As the horses started up, Dorothy refuted Tom's statement indignantly. " I_sn't a blind alley. It's a good clue. We've run down practically every othe_ine, and now we may as well try this. Everything points to the belief that '
the man ' is a scientist of no slight ability. Whether he or some one els_iscovered his high power radio-active force, he must be a good man, or h_ouldn't be able to use it. Now, it seems probable to me that he was workin_ith phosphorescent ink simply because it was the nearest at hand. A ma_ngaged in research like that would be likely to have at least one assistant.
I propose to find that assistant."
" I'd like to see you do it," said Tom doubtingly. " How would you go to work ? "
" I'd advertise," said Dorothy.
" Advertise," remarked Tom. " Here's the way to do it, — ' Wanted, th_ssistant of the man who is trying to stop all war.' "
" Of course not, stupid," said Dorothy impatiently. " We'll advertise for _an who has had some experience in making phosphorescent ink. That's the lin_o work on. Don't you see that since phosphorescent paint acts best with suc_nergy as is given by radio-active substances, that he's likely to have bee_sing it. There's such a close relation between phosphorescence an_adioactivity, that a man might be working with both."
" But where will you advertise ? " I said. " How can you tell where the ma_as worked ? How can you tell his nationality? I think he is an American, bu_o one can tell."
" If you mean Dick Regnier," exclaimed Dorothy, her eyes flashing, " you'r_rong. I've known him for years, and I know he is not the man. It takes just _ouch of insanity that Dick never had, to do what ' the man ' is doing. ' Th_an ' must be practically a monomaniac on the subject."
The bus stopped just as the Bank came in sight. Dorothy turned squarely in he_eat and faced me. The seats around us happened to be empty. She looked at m_omewhat guilty face and spoke emphatically.
" Jim Orrington, you don't believe me, but it isn't Dick Regnier."
" Now, Dorothy," I said, " look here. How did the letter get changed, unles_t was done by Regnier that night at your cousin's ? "
" I don't know," she answered.
" Oh, come now," said Tom. " Drop it. Here's where we get off."
We had drawn our money and had started away, when I suddenly thought of th_ail. I turned back to the little window and asked if there were any letter_or us which had not been forwarded. A few moments brought a big package, among them three or four bulky envelopes from the office. Hailing a cab, w_ead busily as we drove back to the Savoy. One long typewritten report I rea_ith especial care, and handed over to Dorothy when she had finished her mail.
She looked at me reproachfully, as she read the title. " And you neve_entioned this at all."
" I forgot all about it," I answered. " I started that inquiry the day I wa_n prison. The night I got out, the Denckel letter came, and we've been s_usy ever since that I completely forgot this."
" Let's hear it," said Tom.
" Just read the condensed paragraph at the top," I said. " That tells th_hole story. You can read the rest at your leisure." Dorothy began in he_lear voice.
" Report on Mr. Richard Regnier. Richard Regnier is the son of the lat_olonel Arthur Regnier of Savannah, Georgia. He was educated at privat_chools, and at Princeton. His residence is Savannah, but he has spent muc_ime in England. He specialized in chemistry when in college, and publishe_ne paper after graduation on some rare chemical compounds. He has no regula_ccupation, has an independent income, and spends most of his time in variou_hilanthropic works. Is a member of several organizations, such as the Peac_ociety, the Tuberculosis League, etc., and of four clubs. Complete detail_iven below. Every effort has been made to obtain his present address, but no_ven his bankers know it. The only fact concerning this which could b_btained was that he sailed for Europe on the Hamburg-American line, the las_f June, this present year. For details of this part of the investigation, se_elow."
: "Well, he didn't do it; he isn't doing it," said Dorothy emphatically.
" He's got the training for it," said Tom reflectively.
" I am sure," began Dorothy, but I broke in.
" What's the use of discussing it now. We can't get hold of Regnier, anyway, and your phosphorescent ink scheme seems the next scheme to try. Here we ar_t the Temple. Let's go to one of my friends who is a solicitor here, and se_f we can use his office as headquarters to see the applicants." So th_iscussion ended.
A brief interview with my friend, and a short debate on the best method o_rocedure, brought us to certain conclusions. It was really just as possibl_hat the man had worked in London as anywhere else, and we decided t_dvertise in six of the morning papers for three days, asking for a man wh_ad had some experience with phosphorescent inks, and who was capable o_ssisting in a scientific examination with regard to them. Applicants were t_eet at the office of my friend in the Middle Temple at three o'clock on th_fternoon of the third day.
For two days and a half I spent my time watching the preparations for war, an_rging forward the search for Regnier. He had completely dropped out of sight.
No information of his whereabouts could be obtained, and when we met at th_emple on the afternoon of the third day, we were no further ahead.
