MoboReader > Literature > Whispers at Dawn; Or, The Eye


Whispers at Dawn; Or, The Eye By Roy J. Snell Characters: 7539

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:02

Routing out a farmer a half mile north of the Captain's old home, Drew Lane got the local sheriff on the wire and told him what had been done. An hour later the four prisoners were behind bars in the county jail, and Iggy the Snake, who had put an end to a half-score of useful men, was in the morgue.

The clock was striking midnight when Drew got Captain Burns on the wire.

"What luck?" he asked the Captain with a voice hard to control.

"Some luck, Drew," the Captain answered. "Tell you about it later. Thought I had something more. It went up like old St. Nick's reindeers, straight into thin air!"

"Drive out early in the morning." There was suppressed animation in Drew's tone. "We got some Christmas presents for you."

"Not what we been after?"

"The same."

"No-N-o-o!" The Captain fairly stuttered.

"All five. One tried, condemned and executed; four behind the bars.

"Turkey weighs twenty-five pounds." He changed his tone hastily. "It'll be stuffed with oysters and other things. You'll be out?"

"Before you're up," the Captain rumbled. "Merry Christmas!" He hung up.

"It is Christmas at that," Drew murmured after consulting his watch.

It was late when the stockings were filled that night. Is it any wonder that presents were sadly mixed, that Johnny received a powder-puff and Alice a bright and shiny toy pistol? But what did it matter?

The sun was high when the young people piled out of their bunks in the cold little bedrooms. Already the savory odors of a feast, of a turkey roasting, cranberries stewing, mince pie baking, was in the air. What did presents matter? A feast, and joyous and more peaceful times were just ahead.

The Captain did not keep his promise. He arrived at ten o'clock instead of at dawn.

"Had to wait for this young lady," he explained, helping Grace Krowl out of his car. "Wanted her to have a look at one of your friends," he chuckled. "No time to talk of crooks, but that man J. Templeton Semp, the dutiful house detective, is none other than Dapper Dan Drew in other circles, and Dapper Dan, as you know, is one of the men you have in jail.

"It often happens," he added when the surprise had subsided, "that men who are so very good at enforcing little unimportant regulations, such as the J. Templeton Semp Black List, are very bad in other ways.

"But wait!" the Captain exclaimed. "I have still another guest." He gave Joyce Mills a strange look, then he roared:

"Old Man, come out!"

Out stepped Newton Mills. Like a flash, his daughter was in his arms.

"And might I add," said Grace Krowl, "that he is also the mysterious Whisperer of the air!"

"That," said the Captain, "calls for a lot of explaining. Suppose we retire to the parlor?"

"There's really nothing very mysterious about that whisper business," said Newton Mills when they were all gathered about the fire. "I became interested in something they call narrow-casting. It's one of the uses of the electric eye. You really talk down a beam of light."

"Talk down a beam of light!" someone exclaimed.

"Surely." He smiled. "It's really very simple. You talk into a microphone. An instrument takes up the sound impulses of your voice and changes them to light impulses. These impulses may be sent down a beam of light a mile, ten, twenty, thirty miles. How far? No one knows.

"A very special reflector catches those light impulses. A mechanism containing an electric eye changes those light impulses back into sound impulses. And then you hear my voice thirty miles away.

"The wonderful part is, Captain-" He leaned forward eagerly. "Only a person with the proper mechanism in the line of that ray of light can hear them! Think of being able to sit in my high tower and send secret messages

to a score of my fellow detectives, and never a crook listening in! I tell you it is going to be a great thing for crime hunters in the future!"

"Do you know," Johnny asked, "that you in your high tower came near being the end of this young giant?" He nodded toward Spider.

Newton Mills stared in surprise. Then he said, dryly, "A caller should send in his card."

"But how was it you could see me as well as speak to me?" Grace Krowl asked.

"Television." Newton Mills smiled afresh. "I'd had a set installed in that room. It's a rather crude set. But you can see a person well enough to recognize him even now."

"And that must have been why I could see Iggy the Snake and the stolen bonds back there in the 'House of Magic,'" Johnny put in.

"Probably was," Newton Mills agreed.

"Speaking of those bonds," said Captain Burns, "last night I recovered all but a few of them. Great luck! Fine Christmas present for that closed bank!"

"And for the depositors," Drew Lane added.

"And now," said Madame LeClare, appearing in the doorway, "soup's on!"

"On with the feast!" cried the Captain.

A moment later they were all seated about a broad table that groaned under its weight of good things to eat.

Bowing their heads, they sang their grace before meat.

"Peace on earth, good will toward men!" the Captain rumbled.

"If only the men of this earth had good will toward one another, we could throw away our sticks and guns and come to a peaceful spot like this to live all our days."

It was a very merry time they had in the Captain's boyhood home that Christmas day and a joyous journey they made back to the city. And why not? Had they not been sentenced to death by their enemies and the enemies of all honest men, and had they not escaped and triumphed?

Next day Johnny returned to the "House of Magic." He found, however, that much of its charm had gone with the solving of its many mysteries.

"Yes. It was television that made it possible for you to see your friend Iggy and the stolen bonds," Felix admitted freely enough. "It is very imperfect at present. The time will come, however, when you will be able to look in upon wrongdoers from some spot miles away, and perhaps," he added with a chuckle, "we will be able to look right through walls of cement, stone or steel. Who dares say we won't?

"I suppose," he went on a moment later, "you'd like to know what we were about in that balloon when the long one and the short one, who beyond doubt were Iggy and one of his pals, cut us loose in that balloon. We were about to talk down a beam of light. Shortly after that I made the acquaintance of Newton Mills. He told me he had been working on that. We arranged to complete the experiment from the Sky Ride tower. He swore me to secrecy-so you see I couldn't well take you in on it."

"Well," yawned Johnny, "looks as if it were going to be a trifle dull around here for a time."

"Might be and might not," the inventor's son grinned. "Father is working on some marvelous things. Don't go far from here without leaving your address. We may need you."

"I'll keep in touch," Johnny agreed.

Unfortunately the peace and good will the brave Captain spoke of over the Christmas feast in his old home does not yet exist. The world is still at war with itself. Because of this we are likely to have more to tell our young adventurers in the near future. If this proves true, you will find it recorded in a book called Wings of Mystery.

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Transcriber's Note

Copyright notice provided as in the original printed text-this e-text is public domain in the country of publication.

Obvious typographical errors were corrected without comment.

Variant spellings and dialect were left unchanged.

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