Part 3 out of 8
Inside the office the jeweller was sitting beside a table; he was
leaning back in his chair; he had his hands clasped over his
stomach. He was gazing toward the ceiling; his face was a study,
full of wonder and speculation.
"Well?" I asked.
For an answer he merely raised his finger, pointed towards the
"Up there," he spoke. "Your jewel or whatever it is. A good thing
we weren't in open air. 'Twould be going yet."
I looked up. Sure enough, against the ceiling was the gem. It was
a bit disconcerting, though I will confess that in the first
moment I did not catch the full significance.
The jeweller closed one eye and studied first myself and then the
beautiful thing against the ceiling.
"What do you make of it?" he asked.
Really I had not made anything; it was a bit of a shock; I hadn't
grasped the full impossibility. I didn't answer.
"Don't you see, Mr. Wendel? Impossible! Contrary to nature!
Lighter than air. We took it out of the ring and it shot out like
a bullet. Thought I'd dropped it. Began looking on the floor.
Couldn't find it; looked up and saw Reynolds, here, with his eyes
popping out like marbles. He was looking at the ceiling."
I thought for a moment.
"Then it is not a gem?"
He shrugged his shoulders. "Not if I'm a jeweller. Whoever heard
of a stone without weight? It has no gravity, that is, apparently.
I doubt whether it is a substance. I don't know what it is."
It was puzzling. I would have given a good deal just then for a
few words with Dr. Holcomb. The man, Kennedy, had kept it in his
pocket. How had he held it a prisoner? The professor had use for
it in some scientific work! No wonder! Certainly it was not a
jewel. What could it be? It was solid. It was lighter than air.
Could it be a substance? If not; what is it?
"What would you advise?"
In answer the jeweller reached for the telephone. He gave a
"Hello. Say, is Ed there? This is Phil. Tell him to step to the
phone. Hello! Say, Ed, I want you to come over on the jump.
Something to show you. Too busy! No, you're not. Not for this. I'm
going to teach you some chemistry. No; this is serious. What is
it? I don't know. What's lighter than air? Lots of things? Oh, I
know. But what solid? That's why I'm asking. Come over. All right.
He hung up the receiver.
"My brother," he spoke. "It has passed beyond my province and into
his. He is a chemist. As an expert he may give you a real
Surely we needed one. It was against reason. It had taken me
completely off my balance. I took a chair and joined the others in
the contemplation of the blue dot on the ceiling. We could
speculate and conjecture; but there was not one of us deep enough
even to start a theory. Plainly it was what should not be. We had
been taught physics and science; we had been drilled to
fundamentals. If this thing could be, then the foundations upon
which we stood were shattered. But one little law! Back in my mind
was buzzing the enigma of the Blind Spot. They were woven
together. Some law that had eluded the ken of mankind.
The chemist was a tall man with a hook nose and black eyes that
clinched like rivets. He was a bit impatient. He looked keenly at
"Well, Phil, what is it?" He pulled out a watch, "I haven't much
There was a contrast between them. The jeweller was fat and
complacent. He merely sat in his chair, his hand on his waistband
and a stubby finger elevated toward the jewel. He seemed to enjoy
"You're a chemist, Ed. Here's a test for your wisdom. Can you
explain that? No, over here. Above your head. That jewel?"
The other looked up.
"What's the idea? New notion for decoration? Or"?--a bit testily--
"is this a joke?" He was a serious man; his black eyes and the
nose spoke his character.
The jeweller laughed gently.
"Listen, Ed--" Then he went into explanation; when he was through
the chemist was twitching with excitement.
"Get me a ladder. Here, let me get on the table; perhaps I can
reach it. Sounds impossible, but if it's so, it's so; it must have
Without ado and in spite of the protests of his brother he stepped
upon the polished surface of the table. He was a tall man; he
could just barely reach it with the tip of his finger. He could
move it; but each time it clung as to a magnet. After a minute of
effort he gave it up. When he looked down he was a different man;
his black eyes glowed with wonder.
"Can't make it," he said. "Get a step-ladder. Strange!"
With the ladder it was easy. He plucked it off the ceiling. We
pressed about the table. The chemist turned it about with his
"I wonder," he was saying. "It's a gem. Apparently. You say it has
no gravity. It can't be. Whoop!" He let it slip out of his
fingers. Again it popped on its way to the ceiling. He caught it
with a deft movement of his hand. "The devil! Did you ever see!
And a solid! Who owns this?"
That brought it back to me. I explained what I could of the manner
of my possession.
"I see. Very interesting. Something I've never seen--and--frankly--
something strictly against what I've been taught. Nevertheless,
it's not impossible. We are witnesses at least. Would you care if
I take this over to the laboratory?"
It was a new complication. If it were not a jewel there was a
chance of its being damaged. I was as anxious as he; but I had
been warned as to its possession.
"I shan't harm it. I'll see to that. I have suspicions and I'd
like to verify them. A chemist doesn't blunder across such a thing
every day. I am a chemist." His eyes glistened.
"Your suspicions?" I asked.
"A new element."
This gem. A new element. Perhaps that would explain the Blind
Spot. It was not exactly of earth. Everything had confirmed it.
"You--A new element? How do you account for it? It defies your
laws. Most of your elements are evolved through tedious process.
This is picked up by chance."
"That is so. But there are still a thousand ways. A meteor,
perhaps; a bit of cosmic dust--there are many shattered comets.
Our chemistry is earthly. There are undoubtedly new elements that
we don't know of. Perhaps in enormous proportion."
I let him have it. It was the only night I had been away from the
ring. I may say that it is the only time I have been free from its
When I called at his office next day I found he had merely
confirmed his suspicions. It defied analysis; there was no
reaction. Under all tests it was a stranger. The whole science
that had been built up to explain everything had here explained
nothing. However there was one thing that he had uncovered--heat.
Perhaps I should say magnetism. It was cold to man. I have spoken
about the icy blue of its colour. It was cold even to look at. The
chemist placed it in my hand.
"Is it not so?"
It was. The minute it touched my palm I could sense the weird
horror of the isolation; the stone was cold. Just like a piece of
This was the first time I had ever had it in direct contact with
the flesh. Set in the ring its impulse had always been secondary.
"You notice it? It is so with me. Now then. Just a minute."
He pressed a button. A young lady answered his ring; she glanced
first at myself and then at the chemist.
"Miss Mills, this is Mr. Wendel. He is the owner of the gem. Would
you take it in your hand? And please tell Mr. Wendel how it feels--"
She laughed; she was a bit perplexed.
"I don't understand"--she turned to me--"we had the same dispute
yesterday. See, Mr. White says that it's cold; but it is not. It
is warm; almost burning. All the other girls think just as I do."
"And all the men as I do," averred the chemist, "even Mr. Wendel."
"Is it cold to you?" she asked. "Really--"
It was a turn I hadn't looked for. It was akin to life--this
relation to sex. Could it account for the strange isolation and
the weariness? I was a witness to its potency. Watson! I could
feel myself dragging under. I had just one question:
"Tell me, Miss Mills. Can you sense anything else; I mean beyond
She smiled a bit. "I don't know what you mean exactly. It is a
beautiful stone. I would like to have it."
"You think its possession would make you happy?"
Her eyes sparkled.
"Oh," she exclaimed. "I know it would! I can feel it!"
It was so. Whatever there was in the bit of sapphirine blue, it
had life. What was it? It had relation to sex. In the strict line
of fact it was impossible.
When we were alone again I turned to the chemist.
"Is there anything more you uncovered? Did you see anything in the
He frowned. "No. Nothing else. This magnetism is the only thing.
Is there anything more?"
Now I hadn't said anything about its one great quality. He hadn't
stumbled across the image of the two men. I couldn't understand
it. I didn't tell him. Perhaps I was wrong. Down inside me I
sensed a subtle reason for secrecy. It is hard to explain. It was
not perverseness; it was a finer distinction; perhaps it was the
influence of the gem. I took it back to the jeweller again and had
AGAIN THE NERVINA
It was at this point that I began taking notes. There is something
psychological to the Blind Spot, weird and touching on the spirit.
I know not what it is; but I can feel it. It impinges on to life.
I can sense the ecstasy of horror. I am not afraid. Whatever it is
that is dragging me down, it is not evil. My sensations are not
For the benefit of my successor, if there is to be one, I have
made an elaborate detail of notes and comments. After all, the
whole thing, when brought down to the end, must fall to the
function of science. When Hobart arrives, whatever my fate, he
will find a complete and comprehensive record of my sensations. I
shall keep it up to the end. Such notes being dry and sometimes
confusing I have purposely omitted them from this narrative. But
there are some things that must be given to the world. I shall
pick out the salient parts and give them chronologically.
Jerome stayed with me. Rather I should say he spent the nights
with me. Most of the time he was on the elusive trail of the
Rhamda. From the minute of our conversation with Kennedy he held
to one conviction. He was positive of that chemist back in the
nineties. He was certain of the Rhamda. Whatever the weirdness of
his theory it would certainly bear investigation. When he was not
on the trail over the city he was at work in the cellar. Here we
We dug up the concrete floor and did a bit of mining. I was
interested in the formation.
