" What is your idea, Dorothy ?" asked Tom gravely. This last catastrophe, coming when all danger from the man who had stopped all war seemed past, had sobered us all.
" You said there was a mast with wires beside the conning tower of the submarine, that time you saw ' the man,' didn't you, Jim ? " she asked.
" Well, that mast was the aerial of a wireless. I don't know what he uses it for, but apparently he has one. Now that we have the Denckel apparatus fixed to send waves to any given point, we can send off waves of all kinds to Tokio, calling him and recalling him, until we get a wave which his receiver will take. Then we can set up a straight, wireless receiving station here to take his answer."
" What will you say to him ? " Tom asked.
" I'll just say, —' To the man who stopped all war. War is over. All nations are disarming. Reply to us.' "
" It's worth trying, anyway," said Tom, with an air of finality. " I'll go right to work setting up a receiving plant. I can do that, all right, but I can't send Morse through our machine."
" If you'll look out for the construction end of it, I can send Morse over an ordinary key," I suggested.
" Then that's settled," said Tom. " I can set up a wireless that will receive any waves sent from Japan, and I can set up a duplicate of the wave-measuring machine that will send messages straight to Tokio, by means of an ordinary Morse key. Where had we better run our aerial ? "
" Down by the shore," said Dorothy. " We want to avoid the interfering action of the currents that are loose in and around the city."
" There's one thing you've forgotten," I interposed. " If 'the man' is in a submarine, your message may not reach him under water."
" He'll spend most of his time on the surface," said Tom. " With a first-class submarine he could spend two months under water at a time, but he wouldn't want to."
" Don't spend any more time in discussion, boys," interrupted Dorothy. " We must reach him the first moment possible, before any other ship goes down. Meanwhile, Jim, you want to get this to the paper, don't you ? "
" I surely do," I responded, and I hurried off to wire the London office. I sent my telegram over our private line, and waited for the answer. In five minutes it came back.
" Too late, this time, my boy. Japanese first-class battleship disappeared in broad daylight in the harbor of Tokio. They sent it on here immediately, and we have had it for some minutes. Rest on your laurels." Signed, Maxwell.
" Well," I thought to myself, as I returned, " I can afford to rest on my laurels. There's not a country in the civilized world where my name is not known to-day." My mail was full of requests for interviews, for magazine articles, for lecture tours. I was a made man, and as I mused on these things I walked on somewhat more proudly than my wont, but as I thought over the experiences of the last months, saw in what an extraordinary fashion fortune had played into my hands, saw how Tom Haldane had saved my life by his shrewd foresight and scientific knowledge, and saw, most of all, how I had profited by my dear girl's quick wit, I became far more humble. Most of all, I had not yet accomplished the one thing I set out to do. I had not found the man who was stopping all war. He still eluded me, and still was carrying on his dread work. I reached our hotel feeling that I was really a very ordinary mortal, after all.
While I had been gone, events had been moving swiftly. Some miles out from The Hague, there was a little inn on the shore among the dunes over beyond Scheveningen to which we had twice motored down during the conference. Thoroughly comfortable, a favorite meeting place in summer for the artist colony about the watering place, it was now almost wholly deserted, because of the lateness of the season. We felt it would make ideal headquarters for our work, and soon established ourselves there. Tom was never more in his element than when assembling apparatus, or when controlling men. Here was his chance to do both. Like magic, the tall mast reared its height among the dunes, while coils, wires, and instruments fell swiftly into place. Acting chiefly as a burden bearer, I ran to and fro, while Tom and Dorothy, with their assistants, brought things to completion. As I came in from a final staying of the aerial, Tom turned to me, wiping the sweat of honest toil from his face.
" All ready, Jim," he said. " If you'll start a message over that wire, we'll send it through the ether by means of Denckel's machine, and drop it straight on Tokio. Hold on a minute, though. Let me call up my assistant on the wave-measuring machine, and see if he has heard anything."
A rapid conversation over the telephone we had installed, resulted. Tom turned back to me.
