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   Chapter 12 THE CONFESSION

The Radio Detectives By A. Hyatt Verrill Characters: 19787

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:03


Before the conversation could be continued, the desk telephone rang and Mr. Pauling instantly answered.

"Hello!" the boys heard him say. "Hello! Good! Right away. Call Henderson. Yes, have everything ready. He'll live perhaps? Yes, Henderson will bring Ivan. Keep a record of everything. Good-by!"

As he ceased speaking, Mr. Pauling sprang up. "It's Doctor Hewlett," he announced as he started for the door, "The man's regaining consciousness. He may talk at any moment and I must rush there. If Murphy calls, send him over."

An instant later, Mr. Pauling was hurrying to his car and the boys, Mrs. Pauling and Rawlins commenced discussing the events which had followed one another so rapidly during the past few hours.

Rawlins had to tell the story all over again to Tom's mother and Frank gave his version. Then all speculated on what the mystery surrounding the submarine and the raid on the garage might be.

"It's rather too bad that Fred can't tell us anything yet," said Mrs. Pauling, "but I realize, in his position, secrecy must be maintained. However, after it's all over I suppose we shall know-that is, if the newspapers don't tell us first. They usually manage to find out such secrets somehow."

"Well, I admit I can't see head nor tail to it," declared Rawlins. "Of course, as long as Mr. Pauling says those chaps are Russians and were talking Bolshevik I suppose they are and were; but I know that sub was a Hun boat-not one of the big, latest U-boats, but the kind that was over on our coast here once or twice. I've done a lot of work studying submarines and they can't fool me. Now, of course there's no reason why a Russian should not use a German sub if he could get hold of it, but what were they doing over here in the East River is what gets me. I don't believe they were just rum-runners, even if Murphy and his crowd did find a lot of booze over there, and what was that cigar-shaped sub-sea gadget they were pulling along with 'em?"

"Why, I think that's all simple," declared Tom. "They probably brought liquor in here with the submarine and carried it to the garage in that torpedolike thing."

Rawlins shook his head. "No, old man," he replied. "A sub would never do for a rum-runner. Why, every port in the West Indies is watched and the whole world would hear if a sub poked her nose into a harbor and tied up to a dock to load rum. It's too bad we didn't tackle those chaps out there before they got to the sub. We might have brought in that torpedo arrangement, too."

"Gee, I'd forgotten all about that!" exclaimed Tom. "What became of it?"

"Why, didn't I tell you?" replied Rawlins. "They shoved it into the submarine. I was watching 'em do that when they spotted me. If they'd had sense they'd have gone in after it and cleared out, but instead, they had to try rough-house stuff and got left. I expect they thought we'd seen too much and didn't know I was armed. Then, when their mates in the sub heard you yelling for help and heard Frank's replies, they thought the game was up and pulled stakes without stopping for the two chaps below."

"I wonder if they'll get her-the destroyers, I mean," said Frank.

"I doubt it," replied Rawlins. "The sea's a mighty big place and the Lord knows where she'll emerge. No knowing which way she headed either. For all any one knows she may have scooted over to some hangout on Long Island or swung around up the Hudson or slipped into the sound or stood out to sea. But I doubt if she'll try getting out of the harbor submerged. Too risky. She might bump into a liner or a ship any minute and she'd have to go blind-no periscope out, you see, because she'll know we'd have chasers, looking for her. No, I expect they'll submerge, rest on the bottom in shallow water somewhere and wait until night. Then she could sneak out to sea with just her conning tower out. There's about one chance in a million of finding her and that's the only way we slipped up. Just as soon as I saw her I knew something crooked was going on-knew it soon as ever I put eyes on those fellows in self-contained suits-infringing my patents, darn 'em-and I planned to get back and notify the authorities. Then we could have nabbed her and her whole crew. Slipped up by letting those Bolshevik birds spot me. And Tom-did you notice those fellows didn't have those gadgets on their helmets? How do you suppose they worked their radio without 'em?"

"Gosh!" exclaimed Tom. "I didn't think of it at the time, but it's so. Say, what became of their suits? We can examine their outfits and find out all about it."

"Suits are safe enough down at the dock," Rawlins assured him. "You'll have some fun examining them, I'll say."

