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ANY billionaires contemplate their strings of high-priced motor cars as impassively as a case-hardened moving-picture addict would have watched the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. The average man with an income represented by a single numeral, preceding a liberal repetition of the exclamation “O,” considers his glittening limousine as impersonally as he regards his tittering caddy. There is no mutual understanding, no camaraderie existing between him and his valve tappets, for instance. He does not rub elbows with his genial universal, swap jokes with his gruff but warm-hearted crank case, exchange confidences with his gentlemanly transmission, or turn a sympathetic ear to the woes of his downtrodden clutch. To him his automobile is merely a swift and pleasurable means of locomotion; a cold, emotionless automaton in the same category as his butler, and he does not fraternize with either. He would no more think of slapping his majestic sedan on the
hood with a hearty, “Well, how’s the old boiler this:
morning?” than he would greet the servant with: “Hello, Simpson, old scout—how are they breaking for you?” Not enjoying this intimacy, he doesn’t pal around with his car and get spattered with grease and medium oil and s...in his fingers and have friendly arguments with his piston rods and cuss his motor and brag about it and revel in its sleek beauty and lie like a gentleman about its gas consumption. In short, although the Midas through his social and financial connections meets daily the best type of automobile, he misses half the enchantment of the association. But to us of the class who still find it necessary to get out injunctions to keep the wolf from the porch, our automobile, affectionately nicknamed “bus,” “boat,” “can,” or “boiler,” is no bloodless mechanical gimcrack, but a well-loved member of the family that more than earns its keep by furnishing us with boundless quantities of harmless, healthy amusement. When we proudly obtain our demurely blushing little touring car, the proceeding rises far above the sordidness of a business transaction and sounds a fine depth of feeling. It is a sentimental affair, having no relation to such base matters as the buying of a silk shirt or the purchase of a ton of coal. Rather, it is linked with such thrilling events as the first time we were ever addressed as “Son,” “Mister,” “Dear,” and “Father,” respectively, with but a brief lapse of time, as it seems to us, between the forms of salutation. When the plutocrat wishes to gratify a passing whim by adding another fifteen- or twenty-thousanddollar car to his collection, he scribbles his check,
presses a button for his secretary, and dismisses the matter from his mind. We cannot repress a shudder at this callous manner of admitting a new member to the family circle. In our set, when it has been definitely decided that by speeding up production and cutting down certain unnecessary expenses we can afford to raise an automobile, the matter of its selection is given grave and lengthy consideration. We consult our interested and voluble neighbors as to their honest opinion of their own particular make of motor and finally reducing their frank statements to a composite, we find that every car manufactured is absolutely flawless. We avidly read the delicately —almost perfumedly—worded advertisements, many of which show an edifying reticence in mentioning such a gross detail as the price, we prowl restlessly about in the vicinity of the showrooms, pressing an envious face against the windows and scurrying away in alarm when an alert salesman gets us down wind and starts eagerly in our direction. We visit the automobile show several times, pawing over luxuriously cushioned tonneaus, looking at the opulent insides of so me ten - thousanddollar motor as we dreamily stroke its back and gaze hypnotically at the glib salesman rattling off his mesmeric abracadabra, “Cantilever springs, full floating rear axle, McGillicuddy shock absorbers, nickel - plated radiator, nonskid time * * payments, RabinowitzO'Rourke ignition system—” etc., etc. We burn the midnight electric lights poring over circulars, pamphlets, and booklets describing the fulsome c harm s of the “Fascinating Four,” the “Sumptuous Six,” the “Exquisite Eight,” the “Tranquil
“It is a bouncing six-cylinder Magoozelum!” cackles the owner. “Looks just like its ad!”