From the words of Budge Kennedy the bit of jewel had been
discovered at the original excavation. We found the blue clay that
he spoke of, but nothing else. Jerome dissected every bit of earth
carefully. We have spent many hours in that cellar.
But most of the time I was alone. When not too worn with the
loneliness and weariness I worked at my notes. It has been a hard
task from the beginning. Inertia, lack of energy! How much of our
life is impulse! What is the secret that backs volition? It has
been will--will-power from the beginning. I must thank my
ancestors. Without the strength and character built up through
generations, I would have succumbed utterly.
Even as it is I sometimes think I am wrong in following the
dictates of Watson. If I were only sure. I have pledged my word
and my honour. What did he know? I need all the reserve of
character to hold up against the Nervina. From the beginning she
has been my opponent. What is her interest in the Blind Spot and
myself? Who is she? I cannot think of her as evil. She is too
beautiful, too tender; her concern is so real. Sometimes I think
of her as my protector, that it is she, and she alone who holds
back the power which would engulf me. Once she made a personal
Jerome had gone. I was alone. I had dragged myself to the desk and
my notes and data. It was along toward spring and in the first
shadows of the early evening. I had turned on the lights. It was
the first labour I had done for several days. I had a great deal
of work before me. I had begun sometime before to take down my
temperature. I was careful of everything now, as much as I could
be under the depression. So far I had discerned nothing that could
be classed as pathological.
There is something subtle about the Nervina. She is much like the
Rhamda. Perhaps they are the same. I hear no sound, I have no
notion of a door or entrance. Watson had said of the Rhamda,
"Sometimes you see him, sometimes you don't." It is so with the
Nervina. I remember only my working at the data and the sudden
movement of a hand upon my desk--a girl's hand. It was
bewildering. I looked up.
I had not seen her since that night. It was now eight months--did
I not know, I would have recorded them as years. Her expression
was a bit more sad--and beautiful. The same wonderful glow of her
eyes, night-black and tender; the softness that comes from
passion, and love, and virtue. The same wistful droop of the
perfect mouth. What a wondrous mass of hair she had! I dropped my
pen. She took my hand. I could sense the thrill of contact; cool
She said no more; I did not answer; I was too taken by surprise
and wonder. I could feel her concern as I would a mother's. What
was her interest in myself? The contact of her hand sent a strange
pulse through my vitals; she was so beautiful. Could it be? Watson
said he loved her. Could I blame him?
"Harry," she asked, "how long is it to continue?"
So that was it. Merely an envoy to accept surrender. I was worn
utterly, weary of the world, lonely. But I hadn't given up. I had
strength still, and will enough to hold out to the end. Perhaps I
was wrong. If I gave her the ring? what then?
"I am afraid," I answered, "that I must go on. I have given my
word. It has been much harder than I expected. This jewel? What
has it to do with the Blind Spot?"
"It controls it."
"Does the Rhamda desire it?"
"Why doesn't he call for it personally? Why doesn't he make a
clean breast of it? It would be much easier. He knows and you know
that I am after Dr. Holcomb and Watson. I might even forego the
secret. Would he release the doctor?"
"No, Harry, he would not."
"I see. If I gave up the ring it would be merely for my personal
safety. I am a coward--"
"Oh," she said, "don't say that. You must give the ring to me--not
to the Rhamda. He must not control the Blind Spot."
"What is the Blind Spot? Tell me."
"Harry," she spoke, "I cannot. It is not for you or any other
mortal. It is a secret that should never have been uncovered. It
might be the end. In the hands of the Rhamda it would certainly be
the end of mankind."
"Who is the Rhamda? Who are you? You are too beautiful to be
merely woman. Are you a spirit?"
She pressed my hand ever so slightly. "Do I feel like a spirit? I
am material as much as you are. We live, see--everything."
"But you are not of this world?"
Her eyes grew sadder; a soft longing.
"Not exactly, Harry, not exactly. It is a long story and a very
strange one. I may not tell you. It is for your own good. I am
your friend"--her eyes were moist--"I--don't you see? Oh, I would
I did not doubt it. Somehow she was like a girl of dreams, pure as
an angel; her wistfulness only deepened her beauty. It came like a
shock at the moment. I could love this woman. She was--what was I
thinking? My guilty mind ran back to Charlotte. I had loved her
since boyhood. I would be a coward--then a wild fear. Perhaps of
"The Rhamda? Is he your husband? You are the same--"
"Oh," she answered, "why do you say it?" Her eyes snapped and she
grew rigid. "The Rhamda! My husband! If you only knew. I hate him!
We are enemies. It was he who opened the Blind Spot. I am here
because he is evil. To watch him. I love your world, I love it
all. I would save it. I love--"
She dropped her head. Whatever she was, she was not above sobbing.
I touched her hair; it was of the softest texture I have ever
seen; the lustre was like all the beauty of night woven into silk.
She loved, loved; I could love--I was on the point of surrender.
"Tell me," I asked, "just one thing more. If I gave you this ring
would you save the doctor and Chick Watson?"
She raised her head; her eyes glistened; but she did not answer.
She shook her head. "I cannot," she answered. "That cannot be. I
can only save you for--for--Charlotte."
Was it vanity in myself? I don't know. It seemed to me that it was
hard for her to say it. Frankly, I loved her. I knew it. I loved
Charlotte. I loved them both. But I held to my purpose.
"Are the professor and Watson living?"
"Are they conscious?"
She nodded. "Harry," she said, "I can tell you that. They are
living and conscious. You have seen them. They have only one
enemy--the Rhamda. But they must never come out of the Blind Spot.
I am their friend and yours."
A sudden courage came upon me. I remembered my word to Watson. I
had loved the old professor. I would save them. If necessary I
would follow to the end. Either myself or Fenton. One of us would
"I shall keep the ring," I said. "I shall avenge them. Somehow,
somewhere, I feel that I shall do it. Even if I must follow--"
She straightened at that. Her eyes were frightened.
"Oh," she said, "why do you say it? It must not be! You would
perish! You shall not do it! I must save you. You must not go
alone. Three--it may not be. If you go, I go with you. Perhaps--
She dropped her head again; her body shook with her sobbing;
plainly she was a girl. No real man is ever himself in the
presence of a woman's tears. I was again on the point of
surrender. Suddenly she looked up.
"Harry," she spoke sadly, "I have just one thing to ask. You must
see Charlotte. You must forget me; we can never--you love
Charlotte. I have seen her; she's a beautiful girl. You haven't
written. She is worried. Remember what you mean to her happiness.
Will you go?"
That I could promise.
"Yes, I shall see Charlotte."
She rose from her chair. I held her hand. Again, as in the
restaurant, I lifted it to my lips. She flushed and drew it away.
She bit her lip. Her beauty was a kind I could not understand.
"You must see Charlotte," she said, "and you must do as she says."
With that she was gone. There was a car waiting; the last I saw
was its winking tail-light dimming into the darkness.
Left alone, I began thinking of Charlotte. I loved her; of that I
was certain. I could not compare her with the Nervina. She was
like myself, human. I had known her since boyhood. The other was
out of the ether; my love for her was something different; she was
of dreams and moonbeams; there was a film about her beauty,
illusion; she was of spirit.
I wrote a note to the detective and left it upon my desk. After
that I packed a suitcase and hurried to the station. If I was
going I would do it at once, I could not trust myself too far.
This visit had been like a breath of air; for the moment I was
away from the isolation. The loneliness and the weariness! How I
dreaded it! I was only free from it for a few moments. On the
train it came back upon me and in a manner that was startling.
I had purchased my ticket. When the conductor came through he
passed me. He gathered tickets all about me; but he did not notice
me. At first I paid no attention; but when he had gone through the
car several times I held up my ticket. He did not stop. It was not
until I had touched him that he gave me a bit of attention.
"Where have you been sitting?" he asked.
I pointed to the seat. He frowned slightly.
"There?" he asked. "Did you say you were sitting in that seat?
Where did you get on?"
"Queer," he answered; he punched the ticket. "Queer. I passed that
seat several times. It was empty!"
Empty! It was almost a shock. Could it be that my isolation was
becoming physical as well as mental? What was this gulf that was
widening between myself and my fellows?
It was the beginning of another phase. I have noticed it many
times; on the street, in public places, everywhere. I thread in
and out among men. Sometimes they see me, sometimes they don't. It
is strange. I feel at times as though I might be vanishing out of
It was late when I reached my old home; but the lights were still
burning. My favourite dog, Queen, was on the veranda. As I came up
the steps she growled slightly, but on recognition went into a
series of circles about the porch. My father opened the door. I
stepped inside. He touched me on the shoulder, his jaw dropped.
"Harry!" he exclaimed.
Was it as bad as that? How much meaning may be placed in a single
intonation! I was weary to the point of exhaustion. The ride upon
the train had been too much.
My mother came in. For some moments I was busy protesting my
health. But it was useless; it wasn't until I had partaken of a
few of the old nostrums that I could placate her.
"Work, work, work, my boy," said my father, "nothing but work. It
really won't do. You're a shadow. You must take a vacation. Go to
the mountains; forget your practice for a short time."
