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

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

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

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

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

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

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



"I must see Professor Kennedy - where is he? - I must see him, for God's

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

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

"Why, Miss - er - Miss - my dear young lady - what's the matter?" he
stammered, catching her by the arm gently.

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

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

"Please," he soothed, "get yourself together, please - try! What is the

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

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

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

"A murder?" repeated Kennedy incredulously. "YOU commit a murder?"

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

"Baron Kreiger!" exclaimed Kennedy in surprise, looking at her more

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

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

It read simply, "Miss Paula Lowe."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Our door buzzer sounded.

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

"What shall I do?" she whispered. "Where shall I go?"

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

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

"Both of you?" interrupted Craig.

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

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

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

It was our old friend Burke of the Secret Service.

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

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

Craig looked at him reproachfully, but said nothing.

"I beg your pardon - a thousand times," hastened Burke. "I was so
excited, I wasn't thinking - "

"Once is enough, Burke," laughed Kennedy, his good nature restored at
Burke's crestfallen appearance.

"Well, you see," went on the Secret Service man, "this thing is so very
important that - well, I forgot."

He sat down and hitched his chair close to us, as he went on in a
lowered, almost awestruck tone.

"Kennedy," he whispered, "I'm on the trail, I think, of something
growing out of these terrible conditions in Europe that will tax the
best in the Secret Service. Think of it, man. There's an organization,
right here in this city, a sort of assassin's club, as it were, aimed
at all the powerful men the world over. Why, the most refined and
intellectual reformers have joined with the most red-handed anarchists
and - "

"Sh! not so loud," cautioned Craig. "I think I have one of them in the
next room. Have they done anything yet to the Baron?"

It was Burke's turn now to look from one to the other of us in
unfeigned surprise that we should already know something of his secret.

"The Baron?" he repeated, lowering his voice. "What Baron?"

It was evident that Burke knew nothing, at least of this new plot which
Miss Lowe had indicated. Kennedy beckoned him over to the window
furthest from the door to his own room.

"What have you discovered?" he asked, forestalling Burke in the
questioning. "What has happened?"

"You haven't heard, then?" replied Burke.

Kennedy nodded negatively.

"Fortescue, the American inventor of fortescite, the new explosive,
died very strangely this morning."

"Yes," encouraged Kennedy, as Burke came to a full stop to observe the
effect of the information.

"Most incomprehensible, too," he pursued. "No cause, apparently. But it
might have been overlooked, perhaps, except for one thing. It wasn't
known generally, but Fortescue had just perfected a successful
electro-magnetic gun - powderless, smokeless, flashless, noiseless and
of tremendous power. To-morrow he was to have signed the contract to
sell it to England. This morning he is found dead and the final plans
of the gun are gone!"

Kennedy and Burke were standing mutely looking at each other.

"Who is in the next room?" whispered Burke hoarsely, recollecting
Kennedy's caution of silence.

Kennedy did not reply immediately. He was evidently much excited by
Burke's news of the wonderful electro-magnetic gun.

"Burke," he exclaimed suddenly, "let's join forces. I think we are both
on the trail of a world-wide conspiracy - a sort of murder syndicate to
wipe out war!"

Burke's only reply was a low whistle that involuntarily escaped him as
he reached over and grasped Craig's hand, which to him represented the
sealing of the compact.

As for me, I could not restrain a mental shudder at the power that
their first murder had evidently placed in the hands of the anarchists,
if they indeed had the electro-magnetic gun which inventors had been
seeking for generations. What might they not do with it - perhaps even
use it themselves and turn the latest invention against society itself!

Hastily Craig gave a whispered account of our strange visit from Miss
Lowe, while Burke listened, open-mouthed.

He had scarcely finished when he reached for the telephone and asked
for long distance.

"Is this the German embassy in Washington?" asked Craig a few moments
later when he got his number. "This is Craig Kennedy, in New York. The
United States Secret Service will vouch for me - mention to them Mr.
Burke of their New York office who is here with me now. I understand
that Baron Kreiger is leaving for New York to meet some bankers this
afternoon. He must not do so. He is in the gravest danger if he - What?
He left last night at midnight and is already here?"

Kennedy turned to us blankly.

The door to his room opened suddenly.

There stood Miss Lowe, gazing wild-eyed at us. Evidently her
supernervous condition had heightened the keenness of her senses. She
had heard what we were saying. I tried to read her face. It was not
fear that I saw there. It was rage; it was jealousy.

"The traitress - it is Marie!" she shrieked.

For a moment, obtusely, I did not understand.

"She has made a secret appointment with him," she cried.

At last I saw the truth. Paula Lowe had fallen in love with the man she
had sworn to kill!



"What shall we do?" demanded Burke, instantly taking in the dangerous
situation that the Baron's sudden change of plans had opened up.

"Call O'Connor," I suggested, thinking of the police bureau of missing
persons, and reaching for the telephone.

"No, no!" almost shouted Craig, seizing my arm. "The police will
inevitably spoil it all. No, we must play a lone hand in this if we are
to work it out. How was Fortescue discovered, Burke?"

"Sitting in a chair in his laboratory. He must have been there all
night. There wasn't a mark on him, not a sign of violence, yet his face
was terribly drawn as though he were gasping for breath or his heart
had suddenly failed him. So far, I believe, the coroner has no clue and
isn't advertising the case."

"Take me there, then," decided Craig quickly. "Walter, I must trust
Miss Lowe to you on the journey. We must all go. That must be our
starting point, if we are to run this thing down."