" As yet, I'm thankful to say, nothing happened. ' The man ' has evidently been experimenting this morning, and was experimenting this afternoon. He's right off Tokio, still. Go ahead."
I pressed the key and the vibrant discharge rattled from pole to pole. Over and over again I gave the call. " To the man who has stopped all war." Over and over again I hurled my message out across half a world. For an hour I repeated the call, my eyes and ears waiting for some response from the sounder at my left.
" Let's shift the wave strength," said Tom, and they made a hurried series of adjustments. Once more I took up my task, and at five minute intervals for three hours sent out my call. Again and again we changed the strength of the wave. We struggled with the insensate metal till our heads reeled. At last, about ten o'clock, we gave up for the day. Dorothy and Tom both were worn out, and both went to their rooms. My head felt too feverish to sleep, so I wandered out for a final pipe along the shore, struggling with the old problem which had been the theme of my thoughts for so long, — who was " the man," and how could I find him ? Again and again Regnier came to my mind, as I debated the pros and cons of the ever vexing question. Along the sand, beside the black water, over dune, and through the long wiry grass of the hollows I tramped, till the lights of Scheveningen were just ahead. Neither moon nor stars shone forth, and my feet fell noiselessly on the yielding sand. As I crossed the summit of a dune, I stumbled on the prostrate body of a man lying there looking out to sea. I hastened to utter apologies in French, English and German, but the unknown simply bowed courteously, and started back in the direction from which I had come. " Some smuggler, I presume," I said to myself. " For want of anything better to do, I may as well dog his steps." On and on in the blackness went my stranger, his head bowed as if in deep thought. By beach and road I followed, till, to my surprise, as we came up to the door of the inn, the man ahead entered without once turning round. I hurried after him, but the only occupant of the wide hall was the proprietor. Mustering my best French, I asked news of the man who had entered.
" An Englishman," said my host, " mad, a little touched here;" he laid an expressive finger beside his head. " He has been with me for two months. He eats and stays all day in his room. He goes at night and looks at the sea."
An Englishman ! Strange he had not replied to me. But weightier matters oppressed me, and I went to bed, only to pass a troubled night, haunted strangely by my chance acquaintance. Throughout the night he led me in a mad chase, always seeming about to turn into some one I knew and wished to see, but always at the moment of recognition, when I was about to cry his name, he faded, changing into a gigantic, cloudy, unfamiliar form.
The morning brought a messenger from the city with our mail, and we each found a package of letters beside our plate at breakfast. One postmarked London and addressed to me in my own handwriting, I seized and opened eagerly. It was from Hamerly. I had sent him a photograph of Regnier, which I had received only a week before.
" Dorothy," I said, " here is a letter from Hamerly about Regnier. As you know, I sent him that picture."
" Read it, please," requested Dorothy.
" Half Moon Street,
" London, Nov. 2d, 19—.
" Dear Orrington : — The man who came out of Dr. Heidenmuller's locked room is not the man of your picture. Both are tall and dark, but there the resemblance ends. No allowance for the changes of a year could make them the same. I am sorry that the clue from which you hoped so much should have ended in a cul de sac. I see by the papers that the possessor of this dread power has not ceased his awful work. The country here is in a state of wild excitement and fear over the sinking of the Japanese battleship. I sincerely trust that you may soon be successful in your quest.
" Yours fraternally,
" Edgar Hamerly."
" I knew it," said Dorothy, with conviction. " I've told you he wasn't' the man,' from the very first."
" Well," ejaculated Tom, stirring his chocolate viciously, " I wish to blazes he was, or at least that we could find out who it is, and make him understand that he's a blamed fool." Drinking his chocolate, Tom rose with the remark, " Now I'm going to find out whether the Denckel apparatus has recorded anything new during the night." A few minutes later he returned, with a negative shake of his head. Nothing," he said. " Let's get to work."