In our set, when it has been definitely decided that we can afford an automobile, the matter of its selection is given lengthy consideration
Twelve.” At length, having decided upon the car we are about to take to our bosom, we accompany the suave and natty agent on a demonstration ride, craftily directing him to drive through the downtown business section and out into the hilly country. What we are after, we explain to him carefully, is a car that can be maneuvered in heavy traffic as easily as it can in an open field; that can climb the Statue of Liberty in “high”; that rarely requires gas or oil and never the services of a repair man; that will leap from four miles an hour in reverse to eighty-six miles an hour forward by a mere tap of the foot on the accelerator; that has every modern accessory, including a self-acting motorcycle policeman baffler; that is a banquet to the sight as it stands by the curb; that sells for, say, a couple of thousand dollars and cannot be duplicated elsewhere for ten times that amount. Does the salesman stop the car and before hurling us violently to the roadway indignantly inquire what the blankety blank we expect for our 'few paltry doubloons? Not at all ! He nods understandingly, steps on the gas, and, with a cheerful grin, says: “Ex-actly! You are quite right in demanding full value for your money, Mister Jones. Now, our car fulfills every specification you have just mentioned, and, besides that, it—” Following the practical demonstration, we return to our home, where we greet the rest of the family with the nervous diffidence that comes from suppressed excitement. We are maddeningly evasive as to where we have spent the afternoon, dropping just enough cryptic hints to arouse live l v curiosity and o
reddening furiously when some one casually speaks of the beautiful new speedster Joe Goof just bought for his wife. We are preoccupied and uninteresting at dinner, pecking impatiently at our food and making vague, spasmodic contributions to the conversation. At the first favorable opportunity we sneak away to our den and lock ourselves in, with plenty of lead pencils, scratch pads, and the family bank book, for the balance of the evening. The household soon becomes surcharged with a mysterious atmosphere of happy secrecy. Father goes whistling to the office, Mother hums a popular air as she gets Junior and Sister ready for school. In the kitchen the Goddess of the Pots and Pans notes the guarded whispers, the surreptitious glances, and smiles indulgently. Uncle Phil and Aunt Mary drop in to felicitate blushing Mother and immediately there arises a heated argument. Uncle Phil, the proud fath—eh—owner of an eight-cylinder, hopes it will be a limousine, while Aunt Mary, who has a roadster and always wanted a sedan, expresses the wish that the coming addition will be that type of car. In the midst of the discussion, Father enters and the conversation is hurriedly switched to another subject, although, on leaving, the irrepressible Uncle Phil may cover all with confusion by shaking a finger at Father and blurting out that he hopes he don’t get a twin six Then comes the day when Father, his chest preceding him by at least a foot, hails an acquaintance and, slapping him boisterously on the back, whispers something in his ear. “Congratulations, old man—that's fine!” says the friend warmly. “Er—what is it?” “It’s a bouncing six-cylinder Magoozelum!” cackles the happy owner. “Looks just like its ad!”
One of those that seat two, or even three persons—if they're all warm friends
And then, their arms around each other's shoulders, they pause at what used to be the corner oasis, sigh mournfully and pass on to the library, where they split an infinitive with each other in celebration of the joyous event. If you think this an exaggeration, my masters, drop around to the homes of us happy victims of this form of auto intoxication shortly after we have become possessed of a new car. We will drag it out and show you its marvelous grace and beauty and put it through its paces to convince you how much smarter it is than the average motor of its age. We will seize your coat lapel and bore you to distraction with accounts of how yesterday Mother called us up at the office to ecstatically tell us it had climbed Fort George Hill in “high” without any assistance whatsoever and only two days before that it had displayed uncanny precocity by automatically stopping in front of a garage and humming piteously when it wanted a drink of oil. It is the constant companion of all the family and is reared with scrupulous care. When it cuts its first set of nickelplated bumpers— Oh, boy!
We are spending the winter (and
tiful California (advt.), where everybody appears to have at least one automobile, except the movie folk. They have five. The countless miles of amazingly perfect roads through a youthful and bustling fairyland of apparently perpetual spring, and certainly invigorating atmosphere, make the automobile a virtual necessity of life here—especially to one engaged in the business of recuperating from a recent rather severe illness, as I am. My wife having foiled my maniacal plot to motor across the country, I disposed of my car before leaving New York. To have it mailed, expressed, or freighted to the Coast would have cost a sum high enough to have startled Croesus, and I
also considerable currency) in beau- .
am not even a millionaire by repute. So, soon after we had leased a bungalow and signed articles with a femme de chambre, the matter of getting a car arose for discussion. The cute little garage in the rear of our rose-covered chalet reproached us with its pathetic emptiness and moved the humorists among our callers to inquire with a sly and wistful licking of lip just what we did keep in it, since we had no auto. We’ve had to dash many a hope, really' My wife's view, always more interesting and usually more original than mine, was that a modest, retiring little roadster, one of those that seat two, or even three persons—if they’re all warm friends— would meet our requirements, but I held out for the comfortably roomy and impressive touring car, and in this I was supported by my seven-year-old heir apparent, whose chief delight is to invite all the children in his and adjoining neighborhoods for a ride in his father's car. However, violence was averted by a compromise. My undeniably better half wanted a roadster and I desired a touring car, so we compromised on a roadster.
