The War Terror - Arthur B. Reeve - ebook

The War Terror ebook

Arthur B. Reeve

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The War Terror” is a detective novel by Arthur B. Reeve (October 15, 1880 – August 9, 1936), one of his Craig Kennedy series, often regarded as American Sherlock Holmes. Each story features a fascinating look at life in the early 20th century, and even includes some action along the way. A major spy operation is deployed in the heart of Europe in time of World War II. Detective Kennedy lands right in the middle of it and begins his face off with Nazi secret service. But threads of this operation lead across the Atlantics, back in the United States. Where from do the Hydra’s heads actually grow? Read this enthralling war thriller and find out!

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Liczba stron: 481

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Contents

INTRODUCTION

I. THE WAR TERROR

II. THE ELECTRO-MAGNETIC GUN

III. THE MURDER SYNDICATE

IV. THE AIR PIRATE

V. THE ULTRA-VIOLET RAY

VI. THE TRIPLE MIRROR

VII. THE WIRELESS WIRETAPPERS

VIII. THE HOUSEBOAT MYSTERY

IX. THE RADIO DETECTIVE

X. THE CURIO SHOP

XI. THE "PILLAR OF DEATH"

XII. THE ARROW POISON

XIII. THE RADIUM ROBBER

XIV. THE SPINTHARISCOPE

XV. THE ASPHYXIATING SAFE

XVI. THE DEAD LINE

XVII. THE PASTE REPLICA

XVIII. THE BURGLAR'S MICROPHONE

XIX. THE GERM LETTER

XX. THE ARTIFICIAL KIDNEY

XXI. THE POISON BRACELET

XXII. THE DEVIL WORSHIPERS

XXIII. THE PSYCHIC CURSE

XXIV. THE SERPENT'S TOOTH

XXV. THE "HAPPY DUST"

XXVI. THE BINET TEST

XXVII. THE LIE DETECTOR

XXVIII. THE FAMILY SKELETON

XXIX. THE LEAD POISONER

XXX. THE ELECTROLYTIC MURDER

XXXI. THE EUGENIC BRIDE

XXXII. THE GERM PLASM

XXXIII. THE SEX CONTROL

XXXIV. THE BILLIONAIRE BABY

XXXV. THE PSYCHANALYSIS

XXXVI. THE ENDS OF JUSTICE

INTRODUCTION

As I look back now on the sensational events of the past months since the great European War began, it seems to me as if there had never been a period in Craig Kennedy’s life more replete with thrilling adventures than this.

In fact, scarcely had one mysterious event been straightened out from the tangled skein, when another, even more baffling, crowded on its very heels.

As was to have been expected with us in America, not all of these remarkable experiences grew either directly or indirectly out of the war, but there were several that did, and they proved to be only the beginning of a succession of events which kept me busy chronicling for the Star the exploits of my capable and versatile friend.

Altogether, this period of the war was, I am sure, quite the most exciting of the many series of episodes through which Craig has been called upon to go. Yet he seemed to meet each situation as it arose with a fresh mind, which was amazing even to me who have known him so long and so intimately.

As was naturally to be supposed, also, at such a time, it was not long before Craig found himself entangled in the marvelous spy system of the warring European nations. These systems revealed their devious and dark ways, ramifying as they did tentacle-like even across the ocean in their efforts to gain their ends in neutral America. Not only so, but, as I shall some day endeavor to show later, when the ban of silence imposed by neutrality is raised after the war, many of the horrors of the war were brought home intimately to us.

I have, after mature consideration, decided that even at present nothing but good can come from the publication at least of some part of the strange series of adventures through which Kennedy and I have just gone, especially those which might, if we had not succeeded, have caused most important changes in current history. As for the other adventures, no question can be raised about the propriety of their publication.

At any rate, it came about that early in August, when the war cloud was just beginning to loom blackest, Kennedy was unexpectedly called into one of the strangest, most dangerous situations in which his peculiar and perilous profession had ever involved him.

CHAPTER I

THE WAR TERROR

“I must see Professor Kennedy–where is he?–I must see him, for God’s sake!”

