Part 4 out of 8
Still this lack of memory might be only a temporary condition,
brought on by the special conditions under which she had emerged;
an after-effect, as it were, of the semi-electrical phenomena. And
it turned out that I was right.
"Then," suggested Charlotte, "suppose you ask us something."
The girl's eyes stopped roving and rested definitely, steadily,
upon my own. And she spoke; still a little hesitantly:
"Who are you? What is your name?"
"Name?" taken wholly by surprise. "Ah--it is Hobart Fenton. And"--
automatically--"this is my sister Charlotte. The gentleman over
there is Mr. Jerome."
"I am glad to know you, Hobart," with perfect simplicity and
apparent pleasure; "and you, Charlotte," passing an arm round my
sister's neck; "and you--Mister." Evidently she thought the title
of "mister" to be Jerome's first name.
Then she went on to say, her eyes coming back to mine:
"Why do you look at me that way, Hobart?"
Just like that! I felt my cheeks go hot and cold by turns. For a
moment I was helpless; then I made up my mind to be just as frank
and candid as she.
"Because you're so good to look at!" I blurted out. "I never
appreciated my eyesight as I do right now!"
"I am glad," she returned, simply and absolutely without a trace
of confusion or resentment. "I know that I rather like to look at
Another stunned silence. And this time I didn't notice any change
in the temperature of my face; I was too busily engaged in
searching the depths of those warm blue eyes.
She didn't blush, or even drop her eyes. She smiled, however, a
gentle, tremulous smile that showed some deep feeling behind her
I recovered myself with a start, drew my chair up in front of her
and took both her hands firmly in mine. Whereupon my resolution
nearly deserted me. How warm and soft, and altogether adorable
they were. I drew a long breath and began:
"My dear--By the way, what is your name?"
"I"--regretfully, after a moment's thought--"I don't know,
"Quite so," as though the fact was commonplace. "We will have to
provide you with a name. Any suggestions?"
Charlotte hesitated only a second. "Let's call her Ariadne; it was
Harry's mother's name."
"That's so; fine! Do you like the name--Ariadne?"
"Yes," both pleased and relieved. At the same time she looked
oddly puzzled, and I could see her lips moving silently as she
repeated the name to herself.
Not for an instant did I let go of those wonderful fingers. "What
I want you to know, Ariadne, is that you have come into a world
that is, perhaps, more or less like the one that you have just
left. For all I know it is one and the same world, only, in some
fashion not yet understood, you may have transported yourself to
this place. Perhaps not.
"Now, we call this a room, a part of the house. Outside is a
street. That street is one of hundreds in a vast city, which
consists of a multitude of such houses together with other and
vastly larger structures. And these structures all rest upon a
solid material which we call the ground or earth.
"The fact that you understand our language indicates that either
you have fallen heir to a body and a brain which are thoroughly in
tune with ours, or else--and please understand that we know very
little of this mystery--or else your own body has somehow become
translated into a condition which answers the same purpose.
"At any rate, you ought to comprehend what I mean by the term
'earth.' Do you?"
"Oh, yes," brightly. "I seem to understand everything you say,
"Then there is a corresponding picture in your mind to each
thought I have given you?"
"I think so," not so positively.
"Well," hoping that I could make it clear, "this earth is formed
in a huge globe, part of which is covered by another material,
which we term water. And the portions which are not so covered,
and are capable of supporting the structures which constitute the
city, we call by still another name. Can you supply that name?"
"Continents," without hesitation.
"Fine!" This was a starter anyhow. "We'll soon have your memory
"However, what I really began to say is this; each of these
continents--and they are several in number--is inhabited by people
more or less like ourselves. There is a vast number, all told.
Each is either male or female, like ourselves--you seem to take
this for granted, however--and you will find them all exceedingly
"Now, in all fairness," letting go her hands at last "you must
understand that there are, among the people whom you have yet to
see, great numbers who are far more--well, attractive, than I am.
"And you must know," even taking my gaze away, "that not all
persons are as friendly as we. You will find some who are
antagonistic to you, and likely to take advantage of--well, your
unsophisticated viewpoint. In short"--desperately--"you must learn
right away not to accept people without question; you must form
the habit of reserving judgment, of waiting until you have more
facts, before reaching an opinion of others.
"You must do this as a matter of self-protection, and in the
interests of your greatest welfare."
And I stopped.
She seemed to be thinking over what I said. In the end she
observed: "This seems reasonable. I feel sure that wherever I came
from such advice would have fitted.
"However"--smiling at me in a manner to which I can give no
description other than affectionate--"I have no doubts about you,
Hobart. I know you are absolutely all right."
And before I could recover from the bliss into which her statement
threw me, she turned to Charlotte with "You too, Charlotte; I know
I can trust you."
But when she looked at Jerome she commented: "I can trust you,
Mister, too; almost as much, but not quite. If you didn't suspect
me I could trust you completely."
Jerome went white. He spoke for the first time since the girl's
"How--how did you know that I suspected you?"
"I can't explain; I don't know myself." Then wistfully: "I wish
you would stop suspecting me, Mister. I have nothing to conceal
"I know it!" Jerome burst out, excitedly, apologetically. "I know
it now! You're all right, I'm satisfied of that from now on!"
She sighed in pure pleasure. And she offered one hand to Jerome.
He took it as though it were a humming-bird's egg, and turned
almost purple. At the same time the honest, fervid manliness which
backed the detective's professional nature shone through for the
first time in my knowledge of him. From that moment his devotion
to the girl was as absolute as that of the fondest father who ever
Well, no need to detail all that was said during the next hour.
Bit by bit we added to the girl's knowledge of the world into
which she had emerged, and bit by bit there unfolded in her mind a
corresponding image of the world from which she had come. And
when, for an experiment, we took her out on the front porch and
showed her the stars, we were fairly amazed at the thoughts they
"Oh!" she cried, in sheer rapture. "I know what those are!" By now
she was speaking fairly well. "They are stars!" Then: "They don't
look the same. They're not outlined in the same way as I know. But
they can't be anything else!"
NOT OUTLINED THE SAME. I took this to be a very significant fact.
What did it mean?
"Look"--showing her the constellation Leo, on the ecliptic, and
therefore visible to both the northern and southern hemispheres--
"do you recognise that?"
"Yes," decisively. "That is, the arrangement; but not the
appearance of the separate stars."
And we found this to be true of the entire sky. Nothing was
entirely familiar to her; yet, she assured us, the stars could be
nothing else. Her previous knowledge told her this without
explaining why, and without a hint as to the reason for the
"Is it possible," said I, speaking half to myself, "that she has
come from another planet?"
For we know that the sky, as seen from any of the eight planets in
this solar system, would present practically the same appearance;
but if viewed from a planet belonging to any other star-sun, the
constellations would be more or less altered in their arrangement,
because of the vast distance involved. As for the difference in
the appearance of the individual stars, that might be accounted
for by a dissimilarity in the chemical make-up of the atmosphere.
"Ariadne, it may be you've come from another world!"
"No," seemingly quite conscious that she was contradicting me. For
that matter there wasn't anything offensive about her kind of
frankness. "No, Hobart. I feel too much at home to have come from
any other world than this one."
Temporarily I was floored. How could she, so ignorant of other
matters, feel so sure of this? There was no explaining it.
We went back into the house. As it happened, my eye struck first
the gramophone. And it seemed a good idea to test her knowledge
"Is this apparatus familiar to you?"
"No. What is it for?"
"Do you understand what is meant by the term 'music'?"
"Yes," with instant pleasure. "This is music." She proceeded,
without the slightest self-consciousness, to sing in a sweet clear
soprano, and treated us to the chorus of "I Am Climbing
"Good heavens!" gasped Charlotte. "What can it mean?"
For a moment the explanation evaded me. Then I reasoned: "She must
have a sub-conscious memory of what was being played just before
And to prove this I picked out an instrumental piece which we had
not played all the evening. It was the finale of the overture to
"Faust"; a selection, by the way, which was a great favourite of
Harry's and is one of mine. Ariadne listened in silence to the
"I seem to have heard something like it before," she decided
slowly. "The melody, not the--the instrumentation. But it reminds
me of something that I like very much." Whereupon she began to
sing for us. But this time her voice was stronger and more
dramatic; and as for the composition--all I can say is it had a
wild, fierce ring to it, like "Men of Harlech"; only the notes did
not correspond to the chromatic scale. SHE SANG IN AN ENTIRELY NEW
"By George!" when she had done. "Now we HAVE got something! For
the first time, we've heard some genuine, unadulterated Blind Spot
"You mean," from Charlotte, excitedly, "that she has finally
recovered her memory?"