AVING reached an agreement via the same process as to the make of car we were going to get, we set sail for the dealer in high but legal spirits. A few doors from our objective we came abreast of an immense automobile showroom, outside of which was a sign, reading something like this:
LAST DAY OF POSITIVELY SACREYFICE CLEANUP! 500 REBUILT LATE MODEL CARS OWNERS LEAVING CITY VALUES FROM $2,500 UP to PRICELESS! $1,000 FLAT THE EACH WILL WONDERS NEVER CEASE7
Right here I would like to say that I contemplate no overt attack upon the worthy brethren engaged in the gift of selling second-hand automobiles. I have a great admiration for their art, acquired through some six years of matching wits with them, during which time I never finished better than second. Because all the used cars I ever bought perished of senile debility within a few weeks after leaving the infirmary I had taken them from as cured is perhaps no reason why I should vigorously advocate the purchasing of automobiles new or not at all. I recall about this time two years ago Collier's published a story of mine describing (Continued on page 18)
Will the Truck Make Life
By Jesse G. Vincent
A world of smaller, healthier communities—a world in which the necessities of life will cost less—a world in which the farmer thrives because his products have a sure market—a world of better living standards and happier and healthier people. This is the world we shall have when the truck comes into full use, according to Col. Vincent, who is president of the Society of Automotive Engineers, and vice president
of the Packard Motor Car Company
motor truck. There were very few words in either, but the ideas expressed were so big and so personal to each of us that they should be framed and hung in every American home for constant reference and inspiration. In those few sentences lies the cure for some of the greatest ills that now beset us, as a nation and as individuals. Three of the thoughts expressed have stayed with me and have grown, in my mind, to such an extent that I am fully convinced now, after thinking them over for three months, that they contain a definite m ess age for every man, woman, and child in this country. One of these thoughts lay in the demand by Collier's for national cooperation on the part of everybody—automobile and truck manufacturers, railroad officials, goodroads builders, merchants, bankers, everybody — in de
N October 23 I read two editorials in Collier's devoted to the present and future status of the
Collier's, The National Weekly
---- ----- ------,
same elements of naive pride that draw the halfsympathetic smiles of friends when a proud young father boasts that his son has learned to walk. Nobody blames the father, but men whose boys have begun to bring home good school cards, or have licked the neighborhood bully, or have made good on their first job, realize that learning to walk is no very great achievement. , It is just that way with the Motor Truck. He is a husky youngster, and he shows great promise, but, after all, he has only learned to walk. We, who know him, are looking confidently toward his future, when he will be doing a full-sized man's job. We cannot foretell all the details of how he will do that job, though we have a pretty fair idea of it, but we do know that it will be a great deal bigger than most of the world realizes to-day. Perhaps there is something of a parent's pride in this faith, too. But
Night and day, winter and summer, the motor trucks of to-morrow will carry freight over
four-track main-line highways
let me sketch a rough outline of the world of 1940 when the truck will be grown up: It will be a world in which the great concentra tions of people in nightmare industrial cities will have begun to break up into smaller, healthier, more scattered communities because of the ease of truck transportation. It will be one in which motor transportation will have brought lower costs on all or most of the things that enter into comfortable living. It will be one in which the produce of the country comes into the city homes in a profusion and at a low cost that would now seem fantastic, and the farmer and his people share all the city's products in the same way. Finally, as a result of these things, it will be a world with vanished or vanishing slums, with far more comfortable homes, far better living standards, and far healthier and happier people.
