The wreck of the wave-measuring machine once installed in the laboratory, every energy was bent towards putting it into perfect working condition. A maddening task it was. Thrown hither and thither in the corners of warehouses, the missing parts and waving broken wires of the apparatus, as it first stood on the laboratory table, gave but little promise of final renovation. But the possibilities which it held entranced both Dorothy and Tom. Each day I came up to find them working. Each night they came back to the laboratory for a few more hours' work. The minds of all of us were turning more and more to our one fixed purpose, the discovery of the man who was trying to stop all war. The stir and tremor of the tumultuous world around, eager for news of the dread tragedies, seemed to be but an outside interest, compared with the tremendous possibilities of running down the individual at the bottom of this gigantic undertaking.
Gradually the chaos began to take on form. Cylinders of shining metal rose above the polish of the base. Revolving hemispheres and cones resumed their original forms or were replaced by reproductions. Broken wires, replaced by new wire, found their connections. Jones was indefatigable. He was forever polishing, adjusting, scraping, and his mild blue eyes behind his big spectacles glowed with enthusiasm, as he sat gazing at the wave-measuring machine and working on one of its parts.
On the evening of the fourth day I came up to the laboratory about ten o'clock, and found Tom making some last adjustments, while Dorothy and Jones looked on.
"We think we have it," said Dorothy, as she greeted me. " This is the last connection."
" Now that you have it all set up, tell me how it works," I said. " You've been so tied up in the thing, that I've hardly heard a word from you in a week."
" Too bad," answered Dorothy, laughing. " We'll tell you enough about it to show you what to expect."
I leaned over curiously to examine the wave-measuring machine. It stood on a round table ten or twelve feet in diameter looking not unlike some fortressed town, such as rises on the banks of many a river in southern Europe. A belt of broad, shining metal a foot high encircled it as the gray walls of stone surround the town. Within the belt stood polished cones and hemispheres which rose for a height of some two feet, bringing to mind round towers of fortalice and dwelling within battlemented walls. Wires, ranged with mathematical preciseness, completed the comparison by their similarity to streets surmounted by telegraph wires. The surrounding belt seemed solid, but, as Jones threw the reflector of a powerful incandescent on it, I could see it was lined with millions of tiny seams. Tom threw a switch and, to my surprise, the belt began slowly to revolve about the central portion.
" What's that belt for ? " I asked.
" That's where the wave of electrical energy enters. It goes into the interior of the machine through one of those tiny slits which you see. Once inside, the wave strikes a magnetic coil about a mirror, which swings when the energy acts upon it, and throws a beam of light down that scale." He pointed to the opposite wall.
There, extending from one side to the other of the room, some fifty feet in all, stretched a scale like a foot rule suddenly grown gigantic. Its space was covered with divisions, a big zero in the middle and numbers running up from zero into the hundreds of thousands and millions on either side. Just at the zero point rested a long narrow beam of light.
" You see that beam," Tom went on. " When the waves come into the machine, they go through as I explained, the machine stops, and the light goes up or down the scale. The distance that it goes shows how far away the wave started. The slit through which the wave comes shows the exact direction from which it comes, and we can get that easily because the machine stops as the wave goes through. Then, by means of a certain amount of mathematics, we hope to be able to find just where a wave comes from. We can adjust the machine so that it will register anything from a wireless telegraph message through a radium discharge to the enormously powerful waves which ' the man ' uses. We have it adjusted now for the waves which ' the man ' uses in destroying battleships. We know something of them from the way in which they charged the reflectoscopes. That's the whole thing."
" One thing more," I said inquiringly. " If ' the man ' destroys a battleship, does the machine stop and the beam of light run down the scale."
" Yes," answered Tom. " That's just what it does."
" All right," I said.
" Now, we'll start up," remarked Tom. " Turn off the lights, throw off the inner insulation," he commanded, turning to Jones, who obediently threw a couple of switches.
We were left in partial darkness. On the long scale, on the opposite side of the room, the single line of light rested at the centre, illuminating the zero. There was a shaded incandescent in one corner, which threw no light on the black wall where stood the scale, but gave a dim radiance sufficient to reveal the belt of polished metal as it swiftly revolved about the mass within. Dorothy sat near the apparatus. Jones was puttering with something at one end of the scale, and Tom and I sat side by side, watching the whole scale. Suddenly the beam swept swiftly far up the scale, fluttered for a moment and rested on a point. The moving belt stopped with a slight click.
" That's it. There's another battleship gone," cried Tom, as we all hurried over to the scale. " Now we can tell just where he is doing his deadly work. 2, 340, 624. 1401 " he read, scrutinizing with a microscope the scale at the point where the beam rested. " Here, Jones, turn on the lights. Bring me the logarithm tables, our table of constants, and Denckel's table of constants that we found under the middle cylinder."