I didn't tell them. Why should I? I decided right then it was my
own battle. It was enough for me without casting the worry upon
others. Yet I could not see Charlotte without calling on my
As soon as possible I crossed the street to the Fentons'. Someone
had seen me in town. Charlotte was waiting. She was the same
beautiful girl I had known so long; the blue eyes, the blonde,
wavy mass of hair, the laughing mouth and the gladness. But she
was not glad now. It was almost a repetition of what had happened
at home, only here a bit more personal. She clung to me almost in
terror. I didn't realise I had gone down so much. I knew my
weariness; but I hadn't thought my appearance so dejected. I
remembered Watson. He had been wan, pale, forlorn. After what
brief explanation I could give, I proposed a stroll in the
It was a full moon; a wonderful night; we walked down the avenue
under the elm trees. Charlotte was beautiful, and worried; she
clung to my arm with the eagerness of possession. I could not but
compare her with Nervina. There was a contrast; Charlotte was
fresh, tender, affectionate, the girl of my boyhood. I had known
her all my life; there was no doubt of our love.
Who was the other? She was something higher, out of mystery, out
of life--almost--out of the moonbeams. I stopped and looked up.
The great full orb was shining. I didn't know that I spoke.
"Harry," asked Charlotte, "who is the Nervina?"
Had I spoken?
"What do you know about the Nervina?" I asked.
"She has been to see me. She told me. She said you would be here
tonight. I was waiting. She is very beautiful. I never saw anyone
like her. She is wonderful!"
"What did she say?"
"She! Oh, Harry. Tell me. I have waited. Something has happened.
Tell me. You have told me nothing. You are not like the old
"Tell me about the Nervina. What did she say? Charlotte, tell me
everything. Am I so much different from the old Harry?"
She clutched at my arm fearfully; she looked into my eyes.
"Oh," she said, "how can you say it? You haven't laughed once. You
are melancholy; you are pale, drawn, haggard. You keep muttering.
You are not the old Harry. Is it this Nervina? At first I thought
she loved you; but she does not. She wanted to know all about you,
and about our love. She was so interested. What is this danger?"
I didn't answer.
"You must tell me. This ring? She said that you must give it to
me. What is it?" she insisted.
"Did she ask that? She told you to take the ring? My dear," I
asked, "if it were the ring and it were so sinister would I be a
man to give it to my loved one?"
"It would not hurt me."
But I would not. Something warned me. It was a ruse to get it out
of my possession. The whole thing was haunting, weird, ghostly.
Always I could hear Watson. I still had a small quota of courage
and will-power. I clung steadfastly to my purpose.
It was a sad three hours. Poor Charlotte! I shall never forget it.
It is the hardest task on earth to deny one's loved one.
She had grown into my heart and into its possession. She clung to
me tenderly, tearfully. I could not tell her. Her feminine
instinct sensed disaster. In spite of her tears I insisted. When I
kissed her goodnight she did not speak. But she looked up at me
through her tears. It was the hardest thing of all for me to bear.
When I returned to the city next morning I took my dog. It was a
strange whim; but one which was to lead to a remarkable
development. I have always been a lover of dogs. I was lonely.
There is a bond between a dog and his master. It goes beyond
definition; it roots down into nature. I was to learn much.
She was an Australian shepherd. She was of a tawny black and bob-
tailed from birth.
What is the power that lies behind instinct? How far does it go? I
had a notion that the dog would be outside the sinister clutch
that was dragging me under.
Happily Jerome was fond of dogs. He was reading. When I entered
with Queen tugging at the chain he looked up. The dog recognised
the heart of the man; when he stooped to pet her she moved her
stub tail in an effusion of affectionate acceptance. Jerome had
been reading Le Bon's theory on the evolution of force. His
researches after the mystery had led him into the depths of
speculation; he had become quite a scholar. After our first
greeting I unhooked the chain and let Queen have the freedom of
the house. I related what had happened. The detective closed the
book and sat down. The dog waited a bit for further petting; but
missing that she began sniffing about the room. There was nothing
strange about it of course. I myself paid not the slightest
attention. But the detective was watching. While I was telling my
story he was following every movement of the shepherd. Suddenly he
held up one finger. I turned.
It was Queen. A low growl, guttural and suspicious. She was
standing about a foot from the portieres that separated the
library from the other room--where we had lost Watson, and where
Jerome had had his experience with the old lady. Tense and rigid,
one forepaw held up stealthily, her stub tail erect and the hair
along her back bristled. Again the low growl. I caught Jerome's
eyes. It was queer.
"What is it, Queen?" I spoke.
At the sound of my voice she wagged her tail and looked round,
then stepped between the curtains. Just her head. She drew back;
her lips drawn from her teeth, snarling. She was rigid, alert,
vitalised. Somehow it made me cold. She was a brave dog; she
feared nothing. The detective stepped forward and pulled the
curtains apart. The room was empty. We looked into each other's
faces. What is there to instinct? What is its range? We could see
But not to the dog. Her eyes glowed. Hate, fear, terror, her whole
"I wonder," I said. I stepped into the room. But I hadn't counted
on the dog. With a yelp she was upon me, had me by the calf of the
leg and was drawing me back. She stepped in front of me; a low,
guttural growl of warning. But there was nothing in that room; of
that we were certain.
"Beats me," said the detective. "How does she know? Wonder if she
would stop me?" He stepped forward. It was merely a repetition.
She caught him by the trouser-leg and drew him back. She crowded
us away from the curtain. It was almost magnetic. We could see
nothing, neither could we feel; was it possible that the dog could
see beyond us? The detective spoke first:
"Take her out of the room. Put her in the hall; tie her up."
"What's the idea?"
"Merely this; I am going to examine the room. No, I am not afraid.
I'll be mighty glad if it does catch me. Anything so long as I get
But it did us no good. We examined the room many times that night;
both of us. In the end there was nothing, only the weirdness and
uncertainty and the magnetic undercurrent which we could feel, but
could not fathom. When we called in the dog she stepped to the
portieres and commenced her vigil. She crouched slightly behind
the curtains, alert, ready, waiting, at her post of honour. From
that moment she never left the spot except under compulsion. We
could hear her at all times of the night; the low growl, the
snarl, the defiance.
But there was a great deal more that we were to learn from the
dog. It was Jerome who first called my attention. A small fact at
the beginning; but of a strange sequence. This time it was the
ring. Queen had the habit that is common to most dogs; she would
lick my hand to show her affection. It was nothing in itself; but
for one fact--she always chose the left hand. It was the detective
who first noticed it. Always and every opportunity she would lick
the jewel. We made a little test to try her. I would remove the
ring from one hand to the other; then hold it behind me. She would
It was a strange fact; but of course not inexplicable. A scent or
the attraction of taste might account for it. However, these
little tests led to a rather remarkable discovery.
One night we had called the dog from her vigil. As usual she came
to the jewel; by chance I pressed the gem against her head. It was
a mere trifle; yet it was of consequence. A few minutes before I
had dropped a handkerchief on the opposite side of the room; I was
just thinking about picking it up. It was only a small thing, yet
it put us on the track of the gem's strangest potency. The dog
walked to the handkerchief. She brought it back in her mouth. At
first I took it for a pure coincidence. I repeated the experiment
with a book. The same result. I looked up at Jerome.
"What's the matter?" Then when I explained: "The dickens! Try it
Over and over again we repeated it, using different articles,
pieces of which I was certain she didn't know the name. There was
a strange bond between the gem and the intelligence, some strange
force emanating from its lustre. On myself it was depressing; on
the dog it was life itself. At last Jerome had an inspiration.
"Try the Rhamda," he said; "think of him. Perhaps--"
It was most surprising. Certainly it was remarkable. It was too
much like intelligence; a bit too uncanny. At the instant of the
thought the dog leaped backward.
Such a strange transformation; she was naturally gentle. In one
instant she had gone mad. Mad? Not in the literal interpretation;
but figuratively. She sprang back, snapping; her teeth bared, her
hair bristled. Her nostrils drawn. With one bound she leaped
between the curtains.
Jerome jumped up. With an exclamation he drew the portieres. I was
behind him. The dog was standing at the edge of the room,
The room was empty. What did she see? What?
One thing was certain. Though we were sure of nothing else we were
certain of the Rhamda. We could trust the canine's instinct. Every
previous experiment we had essayed had been crowned with success.
We had here a fact but no explanation. If we could only put things
together and extract the law.
It was late when we retired. I could not sleep. The restlessness
of the dog held back my slumber. She would growl sullenly, then
stir about for a new position; she was never quite still. I could
picture her there in the library, behind the curtains, crouched,
half resting, half slumbering, always watching. I would awaken in
the night and listen; a low guttural warning, a sullen whine--then
stillness. It was the same with my companion. We could never quite
understand it. Perhaps we were a bit afraid.
But one can become accustomed to almost anything. It went on for
many nights without anything happening, until one night.
It was dark, exceedingly dark, with neither moon nor starlight;
one of those nights of inky intenseness. I cannot say just exactly
what woke me. The house was strangely silent and still; the air
seemed stretched and laden. It was summer. Perhaps it was the
heat. I only knew that I woke suddenly and blinked in the
In the next room with the door open I could hear the heavy
breathing of the detective. A heavy feeling lay against my heart.