"Why didn't you ask Mr. Murphy all about what it meant?" inquired Frank, who had been pondering on the mystery.

Rawlins gave a hearty laugh. "You don't know friend Murphy," he answered. "I'll say I asked him, but you might as well ask a lamp-post. I know why they call potatoes Murphys now-all eyes and no mouth. That's him, too. Nice and pleasant and everything, but not a mite of information. When I asked him first time he just looked me all over as if I was some kind of a rare specimen. 'Mr. Pauling says youse is on the level,' he said, 'and I'll take his word if he says the devil himself has turned saint. But my orders is to say nothing to nobody till I reports to Mr. Pauling and my orders stays orders till he gives me new ones. He's told me to let youse in here and to look after youse and that I'm doin', but never a word did he say about tellin' of youse anything, an' that I won't. What youse can see youse can see and welcome and what youse may overhear youse can hear, but I'd advise youse to not repeat it, and now draw your own conclusions.'"

The boys laughed. "He looked like that," said Frank. "I can just imagine him saying it."

"And what did you say?" inquired Mrs. Pauling. "I have met that man Murphy-he's one of Fred's right-hand men."

"Oh, I knew he was right and just slapped him on the back and told him he was a good skate and I'd put in a good word for him at any time. Told him I didn't want to butt in and wouldn't bother him with any more questions."

"Didn't you see anything?" asked Tom.

"About as much as you could see when we were in the crowd in the car," laughed Rawlins. "The garage wasn't packed full, but there were about a million plain-clothes men and police there and Lord knows how many trucks, and everything that was going on was in the center. But I did see them piling a lot of boxes and papers and a lot of radio stuff into a truck and I heard a policeman smack his lips and say: 'Glory be, but it's a burnin' shame to think of all the good booze that's goin' to waste nowadays. Sure it makes me throat feel dry as a load of hay to think of it.'"

"Perhaps," suggested Mrs. Pauling. "These men you found have some connection with the Bolshevist threats and crimes that the papers say are taking place. Fred never lets us know much of what is going on, as he thinks I'll worry. But whatever it is, I feel sure it has something to do with the troubles and worries Fred has had recently. Both he and Mr. Henderson have been working hard both day and night on something and Fred has looked as if he had some great problem on his mind."

"Well, I hope it's that," declared Tom. "Say, wouldn't it be great if we really had helped Dad and the government on something more important than smuggling liquor."

"There's the bell again," exclaimed Frank. "Perhaps that's Mr. Murphy."

Frank's surmise proved correct and Mrs. Pauling repeated her husband's orders to him. Scarcely waiting to hear, the detective turned and hurried off.

"I suppose we might as well have dinner," said Mrs. Pauling, after Murphy had gone. "There's no use waiting for Fred, he may be away all night. You'll have dinner with us, won't you, Mr. Rawlins?"

Dinner over, the four returned to the library and hour after hour dragged on with no word from Mr. Pauling.

Finally, Rawlins rose to go and was saying good night when the front door opened and Mr. Pauling, Mr. Henderson and the detective Murphy arrived.

"Didn't wait dinner for me, did you?" cried Tom's father, a note in his voice that his wife knew meant relief and elation. "Glad you didn't. Sorry we were so late, but couldn't get away a minute sooner. Didn't even have a chance to telephone to you. But we're as hungry as bears. I suppose there's a bite to eat."

Then, seeing Rawlins, hat in hand, he continued, "Don't go, Rawlins. Soon as we've eaten we'll try to satisfy your curiosity and the boys' and," he added mischievously, "the wife's, even if she does say she hasn't any."

"They're in mighty good spirits," declared Rawlins when the three men had disappeared in the direction of the dining room. "So I guess everything's come out O. K."

"Yes, Fred's had a great load lifted from his mind, I know," agreed Mrs. Pauling, "and I'm very glad. I've really been worried about him lately."

"Well, we'll soon know what 'tis," said Tom. "Gosh! I can scarcely wait."

At last they heard the voices of the three men, laughing and chatting, as they left the dining room, and an instant later they entered the library.

