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Title: Seven Footprints to Satan
Author: Abraham Merritt
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Language: English
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Seven Footprints to Satan

A. Merritt


The clock was striking eight as I walked out of the doors of the
Discoverers' Club and stood for a moment looking down lower Fifth
Avenue. As I paused, I felt with full force that uncomfortable
sensation of being watched that had both puzzled and harassed me for
the past two weeks. A curiously prickly, cold feeling somewhere deep
under the skin on the side that the watchers are located; an odd sort
of tingling pressure. It is a queer sort of a sensitivity that I have
in common with most men who spend much of their lives in the jungle or
desert. It is a throwback to some primitive sixth sense, since all
savages have it until they get introduced to the white man's liquor.

Trouble was I couldn't localize the sensation. It seemed to trickle in
on me from all sides. I scanned the street. Three taxis were drawn up
along the curb in front of the Club. They were empty and their drivers
busy talking. There were no loiterers that I could see. The two swift
side-rubbing streams of traffic swept up and down the Avenue. I
studied the windows of the opposite houses. There was no sign in them
of any watchers.

Yet eyes were upon me, intently. I knew it.

The warning had come to me in many places this last fortnight. I had
felt the unseen watchers time and again in the Museum where I had gone
to look at the Yunnan jades I had made it possible for rich old
Rockbilt to put there with distinct increase to his reputation as a
philanthropist; it had come to me in the theater and while riding in
the Park; in the brokers' offices where I myself had watched the money
the jades had brought me melt swiftly away in a game which I now
ruefully admitted I knew less than nothing about. I had felt it in the
streets, and that was to be expected. But I had also felt it at the
Club, and that was not to be expected and it bothered me more than
anything else.

Yes, I was under strictest surveillance. But why?

That was what this night I had determined to find out.

At a touch upon my shoulder, I jumped, and swept my hand halfway up to
the little automatic under my left armpit. By that, suddenly I
realized how badly the mystery had gotten on my nerves. I turned, and
grinned a bit sheepishly into the face of big Lars Thorwaldsen, back
in New York only a few days from his two years in the Antarctic.

"Bit jerky, aren't you, Jim?" he asked. "What's the matter? Been on a

"Nothing like it, Lars," I answered. "Too much city, I guess. Too much
continual noise and motion. And too many people," I added with a real
candor he could not suspect.

"God!" he exclaimed. "It all looks good to me. I'm eating it up--after
those two years. But I suppose in a month or two I'll be feeling the
same way about it. I hear you're going away again soon. Where this
time? Back to China?"

I shook my head. I did not feel like telling Lars that my destination
was entirely controlled by whatever might turn up before I had spent
the sixty-five dollars in my wallet and the seven quarters and two
dimes in my pocket.

"Not in trouble, are you, Jim?" he looked at me more keenly. "If you
are, I'd be glad to--help you."

I shook my head. Everybody knew that old Rockbilt had been unusually
generous about those infernal jades. I had my pride, and staggered
though I was by that amazingly rapid melting away of a golden deposit
I had confidently expected to grow into a barrier against care for the
rest of my life, make me, as a matter of fact, independent of all
chance, I did not feel like telling even Lars of my folly. Besides, I
was not yet that hopeless of all things, a beachcomber in New York.
Something would turn up.

"Wait," he said, as some one called him back into the Club.

But I did not wait. Even less than baring my unfortunate gamble did I
feel like telling about my watchers. I stepped down into the street.

Who was it that was watching me? And why? Some one from China who had
followed after the treasure I had taken from the ancient tomb? I could
not believe it. Kin-Wang, bandit though he might be, and accomplished
graduate of American poker as well as of Cornell, would have sent no
spies after me. Our, well--call it transaction, irregular as it had
been, was finished in his mind when he had lost. Crooked as he might
be with the cards, he was not the man to go back on his word. Of that
I was sure. Besides, there had been no need of letting me get this far
before striking. No, they were no emissaries of Kin-Wang.

There had been that mock arrest in Paris, designed to get me quickly
out of the way for a few hours, as the ransacked condition of my room
and baggage showed when I returned. A return undoubtedly much earlier
than the thieves had planned, due to my discovery of the ruse and my
surprise sally which left me with an uncomfortable knife slash under
an arm but, I afterwards reflected pleasantly, had undoubtedly left
one of my guards with a broken neck and another with a head that would
not do much thinking for another month or so. Then there had been the
second attempt when the auto in which I was rushing to the steamer had
been held up between Paris and the Havre. That might have been
successful had not the plaques been tucked among the baggage of an
acquaintance who was going to the boat by the regular train, thinking,
by the way, that he was carrying for me some moderately rare old
dishes that I did not want to trust to the possible shocks of fast
automobile travel, to which the mythical engagement on the day of
sailing had condemned me.

Were the watchers this same gang? They must know that the jades were
now out of my hands and safe in the museum. I could be of no further
value to these disappointed gentlemen, unless, of course, they were
after revenge. Yet that would hardly explain this constant, furtive,
patient watching. And why hadn't they struck long before? Surely there
had been plenty of opportunities.

Well, whoever the watchers were, I had determined to give them the
most open of chances to get at me. I had paid all my bills. The sixty-six
dollars and ninety-five cents in my pocket comprised all my
worldly goods, but no one else had any claim on it. Whatever unknown
port I was clearing for with severely bare sticks and decks, it was
with no debts left behind.

Yes, I had determined to decoy my enemies, if enemies they were, out
into the open. I had even made up my mind as to where it should be.

In all New York the loneliest spot at eight o'clock of an October
night, or any night for that matter, is the one which by day is the
most crowded on all the globe. Lower Broadway, empty then of all its
hordes and its canyon-like cleft silent, its intersecting minor
canyons emptier and quieter even than their desert kin. It was there
that I would go.

As I turned down Fifth Avenue from the Discoverers' Club a man passed
me, a man whose gait and carriage, figure and clothing, were oddly

I stood stock still, looking after him as he strolled leisurely up the
steps and into the Club.

Then, queerly disturbed, I resumed my walk. There had been something
peculiarly familiar, indeed disquietingly familiar, about that man.
What was it? Making my way over to Broadway, I went down that street,
always aware of the watchers.

But it was not until I was opposite City Hall that I realized what
that truly weird familiarity had been. The realization came to me with
a distinct shock.

