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Crime Busters September 1938

BLOOD ARROW

by Norvell W. Page

In Chinatown's catacombs of doom, the Death Angel recklessly seeks a lovely kidnaped girl!

CHAPTER I.
THE DEADLY LIMOUSINE.

ANGUS SAINT-CLOUD was trying to take a night off. For once, the dapper bail-bond detective relaxed the vigilance of his keen brain and turned himself wholly to the lovely Lois Marlowe at his side.

That was a mistake.

His usually wary gray eyes missed the swift, malignant glance flung toward him by the man behind the wheel of his limousine. He missed seeing that the man was not his chauffeur, "Sloppy," but a Chinese with slant, malevolent eyes!

Angus handed Lois into the car with a meticulous bow and, bending low, did not see the false chauffeur strike a match and drop it to the ground; did not see the signal returned from the shadows of dark trees across the street! Angus sprang in beside Lois and the limousine was instantly in motion. Every window in the back was tightly shut, despite the glorious summer weather. Beside the chauffeur, they were wide open and there was a thin-lipped and ruthless smile on the driver's yellow face.

"Your hair," Angus murmured to the girl, "has precisely the sheen of lake water in moonlight."

The girl threw back her head and laughed, and the line of her throat was soft and young. Lois was particularly lovely in a severely white gown, with her hair square-cut and boyish about her face. She merited all Angus's attention. Besides, she was the boss's daughter, and she was equally engrossed in Angus.

The car's speed was mounting rapidly. From a small register near the floor, intended for heat, a spiral of grayish vapor crept out into the tightly closed tonneau. Tentacles of it reached up toward Angus and the girl.

Lois said, "I must compliment you, too, Angus, on your attention to detail. No one but you would think of using incense in your car."

Angus said blankly, "Incense?" Abruptly, all his nerves snapped taut. His gray eyes, masked behind the glitter of his nose-glasses, hardened into fierceness. It was true that he had caught a faint whiff of sandalwood when first he stepped into the limousine, but he had thought it was some perfume that Lois used.

His head whipped about and, in a single glance, he took in the hunched, powerful shoulders of the chauffeur, so much more powerful than Sloppy's; the tightly closed windows. And the scent of sandal-wood was suddenly overpowering!

Angus felt fear rip through him like a knotted cord dragged through a cut. Not for himself, but for this lovely girl at his side. And he was unarmed! It was like Angus, even in that first chilling moment when he knew his unwariness had let them step into a trap, that he should seek to save Lois from anxiety.

"We need a bit of air," Angus murmured, almost absently; but his hand, when it moved to the lever to open the window, sped out with the rapidity of a rapier thrust! His hand closed on the lever and the tendons stood out, white and taut, as he threw his explosive strength against it. There was a metallic snap. The lever swung loosely in his hand—but the window remained closed!

LOIS said, "What's the matter, Angus?" Her voice was thick, dreamy, and Angus knew abruptly that his own head was humming as if his breath had been cut off. That incense! It was an overpowering gas! Panic slashed through Angus. He wrenched at the catch of the door and could not move it. He jerked at the panel of glass that separated him from the chauffeur and it would not budge.

"Hold your breath!" he panted to Lois.

"What?" the girl's voice barely reached him. Already, she was succumbing to the gas! All her body was relaxing, slumping down on the lavish cushions. A strange weakness was coursing through his own powerful muscles. It was labor to knot his fist, to set his shoulder for a smash at the glass panel which was closing them in, which was strangling them. If he could shatter it, seize that impostor behind the wheel——

He drew back his fist, the fist that had earned him the terrifying title of the "Death Angel" in the prizefighting ring. He tried to drive it forward with all the weight of his body behind it, with the last bit of his strength. It was a nightmare.

It was as if he moved in a dream—a dream of a slow-motion picture. His fist seemed to float forward, without volition, almost without direction from himself. He saw the gloved knuckles hit the pane, saw the rigid wrist flex. A few cracks radiated out from his hand, so he must have hit it, but he could feel nothing—nothing at all.

His eyes were straining toward the chauffeur. Lord, something had happened to his faithful man, Sloppy—something that soon would be happening to Lois, to himself. He was on his knees, Angus realized, and it was only by a powerful effort that he could hold up his head at all.

His vision was blurring, but in flashes it was extraordinarily keen. He could see, for instance, that the chauffeur had a particularly mongoloid type of head. His ears—— Strange that a man's ears should be pierced through the lobes, as women's were in olden days. Pierced ears——

Angus knew that his mind was wandering; that he was slipping off into unconsciousness. He fought against it and the perspiration beaded out on his forehead. He couldn't get his breath. The sandal-wood was choking him——

Abruptly, the chauffeur twisted his head and peered back into the tonneau with an evil, twisted smile, and Angus Saint-Cloud knew an overwhelming horror. There was such cold cruelty in that face and the man was—Chinese!

Dimly, Angus felt that he should recognize the man, but he could never remember faces. Sloppy was useful for that. Sloppy always remembered faces----

The face blurred out before Angus's eyes and he knew that he was falling. Fathomless blackness was below him, and he plunged down and down into it for seeming aeons of time. Then, abruptly, his descent was checked and he was rushing upward again.

ANGUS broke from the darkness as from the surface of an inky-black pond. He plunged up, gasping, and darkness was still around him, but it was the blackness of night. He was sitting bolt upright upon comfortable cushions and, as his body began to awake, he found himself still in the car.

"Lois," he muttered thickly.

He peered drunkenly around him, and there was no trace of Lois Marlowe, nor of the evil-faced Chinese who had taken the place of Sloppy. Angus was alone in the limousine, parked on a dark side street, and the windows were open now. He moved a hand heavily toward his forehead and became aware of a sheet of paper, folded and thrust into the palm of his glove. He fumbled it out, flicked on the dome ceiling light to read—and a great cry burst from his constricted throat. He saw:

Take this message to George Marlowe. He has until two o'clock this morning to pay two hundred and fifty thousand dollars ransom for his daughter. Otherwise, he will never see her alive again. Wait for a telephone call from—

The signature was an arrow, crudely drawn in red that was the color of blood, of a young girl's blood. Lois, lovely Lois, was the prisoner of Chinese kidna...

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