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At about nine o'clock on the same evening, a man stood at a large window which overlooked Piccadilly and the Green Park. The room to which the window belonged was justly considered one of the notable sights of London and doubtless would have received suitable mention in the “Blue Guide” had it been accessible to the general public. It was, on the contrary, accessible only to the personal friends of Mr. Nicol Brinn. As Mr. Nicol Brinn had a rarely critical taste in friendship, none but a fortunate few had seen the long room with its two large windows overlooking Piccadilly. The man at the window was interested in a car which, approaching from the direction of the Circus, had slowed down immediately opposite and now was being turned, the chauffeur's apparent intention being to pull up at the door below. He had seen the face of the occupant and had recognized it even from that elevation. He was interested; and since only unusual things aroused any semblance of interest in the man who now stood at the window, one might have surmised that there was something unusual about the present visitor, or in his having decided to call at those chambers; and that such was indeed his purpose an upward glance which he cast in the direction of the balcony sufficiently proved. The watcher, who had been standing in a dark recess formed by the presence of heavy velvet curtains draped before the window, now opened the curtains and stepped into the lighted room. He was a tall, lean man having straight, jet-black hair, a sallow complexion, and the features of a Sioux. A long, black cigar protruded aggressively from the left corner of his mouth. His hands were locked behind him and his large and quite expressionless blue eyes stared straight across the room at the closed door with a dreamy and vacant regard. His dinner jacket fitted him so tightly that it might have been expected at any moment to split at the seams. As if to precipitate the catastrophe, he wore it buttoned. There came a rap at the door. “In 1” said the tall man. The door opened silently and a manservant appeared. He was spotlessly neat and wore his light hair cropped close to the skull. His fresh-colored face was quite as expressionless as that of his master; his glance possessed no meaning. Crossing to the window, he extended a small salver upon which lay a visiting card. “In 1” repeated the tall man, looking down at the card. His servant silently retired, and following a short interval rapped again upon the door, opened it, and standing just inside the room announced: “Mr. Paul Harley.”
HE door being quietly closed behind him, Paul Harley stood staring across the room at Nicol Brinn. At this moment the contrast between the types was one to have fascinated a psychologist. About Paul Harley, eagerly alert, there was something essentially British. Nicol Brinn, without being typical, was nevertheless distinctly a product of the United States. Yet, despite the stoic mask worn by Mr. Brinn, whose lack-luster eyes were so unlike the bright, gray eyes of his visitor, there existed, if not a physical, a certain spiritual affinity between the two; both were men of action. Harley, after that one comprehensive glance, the photographic glance of a trained observer, stepped forward impulsively, hand outstretched. “Mr. Brinn,” he said, “we have never met before, and it was good of you to wait in for me. I hope my phone message has not interfered with your plans for the evening?” Nicol Brinn, without change of pose, no line of the impassive face altering, shot out a large, muscular hand, seized that of Paul Harley in a tremendous grip and almost instantly put his hand behind his back again. “Had no plans,” he replied, in a high, monotonous voice; “I was bored stiff. Take the armchair.” Paul Harley sat down, but in the restless manner of one who has urgent