In gait and carriage, in figure and clothing, from light brown
overcoat, gray soft hat, to strong Malacca cane that man had been--


I stopped short. The natural assumption was, of course, that the
resemblance had been a coincidence, extraordinary enough, but still--
coincidence. Without doubt there were at least fifty men in New York
who might easily be mistaken for me at casual glance. The chance,
however, that one of them would be dressed precisely like me at any
precise moment was almost nil. Yet it could be. What else could it be?
What reason had any one to impersonate me?

But then, for that matter, what reason had any one to put a watch on

I hesitated, of half a mind to call a taxi, and return to the Club.
Reason whispered to me that the glimpse I had gotten had been brief,
that perhaps I had been deceived by the play of light and shadow, the
resemblance been only an illusion. I cursed my jumpy nerves and went

Fewer and fewer became the people I passed as I left Cortlandt Street
behind me. Trinity was like a country church at midnight. As the
cliffs of the silent office buildings hemmed me I felt a smothering
oppression, as though they were asleep and swaying in on me; their
countless windows were like blind eyes. But if they were blind, those
other eyes, that I had never for an instant felt leave me, were not.
They seemed to become more intent, more watchful.

And now I met no one. Not a policeman, not even a watchman. The latter
were, I knew, inside these huge stone forts of capital. I loitered at
corners, giving every opportunity for the lurkers to step out, the
invisible to become visible. And still I saw no one. And still the
eyes never left me.

It was with a certain sense of disappointment that I reached the end
of Broadway and looked out over Battery Park. It was deserted. I
walked down to the Harbor wall and sat upon a bench. A ferryboat
gliding toward Staten Island was like some great golden water bug. The
full moon poured a rivulet of rippling silver fire upon the waves. It
was very still--so still that I could faintly hear Trinity's bells
chiming nine o'clock.

I had heard no one approach, but suddenly I was aware of a man sitting
beside me and a pleasant voice asking me for a match. As the flame
flared up to meet his cigarette, I saw a dark, ascetic face,
smooth-shaven, the mouth and eyes kindly and the latter a bit weary, as
though from study. The hand that held the match was long and slender
and beautifully kept. It gave the impression of unusual strength--a
surgeon's hand or a sculptor's. A professional man certainly, I
conjectured. The thought was strengthened by his Inverness coat and
his soft, dark hat. In the broad shoulders under the cloak of the coat
was further suggestion of a muscular power much beyond the ordinary.

"A beautiful night, sir," he tossed the match from him. "A night for
adventure. And behind us a city in which any adventure is possible."

I looked at him more closely. It was an odd remark, considering that I
had unquestionably started out that night for adventure. But was it so
odd after all? Perhaps it was only my overstimulated suspicion that
made it seem so. He could not possibly have known what had drawn me to
this silent place. And the kindly eyes and the face made me almost
instantly dismiss the thought. Some scholar this, perhaps, grateful
for the quietness of the Park.

"That ferryboat yonder," he pointed, seemingly unaware of my scrutiny.
"It is an argosy of potential adventure. Within it are mute
Alexanders, inglorious Caesars and Napoleons, incomplete Jasons each
almost able to retrieve some Golden Fleece--yes, and incomplete Helens
and Cleopatras, all lacking only one thing to round them out and send
them forth to conquer."

"Lucky for the world they're incomplete, then," I laughed. "How long
would it be before all these Napoleons and Caesars and Cleopatras and
all the rest of them were at each other's throats--and the whole world
on fire?"

"Never," he said, very seriously. "Never, that is, if they were under
the control of a will and an intellect greater than the sum total of
all their wills and intellects. A mind greater than all of them to
plan for all of them, a will more powerful than all their wills to
force them to carry out those plans exactly as the greater mind had
conceived them."

"The result, sir," I objected, "would seem to me to be not the
super-pirates, super-thieves and super-courtesans you have cited, but

"Less slaves than at any time in history," he replied. "The personages
I have suggested as types were always under control of Destiny--or
God, if you prefer the term. The will and intellect I have in mind
would profit, since its house would be a human brain, by the mistakes
of blind, mechanistic Destiny or of a God who surely, if he exists,
has too many varying worlds to look after to give minute attention to
individuals of the countless species that crawl over them. No, it
would use the talents of its servants to the utmost, not waste them.
It would suitably and justly reward them, and when it punished--its
punishments would be just. It would not scatter a thousand seeds
haphazardly on the chance that a few would find fertile ground and
grow. It would select the few, and see that they fell on fertile
ground and that nothing prevented their growing."

"Such a mind would have to be greater than Destiny, or, if you prefer
the term, God," I said. "I repeat that it seems to me a super-slavery
and that it's mighty lucky for the world that no such mind exists."

"Ah!" he drew at his cigarette, thoughtfully, "but, you see--it does."

"Yes?" I stared at him, wondering if he were joking. "Where?"

"That," he answered, coolly, "you shall soon know--Mr. Kirkham."

"You know me!" for one amazed moment I thought that I could not have
heard aright.

"Very well," he said. "And that mind whose existence you doubt knows--
all of you there is to know. He summons you! Come, Kirkham, it is time
for us to go!"

So! I had met what I had started out to find! They, whoever they were,
had come out into the open at last.

"Wait a bit." I felt my anger stir at the arrogance of the hitherto
courteous voice. "Whoever you may be or whoever he may be who sent
you, neither of you knows me as well as you seem to think. Let me tell
you that I go nowhere unless I know where it is I'm going, and I meet
no one unless I choose. Tell me then where you want me to go, who it
is I'm to meet and the reason for it. When you do that, I'll decide
whether or not I'll answer this, what did you call it--summons."

He had listened to me quietly. Now his hand shot out and caught my
wrist. I had run across many strong men, but never one with a grip
like that. My cane dropped from my paralyzed grasp.

"You have been told all that is necessary," he said, coldly. "And you
are going with me--now!"

He loosed my wrist, and shaking with rage I jumped to my feet.

"Damn you," I cried. "I go where I please when I please--" I stooped
to pick up my cane. Instantly his arms were around me.

"You go," he whispered, "where he who sent me pleases and when he

I felt his hands swiftly touching me here and there. I could no more
have broken away from him than if I had been a kitten. He found the
small automatic under my left armpit and drew it out of its holster.
Quickly as he had seized me, he released me and stepped back. "Come,"
he ordered.

I stood, considering him and the situation. No one has ever had
occasion to question my courage, but courage, to my way of thinking,
has nothing whatever to do with bull-headed rashness. Courage is the
cool weighing of the factors of an emergency within whatever time
limit your judgment tells you that you have, and then the putting of
every last ounce of brain, nerve and muscle into the course chosen. I
had not the slightest doubt that this mysterious messenger had men
within instant call. If I threw myself on him, what good would it do?
I had only my cane. He had my gun and probably weapons of his own.
Strong as I am, he had taught me that my strength was nothing to his.
It might even be that he was counting upon an attack by me, that it
was what he hoped for.