It was the girl herself who answered. She shot to her feet, and
her face became transfigured with a wonderful joy. At the same
time she blinked hurriedly, as though to shut off a sight that
"Oh, I remember! I"--she almost sobbed in her delight--"it is all
plain to me, now! I know who I am!"
THE RHAMDA AGAIN
I could have yelled for joy. We were about to learn something of
the Blind Spot--something that might help us to save Harry, and
Chick, and the professor!
Ariadne seemed to know that a great deal depended upon what she
was about to tell us. She deliberately sat down, and rested her
chin upon her hand, as though determining upon the best way of
telling something very difficult to express.
As for Charlotte, Jerry, and myself, we managed somehow to
restrain our curiosity enough to keep silence. But we could not
help glancing more or less wonderingly at our visitor. Presently I
realised this, and got up and walked quietly about, as though
intent upon a problem of my own.
Which was true enough. I had come to a very startling conclusion--
I, Hobart Fenton, had fallen in love!
What was more, this affection of the heart had come to me, a very
strong man, just as an affection of the lungs is said to strike
such men--all of a sudden and hard. One moment I had been a
sturdy, independent soul, intent upon scientific investigation,
the only symptoms of sentimental potentialities being my perfectly
normal love for my sister and for my old friend. Then, before my
very eyes, I had been smitten thus!
And the worst part of it was, I found myself ENJOYING the
sensation. It made not the slightest difference to me that I had
fallen in love with a girl who was only a step removed from a
wraith. Mysteriously she had come to me; as mysteriously she might
depart. I had yet to know from what sort of country she had come!
But that made no difference. She was HERE, in the same house with
me; I had held her hands; and I knew her to be very, very real
indeed just then. And when I considered the possibility of her
disappearing just as inexplicably as she had come--well, my face
went cold, I admit. But at the same time I felt sure of this
much--I should never love any other woman.
The thought left me sober. I paused in my pacing and looked at
her. As though in answer to my gaze she glanced up and smiled so
affectionately that it was all I could do to keep from leaping
forward and taking her right into my arms.
I turned hastily, and to cover my confusion I began to hum a
strain from the part of "Faust" to which I have referred. I hummed
it through, and was beginning again, when I was startled to hear
this from the girl: "Oh, then you are Hobart!"
I wheeled, to see her face filled with a wonderful light.
"Hobart," she repeated, as one might repeat the name of a very
dear one. "That--that music you were humming! Why, I heard Harry
Wendel humming that yesterday!"
I suppose we looked very stupid, the three of us, so dumbfounded
that we could do nothing but gape incredulously at that
extraordinary creature and her equally extraordinary utterance.
She immediately did her best to atone for her sensation.
"I'm not sure that I can make it clear," she said, smiling
dubiously, "but if you will use your imaginations and try to fill
in the gaps in what I say you may get a fair idea of the place I
have come from, and where Harry is."
We leaned forward, intensely alert. I shall never forget the
pitiful eagerness in poor Charlotte's face. It meant more to her,
perhaps, than to anyone else.
At the precise instant I heard a sound, off in the breakfast room.
It seemed to be a subdued knocking, or rather a pounding at the
Frowning at the interruption, I stepped through the dining-room
into the breakfast room, where the sounds came from. And I was not
a little puzzled to note that the door to the basement was
receiving the blows.
Now I had been the last to visit the basement and had locked the
door--from force of habit, I suppose--leaving the key in the lock.
It was still there. And there is but one way to enter that
basement: through this one door, and no other.
"Who is it?" I called out peremptorily. No answer; only a
repetition of the pounds.
"What do you want?"--louder.
"Open this door, quick!" cane a muffled reply.
The voice was unrecognisable. I stood and thought quickly; then
"Wait a minute, until I get a key!"
I motioned to Charlotte. She tip-toed to my side. I whispered
something in her ear; and she slipped off into the kitchen, there
to phone Miss Clarke and warn her to notify her colleagues at
once. And so, as I unlocked the door, I was fortified by the
knowledge that I would be assisted by the combined mind-force of a
score of highly developed intellects.
I was little surprised, a second later, to see that the intruder
was Rhamda Avec. What reason to expect anyone else?
"How did you get down there?" I demanded. "Don't you realise that
you are liable to arrest for trespass?"
I said it merely to start conversation but it served only to bring
a slight smile to the face of this professed friend of ours, for
whom we felt nothing but distrust and fear.
"Let us not waste time in trivialities, Fenton," he rejoined
gently. He brushed a fleck of cobweb from his coat. "By this time
you ought to know that you cannot deal with me in any ordinary
I made no comment as, without asking my leave or awaiting an
invitation, he stepped through into the dining-room and thence
into the parlour. I followed, half tempted to strike him down from
behind, but restrained more by the fact that I must spare him than
from any compunctions. Seemingly he knew this as well as I, he was
serenely at ease.
And thus he stood before Jerome and Ariadne. The detective made a
single exclamation, and furtively shifted his coat sleeves. He was
getting that infernal breast gun into action. As for Ariadne, she
stared at the new arrival as though astonished at first.
When Charlotte returned, a moment later, she showed only mild
surprise. She quietly took her chair and as quietly moved her hand
so that the gem shone in full view of our visitor.
But he gave her and the stone only a single glance, and then
rested his eyes upon our new friend. To my anxiety, Ariadne was
gazing fixedly at him now, her expression combining both agitation
and a vague fear.
It could not have been due entirely to his unusual appearance; for
there was no denying that this grey-haired yet young-faced man
with the distinguished, courteous bearing, looked even younger
that night than ever before. No; the girl's concern was deeper,
more acute. I felt an unaccountable alarm.
From Ariadne to me the Rhamda glanced, then back again; and a
quick satisfied smile came to his mouth. He gave an almost
imperceptible nod. And, keeping his gaze fixed upon her eyes, he
"Which of these chairs shall I sit in, Fenton?"
"This one," I replied instantly, pointing to the one I had just
Smiling, he selected a chair a few feet away.
Whereupon I congratulated myself. The man feared me, then; yet he
ranked my mentality no higher than that! In other words,
remarkably clever though he might be, and as yet unthwarted, he
could by no means be called omnipotent.
"For your benefit, Mr. Jerome, let me say that I phoned Miss
Fenton and her brother a few days ago, and urged them to give up
their notion of occupying this house or of attempting to solve the
mystery that you are already acquainted with. And I prophesied,
Mr. Jerome, that their refusal to accept my advice would be
followed by events that would justify me.
"They refused, as you know; and I am here tonight to make a final
plea, so that they may escape the consequences of their
"You're a crook! And the more I see of you, Avec, the more easily
I can understand why they turned you down!"
"So you too, are prejudiced against me. I cannot understand this.
My motives are quite above question, I assure you."
"Really!" I observed sarcastically. I stole a glance at Ariadne;
her eyes were still riveted, in a rapt yet half-fearful
abstraction, upon the face of the Rhamda. It was time I took her
I called her name. She did not move her head, or reply. I said it
"What is it, Hobart?"--very softly.
"Ariadne, this gentleman possesses a great deal of knowledge of
the locality from which you came. We are interested in him,
because we feel sure that, if he chose to, he could tell us
something about our friends who--about Harry Wendel." Why not lay
the cards plainly on the table? The Rhamda must be aware of it
all, anyhow. "And as this man has said, he has tried to prevent us
from solving the mystery. It occurs to me, Ariadne, that you might
recognise this man. But apparently--"
She shook her head just perceptibly. I proceeded:
"He is pleased to call his warning a prophecy; but we feel that a
threat is a threat. What he really wants is that ring."
Ariadne had already, earlier in the hour, given the gem several
curious glances. Now she stirred and sighed, and was about to turn
her eyes from the Rhamda to the ring when he spoke again; this
time in a voice as sharp as a steel blade:
"I do not enjoy being misunderstood, much less being
misrepresented, Mr. Fenton. At the same time, since you have seen
fit to brand me in such uncomplimentary terms, suppose I state
what I have to say very bluntly, so that there may be no mistake
about it. If you do not either quit this house, or give up the
ring--NOW--you will surely regret it the rest of your lives!"
From the corner of my eye I saw Jerome moving slowly in his chair,
so that he could face directly towards the Rhamda. His hands were
ready for the swift, upward jerk which, I knew, would stifle our
As for my sister, she merely turned the ring so that the gem no
longer faced the Rhamda; and with the other hand she reached out
and grasped Ariadne's firmly.
Avec sat with his two hands clasping the arms of his chair. His
fingers drummed nervously but lightly on the wood. And then,
suddenly, they stopped their motion.
"Your answer, Fenton," in his usual gentle voice. "I can give you
no more time," I did not need to consult Charlotte or Jerome. I
knew what they would have said.
"You are welcome to my answer. It is--no!"
As I spoke the last word my gaze was fixed on the Rhamda's eyes.
