big Scar scowled at the three locks belligerently. Rake glanced around the floor, stepped to a furnace room, groped about and returned with a short bar of iron.

"Goin' to jimmy th' hasps?" asked the yegg.

"No! Look out! I've got the key to these locks. Dutch Gus taught me this trick."

Rake turned the lower lock upside down, thrust two fingers through the hasp and struck a sharp blow on the bottom. It flew open. "Next," he said. "There's nothing man ever put together that another man can't take apart."

Big Scar swung open the laboratory door and glared inside.

"Smells like acids," he said withdrawing his head. »

Rake flashed his pocket lamp and advanced slowly. He snapped on an electric bulb which was set in a stone wall. He studied the room. It was disappointingly small. A workbench ran across one end. A table stood in the center. A rack of tubes, retorts, chemicals, phials and glass-stoppered bottles, was against the dividing wall that separated the laboratory from the wine cellar.

Objects began to stand out as he focused his eyes. He saw a rotary-transformer in one corner. Leads ran from this up to a junction box. Spirals of insulated wire looped over the table upon which was set an ebony-based instrument that resembled a flaming arc with solenoids and green carbons and a zinc cross to which was attached fine silk-covered wire.

Cold Heat

"I KNOW what that is," Rake said pointing to the cross. "That's the greatest anomaly in electricity. A cross of two metals which produces cold instead of heat."

Big Scar worked his brows up and down. He roamed the room with his eyes. "Looks like a place where they make th' queer," he ventured. "Maybe th' old miser is a coiner."

To Rake, who had studied electricity for the purpose of outwitting bank protection, there was no great mystery in Pascal's machine to produce a green glow, save one element. That was a hood which could be raised or lowered over the contact points of the arc. The hood was neither glass nor any familiar crystal. It was green in color. There was a tiny crack at its upper end.

Rake touched this crack with his fingernail.

"They call this stuff Molobenthan," he explained. "It's an extremely rare crystal. Perhaps the name was made up—I never heard of it before."

"Maybe you'll never hear ov it again, Pal."

"Pascal went to Boulder, Colorado, to try and get another one. The chances are, Scar, this crack puts the end to our plans. I don't believe it works. Extreme cold caused it to split."

Rake glanced at the ceiling. He reached and drew down the two insulated wires. He opened the screws of a pair of binding-posts in the ebony base. Then, remembering the switch on the wall, he stepped over the concrete floor and saw that the handle was pulled out.

"We've got to be careful," he said. "I don't know what voltage is on the line. We'll start the rotary transformer and see if the green glow operates. You better stand near the door."

Rake connected the two leads, lowered the crystal over the arcs, tested the fine wires which led to the zinc composition cross and then stepped to the switch.

"Look out!" he warned Big Scar.

A sparking showed at the double brush holder of the transformer. It moved, hummed and then whined. A click sounded as the two green carbons drew apart. A turquoise light filled the room. This light changed shade and became peacock blue. The glow merged into deep blue and then swiftly into green darkness.

"Strike a match!"

The astonished yegg cursed as he struck a dozen without seeing a light.

"Go up stairs," shouted Rake above the whine of the rotary transformer. "Notice how far you have to go before you can distinguish anything. Go through the house and out in the yard."

Rake waited and listened. He reached a hand up to the switch and clasped the insulated handle. He heard Big Scar's oaths as the yegg stumbled over the top of the stairs and then against the hall-tree by the front door. The purring transformer —the hissing arc—the frost which was already in the air, made Rake fear for his own life. He pried his eyes open with his left hand and attempted to see a rift in the veil. There was none.

Footsteps, halting and uncertain sounded finally, as Big Scar searched his way back through the hall until he reached the basement stairs. He came down with a curse at each step. He grasped the edge of the door leading into the laboratory.

"You there yet, Pal?" he throated. "Shut that damn thing off."

"How far does the green glow extend?"

"To th' front gate! I couldn't see a star or anything until I crawled that far. Then I saw lights ovl th' town. Th' smoke gets thin about sixty feet from here."