True, I could cry out for help or I could run. Not only did both of
these expedients seem to me to be ridiculous, but, in view of the
certainty of his hidden aides, useless.

Not far away were the subway stations and the elevated road. In that
brilliantly lighted zone I would be comparatively safe from any
concerted attack--if I could get there. I began to walk away across
the Park toward Whitehall Street.

To my surprise he made neither objection nor comment. He paced quietly
beside me. Soon we were out of the Battery and not far ahead were the
lights of the Bowling Green Station. My resentment and anger
diminished, a certain amusement took their place. Obviously it was
absurd to suppose that in New York City anyone could be forced to go
anywhere against his will, once he was in the usual close touch with
its people and its police. To be snatched away from a subway station
was almost unthinkable, to be kidnapped from the subway once we got in
it absolutely unthinkable. Why then was my companion so placidly
allowing each step to take me closer to this unassailable position?

It would have been so easy to have overpowered me just a few moments
before. Or why had I not been approached at the Club? There were a
dozen possible ways in which I could have been lured away from there.

There seemed only one answer. There was some paramount need for
secrecy. A struggle in the Park might have brought the police.
Overtures at the Club might have left evidence behind had I
disappeared. How utterly outside the mark all this reasoning was I was
soon to learn.

As we drew closer to the Bowling Green entrance of the subway, I saw a
policeman standing there. I admit without shame that his scenic effect
warmed my heart.

"Listen," I said to my companion. "There's a bluecoat. Slip my gun
back into my pocket. Leave me here and go your way. If you do that, I
say nothing. If you don't I'm going to order that policeman to lock
you up. They'll have the Sullivan Law on you if nothing else. Go away
quietly and, if you want to, get in touch with me at the Discoverers'
Club. I'll forget all this and talk to you. But don't try any more of
the rough stuff or I'll be getting good and mad."

He smiled at me, as at some child, his face and eyes again all
kindness. But he did not go. Instead, he linked his arm firmly in mine
and led me straight to the officer. And as we came within earshot he
said to me, quite loudly:

"Now come, Henry. You've had your little run. I'm sure you don't want
to give this busy officer any trouble. Come, Henry! Be good!"

The policeman stepped forward, looking us over. I did not know whether
to laugh or grow angry again. Before I could speak, the man in the
Inverness had handed the bluecoat a card. He read it, touched his hat
respectfully and asked:

"And what's the trouble, doctor?"

"Sorry to bother you, officer," my astonishing companion answered.
"But I'll ask you to help me a bit. My young friend here is one of my
patients. War case--aviator. He hurt his head in a crash in France and
just now he thinks he is James Kirkham, an explorer. Actually, his
name is Henry Walton."

The bluecoat looked at me, doubtfully. I smiled, in my certain

"Go on!" I said. "What else do I think?"

"He's quite harmless," he gently patted my shoulder, "but now and then
he manages to slip away from us. Yes, harmless, but very ingenious. He
evaded us this evening. I sent my men out to trace him. I found him
myself down there in the Battery. At such times, officer, he believes
he is in danger of being kidnapped. That's what he wants to tell you--
that I am kidnapping him. Will you kindly listen to him, officer, and
assure him that such a thing is impossible in New York. Or, if
possible, that kidnappers do not conduct their captives up to a New
York policeman as I have."

I could but admire the deftness of the story, the half humorous and
yet patient, wholly professional manner in which he told it. Safe now
as I thought myself, I could afford to laugh, and I did.

"Quite right, officer," I said. "Only it happens that my name really
is James Kirkham. I never even heard of this Henry Walton. I never saw
this man here until tonight. And I have every reason in the world to
know that he is trying to force me to go somewhere that I have no
intention whatever of going."

"You see!" My companion nodded meaningly to the policeman, who, far
from answering my smiles, looked at me with an irritating sympathy.

"I wouldn't worry," he assured me. "As the good doctor says,
kidnappers don't hunt up the police. Ye couldn't be kidnapped in New
York--at least not this way. Now go right along wit' the doctor, an'
don't ye worry no more."

It was time to terminate the absurd matter. I thrust my hand into my
pocket, brought out my wallet and dipped into it for my card. I picked
out one and with it a letter or two and handed them to the bluecoat.

"Perhaps these identifications will give you another slant," I said.

He took them, read them carefully, and handed them back to me,

"Sure, lad," his tone was soothing. "Ye're in no danger. I'm tellin'
ye. Would ye want a taxi, doctor?"

I stared at him in amazement, and then down to the card and envelopes
he had returned to me. I read them once and again, unbelievingly.

For the card bore the name of "Henry Walton," and each of the
envelopes was addressed to that same gentleman "in care of Dr. Michael
Consardine" at an address that I recognized as a settlement of the
highest-priced New York specialists up in the seventies. Nor was the
wallet I held in my hand the one with which I had started this
eventful stroll a little more than an hour before.

I opened my coat and glanced down into the inner pocket for the
tailor's label that bore my name. There was no label there.

Very abruptly my sense of security fled. I began to realize that it
might be possible to force me to go where I did not want to, after
all. Even from a New York Subway station.

"Officer," I said, and there was no laughter now in my voice, "you are
making a great mistake. I met this man a few minutes ago in Battery
Park. I give you my word he is an utter stranger to me. He insisted
that I follow him to some place whose location he refused to tell, to
meet some one whose name he would not reveal. When I refused, he
struggled with me, ostensibly searching for weapons. During that
struggle it is now plain that he substituted this wallet containing
the cards and envelopes bearing the name of Henry Walton in the place
of my own. I demand that you search him for my wallet, and then
whether you find it or not, I demand that you take us both to

The bluecoat looked at me doubtfully. My earnestness and apparent
sanity had shaken him. Neither my appearance nor my manner was that of
even a slightly unbalanced person. But on the other hand the benign
face, the kindly eyes, the unmistakable refinement and professionalism
of the man of the Battery bench were as far apart as the poles from
the puzzled officer's conception of a kidnapper.

"I'm perfectly willing to be examined at Headquarters--and even
searched there," said the man in the Inverness. "Only I must warn you
that all the excitement will certainly react very dangerously on my
patient. However--call a taxi--"

"No taxi," I said firmly. "We go in the patrol wagon, with police
around us."