I had grown accustomed to dread and isolation; but this was
different. Perhaps it was premonition. I do not know. And yet I
was terribly sleepy; I remember that.
I struck a match and looked at my watch on the bureau--twelve
thirty-five. No sound--not even Queen--not even a rumble from the
streets. I lay back and dropped into slumber. Just as I drifted
off to sleep I had a blurring fancy of sound, guttural, whining,
fearful--then suddenly drifting into incoherent rumbling
phantasms--a dream. I awoke suddenly. Someone was speaking. It was
I was frightened. It was like something clutching out of the
darkness. I sat up. I didn't answer. It wasn't necessary. The
incoherence of my dream had been external. The library was just
below me. I could hear the dog pacing to and fro, and her
snarling. Snarling? It was just that. It was something to arouse
She had never growled like that--I was positive, I could hear her
suddenly leap back from the curtains. She barked. Never before had
she come to that. Then a sudden lunge into the other room--a
vicious series of snapping barks, yelps--pandemonium--I could
picture her leaping--at what? Then suddenly I leaped out of bed.
The barks grew faint, faint, fainter--into the distance.
In the darkness I couldn't find the switch. I bumped into Jerome.
We were lost in our confusion. It was a moment before we could
find either a match or a switch to turn on the lights. But at
last--I shall not forget that moment; nor Jerome. He was rigid;
one arm held aloft, his eyes bulged out. The whole house was full
of sound--full-toned--vibrant--magnetic. It was the bell.
I jumped for the stairway, but not so quick as Jerome. With three
bounds we were in the library with the lights on. The sound was
running down to silence. We tore down the curtains and rushed into
the room. It was empty!
There was not even the dog. Queen had gone! In a vain rush of
grief I began calling and whistling. It was an overwhelming
moment. The poor, brave shepherd. She had seen it and rushed into
It was the last night I was to have Jerome. We sat up until
daylight. For the thousandth time we went over the house in
detail, but there was nothing. Only the ring. At the suggestion of
the detective I touched the match to the sapphire. It was the
same. The colour diminishing, and the translucent corridors
deepening into the distance; then the blur and the coming of
shadows--the men, Watson and the professor--and my dog.
Of the men, only the heads showed; but the dog was full figure;
she was sitting, apparently on a pedestal, her tongue was lolling
out of her mouth and her face of that gentle intelligence which
only the Australian shepherd is heir to. That is all--no more--
nothing. If we had hoped to discover anything through her medium
we were disappointed. Instead of clearing up, the whole thing had
I have said that it was the last night I was to have Jerome. I
didn't know it then. Jerome went out early in the morning. I went
to bed. I was not afraid in the daylight. I was certain now that
the danger was localised. As long as I kept out of that apartment
I had nothing to fear. Nevertheless, the thing was magnetic. A
subtle weirdness pervaded the building. I did not sleep soundly. I
was lonely; the isolation was crowding on me. In the afternoon I
stepped out on the streets.
I have spoken of my experience with the conductor. On this day I
had the certainty of my isolation; it was startling. In the face
of what I was and what I had seen it was almost terrifying. It was
the first time I thought of sending for Hobart. I had thought I
could hold out. The complete suddenness of the thing set me to
thinking. I thought of Watson. It was the last phase, the
feebleness, the wanness, the inertia! He had been a far stronger
man than I in the beginning.
I must cable Fenton. While I had still an ego in the presence of
men, I must reach out for help. It was a strange thing and
inexplicable. I was not invisible. Don't think that. I simply did
not individualise. Men didn't notice me--till I spoke. As if I was
imperceptibly losing the essence of self. I still had some hold on
the world. While it remained I must get word to Hobart. I did not
delay. Straight to the office I went and paid for the cable.
CANNOT HOLD OUT MUCH LONGER. COME AT ONCE.--HARRY.
I was a bit ashamed. I had hoped. I had counted upon myself. I had
trusted in the full strength of my individuality. I had been
healthy--strong--full blooded. On the fullness of vitality one
would live forever. There is no tomorrow. It was not a year ago. I
was eighty. It had been so with Watson. What was this subtle thing
that ate into one's marrow? I had read of banshees, lemures and
leprechauns; they were the ghosts and the fairies of ignorance but
they were not like this. It was impersonal, hidden, inexorable. It
was mystery. And I believed that it was Nature.
I know it now. Even as I write I can sense the potency of the
force about me. Some law, some principle, some force that science
has not uncovered.
What is that law that shall bridge the chaos between the mystic
and the substantial? I am standing on the bridge; and I cannot see
it. What is the great law that was discovered by Dr. Holcomb? Who
is the Rhamda? Who is the Nervina?
Jerome has not returned. I cannot understand it. It has been a
week. I am living on brandy--not much of anything else--I am
waiting for Fenton. I have taken all my elaborations and notes and
put them together. Perhaps I--
(This is the last of the strange document left by Harry Wendel.
The following memorandum is written by Charlotte Fenton.)
I do not know. It is hard to write after what has happened.
Hobart says that it is why I am to write it. It is to be a plain
narrative. Besides, he is very busy and cannot do it himself.
There must be some record. I shall do my best and hold out of my
writing as much as I can of my emotion. I shall start with the
It was the first I knew; the first warning. Looking back I cannot
but wonder. No person I think who has ever seen the Nervina can do
much else; she is so beautiful! Beautiful? Why do I say it? I
should be jealous and I should hate her. Yet I do not. Why is it?
It was about eight months after Hobart had left for South America.
I remember those eight months as the longest in my life; because
of Harry. I am a girl and I like attention; all girls do.
Ordinarily he would come over every fortnight at least. After
Hobart had gone he came once only, and of course I resented the
It seemed to me that no business could be of enough importance if
he really loved me. Even his letters were few and far between.
What he wrote were slow and weary and of an undertone that I could
not fathom. I--loved Harry. I could not understand it. I had a
thousand fearful thoughts and jealousies; but they were feminine
and in no way approximated even the beginning of the truth.
Inattention was not like Harry. It was not until the coming of the
Nervina that I was afraid.
Afraid? I will not say that--exactly. It was rather a suspicion, a
queer undercurrent of wonder and doubt. The beauty of the girl,
her interest in Harry and myself, her concern over this ring, put
me a bit on guard. I wondered what this ring had to do with Harry
She did not tell me in exact words or in literal explanation; but
she managed to convey all too well a lurking impression of its
sinister potency. It was something baleful, something the very
essence of which would break down the life of one who wore it.
Harry had come into its possession by accident and she would save
him. She had failed through direct appeal. Now she had come to me.
She did not say a word of the Blind Spot.
And the next day came Harry. It was really a shock, though I had
been warned by the girl. He was not Harry at all, but another. His
eyes were dim and they had lost their lustre; when they did show
light at all, it was a kind that was a bit fearful. He was wan,
worn, and shrunk to a shadow, as if he had gone through a long
He said he had not been sick. He maintained that he was quite well
physically. And on his finger was the ring of which the girl had
spoken. Its value must have been incalculable. Wherever he moved
his hand its blue flame cut a path through the darkness. But he
said nothing about it. I waited and wondered and was afraid. It
was not until our walk under the elm trees that it was mentioned.
It was a full moon; a wonderful, mellow moon of summer. He stopped
suddenly and gazed up at the orb above us. It seemed to me that
his mind was wandering, he held me closely--tenderly. He was not
at all like Harry. There was a missing of self, of individuality;
he spoke in abstractions.
"The maiden of the moonbeams?" he said. "What can it mean?"
And then I asked him. He has already told of our conversation. It
was the ring of which the Nervina had told me. It had to do with
the Blind Spot--the great secret that had taken Dr. Holcomb. He
would not give it to me. I worked hard, for even then I was not
afraid of it. Something told me--I must do it to save him. It was
weird, and something I could not understand--but I must do it for
I failed. Though he was broken in every visible way there was one
thing as strong as ever--his honour. He was not afraid; he had
been the same in his boyhood. When we parted that night he kissed
me. I shall never forget how long he looked into my eyes, nor his
sadness. That is all. The next morning he left for San Francisco.
And then came the end. A message; abrupt and sudden. It was some
time after and put a period to my increasing stress and worry. It
CITY OF PERU DOCKS TONIGHT AT EIGHT. MEET ME AT THE PIER. HOBART
It was a short message and a bit twisted. In ordinary
circumstances he would have motored down and brought me back to
greet Hobart. It was a bit strange that I should meet him at the
pier. However, I had barely time to get to the city if I hurried.
I shall never forget that night.
It was dark when I reached San Francisco. I was a full twenty
minutes early at the pier. A few people were waiting. I looked
about for Harry. He was to meet me and I was certain that I would
find him. But he was not there. Of course there was still time. He
was sure to be on hand to greet Hobart.
Nevertheless, I had a vague mistrust. Since that strange visit I
had not been sure. Harry wasn't well. There was something to this
mystery that he had not told me. Why had he asked me to meet him
at the pier? Why didn't he come? When the boat docked and he was
still missing I was doubly worried.
