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Chapter 7

  • The wreck of the wave-measuring machine once installed in the laboratory, every energy was bent towards putting it into perfect working condition. _addening task it was. Thrown hither and thither in the corners of warehouses, the missing parts and waving broken wires of the apparatus, as it first stoo_n the laboratory table, gave but little promise of final renovation. But th_ossibilities which it held entranced both Dorothy and Tom. Each day I came u_o find them working. Each night they came back to the laboratory for a fe_ore hours' work. The minds of all of us were turning more and more to our on_ixed purpose, the discovery of the man who was trying to stop all war. Th_tir and tremor of the tumultuous world around, eager for news of the drea_ragedies, seemed to be but an outside interest, compared with the tremendou_ossibilities of running down the individual at the bottom of this giganti_ndertaking.
  • Gradually the chaos began to take on form. Cylinders of shining metal ros_bove the polish of the base. Revolving hemispheres and cones resumed thei_riginal forms or were replaced by reproductions. Broken wires, replaced b_ew wire, found their connections. Jones was indefatigable. He was foreve_olishing, adjusting, scraping, and his mild blue eyes behind his bi_pectacles glowed with enthusiasm, as he sat gazing at the wave-measurin_achine and working on one of its parts.
  • On the evening of the fourth day I came up to the laboratory about te_'clock, and found Tom making some last adjustments, while Dorothy and Jone_ooked on.
  • "We think we have it," said Dorothy, as she greeted me. " This is the las_onnection."
  • " Now that you have it all set up, tell me how it works," I said. " You'v_een so tied up in the thing, that I've hardly heard a word from you in _eek."
  • " Too bad," answered Dorothy, laughing. " We'll tell you enough about it t_how you what to expect."
  • I leaned over curiously to examine the wave-measuring machine. It stood on _ound table ten or twelve feet in diameter looking not unlike some fortresse_own, such as rises on the banks of many a river in southern Europe. A belt o_road, shining metal a foot high encircled it as the gray walls of ston_urround the town. Within the belt stood polished cones and hemispheres whic_ose for a height of some two feet, bringing to mind round towers of fortalic_nd dwelling within battlemented walls. Wires, ranged with mathematica_reciseness, completed the comparison by their similarity to street_urmounted by telegraph wires. The surrounding belt seemed solid, but, a_ones threw the reflector of a powerful incandescent on it, I could see it wa_ined with millions of tiny seams. Tom threw a switch and, to my surprise, th_elt began slowly to revolve about the central portion.
  • " What's that belt for ? " I asked.
  • " That's where the wave of electrical energy enters. It goes into the interio_f the machine through one of those tiny slits which you see. Once inside, th_ave strikes a magnetic coil about a mirror, which swings when the energy act_pon it, and throws a beam of light down that scale." He pointed to th_pposite wall.
  • There, extending from one side to the other of the room, some fifty feet i_ll, stretched a scale like a foot rule suddenly grown gigantic. Its space wa_overed with divisions, a big zero in the middle and numbers running up fro_ero into the hundreds of thousands and millions on either side. Just at th_ero point rested a long narrow beam of light.
  • " You see that beam," Tom went on. " When the waves come into the machine, they go through as I explained, the machine stops, and the light goes up o_own the scale. The distance that it goes shows how far away the wave started.
  • The slit through which the wave comes shows the exact direction from which i_omes, and we can get that easily because the machine stops as the wave goe_hrough. Then, by means of a certain amount of mathematics, we hope to be abl_o find just where a wave comes from. We can adjust the machine so that i_ill register anything from a wireless telegraph message through a radiu_ischarge to the enormously powerful waves which ' the man ' uses. We have i_djusted now for the waves which ' the man ' uses in destroying battleships.
  • We know something of them from the way in which they charged th_eflectoscopes. That's the whole thing."
  • " One thing more," I said inquiringly. " If ' the man ' destroys a battleship, does the machine stop and the beam of light run down the scale."
  • " Yes," answered Tom. " That's just what it does."
  • " All right," I said.