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business in hand and who is impatient of delay. Mr. Brinn stooped to a coffee table which stood upon the rug before the large open fireplace. “I am going to offer you a cocktail,” he said. “I shall accept your offer,” returned Harley, smiling. “The ‘N. B. cocktail” has a reputation which extends throughout the clubs of the world.” Nicol Brinn, exhibiting the swift adroitness of that human dodo, the New York bartender, mixed the drinks. Paul Harley watched him, meanwhile drumming his fingers restlessly upon the chair arm. “Here's success,” he said, “to my mission.” It was an odd toast, but Mr. Brinn merely nodded and drank in silence. Paul Harley set his glass down and glanced about the singular apartment of which he had often heard and which no man could ever tire of examining. In this room the poles met and the most remote civilizations of the world rubbed shoulders with modernity. Here, incased, were a family of snow-white ermine from Alaska and a pair of black Manchurian leopards. A flying lemur from the Pelews contemplated swooping upon the head of a huge tigress which glared with glassy eyes across the place at the snarling muzzle of a polar bear. Mycenaean vases and gold death masks stood upon the same shelf as Venetian goblets, and the mummy of an Egyptian priestess of the thirteenth dynasty occupied a sarcophagus upon the top of which rested a bas-relief found in one of the shrines of the Syrian fish goddess Derceto, at Ascalon. Arrowheads of the Stone Age and medieval rapiers were ranged cheek by jowl with some of the latest examples of the gunsmith's art. There were elephants' tusks and Mexican skulls; a stone jar of water from the well of Zem-Zem, and an ivory crucifix which had belonged to Torquemada. A mat of human hair from Borneo overlay a historical and unique rug woven in Ispahan and entirely composed of fragments of Holy Carpets from the Kaaba at Mecca. “I take it,” said Mr. Brinn suddenly, “that you are up against a stiff proposition.” : AUL HARLEY, accepting a cigarette from an ebony box (once the property of Henry VIII) which the speaker had pushed across the coffee table in his direction, stared up curiously into the sallow, aquiline face. “You are right. But how did you know?” “You look that way. Also—you were followed. Somebody knows you've come here.” Harley leaned forward, resting one hand upon the table. “I know I was followed,” he said sternly. “I was followed because I have entered upon the biggest case of my career.” He paused and smiled in a very grim fashion. “A suspicion begins to dawn upon my mind that if I fail it will also be my last case. You understand me?” “I understand absolutely,” replied Nicol Brinn. “These are dull days. It's meat and drink to me to smell big danger.” Paul Harley lighted a cigarette and watched the speaker closely the while. His expression, as he did so, was an odd one. Two courses were open to him, and he was mentally debating their respective advantages. “I have come to you to-night, Mr. Brinn,” he said finally, “to ask you a certain question. Unless the theory upon which I am working is entirely wrong, then, supposing that you are in a position to answer my question, I am logically compelled to suppose, also, that you stand in peril of your life.” “Good,” said Mr. Brinn. “I was getting sluggish.” In three long, ungainly strides he crossed the room and locked the door. “I don’t doubt Hos
Only one very intimate with the taciturn speaker could have perceived any evidence of interest in that imperturbable character. But Nicol Brinn took his cheroot between his fingers, quickly placed a cone of ash in a little china tray (the work of Benvenuto Cellini), and replaced the cheroot not in the left but in the right corner of his mouth. He was excited. “You are out after one of the big heads of the crook world,” he said. “He knows it and he's trailing you. My luck's turned. How can I help?” Harley stood up, facing Mr. Brinn. “He knows it, as you say,” he replied. “And I hold my life in my hands. But if your answer to the question which I have come here to-night to ask you is “yes,' your danger at the moment is greater than mine.” “Good,” said Nicol Brinn. In that unique room, at once library and museum, amid relics of a hundred ages, spoil of the chase, the excavator and the scholar, these two faced each other; and each saw in the other's eyes recognition of a deadly peril. “My question is simple but strange,” said Paul Harley. “It is this: Do you know who or what is “Fire-Tongue’?”