"Wait a minute," the bluecoat's face brightened. "Here comes the
Sergeant. He'll decide what to do." The Sergeant walked up.

"What's the trouble, Mooney?" he asked, looking us over. Succinctly,
Mooney explained the situation. The Sergeant studied us again more
closely. I grinned at him cheerfully.

"All I want," I told him, "is to be taken to Headquarters. In a patrol
wagon. No taxi, Dr.----what was it? Oh, yes, Consardine. Patrol
wagon with plenty of police, and Dr. Consardine sitting in it with
me--that's all I want."

"It's all right, Sergeant," said Dr. Consardine, patiently. "I'm quite
ready to go. But as I warned Officer Mooney, it means delay and
excitement and you must accept the responsibility for the effect upon
my patient, whose care is, after all, my first concern. I have said he
is harmless, but tonight I took from him--this."

He handed the Sergeant the small automatic.

"Under his left arm you will find its holster," said Consardine.
"Frankly, I think it best to get him back to my sanatorium as quickly
as possible."

The Sergeant stepped close to me and throwing back my coat, felt under
my left arm. I knew by his face as he touched the holster that
Consardine had scored.

"I have a license to carry a gun," I said, tartly.

"Where is it?" he asked.

"In the wallet that man took from me when he lifted the gun," I
answered. "If you'll search him you'll find it."

"Oh, poor lad! Poor lad!" murmured Consardine. And so sincere seemed
his distress that I was half inclined to feel sorry for myself. He
spoke again to the Sergeant.

"I think perhaps the matter can be settled without running the risk of
the journey to Headquarters. As Officer Mooney has told you, my
patient's present delusion is that he is a certain James Kirkham and
living at the Discoverers' Club. It may be that the real Mr. Kirkham
is there at this moment. I therefore suggest that you call up the
Discoverers' Club and ask for him. If Mr. Kirkham is there, I take it
that will end the matter. If not, we will go to Headquarters."

The Sergeant looked at me, and I looked at Consardine, amazed.

"If you can talk to James Kirkham at the Discoverers' Club," I said at
last, "then I'm Henry Walton!"

We walked over to a telephone booth. I gave the Sergeant the number of
the Club.

"Ask for Robert," I interposed. "He's the desk man."

I had talked to Robert a few minutes before I had gone out. He would
still be on duty.

"Is that Robert? At the desk?" the Sergeant asked as the call came
through. "Is Mr. James Kirkham there? This is Police Sergeant Downey."

There was a pause. He glanced at me.

"They're paging Kirkham," he muttered--then to the phone--"What's
that? You are James Kirkham! A moment, please--put that clerk back.
Hello--you Robert? That party I'm talking to Kirkham? Kirkham the
explorer? You're certain? All right--all right! Don't get excited
about it. I'll admit you know him. Put him back--Hello, Mr. Kirkham?
No, it's all right. Just a case of--er--bugs! Man thinks he's you--"

I snatched the receiver from his hand, lifted it to my ear and heard a
voice saying:

"--Not the first time, poor devil--"

The voice was my very own!


The receiver was taken from me, gently enough. Now the Sergeant was
listening again. Mooney had me by one arm, the man in the Inverness by
the other. I heard the Sergeant say:

"Yes--Walton, Henry Walton, yes, that's the name. Sorry to have
troubled you, Mr. Kirkham. Goo'-by."

He snapped up the 'phone and regarded me, compassionately.

"Too bad!" he said. "It's a damned shame. Do you want an ambulance,

"No, thanks," answered Consardine. "It's a peculiar case. The
kidnapping delusion is a strong one. He'll be quieter with people
around him. We'll go up on the subway. Even though his normal self is
not in control, his subconscious will surely tell him that kidnapping
is impossible in the midst of a subway crowd. Now, Henry," he patted
my hand, "admit that it is. You are beginning to realize it already,
aren't you--"

I broke out of my daze. The man who had passed me on Fifth Avenue! The
man who had so strangely resembled me! Fool that I was not to have
thought of that before! "Wait, officer," I cried desperately. "That
was an impostor at the Club--some one made up to look like me. I saw

"There, there, lad," he put a hand on my shoulder reassuringly. "You
gave your word. You're not going to welch on it, I'm sure. You're all
right. I'm telling you. Go with the doctor, now."

For the first time I had the sense of futility. This net spreading
around me had been woven with infernal ingenuity. Apparently no
contingency had been overlooked. I felt the shadow of a grim
oppression. If those so interested in me, or in my withdrawal, wished
it, how easy would it be to obliterate me. If this double of mine
could dupe the clerk who had known me for years and mix in with my
friends at the Club without detection--if he could do this, what could
he not do in my name and in my guise? A touch of ice went through my
blood. Was that the plot? Was I to be removed so this double could
take my place in my world for a time to perpetrate some villainy that
would blacken forever my memory? The situation was no longer humorous.
It was heavy with evil possibilities.

But the next step in my involuntary journey was to be the subway. As
Consardine had said, no sane person would believe a man could be
kidnapped there. Surely there, if anywhere, I could escape, find some
one in the crowds who would listen to me, create if necessary such a
scene that it would be impossible for my captor to hold me, outwit
him somehow.

At any rate there was nothing to do but go with him. Further appeal to
these two policemen was useless.

"Let's go--doctor," I said, quietly. We started down the subway steps,
his arm in mine.

We passed through the gates. A train was waiting. I went into the last
car, Consardine at my heels. It was empty. I marched on. In the second
car was only a nondescript passenger or two. But as I neared the third
car I saw at the far end half a dozen marines with a second
lieutenant. My pulse quickened. Here was the very opportunity I had
been seeking. I made straight for them.

As I entered the car I was vaguely aware of a couple sitting in the
corner close to the door. Intent upon reaching the leathernecks, I
paid no attention to them.

Before I had gone five steps I heard a faint scream, then a cry of--

"Harry! Oh, Dr. Consardine! You've found him!"

Involuntarily, I halted and turned. A girl was running toward me. She
threw her arms around my neck and cried again:

"Harry! Harry! dear! Oh, thank God he found you!"

Two of the loveliest brown eyes I had ever beheld looked up at me.
They were deep and tender and pitying, and tears trembled on the long
black lashes. Even in my consternation I took note of the delicate
skin untouched by rouge, the curly, silken fine bobbed hair under the
smart little hat--hair touched with warm bronze glints, the nose a bit
uplifted and the exquisite mouth and elfinly pointed chin. Under other
circumstances, exactly the girl I would have given much to meet; under
the present circumstances, well--disconcerting.