I was almost carried off my feet by the inrush of a wild-eyed girl, seemingly half crazed with excitement, as she cried out Craig’s name.

Startled by my own involuntary exclamation of surprise which followed the vision that shot past me as I opened our door in response to a sudden, sharp series of pushes at the buzzer, Kennedy bounded swiftly toward me, and the girl almost flung herself upon him.

“Why, Miss–er–Miss–my dear young lady–what’s the matter?” he stammered, catching her by the arm gently.

As Kennedy forced our strange visitor into a chair, I observed that she was all a-tremble. Her teeth fairly chattered. Alternately her nervous, peaceless hands clutched at an imaginary something in the air, as if for support, then, finding none, she would let her wrists fall supine, while she gazed about with quivering lips and wild, restless eyes. Plainly, there was something she feared. She was almost over the verge of hysteria.

She was a striking girl, of medium height and slender form, but it was her face that fascinated me, with its delicately molded features, intense unfathomable eyes of dark brown, and lips that showed her idealistic, high-strung temperament.

“Please,” he soothed, “get yourself together, please–try! What is the matter?”

She looked about, as if she feared that the very walls had eyes and ears. Yet there seemed to be something bursting from her lips that she could not restrain.

“My life,” she cried wildly, “my life is at stake. Oh–help me, help me! Unless I commit a murder to-night, I shall be killed myself!”

The words sounded so doubly strange from a girl of her evident refinement that I watched her narrowly, not sure yet but that we had a plain case of insanity to deal with.

“A murder?” repeated Kennedy incredulously. “YOU commit a murder?”

Her eyes rested on him, as if fascinated, but she did not flinch as she replied desperately, “Yes–Baron Kreiger–you know, the German diplomat and financier, who is in America raising money and arousing sympathy with his country.”

“Baron Kreiger!” exclaimed Kennedy in surprise, looking at her more keenly.

We had not met the Baron, but we had heard much about him, young, handsome, of an old family, trusted already in spite of his youth by many of the more advanced of old world financial and political leaders, one who had made a most favorable impression on democratic America at a time when such impressions were valuable.

Glancing from one of us to the other, she seemed suddenly, with a great effort, to recollect herself, for she reached into her chatelaine and pulled out a card from a case.

It read simply, “Miss Paula Lowe.”

“Yes,” she replied, more calmly now to Kennedy’s repetition of the Baron’s name, “you see, I belong to a secret group.” She appeared to hesitate, then suddenly added, “I am an anarchist.”

She watched the effect of her confession and, finding the look on Kennedy’s face encouraging rather than shocked, went on breathlessly: “We are fighting war with war–this iron-bound organization of men and women. We have pledged ourselves to exterminate all kings, emperors and rulers, ministers of war, generals–but first of all the financiers who lend money that makes war possible.”

She paused, her eyes gleaming momentarily with something like the militant enthusiasm that must have enlisted her in the paradoxical war against war.

“We are at least going to make another war impossible!” she exclaimed, for the moment evidently forgetting herself.

“And your plan?” prompted Kennedy, in the most matter-of-fact manner, as though he were discussing an ordinary campaign for social betterment. “How were you to–reach the Baron?”

“We had a drawing,” she answered with amazing calmness, as if the mere telling relieved her pent-up feelings. “Another woman and I were chosen. We knew the Baron’s weakness for a pretty face. We planned to become acquainted with him–lure him on.”

Her voice trailed off, as if, the first burst of confidence over, she felt something that would lock her secret tighter in her breast.

A moment later she resumed, now talking rapidly, disconnectedly, giving Kennedy no chance to interrupt or guide the conversation.

“You don’t know, Professor Kennedy,” she began again, “but there are similar groups to ours in European countries and the plan is to strike terror and consternation everywhere in the world at once. Why, at our headquarters there have been drawn up plans and agreements with other groups and there are set down the time, place, and manner of all the–the removals.”

Momentarily she seemed to be carried away by something like the fanaticism of the fervor which had at first captured her, even still held her as she recited her incredible story.