He, on the other hand, was looking towards Ariadne. And at the
very instant an expression, as of alarm and sorrow, swept into the
My glance jumped to Ariadne. Her eyes were closed, her face
suffused; she seemed to be suffocating. She gave a queer little
sound, half gasp and half cry.
Simultaneously Jerome's hands shot into the air. The room shivered
with the stunning report of his breast gun. And every pellet
struck the Rhamda and burst.
A look of intense astonishment came into his face. He gave Jerome
a fleeting glance, almost of admiration; then his nostrils
contracted with pain as the gas attacked his lungs.
Another second, and each of us were reeling with the fumes. Jerome
started toward the window, to raise it, then sank back into his
chair. And when he turned round--
He and I and Charlotte saw an extraordinary thing. Instead of
succumbing to the gas, Rhamda Avec somehow recovered himself. And
while the rest of us remained still too numbed to move or speak,
he found power to do both.
"I warned you plainly, Fenton," as though nothing in particular
had happened. "And now see what you have brought upon the poor
I could only roll my head stupidly, to stare at Ariadne's now
"As usual, Fenton, you will blame me for it. I cannot help that.
But it may still be possible for you to repent of your folly and
escape your fate. You are playing with terrible forces. If you do
repent, just follow these instructions"--laying a card on the
table--"and I will see what I can do for you. I wish you all good
And with that, pausing only to make a courtly bow to Charlotte,
Rhamda Avec turned and walked deliberately, dignifiedly from the
room, while the two men and a woman stared helplessly after him
and allowed him to go in peace.
THE LIVING DEATH
As soon as the fresh air had revived us somewhat, we first of all
examined Ariadne. She still lay unconscious, very pale, and
alarmingly limp. I picked her up and carried her into the next
room, where there was a sofa, while Jerome went for water and
Charlotte brought smelling-salts.
Neither of these had any effect. Ariadne seemed to be scarcely
breathing; her heart beat only faintly, and there was no response
to such other methods as friction, slapping, or pinching of
"We had better call a doctor," decided Charlotte promptly, and
went to the phone.
I picked up the card which the Rhamda had left. It contained
simply his name, together with one other word--the name of a
morning newspaper. Evidently he meant for us to insert an
advertisement as soon as we were ready to capitulate.
"Not yet!" the three of us decided, after talking it over. And we
waited as patiently as we could during the fifteen minutes that
elapsed before the telephoning got results.
It brought Dr. Hansen, who, it may be remembered, was closely
identified with the Chick Watson disappearance. He made a rapid
but very careful examination.
"It has all the appearance of a mild electric shock. What caused
I told him. His eyes narrowed when I mentioned Avec, then widened
in astonishment and incredulity as I related the man's
inexplicable effect upon the girl, and his strange immunity to the
poison gas. But the doctor asked nothing further about our
situation, proceeding at once to apply several restoratives. All
were without result. As a final resort, he even rigged up an
electrical connection, making use of some coils which I had
upstairs, and endeavoured to arouse the girl in that fashion.
Still without result.
"Good Lord, Hansen!" I finally burst out, when he stood back,
apparently baffled. "She's simply GOT to be revived! We can't
allow her to succumb to that scoundrel's power, whatever it is!"
"Why not a blood transfusion?" I asked eagerly, as an idea came to
me. "I'm in perfect condition. What about it? Go to it, doc!"
He slowly shook his head. And beyond a single searching glance
into my eyes, wherein he must have read something more than I had
said, he regretfully replied:
"This is a case for a specialist, Fenton. Everything considered, I
should say that she is suffering from a purely mental condition;
but whether it had a physical or a psychic origin, I can't say."
In short, he did not feel safe about going ahead with any really
heroic measures until a brain specialist was called in.
I had a good deal of confidence in Hansen. And what he said
sounded reasonable. So we agreed to his calling in a Dr. Higgins--
the same man, in fact, who was too late in reaching the house to
save Chick on that memorable night a year before.
His examination was swift and convincingly competent. He went over
the same ground that Hansen had covered, took the blood pressure
and other instrumental data, and asked us several questions
regarding Ariadne's mentality as we knew it. Scarcely stopping to
think it over, Higgins decided:
"The young woman is suffering from a temporary dissociation of
brain centres. Her cerebrum does not co-act with her cerebellum.
In other words, her conscious mind, for lack of means to express
itself, is for the time being dormant as in sleep.
"But it is not like ordinary sleep. Such is induced by fatigue of
the nerve channels. This young woman's condition is produced by
shock; and since there was no physical violence, we must conclude
that the shock was psychic.
"In that case, the condition will last until one of two things
occurs; either she must be similarly shocked back into
sensibility--and I can't see how this can happen, Fenton, unless
you can secure the co-operation of the man to whom you attribute
the matter--or she must lie that way indefinitely."
"Indefinitely!" I exclaimed, sensing something ominous. "You mean--"
"That there is no known method of reviving a patient in such a
condition. It might be called psychic catalepsy. To speak plainly,
Fenton, unless this man revives her, she will remain unconscious
until her death."
I shuddered. What horrible thing had come into our lives to
afflict us with so dreadful a prospect?
"Is--is there no hope, Dr. Higgins?"
"Very little"--gently but decisively. "All I can assure you is
that she will not die immediately. From the general state of her
health, she will live at least seventy-two hours. After that--you
must be prepared for the worst at any moment."
I turned away quickly, so that he could not see my face. What an
awful situation! Unless we could somehow lay hands on the Rhamda--
I hunted up Jerome. I said:
"Jerry, the thing is plainly up to you and me. Higgins gives us
three days. Day after tomorrow morning, if we haven't got results
by that time, we've got to give in and put that ad in the paper.
But I don't mean to give in, Jerry! Not until I've exhausted every
"What're you going to do?" he asked thoughtfully.
"Work on that ring. I was a fool not to get busy sooner. As for
the rest, that's up to you! You've got to get yourself on the
Rhamda's trail as soon as you can, and camp there! The first
chance you get, ransack his room and belongings, and bring me
every bit of data you find. Between him and the ring, the truth
ought to come out."
"All right. But don't forget that--" pointing to the unexplained
spot on the wood of the doorway. "You've got a mighty important
clue there, waiting for you to analyse it."
And he went and got his hat, and left the house. His final remark
was that we wouldn't see him back until he had something to report
about our man.
Five o'clock the next morning found my sister and me out of our
beds and desperately busy. She spent a good deal of time, of
course in caring for Ariadne. The poor girl showed no improvement
at all; and we got scant encouragement from the fact that she
looked no worse.
Not a sound escaped her lips; her eyes remained closed; she gave
no sign of life, save her barely perceptible breathing. It made me
sick at heart just to look at her; so near, and yet so fearfully
But when Charlotte could spare any time she gave me considerable
help in what I was trying to do. One great service she was
rendering has already been made clear: she wore the ring
constantly, thus relieving me of the anxiety of caring for it. I
was very cautious not to have it in my possession for more than a
few minutes at a time.
My first move was to set down, in orderly fashion, the list of the
gem's attributes. I grouped together the fluctuating nature of its
pale blue colour, its power of reproducing those who had gone into
the Blind Spot, its combination of perfect solidity with extreme
lightness; its quality of coldness to the touch of a male, and
warmth to that of a female; and finally its ability to induct--I
think this is the right term--to induct sounds out of the unknown.
This last quality might be called spasmodic or accidental, whereas
the others were permanent and constant.
Now, to this list I presently was able to add that the gem
possessed no radioactive properties that I could detect with the
usual means. It was only when I began dabbling in chemistry that I
By placing the gem inside a glass bell, and exhausting as much air
as possible from around it, the way was cleared for introducing
other forms of gases. Whereupon I discovered this:
The stone will absorb any given quantity of hydrogen gas.
In this respect it behaves analogously to that curious place on
the door-frame. Only, it absorbs gas, no liquid; and not any gas,
either--none but hydrogen.
Now, obviously this gem cannot truly absorb so much material, in
the sense of retaining it as well. The simple test of weighing it
afterwards proves this; for its weight remains the same in any
Moreover, unlike the liquids which I poured into the wood and saw
afterwards in the basement, the gas does not escape back into the
air. I kept it under the Dell long enough to be sure of that. No;
that hydrogen is, manifestly, translated into the Blind Spot.
Learning nothing further about the gem at that time, I proceeded
to investigate the trim of the door. I began by trying to find out
the precise thickness of that liquid-absorbing layer.
To do this I scraped off the "skin" of the air-darkened wood. This
layer was .02 of an inch thick. And--that was the total amount of
the active material!