That day passed as had the preceding afternoon and evening. Twelve times an hour I sent forth the call. As each hour struck, Tom changed the strength of the wave. The morning passed, the long afternoon waned, and the early night came on. Monotonously, as I pressed the key, my thoughts would range outward into space, peering, searching, striving to find some way to reach the man. My only occupation was the watching of the clock, for Tom and Dorothy were working hard in the next room on plans for altering the wave-measuring machine in such a way as to make it even more effective.
Directly beneath the clock on the wall, a window looked out to sea. As the evening wore on towards night, a storm rose, and the fierce wind of late autumn drove the breakers with a resounding roar on the long beach. I marked the hour, as the storm reached its height, — 9.05. I sent my message, 9.10. I sent it again, and as I raised my eyes from my key I looked at the window. There, pressed against the pane, was the face of a man we had long sought. I leaped to my feet.
" There's Regnier! " I cried, pointing at the window. The face disappeared as I spoke, and Tom and Dorothy, springing from their chairs, looked out through the panes at the storm. In the hush of the night the sound of breakers bore in on us insistently.
" Wild as a loon," said Tom, shaking his head mournfully in my direction.
" Where was he ? " asked Dorothy.
" Right outside that window! " I shouted. " Come, we must find him."
We all started for the outer air, but before we could leave the room, the door opened and Richard Regnier entered. Mental trouble showed in his unquiet look and in his hesitating hand.
" Why, Dick," began Tom, but Dorothy, with an emphatic gesture, commanded silence.
" I beg your pardon," said Regnier slowly, and with evident difficulty. " I saw you through the window, and I thought somehow I might have known you once, and that you could tell me who I am.
Her eyes shining with pity, Dorothy spoke gently. " I'm so glad to see you, Richard. Don't you remember you are Richard Regnier, and that I am Dorothy Haldane.'' You know Tom, here, my brother, well, and this is Jim Orrington whom you met one night in Washington."
At Dorothy's low voice, the clouded brow cleared. The curtain rolled from the darkened eyes, and the bent form straightened. " Thank God. I am Richard Regnier. But where am I, and how did I get here ? " he asked.
" You are on the coast of Holland, near The Hague," responded Dorothy quietly. " I don't know how you got here."
" How did you come to be here ?" asked Regnier eagerly.
" We came to The Hague to the Peace Congress, and we came down here to try to find the man who has stopped all war," answered Dorothy.
" The man who destroyed the Alaska and the Dreadnought Number 8 ? " queried Regnier, in great excitement. " I have known nothing since that time. Has he done anything since ? "
" Many things," said Dorothy sadly. " He is doing great harm now, and that is why we are trying to reach him. We ought not to lose a minute more, Jim. If you and Tom will go to work again, I will sit down and tell Richard about the happenings of the last two months."
Back we went to our tasks and, as I pounded out the message, waited five minutes and pounded it out again, I thought of the strange suspicion under which Regnier had lain. I had believed him the man who had sunk every battleship on that fatal day. I had felt convinced that he was the man for whom we had searched so diligently for weeks. And while we searched, he had been wandering along the sands of the Holland coast.
Regnier and Dorothy had sat for perhaps half an hour in earnest conversation, when they rose and came over to us.
" Tom," said Dorothy, " Dick has had more experience with wireless apparatus than you have. Suppose you let him look over the whole business."
" Glad enough to have him," answered Tom. " It's always possible there may be an error somewhere."
Step by step, Regnier examined the transmitting end of the apparatus, passed from the house to the aerial, came back, and went over the receiving end in every part. As he ended, he straightened up.
" If you don't mind, Tom, I'd like to change that coherer a little. I should judge that your transmitter was all right, but I question if you could get a reply from Tokio through the coherer, as it now stands connected with that sounder."
" Go ahead," said Tom, and I rose from my seat and went over beside Dorothy, while Regnier worked at the powdery mass in the glass tube. He took up the tube at last and held it to the light.
" There, let's try that," he said, and placed the tube in its supports, screwing up the terminals. Scarcely had he made the last turn when the sounder broke forth. Clickety clack, clack, clack, clack. Dots and dashes came with the rapidity of a practised sender. Swiftly I read them off, as they came to my telephone receiver.