“Oh, can’t you understand?” she went on, as if to justify herself. “The increase in armies, the frightful implements of slaughter, the total failure of the peace propaganda–they have all defied civilization!

“And then, too, the old, red-blooded emotions of battle have all been eliminated by the mechanical conditions of modern warfare in which men and women are just so many units, automata. Don’t you see? To fight war with its own weapons–that has become the only last resort.”

Her eager, flushed face betrayed the enthusiasm which had once carried her into the “Group,” as she called it. I wondered what had brought her now to us.

“We are no longer making war against man,” she cried. “We are making war against picric acid and electric wires!”

I confess that I could not help thinking that there was no doubt that to a certain type of mind the reasoning might appeal most strongly.

“And you would do it in war time, too?” asked Kennedy quickly.

She was ready with an answer. “King George of Greece was killed at the head of his troops. Remember Nazim Pasha, too. Such people are easily reached in time of peace and in time of war, also, by sympathizers on their own side. That’s it, you see–we have followers of all nationalities.”

She stopped, her burst of enthusiasm spent. A moment later she leaned forward, her clean-cut profile showing her more earnest than before. “But, oh, Professor Kennedy,” she added, “it is working itself out to be more terrible than war itself!”

“Have any of the plans been carried out yet?” asked Craig, I thought a little superciliously, for there had certainly been no such wholesale assassination yet as she had hinted at.

She seemed to catch her breath. “Yes,” she murmured, then checked herself as if in fear of saying too much. “That is, I–I think so.”

I wondered if she were concealing something, perhaps had already had a hand in some such enterprise and it had frightened her.

Kennedy leaned forward, observing the girl’s discomfiture. “Miss Lowe,” he said, catching her eye and holding it almost hypnotically, “why have you come to see me?”

The question, pointblank, seemed to startle her. Evidently she had thought to tell only as little as necessary, and in her own way. She gave a little nervous laugh, as if to pass it off. But Kennedy’s eyes conquered.

“Oh, can’t you understand yet?” she exclaimed, rising passionately and throwing out her arms in appeal. “I was carried away with my hatred of war. I hate it yet. But now–the sudden realization of what this compact all means has–well, caused something in me to–to snap. I don’t care what oath I have taken. Oh, Professor Kennedy, you–you must save him!”

I looked up at her quickly. What did she mean? At first she had come to be saved herself. “You must save him!” she implored.

Our door buzzer sounded.

She gazed about with a hunted look, as if she felt that some one had even now pursued her and found out.

“What shall I do?” she whispered. “Where shall I go?”

“Quick–in here. No one will know,” urged Kennedy, opening the door to his room. He paused for an instant, hurriedly. “Tell me–have you and this other woman met the Baron yet? How far has it gone?”

The look she gave him was peculiar. I could not fathom what was going on in her mind. But there was no hesitation about her answer. “Yes,” she replied, “I–we have met him. He is to come back to New York from Washington to-day–this afternoon–to arrange a private loan of five million dollars with some bankers secretly. We were to see him to-night–a quiet dinner, after an automobile ride up the Hudson–”

“Both of you?” interrupted Craig.

“Yes–that–that other woman and myself,” she repeated, with a peculiar catch in her voice. “To-night was the time fixed in the drawing for the–”

The word stuck in her throat. Kennedy understood. “Yes, yes,” he encouraged, “but who is the other woman?”

Before she could reply, the buzzer had sounded again and she had retreated from the door. Quickly Kennedy closed it and opened the outside door.

It was our old friend Burke of the Secret Service.

Without a word of greeting, a hasty glance seemed to assure him that Kennedy and I were alone. He closed the door himself, and, instead of sitting down, came close to Craig.

“Kennedy,” he blurted out in a tone of suppressed excitement, “can I trust you to keep a big secret?”

Craig looked at him reproachfully, but said nothing.

“I beg your pardon–a thousand times,” hastened Burke. “I was so excited, I wasn’t thinking–”

“Once is enough, Burke,” laughed Kennedy, his good nature restored at Burke’s crestfallen appearance.

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