I put these scrapings through a long list of experiments. They
told me nothing valuable. I learned only one detail worth
mentioning; if a fragment of the scrapings be brought near to the
Holcomb gem--say, to within two inches--the scrapings will burst
into flame. It is merely a bright, pinkish flare, like that made
by smokeless rifle-powder. No ashes remain. After that we took
care not to bring the ring near the remaining material on the
All this occurred on the first day after Ariadne was stricken.
Jerome phoned to say that he had engaged the services of a dozen
private detectives, and expected to get wind of the Rhamda any
hour. Both Dr. Hansen and Dr. Higgins called twice, without being
able to detect any change for the better or otherwise in their
That evening Charlotte and I concluded that we could not hold out
any longer. We must give in to the Rhamda. I phoned for a
messenger, and sent an advertisement to the newspaper which Avec
The thing was done. We had capitulated.
The next development would be another and triumphant call from the
Rhamda, and this time we would have to give up the gem to him if
we were to save Ariadne.
The game was up.
But instead of taking the matter philosophically, I worried about
it all night. I told myself again and again that I was foolish to
think about something that couldn't be helped. Why not forget it,
and go to sleep?
But somehow I couldn't. I lay wide awake till long past midnight,
finding myself growing more and more nervous. At last, such was
the tension of it all, I got up and dressed. It was then about
one-thirty, and I stepped out on the street for a walk.
Half an hour later I returned, my lungs full of fresh air, hoping
that I could now sleep. It was only a hope. Never have I felt
wider awake than I did then.
Once more--about three--I took another stroll outside. I seemed
Each time that I had turned back home I seemed to feel stronger
than ever, more wakeful. Finally I dropped the idea altogether,
went to the house, and left a note for Charlotte, then walked down
to the waterfront and watched some ships taking advantage of the
tide. Anything to pass the time.
And thus it happened, that, about eight o'clock--breakfast time at
288 Chatterton Place--I returned to the house, and sat down at the
table with Charlotte. First, however, I opened the morning paper
to read our little ad.
It was not there. It had not been printed.
AT THE ELEVENTH HOUR
I dropped the paper in dismay. Charlotte looked up, startled, gave
me a single look, and turned pale,
"What--what's the matter?" she stammered fearfully.
I showed her. Then I ran to the phone. In a few seconds I was
talking to the very man who had taken the note from the messenger
the day before.
"Yes, I handed it in along with the rest," he replied to my
excited query. Then--"Wait a minute," said he; and a moment later
added: "Say, Mr. Fenton, I've made a mistake! Here's the darned ad
on the counter; it must have slipped under the blotter."
I went back and told Charlotte. We stared at one another blankly.
Why in the name of all that was baffling had our ad "slipped"
under that blotter? And what were we to do?
This was the second day!
Well, we did what we could. We arranged for the insertion of the
same notice in each of the three afternoon papers. There would
still be time for the Rhamda to act, if he saw it.
The hours dragged by. Never did time pass more slowly; and yet, I
begrudged every one. So much for being absolutely helpless.
About ten o'clock the next morning--that is to say, today; I am
writing this the same evening--the front door bell rang. Charlotte
answered and in a moment came back with a card. It read:
SIR HENRY HODGES
I nearly upset the table in my excitement. I ran into the hall.
Who wouldn't? Sir Henry Hodges! The English scientist about whom
the whole world was talking! The most gifted investigator of the
day; the most widely informed; of all men on the face of the
globe, the best equipped, mentally, to explore the unknown!
Without the slightest formality I grabbed his hand and shook it
until he smiled at my enthusiasm.
"My dear Sir Henry," I told him, "I'm immensely glad to see you!
The truth is, I've been hoping you'd be interested in our case;
but I didn't have the nerve to bother you with it!"
"And I," he admitted in his quiet way, "have been longing to take
a hand in it, ever since I first heard of Professor Holcomb's
disappearance. Didn't like to offer myself; understood that the
matter had been hushed up and--"
"For the very simple reason," I explained, "that there was nothing
to be gained by publicity. If we had given the public the facts,
we would have been swamped with volunteers to help us. I didn't
know whom to confide in, Sir Henry; couldn't make up my mind. I
only knew that one such man as yourself was just what I needed."
He overlooked the compliment, and pulled out the newspaper from
his pocket. "Bought this a few minutes ago. Saw your ad, and
jumped to the conclusion that matters had reached an acute stage.
Let me have the whole story, my boy, as briefly as you can."
He already knew the published details. Also, he seemed to be
acquainted--in some manner which puzzled me--with much that had
not been printed. I sketched the affair as quickly as I could,
making it clear that we were face to face with a crisis. When I
wound up by saying that it was Dr. Higgins who gave Ariadne three
days, ending about midnight, in which she might recover if we
could secure Rhamda Avec, he said kindly:
"I'm afraid you made a mistake, my boy, in not seeking some help.
The game has reached a point where you cannot have too many brains
on your side. Time is short for reinforcements!"
He heartily approved of my course in enlisting the aid of Miss
Clarke and her colleagues. "That is the sort of thing you need!
People with mentality; plenty of intellectual force!" And he went
on to make suggestions.
As a result, within an hour and a half our house was sheltering
five more persons.
Miss Clarke has already been introduced. She was easily one of the
ten most advanced practitioners in her line. And she had the
advantage of a curiosity that was interested in everything odd,
even though she labelled it "non-existent." She said it helped her
faith in the real truths to be conversant with the unreal.
Dr. Malloy was from the university, an out-and-out materialist, a
psychologist who made life interesting for those who agreed with
William James. His investigations of abnormal psychology are
Mme. Le Fabre, we afterwards learned, had come from Versailles
especially to investigate the matter that was bothering us. She
possessed no mediumistic properties of her own but was a staunch
proponent of spiritualism, believing firmly in immortality and the
omnipotence of "translated" souls.
Professor Herold is most widely known as the inventor of certain
apparatus connected with wireless. But he is also considered the
West's most advanced student of electrical and radio-active
I was enormously glad to have this man's expert, high-tension
knowledge right on tap.
The remaining member of the quintet which Sir Henry advised me to
summon requires a little explanation. Also, I am obliged to give
him a name not his own; for it is not often that brigadier-
generals of the United States army can openly lend their names to
anything so far removed apparently from militarism as the
searching of the occult.
Yet we knew that this man possessed a power that few scientists
have developed; the power of co-ordination, of handling and
balancing great facts and forces, and of deciding promptly how
best to meet any given situation. Not that we looked for anything
militaristic out of the Blind Spot; far from it. We merely knew
not what to expect, which was exactly why we wanted to have him
with us; his type of mind is, perhaps, the most solidly comforting
sort that any mystery-bound person can have at his side.
By the time these five had gathered, Jerome had neither returned
nor telephoned. There was not the slightest trace of Rhamda Avec;
no guessing as to whether he had seen the ad. It was then one
o'clock in the afternoon. Only six hours ago! It doesn't seem
So there were eight of us--three women and five men--who went
upstairs and quietly inspected the all but lifeless form of
Ariadne and afterwards gathered in the library below.
All were thoroughly familiar with the situation. Miss Clarke
calmly commented to the effect that the entire Blind Spot affair
was due wholly and simply to the cumulative effects of so many,
many subjects; the result, in other words, of error.
Dr. Malloy was equally outspoken in his announcement that he
proposed to deal with the matter from the standpoint of psychic
aberration. He mentioned dissociated personalities, group
hypnosis, and so on. But he declared that he was open to
conviction, and anxious to get any and all facts.
Sir Henry had a good deal of difficulty in getting Mme. Le Fabre
to commit herself. Probably she felt that, since Sir Henry had
gone on record as being doubtful of the spiritistic explanation of
psychic phenomena, she might get into a controversy with him. But
in the end she stated that she expected to find our little mystery
simply a novel variation on what was so familiar to her.
As might be supposed, General Hume had no opinion. He merely
expressed himself as being prepared to accept any sound theory, or
portions of such theories as might be advanced, and arrive at a
workable conclusion therefrom. Which was exactly what we wanted of
Of them all, Professor Herold showed the most enthusiasm. Perhaps
this was because, despite his attainments, he is still young. At
any rate, he made it clear that he was fully prepared to learn
something entirely new in science. And he was almost eager to
adjust his previous notions and facts to the new discoveries.
When all these various viewpoints had been cleared up, and we felt
that we understood each other, it was inevitable that we should
look to Sir Henry to state his position. This one man combined a
large amount of the various, specialised abilities for which the
others were noted, and they all knew and respected him
accordingly. Had he stood and theorised half the afternoon, they
would willingly have sat and listened. But instead he glanced at
his watch, and observed:
"To me, the most important development of all was hearing the
sound of a dog's bark coming from the ring. As I recall the
details, the sound was emitted just after the gem had been
submitted to considerable handling, from Miss Fenton's fingers to
her brother's and back again. In other words, it was subjected to
a mixture of opposing animal magnetisms. Suppose we experiment
further with it now."