"Smoke is good," chuckled Rake. "What did the house look like from the gate."

"Looks like a green hole in th' night. For Gawd sake, shut off that thing! Me eyes hurt."

"Minus Light"

RAKE jerked the switch down. The transformer ceased whining. A deep blue filled the room. This changed to peacock blue and then to turquoise. The lamp on the side of the wall started to glow like a worm in a bottle. It flared to brilliancy as the two carbons of the arc clicked together. Rake strode to the lamp and examined it carefully.

"One hundred and ten volts, direct current," he said. "That's low. The transformer steps the voltage down to about thirty. Say, Scar, we can put this whole apparatus in a suitcase."


"Easy—if the case is big enough. We can do away with the transformer by substituting about fifteen batteries—small ones. We don't need to cut holes in the case or make an opening with celluloid, such as is used in the back curtain of an automobile. The green glow is like an X-ray—it penetrates everything."

"I couldn't see a glim in th' house when I crawled out."

"The machine makes anti-light or minus-light. It'll extinguish any light known, Scar."

The yegg stepped through the door. He turned his head and squinted toward the wine cellar. He stopped and picked up the bar of iron which Rake had used in opening the three bull locks.

"Th' old geezer," he said, "is well stocked with wealthy water. It's me an' you, Rake, for a quart ov fizz apiece. We'll drink tu th' light an' all the kale it's goin' to bring to us."

Rake heard the yegg attempting to open the lock on the wine cellar door. He smiled. The trick was not as easily done as it appeared. It was ten minutes before Big Scar appeared in the doorway of the laboratory, with two bottles under his arm.

"Come upstairs," he muttered. "We'll celebrate th' occasion by startin' th' radio an' drinkin' up. In th' morning we can tend to th' suitcase an' batteries." Rake glanced about the laboratory. He turned out the light on the power circuit, closed the door, hung the locks upon the staples and followed the yegg up stairs. They drank and Big Scar went for more.

Rake came to his senses as the lithe gold clock on the mantel in the library struck twelve notes.

He turned down his glass when the yegg reached a bottle across the table.

"No!" he declared earnestly. "Finish that bottle and let's get to work. We've got plenty to do. I want a big suitcase from the professor's collection in the spare closet. I want storage batteries. We must be ready to leave here at the crack o' dawn, Scar."

"Aw! Let's hang around a day or two. We can get some girls up from New York. Th' old miser is about hittin' Buifalo. He's going a long ways on th' cushions."

Rake's glance drilled through Big Scar's fuddled brain.

The yegg set down the bottle. His blue-stained fingers coiled and uncoiled. He wet his thick lips thirstily. Then, both men turned their heads as the front door bell rang.

Both rose and started toward the portieres which were draped across the doorway leading to the hall.

"The perfessor!" guessed Big Scar.

"Betty!" Rake exclaimed. "Here is Betty! She's ahead of time!"

The yegg tiptoed across the floor and lunged through the hall. He came back with the planks creaking.

"Skirt outside," he said deep in his throat. "Hick kid with pasteboard keister an' a flopping hat—one ov them big picture things like they wear when they come to town. What'll we do?"

"Let 'er in," said Rake. "I'll be the uncle she never saw."

"She might queer everythin'."

"Go on', Scar! Let her in!"

"What'll I say?"

"See what she says."

The yegg hesitated, caught a flash from Rake's eyes and hurried to the front door.

"This way tu y'ur Uncle Alonzo!" Rake heard Big Scar announce.


THE portieres parted and let in a slender girl whose cheeks were the color of russet apples and whose eyes were filled with tears. She advanced as Big»Scar set down a papier-méché suitcase.

"Well?" said Rake. "Well, is this Betty?"

"Y-e-s. And this is uncle?"

"Surest thing you know-little girl."

"I came to see you because mother sent me. Here is a letter from mother for you."

Rake stared at the girl's lips as she plucked an envelope from her breast.

She handed it over. Big Scar coughed distressingly. Rake read the letter. He glanced up and ordered:

"Butler, show Miss Betty the room we always keep for relatives. See that she has everything. I suppose you're tired?" he added, smiling at her.