"There! There, Miss Walton!" Dr. Consardine's voice was benignly
soothing. "Your brother is all right now!"

"Now, Eve, don't fuss any more. The doctor found him just as I told
you he would."

It was a third voice, that of the other occupant of the corner seat.
He was a man of about my own age, exceedingly well dressed, the face
rather thin and tanned, a touch of dissipation about his eyes and

"How are you feeling, Harry?" he asked me, and added, somewhat
gruffly, "Devil of a chase you've given us this time, I must say."

"Now, Walter," the girl rebuked him, "what matter, so he is safe?"

I disengaged the girl's arms and looked at the three of them.
Outwardly they were exactly what they purported to be--an earnest,
experienced, expensive specialist anxious about a recalcitrant patient
with a defective mentality, a sweet, worried sister almost overcome
with glad relief that her mind-sick runaway brother had been found, a
trusty friend, perhaps a fiance, a bit put out, but still eighteen-carat
faithful and devoted and so glad that his sweetheart's worry was
over that he was ready to hand me a wallop if I began again to
misbehave. So convincing were they that for one insane moment I
doubted my own identity. Was I, after all, Jim Kirkham? Maybe I'd only
read about him! My mind rocked with the possibility that I might be
this Henry Walton whose wits had been scrambled by some accident in

It was with distinct effort that I banished the idea. This couple had,
of course, been planted in the station and waiting for me to appear.
But in the name of all far-seeing devils how could it have been
foretold that I would appear at that very station at that very time?

And suddenly one of Consardine's curious phrases returned to me:

"A mind greater than all to plan for all of them; a will greater than
all their wills--"

Cobwebs seemed to be dropping around me, cobwebs whose multitudinous
strands were held by one master hand, and pulling me, pulling me--
irresistibly... where... and to what?

I turned and faced the marines. They were staring at us with absorbed
interest. The lieutenant was on his feet, and now he came toward us.

"Anything I can do for you, sir?" he asked Consardine, but his eyes
were on the girl and filled with admiration. And at that moment I knew
that I could expect no help from him or his men. Nevertheless, it was
I who answered.

"You can," I said. "My name is James Kirkham. I live at the
Discoverers' Club. I don't expect you to believe me, but these people
are kidnapping me--"

"Oh, Harry, Harry!" murmured the girl and touched her eyes with a
foolish little square of lace.

"All that I ask you to do," I went on, "is to call up the Discoverers'
Club when you leave this car. Ask for Lars Thorwaldsen, tell him what
you have seen, and say I told you that the man at the Club who calls
himself James Kirkham is an impostor. Will you do that?"

"Oh, Dr. Consardine," sobbed the girl. "Oh, poor, poor brother!"

"Will you come with me a moment, lieutenant?" asked Consardine. He
spoke to the man who had called the girl Eve--"Watch; Walter--look
after Harry--"

He touched the lieutenant's arm and they walked to the front of the

"Sit down, Harry, old man," urged Walter.

"Please, dear," said the girl. A hand of each of them on my arms, they
pressed me into a seat.

I made no resistance. A certain grim wonder had come to me. I watched
Consardine and the lieutenant carry on a whispered conversation to
which the latter's leathernecks aimed eager ears. I knew the story
Consardine was telling, for I saw the officer's face soften, and he
and his men glanced at me pityingly; at the girl, compassionately. The
lieutenant asked some question, Consardine nodded acquiescence and the
pair walked back.

"Old man," the lieutenant spoke to me soothingly, "of course I'll do
what you ask. We get off at the Bridge and I'll go to the first
telephone. Discoverers' Club, you said?"

It would have been wonderful if I had not known that he thought he was
humoring a lunatic.

I nodded, wearily.

"'Tell it to the marines,'" I quoted. "The man who said that knew what
he was talking about. Invincible but dumb. Of course, you'll not do
it. But if a spark of intelligence should miraculously light up your
mind tonight or even tomorrow, please phone as I asked."

"Oh, Harry! Please be quiet!" implored the girl. She turned her eyes,
eloquent with gratitude, to the lieutenant. "I'm sure the lieutenant
will do exactly as he has promised."

"Indeed I will," he assured me--and half winked at her.

I laughed outright, I couldn't help it. No heart of any marine I had
ever met, officer or otherwise, could have withstood that look of
Eve's--so appealing, so grateful, so wistfully appreciative.

"All right, lieutenant," I said. "I don't blame you a bit. I bet
myself I couldn't be kidnapped under a New York cop's eye at a subway
entrance. But I lost. Then I bet myself I couldn't be kidnapped in a
subway train. And again I've lost. Nevertheless, if you should get
wondering whether I'm crazy or not, take a chance, lieutenant, and
call up the Club."

"Oh, brother," breathed Eve, and wept once more.

I sank back into my seat, waiting another opportunity. The girl kept
her hand on mine, her eyes, intermittently, on the leatherneck
lieutenant. Consardine had seated himself at my right. Walter sat at
Eve's side.

At Brooklyn Bridge the marines got out, with many backward looks at
us. I saluted the lieutenant sardonically; the girl sent him a
beautifully grateful smile. If anything else had been needed to make
him forget my appeal it was that.

Quite a crowd piled on the car at the Bridge. I watched them
hopefully, as they stampeded into the seats. The hopefulness faded
steadily as I studied their faces. Sadly I realized that old
Vanderbilt had been all wrong when he had said, "The public be
damned." What he ought to have said was "The public be dumb."

There was a Hebraic delegation of a half dozen on their way home to
the Bronx, a belated stenographer who at once began operations with a
lipstick, three rabbit-faced young hoods, an Italian woman with four
restless children, a dignified old gentleman who viewed their
movements with suspicion, a plain-looking Negro, a rather pleasant-
appearing man of early middle age with a woman who might have been a
school teacher, two giggling girls who at once began flirting with the
hoods, a laborer, three possible clerks and a scattering dozen of
assorted morons. The typical New York subway train congregation. A
glance at right and left of me assayed no richer residue of human

There was no use in making an appeal to these people. My three
guardians were too far ahead of them in gray matter and
resourcefulness. They could make it abortive before I was half
finished. But I might drop that suggestion of calling up the Club.
Someone, I argued, might have their curiosity sufficiently developed
to risk a phone call. I fixed my gaze on the dignified old gentleman--
be seemed the type who possibly would not be able to rest until he had
found out what it was all about.

And just as I was opening my mouth to speak to him, the girl patted my
hand and leaned across me to the man in the Inverness.