" I am the man who is trying to stop all war. Is your news true ? What do you want of me ? Why don't you answer ? "
I jumped to my seat beside the key, and sent the answer out into the ether about us.
" We have only just got your answer through the receiver. Our news is true. All the nations are disarming. Why do you not cease sinking battleships ? Your purpose is accomplished."
I had scarcely ended when the reply came back.
" When did the nations agree on peace ? Who are you ?"
" The nations agreed on peace and made a solemn covenant that all would disarm ten days ago. The four sending this message are Professor Thomas Haldane and Miss Dorothy Haldane of New York, Richard Regnier of Savannah and James Orrington of New York."
There was a perceptible pause this time, before the sounder resumed its motion. Then it began.
" I believe what you say. Are the nations living up to their agreements as to disarmament ? "
" Completely," I replied. " Every one of the nations is living up to the agreement in spirit and in truth. The greatest anxiety which the world feels at present is with regard to your sinking the Japanese battleship, and from fear of your future action."
There was a long pause, and then the words came slowly.
" How can I allay that fear ? "
I had been rapidly reading my sendings and my answers to the other three who sat looking eagerly at the sounder. As I read off that last question, Dorothy spoke up eagerly.
" If he can communicate with us by wireless, why can he not send a message in the same way to all countries ? "
I passed on the suggestion, and slowly this answer came back.
" I will send this message to the ruler of every country. I send it to you first, for you have saved me from causing death unnecessarily.
' The man who has stopped all war now declares unto you that since peace has come, since every nation is now disarming, he will cease his labors. The ships of the nations may now sail the seas without harm from him. The sailors shall be safe from his hand. This will he do, if peace be sure and disarmament be complete. But, on the day that any nation violates its solemn oath and arms its citizens, on that day will he rise, and no ship, be it battleship or peaceful merchantman, bearing that country's flag, shall be safe from destruction.' "
The sounder ceased its clamor. Tom spoke in a low voice, as if he feared to be overheard.
" How can we tell he is the man and not some one else, who is simply playing with us ? We can't afford to take risks. Ask him, Jim, how we can know that he is really the man who has stopped all war."
I turned to my key and sent off the question. Back came the answer.
" By the first letter which I erased and which was found, you shall know me."
" That settles it in my mind," I said. " That's known to not more than a dozen people, and none of them would be sending this."
Tom, meanwhile, had stepped into the next room, and was talking quietly to his assistant. He spoke to me. " Keep him going a minute, Jim. I want to get a message from him."
" Is there anything more you wish to know?" I asked the man by wireless.
" Nothing," he replied. " Do you wish to say anything to me ? "
I could hear Tom's excited voice.
" Got it ? "
" Just once more, Jim," he said.
" There is nothing more," went out from the aerial.
" Then I thank you for telling me of this. You have spared me and spared others much by your wisdom. Good-bye."
" Good-bye," I ended, as Tom stepped from the 'phone, his face beaming.
" Quickest thing on record, that. I got my man to set the machine for the wireless waves ' the man ' is using, and got two records, both from Tokio. That settles it, once for all."
The storm was still at its height. The house rocked with the wind, but the wild moan of the breakers, forgotten while we talked with the man on the other side of the world, now made their presence manifest. The single light within shone on blackened beam and rough hewn settle, into dim but spotless corners, on glistening tile and dark polished floor. Our little group in modern costume, standing about the table where the instruments were placed, seemed an anachronism. We should have been garbed like Rembrandt's models, and in place of key, relay and coherer, there should have been simply one massive oaken table.
Tom turned to Regnier, " Do you know, Dick, what happened to your head ? "
" Sh," said Dorothy, looking quickly at Regnier.
Regnier smiled as he saw her movement. " You needn't worry, Dorothy. I shall be very glad to tell you all I can." He turned to Tom. " I think the injury to my head came from the man who stopped all war."