Jones ran excitedly across the laboratory, returning with the needed things. Tom, Dorothy and Jones each sat down to figure while I watched Dorothy's nimble fingers, as they flew over the paper, filling sheet after sheet with computations. What different powers lay in those little hands. Abstruse calculations vied with bread making, careful manipulations of delicate instruments with the steering wheel of her motor car. Last week we had eaten a dinner prepared wholly by her. This week she was working out one of the great triumphs of modern science. It seemed almost a shame to confine those talents in a single home — but yet — and the old train of thought started on its ever recurring cycle.
Suddenly Tom threw down his pen. " Beat you that time, old girl! " he said. Dorothy gave no heed, but figured on for a minute more. Then she, too, dropped her pen.
" Want my figures, Tom ? " she asked.
" Not yet," answered Tom. " Wait for Jones. I'll go and get the maps, and we'll work the second step as soon as we have checked these figures."
Jones worked laboriously on, and Tom had gone and returned, bearing two huge portfolios, before his task was ended.
" Read off," said Tom, and a whole series of numerals came from Dorothy's lips, at each of which Jones nodded his head. As she ended she looked inquiringly at Tom.
" Right," said he. " Now reverse the beam to find the slit."
Jones brought a small scale, with lights mounted with flexible cords. He placed it across the beam, sighted through it as Tom threw off the lights, and, after a brief manipulation, threw a switch.
All turned to gaze at the belt. Through a single slit an almost geometric line of light shone forth.
"Beautiful! beautiful!" cried Tom; and Dorothy cried, " Oh, Jim ! oh, Tom ! we've got it."
My name came first to her hour of triumph. I had time to notice that, before the lights went on once more. Tom took a dozen hasty readings, and rapidly read them off. Another period of rapid computation followed, then one by one, Dorothy leading, they made a swift survey of maps. More and more anxious grew the trio as they went on. Map followed map, till Dorothy came to a final one, made her last measurement, and sat back in apparently complete bewilderment. Tom, by a different route, reached the same map and drew it from her, shaking his head vehemently, and Jones, laboring heavily along in the rear, finally stretched his hand for the same sheet.
" What have you got, Jones,?" said Tom sharply.
" Tokio, Japan," said Jones. " What do you get?"
" Tokio, confound it! " said Tom.
Dorothy sat back in her chair and began to laugh at his disgusted tone. " Tom, you get excited too easily. How do you know that he may not be there! "
" I don't," growled Tom. " But I don't believe he's gone from Brest to Tokio in ten days, especially when he is to sink a German warship next."
" But there may be a German warship there," answered Dorothy.
" There isn't a first-class German battleship in Asiatic waters to-day," I broke in. " I'm following every one, and they've all been called in to home stations within a month, on some excuse of trial mobilization. They've all passed Suez."
Tom gave a long whistle. " We set the machine for those terrific waves that ' the man ' uses. Of course somebody in Tokio might have them, but it's improbable. Let's start her up again."
Once more the lights were lowered, once more the belt resumed its revolution, as we watched. Scarcely a minute passed, and the machine stopped as before, with a click. The beam fluttered for a moment, and stopped apparently in the same place where it started.
" Well, I'll be hanged ! " said Tom, as he hurried over to examine it. " .0001," he read off.
" Why, that's not outside New York. Don't figure it," said Dorothy. " Reverse the beam."
No sooner said than done, and a slit on the left sprang into light. Tom stood blankly, his hands deep in his pockets, as he gazed.
" Telephone Carrener in the Physical Laboratory up at U. C. N. Y." said Dorothy excitedly. " Ask him what he's doing now."
Tom jumped for the telephone, and a rapid-fire volley of calls and questions followed. As he hung up the receiver, he turned to us despairingly. " It was Carrener. He's just been making some radioactive experiments. The blamed machine registers every strong radio-active wave that's sent out anywhere in the world."
" Then all you've got to do is to adjust the apparatus till you get a new adjustment which will register ' the man's ' wave, isn't it.'' " I asked.
" Yes," snapped Tom, " and it took Denckel three years to get that adjustment, and there's no data on how he did it. The rest was easy compared to this. If we only had that lost manuscript."
Jones sat huddled in a dejected heap. Dorothy's cheery face was downcast. " I must confess," she sighed, " that I'm afraid the apparatus isn't going to be of any immediate use to us without the manuscript."
" Any immediate use ! " sputtered Tom. " The old thing isn't worth a rap. It'll be registering every trolley car that goes by next. We've done every thing we know how to fix it, and it may be ten years before we find out what's the trouble. If we only had the Denckel manuscript."
