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The Dead Man Laughs

—as a Scientific Sleuth Tackles the Riddle of A Mysterious Fire!

A Dr. Feather Story

By Ray Cummings
Author of "Murder in the Fog", "Death Under the Microscope," etc.

"I'M GLAD you happened to be in town, Dr. Feather," Captain Allen said. "Read that." He tossed a letter across the desk. Dr. Feather and Kit, his daughter, read it attentively.

Police Captain Allen
Police Station
Maple Grove, N. J.

Dear Sir:

If anything should happen to me, I want you to know my grandson killed me.

Yours truly,
Ezra Kaine.

"He's certainly to the point," Dr. Feather commented dryly as he handed back the letter. "What'd you do about it?"

"Nothing yet. I just got it," Captain Allen said. "I've heard of old Ezra Kaine—eccentric, miserly sort of fellow. Crotchety as the devil. Lives with his grandson in the Johnson Apartments, over on the West Side. The grandson works in New York—"

"Crime prevention is out of my line," Dr. Feather said. "But if that note is authentic, I suggest you'd better ask him what he—"

THE distant wail of the village fire siren echoed through the frosty night air—a long and two short blasts.

"The West Side," Allen murmured. "Quite a coincidence."

Dr. Feather and Kit exchanged glances. The police captain grabbed the telephone.

"It's the Johnson Apartments, all right!" he exclaimed as he slammed down the receiver.

"Dear me," Dr. Feather murmured. "It may not be a case of crime prevention. Shall we go, Captain?"

It was nearly one A.M.—a Saturday night in November. Dr. Feather's big limousine was parked in front of the police station. Kit jumped behind its wheel, with Dr. Feather and Allen after her. Down a distant cross-street, Maple Grove's fire engine went with screaming siren.

At the west edge of the village the Johnson Apartments stood in a big, somber, tree-shrouded garden—an old-fashioned dingy-looking frame building of three stories, divided now into half a dozen apartments. The fire engines already were there; the place was in a turmoil, with pedestrians and cars miraculously arriving.

"I guess they've got it out," Dr. Feather observed. "We'll stay here, Kit."

Captain Allen had leaped out and run into the house. Smoke was pouring from some of the windows. On the dark front porch several of the partly clad tenants were gathered with their belongings around them. But quite evidently the fire was already under control.

Then suddenly Captain Allen came dashing from the house. His face was grim.

"The fire—" Dr. Feather began.

"It's out," Alien said. "Amount...

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