"Doctor," her voice was very clear and of a carrying quality that made
it audible throughout the car. "Doctor, Harry seems so much better.
Shall I give him--you know what?"

"An excellent idea, Miss Walton," he answered. "Give it to him."

The girl reached under her long sport coat and brought out a small

"Here, Harry," she handed it to me. "Here's your little playmate--
who's been so lonely without you."

Automatically I took the bundle and tore it open.

Into my hands dropped out a dirty, hideous old rag-doll!

As I looked at it, stupefied, there came to me complete perception of
the truly devilish cunning of those who had me in their trap. The very
farcicality of that doll had a touch of terror in it. At the girl's
clear voice, all the car had centered their attention upon us. I saw
the dignified old gentleman staring at me unbelievingly over his
spectacles, saw Consardine catch his eye and tap his forehead
significantly--and so did every one else see him. The Negro's guffaw
suddenly stopped. The Hebraic group stiffened up and gaped at me; the
stenographer dropped her vanity case; the Italian children goggled at
the doll, fascinated. The middle-aged couple looked away, embarrassed.

I realized that I was on my feet, clutching the doll as though I
feared it was to be taken from me.

"Hell!" I swore, and lifted it to dash it to the floor.

And suddenly I knew that any further resistance, and further struggle,
was useless.

The game was rigged up against me all the way through the deck. For
the moment I might as well throw down my hand. I was going, as
Consardine had told me, where the "greater intellect and will"
pleased, whether it pleased me or not. Also I was going when it
pleased. And that was now.

Well, they had played with me long enough. I would throw my hand down,
but as I sat back I would have a little diversion myself.

I dropped into my seat, sticking the doll in my upper pocket where its
head protruded grotesquely. The dignified old gentleman was making
commiserating clucking noises and shaking his head understandingly at
Consardine. One of the rabbit-faced youths said "Nuts" and the girls
giggled nervously. The Negro hastily got up and retreated to the next
car. One of the Italian children pointed to the doll and whined,

I took the girl's hand in both of mine.

"Eve, darling," I said, as distinctly as she had spoken, "you know I
ran away because I don't like Walter there."

I put my arm around her waist.

"Walter," I leaned over her, "no man like you just out of prison for
what was, God knows, a justly deserved sentence, is worthy of my Eve.
No matter how crazy I may be, surely you know that is true."

The old gentleman stopped his annoying clucking and looked startled.
The rest of the car turned its attention like him, to Walter. I had
the satisfaction of seeing a slow flush creep up his cheeks.

"Dr. Consardine," I turned to him, "as a medical man you are familiar
with the stigmata, I mean the marks, of the born criminal. Look at
Walter. The eyes small and too close together, the mouth's hardness
deplorably softened by certain appetites, the undeveloped lobes of the
ears. If I ought not be running loose--how much less ought he to be,

Every eye in the car was taking in each point as I called attention to
it. And each happened to be a little true. The flush on Walter's face
deepened to a brick red. Consardine looked at me, imperturbably.

"No," I went on, "not at all the man for you, Eve."

I gripped the girl closer. I drew her tightly to me. I was beginning
to enjoy myself--and she was marvelously pretty.

"Eve!" I exclaimed. "All this time I've been away from you--and you
haven't even kissed me!"

I lifted up her chin and--well, I kissed her. Kissed her properly and
in no brotherly manner. I heard Walter cursing under his breath. How
Consardine was taking it I could not tell. Indeed I did not care--
Eve's mouth was very sweet.

I kissed her again and again--to the chuckles of the hoods, the
giggles of the girls, and horrified exclamations of the dignified old

And the girl's face, which at the first of my kisses had gone all rosy
red, turned white. She did not resist, but between kisses I heard her

"You'll pay for this! Oh, but you'll pay for this!"

I laughed and released her. I did not care now. I was going to go with
Dr. Consardine wherever he wanted to take me--as long as she went with

"Harry," his voice broke my thought, "come along. Here is our

The train was slowing up for the Fourteenth Street stop. Consardine
arose. His eyes signaled the girl. Her own eyes downcast, she took my
hand. Her hand was like ice. I got up, still laughing. Consardine at
my other side, Walter guarding the rear, I walked out upon the
platform and up the steps to the street. Once I looked behind me into
Walter's face, and my heart warmed at the murder in it.

It had been touche for me with two of them at any rate--and at their
own game.

A chauffeur in livery stood at the top of the steps. He gave me a
quick, curious glance and saluted Consardine.

"This way--Kirkham!" said the latter, curtly.

So I was Kirkham again! And what did that mean?

A powerful car stood at the curb. Consardine gestured. Eve's hand
firmly clasped in mine, I entered, drawing her after me. Walter had
gone ahead of us. Consardine followed. The chauffeur closed the door.
I saw another liveried figure on the driver's seat. The car started.

Consardine touched a lever and down came the curtains, closeting us in

And as he did so the girl Eve wrenched her hand from mine, struck me a
stinging blow across the lips and huddling down in her corner began
silently to weep.


The cab, one of expensive European make, sped smoothly over to Fifth
Avenue and turned north. Consardine touched another lever and a
curtain dropped between us and the driving seat. There was a hidden
bulb that shed a dim glow.

By it I saw that the girl had recovered her poise. She sat regarding
the tips of her shapely narrow shoes. Walter drew out a cigarette
case. I followed suit.

"You do not mind, Eve?" I asked solicitously.

She neither looked at me nor answered. Consardine was apparently lost
in thought. Walter stared icily over my head. I lighted my cigarette
and concentrated upon our course. My watch registered a quarter to

The tightly shaded windows gave no glimpse of our surroundings. By the
traffic stops I knew we were still on the Avenue. Then the car began a
series of turns and twists as though it were being driven along side
streets. Once it seemed to make a complete circle. I lost all sense of
direction, which, I reflected, was undoubtedly what was intended.

At 10:15 the car began to go at greatly increased speed and I judged
we were out of heavy traffic. Soon a cooler, fresher air came through
the ventilators. We might be either in Westchester or Long Island. I
could not tell.

It was precisely 11:20 when the car came to a stop. After a short
pause it went on again. I heard from behind us the clang of heavy
metal gates. For perhaps ten minutes more we rolled on swiftly and
then halted again. Consardine awoke from his reverie and snapped up
the curtains. The chauffeur opened the door. Eve dropped out, and
after her Walter.

"Well, here we are, Mr. Kirkham," said Consardine, affably. He might
have been a pleased host bringing home a thrice-welcome guest instead
of a man he had abducted by outrageous wiles and falsehoods.