" Yes, if we only had Denckel's work," said Dorothy wearily. " But we haven't. There's no use doing anything more to-night. We'll go at it again in the morning."
The next two days brought no result. The wave-measuring machine would tell where the waves came from, but it would do nothing towards separating them. Day after day the reflecto-scopes were watched for the expected sinking of the German ship, but without avail. Change after change was made in the Denckel apparatus, in the hope that the next alteration might be the right one, and that it might come in time to place the man, before the next battleship went down. Saturday afternoon, the last day of the week in which the man was to sink the German battleship, we sat as usual in the laboratory. The last adjustment had been as unsuccessful as the rest, and Tom and Dorothy sat in deep thought, while Jones was scraping the insulation from some wire at one side.
" If we only had that manuscript," said Tom, for the thousandth time, " but failing it, let's have another try. Jones, will you bring me that manuscript? I mean the old table of wave constants we made up last winter."
" That's it," remarked Dorothy. " His mind is so intent on the manuscript that he ordered it instead of soup the other day."
To that maelstrom of papers, his desk, Jones turned to find the needed table of constants, and after watching his efforts for a few minutes, Tom turned to Dorothy.
" Find it, will you, Dorothy ? I imagine it's there."
Dorothy took command, as Tom and I sat in silence. Suddenly Dorothy's clear voice rang out. " Look, look! " and she came rushing across the room to us, holding aloft a big brown paper package, followed by Jones. " It's here, it's here I Mr. Jones had it in his desk, and forgot to give it to you."
Tom cast one look of scorn on the apologetic Jones, as he came slowly forward.
" You immortal id— " he began, but Dorothy put her hand over his mouth.
" Never mind, dear, it's here. Don't waste time. Open it, and see what it says."
Scarcely five minutes passed, when Tom cried, " Here it is," and read rapidly in German to his assistants. " We can have it in shape in an hour. There's just that one missing part that threw us completely off," he ended. He looked at his watch. " Five o'clock by London time, and sometime before twelve, if the man does as he said he would, the German battleship will be destroyed, if it's not gone already. We've got to hustle."
They had worked before eagerly. They worked feverishly now. Even my unskilled labor was called in, and I held and scraped, polished and hammered to the best of my limited ability. Six o'clock, seven, eight, nine, one by one they passed. Tom's hour had grown to four, and reached almost to five, ere the last connection was made. He stood back and threw the switch that set the belt in motion. As the belt revolved, he glanced at the reflectoscope beside him. " No result there as yet," he said reflectively. " I guess we are safe." Ten had passed, eleven come and gone, still we waited. Tom had set his laboratory clock to London time, and as the first stroke of twelve struck he rose, stretching his arms. " First time he's mis— " As he spoke, the beam flashed from the zero well down the board, fluttered as before, and stood still while the belt stopped. We glanced at the reflectoscopes. Their golden ribbons had sprung apart and stood stiffly separate. Everything was at hand this time. Not a word was spoken, but the three bent to their task, figuring with intense rapidity. Tom and Dorothy finished together. Jones, just behind, ran his computing rule faster than he had ever done anything before in my presence. As they ended, Tom spoke. " The harbor — "
" Of Portsmouth, England," finished Dorothy, and the other two nodded gravely. I sat beside the telephone. We had made sure that an operator who knew that a call was coming sat at the branch exchange, and without a second's delay I had the office and had told the news. I held the wire till the word came back. " O. K. Nobody has heard of it yet. If it is true, it is another big beat."
The real gravity of the situation did not come to me with full force, until I read the accounts in the morning papers. The first news that appeared of the sinking of His Germanic Majesty's first-class battleship. Kaiser Charlemagne, had come from me. The moment my story was received in the office, they had cabled their London correspondent in cipher. As soon as the other papers saw the story in our special edition, they had likewise rushed cables and wireless messages across. In consequence, a horde of correspondents had descended on Portsmouth before morning dawned. The night before there had lain in the harbor three German battleships, the Kaiser Charlemagne, the flagship, standing farthest out. In the morning there were but two. At first, half incredulous but yet fearful from the past, the officers of the German and of the English fleets refused to believe the story, but the watch on three ships had seen the lights of the German flagship disappear, and hasty search had proved the fact of her disappearance. By early morning they were forced to the conviction that the Kaiser Charlemagne had followed the Alaska, the Dreadnought Number 8 and La Patrie Number 3.