Charlotte slipped the gem from her finger and passed it around.
Each of us held it for a second or two; after which Charlotte
clasped the ring tightly in her palm, while we all joined hands.
It was, as I have said, broad daylight; the hour, shortly after
one. Scarcely had our hands completed the circuit than something
From out of Charlotte's closed hand there issued an entirely new
sound. At first it was so faint and fragmentary that only two of
us heard it. Then it became stronger and more continuous, and
presently we were all gazing at each other in wonderment.
For the sound was that of footsteps.
DIRECT FROM PARADISE
The sound was not like that of the walking of the human. Nor was
it such as an animal would make. It was neither a thud nor a
pattering, but more like a scratching shuffle, such as reminded me
of nothing that I had ever heard before.
Next moment, however, there came another sort of sound, plainly
audible above the footsteps. This was a thin, musical chuckle
which ended in a deep, but faint, organ-like throb. It happened
Immediately it was followed by a steady clicking, such as might be
made by gently striking a stick against the pavement; only
sharper. This lasted a minute, during which the other sounds
Once more the footsteps. They were not very loud, but in the
stillness of that room they all but resounded.
Presently Charlotte could stand it no longer. She placed the ring
on the table, where it continued to emit those unplaceable sounds.
"Well! Do--do you people," stammered Dr. Malloy, "do you people
all hear THAT?"
Miss Clarke's face was rather pale. But her mouth was firm. "It is
nothing," said she, with theosophical positiveness. "You must not
believe it--it is not the truth of--"
"Pardon me," interrupted Sir Henry, "but this isn't something to
argue about! It is a reality; and the sooner we all admit it, the
better. There is a living creature of some kind making that
"It is the spirit of some two-footed creature," asserted Mme. Le
Fabre, plainly at her ease. She was on familiar ground now. "If
only we had a medium!"
Abruptly the sounds left the vicinity of the ring. At first we
could not locate their new position. Then Herold declared that
they came from under the table; and presently we were all gathered
on the floor, listening to those odd little sounds, while the ring
remained thirty inches above, on the top of the table!
It may be that the thing, whatever it was, did not care for such a
crowd. For shortly the shuffling ceased. And for a while we stared
and listened, scarcely breathing, trying to locate the new
Finally we went back to our chairs. We had heard nothing further.
Nevertheless, we continued to keep silence, with our ears alert
for anything more.
"Hush!" whispered Charlotte all of a sudden. "Did you hear that?"
And she looked up toward the ceiling.
In a moment I caught the sound. It was exceedingly faint, like the
distant thrumming of a zither. Only it was a single note, which
did not rise and fall, although there seemed a continual variation
in its volume.
Unexpectedly the other sounds came again, down under the table.
This time we remained in our seats and simply listened. And
presently Sir Henry, referring to the ring, made this suggestion:
"Suppose we seal it up, and see whether it inducts the sound then
as well as when exposed."
This appealed to Herold very strongly; the others were agreeable;
so I ran upstairs to my room and secured a small screw-top metal
canister, which I knew to be airtight. It was necessary to remove
the stone from the ring, in order to get it into the opening in
the can. Presently this was done; and while our invisible visitor
continued his scratchy little walking as before, I screwed the top
of the can down as tightly as I could.
Instantly the footsteps halted.
I unscrewed the top a trifle. As instantly the stepping was
"Ah!" cried Herold. "It's a question of radioactivity, then!
Remember Le Bon's experiments, Sir Henry?"
But Miss Clarke was sorely mystified by this simple matter, and
herself repeated the experiments. Equally puzzled was Mme. Le
Fabre. According to her theory, a spirit wouldn't mind a little
thing like a metal box. Of them all, Dr. Malloy was the least
disturbed; so decidedly so that General Hume eyed him quizzically.
"Fine bunch of hallucinations, doctor."
"Almost commonplace," retorted Malloy.
Presently I mentioned that the Rhamda had come from the basement
on the night that Ariadne had materialised; and I showed that the
only possible route into the cellar was through the locked door in
the breakfast room, since the windows were all too small, and
there was no other door. Query: How had the Rhamda got there?
Immediately they all became alert. As Herold said:
"One thing or the other is true; either there is something
downstairs which has escaped you, Fenton, or else Avec is able to
materialise in any place he chooses. Let's look!"
We all went down except Charlotte, who went upstairs to stay with
Ariadne. By turns, each of us held the ring. And as we unlocked
the basement door we noted that the invisible, walking creature
had reached there before us.
Down the steps went those unseen little feet, jumping from one
step to the next just ahead of us all the way. When within three
or four steps of the bottom, the creature made one leap do for
I had previously run an extension cord down into the basement, and
both compartments could now be lighted by powerful electric lamps.
We gave the place a quick examination.
"What's all this newly turned earth mean?" inquired Sir Henry,
pointing to the result of Jerome's efforts a few months before.
And I explained how he and Harry, on the chance the basement might
contain some clue as to the localisation of the Blind Spot, had
dug without result in the bluish clay.
Sir Henry picked up the spade, which had never been moved from
where Jerome had dropped it. And while I went on to tell about the
pool of liquids, which for some unknown reason had not seeped into
the soil since forming there, the Englishman proceeded to dig
vigorously into the heap I had mentioned.
The rest of us watched him thoughtfully. We remembered that
Jerome's digging had been done after Queen's disappearance. And
the dog had vanished in the rear room, the one in which Chick and
Dr. Holcomb had last been seen. Now, when Jerome had dug the clay
from the basement under this, the dining-room, he had thrown it
through the once concealed opening in the partition; had thrown
the clay, that is, in a small heap under the library. And--after
Jerome had done this the phenomena had occurred in the library,
not in the dining-room.
"By Jove!" ejaculated General Hume, as I pointed this out. "This
may be something more, you know, that mere coincidence!"
Sir Henry said nothing, but continued his spading. He paid
attention to nothing save the heap that Jerome had formed. And
with each spadeful he bent over and examined the clay very
Miss Clarke and Mme. Le Fabre both remained very calm about it
all. Each from her own viewpoint regarded the work as more or less
a waste of time. But I noticed that they did not take their eyes
from the spade.
Sir Henry stopped to rest. "Let me," offered Herold; and went on
as the Englishman had done, holding up each spadeful for
inspection. And it was thus that we made a strange discovery.
We all saw it at the same time. Embedded in the bluish earth was a
small, egg-shaped piece of light-coloured stone. And protruding
from its upper surface was a tiny, blood-red pebble, no bigger
than a good-sized shot.
Herold thrust the point of his spade under the stone, to lift it
up. Whereupon he gave a queer exclamation.
"Well, that's funny!" holding the stone up in front of us. "That
little thing's as heavy as--as--it's HEAVIER than lead!"
Sir Henry picked the stone off the spade. Immediately the material
crumbled in his hands, as though rotting, so that it left only the
small, red pebble intact. Sir Henry weighed this thoughtfully in
his palm, then without a word handed it around.
We all wondered at the pebble. It was most astonishingly heavy. As
I say, it was no bigger than a fair-sized shot, yet it was vastly
Afterward we weighed it, upstairs, and found that the trifle
weighed over half a pound. Considering its very small bulk, this
worked out to be a specific gravity of 192.6 or almost ten times
as heavy as the same bulk of pure gold. And gold is heavy.
Inevitably we saw that there must be some connection between this
unprecedentedly heavy speck of material and that lighter-than-air
gem of mystery. For the time being we were careful to keep the two
apart. As for the unexplained footsteps, they were still slightly
audible, as the invisible creatures moved around the cellar.
At last we turned to go. I let the others lead the way. Thus I was
the last to approach the steps; and it was at that moment that I
felt something brush against my foot.
I stooped down. My hands collided with the thing that had touched
me. And I found myself clutching--
Something invisible--something which, in that brilliant light,
showed absolutely nothing to my eyes. But my hands told me I was
grasping a very real thing, as real as my fingers themselves.
I made some sort of incoherent exclamation. The others turned and
peered at me.
"What is it?" came Herold's excited voice.
"I don't know!" I gasped. "Come here."
But Sir Henry was the first to reach me. Next instant he, too, was
fingering the tiny, unseen object. And such was his iron nerve and
superior self-control, he identified it almost at once.
"By the lord!"--softly. "Why, it's a small bird! Come here."
Another second and they were all there. I was glad enough of it;
for, like a flash, with an unexpectedness that startles me even
now as I think of it--
The thing became visible. Right in my grasp, a little fluttering
bird came to life.
It was a tiny thing, and most amazingly beautiful. It could not
have stood as high as a canary; and had its feathers been made of
gleaming silver they could not have been lovelier. And its black-
plumed head, and long, blossom-like tail, were such as no man on
earth ever set eyes on.