  • " Now, we'll start up," remarked Tom. " Turn off the lights, throw off th_nner insulation," he commanded, turning to Jones, who obediently threw _ouple of switches.
  • We were left in partial darkness. On the long scale, on the opposite side o_he room, the single line of light rested at the centre, illuminating th_ero. There was a shaded incandescent in one corner, which threw no light o_he black wall where stood the scale, but gave a dim radiance sufficient t_eveal the belt of polished metal as it swiftly revolved about the mas_ithin. Dorothy sat near the apparatus. Jones was puttering with something a_ne end of the scale, and Tom and I sat side by side, watching the whol_cale. Suddenly the beam swept swiftly far up the scale, fluttered for _oment and rested on a point. The moving belt stopped with a slight click.
  • " That's it. There's another battleship gone," cried Tom, as we all hurrie_ver to the scale. " Now we can tell just where he is doing his deadly work.
  • 2, 340, 624. 1401 " he read, scrutinizing with a microscope the scale at th_oint where the beam rested. " Here, Jones, turn on the lights. Bring me th_ogarithm tables, our table of constants, and Denckel's table of constant_hat we found under the middle cylinder."
  • Jones ran excitedly across the laboratory, returning with the needed things.
  • Tom, Dorothy and Jones each sat down to figure while I watched Dorothy'_imble fingers, as they flew over the paper, filling sheet after sheet wit_omputations. What different powers lay in those little hands. Abstrus_alculations vied with bread making, careful manipulations of delicat_nstruments with the steering wheel of her motor car. Last week we had eaten _inner prepared wholly by her. This week she was working out one of the grea_riumphs of modern science. It seemed almost a shame to confine those talent_n a single home — but yet — and the old train of thought started on its eve_ecurring cycle.
  • Suddenly Tom threw down his pen. " Beat you that time, old girl! " he said.
  • Dorothy gave no heed, but figured on for a minute more. Then she, too, droppe_er pen.
  • " Want my figures, Tom ? " she asked.
  • " Not yet," answered Tom. " Wait for Jones. I'll go and get the maps, an_e'll work the second step as soon as we have checked these figures."
  • Jones worked laboriously on, and Tom had gone and returned, bearing two hug_ortfolios, before his task was ended.
  • " Read off," said Tom, and a whole series of numerals came from Dorothy'_ips, at each of which Jones nodded his head. As she ended she looke_nquiringly at Tom.
  • " Right," said he. " Now reverse the beam to find the slit."
  • Jones brought a small scale, with lights mounted with flexible cords. H_laced it across the beam, sighted through it as Tom threw off the lights, and, after a brief manipulation, threw a switch.
  • All turned to gaze at the belt. Through a single slit an almost geometric lin_f light shone forth.
  • "Beautiful! beautiful!" cried Tom; and Dorothy cried, " Oh, Jim ! oh, Tom !
  • we've got it."
  • My name came first to her hour of triumph. I had time to notice that, befor_he lights went on once more. Tom took a dozen hasty readings, and rapidl_ead them off. Another period of rapid computation followed, then one by one, Dorothy leading, they made a swift survey of maps. More and more anxious gre_he trio as they went on. Map followed map, till Dorothy came to a final one, made her last measurement, and sat back in apparently complete bewilderment.
  • Tom, by a different route, reached the same map and drew it from her, shakin_is head vehemently, and Jones, laboring heavily along in the rear, finall_tretched his hand for the same sheet.
  • " What have you got, Jones,?" said Tom sharply.
  • " Tokio, Japan," said Jones. " What do you get?"
  • " Tokio, confound it! " said Tom.
  • Dorothy sat back in her chair and began to laugh at his disgusted tone. " Tom, you get excited too easily. How do you know that he may not be there! "
  • " I don't," growled Tom. " But I don't believe he's gone from Brest to Toki_n ten days, especially when he is to sink a German warship next."
  • " But there may be a German warship there," answered Dorothy.
  • " There isn't a first-class German battleship in Asiatic waters to-day," _roke in. " I'm following every one, and they've all been called in to hom_tations within a month, on some excuse of trial mobilization. They've al_assed Suez."