"I came right through. Mother thought I should remain in the waiting room at New York until morning. I couldn't wait. I didn't believe all the harsh things she said about you."

"Do you believe them now?" Rake questioned.

"You are so different than I thought you were."

"How old are you?"

"Seventeen, uncle."

Rake dropped his eyes to the letter. He lifted it, then laid it down again. He stared over the girl's shoulder and flashed a warning to Big Scar.

"Tomorrow," he said, "you can tell me about your mother and yourself. I'll think over the letter, in the meantime. You get a good sleep, Betty."

"And will you help mother?"


"Oh, I'm so glad."

The girl started around the table. Her hands went out. Tears brightened her eyes. The creamyness of her neck reddened and welled to her cheeks. A lock of hair dropped over one ear. She tripped on the edge of a rug.

Rake caught her gallantly. He said to the yegg:

"Take her bag! She will follow you upstairs. See that there is everything in the room—towels and soap and a little supper. There's tongue and milk in the ice box—then lock her door and come down to me."

The girl paused in the hall.

"Good night, uncle."

"Good night, Betty."

Ten minutes ensued before Big Scar strode down stairs and stumbled into the library. He tossed Rake the key to the bedroom door.

"Wot was in that letter?" he asked. "You're gettin' soft, Pal."

Rake glanced at the table.

"This is a different thing from what I expected, Scar."

"Are yu goin tu give up th' green glow idea?"

"No! But--

"But wot?"

"The professor robbed Betty and her mother of their fortune. He copped their coin."

"He looked like that kind ov a guy!"

"He is! He left them to starve. They couldn't prove their claim. There was a will which was never found. Alonzo made himself executor. He abandoned them on a ten-acre farm in Maine. He used the money in scientific experimentation. It amounted to seventy thousand dollars."

"Wot? Does it say all that in th' letter?"

Rake picked up the envelope and crammed it in his pocket. He stared at the little gold clock on the mantel piece.

"It's three," he evaded. "We'll get busy! No sleep for us! We'll fix up a suitcase with the green glow apparatus. We'll get batteries in the morning. Then we'll leave this part of the world."

"How about th' skirt upstairs?"

Rake answered:

"We can help her, someway. We'll make old Alonzo come across with money for her, or we'll keep his papers and notes on green light. He's been working years on 'em."

"He may call th' coppers."

"Let him'! We've got to do something for Betty."

"I told you to look out for the skirts, Pal."

The Flaming Arc

"YOU didn't tell me. I told you! But this is a different situation than I figured on."

"Oh, she's silk. She wuz sayin' her prayers when I locked her door."

The two crooks went to the basement and started ripping the wiring from the table in the laboratory and unscrewing the ebony base. Rake examined all of Pascal's tools on the work bench. He found what he required in the way of screw drivers and pliers. He sent Big Scar up stairs for the largest suitcase in the professor's collection. The yegg came down with a dusty leather bag.

Morning dawned before the job was completed. The flaming-arc apparatus was fastened to the bottom of the bag. A switch was rigged which could be turned on and off when the case was shut. A place was partitioned to hold the batteries. These would have to be small in size to take up their number. "Ten-ampere hour batteries," Rake explained. "We probably can get them in the city. We want fourteen or fifteen to give us thirty volts of direct current."

Blocking the green crystal so that it would not touch the carbons, Rake carried the bag up stairs, after Big Scar snapped shut the three locks and followed him.

The bag was deposited in a closet. Rake went into the library. He raised the blinds and 'glanced out. Cold dawn was coming up over the world. He was tired from the night's exertions. He lay down on a couch between two book cases; braced his head with his hands and said to Big Scar:

"Clean up! Shave! Get breakfast for Betty. I hear her stirring in the front room."


"Do as I say. We'll divert her suspicion. Tell her that her uncle expects her down in twenty minutes."

"I can't shave an' make omelets an' coffee an' do all that in twenty minutes, Pal."

"You can try!"