Hobart came down the gangplank. He was great, strong, healthy, and
it seemed to me in a terrible hurry. He scanned the faces
hurriedly and ran over to me.
"Where's Harry?" He kissed me and in the same breath repeated,
"Oh, Hobart!" I exclaimed. "What's the matter with Harry? Tell me.
It's something terrible!"
He was afraid. Plainly I could see that! There were lines of
anxiety about his eyes. He clutched me by the arm and drew me
"He was to meet me here," I said. "He didn't come. He was to meet
me here! Oh, Hobart, I saw him some time ago. He was--it was not
Harry at all! Do you know anything about it?"
For a minute he stood still, looking at me. I had never seen
Hobart frightened; but at that moment there was that in his eyes
which I could not understand. He caught me by the arm and started
out almost at a run. There were many people and we dodged in and
out among them. Hobart carried a suitcase. He hailed a taxi.
I don't know how I got into the car. It was a blur. I was
frightened. Some terrible thing had occurred, and Hobart knew it.
I remember a few words spoken to the driver. "Speed, speed, no
limit; never mind the law--and Chatterton Place!" After that the
convulsive jerking over the cobbled streets, a climbing over hills
and twisted corners. And Hobart at my side. "Faster--faster," he
was saying; "faster! My lord, was there ever a car so slow! Harry!
Harry!" I could hear him breathing a prayer. Another hill; the car
turned and came suddenly to a stop! Hobart leaped out.
A sombre two-storey house; a light burning in one of the windows,
a dim light, almost subdued and uncanny. I had never seen anything
so lonely as that light; it was grey, uncertain, scarcely a
flicker. Perhaps it was my nerves. I had scarcely strength to
climb the steps. Hobart grasped the knob and thrust open the door;
I can never forget it.
It is hard to write. The whole thing! The room; the walls lined
with books; the dim, pale light, the faded green carpet, and the
man. Pale, worn, almost a shadow of his former self. Was it Harry
Wendel? He had aged forty years. He was stooped, withered,
exhausted. A bottle of brandy on the desk before him. In his weak,
thin hand an empty wineglass. The gem upon his finger glowed with
a flame that was almost wicked; it was blue, burning, giving out
sparkles of light--like a colour out of hell. The path of its
light was unholy--it was too much alive.
We both sprang forward. Hobart seized him by the shoulders.
"Harry, old boy; Harry! Don't you know us? It's Hobart and
It was terrible. He didn't seem to know. He looked right at us.
But he spoke in abstractions.
"Two," he said. And he listened. "Two! Don't you hear it?" He
caught Hobart by the arm. "Now, listen. Two! No, it's three. Did I
say three? Can't you hear? It's the old lady. She speaks out of
the shadows. There! There! Now, listen. She has been counting to
me. Always she says three! Soon it will be four."
What did he mean? What was it about? Who was the old lady? I
looked round. I saw no one. Hobart stooped over. Harry began
slowly to recognise us. It was as if his mind had wandered and was
coming back from a far place. He spoke slowly; his words were
incoherent and rambling.
"Hobart," he said; "you know her. She is the maiden out of the
moonbeams. The Rhamda, he is our enemy. Hobart, Charlotte. I know
so much. I cannot tell you. You are two hours late. It's a strange
thing. I have found it and I think I know. It came suddenly. The
discovery of the great professor. Why didn't you come two hours
earlier? We might have conquered."
He dropped his head upon his arms; then as suddenly he looked up.
He drew the ring from his finger.
"Give it to Charlotte," he said. "It won't hurt her. Don't touch
it yourself. Had I only known. Watson didn't know--"
He straightened; he was tense, rigid, listening.
"Do you hear anything? Listen! Can you hear? It's the old lady.
But there was not a sound; only the rumble of the streets, the
ticking of the clock, and our heart-beats. Again he went through
"And Charlotte! The ring--ah, yet it was there, Keep it. Give it
to no one. Two hours ago we might have conquered. But I had to
keep the ring. It was too much, too powerful; a man may not wear
it. Charlotte"--he took my hand and ran the ring upon my finger.
"Poor Charlotte. Here is the ring. The most wonderful--"
Again he dropped over. He was weak--there was something going from
him minute by minute.
"Water," he asked. "Hobart, some water."
It was too pitiful. Harry, our Harry--come to a strait like this!
Hobart rushed to another room with the tumbler. I could hear him
fumbling. I stooped over Harry. But he held up his hand.
"No, Charlotte, no. You must not. If--"
He stopped. Again the strange attention, as if he was listening to
something far off in the distance; the pupils of his hollow, worn,
lustreless eyes were pin-points. He stood on his feet rigid,
quivering; then he held up his hand. "Listen!"
But there was nothing. It was just as before; merely the murmuring
of the city night, and the clock ticking.
"It's the dog! D'you hear her? And the old lady. Now listen, 'Two!
Now there are two! Three! Three! Now there are three!' There--
now." He turned to me. "Can you hear it, Charlotte? No? How
strange. Perhaps--" He pointed to the corner of the room. "That
paper. Will you--"
I shall always go over that moment. I have thought over it many
times and have wondered at the sequence. Had I not stepped across
the library, what would have happened?
What was it.
I had stooped to pick up the piece of paper. There came a queer,
cracking, snapping sound, almost audible, I have a strange
recollection of Harry standing up by the side of the desk--a
flitting vision. An intuition of some terrible force. It was out
of nothing--nowhere--approaching. I turned about. And I saw it--
the dot of blue.
Blue! That is what it was at first. Blue and burning, like the
flame of a million jewels centred into a needlepoint. On the
ceiling directly above Harry's head. It was scintillating,
coruscating, opalescent; but it was blue most of all. It was the
colour of life and of death; it was burning, throbbing,
concentrated. I tried to scream. But I was frozen with horror. The
dot changed colour and went to a dead-blue. It seemed to grow
larger and to open. Then it turned to white and dropped like a
string of incandescence, touching Harry on the head.
What was it? It was all so sudden. A door flung open and a swish
of rushing silk. A woman! A beautiful girl! The Nervina! It was
Never have I seen anyone like her. She was so beautiful. In her
face all the compassion a woman is heir to. For scarcely a second
"Charlotte," she called. "Charlotte--oh, why didn't you save him!
He loves you!" Then she turned to Harry. "It shall not be. He
shall not go alone. I shall save him, even beyond--"
With that she rushed upon Harry. It was all done in an instant.
Her arms were outstretched to the dimming form of Harry and the
incandescence. The splendid impassioned girl. Their forms
intermingled. A blur of her beautiful body and Harry's wan, weary
face. A flash of light, a thread of incandescence, a quiver--and
they were gone.
The next I knew was the strong arms of my brother Hobart. He gave
me the water he had fetched for Harry. He was terribly upset, but
very calm. He held the glass up to my lips. He was speaking.
"Don't worry. Don't worry. I know now. I think I know. I was just
in time to see them go. I heard the bell. Harry is safe. It is the
Nervina. I shall get Harry. We'll solve the Blind Spot."
HOBART FENTON TAKES UP THE TALE
Right here at the outset, I had better make a clean breast of
something which the reader will very soon suspect, anyhow: I am a
plain, unpoetic, blunt-speaking man, trained as a civil engineer,
and in most respects totally dissimilar from the man who wrote the
first account of the Blind Spot.
Harry had already touched upon this. He came of an artistic
family. I think he must have taken up law in the hope that the old
saying would prove true: "The only certain thing about law is its
uncertainty." For he dearly loved the mysterious, the unknowable;
he liked uncertainty for its excitement: and it is a mighty good
thing that he was honest, for he would have made a highly
Observe that I use the past tense in referring to my old friend. I
do this in the interests of strict, scientific accuracy, to
satisfy those who would contend that, having utterly vanished from
sight and sound of man, Harry Wendel is no more.
But in my own heart is the firm conviction that he is still very
Within an hour of his astounding disappearance, my sister,
Charlotte, and I made our way to an hotel; and despite the
terrible nature of what had happened, we managed to get a few
hours rest. The following morning Charlotte declared herself quite
strong enough to discuss the situation. We lost no time.
It will be remembered that I had spent nearly the whole of the
preceding year in South America, putting through an irrigation
scheme. Thus, I knew little of what had occurred in that interval.
On the other hand, Harry and I had never seen fit to take
Charlotte into our confidence as, I now see, we should have done.
So we fairly pounced upon the manuscript which Harry had left
behind. And by the time we had finished reading it, I for one, had
reached one solid conclusion.
"I'm convinced," I said, "that the stranger--Rhamda Avec--is an
out-and-out villain. Despite his agreeable ways, I think he was
solely and deliberately to blame for Professor Holcomb's
disappearance. Consequently, this Rhamda is, in himself, a very
valuable clue as to Harry's present predicament."
Referring to Harry's notes, I pointed out the fact that, although
Avec had often been seen on the streets of San Francisco, yet the
police had never been able to lay hands on him. This seemed to
indicate that the man might possess the power of actually making
himself visible or invisible, at will.