I jumped out. Under the moon, grown storm-promising and watery as a
drunkard's eye, I saw an immense building that was like some chateau
transplanted from the Loire. Lights gleamed brilliantly here and there
in wings and turrets. Through its doors were passing the girl and
Walter. I glanced around me. There were no lights visible anywhere
except those of the chateau. I had the impression of remoteness and of
wide, tree-filled spaces hemming the place in and guarding its

Consardine took my arm and we passed over the threshold. On each side
stood two tall footmen and as I went by them I perceived that they
were Arabs, extraordinarily powerful. But when I had gotten within the
great hall I stopped short with an involuntary exclamation of

It was as though the choicest treasures of medieval France had been
skimmed of their best and that best concentrated here. The long
galleries, a third of the way up to the high vaulted ceiling, were
exquisite Gothic arrases and tapestries whose equals few museums
could show hung from them and the shields and arms were those of
conquering kings.

Consardine gave me no time to study them. He touched my arm and I saw
beside me an impeccably correct English valet.

"Thomas will look after you now," said Consardine. "See you later,

"This way, sir, if you please," bowed the valet, and led me into a
miniature chapel at the side of the hall. He pressed against its
fretted back. It slid away and we entered a small elevator. When it
stopped, another panel slipped aside. I stepped into a bedroom
furnished, in its own fashion, with the same astonishing richness as
the great hall. Behind heavy curtains was a bathroom.

Upon the bed lay dress trousers, shirt, cravat, and so on. In a few
minutes I was washed, freshly shaved and in evening clothes. They
fitted me perfectly. As the valet opened a closet door a coat hanging
there drew my sharp attention. I peered in.

Hanging within that closet was the exact duplicate of every garment
that made up my wardrobe at the Club. Yes, there they were, and as I
looked into the pockets for the tailor's labels I saw written on them
my own name.

I had an idea that the valet, watching me covertly, was waiting for
some expression of surprise. If so he was disappointed. My capacity
for surprise was getting a bit numb.

"And now where do I go?" I asked.

For answer he slid the panel aside and stood waiting for me to enter
the lift. When it stopped I expected of course to step out into the
great hall. Instead of that the opening panel revealed a small
anteroom, oak paneled, bare and with a door of darker oak set in its
side. Here was another tall Arab, evidently awaiting me, for the valet
bowed me out of the elevator and re-entering, disappeared.

The Arab salaamed. Opening the door, he salaamed again. I walked over
its threshold. A clock began to chime midnight.

"Welcome, James Kirkham! You are punctual to the minute," said some

The voice was strangely resonant and musical, with a curious organ
quality. The speaker sat at the head of a long table where places were
laid for three. That much I saw before I looked into his eyes, and
then for a time could see nothing else. For those eyes were of the
deepest sapphire blue and they were the alivest eyes I had ever
beheld. They were large, slightly oblique, and they sparkled as though
the very spring of life was bubbling up behind them. Gem-like they
were in color, and gem-like were they in their hardness. They were
lashless, and as unwinking as a bird's--or a snake's.

It was with distinct effort that I tore my gaze from them and took
note of the face in which they were set. The head above them was
inordinately large, high and broad and totally bald. It was an
astonishing hemisphere whose capacity must have been almost double
that of the average. The ears were long and narrow and distinctly
pointed at the tips. The nose was heavy and beaked, the chin round but
massive. The lips were full, and as classically cut and immobile as of
some antique Greek statue. The whole huge, round face was of a marble
pallor, and it was unwrinkled, unlined and expressionless. The only
thing alive about it were the eyes, and alive indeed they were--
uncannily, terrifyingly so.

His body, what I could see of it, was unusually large, the enormous
barrel of the chest indicating tremendous vitality.

Even at first contact one sensed the abnormal, and the radiation of
inhuman power.

"Be seated, James Kirkham," the sonorous voice rolled out again. A
butler emerged from the shadows at his back and drew out for me the
chair at the left.

I bowed to this amazing host of mine and seated myself silently.

"You must be hungry after your long ride," he said. "It was good of
you, James Kirkham, thus to honor this whim of mine."

I looked at him sharply but could detect no sign of mockery.

"I am indebted to you, sir," I answered, as urbanely, "for an
unusually entertaining journey. And as for humoring what you are
pleased to call your whim, how, sir, could I have done otherwise when
you sent messengers so--ah--eloquent?"

"Ah, yes," he nodded. "Dr. Consardine is indeed a singularly
persuasive person. He will join us presently. But drink--eat."

The butler poured champagne. I lifted my glass and paused, staring at
it with delight. It was a goblet of rock crystal, exquisitely cut,
extremely ancient I judged--a jewel and priceless.

"Yes," said my host, as though I had spoken. "Truly one of a rare set.
They were the drinking glasses of the Caliph Haroun-al-Raschid. When I
drink from them I seem to see him surrounded by his beloved
cup-companions amid the glories of his court in old Bagdad. All the
gorgeous panorama of the Arabian Nights spreads out before me. They
were preserved for me," he went on, thoughtfully, "by the late Sultan
Abdul Hamid. At least they were his until I felt the desire to possess

"You must have exercised great--ah--persuasion, sir, to have made the
Sultan part from them," I murmured.

"As you have remarked, James Kirkham, my messengers are--eloquent," he
replied, suavely.

I took a sip of the wine and could not for the life of me hide my

"Yes," intoned my strange host, "a rare vintage. It was intended for
the exclusive use of King Alfonso of Spain. But again my messengers
were--eloquent. When I drink it my admiration for its excellences is
shadowed only by my sympathy for Alfonso in his deprivation."

I drank that wine, worshipfully. I attacked with relish a delicious
cold bird. My eye was caught by the lines of a golden compote set with
precious stones. So exquisite was it that I half arose to examine it
more closely.

"Benvenuto Cellini made it," observed my host. "It is one of his
masterpieces. Italy kept it for me through the centuries."

"But Italy would never voluntarily have let a thing like that go from
her!" I exclaimed.

"No, quite involuntarily, oh quite, I assure you," he answered,

I began to glance about the dimly lighted room and realized that here,
like the great hall, was another amazing treasure chamber. If half of
what my eyes took in was genuine, the contents of that room alone were
worth millions. But they could not be--not even an American
billionaire could have gathered such things.

"But they are genuine," again he read my thoughts. "I am a connoisseur
indeed--the greatest in the world. Not alone of paintings, and of gems
and wines and other masterpieces of man's genius. I am a connoisseur
of men and women. A collection of what, loosely, are called souls.
That is why, James Kirkham, you are here!"