F Paul Harley had counted upon the word “Fire-Tongue” to have a dramatic effect upon Nicol Brinn, he was not disappointed. It was a word which must have conveyed little or nothing to the multitude and which might have been pronounced without perceptible effect at any public meeting in the land. But Mr. Brinn, impassive though his expression remained, could not conceal the emotion which he experienced at the sound of it. His gaunt face seemed to grow more angular and his eyes to become even less lustrous. “Fire-Tongue!” he said tensely, following a short silence. “For God's sake, when did you hear that word?” “I heard it,” replied Harley, slowly, “to-night.” He fixed his gaze intently upon the sallow face of the American. “It was spoken by Sir Charles Abingdon.” Closely as he watched Nicol Brinn while pronouncing this name he could not detect the slightest change of expression in the stoic features. “Sir Charles Abingdon,” echoed Brinn; “and in what way is it connected with your case?” “In this way,” answered Harley. “It was spoken by Sir Charles a few moments before he died.” Nicol Brinn's drooping lids flickered rapidly. “Before he died . Then Sir Charles Abingdon is dead! When did he die?” “He died to-night and the last words that he uttered were “Fire-Tongue’—” He paused, never for a moment removing that fixed gaze from the other's face. “Go on,” prompted Mr. Brinn. “And ‘Nicol Brimm.’” Nicol Brinn stood still as a carven man. Indeed, only by an added rigidity in his pose did he reward Paul Harley's intense scrutiny. A silence charged with drama was finally broken by the American. “Mr. Harley,” he said, “you told me that you were up against the big proposition of your career. You are right.” With that he sat down in an armchair and, resting his chin in his hand, gazed fixedly into the empty grate. His pose was that of a man who is suddenly called upon to review the course of his life and upon whose decision respecting the future that life may depend. Paul Harley watched him in silence. . “Give me the whole story,” said Mr. Brinn, “right from the beginning.” He looked up. “Do you know what you have done to-night, Mr. Harley?” Paul Harley shook his head. Swiftly, like the touch of an icy finger, that warning note of danger had reached him again. “I’ll tell you,” continued Brinn, “You have opened the gates of hell!” Not another word did he speak while
Paul Harley, pacing slowly up and down before the hearth, gave him a plain account of the case, omitting all reference to his personal suspicions and to the measures which he had taken to confirm them. He laid his cards upon the table deliberately. Whether Sir Charles Abingdon had uttered the name of Nicol Brinn as that of one whose aid should be sought or as a warning, he had yet to learn. And by this apparent frankness he hoped to achieve his object. That the celebrated American was in any way concerned in the menace which had overhung Sir Charles he was not prepared to believe. But he awaited with curiosity that explanation which Nicol Brinn must feel called upon to offer. “You think he was murdered?” said Brinn in his high, toneless voice. “I have formed no definite opinion. What is your own?” “I may not look it,” replied Brinn, “but at this present moment I am the most hopelessly puzzled and badly frightened man in London.” “Frightened?” said Harley curiously. “I said frightened, I also said puzzled; and I am far too puzzled to be able to express any opinion respecting the death of Sir Charles Abingdon. When I tell you all I know of him you will wonder as much as I do, Mr. Harley, why my name should have been the last to pass his lips.” He half turned in the big chair to face his visitor, who now was standing before the fireplace staring down at him. “One day last month,” he resumed, “I got out of my car in a big hurry at the top of the Haymarket. A fool on a motorcycle passed between the car and the sidewalk just as I stepped down, and I knew nothing further until I woke up in a drug store close by, feeling very dazed and with my coat in tatters and my left arm numbed from the elbow. A man was standing watching me, and presently when I had pulled round he gave me his card. “He was Sir Charles Abingdon, who had been passing at the time of the accident. That was how I met him, and as there was nothing seriously wrong with me I saw him no more professionally. But he dined with me a week later and I had lunch at his club about a fortnight ago.” He looked up at Harley. “On my solemn word of honor,” he said, “that's all I know about Sir Charles Abingdon.” Paul Harley returned the other's fixed stare. “I don’t doubt your assurance on the point, Mr. Brinn,” he acknowledged. “I can well understand that you must be badly puzzled; but I would remind you of your statement that you were also frightened. I can only suppose that the cause of your fear lies in the term “Fire-Tongue’? Possibly you can explain the significance of that term?” Nicol Brinn remained silent, staring fixedly into the grate, but with one foot he was slowly tapping the edge of the fender.