Big Scar lumbered toward the kitchen. He went upstairs by the back way and entered the bathroom. He announced breakfast by knocking upon, the girl's door and saying:

"Your uncle, Professor Alonzo, is awaitin' yu, for breakfast."

"All right!" sounded in silvery warmth. The girl appeared. Her cheeks were rosy and her eyes were held demurely down.

"This woiy!" said Big Scar. "This woiy tu th' breakfast room."

Rake sat at the table in the little dining room between the library and the kitchen. He rose as the girl stepped in. He bowed and motioned for Big Scar to hold back her chair.

"Good morning," he greeted her. "Did you sleep well?"

"Wonderfully well, uncle."

Rake leaned forward and studied the girl as she attempted to cut her grapefruit with a knife. He saw her hands drop to her sides. She puckered her lips and attempted to hold back a rush of tears. She bent toward him, and sobbed short, distressing sobs that drove through his conscience.

"What's the matter, Betty?" he queried. "Don't you trust your uncle?"

"Oh, I do! Oh, you're so different from what mother said you were. I thought you were old. I thought you were a miser. I don't know what to think. I'd better go home."

Rake stared at Big Scar who was standing in the kitchen doorway.

"Butler, step out!" he said incisively.

The yegg waited twenty minutes in the kitchen. Once or twice he started toward the dining room. Each time he heard Rake's voice reassuring the girl that he was going to see that her fortune was restored.

The big yegg threw down his hands with a final gesture.

"It's all off," he growled. "Th' skirt is goin' tu beat us!"

Rake appeared in the doorway.

"Butler," he said, "have you a telegraph blank?"

Striding close to the yegg, Rake whispered:

"You and I are going to leave her in the house. Get ready to go to New York. We've got time. We'll get the batteries on Cortlandt Street. You stall around and make a pretense of dusting off things in the library until we're ready to go. Look up the southbound trains."

"What's th' goime, Pal?"

The Safe Blowers

"A PROFESSIONAL try-out. She told me about her fortune and her mother's fortune. Pascal was her father's brother. He stole the will and the securities. He's'got some of them planted. I know where they are. They're not in the wall-safe upstairs. There's a receipt there for a safe deposit box in the Maynard Trust Company on Fifth Avenue. We'll rent a box this afternoon. While we're renting it, we'll get the will and the bonds and the securities that are in box number 713."

"Aw, cawn't we blow west with th' machine?"

"No! We'll try it on the hardest job first. If it works there we can rip the country wide open, Scar."

"What about th' dame?" Big Scar pointed his thumb toward the dining room.

Rake's face softened.

"An angel," he whispered. "I can't pass up doing her a good turn."


The yegg glanced around for a duster as Rake hurried to the dining room. He strode through the hall and said from the library portieres:

"There's no telegraph blanks, sir. Shall I ask th' neighbors fer some?"

"Let them go, Jones," said Rake. "We can send a wire from New York. I want you to carry my bag to the station. Be ready in a half hour."

Betty's face was radiant. She stood on the porch when Rake and Big Scar turned at the foot of the steps and glanced at her.

The yegg had drawn a hat down over his tell-tale scar. He was slightly bent with the weight of the bag he carried. His eyes glinted like steel drills as Rake mounted a step and clasped the girl's hands.

"What time will you be back, uncle?" she asked.

"Seven, or seven thirty. I'll bring all of the securities and the will. Your mother's letter has touched me. I know that I have done wrong in the past. We're going to forget it—you and I. I never knew I had so charming a niece."

Big Scar coughed with a distressing hack in his throat.

Rake lifted his cap as he let go the girl's hands. He smiled keenly.

"Good-bye till seven or a little later. Don't let anybody in the house, Betty. You just play lady. There are three chickens in the chicken yard and there's music on the piano. I'll telegraph your mother that the fortune will be restored to her—and you."

A grateful ripple shone from Betty's eyes. Rake turned away from her and hastened through the gate and down toward the railroad station after Big Scar.

