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The "V" Force

By FRED C. SMALE

It upset the rhythm of life wherever it went. Even to take it somewhere to get rid of it, would be a perilous undertaking from which you might never return

I EXAMINED the bar of metal closely. Subsequent measurements showed it to be fourteen inches long, three inches wide, and three-quarters of an inch thick. On the broad surface. about the center, was engraved a circle with strokes radiating from it. possibly a conventionalized representation of the sun. Beyond this no marks were visible.

The metal itself, so far as I could judge, was a very hard steel with a curious ruddy iridescence on the surface, somewhat reminding me of the appearance of "shot" silk. When suspended between the fingers and thumb and struck sharply it rang with a clear bell—like note. Evidently there was no flaw in the metal.

"Do you believe it?" I asked, looking up from my examination.

Walter Surtees shrugged his shoulders.

"Twenty years' residence in the East," said he, "have taught me to believe many stranger things."

"But this," I protested. "A mere bar of inanimate metal to have all the powers you ascribe—"

"Excuse me," he corrected. "I don't ascribe any powers to it. At least you haven't heard me do so yet. l have merely retailed to you the statement made to me by the Thibetan priest who gave it to me."

"Has it the ordinary magnetic properties?" said I. "But of course you have thought of that." Walter Surtees smiled.

"Yes, I have tested it, but it doesn't even lift iron-filings. No, it isn't a mere bar-magnet, whatever it is."

"But that stuff about the 'periodic powers,'" said I. "If there is anything in it at all it must be permanent. I am inclined to think the whole thing is a fable. I dare say those artful priests were able to play some curious tricks with it. It's their business."

My friend looked queerly at me for a moment before he spoke.

"Well, to be frank with you," said he, "there is something supernormal about it. I haven't confined my experiments to poking it among iron-filings."

"What else, then?" I asked curiously. "It shines in the dark, for one thing," he replied.

I laughed.

"Radium," I suggested. "Possibly it contains a minute quantity. But that wasn't what you. were going to tell me. You would hardly call looking at it in the dark an experiment."

Surtees rose and went to the door of the room.

"You shall see for yourself," said he.

He opened the door and whistled softly. Presently a huge, gray cat insinuated itself into the room and rubbed itself affectionately against my friend's leg, purring.

Surtees closed the door and returned to his chair.

"Now watch," said he.

The cat followed him for a yard or two, then it seemed to grow suddenly uneasy. Its fur rose and its tail became enlarged.

In obedience to a sign from Surtees I placed the bar, which I was still holding, on the floor. The cat watched it as though fascinated and mewed plaintively. It now seemed more terrified than angry.

Slowly, as though against its will, the animal drew nearer with a curious sidling movement until at last it lay close to the bar, motionless and apparently exhausted.

"That is certainly queer," said I thoughtfully, "I say," I ad...

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