Like a flash it was gone. Not more than a half a second was this
enchanting apparition visible to us. Before we could discern any
more than I have mentioned, it not only vanished but it ceased to
make any sounds whatever. And each of us drew a long breath, as
one might after being given a glimpse of an angel.
Right now, five or six hours after the events I have just
described, it is very easy for me to smile at my emotions of the
time. How startled and mystified I was! And--why not confess it?--
just a trifle afraid. Why? Because I didn't understand! Merely
At this moment I sit in my laboratory upstairs in that house,
rejoicing in having reached the end of the mystery. For the enigma
of the Blind Spot is no more. I have solved it!
Now twenty feet away, in another room, lies Ariadne. Already there
is a faint trace of colour in her cheeks, and her heart is beating
more strongly. Another hour, says Dr. Higgins, and she will be
restored to us!
The time is seven p.m. I didn't sleep at all last night; I haven't
slept since. For the past five hours we have been working steadily
on the mystery, ever since our finding that little, red pebble in
the basement. The last three hours of the time I have been
treating Ariadne, using means which our discoveries indicated. And
in order to keep awake I have been dictating this account to a
This young lady, a Miss Dibble, is downstairs, where her
typewriter will not bother. Yes, put that down, too, Miss Dibble;
I want people to know everything! She has a telephone clamped to
her ears, and I am talking into a microphone which is fixed to a
stand on my desk.
On that desk are four switches. All are of the four-way two-pole
type; and from them run several wires, some going to one end of
the room, where they are attached to the Holcomb gem. Others,
running to the opposite end, making contact with the tiny heavy
stone we found in the basement. Other wires run from the switches
to lead bands around my wrists. Also, between switches are several
connections--one circuit containing an amplifying apparatus. By
throwing these switches in various combinations, I can secure any
given alteration of forces, and direct them where I choose.
For there are two other wires. These run from my own lead
bracelets to another room; a pair clamped around the wrists of
For I, Hobart Fenton, am now a living, human transforming station.
I am converting the power of the Infinite into the Energy of Life.
And I am transmitting that power directly out of the ether, as
conduced through these two marvellous stones, back into the
nervous system of the girl I love. Another hour, and she will
It was all so very simple, now that I understand it. And yet--
well, an absolutely new thing is always very hard to put into
To begin with, I must acknowledge the enormous help which I have
had from my friends: Miss Clarke, Mme. Le Fabre, General Hume, Dr.
Malloy, and Herold. These people are still in the house with me; I
think they are eating supper. I've already had mine. Really, I
can't take much credit to myself for what I have found out. The
others supplied most of the facts. I merely happened to fit them
together; and, because of my relationship to the problem, am now
doing the heroic end of the work.
As for Harry--he and Dr. Holcomb, Chick Watson and even the dog--I
shall have them out of the Blind Spot inside of twelve hours. All
I need is a little rest. I'll go straight to bed as soon as I
finish reviving Ariadne; and when I wake up, we'll see who's who,
I'm too exuberant to hold myself down to the job of telling what
I've discovered. But it's got to be done. Here goes!
I practically took my life in my hands when I first made
connection. However, I observed the precaution of rigging up a
primary connection direct from the ring to the pebble, running the
wire along the floor some distance away from where I sat. No ill
effects when I ventured into the line of force; so I began to
experiment with the switches.
That precautionary circuit was Herold's idea. His, also, the
amplifying apparatus. The mental attitude was Miss Clarke's,
modified by Dr. Malloy. The lead bracelets were Mme. Le Fabre's
suggestion; they work fine. Sir Henry was the one who pointed out
the advantage of the microphone I am using. If my hands become
paralysed I can easily call for help to my side.
Well, the first connection I tried resulted in nothing. Perfectly
blank. Then I tried another and another, meanwhile continually
adjusting the amplifier; and as a result I am now able, at will,
to do either or all of the following:
(1) I can induct sounds from the Blind Spot; (2) I can induct
light, or visibility; or (3) any given object or person, in toto.
And now to tell how. No, I'm just sleepy, not weak.
Let's see; where was I? Oh, yes; those connections. They've got to
be done just right, with the proper tension in the coils, and the
correct mental attitude, to harmonise. I wish I wasn't so tired!
One moment! No, no; I'm all right. I--Queer! By Jove, that's a
funny thing just now! I must have got an inducted current from
another wire, mixed with these! And--I got a glimpse into the
A great--No; it's a--What a terrific crowd! Wonder what they're
all--By Jove, it's--Good Lord, it's he! And Chick! No, I'm not
wandering! I'm having the experience of my life!
Now--THAT'S the boy! Don't let 'em bluff you! Good! Good! Tell 'em
where to head in! That's the boy! Rub it in! I don't know what
you're up to, but I'm with you!
Er--there's a big crowd of ugly looking chaps there, and I can't
make it out--Just a moment--a moment. What does it mean, anyway?
DANGER, by Heaven! THAT'S what it means!
No; I'm all right. The--thing came to an end, abruptly. That's
all; everything normal again; the room just the same as it was a
moment ago. Hello! I seem to have started something! The wire down
on the floor has commenced to hum! Oh, I've got my eye on it, and
Miss Dibble! Tell Herold to come! On the run! Quick! Did you?
Good! don't stop writing! I--
There's Chick! CHICK! How did you get here? What? YOU CAN'T SEE
Chick! Listen! Listen, man! I've gone into the Blind Spot! Write
this down! The connection--
That's Herold! Herold, this is Chick Watson! Listen, now, you two!
The--the--I can hardly--it's from No. 4 to--to--to the ring--then--coil--
Both switches, Chick! Ah! I've--
NOTE BY MISS L. DIBBLE.--Just as Mr. Fenton made the concluding
remark as above, there came a loud crash, followed by the voice of
Mr. Herold. Then, there came a very loud clang from a bell; just
one stroke. After which I caught Mr. Fenton's voice:
"Herold--Chick can tell you what IT wants us to do--"
And with that, his voice trailed off into nothing, and died away.
As for Mr. Fenton himself, I am informed that he has utterly
disappeared; and in his stead there now exists a man who is known
to Dr. Hansen as Chick Watson.
THE MAN FROM SPACE
Before starting the conclusion of the Blind Spot mystery it may be
just as well for the two publicists who are bringing it to the
press to follow Hobart Fenton's example and go into a bit of
The two men who wrote the first two parts were participants, and
necessarily writing almost in the present tense. While they could
give an accurate and vivid account of their feelings and
experiences, they could only guess at what lay in the future, at
the events that would unravel it all.
But the present writers have the advantage of working, of seeing,
of weighing in the retrospect. They know just where they are
The coming of Chick Watson brought new perspective. Hitherto we
had been looking into the darkness. Whatever had been caught in
the focus of the Spot had become lost to our five senses.
Yet, facts are facts. It was no mere trickery that had caught Dr.
Holcomb in the beginning. One by one, men of the highest standards
and character had been either victims or witness to its reality
So the coming of Watson may well be set down as one of the
deciding moments of history. He who had been the victim a year
before was returning through the very Spot that had engulfed him.
He was the herald of the great unknown, an ambassador of the
It will be remembered that of all the inmates of the house, Dr.
Hansen was the only one who had a personal acquaintance with
Watson. One year before the doctor had seen him a shadow--wasted,
worn, exhausted. He had talked with him on that memorable night in
the cafe. Well he remembered the incident, and the subject of that
strange conversation--the secret of life that had been discovered
by the missing Dr. Holcomb. And Dr. Hansen had pondered it often
What was the force that was pulsing through the Blind Spot? It had
reached out on the earth, and had plucked up youth as well as
wisdom. THIS was the first time it had ever given up that which it
It was Watson, sure enough; but it was not the man he had known
one year before. Except for the basic features Hansen would not
have recognized him; the shadow was gone, the pallor, the touch of
death. He was hale and radiant; his skin had the pink glow of
alert fitness; except for being dazed, he appeared perfectly
natural. In the tense moment of his arrival the little group
waited in silence. What had he to tell them?
But he did not see them at first. He groped about blindly, moving
slowly and holding his hands before him. His face was calm and
settled; its lines told decision. There was not a question in any
mind present but that the man had come for a purpose.
Why could he not see? Perhaps the light was too dim. Some one
thought to turn on the extra lights.
It brought the first word from Watson. He threw up both arms
before his face; like one shutting out the lightning.
"Don't!" he begged. "Don't! Shut off the lights; you will blind
me! Please; please! Darken the room!"
Sir Henry sprang to the switch. Instantly the place went to
shadow; there was just enough light from the moon to distinguish
the several forms grouped in the middle of the room. Dr. Hansen
proffered a chair.