The Debt We Owe to Wheels
ISIONARY? Not a bit of it, merely a little farsighted. Who dared in 1880 to predict twenty million telephones for the United States, or in 1900 to prophesy flights across the Atlantic? This prediction is conservative, as every forecast of the future of America has been. A world of this kind is truly far in advance of the world to-day; but the prosaic truck, which is already speeding the transportation of a thousand products, will soon be found to carry progress as a part of its load. It is hardly too much to say that transportation is the most important single factor on the economic side of progress. It is the basis of all commerce, of all the interchange of products that give life to-day its variety, comfort, and charm. It is a strong contributor to the health that comes from better food and better clothing. It is the desire that makes possible the production of all articles at the place where they can be made best and most cheaply. It is the desire which has grown with civilization and has furnished the basis of civilization ever since the day when the first Tatar learned to load his tents on a horse and move southward before the advancing rigors of the winter of the steppes. It is obvious at a glance that our present civilization would be utterly impossible without the elaborate means of transportation that have been built up. It is literally true that the whole world is drawn upon to furnish the things that are needed by each of us every hour of the day. In the thirty minutes spent at breakfast this morning, a reader of this article will have drawn on Brazil for coffee, on California or Florida for fruit, on Chicago for his bacon, on Minneapolis for the flour that went into his biscuits, on Cuba for his sugar, and quite likely on Europe for his chinaware and on Ireland or Russia for his linen. No one of our cities could live for a week without the supplies that are brought in over hundreds of thousands of miles of transportation lines, and in our modern economic structure at least one worker in every eight is engaged in the exchange of products from one producer to another. So every movement in this great and complicated system of transportation means an improvement in the conditions of life for all of us. It means better food, better clothing, saving in time and money and materials. Moreover, it is becoming evident that better transportation is going to cure many of the evils which have been inevitable to the half-developed transportation systems of the present. The railroads and trolleys have brought about great concentrations of people at points where they can be most effectively employed. They have made the cities possible, and along with their great contributions they have also largely contributed to the congestion of the
The truck to-day is ready to tackle any part of the world's work. There are over 700,000 of these transportation giants in America
Trucks saved the day by relieving and supplementing the railroads during traffic tieups last year
More trucks such as this would have saved the hundreds of thousands of tons of food products which spoiled on the ground last year
hideous slums that deface the great industrial communities of to-day.
But, just as it has been said that the cure for the evils of democracy is more democracy, so it is true that the cure for the evils of civilization will be a more perfect development of machinery in civilization. Already we see that the automotive passenger car is changing so as to permit the city workers to depend on their cars and live at a distance from their employment, in the health and comfort of the more scattered suburbs.
- This development, which started with the very rich, has now worked down through social ranks until it includes people of practically all classes.
A Husky Infant Helps Out
IMILARLY, the development of the truck is permitting the scattering of factories. It is no longer necessary to have each factory in a railroad yard. Plants of various kinds are springing up closer to the sources of their raw materials, and therefore away from the congested centers, and around them are growing up communities of people who have all the economic advantages that have gone with city life, without the worst of its handicaps. The far greater efficiency and economy which are certain for the truck in the very near future will vastly increase this tendency. Although the motor truck, as has been said, is only an infant, it has already done enough to give very definite promises of what it will do. It is clear already that the truck will supplement and relieve the railroad, add greatly to its (Continued on page 24)
By Sax Rohmer Illustrated by J. C. Coll
THE STORY-Paul Harley, ome of England's greatest criminal investigators, is called into comsultation by Sir Charles Abingdon, a Londom physician. Sir Charles believes his life is in peril. He is constantly whder a shadowy surveillance. He has been mysteriously attacked and a manuscript stolem from his lul library. Paul Harley, arriving | at Sir Charles's home, feels a definite simister influence. At dinner Sir Charles, who is a widower, mentions his only daughter Phyllis, whose photograph Harley had admired, and the attention shown her by a distinguished Oriental. Suddenly Sir Charles's face becomes livid. Staring as at some ghastly apparition, he cries in agony: “Fire-Tongue . . . NICOL BRINN'" Paul Harley rushes to him. Huddled in his chair lies Sir Charles Abingdom—dead.