ee R. HARLEY,” he began abruptly, “you have been perfectly frank with me and in return I want to be as frank with you as I can be. I am face to face with a thing that has haunted me for seven years, and every step I take from now onward has to be considered carefully, for any step might be my last. And that’s not the worst of the matter. I will risk one of those steps here and now. You ask me to explain the significance of FireTongue” (there was a perceptible pause before he pronounced the word, which Harley duly noticed). “I am going to tell you that Sir Charles Abingdon, when I lunched with him at his club, asked me precisely the same thing. And he referred to an experience which had befallen him in India.” “In India? May I ask you to recount that experience?” “Mr. Harley,” replied Brinn, suddenly standing up. “I can’t. But I’d give a lot more than you might believe to know that Abingdon had told you the story which he told me.” “You are not helping, Mr. Brinn,” (Continued on page 36)
8. IGNITION ECUIPMENT
We stinghouse is Known
Something more than Westinghouse prestige, something greater than the aggressiveness of Westinghouse policies of distribution, is responsible for the fact that Westinghouse Starting, Lighting and Ignition Equipment is known all over the automotive world.
The fact that Westinghouse Equipment is the choice of the largest number of car-builders, here and abroad, admits o of but one explanation—the thorough- going fineness and reliability of the
only the will to build apparatus of dis-
In the annual Automobile Shows which have become recognized institutions all over the world, carefully made (who cars with Westinghouse Electric Auto- ELEctric motive Equipment are everywhere known and shown. The man who knows
automotive values, inspecting a car so
said Harley sternly. “I believe and I think that you share my belief that Sir Charles Abingdon did not die from natural causes. You are repressing valuable evidence. Allow me to remind you that if anything should come to light necessitating a post-mortem examination of the body, you will be forced to divulge in a court of justice the facts which you refuse to divulge to me.” “I know it,” said Brinn shortly. He shot out one long arm and grasped Harley's shoulder as in a vise. “I’m counted a wealthy man,” he continued, “but I’d give every cent I possess to see ‘paid' put to the bill of a certain person. Listen. You don’t think I was in any way concerned in the death of Sir Charles Abingdon. It isn't thinkable. But you do think I’m in possession of facts which would help you find out who is. You're right.” “Good God!” cried Harley. “Yet you remain silent!” “Not so loud—not so loud!” implored Brinn, repeating that odd, almost 'furtive glance around. “Mr. Harley—you know me. You've heard of me and now you've met me. You know my place in the world. Do you believe me when I say that from this moment onward I don’t trust my own servants? Nor my own friends?” He removed his grip from Harley's shoulder. “Inanimate things look like enemies. That mummy over yonder may have ears!” “I’m afraid I don’t altogether understand you.” “See here!”
HE little girl in question was old man Moseby's motherless daughter. Loving her, he had kept her by him until sufficient years had passed to bring her almost to womanhood. And then an atmosphere of cattle and of men had begun to worry him. It wasn't right, he told himself. Hearin' all that cussin'. Of course, the boys tried to remember; he wasn’t blamin' them. But you go out and try to rope a bad pony on a frosty mornin’ and see what it does to your disposition. And she ought to be taught real language and music and all about Tennyson and William What's-His-Name Bryant and history and to paint pictures and sing. Just knowin', how to ride and boss, a Chink cook ain't enough education for a real lady. No, sir. Much as he loved her and wanted her with him, it wasn't being fair to her. . . . He tried to find excuses. But there wasn't one tangible enough to cling to. Not even that he couldn't afford it. For old man Moseby ranged three thousand cattle on his own good land. Which put him, at least financially, almost in the class of the predatory rich. At length, after painful travail of mind, he came to a decision. He would send her. But where? That was indeed the question. Not only did they not know of any schools. They had not even heard the name of any. It was as though a man who had lived all his life in a cave,
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“NICOL BRINN’s SECRET AMBITIONS
“Millionaire Sportsman Who Wants to Shoot Niagara!