"Thank you! Ah! Dr. Hansen! You are here--I had thought--This is
much better! I can see fairly well now. You came very near to
blinding me permanently! You didn't know. It's the transition."
Then: "And yet--of course! It's the moon! THE MOON!"
He stopped. There was a strange wistfulness in the last word. And
suddenly he rose to his feet. He turned in gladness, as though to
drink in the mellow flow of the radiance.
"The moon! Gentlemen--doctor--who are these people? This is the
house of the Blind Spot! And it is the moon--the good old earth!
And San Francisco!"
He stopped again. There was a bit of indecision and of wonder
mixed with his gladness. The stillness was only broken by the
scarcely audible voice of Mme. Le Fabre.
"Now we KNOW! It is proven. The sceptics have always asked why the
spirits work only in the half light. We know now."
Watson looked to Dr. Hansen. "Who is this lady? Who are these
"Can you see them?"
"Perfectly. It is the lady in the corner; she thinks--"
"That you are a spirit!"
Watson laughed. "I a spirit? Try me and see!"
"Certainly," asserted Mme. Le Fabre. "You are out of the Blind
Spot. I know; it will prove everything!"
"Ah, yes; the Spot." Watson hesitated. Again the indecision. There
was something latent that he could not recall; though conscious,
part of his mind was still in the apparent fog that lingers back
"I don't understand," he spoke. "Who are you?"
It was Sir Henry this time. "Mr. Watson, we are a sort of
committee. This is the house at 288 Chatterton Place. We are after
the great secret that was discovered by Dr. Holcomb. We were
summoned by Hobart Fenton."
Consciousness is an enigma. Hitherto Watson had been almost inert;
his actions and manner of speech had been mechanical. That it was
the natural result of the strange force that had thrown him out,
no one doubted. The mention of Hobart Fenton jerked him into the
full vigour of wide-awake thinking; he straightened himself.
"Hobart! Hobart Fenton! Where is he?"
"That we do not know," answered Sir Henry. "He was here a moment
ago. It is almost too impossible for belief. Perhaps you can tell
"Exactly. Into the Blind Spot. One and the other; your coming was
coincident with his going!"
Chick raised up. Even in that faint light they could appreciate
the full vigour of his splendid form. He was even more of an
athlete than in his college days, before the Blind Spot took him.
And when he realised what Sir Henry had said he held up one
magnificent arm, almost in the manner of benediction:
"Hobart has gone through? Thank Heaven for that!"
It was a puzzle. True, in that little group there was represented
the accumulated wisdom of human effort. With the possible
exception of the general, there was not a sceptic among them. They
were ready to explain almost anything--but this.
In the natural weakness of futility they had come to associate the
aspect of death or terror with the Blind Spot. Yet, here was
Watson! Watson, alive and strong; he was the reverse of what they
had subconsciously expected.
"What is this Blind Spot?" inquired Sir Henry evenly. "And what do
you mean by giving thanks that Fenton has gone into it?"
"Not now. Not one word of explanation until--What time is it?"
Watson broke off to demand.
They told him. He began to talk rapidly, with amazing force and
decision, and in a manner whose sincerity left no chance for
"Then we have five hours! Not one second to lose. Do what I say,
and answer my questions!" Then: "We must not fail; one slip, and
the whole world will be engulfed--in the unknown! Turn on the
There was that in the personality and the vehemence of the man
that precluded opposition. Out of the Blind Spot had come a
dynamic quality, along with the man; a quickening influence that
made Watson swift, sure, and positive. Somehow they knew it was a
moment of Destiny.
Watson went on:
"First, did Hobart Fenton open the Spot? Or was it a period? By
'period' I mean, did it open by chance, as it did when it caught
Harry and me? Just what did Hobart do? Tell me!"
It was a singular question. How could they answer it? However, Dr.
Malloy related as much as he knew of what Hobart had done; his
wires and apparatus were now merely a tangled mass of fused
metals. Nothing remained intact but the blue gem and the red
"I see. And this pebble: you found it by digging in the cellar, I
How did he know that? Dr. Hansen brought that curiously heavy
little stone and laid it in Watson's hand. The newcomer touched it
with his finger, and for a brief moment he studied it. Then he
"It's the small one," he stated. "And you found it in the cellar.
It was very fortunate; the opening of the Spot was perhaps a
little more than half chance. But it was wonderfully lucky. It let
me out. And with the help of God and our own courage we may open
it again, long enough to rescue Hobart, Harry, and Dr. Holcomb.
Then--we must break the chain--we must destroy the revelation; we
must close the Spot forever!"
Small wonder that they couldn't understand what he meant. Dr.
Hansen thought to cut in with a practical question:
"My dear Chick, what's inside the Spot? We want to know!"
But it was not Watson who answered. It was Mme. Le Fabre.
"Spirits, of course."
Watson gave a sudden laugh. This time he answered:
"My dear lady, if you know what I know, and what Dr. Holcomb has
discovered, you would ask YOURSELF a question or so. Possibly you
yourself are a spirit!"
"What!" she gasped. "I--a spirit!"
"Exactly. But there is no time for questions. Afterwards--not now.
Five hours, and we must--"
Someone came to the door. It was Jerome. At the sight of Watson he
stopped, clutching the stub of his cigar between his teeth. His
grey eyes took in the other's form from head to shoe leather.
"Back?" he inquired. "What did you find out, Watson? They must
have fed you well over yonder!"
And Jerome pointed toward the ceiling with his thumb. It wasn't in
his dour nature to give way to enthusiasm; this was merely his
manner of welcome. Watson smiled.
"The eats were all right, Jerome, but not all the company. You're
just the man I want. We have little time; none to spare for talk.
Are you in touch with Bertha Holcomb?"
The detective nodded.
Watson took the chair that Fenton had so strangely vacated and
reached for paper and pencil. Once or twice he stopped to draw a
line, but mostly he was calculating. He referred constantly to a
paper he took from his pocket. When he was through he spread his
palm over what he had written.
"You are no longer connected with headquarters, I presume. But--
can you get men?"
"If need be."
"You will need them!" Just then Watson noticed the uniform of
General Hume. "Jerome, can you give this officer a bodyguard?"
It was both unusual and lightning-sudden. Nevertheless, there was
something in Watson's manner that called for no challenge;
something that would have brooked no refusal. And the general,
although a sceptic, was acting solely from force of habit when he
"It seems to me, Watson, that you--"
Those who were present are not likely to forget it. Some men are
born, some rise, to the occasion; but Watson was both. He was
clear-cut, dominant, inexorable. He levelled his pencil at the
"It SEEMS to you! General, let me ask you: If your country's
safety were at stake, would you hesitate to throw reinforcements
into the breach?"
"All right. It's settled. Take care of your red tape AFTERWARDS."
He wheeled to the detective. "Jerome, this is a sketch of the
compartments of Dr. Holcomb's safe. Not the large one in his
house, but the small one in his laboratory. Go straight to Dwight
Way. Give this note," indicating another paper, "to Bertha
Holcomb. Tell her that her father is safe, and that I am out of
the Blind Spot. Tell her you have come to open the laboratory
safe. I've written down the combination. If it doesn't work use
explosives; there's nothing inside which force can harm. In the
compartment marked 'X' you will find a small particle about the
size of a pea, wrapped in tin-foil, and locked in a small metal
box. You will have to break the box. As for the contents, once you
see the stone you can't mistake it; it will weigh about six
pounds. Get it, and guard it with your life!"
Jerome put Watson's instructions in his wallet, at the same time
glancing about the room.
"Where is Fenton?" he asked.
It was Watson who answered. He gave us the first news that had
ever come from the Blind Spot. He spoke with firm deliberation, as
though in full realisation of the sensation:
"Hobart Fenton has gone through the Blind Spot. Just now he is
right here in this room."
Sir Henry jumped.
"In this room! Is that what you said, Watson?"
The other ignored him.
"Jerome, you haven't a minute to lose! You and the general; bring
that stone back to this house at ANY cost! Hurry!"
In another moment Jerome and Hume were gone. And few people, that
day, suspected the purport of that body of silent men who crossed
over the Bay of San Francisco. They were grim, and trusted, and
under secret orders. They had a mission, did they but know it, as
important as any in history. But they knew only that they were to
guard Jerome and the general at all hazards. One peculiarly heavy
stone, "the size of a pea"! How are we ever to calculate its
As for the group remaining with Watson, not one of them ever
dreamed that any danger might come out of the Blind Spot. Its
manifestations had been local and mostly negative. No; the main
incentive of their interest had been simply curiosity.
But apparently Watson was above them all. He paid no further
attention to them for a while; he bent at Fenton's desk and worked
swiftly. At length he thrust his papers aside.
"I want to see that cellar," he announced. "That is, the point
where you found that red pebble!"