They reached New York at ten A. M. Chartering a taxi at the Grand Central, Rake covered a number of important points in getting ready the green glow apparatus. He purchased a small rheostat on Forty-second Street. He requested the driver to turn down Fifth Avenue. Both men peered at the ornate exterior of the Maynard Trust Company. They sank back upon the seat with a double sigh of satisfaction.

"We'll go to the Bowery," said Rake. "I want to see little Mickey Gleason. He can give me a puff of TNT and two or three double-X detonators—we'll need them."

The yegg waited in the taxi when Rake sprang out and after a ten-minute search found Mickey Gleason—a battered and resourceful safe-blower of the old school.

Their next stop was on Cortlandt Street where Rake succeeded in purchasing a set of thirteen storage batteries, fully charged and equipped with leads.

"They were used for a radio," he explained to Big Scar as he carried them out to the taxi. "See if they will go in the bag."

The batteries fitted with an inch or more to spare. The connections were made in the ride uptown. The rheostat was placed in series with the green arc and the batteries. It needed but a turn of the switch, hidden in the leather folds of the bag, to start the apparatus.

"It's crude," said Rake, glancing at the bag between Big Scar's feet, "but it may do the work. We should take the Sub-Treasury with it."

The Attempt

"LET'S take that, then, an' forget th' skirt. Wot's th' use ov wastin' our time on a little job?"

"This is a try-out. It's some bank, too."

The taxi slowed for the curb in front of the Maynard Trust Company. Rake leaned out and said to the chauffeur:

"Go on! Go on to the next square."

Springing from the cab, Rake walked rapidly down the 'Avenue, removed a card from his coat pocket and, stalking by the doorman, turned and went down a flight of marble steps which led to the vaults of the Maynard Trust Company.

A guard sat at the desk in front of the vaults. To him Rake imparted, as he handed out the card:

"I'm Doctor Bloodgood of Yonkers. I want a rather large box, by the year. Something around ten or fifteen dollars."

The guard rose and led the way into the vault. He showed Rake several boxes. Each time they were too large or too small. Rake's eyes were keen. He finally located box number 713. It was the seventh from the top in the thirteenth row from the open steel-grill door that led into the vault.

Sizing up this box, with its two flat key-holes, Rake secured one near it and paid the guard fifteen dollars after signing "Dr. Bloodgood" and obtaining keys and a receipt.

"I'll be back presently," he announced. "I'll have my man bring down some things I want to store away."

Big Scar was peering from the cab when Rake approached it. The chauffeur had the engine running.

"Get around the corner and wait," said Rake. "We will be gone but a minute."

The driver rounded the block. Big Scar climbed out with the bag. Rake gripped his arm and led him to the entrance of the Trust Company.

"Size up the get-away," he whispered. "Remember where the cab is." The big yegg felt himself urged through the marble portals and down the flight of marble steps. He set the bag on the floor in front of the guard's desk, as Rake requested:

Here we are! Will you open my box for me?"

The guard took the key Rake extended. He walked toward the grilled-gate to the vault. He had almost reached the opening when Rake bent, snapped the switch on the side of the bag, and glided toward the back of the building.

A hissing sounded. A violent glow filled the basement. The light from the bag deepened in color. The guard, the grilled gate, the locked boxes, the white marble all faded as the overhead lights twinkled faintly and then were gone in the darkness that fell like a veil.

"Get the guard!" shouted Rake. "Don't let him by. Stand across the entrance!"

A shuffling of feet echoed from the vault. Curses and groans filled the pit. A man went down. Another worked in greenish gloom.

Big Scar heard the clerks and special officers shouting, at the top of the stairs. They called to each other. They stumbled and fell as they attempted to find their way to the street. Someone shouted "An eclipse." This cry was taken up.

There followed, within a few seconds, a roar and a rack of an explosion. No light showed through the pit. An acrid odor of TNT reached Big Scar's nostrils. He groped and struck the outstretched arms of the vault's guard. The two men gripped and went to the floor together.

"All right!" shrilled Rake. "All right, get the bag, don't snap off the switch; follow me upstairs!"

Big Scar hooked his right elbow and crushed his fist under the guard's jaw. He searched about the basement for the bag. He touched the edge of a desk. He heard a hissing at his feet. Stooping he lifted the bag. He felt along the stone wall until he had reached the first step.