"Only"--I was careful to add--"understand, I don't rank him as a
magician, or sorcerer; nothing like that. I'd rather think that
he's merely in possession of a scientific secret, no more
wonderful in itself than, say, wireless. He's merely got hold of
it in advance of the others; that's all."
"Then you think that the woman, too, is human?"
"The Nervina?" I hesitated. "Perhaps you know more of this part of
the thing than I do."
"I only know"--slowly--"that she came and told me that Harry was
soon to call. And somehow, I never felt jealous of her, Hobart."
Then she added: "At the same time, I can understand that Harry
might--might have fallen in love with her. She--she was very
Charlotte is a brave girl. She kept her voice as steady as my own.
We next discussed the disappearance of Chick Watson. These details
are already familiar to the reader of Harry's story; likewise what
happened to Queen, his Australian shepherd. Like the other
vanishings, it was followed by a single stroke on that prodigious,
invisible bell--what Harry calls "The Bell of the Blind Spot." And
he has already mentioned my opinion, that this phenomenon
signifies the closing of the portal of the unknown--the end of the
special conditions which produce the bluish spot on the ceiling,
the incandescent streak of light, and the vanishing of whoever
falls into the affected region. The mere fact that no trace of the
bell ever was found has not shaken my opinion.
And thus we reached the final disappearance, that which took away
Harry. Charlotte contrived to keep her voice as resolute as
before, as she said:
"He and the Nervina vanished together. I turned round just as she
rushed in, crying out, 'I can't let you go alone! I'll save you,
even beyond.' That's all she said, before--it happened."
"You saw nothing of the Rhamda then?"
And we had neither seen nor heard of him since. Until we got in
touch with him, one important clue as to Harry's fate was out of
our reach. There remained to us just one thread of hope--the ring,
which Charlotte was now wearing on her finger.
I lit a match and held it to the face of the gem. As happened many
times before, the stone exhibited its most astounding quality. As
soon as faintly heated, the surface at first clouded, then cleared
in a curious fashion, revealing a startling distinct, miniature
likeness of the four who had vanished into the Blind Spot.
I make no attempt to explain this. Somehow or other, that stone
possesses a telescopic quality which brings to a focus, right in
front of the beholder's eyes, a tiny "close-up" of our vanished
friends. Also, the gem magnifies what it reveals, so that there is
not the slightest doubt that Dr. Holcomb, Chick Watson, Queen and
Harry Wendel are actually reproduced--I shall not say, contained--
in that gem. Neither shall I say that they are reflected; they are
simply reproduced there.
Also, it should be understood that their images are living. Only
the heads and shoulders of the men are to be seen; but there is
animation of the features, such as cannot be mistaken. Granted
that these four vanished in the Blind Spot--whatever that is--and
granted that this ring is some inexplicable window or vestibule
between that locality and this commonplace world of ours, then,
manifestly, it would seem that all four are still alive.
"I am sure of it!" declared Charlotte, managing to smile,
wistfully, at the living reproduction of her sweetheart. "And I
think Harry did perfectly right, in handing it to me to keep."
"Well, if for no other reason than because it behaves so
differently with me, than it did with him.
"Hobart, I am inclined to think that this fact is very
significant. If Chick had only known of it, he wouldn't have
insisted that Harry should wear it; and then--"
"Can't be helped," I interrupted quickly. "Chick didn't know; he
was only certain that someone--SOMEONE--must wear the ring; that
it mustn't pass out of the possession of humans. Moreover, much as
Rhamda Avec may desire it--and the Nervina, too--neither can
secure it through the use of force. Nobody knows why."
Charlotte shivered. "I'm afraid there's something spooky about it,
"Nothing of the sort," with a conviction that has never left me.
"This ring is a perfectly sound fact, as indisputable as the
submarine. There's nothing supernatural about it; for that matter,
I personally doubt if there's ANYTHING supernatural. Every
phenomenon which seems, at first, so wonderful, becomes
commonplace enough as soon as explained. Isn't it true that you
yourself are already getting used to that ring?"
"Ye--es," reluctantly. "That is, partly. If only it were someone
other than Harry!"
"Of course," I hurried to say, "I only wanted to make it clear
that we haven't any witchcraft to deal with. This whole mystery
will become plain as day, and that damned soon!"
"You've got a theory?"--hopefully.
"Several; that's the trouble!" I had to admit. "I don't know which
is best to follow out.--It may be a spiritualistic thing after
all. Or it may fall under the head of 'abnormal psychology'.
Nothing but hallucinations, in other words."
"Oh, that won't do!"--evidently distressed. "I know what I saw!
I'd doubt my reason if I thought I'd only fancied it!"
"So would I. Well, laying aside the spiritualistic theory, there
remains the possibility of some hitherto undiscovered scientific
secret. And if the Rhamda is in possession of it, then the matter
simmers down to a plain case of villainy."
"But how does he do it?"
"That's the whole question. However, I'm sure of this"--I was
fingering the ring as I spoke. The reproduction of our friends had
faded, now, leaving that dully glowing pale blue light once more.
"This ring is absolutely real; it's no hallucination. It performs
as well in broad daylight as in the night; no special conditions
needed. It's neither a fraud nor an illusion.
"In short, this ring is merely a phenomenon which science has not
YET explained! That it can and will be explained is strictly up to
us! Once we understand its peculiar properties, we can mighty soon
And it was just then that a most extraordinary thing occurred. It
happened so very unexpectedly, so utterly without warning, that it
makes me shaky to this day whenever I recall it.
From the gem on Charlotte's finger--or rather, from the air
surrounding the ring--came an unmistakable sound. We saw nothing
whatever; we only heard. And it was clear, as loud and as
startling as though it had occurred right in the room where we
were discussing the situation.
It was the sharp, joyous bark of a dog.
THE HOUSE OF MIRACLES
Looking back over what has just been written, I am sensible of a
profound gratitude. I am grateful, both because I have been given
the privilege of relating these events, and because I shall not
have to leave this wilderness of facts for someone else to
Really, if I did not know that I shall have the pleasure of
piecing together these phenomena and of setting my finger upon the
comparatively simple explanation; if I had to go away and leave
this account unfinished, a mere collection of curiosity-provoking
mysteries, I should not speak at all. I should leave the whole
affair for another to finish, as it ought to be finished.
All of which, it will soon appear, I am setting forth largely in
order to brace and strengthen myself against what I must now
Before resuming, however, I should mention one detail which Harry
was too modest to mention. He was--or is--unusually good-looking.
I don't mean to claim that he possessed any Greek-god beauty; such
wouldn't gibe with a height of five foot seven. No; his good looks
were due to the simple outward expression, through his features,
of a certain noble inward quality which would have made the
homeliest face attractive. Selfishness will spoil the handsomest
features; unselfishness will glorify.
Moreover, simply because he had given his word to Chick Watson
that he would wear the ring, Harry took upon himself the most
dangerous task that any man could assume, and he had lost. But had
he known in advance exactly what was going to happen to him, he
would have stuck to his word, anyhow. And since there was a
sporting risk attached to it, since the thing was not perfectly
sure to end tragically, he probably enjoyed the greater part of
But I'm not like that. Frankly, I'm an opportunist; essentially, a
practical sort of fellow. I have a great admiration for idealists,
but a much greater admiration for results. For instance, I have
seldom given my word, even though the matter is unimportant; for I
will cheerfully break my word if, later on, it should develop that
the keeping of my word would do more harm than good.
I realise perfectly well that it is dangerous ground to tread
upon; yet I must refer the reader to what I have accomplished in
this world, as proof that my philosophy is not as bad as it looks.
I beg nobody's pardon for talking about myself so much at the
outset. This account will be utterly incomprehensible if I am not
understood. My method of solving the Blind Spot mystery is, when
analysed, merely the expression of my personality. My sole idea
has been to get RESULTS.
As Harry has put it, a proposition must be reduced to concrete
form before I will have anything to do with it. If the Blind Spot
had been a totally occult affair, demanding that the investigation
be conducted under cover of darkness, surrounded by black velvet,
crystal spheres and incense; demanding the aid of a clairvoyant or
other "medium," I should never have gone near it. But as soon as
the mystery began to manifest itself in terms that I could
understand, appreciate and measure, then I took interest.
That is why old Professor Holcomb appealed to me; he had proposed
that we prove the occult by physical means. "Reduce it to the
scope of our five senses," he had said, in effect. From that
moment on I was his disciple.
I have told of hearing that sharp, welcoming bark, emitted either
from the gem or from the air surrounding it. This event took place
on the front porch of the house at 288 Chatterton Place, as
Charlotte and I sat there talking it over. We had taken a suite at
the hotel, but had come to the house of the Blind Spot in order to
decide upon a course of action. And, in a way, that mysterious
barking decided it for us.
We returned to the hotel, and gave notice that we would leave the
next day. Next, we began to make preparations for moving into the
Chatterton Place dwelling.
That afternoon, while in the midst of giving orders for
furnishings and the like, there at the hotel, I was called to the
telephone. It was from a point outside the building.
"Mr. Fenton?"--in a man's voice. And when I had assured him; "You
have no reason to recognise my voice. I am--Rhamda Avec."