Down in the basement, Sir Henry gave the details. When he came to
mention the various liquids which Fenton had poured into the
woodwork upstairs Watson examined the pool intently.
"Quite so. They would come out here--naturally."
Sir Henry could not understand. His perplexity was reflected in
the faces of Herold, the two physicians, Dr. Malloy, Miss Clarke,
and Mme. Le Fabre--and Charlotte spoke for them all:
"Can't you explain, Mr. Watson? The woodwork had nothing whatever
to do with the cellar. There was the floor between, just as you
see it now."
"Naturally," Watson repeated. "It could be no other place! It was
on its way to the other side, but it could go only half-way.
Simply a matter of focus, you know. I beg pardon; you must hold
your curiosity a little longer."
He began measuring. First he located the line across the
floorjoists overhead, where rested the partition separating the
dining-room from the parlour. Finding the middle of this line, he
dropped an improvised plumb-line to the ground; and from this spot
as centre, using a string about ten feet long, he described a
circle on the earth. Then, referring to his calculations, he
proceeded to locate several points with small stakes pressed into
the soil. Then he checked them off and nodded.
"It's even better than the professor thought. His theory is all
but proven. If Jerome and Hume can deliver the other stone without
accident, we can save those now inside the Spot." Then, very
solemnly: "But we face a heavy task. It will be another
Thermopylae. We must hold the gate against an occult Xerxes,
together with all his horde."
"The hosts of the dead!" exclaimed Mme. Le Fabre.
"No; the living! Just give me time, Madame, and you will see
something hitherto undreamed of. As for your theory--tomorrow you
may doubt whether you are living or dead! In other words, Dr.
Holcomb has certainly proved the occult by material means. He has
done it with a vengeance. In so doing he has left us in doubt as
to ourselves; and unless he discovers the missing factor within
the next few hours we are going to be in the anomalous position of
knowing plenty about the next world, but nothing about ourselves."
He paused. He must have known that their curiosity could not hold
out much longer. He said:
"Now, just one thing more, friends, and I can tell you everything,
while we are waiting for Jerome and the general to return. But
first I must see the one who preceded me out of the spot."
"Ariadne!" from Charlotte, in wonder.
"Ariadne!" exclaimed Watson. He was both puzzled and amazed. "Did
you call her--Ariadne?"
"She is upstairs," cut in Dr. Higgins.
"I must see her!"
A minute or two later they stood in the room where the girl lay.
The coverlet was thrown back somewhat revealing the bare left arm
and shoulder, and the delicately beautiful face upon the pillow.
Her golden hair was spread out in riotous profusion. The other
hand was just protruding from the coverlet, and displayed a faint
red mark, showing where Hobart's bracelet had been fastened at the
moment he disappeared.
Charlotte stepped over and laid her hand against the girl's cheek.
"Isn't she wonderful!" she murmured.
But Dr. Higgins looked to Watson.
"Do you know her?"
The other nodded. He stooped over and listened to her breathing.
His manner was that of reverence and admiration. He touched her
"I see how it must have happened. Precisely what I experienced,
only--" Then: "You call her Ariadne?"
"We had to call her something," replied Charlotte. "And the name--
it just came, I suppose."
"Perhaps. Anyhow, it was a remarkably good guess. Her true name is
"THE Aradna? Who--what is she?"
"Just that: the Aradna. She is one of the factors that may save
us. And on earth we would call her queen." Then, without waiting
for the inevitable question, Watson said:
"Your professional judgment will soon come to the supreme test,
Dr. Higgins. She is simply numbed and dazed from coming through
the Spot." Charlotte had already described to him the girl's
arrival. "The mystery is that she was permitted an hour of
rationality before this came upon her. I wonder if Hobart's
vitality had anything to do with it?"--half to himself. "As for
the Rhamda"--he smiled--"he is merely interested in the Spot; that
is all. He would never harm the Aradna; he had nothing whatever to
do with her condition. We were mistaken about the man. Anyway, it
is the Spot of Life that interests us now."
"The Spot of Life," repeated Sir Henry. "Is that--"
"Yes; the Blind Spot, as it is known from the other side. It
overtops all your sciences, embraces every cult, and lies at the
base of all truth. It is--it is everything." ^
Watson turned to the head upon the pillow. He ventured to touch
the cheek, with a trace of tenderness in his action and of
wistfulness near to reverence. It was not love; it was rather as
one might touch a fairy. In both spirit and substance she was
truly of another world. Watson gave a soft sigh and looked up at
"Yes, I can explain. Now that I know she is well, I shall tell you
all I know from the beginning. It's certainly your turn to ask
questions. I may not be able to tell you all that you want to
know; but at least I know more than any other person this side of
the Spot. Let us go down to the library."
He glanced at a clock. "We have nearly five hours remaining. Our
test will come when we open the Spot. We must not only open it,
but we must close it at all costs."
They had reached the lower hall. At the front door Watson paused
and turned to the others.
"Just a moment. We may fail tonight. In case we do, I would like
one last look at my own world--at San Francisco."
He opened the door. The rest hung back; though they could not
understand, they could sense, vaguely, the emotion of this strange
man of brave adventure. The scene, the setting, the beauty, were
all akin to the moment. Watson, stood bareheaded, looking down at
the blinking lights of the city of the Argonauts. The moon in a
starlit sky was drifting through a ragged lace of cloud. And over
it all was a momentary hush, as though the man's emotion had
called for it.
No one spoke. At last Watson closed the door. And there was just
the trace of tears in his eyes as he spoke:
"Now my friends--" And led the way into the parlour.
THE OCCULT WORLD
"In telling what I know," began Watson, "I shall use a bit of a
preface. It's necessary, in a way, if you are to understand me;
besides, it will give you the advantage of looking into the Blind
Spot with the clear eyes of reason. I intend to tell all, to omit
nothing. My purpose in doing this is that, in case we should fail
tonight, you will be able to give my account to the world."
It was a strange introduction. His listeners exchanged thoughtful
glances. But they all affirmed, and Sir Henry hitched his chair
"All right, Mr. Watson. Please proceed."
"To begin with," said Watson, "I assume that you all know of Dr.
Holcomb's announcement concerning the Blind Spot. You remember
that he promised to solve the occult; how he foretold that he
would prove it not by immaterial but by the very material means;
that he would produce the fact and the substance.
"Now, the professor had promised to deliver something far greater
than he had thought it to be. At the same time, what he knew of
the Blind Spot was part conjecture and part fact. Like his
forebears and contemporaries, he looked upon man as the real
"But it's a question, now, as to which is reality and which is
not. There is not a branch of philosophy that looks upon the
question in that light. Bishop Berkeley came near and he has been
followed by others; but they all have been deceived by their own
sophistry. However, except for the grossest materialists, all
thinkers take cognizance of a hereafter.
"No one dreamed of a Blind Spot and what it may lead to, what it
might contain. We are five-sensed; we interpret the universe by
the measure of five yardsticks. Yet, the Blind Spot takes even
those away; the more we know, it seems, the less certain we are of
ourselves. As I said to Mme. Le Fabre, it is a difficult question
to determine, after all, just who are the ghosts. At any rate, I
KNOW"--and he paused for effect--"I know that there are uncounted
millions who look upon us and our workings as entirely
"Remember that what I have to tell you is just as real as your own
lives have been since babyhood.
"It was slightly over a year ago that my last night on the earth
"I had gone out for the evening, in the forlorn hope of meeting a
friend, of having some slight taste of pleasure before the end
"For several days I had been labouring under a sort of
premonition, knowing that my life was slowly seeping away and that
my vitality was slipping, bit by bit, to what I thought must be
death. Had I then known what I know now, I could have saved
myself. But if I had done it, if I had saved myself, we would
never have found Dr. Holcomb.
"Perhaps it was the same fate that led me to Harry, that night. I
don't know. Nevertheless, if there is any truth in what I have
learned on the other side of the Blind Spot, it would seem that
there is something higher than mere fate. I had never believed in
luck; but when everything works out to a fraction of a breath, one
ceases to be sceptical on the question of destiny and chance. _I_
say, everything that happened that night was FORCED from the other
side. In short, my giving that ring to Harry was simply a link in
the chain of circumstances. It just had to be; the PROPHECY would
not have had it otherwise."
Without stopping to explain what he meant by the word "prophecy,"
Watson went on:
"That's what makes it puzzling. I have never been able to
understand how every bit has dovetailed with such exactness. We--
you and I--are certainly not supernatural; and yet, on the other
side of the Spot, the proof is overwhelmingly convincing.
"I was very weak that night. So weak that it is difficult for me
to remember. The last I recollect was my going to the back of the
house; to the kitchen, I think. I had a light in my hands. The
boys were in the front room, waiting. One of them had opened a
door some yards away from where I stood.