“Mr. Nicol Brinn of Cincinnati, who is at present in New York, opened his heart to members of the Players' Club last night. Our prominent citizen, responding to a toast, “the distinguished visitor,’ said:
“‘I’d like to live through months of midnight frozen in among the polar ice; I’d like to cross Africa from east to west and get lost in the middle. I'd like to have a Montana sheriff's posse on my heels for horse stealing, and I’ve prayed to be wrecked on a desert island like Robinson Crusoe to see if I am man enough to live it out. I want to stand my trial for murder and defend my own case, and I want to be found by the eunuchs in the harem of the Shah. I want to dive for pearls and scale the Matterhorn. I want to know where the tunnel leads to—the tunnel down under the Great Pyramid of Gizeh-and I'd love to shoot Niagara Falls in a barrel.’”
“It sounds characteristic,” murmured Harley, laying the slip on the coffee table.
“It’s true!” declared Brinn. “I said it and I meant it. I’m a glutton for danger, Mr. Harley, and I’m going to tell you why. Something happened to me seven years ago—”
“In India. Correct. Something happened to me, sir, which just took the zest out of life. At the time I didn’t know all it meant. I’ve learned since. For seven years I have been flirting with death and hoping to fall!”
Harley stared at him: “More than ever I fail to understand.”
“I can only ask you to be patient, Mr. Harley. Time is a wonderful doctor, and I won’t say that in seven years
the old wound hasn't healed a bit. But to-night you have, unknowingly, undone all that time had done. I'm a man that has been down into hell. I bought myself out. I thought I knew where the pit was located. I thought I was well away from it, Mr. Harley, and you have told me something to-night which makes me think that it isn't where I supposed at all, but hidden down here right under our feet in London. And we're both standing on the edge!”
HAT Nicol Brinn was deeply moved no student of humanity could have doubted. From beneath the stoic's cloak another than the dare-devil millionaire whose crazy exploits were notorious had looked out. Persistently the note of danger came to Paul Harley. Those luxurious Piccadilly chambers were a focus upon which some malignant will was concentrated. He became conscious of anger, the anger of a just man who finds himself impotent. “Mr. Brinn l’’ he cried, “I accept unreservedly all that you have told me. Its real significance I do not and cannot grasp. But my theory that Sir Charles Abingdon was done to death has become a conviction. That a like fate threatens yourself and possibly myself I begin to believe.” He looked almost fiercely into the other's dull eyes. “My reputation, east and west is that of a white man. Mr. Brinn—I ask you for your confidence.” Nicol Brinn dropped his chin into his hand and resumed that unseeing stare into the open grate. Paul Harley watched him intently. “There isn't anyone I would rather confide in,” confessed the American. “We are linked by a common danger. But”—he looked up—“I must ask you again to be patient. Give me time to think—to make plans. For your own part—be cautious. You witnessed the death of Sir Charles Abingdon. You
a heap of useful prints, relative to the .
breeding and feeding of cattle, to silo and ensilage, and catalogues of barbed wire and things, he unearthed a magazine. Turning to the front advertising pages of this effete product of urban sophistication, he found what he sought. “There you are l’’ he said proudly, laying the open copy in the old man's plate. “There's schools! Droves of 'em!” Old man Moseby looked, while his daughter came to perch upon the arm of his chair. Sure enough there were schools. All kinds of schools. Some but an inch long. Others a half, or even threequarters, of a column. Schools with pictures and schools without. Schools for boys and schools for girls. Summer schools and winter schools. Old man Moseby pored over the pages. His daughter, hopes so bitterly blighted, retreated to the hearth where, sitting with legs crossed, she began ruthlessly to torment an andiron with the double lash of her quirt. “This looks like a good one,” said Red. He pointed to a quarter column of print and illustration. “The Misses Dane's School for Girls,” read the advertisement. And, beneath, a most attractive picture of a Greek
temple before which posed a baker’s dozen of the nymphs of the period. They went on to peruse, with the aid of roughened forefingers and an alphabet divided into twenty-six parts, each separate and alone. It was alluring reading. It said that the Misses Dane's School for Girls, at Cheltenham-on-the-Hudson, taught College Preparatory Courses and Music and General and Secretarial Courses and Household Arts. “Household arts,” repeated old man Moseby. “Wha's that mean?” “Cooking an’ making beds, of course,” answered Red. “What else do they teach?” inquired the old man.