II. – Nicol Brinn of Cincinnati
es AD you reason to suspect any cardiac trouble, Dr. McMurdoch?” asked Harley. Dr. McMurdoch, a local practitioner who had been a friend of Sir Charles Abingdon, shook his head slowly. He was a tall, preternaturally thin Scotsman, clean-shaven, with shaggy dark brows and a most gloomy. expression in his deep-set eyes. While the presence of his sepulchral figure seemed appropriate enough in that strick en house, Harley could not help thinking that his appearance must have been far from reassuring in a sick room. “I had never actually detected anything of the kind,” replied the physician, and his deep voice was gloomily in keeping with his personality. “I had observed a certain breathlessness at times, however. No doubt it is one of those cases of unsuspected endocarditis. Acute. I take it,” raising his shaggy brows interrogatively, “that nothing had occurred to excite Sir Charles?” “On the contrary,” replied Harley, “he was highly distressed about some family trouble the nature of which he was about to confide to me when this sudden illness seized him.” He stared hard at Dr. McMurdoch, wondering how much he might hope to learn from him respecting the affairs of Sir Charles. It seemed almost impertinent at that hour to seek to pry into the dead man's private life. To the quiet, book-lined apartment stole now and again little significant sounds which told of the tragedy in the household. Sometimes when a distant door was opened, it would be the sobs of , a weeping woman, for the poor old housekeeper had been quite prostrated by the blow. Or ghostly movements would become audible from the room immediately over the library—the room to which the dead man had been carried; muffled footsteps, vague stirrings of furniture; each sound laden with its own peculiar portent, awakening the imagination which all too readily filled in the details of the scene above. Then, to spur Harley to action, came the thought that Sir Charles Abingdon had appealed to him for aid. Did his need terminate with his unexpected death or would the shadow under which he had died extend now— Harley found himself staring across the library at the photograph of Phyllis Abingdon. It was of her that Sir Charles had been speaking when that mys
"If,” said Harley, “your answer is 'yes, your danger is greater than mine.” Good!” said Nicol Brinn
terious seizure had tied his tongue. That strange, fatal illness, mused Harley, all the more strange in the case of a man supposedly in robust health—it almost seemed like the working of a malignant will. For the revelation, whatever its nature, had almost but not quite been made in Harley's office that evening. Something, some embarrassment or mental disability, had stopped Sir Charles from completing his statement. To-night death had stopped him. “Was he consulting you professionally, Mr. Harley?” asked the physician. “He was,” replied Harley, continuing to stare fascinatedly at the photograph on the mantelpiece. “I am informed,” said he abruptly, “that Miss Abingdon is out of town?” Dr. McMurdoch nodded in his slow, gloomy fashion. “She is staying in Devonshire with poor Abingdon's sister,” he answered. “I am wondering how we are going to break the news to her.”
ERCEIVING that Dr. McMurdoch had clearly been intimate with the late Sir Charles, Harley determined to make use of this opportunity to endeavor to fathom the mystery of the late surgeon's fears. “You will not misunderstand me, Dr. McMurdoch,” he said, “if I venture to ask you one or two rather personal questions respecting Miss Abingdon?” Dr. McMurdoch lowered his shaggy brows and looked gloomily at the speaker. “Mr. Harley,” he replied, “I know you by repute for a man of integrity. But before I answer your questions will you answer one of mine?” “Certainly.” “Then my question is this: Does not your interest cease with the death of your client?” “Dr. McMurdoch,” said Harley sternly, “you no doubt believe yourself to be acting as a friend of this bereaved family. You regard me, perhaps, as a
Paul Pry prompted by idle curiosity. On the contrary, I find myself in a delicate and embarrassing situation. From Sir Charles's conversation I had gathered that he entertained certain fears on behalf of his daughter.” “Indeed,” said Dr. McMurdoch. “If these fears were well grounded, the danger is not removed but merely increased by the death of Miss Abingdon's natural protector. I regret, sir, that I approached you for information, since you have misjudged my motive. But far from my interest having ceased, it has now as I see the matter become a sacred duty to learn what it was that Sir Charles apprehended. This duty, Dr. McMurdoch, I propose to fulfill with or without your assistance.” “Oh,” said Dr. McMurdoch gloomily, “I’m afraid I’ve offended you. But I meant well, Mr. Harley.” A faint trace of human emotion showed itself in his deep voice. “Charlie Abingdon and I were students together in Edinburgh,” he explained. “I was mayhap a little strange.” His apology was so evidently sincere that Harley relented at once. “Please say no more, Dr. McMurdoch,” he responded. “I fully appreciate your feelings in the matter. At such a time a stranger can only be an intruder; but”—he fixed his keen eyes upon the physician—“there is more underlying all this than you suspect or could readily believe. You will live to know that I have spoken the truth.” “I know it now,” declared the Scotsman solemnly. “Abingdon was always eccentric, but he didn’t know the meaning of fear.” “Once that may have been true,” replied Harley, “but a great fear was upon him when he came to me, Dr. McMurdoch, and if it is humanly possible I am going to discover its cause.” “Go ahead,” said Dr. McMurdoch, and, turning to the side table, he poured out two liberal portions of whisky. “If there's anything I can do to help, count