I caught his significant look to me and interpreted it to mean that he
wanted me to watch Miss Lowe especially. I gathered that taking her was
in the nature of a third degree and as a result he expected to derive
some information from her. Her face was pale and drawn as we four piled
into a taxicab for a quick run downtown to the laboratory of Fortescue
from which Burke had come directly to us with his story.

"What do you know of these anarchists?" asked Kennedy of Burke as we
sped along. "Why do you suspect them?"

It was evident that he was discussing the case so that Paula could
overhear, for a purpose.

"Why, we received a tip from abroad - I won't say where," replied Burke
guardedly, taking his cue. "They call themselves the 'Group,' I
believe, which is a common enough term among anarchists. It seems they
are composed of terrorists of all nations."

"The leader?" inquired Kennedy, leading him on.

"There is one, I believe, a little florid, stout German. I think he is
a paranoiac who believes there has fallen on himself a divine mission
to end all warfare. Quite likely he is one of those who have fled to
America to avoid military service. Perhaps, why certainly, you must
know him - Annenberg, an instructor in economics now at the University?"

Craig nodded and raised his eyebrows in mild surprise. We had indeed
heard of Annenberg and some of his radical theories which had sometimes
quite alarmed the conservative faculty. I felt that this was getting
pretty close home to us now.

"How about Mrs. Annenberg?" Craig asked, recalling the clever young
wife of the middle-aged professor.

At the mere mention of the name, I felt a sort of start in Miss Lowe,
who was seated next to me in the taxicab. She had quickly recovered
herself, but not before I saw that Kennedy's plan of breaking down the
last barrier of her reserve was working.

"She is one of them, too," Burke nodded. "I have had my men out
shadowing them and their friends. They tell me that the Annenbergs hold
salons - I suppose you would call them that - attended by numbers of men
and women of high social and intellectual position who dabble in
radicalism and all sorts of things."

"Who are the other leaders?" asked Craig. "Have you any idea?"

"Some idea," returned Burke. "There seems to be a Frenchman, a tall,
wiry man of forty-five or fifty with a black mustache which once had a
military twist. There are a couple of Englishmen. Then there are five
or six Americans who seem to be active. One, I believe, is a young

Kennedy checked him with a covert glance, but did not betray by a
movement of a muscle to Miss Lowe that either Burke or himself
suspected her of being the young woman in question.

"There are three Russians," continued Burke, "all of whom have escaped
from Siberia. Then there is at least one Austrian, a Spaniard from the
Ferrer school, and Tomasso and Enrico, two Italians, rather heavily
built, swarthy, bearded. They look the part. Of course there are
others. But these in the main, I think, compose what might be called
'the inner circle' of the 'Group.'"

It was indeed an alarming, terrifying revelation, as we began to
realize that Miss Lowe had undoubtedly been telling the truth. Not
alone was there this American group, evidently, but all over Europe the
lines of the conspiracy had apparently spread. It was not a casual
gathering of ordinary malcontents. It went deeper than that. It
included many who in their disgust at war secretly were not unwilling
to wink at violence to end the curse. I could not but reflect on the
dangerous ground on which most of them were treading, shaking the basis
of all civilization in order to cut out one modern excrescence.

The big fact to us, just at present, was that this group had made
America its headquarters, that plans had been studiously matured and
even reduced to writing, if Paula were to be believed. Everything had
been carefully staged for a great simultaneous blow or series of blows
that would rouse the whole world.

As I watched I could not escape observing that Miss Lowe followed Burke
furtively now, as though he had some uncanny power.

Fortescue's laboratory was in an old building on a side street several
blocks from the main thoroughfares of Manhattan. He had evidently
chosen it, partly because of its very inaccessibility in order to
secure the quiet necessary for his work.

"If he had any visitors last night," commented Kennedy when our cab at
last pulled up before the place, "they might have come and gone

We entered. Nothing had been disturbed in the laboratory by the coroner
and Kennedy was able to gain a complete idea of the case rapidly,
almost as well as if we had been called in immediately.

Fortescue's body, it seemed, had been discovered sprawled out in a big
armchair, as Burke had said, by one of his assistants only a few hours
before when he had come to the laboratory in the morning to open it.
Evidently he had been there undisturbed all night, keeping a gruesome
vigil over his looted treasure house.

As we gleaned the meager facts, it became more evident that whoever had
perpetrated the crime must have had the diabolical cunning to do it in
some ordinary way that aroused no suspicion on the part of the victim,
for there was no sign of any violence anywhere.

As we entered the laboratory, I noted an involuntary shudder on the
part of Paula Lowe, but, as far as I knew, it was no more than might
have been felt by anyone under the circumstances.

Fortescue's body had been removed from the chair in which it had been
found and lay on a couch at the other end of the room, covered merely
by a sheet. Otherwise, everything, even the armchair, was undisturbed.

Kennedy pulled back a corner of the sheet, disclosing the face,
contorted and of a peculiar, purplish hue from the congested blood
vessels. He bent over and I did so, too. There was an unmistakable odor
of tobacco on him. A moment Kennedy studied the face before us, then
slowly replaced the sheet.

Miss Lowe had paused just inside the door and seemed resolutely bound
not to look at anything. Kennedy meanwhile had begun a most minute
search of the table and floor of the laboratory near the spot where the
armchair had been sitting.

In my effort to glean what I could from her actions and expressions I
did not notice that Craig had dropped to his knees and was peering into

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Online LibraryArthur B. ReeveThe War Terror → online text (page 1 of 23)