  • Tom gave a long whistle. " We set the machine for those terrific waves that '
  • the man ' uses. Of course somebody in Tokio might have them, but it'_mprobable. Let's start her up again."
  • Once more the lights were lowered, once more the belt resumed its revolution, as we watched. Scarcely a minute passed, and the machine stopped as before, with a click. The beam fluttered for a moment, and stopped apparently in th_ame place where it started.
  • " Well, I'll be hanged ! " said Tom, as he hurried over to examine it. "
  • .0001," he read off.
  • " Why, that's not outside New York. Don't figure it," said Dorothy. " Revers_he beam."
  • No sooner said than done, and a slit on the left sprang into light. Tom stoo_lankly, his hands deep in his pockets, as he gazed.
  • " Telephone Carrener in the Physical Laboratory up at U. C. N. Y." sai_orothy excitedly. " Ask him what he's doing now."
  • Tom jumped for the telephone, and a rapid-fire volley of calls and question_ollowed. As he hung up the receiver, he turned to us despairingly. " It wa_arrener. He's just been making some radioactive experiments. The blame_achine registers every strong radio-active wave that's sent out anywhere i_he world."
  • " Then all you've got to do is to adjust the apparatus till you get a ne_djustment which will register ' the man's ' wave, isn't it.'' " I asked.
  • " Yes," snapped Tom, " and it took Denckel three years to get that adjustment, and there's no data on how he did it. The rest was easy compared to this. I_e only had that lost manuscript."
  • Jones sat huddled in a dejected heap. Dorothy's cheery face was downcast. " _ust confess," she sighed, " that I'm afraid the apparatus isn't going to b_f any immediate use to us without the manuscript."
  • " Any immediate use ! " sputtered Tom. " The old thing isn't worth a rap.
  • It'll be registering every trolley car that goes by next. We've done ever_hing we know how to fix it, and it may be ten years before we find out what'_he trouble. If we only had the Denckel manuscript."
  • " Yes, if we only had Denckel's work," said Dorothy wearily. " But we haven't.
  • There's no use doing anything more to-night. We'll go at it again in th_orning."
  • The next two days brought no result. The wave-measuring machine would tel_here the waves came from, but it would do nothing towards separating them.
  • Day after day the reflecto-scopes were watched for the expected sinking of th_erman ship, but without avail. Change after change was made in the Dencke_pparatus, in the hope that the next alteration might be the right one, an_hat it might come in time to place the man, before the next battleship wen_own. Saturday afternoon, the last day of the week in which the man was t_ink the German battleship, we sat as usual in the laboratory. The las_djustment had been as unsuccessful as the rest, and Tom and Dorothy sat i_eep thought, while Jones was scraping the insulation from some wire at on_ide.
  • " If we only had that manuscript," said Tom, for the thousandth time, " bu_ailing it, let's have another try. Jones, will you bring me that manuscript?
  • I mean the old table of wave constants we made up last winter."
  • " That's it," remarked Dorothy. " His mind is so intent on the manuscript tha_e ordered it instead of soup the other day."
  • To that maelstrom of papers, his desk, Jones turned to find the needed tabl_f constants, and after watching his efforts for a few minutes, Tom turned t_orothy.
  • " Find it, will you, Dorothy ? I imagine it's there."
  • Dorothy took command, as Tom and I sat in silence. Suddenly Dorothy's clea_oice rang out. " Look, look! " and she came rushing across the room to us, holding aloft a big brown paper package, followed by Jones. " It's here, it'_ere I Mr. Jones had it in his desk, and forgot to give it to you."
  • Tom cast one look of scorn on the apologetic Jones, as he came slowly forward.
  • " You immortal id— " he began, but Dorothy put her hand over his mouth.
  • " Never mind, dear, it's here. Don't waste time. Open it, and see what i_ays."
  • Scarcely five minutes passed, when Tom cried, " Here it is," and read rapidl_n German to his assistants. " We can have it in shape in an hour. There'_ust that one missing part that threw us completely off," he ended. He looke_t his watch. " Five o'clock by London time, and sometime before twelve, i_he man does as he said he would, the German battleship will be destroyed, i_t's not gone already. We've got to hustle."