"The Rhamda! What do you want?"
"To speak with your sister, Mr. Fenton." Odd how very agreeable
the man's tones! "Will you kindly call her to the telephone?"
I saw no objection. However, when Charlotte came to my side I
whispered for her to keep the man waiting while I darted out into
the corridor and slipped downstairs, where the girl at the
switchboard put an instrument into the circuit for me. Money
"My dear child," the voice of Avec was saying, "you do me an
injustice. I have nothing but your welfare at heart. I assure you
that if anything should happen to you and your brother while at
Chatterton Place, it will be through no fault of mine.
"At the same time I can positively assure you that, if you stay
away from there, no harm will come to either of you; absolutely
none! I can guarantee that. Don't ask me why; but, if you value
your safety, stay where you are, or go elsewhere, anywhere other
than to the house in Chatterton Place."
"I can hardly agree with you, Mr. Avec." Plainly Charlotte was
deeply impressed with the man's sincerity and earnestness. "My
brother's judgment is so much better than mine, that I--" and she
"I only wish," with his remarkable gracefulness, "that your
intuition were as strong as your loyalty to your brother. If it
were, you would know that I speak the truth when I say that I have
only your welfare at heart."
"I--I am sorry, Mr. Avec."
"Fortunately, there is one alternative," even more agreeable than
before. "If you prefer not to take my advice, but cling to your
brother's decision, you can still avoid the consequences of his
determination to live in that house. As I say, I cannot prevent
harm from befalling you, under present conditions; but these
conditions can be completely altered if you will make a single
concession, Miss Fenton."
"What is it?" eagerly.
"That you give me the ring!"
He paused for a very tense second. I wished I could see his
peculiar, young-old face--the face with the inscrutable eyes; the
face that urged, rather than inspired, both curiosity and
Then he added:
"I know why you wear it; I realise that the trinket carries some
very tender associations. And I would never ask such a concession
did I not know, were your beloved here at this moment, he would
endorse every word that I say, and--"
"Harry!" cried Charlotte, her voice shaking. "He would tell me to
give it to you?"
"I am sure of it! It is as though he, through me, were urging you
to do this!"
For some moments there was silence. Charlotte must have been
tremendously impressed. It certainly was amazing the degree of
confidence that Avec's voice induced. I wouldn't have been greatly
surprised had my sister--
"Mr. Avec," came Charlotte's voice, hesitatingly, almost
sorrowfully. "I--I would like to believe you; but--but Harry
himself gave me the ring, and I feel--oh, I'm sure that my brother
would never agree to it!"
"I understand." Somehow the fellow managed to conceal any
disappointment he may have felt. He contrived to show only a deep
sympathy for Charlotte as he finished: "If I find it possible to
protect you, I shall, Miss Fenton."
After it was all over, and I returned to the rooms, Charlotte and
I concluded that it might have been better had we made some sort
of compromise. If we had made a partial concession, he might have
told us something of the mystery. We ought to have bargained. We
decided that if he made any attempt to carry out what I felt sure
were merely a thinly veiled threat to punish us for keeping the
gem, we must not only be ready for whatever he might do, but try
to trap and keep him as well.
That same day found us back at Chatterton Place. Inside, there was
altogether too much evidence that the place had been bachelors'
The first step was to clean up. We hired lots of help, and made a
quick thorough job of both floors. The basement we left untouched.
And the next day we put a force of painters and decorators to
work; whereby hangs the tale.
"Mr. Fenton," called the head painter, as he varnished the "trim"
in the parlour, "I wish you'd come and see what to make of this."
I stepped into the front room. He was pointing to the long piece
of finish which spanned the doorway leading into the dining-room.
And he indicated a spot almost in the exact middle, a spot
covering a space about five inches broad and as high as the width
of the wood. In outline it was roughly octagonal.
"I've been trying my best," stated Johnson, "to varnish that spot
for the past five minutes. But I'll be darned if I can do it!"
And he showed what he meant. Every other part of the door
glistened with freshly applied varnish; but the octagonal region
remained dull, as though no liquid had ever touched it. Johnson
dipped his brush into the can, and applied a liberal smear of the
fluid to the place. Instantly the stuff disappeared.
"Blamed porous piece of wood," eyeing me queerly. "Or--do you
think it's merely porous, Mr. Fenton?"
For answer I took a brush and repeatedly daubed the place. It was
like dropping ink on a blotter. The wood sucked up the varnish as
a desert might suck up water.
"There's about a quart of varnish in the wood already," observed
Johnson, as I stared and pondered. "Suppose we take it down and
Inside of a minute we had that piece of trim down from its place.
First, I carefully examined the timber framework behind, expecting
to see traces of the varnish where, presumably, it had seeped
through. There was no sign. Then I inspected the reverse side of
the finish, just behind the peculiar spot. I thought I might see a
region of wide open pores in the grain of the pine. But the back
looked exactly the same as the front, with no difference in the
grain at any place.
Placing the finish right side up, I proceeded to daub the spot
some more. There was no change in the results. At last I took the
can, and without stopping, poured a quart and a half of the fluid
into that paradoxical little area.
"Well I'll be darned!"--very loudly from Johnson. But when I
looked up I saw his face was white, and his lips shaking.
His nerves were all a-jangle. To give his mind a rest, I sent him
for a hatchet. When he came back his face had regained its colour.
I directed him to hold the pine upright, while I, with a single
stroke, sank the tool into the end of the wood.
It split part way. A jerk, and the wood fell in two halves.
"Well?" from Johnson, blankly.
"Perfectly normal wood, apparently." I had to admit that it was
impossible to distinguish the material which constituted the
peculiar spot from that which surrounded it.
I sent Johnson after more varnish. Also, I secured several other
fluids, including water, milk, ink, and machine oil. And when the
painter returned we proceeded with a very thorough test indeed.
Presently it became clear that we were dealing with a phenomenon
of the Blind Spot. All told, we poured about nine pints of liquid
into an area of about twenty square inches; all on the outer
surface, for the split side would absorb nothing. And to all
appearances we might have continued to pour indefinitely.
Ten minutes later I went down into the basement to dispose of some
rubbish. (Charlotte didn't know of this defection in our
housekeeping.) It was bright sunlight outside. Thanks to the
basement windows, I needed no artificial luminant. And when my
gaze rested upon the ground directly under the parlour, I saw
something there that I most certainly had never noticed before.
The fact is, the basement at 288 Chatterton Place never did
possess anything worthy of special notice. Except for the
partition which Harry Wendel and Jerome, the detective, were the
first in years to penetrate--except for that secret doorway, there
was nothing down there to attract attention. To be sure, there was
a quantity of up-turned earth, the result of Jerome's vigorous
efforts to see whether or not there was any connection between the
Blind Spot phenomena which he had witnessed and the cellar. He had
secured nothing but an appetite for all his digging.
However, it was still too dark for me to identify what I saw at
once. I stood for a few moments, accustoming my eyes to the light.
Except that the thing gleamed oddly like a piece of glass, and
that it possessed a nearly circular outline about two feet across,
I couldn't tell much about it.
Then I stooped and examined it closely. At once I became conscious
of a smell which, somehow, I had hitherto not noticed. Small
wonder; it was as indescribable a smell as one could imagine. It
seemed to be a combination of several that are not generally
Next instant it flashed upon me that the predominating odour was a
familiar one. I had been smelling it, in fact, all the morning.
But this did not prevent me from feeling very queer, indeed, as I
realised what lay before me. A curious chill passed around my
shoulders, and I scarcely breathed.
At my feet lay a pool, composed of all the various liquids that
had been poured, upstairs, into that baffling spot in the wood.
OUT OF THIN AIR
Except for the incident just related, when several pints of very
real fluids were somehow "materialised" at a spot ten feet below
where they had vanished, nothing worth recording occurred during
the first seven days of our stay at Chatterton Place.
Seemingly nothing was to come of the Rhamda's warning.
On the other hand we succeeded, during that week, in working a
complete transformation of the old house. It became one of the
brightest spots in San Francisco. It cost a good deal of money,
all told, but I could well afford it. I possessed the hundred
thousand with which, I had promised myself and Harry, I should
solve the Blind Spot. That was what the money was for.
On the seventh day after the night of Harry's going, our household
was increased to three members. For it was then that Jerome
returned from Nevada, whence he had gone two weeks before on a
"Not at all surprised," he commented, when I told him of Harry's
disappearance. "Sorry I wasn't here. That crook, Rhamda Avec, in
at the end?"
He gnawed stolidly at his cigar as I told him the story. Then,
after briefly approving what I had done to brighten the house, he
"Tell you what. I've got a little money out of that Nevada case;
I'm going to take another vacation and see this thing through."
We shook hands on this, and he moved right into his old room. I
felt, in fact, mighty glad to have Jerome with us. Although he
lacked a regular academic training, he was fifteen years my
senior, and because of contact with a wide variety of people in
his work, both well-informed and reserved in his judgment. He
could not be stampeded; he had courage; and, above everything
else, he had the burning curiosity of which Harry has written.