At three o'clock the waiting room of the office was full, and a long line o_en extended down the stairs. The crowd bore striking witness to the horde o_nemployed seeking for even the slightest chance of employment. My friend'_lerks were in despair, but somehow they managed to evolve something lik_rder from the mass, and one by one the applicants were admitted. After th_irst half dozen, we saw that they could be divided into three classes, — th_en who knew nothing about science and nothing about any kind of ink, the me_ho knew something about ink but nothing about phosphorescent ink, and the me_ho had been laboratory assistants to various research followers. We divide_hem rapidly on this basis, and in an hour had dismissed all the members o_lasses one and two. There were left some ten others who had been assistant_n research laboratories. One by one we examined these. They had worked i_arious lines; the first five in chemical researches; the last five in variou_hysical and engineering lines. Try as we might, we could get no informatio_rom any of them with regard to phosphorescent ink, or with regard to an_nusual work with radio-active energy.
The last man had been dismissed and we had sat down to afternoon tea with m_riend, when we heard words in the outer office. The door opened and a cler_ntered. " There's one man more, sir," he said, " I told him he was too late, but he's quite insistent, sir. Will you care to see him ? "
" Surely," I said, and we all went out into the outer office. A tall, bent ma_ith drooping mustache stood by the window. His gaunt face and threadbar_lothes, neatly brushed though they were, showed an evident lack o_rosperity.
" I ventured to insist, sir," he said, addressing me, " as I have had quite _ittle experience in phosphorescent ink. It was only a year ago that I serve_n a laboratory where they were working with it, and while I was simpl_orking under the direction of other people, I think I could work well alon_hat line. I should try to do my best. I need a place."
This looked more like the real thing. I waved towards Tom. He could run thi_nd of the inquiry better than I.
" What's your name ? "
" George Swenton."
" Where did you have your experience ? " questioned Tom.
" With Doctor Heidenmuller, in his private research laboratory," answered th_an.
" What training have you had ? "
" Not much. Only a few courses at the University of London. I was only th_econd assistant. I worked with Doctor Heidenmuller for four years, until h_ied six months ago. I have had no place since, sir."
" Did your employer do anything with radioactive work ? "
" Yes, sir. He died that way. He was killed, paralysed, you might say, whil_orking with something in a locked room. He always did that work in a locke_oom."
" What were the circumstances of his death ? " asked Tom. The man hesitate_nd looked up somewhat fearfully.
" I don't see what that has to do with phosphorescent ink," he said. " Th_olice went all into the matter of his death, and they said it was just deat_y paralysis." He stopped and shut his mouth hard. Dorothy broke in.
" Mr. Swenton, here is the state of affairs. I don't think my brother has mad_t quite plain. We are more interested in Dr. Heidenmuller's radio-active wor_han in his phosphorescent paint. We have no question of you at all. We do no_ant to know anything which is not entirely right for us to know, but we d_ant to know all you feel you can rightly tell us of his work. I feel sur_hat my brother will be ready to employ you, if you can show that you hav_one this, and that you can do what he wants."
The man's face cleared. Dorothy's words were more convincing than evidence. H_eached into his pockets and drew forth a bunch of papers, which he gave t_om, who rapidly ran through them.
" They're all right," he said, handing them back. " Now, if I give you twent_ounds a month for two months, will that be all right ? "
A dull red rose in the man's face as his eyes lighted. " It will mea_verything to me, sir," he said. " I've got a wife and a boy."
Tom drew out his purse. " Here's ten pounds to clinch the bargain," and h_anded him two five pound notes.
" I appreciate that more than I can say," said the man, the tears welling u_nto his eyes with emotion. " Now, what did you want to know ? "
" First about Dr. Heidenmuller's apparatus, and then about his death."
" I'm afraid I can't tell you much of the apparatus. I never even saw it. I_as in an inner room to which the doctor had the only key. I never was in th_oom till the day we broke down the door and took him out dead. There was n_pparatus there then. It must have been removed."
" How did the room look ? " asked Dorothy.
" It was all bare. Nothing in it at all, except the wooden chair where he sa_nd a wooden table."
" How about the walls and ceiling ? "
" They were all of wood."
" How about the locks on the door and windows ?"
" That was a funny thing. They were of wood, too, though he had an iron key."
" What did the doctor have in his pockets ? "
" Four five-pound notes, no change, and his watch was gone. There was nothin_n his watch pocket except a watch crystal. His keys were gone, too, and onl_he ribbon of his watch was left lying on the floor."
" What did the doctors say about his death ? "
" Straight paralysis, they said. I had been away for three days. He was aroun_he laboratory for one day after I left, and the day after that he must hav_ied. They said death was instantaneous."
" Did the doctor leave any family ? "
" What became of his papers ? "
" Nobody knows. He had scarcely any friends. His property went to a niece i_ermany, and she came over to hunt for papers, but she found none."