  • They had worked before eagerly. They worked feverishly now. Even my unskille_abor was called in, and I held and scraped, polished and hammered to the bes_f my limited ability. Six o'clock, seven, eight, nine, one by one the_assed. Tom's hour had grown to four, and reached almost to five, ere the las_onnection was made. He stood back and threw the switch that set the belt i_otion. As the belt revolved, he glanced at the reflectoscope beside him. " N_esult there as yet," he said reflectively. " I guess we are safe." Ten ha_assed, eleven come and gone, still we waited. Tom had set his laborator_lock to London time, and as the first stroke of twelve struck he rose, stretching his arms. " First time he's mis— " As he spoke, the beam flashe_rom the zero well down the board, fluttered as before, and stood still whil_he belt stopped. We glanced at the reflectoscopes. Their golden ribbons ha_prung apart and stood stiffly separate. Everything was at hand this time. No_ word was spoken, but the three bent to their task, figuring with intens_apidity. Tom and Dorothy finished together. Jones, just behind, ran hi_omputing rule faster than he had ever done anything before in my presence. A_hey ended, Tom spoke. " The harbor — "
  • " Of Portsmouth, England," finished Dorothy, and the other two nodded gravely.
  • I sat beside the telephone. We had made sure that an operator who knew that _all was coming sat at the branch exchange, and without a second's delay I ha_he office and had told the news. I held the wire till the word came back. "
  • O. K. Nobody has heard of it yet. If it is true, it is another big beat."
  • The real gravity of the situation did not come to me with full force, until _ead the accounts in the morning papers. The first news that appeared of th_inking of His Germanic Majesty's first-class battleship. Kaiser Charlemagne, had come from me. The moment my story was received in the office, they ha_abled their London correspondent in cipher. As soon as the other papers sa_he story in our special edition, they had likewise rushed cables and wireles_essages across. In consequence, a horde of correspondents had descended o_ortsmouth before morning dawned. The night before there had lain in th_arbor three German battleships, the Kaiser Charlemagne, the flagship, standing farthest out. In the morning there were but two. At first, hal_ncredulous but yet fearful from the past, the officers of the German and o_he English fleets refused to believe the story, but the watch on three ship_ad seen the lights of the German flagship disappear, and hasty search ha_roved the fact of her disappearance. By early morning they were forced to th_onviction that the Kaiser Charlemagne had followed the Alaska, th_readnought Number 8 and La Patrie Number 3.
  • The cumulative effect of this last blow was tremendous. Before this the worl_ad been hoping against hope, but now sudden, unreasoning panic took control.
  • Up to this time the stock markets of the world had been buoyed up by th_upport of the great capitalists, and by the aid of the governments. But the_ad been growing steadily weaker and weaker, and the opening of the Exchang_n London and of the Bourses on the continent saw stocks tumbling as neve_efore. All America knew of the ruin abroad when our stock markets opene_ere, and a panic day unparalleled in our financial history began. After _leepless night one operator remarked to another, as they walked up Wal_treet, " The sinking of battleships is bad enough, but how much worse if h_hould begin to sink merchant vessels." The market quivered. The next ma_assed it on. " How terrible if ' the man ' should sink the transatlanti_iners carrying gold." The market trembled. A brokerage house gave forth th_ip. " The man who is stopping all war has declared that he will sink ever_ransatlantic liner carrying gold, as he considers gold the sinews of war."
  • The market shook to its very foundations. The papers heard the lying news, an_ublished it in scare heads. The market broke utterly and went plunging t_tter destruction. Industrials and railroads dropped sixty to two hundre_oints in an hour. It was one wild scramble, which ended only when no on_ould buy at any price whatsoever. The day ended with meetings of ruined me_ending delegates to the various governments, in a first general appeal fo_isarmament.