"Now I suppose you four want the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth," laughed Mr. Pauling, as he motioned the others to seats and settled himself in his own favorite chair. "I don't think there's much that I cannot reveal now-except a few matters which have no direct bearing or interest on the part you boys and Mr. Rawlins have played. Well, let's see. I guess I'd better begin at the garage-you know already that Henderson identified the prisoner and how we had a hunch that the affair centered in that block where the boys' radio compasses located the phantom speaker. I had an idea our men would have to surround the ent

ire block and make a house-to-house search, but the rascals saved us that trouble. Evidently their friends had warned them that something was wrong and Reilly's men arrived just in time. They found a truck just leaving the garage, and, remembering my orders to hold every one and everything that looked suspicious, they stopped the truck-when the driver put on speed as soon as he glimpsed the police. That was suspicious and when they overhauled it they found it loaded with liquor. Inside the garage, they found four more trucks and a crowd of men and Murphy here tells me they put up a mighty good fight. That, of course, drew a crowd and East Side crowds have no use for the blue coats. The result was a free for all until another wagon arrived with reserves and in the fracas several of the men in the garage broke away and disappeared in the crowd.

"However, they got six and found enough contraband liquor in the trucks and in a secret room under the floor to stock a dozen saloons. Most of it was in this hidden room or cell under the floor, and very cleverly hidden, too. Had a door formed by a false bottom to a repair pit and all they had to do was to run a truck over the pit as if being repaired and pass up the goods from below. There were other things in that room, too. About twenty-five thousands dollars' worth of furs and jewelry-all stolen here or hereabouts; opium to the value of a hundred thousand or so, to say nothing of morphine, cocaine and other drugs. In addition, there were several thousand copies of red propaganda circulars and pamphlets, a neat little engraving and printing plant and a second trapdoor that opened into the old sewer. And the radio set was there also. A receiving set-made in Germany by the way-and the transmission outfit. That was the cleverest thing yet-according to Henderson who knows more about it than I do. He tells me the what-do-you-call-it-a?rial-was a folding affair stretched across the inside of the roof and so arranged that it could be drawn back between the girders entirely out of sight. Now I don't know any of the technical part of this and I'll let Henderson explain it all to you boys later if you wish. But the main thing, as I understand it, was that they could send several thousand miles with the outfit on one kind of a wave or could talk to a person a few blocks away with another sort. At any rate, we never would have found that if we hadn't found the secret cell and the machine and a man at it. I'm not surprised Henderson's men never located it.

"That's all about the garage. It was the headquarters and clearing house of a dangerous gang of international cutthroats and rogues. They had been robbing right and left, carrying their loot in motor cars and trucks to the garage and hiding it in the secret room. Then from there it had been carried in watertight containers, like miniature submarines, through the old sewer to the submarine by the divers. Each time the submarine came in she brought a cargo of liquor, drugs, cigars, plumes, and other contraband and took away all the valuables and receipts from sales. The conversations you overheard were between those in the garage and other members of the gang, and the reason you boys did not hear the other speaker was because he used a radio telegraph instrument-that's right, isn't it, Henderson-and a very weak or short wave-let's see, a 'buzzer set' you called it, wasn't it? Well, you can get all that from Henderson, anyway."

"But how on earth did you find all that out?" asked Rawlins, as Mr. Pauling ceased speaking to light a cigar.

"Well, it took a little urging," replied Mr. Pauling. "Murphy and his men hinted to their prisoners that they'd been given the tip by the men on the submarine and so, of course, they told all they knew in the hope of getting lighter sentences and Henderson had the Russian up at his office with Ivan and let him think we knew all about him and the submarine through tips given by the other crowd. As a result, we got pretty complete information from both sides. But"-here Mr. Pauling lowered his voice and signaled for Murphy to stand guard at the door-"we couldn't get what we wanted from either the Russian or any of the gang at the garage. They'd tell us certain things-give us details and facts about matters of which we already knew-such as the means of communication, the submarine, etc., but beyond that they would not go.

"Short of torture I don't believe they'd let out a word. And we knew-we were positive-that back of it all was something deeper-a stupendous plot aimed at the very heart and life-the very existence of the United States and England. And we felt equally positive that back of this was an arch criminal or rather arch fiend-a man with a tremendous brain, almost unlimited power and marvelous resources. We could see many things which linked this petty smuggling, the hold-ups and burglaries, the rum-running and drug-importing with events of far greater importance. But we had no proof, no evidence to go on.