I was upstairs when he unpacked. And I noted among his belongings
a large, rather heavy automatic pistol. He nodded when I asked if
he was willing to use it in this case.
"Although"--unbuttoning his waistcoat--"I don't pin as much faith
to pistols as I used to.
"The Rhamda is, I'm convinced, the very cleverest proposition that
ever lived. He has means to handle practically anything in the way
of resistance." Jerome knew how the fellow had worsted Harry and
me. "I shouldn't wonder if he can read the mind to some extent; he
might be able to foresee that I was going to draw a gun, and beat
me to it with some new weapon of his own."
Having unbuttoned his waistcoat, Jerome then displayed a curious
contrivance mounted upon his breast. It consisted of a broad metal
plate, strapped across his shirt, and affixed to this plate was a
flat-springed arrangement for firing, simultaneously, the contents
of a revolver cylinder. To show how it worked, Jerome removed the
five cartridges and then faced me.
"Tell me to throw up my hands," directed he. I did so; his palms
flew into the air; and with a steely snap the mechanism was
Had there been cartridges in it, I should have been riddled, for I
stood right in front. And I shuddered as I noted the small straps
around Jerome's wrists, running up his sleeves, so disposed that
the act of surrendering meant instant death to him who might
"May not be ethical, Fenton"--quietly--"but it certainly is good
sense to shoot first and explain later when you're handling a chap
like Avec. Better make preparations, too."
I objected. I pointed out what I have already mentioned; that,
together with the ring, the Rhamda offered our only clues to the
Blind Spot. Destroy the man and we would destroy one of our two
hopes of rescuing our friends from the unthinkable fate that had
"No"--decisively. "We don't want to kill; we want to KEEP him.
Bullets won't do. I see no reason, however, why you shouldn't load
that thing with cartridges containing chemicals which would have
an effect similar to that of a gas bomb. Once you can make him
helpless, so that you can put those steel bracelets on him, we'll
see how dangerous he is with his hands behind him!"
"I get you"--thoughtfully. "I know a chemist who will make up
'Paralysis' gas for me, in the form of gelatine capsules. Shoot
'em at the Rhamda; burst upon striking. Safe enough for me, and
yet put him out of business long enough to fit him with the
"That's the idea."
But I had other notions about handling the Rhamda. Being satisfied
that mere strength and agility were valueless against him, I
concluded that he, likewise realising this, would be on the
lookout for any possible trap.
Consequently, if I hoped to keep the man, and force him to tell us
what we wanted to know, then I must make use of something other
than physical means. Moreover, I gave him credit for an
exceptional amount of insight. Call it super-instinct, or what you
will, the fellow's intellect was transcendental.
Once having decided that it must be a battle of wits I took a step
which may seem, at first, a little peculiar.
I called upon a certain lady to whom I shall give the name of
Clarke, since that is not the correct one. I took her fully and
frankly into my confidence. It is the only way, when dealing with
a practitioner. And since, like most of my fellow citizens, she
had heard something of the come and go, elusive habits of our men,
together with the Holcomb affair, it was easy for her to
understand just what I wanted.
"I see," she mused. "You wish to be surrounded by an influence
that will not so much protect you, as vitalise and strengthen you
whenever you come in contact with Avec. It will be a simple
matter. How far do you wish to go?" And thus it was arranged, the
plan calling for the co-operation of some twenty of her
My fellow engineers may sneer, if they like. I know the usual
notion: that the "power of mind over matter" is all in the brain
of the patient. That the efforts of the practitioner are merely
inductive, and so on.
But I think that the most sceptical will agree that I did quite
right in seeking whatever support I could get before crossing
swords with a man as keen as Avec.
Nevertheless, before an opportunity arrived to make use of the
intellectual machinery which my money had started into operation,
something occurred which almost threw the whole thing out of gear.
It was the evening after I had returned from Miss Clarke's office.
Both Charlotte and I had a premonition, after supper, that things
were going to happen. We all went into the parlour, sat down, and
Presently we started the gramophone. Jerome sat nearest the
instrument, where he could without rising, lean over and change
the records. And all three of us recall that the selection being
played at the moment was "I Am Climbing Mountains," a sentimental
little melody sung by a popular tenor. Certainly the piece was far
from being melancholy, mysterious, or otherwise likely to attract
I remember that we played it twice, and it was just as the singer
reached the beginning of the final chorus that Charlotte, who sat
nearest the door, made a quick move and shivered, as though with
From where I sat, near the dining-room door, I could see through
into the hall. Charlotte's action made me think that the door
might have become unlatched, allowing a draught to come through.
Afterwards she said that she had felt something rather like a
breeze pass her chair.
In the middle of the room stood a long, massive table, of
conventional library type. Overhead was a heavy, burnished copper
fixture, from which a cluster of electric bulbs threw their
brilliance upward, so that the room was evenly lighted with the
diffused rays as reflected from the ceiling. Thus, there were no
shadows to confuse the problem.
The chorus of the song was almost through when I heard from the
direction of the table a faint sound, as though someone had drawn
fingers lightly across the polished oak. I listened; the sound was
not repeated, at least not loud enough for me to catch it above
the music. Next moment, however, the record came to an end; Jerome
leaned forward to put on another, and Charlotte opened her mouth
as though to suggest what the new selection might be. But she
never said the words.
It began with a scintillating iridescence, up on the ceiling, not
eight feet from where I sat. As I looked the spot grew, and
spread, and flared out. It was blue like the elusive blue of the
gem; only, it was more like flame--the flame of electrical
Then, down from that blinding radiance there crept, rather than
dropped a single thread of incandescence, vivid, with a tinge of
the colour from which it had surged. Down it crept to the floor;
it was like an irregular streak of lightning, hanging motionless
between ceiling and floor, just for the fraction of a second. All
in total silence.
And then the radiance vanished, disappeared, snuffed out as one
might snuff out a candle. And in its stead--
There appeared a fourth person in the room.
THE ROUSING OF A MIND
It was a girl. Not the Nervina. No; this girl was quite another
Even now I find it curiously hard to describe her. For me to say
that she was the picture of innocence, of purity, and of youth, is
still to leave unsaid the secret of her loveliness.
For this stranger, coming out of the thin air into our midst, held
me with a glorious fascination. From the first I felt no
misgivings, such as Harry confesses he experienced when he fell
under the Nervina's charm. I knew as I watched the stranger's
wondering, puzzled features, that I had never before seen anyone
so lovely, so attractive, and so utterly beyond suspicion.
It was only later that I noted her amazingly delicate complexion,
fair as her hair was golden; her deep blue eyes, round face, and
the girlish supple figure; or her robe-like garments of very soft,
white material. For she commenced almost instantly to talk.
But we understood only with the greatest of difficulty. She spoke
as might one who, after living in perfect solitude for a score of
years, is suddenly called upon to use language. And I remembered
that Rhamda Avec had told Jerome that he had only BEGUN the use of
"Who are you?" was her first remark, in the sweetest voice
conceivable. But there was both fear and anxiety in her manner.
"You came out of the Blind Spot!" I spoke, jerking out the words
nervously and, as I saw, too rapidly. I repeated them more slowly.
But she did not comprehend.
"The--Blind--Spot," she pondered. "What--is that?"
Next instant, before I could think to warn her, the room trembled
with the terrific clang of the Blind Spot bell. Just one
overwhelming peal; no more. At the same time there came a revival
of the luminous spot in the ceiling. But, with the last tones of
the bell, the spot faded to nothing.
The girl was pitifully frightened. I sprang to my feet and
steadied her with one hand--something that I had not dared to do
as long as the Spot remained open. The touch of my fingers, as she
swayed, had the effect of bringing her to herself. She listened
intelligently to what I said.
"The Blind Spot"--speaking with the utmost care--"is the name we
have given to a certain mystery. It is always marked by the sound
you have just heard; that bell always rings when the phenomenon is
at an end."
"And--the--phenomenon," uttering the word with difficulty, "what
"You," I returned. "Up till now three human beings have
disappeared into what we call the Blind Spot. You are the first to
be seen coming out of it."
"Hobart," interrupted Charlotte, coming to my side. "Let me."
I stepped back, and Charlotte quietly passed an arm round the
girl's waist. Together they stepped over to Charlotte's chair.
I noted the odd way in which the newcomer walked, unsteadily,
uncertainly, like a child taking its first steps. I glanced at
Jerome, wondering if this tallied with what he recalled of the
Rhamda; and he gave a short nod.
"Don't be frightened," said Charlotte softly, "we are your
friends. In a way we have been expecting you, and we shall see to
it that no harm comes to you.
"Which would you prefer--to ask questions, or to answer them?"
"I"--the girl hesitated--"I--hardly--know. Perhaps--you had--
better--ask something first."
"Good. Do you remember where you came from? Can you recall the
events just prior to your arrival here?"
The girl looked helplessly from the one to the other of us. She
seemed to be searching for some clue. Finally she shook her head
in a hopeless, despairing fashion.
"I can't remember," speaking with a shade less difficulty. "The
last thing--I recall is--seeing--you three--staring--at me."
This was a poser. To think, a person who, before our very eyes,
had materialised out of the Blind Spot, was unable to tell us
anything about it!