ought to learn to dance,” he opined. “Anything else?” “In the country,” read Red. Again the old man nodded approval. “Thirty miles from New York.” “Can't make it too fur for me,” said the old man. “I don't trust cities. None whatever!” “Twenty acres of hill and dale.” Another nod. “The home of culture, refinement, and modernity.” “The first two sounds good,” said the old man. “What does the last mean?” “Up to date, I s'pose,” Red explained. “Means that it has plumbing and steam heat and tablecloths.” “Oh! Anything else?” “It says that it teaches the higher things of life.” “The higher the better.” “And,” continued Red, “to live with Nature.” Once more the old man nodded.
Collier's, The National Weekly
don’t think and perhaps I don't think that it was natural; but whatever steps you may have taken to confirm your theories I dare not hope that you will ever discover even a ghost of a clue. I simply warn you, Mr. Harley. You may go the same way. So may I. Others have traveled that road before poor Abingdon.”
He suddenly stood up, all at once ex-
hibiting to his watchful visitor that tremendous nervous energy which underlay his impassive manner. “Good God!” he said in a cold, even voice. “To think that it is here in London. What does it mean?” He ceased speaking abruptly, and stood with his elbow resting on a corner of the mantelshelf. “You speak of it being here,” prompted Harley. “Is it consistent with your mysterious difficulties to inform me to what you refer?” Nicol Brinn glanced aside at him. “If I informed you of that,” he answered, “you would know all you want to know. But neither you nor I would live to use the knowledge. Give me time. Let me think.” Silence fell in the big room, Nicol Brinn staring down vacantly into the empty fireplace, Paul Harley standing watching him in a state of almost stupid mystification. Muffled to a soothing murmur the sounds of Piccadilly penetrated to that chamber which held so many records of the troubled past and which seemed charged with shadowy portents of the future. Something struck with a dull thud upon a windowpane — once — twice. There followed a faint, sibilant sound. Paul Harley started and the stoical Nicol Brinn turned rapidly and glanced across the room. “What was that?” asked Harley. “I expect—it was an owl,” answered Brinn. “We sometimes get them over from the Green Park.” His high voice sounded unemotional as ever. But it seemed to Paul Harley that his face, dimly illuminated by the upcast light, from the lamp upon the table, had paled, had become gaunt. (To be continued)
lived with her all my life,” he said, “and have always found her the whitest pardner a man can have. Of course once in a while she turns ornery. Like havin' droughts and blizzards and prairie fires. But I always figgered them things was more her misfortune than her fault.” He eyed the illustration—the Greek temple and the nymphs. “You don’t reckon that’s a picture of it, do you?” he asked. Red laughed. “Certainly not,” he said. “They don't have things like that in this country and never did. That's just a decoration, like the pictures of Santy Claus on Christmas cards, or Cleopatra on cigarette boxes. This,” he went on eruditely, placing a forefinger upon the temple and its female entourage, “is a Greek temple, or a Roman, or something. They had 'em 'way back before Bible times. There was pictures of 'em in a book I used to study when I was a kid. Hist'ry it was. Ancient hist'ry. I’ve forgot it all now. But it was about Ajax and—and—Bjax, and those old parties that used to wear shin guards and do their fighting in chariots.” “Just a decoration?” “Uh-uh. What else could it be?” “H'm. Anything else?” “Nothing except that it attunes the soul to the indefinite—I mean, infinite.” The girl on the hearth sniffed scornfully. “I don’t want my soul tuned" she declared. Old man Moseby shook his head. “It shore needs it, little girl,” he said. “You’re runnin' unbroke here. Not even a hackamore. And I ain't got the heart to break you, no, not even if I knowed how—” He turned to Pepperday. “When you (Continued on page 38) *