  • The morning of the second day after the sinking of the Kaiser Charlemagn_howed practically but three things in the papers; the account of the pani_he day before; futile discussions as to the identity and plans of the man wh_as trying to stop all war; and stories of deputations entreating th_overnments of the various powers to disarm. Apparently the last months ha_aised the numbers of the peace advocates by millions. The papers which ha_iven a few columns a year to such propaganda now gave pages daily. Othe_actional differences became forgotten. The real need for protecting the live_nd property of the nation, the fancied need of protecting commerce, was th_heme of every orator at every meeting.
  • In one place only were these deputations received with no consideration. Th_erman Kaiser, the War Lord, bearded by a single man, stripped of one of hi_roudest battleships, received all words regarding peace with utter contumely.
  • All papers agreed in considering him the chief stumbhng block in the way of _niversal peace.
  • I was running over the morning papers when a card was brought to me. It wa_hat of Ordway, my old Washington friend, who, as private secretary to th_ecretary of War, gave me the message !
  • " Hullo, Malachi, you old prophet of evil!" he remarked, with a cheerful grin, as he entered. " Give me an inside tip on the end of the world, will you ?
  • I'll use it to bear the market."
  • " My prophecy shop is closed to-day," I replied, in his own vein. " Wha_rings you from Washington ? "
  • " I came wholly to see you," he said seriously. " The President made me _pecial agent to get a line on what you were doing. The report that came t_im from the Attorney General, the time they put you in jail, whetted hi_uriosity, so he sent me up here to see things for myself. Will you let me se_aldane's machine ? "
  • " Gladly," I answered, and we started for the laboratory.
  • " Between ourselves," remarked Ordway, as we walked from the car, " an_trictly not for publication, there's the deuce to pay with the Kaiser. He'_ad as hops about his ship's going down in Portsmouth Harbor. He thinks it'_n invidious distinction to have the Kaiser Charlemagne go down in a foreig_ort, when the other boats have gone down on their own shores. He'd declar_ar on England for sixpence. Things were strained enough with the commercia_ivalry of the last few years, but they're at breaking point now. It woul_ake a mighty small straw to break that uneasy camel's back."
  • Tom and Dorothy were both in the laboratory, and they greeted Ordwa_ordially. The especial interest centred in the wave-measuring apparatus. Th_olished belt was revolving with regular precision, and the beam stood fixe_t zero.
  • " I wish you could have been here and seen it work, when the Kaise_harlemagne went down," said Dorothy.
  • " I wish I might," answered Ordway.
  • Scarcely were the words out of his mouth, when the click and the springin_eam sent my heart into my mouth. Dorothy and Tom sprang for paper and thei_ata. Ordway looked on in amazement.
  • " What's up, Orrington ? " he asked. " What did the thing stop for ? "
  • " Another ship has gone down," I answered; " but of what nation I know no mor_han you."
  • We waited silently till the computation was ended. Dorothy looked up wit_notted brow. " I make it Portsmouth again. Do you, Tom ? "
  • " So do I," said Tom. " There must be some mistake. Let's go over the figure_gain."
  • Again they obtained the same result, and an hour passed before they gave u_earching for possible errors.
  • " What are you going to do about it, Orrington ? " asked Ordway finally.
  • " I'm not going to do anything. It must be a mistake."
  • " Why not telephone your office and see if they've heard anything ? "
  • " I did so. They heard nothing, but promised to telephone me as soon as the_id."
  • We had sat for a couple of hours talking when the bell rang, and I answered.
  • It was the office.
  • " You slipped up this time, Orrington," said the man at the other end. " _erman battleship, the Kaiserin Luisa, has just disappeared off Portsmouth."
  • I passed the word to the eager trio.
  • " That means war between England and Germany," cried Ordway.
  • " I believe it does," I exclaimed, " and I'm going to take the first boat fo_ondon. Here's just the chance to run him down. He'll be sure to stay in on_lace now. His work will be in the British Channel."
  • " We'll come too," cried Dorothy, her eyes lighting at the prospect of th_hase. " We'll bring along the wave-measuring machine, and run him down a_lose quarters, won't we, Tom ? "
  • Tom nodded vigorously. " I'm with you. This man has simply obsessed me. _an't do any decent work till I've found him."