" What became of the other assistant ? "
" He went back to Germany. He knew nothing more than I did, however."
" Did the doctor have any friends who came to see him ? "
" Very few. There was one American who came to see him now and then. I neve_new his name or where he came from, nor did I know the name of the two o_hree German friends he had."
" Anything else you think of ? " asked Tom.
" Nothing else, I'm afraid," answered Swenton.
Tom rose from his chair and paced up and down the room, his hands in hi_rousers pockets, his coat flung back. As he walked, Swenton, watching him, uttered an exclamation.
" I can tell you one thing about the American," he said. " He wore a peculia_haped pin on his waistcoat, such as you wear on your fob."
Tom pulled up his fob with its Theta Sigma Rho pin. " There's a good clue, anyway," he said. " He must be a Theta Sigma Rho man."
We could get nothing more from Swenton and, after directing him to call at th_avoy the next morning, we sent him away happy. As we came down the narro_tairs and out of the old arched passages of the Temple, Dorothy said, " Let'_alk up the embankment to the hotel. We can think better that way."
We had gone half the distance, when she stopped. " Suppose we talk it ove_ere," and we stopped beside the parapet to discuss the matter.
" As I make it out," said Tom, " Heidenmuller was the man who discovered th_ecret power which has been destroying the battleships, but he can't be ' th_an,' because he died before the first ship went down. Therefore he must hav_assed it on to some one else who is using it, possibly the American who wa_is friend, or one of the Germans. It strikes me that the next thing to do i_o find an American in London who wears a Theta Sigma Rho pin."
Instantly I startled the peaceful calm of the embankment, and made myself a_bject of suspicion to the neighboring bobby, by leaping in the air an_lapping my hands together.
" Hamerly, by all that's holy ! " I cried. "You remember that fellow I too_ome that night you arrived, Dorothy? "
She nodded, her eyes gleaming with interest.
" He's one of our men, and he had an acid stain on his coat. I'll wager yo_e's the American. I know where he lives and I've been up to see him once, bu_e was out. I'll go up there right after dinner."
" Do you think he's ' the man ' ? " asked Tom in excitement.
" I don't see how he could be," I said slowly. " ' The man ' was working i_he Channel, when he was in the British Museum. But he's surely the next ma_o interview."
By eight I was in a hansom speeding towards Half-Moon Street. "Was Mr. Hamerl_n?" He was, and met me half way down the stairs. " This is very good of you, Orrington," he said. " I was very sorry to miss your last call."
For some time we talked of various things, of college days, and of affairs a_ome. He had come over as a Rhodes scholar and, having a little money left hi_hile at Oxford, had gone on in London after graduation, leading a life o_uiet study. As we talked, I sized my companion up. " A trifle grave but, after all, a sane, sterling fellow," I decided, and I put my errand directl_o him.
" You knew Dr. Heidenmuller," I said abruptly.
" Yes, poor old chap," he said calmly. " How did you happen to run across him ? "
" I didn't know him personally," I said, " but I knew a man who did know him.
One of our own men, Tom Haldane of Columbia, who is very greatly interested i_he radio-active work which Dr. Heidenmuller was carrying on before his death, is here with me."
Hamerly's face filled with eagerness. His whole attitude changed. " Di_aldane know what he was doing ? " he asked breathlessly.
" Not exactly," I said.
" Well if he knows anything about it, I believe he knows one of the greates_hings in modern science. The Doctor never told me anything about it, but _ent into that room the day he was taken out dead, and ever since that tim_'ve felt that he had found a force greater than anything yet obtained, an_hat that force killed him." He paused. " I've never said that to anybod_lse, but Haldane is the man of all others to know it, and you might tell hi_hat from me. He may be able to use it somehow. I can't. I tried my best t_et hold of some clue concerning it after Heidenmuller's death, but it wa_bsolutely useless. Do you think that Haldane has enough data to work it out?"
" Frankly, I don't know," I said.
" Except for two things, I should have said the secret died with him," sai_amerly slowly.
I bent forward hanging on every word.
" I've never spoken of either, but," — he paused, " you know this man who i_rying to stop all war ?"
" Well, from the way Heidenmuller's room looked, and the way the things in hi_ockets were left, I've wondered if the man had not his secrets. Do you know,"
he said, leaning forward, " there were no eyelets in his shoes when he wa_ound. The crimps were in the leather of the strings, but the metal ends wer_one. The lenses of his spectacles, without any mounting, were lying on th_loor. The very filling of his teeth had gone. Why couldn't a battleshi_isappear into its elemental parts the same way, all its living content_aralyzed by the shock, dying instantly and sinking below the waves. I'v_ondered more than once if the government sent down divers in Portsmout_arbor and if they did, what they found."
There was just one thing to do. He held as much as we did of the secret.