"Where are yu, Rake?" he shouted huskily.

"Right here, Scar!"

The yegg felt Rake's breath on his neck. They started up the stairs. Turmoil was in the corridor of the Trust Company. A panic-stricken group of depositors surged together in the blackness.

"Turn to the left!" ordered Rake coolly. "Now, through here! Now, to the left again. Now this way. We're on the sidewalk."

Blind Men

"GOOD Gawd!" was all that Big Scar could say.

They felt their way along the side of the building. They reached and tapped the stones ahead of them with their toes. Like two blind men they progressed in the direction of the taxi. The greenish glow grew thinner.

A woman shopper bumped into the bag. It slipped from Big Scar's arm and fell to the flagging. The arc flamed through the leather. It died and allowed the afternoon sun to penetrate the veil. Both crooks stood near the curb and rubbed their eyes. Rake glanced back.

The men at the entrance to the Trust Company were staring confusedly around the Avenue. An ambulance rang a warning from a side street.

"Come on!" ordered Rake. "You broke the crystal when you dropped the bag."

Big Scar grinned at a frightened woman who had shrunk into a doorway.

"Th' skirts again!" he muttered, lifting the bag and hurrying after the cracksman.

They piled into the taxi. Rake ordered the driver to take them to Sixth Avenue and uptown.

"What happened?" asked the chauffeur. "Fire?"

"It's out now," said Rake. "Step on the throttle and get us to the first subway express station."

"How about Times Square?"

"All right, hurry!"

Big Scar opened the bag. He touched the carbon and searched for the crystal. He found a number of fragments and showed them to Rake.

"Th' skirt done it!" he exclaimed. "If I hadn't bumped into her—"

Rake gripped the yegg's arm.

"You were careless." .

"Mel Me eyes were blinded."

"We got everything that was in box 713, Scar. That's enough for one day."

"Let's see 'em, Pal."

Rake opened his coat and glanced inside his pocket. "Looks like stocks and bonds and legal papers," he mused, without drawing them out. "This should right the wrong Pascal did to Betty and her mother."

"Where will we get another crystal? I kinda like this machine. I need it in me business."

Rake stared at the subway kiosk they were nearing. He sprang to the curb and paid the driver.

Clutching the yegg by the wrist he urged him into the express station where they took a train for Van Cortlandt Park, then changed to a surface car that passed through Yonkers and Hastings.

A second taxi was chartered to finish the journey to Ossining. Night had fallen before they wound through the village and were guided up the hill that led to Pascal's house.

Betty heard the honk of the horn, and came out on the porch. Rake told the taxi-driver to wait. He entered the house and said to Big Scar:

"Leave the bag in the hall, Jones. Go upstairs and pack Miss Pascal's suit-case. She's going home, soon."

"Did you get the things for mama?" she asked him concernedly. Rake waited until the yegg had reached the top of the stairs. "Yes, I got them! Here's the stocks and bonds. They were your father's. Now, they are yours. I give them to you gladly."

Betty took the packet. "How can I thank you?" she said to the cracksman.

Rake's face pressed close to hers.

"By leaving here," said he. "By leaving me and forgetting you ever met—your uncle."

"I don't think I can ever do that."

The tail-light of the taxi that carried the girl vanished over the hill in the direction of Ossining and the railroad station by the river.

Big Scar leaned against a porch-post at the head of the steps. He clumsily rolled a cigarette, and pasted it together. He poised it between his thick lips, then struck a match.

"Pal," he said. "Say, Pal, th' skirt beat us."

Rake stared at the road over which the girl had gone.

"Pal," repeated the yegg. "We c'uld ov used that crystal on a First National crib an' copped all ov a million in kale."

"I'm glad we didn't!" declared Rake. "Betty's good will is worth more than a million dollars."

"Can't we try another crib?"

"We—might—if we could get another crystal. Where are we going to get one? Pascal won't supply it. Remember he was stalled west on a fake telegram. The Green Glow may never be created again."

The End