"Some of our men thought they knew who this head-this nucleus of the whole affair was but they could not be sure-they would not even dare mention his name-and so we were handicapped, working in the dark. But now we do know. We know far more than I dare tell any one, than I dare think. The injured man has placed it all in our hands. It was the most astounding revelation I have ever known or ever expect to hear. I cannot tell you all-I did not even permit Murphy or the doctor to be by the man's bedside while he spoke and as soon as I knew he could speak and understand English I sent Ivan off, too. Only Henderson and I heard what he said. This man was-yes, I say 'was,' because he is dead-was one of those misguided men who plotted against England and became a tool of the Germans. He betrayed his cause and his leaders, and, despised, hunted for the traitor and coward that he was, not safe either in England, Ireland or Germany, he became a man without a country, an enemy of all organized governments, a fanatical 'red' and a trusted emissary of this arch criminal I referred to.

"When he became conscious he raved and cursed frightfully, swearing he had been betrayed and in his mad desire for vengeance-knowing he had but a few moments to live-told us as best he could with his scorched and blackened lips and tongue what we longed to know. It was unbelievable, incredible, more marvelous than Jules Verne's stories, but true, we know, from the way it dovetails in with other facts in our possession.

"Among other things, we learned that many mysteriously missing ships-the many passenger and merchant vessels which never reached port-were deliberately sunk, torpedoed without warning and all survivors put to death in cold blood merely to secure the gold and other valuables on board. All this treasure, all the loot from robberies and crimes committed in the United States and abroad, all the receipts from smuggling and the sales of drugs and liquors were to swell the fund this master plotter was accumulating to accomplish his final purpose.

"This he told us towards the last-when each breath was a mighty effort, when each word was wrung from him with torture-and he even tried to tell us where it was hidden, where this vast treasure is concealed, cachéd, and where we might find the headquarters of this monster in human form. He was telling us and was striving, straining to give us the location. He had mentioned the locality in a general way, was giving us the latitude and longitude and had gasped out three figures when he died-the words unfinished, the secret sealed within his lips and-most important of all, with the name of that ruthless, relentless master-fiend unspoken."

The boys' eyes had grown round with wonder as Mr. Pauling was speaking. Mrs. Pauling leaned forward, her face flushed, her lips parted. Rawlins had remained as silent, as immovable as if carved in stone, and even Mr. Henderson and Murphy had been so engrossed, so interested, although they knew the story as well as Mr. Pauling, that they had allowed their cigars to go out.

"Jehoshaphat!" exclaimed Tom, when his father ceased speaking. "Gosh! We did butt into something worth while!"

"Oh, Gee!" ejaculated Frank in disappointed tones. "Then you don't know where that treasure is after all!"

"No," replied Mr. Pauling, "not within several hundred miles. But the treasure is not the important thing, it's the man himself we want."

Rawlins rose, his eyes shone with unwonted brilliancy, his face was flushed.

"I'll say that's some day's work!" he cried. "But I'll bet we can get that loot-and that whole bunch of crooks, too. I've a scheme, Mr. Pauling, but I want a little time to think it over and get my brain straightened out. There's been too much crowded into it during the last ten hours."

Mr. Pauling stared at Rawlins as if he thought he might have taken leave of his senses. Then, realizing that Rawlins was in earnest, he said quietly, "All right, Rawlins. I don't know what your scheme may be, but I'll be glad to hear it whenever you're ready. Call me up and we'll hear it when you have it worked out. We owe you more than I can express to you now."

A moment later Rawlins had gone and hardly had his footsteps died away when the telephone tinkled.

"Yes!" exclaimed Mr. Pauling as he listened. "Remarkable! Absolutely deserted! Well, I guess that chapter's closed. Thanks for letting me know."

"Sorry Rawlins has gone," declared Mr. Pauling as he hung up the receiver and wheeled about. "That was the Admiral calling. One of the destroyers has found the submarine!"

"Gosh! then they've caught more of the gang!" cried Tom.

"That's the astounding part of it," replied his father. "She was found drifting, her upper works just awash, about one hundred miles out to sea and not a living soul on board her!"

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