Perhaps he knew more. From beginning to end, I told the whole story of ou_earch. As I went on, he grew more and more excited. As I paused towards th_nd, he broke in.
" The second thing fits in here, the reason why I believe the secret might no_e lost. One day as I went into the laboratory, the Doctor's assistant told m_hat he was in the inner room, but had left word for me to wait. I wa_xtremely curious for no one had ever entered that inner room to my knowledge.
The door opened at last, and a tall, dark man, an American I should say, cam_ut of that closed room with the doctor. I never saw him before or since. Now, is he the man who got the secret, and with it is trying to stop all war ? "
I was out of my seat with excitement. " I believe he is. Would you know him i_ou saw his photograph ? "
" Surely," said Hamerly.
I rose to go.
" Hold on," exclaimed Hamerly, " I haven't told you half yet."
" Go on," I said eagerly, seating myself once more.
"That first day, after I had made a rough examination, I started to go ove_he inner room inch by inch. At first I thought it was perfectly insulated b_ood. There wasn't a piece of metal nor even a piece of glass in it. Where th_ncandescent light came down, hung a bit of twisted cord, without a scrap o_etal remaining. There was a length of insulating cloth, minus the wire i_overed, lying on the floor. I went round and round, hunting for metal, but _ould find none. There was a wooden shutter over the window, and no glass. _losed the door and walked over every inch of the room, trying to find an_reak whatsoever in the insulation. The only thing I could find was a fain_limmer, where the wooden window shutter did not quite join. I went outsid_nd studied the place from the street. There was no appearance of anythin_nusual on the wall of the laboratory, excepting that the boarded window o_he wooden room looked out like a rectangular unseeing eye. I crossed to th_idewalk just before the laboratory, and looked up and down the opposite wall.
There was nothing unusual on that side, save two square places, side by sid_n the painted wall, which looked fresher than the wall around. I examine_hem more carefully, crossed and recrossed. The two spots were almost exactl_pposite the lower end of the shuttered window where I had seen a slight chin_f light, the only place where the insulation of wood was broken. I went u_he stairs of the house opposite. It was a little tea shop. A wooden sig_eaned against the wall beside the door. I picked it up. The screw holes an_he whiter paint where the hinges had lain showed clear, but there was n_etal about it. The proprietress bustled up to take my order and, as she sa_e looking at the sign, broke into voluble explanation. ' I should have pu_he sign back in its place, sir, but fairly didn't dare to. It was a week com_uesday when it fell. It's God's own mercy there wasn't somebody killed, sir.
And the strangest thing, too. I couldn't find sight nor smell of the hinge_nd the rod where it hung. It must have pulled out of the wall, and somebod_ave picked up the iron, before I could get down, sir. Now isn't that strange, sir?'
" It had fallen the day that Heidenmuller died.
" I went back into the laboratory and hunted over every square inch of it, bu_ found nothing.
I stood there puzzling. If there had been some power that had kille_eidenmuller, there must have been some material substance in which it wa_ept. I had made the most careful inquiries about the things on his person an_n the room. No one could tell me anything. Swenton and Griegen, the tw_ssistants, were neither of them there, but the first one who had entered th_oom when the doctor's body was found was a sharp-faced lad who acted a_anitor. I had questioned him thoroughly, as I thought, but I resolved to se_f he did not know more. I went to him again, and a lucky inspiration came t_e. Holding a sovereign in my hand I remarked casually, ' If there is an_ittle personal memento of the doctor left, I should like very much to hav_t.' The narrow eyes of the lad gleamed. He thrust his hand into his pocket, and drew out what was apparently a leather cigarette case, snatched th_overeign, and handed me the case. ' Found h'it h'on the floor, h'after w_ook 'im h'out,' he mumbled. ' H'it's the h'only think was there.' "
Hamerly rose as he spoke and walked to his desk. I followed, my hear_ulsating with great leaps. He took from a drawer what seemed to be a pigski_igarette case, cut in half. Hamerly held the two sections out on his hand. A_he top was a queerly constructed valve, — the case was lined with a blac_ubstance that looked like rubber.
" I believe," said Hamerly gravely, " that in this case there was som_errifically powerful substance, which killed Heidenmuller and destroyed al_he metal in the wooden room, by escaping through the accidentally opene_alve. I believe the man who is trying to stop all war uses the same drea_gent. I believe, once the substance escapes and does its work, that it turn_o a harmless gas, as hydrogen, once it has been exploded with oxygen, form_armless water, or as the carbon of coal, which has blazed when united wit_he oxygen of the air becomes, after that union, inert carbon dioxide. Yo_now, now, all I know. I've done all I could with it," he ended, "Take it t_aldane."
Dazed with the story, I could only thank him and take the case. We parted wit_ word of good will, and assurance of secrecy on his side.