The cumulative effect of this last blow was tremendous. Before this the world had been hoping against hope, but now sudden, unreasoning panic took control. Up to this time the stock markets of the world had been buoyed up by the support of the great capitalists, and by the aid of the governments. But they had been growing steadily weaker and weaker, and the opening of the Exchange in London and of the Bourses on the continent saw stocks tumbling as never before. All America knew of the ruin abroad when our stock markets opened here, and a panic day unparalleled in our financial history began. After a sleepless night one operator remarked to another, as they walked up Wall Street, " The sinking of battleships is bad enough, but how much worse if he should begin to sink merchant vessels." The market quivered. The next man passed it on. " How terrible if ' the man ' should sink the transatlantic liners carrying gold." The market trembled. A brokerage house gave forth the tip. " The man who is stopping all war has declared that he will sink every transatlantic liner carrying gold, as he considers gold the sinews of war." The market shook to its very foundations. The papers heard the lying news, and published it in scare heads. The market broke utterly and went plunging to utter destruction. Industrials and railroads dropped sixty to two hundred points in an hour. It was one wild scramble, which ended only when no one would buy at any price whatsoever. The day ended with meetings of ruined men sending delegates to the various governments, in a first general appeal for disarmament.
The morning of the second day after the sinking of the Kaiser Charlemagne showed practically but three things in the papers; the account of the panic the day before; futile discussions as to the identity and plans of the man who was trying to stop all war; and stories of deputations entreating the governments of the various powers to disarm. Apparently the last months had raised the numbers of the peace advocates by millions. The papers which had given a few columns a year to such propaganda now gave pages daily. Other factional differences became forgotten. The real need for protecting the lives and property of the nation, the fancied need of protecting commerce, was the theme of every orator at every meeting.
In one place only were these deputations received with no consideration. The German Kaiser, the War Lord, bearded by a single man, stripped of one of his proudest battleships, received all words regarding peace with utter contumely. All papers agreed in considering him the chief stumbhng block in the way of a universal peace.
I was running over the morning papers when a card was brought to me. It was that of Ordway, my old Washington friend, who, as private secretary to the Secretary of War, gave me the message !
" Hullo, Malachi, you old prophet of evil!" he remarked, with a cheerful grin, as he entered. " Give me an inside tip on the end of the world, will you ? I'll use it to bear the market."
" My prophecy shop is closed to-day," I replied, in his own vein. " What brings you from Washington ? "
" I came wholly to see you," he said seriously. " The President made me a special agent to get a line on what you were doing. The report that came to him from the Attorney General, the time they put you in jail, whetted his curiosity, so he sent me up here to see things for myself. Will you let me see Haldane's machine ? "
" Gladly," I answered, and we started for the laboratory.
" Between ourselves," remarked Ordway, as we walked from the car, " and strictly not for publication, there's the deuce to pay with the Kaiser. He's mad as hops about his ship's going down in Portsmouth Harbor. He thinks it's an invidious distinction to have the Kaiser Charlemagne go down in a foreign port, when the other boats have gone down on their own shores. He'd declare war on England for sixpence. Things were strained enough with the commercial rivalry of the last few years, but they're at breaking point now. It would take a mighty small straw to break that uneasy camel's back."
Tom and Dorothy were both in the laboratory, and they greeted Ordway cordially. The especial interest centred in the wave-measuring apparatus. The polished belt was revolving with regular precision, and the beam stood fixed at zero.
" I wish you could have been here and seen it work, when the Kaiser Charlemagne went down," said Dorothy.
" I wish I might," answered Ordway.
Scarcely were the words out of his mouth, when the click and the springing beam sent my heart into my mouth. Dorothy and Tom sprang for paper and their data. Ordway looked on in amazement.
" What's up, Orrington ? " he asked. " What did the thing stop for ? "
" Another ship has gone down," I answered; " but of what nation I know no more than you."
We waited silently till the computation was ended. Dorothy looked up with knotted brow. " I make it Portsmouth again. Do you, Tom ? "
" So do I," said Tom. " There must be some mistake. Let's go over the figures again."
Again they obtained the same result, and an hour passed before they gave up searching for possible errors.
" What are you going to do about it, Orrington ? " asked Ordway finally.
" I'm not going to do anything. It must be a mistake."
" Why not telephone your office and see if they've heard anything ? "
" I did so. They heard nothing, but promised to telephone me as soon as they did."
We had sat for a couple of hours talking when the bell rang, and I answered. It was the office.
" You slipped up this time, Orrington," said the man at the other end. " A German battleship, the Kaiserin Luisa, has just disappeared off Portsmouth."
I passed the word to the eager trio.
" That means war between England and Germany," cried Ordway.
" I believe it does," I exclaimed, " and I'm going to take the first boat for London. Here's just the chance to run him down. He'll be sure to stay in one place now. His work will be in the British Channel."
" We'll come too," cried Dorothy, her eyes lighting at the prospect of the chase. " We'll bring along the wave-measuring machine, and run him down at close quarters, won't we, Tom ? "
Tom nodded vigorously. " I'm with you. This man has simply obsessed me. I can't do any decent work till I've found him."