The butler filled the goblets and placed another bottle in the iced
pail beside me; he put liqueurs and cigars upon the table and then, as
though at some signal, he withdrew. He disappeared, I noted with
interest, through still another wall panel that masked one of the
hidden lifts. I saw that he was a Chinese.

"Manchu," observed my host. "Of princely rank. Yet he thinks to be my
servant the greater honor."

I nodded casually, as though the matter were commonplace and butlers
who were Manchu princes, wine lifted from King Alfonso, goblets of an
Arabian Nights' Caliph and Cellini compotes everyday affairs. I
realized that the game which had begun in Battery Park a few hours
before had reached its second stage and I was determined to maintain
my best poker face and manner.

"You please me, James Kirkham," the voice was totally devoid of
expression, the lips scarcely moved as it rolled forth. "You are
thinking--'I am a prisoner, my place in the outer world is being
filled by a double whom even my closest friends do not suspect of
being other than I; this man speaking is a monster, ruthless and
conscienceless, a passionless intellect which could--and would--blow
me out if he desired as carelessly as he would blow out a candle
flame.' In all that, James Kirkham, you are right."

He paused. I found it better not to look into those jewel-bright blue
eyes. I lighted a cigarette and nodded, fixing my attention on the
glowing tip.

"Yes, you are right," he went on. "Yet you ask no questions and make
no appeals. Your voice and hands are steady, your eyes untroubled. But
back of all, your brain is keenly alert, poised on tiptoe to seize
some advantage. You are feeling out for danger with the invisible
antennae of your nerves like any jungleman. Every sense is alive to
catch some break in the net you feel around you. There is a touch of
terror upon you. Yet outwardly you show no slightest sign of all
this--only I could detect it. You please me greatly, James Kirkham.
Yours is the true gambler's soul!"

He paused again, studying me over the rim of his goblet. I forced
myself to meet his gaze and smile.

"You are now thirty-five," he continued. "I have watched you for
years. I was first attracted to you by your work in the French
Espionage Service during the second year of the war."

My fingers stiffened involuntarily about my glass. None, I had
thought, had known of that hazardous work except the Chief and myself.

"It happened that you ran counter to no plans of mine," the toneless
voice rolled on. "So you--lived. You next came to my notice when you
undertook to recover the Spiradoff emeralds from the Communists in
Moscow. You ingeniously left with them the imitations and escaped with
the originals. I did not care for them, I have much finer ones. So I
allowed you to return them to those who had commissioned you. But the
audacity of your plan and the cool courage with which you carried it
out entertained me greatly. I like to be entertained, James Kirkham.
Your indifferent acceptance of the wholly inadequate reward showed
that it had been the adventure which had been the primal appeal. It
had been the game and not the gain. You were, as I had thought, a true

And now despite myself I could not keep astonishment from my face. The
Spiradoff affair had been carried out in absolute secrecy. I had
insisted upon none except the owner knowing how the jewels had been
recovered. They had been resold for their value as gems and not with
their histories attached... not even the Communists had as yet
discovered the substitution, I had reason to believe, and would not
until they tried to sell them. Yet this man knew!

"It was then I decided I would--collect--you," he said. "But the time
was not fully ripe. I would let you run awhile. You went to China for
Rockbilt on the strength of a flimsy legend. And you found the tomb
wherein, true enough, the jade plaques of that legend lay on the
moldering breast of old Prince Sukantse. You took them and were
captured by the bandit Kin-Wang. You found the joint in that cunning
thief's armor. You saw, and took, the one chance to escape with your
loot. Gambler he was, and you knew it. And there in his tent you
played him for the plaques with two years' slavery to him as your
forfeit if you lost.

"The idea of having you as a willing slave amused him. Besides, he
recognized of what value your brain and courage would be to him. So he
made the bargain. You detected the cards he had cunningly nicked
before the game had gone far. I approve the dexterity and skill with
which you promptly nicked others in the identical fashion. Kin-Wang
was confused. Luck was with you. You won."

I half arose, staring at him, fascinated.

"I do not wish to mystify you further." He waved me back into my seat.
"Kin-Wang is sometimes useful to me. I have many men in many lands who
do my bidding, James Kirkham. Had you lost, Kin-Wang would have sent
me the plaques, and he would have looked after you more carefully than
his own head. Because he knew that at any time I might demand you from

I leaned back with a sigh, the feeling that some inexorable trap had
closed upon me, oppressive.

"Afterwards," his eyes never left me, "afterwards, I tested you again.
Twice did my messengers try to take the plaques from you. Purposely,
in neither of those efforts had I planned for sure success. Else you
would have lost them. I left in each instance a loophole that would
enable you to escape had you the wit to see it. You had the wit--and
again I was vastly entertained. And pleased.

"And now," he leaned forward a trifle, "we come to tonight. You had
acquired a comfortable sum out of the jades. But there seemed to be a
waning interest in the game you know so well. You cast your eyes upon
another--the fool's gamble, the stock market. It did not fit in with
my plans to let you win at that. I knew what you had bought. I
manipulated. I stripped you, dollar by dollar, leisurely. You are
thinking that the method I took was more adapted to the wrecking of
some great financier than the possessor of a few thousands. Not so. If
your thousands had been millions the end would have been the same.
That was the lesson I wished to drive home when the time came. Have
you learned the lesson?"

I repressed with difficulty a gust of anger.

"I hear you," I answered, curtly.

"Heed!" he whispered, and a bleakness dulled for a breath the
sparkling eyes.

"So too," he went on, "it was of tonight. I could have had you caught
up bodily and carried here, beaten or drugged, bound and gagged. Such
methods are those of the thug, the unimaginative savage in our midst.
You could have had no respect for the mind behind such crude tactics.
Nor would I have been entertained.

"No, the constant surveillance which at last forced you out into the
open, your double now enjoying himself at your Club--a splendid actor,
by the way, who studied you for weeks--in fact, all your experiences
were largely devised to demonstrate to you the extraordinary character
of the organization to which you have been called.

"And I say again that your conduct has pleased me. You could have
fought Consardine. Had you done so you would have shown yourself
lacking in imagination and true courage. You would have come here just
the same, but I would have been disappointed. And I was greatly
diverted by your attitude toward Walter and Eve--a girl whom I have
destined for a great work and whom I am training now for it.

"You have wondered how they came to be in that particular subway
station. There were other couples at South Ferry, the elevated station
and at all approaches to the Battery within five minutes after you had
seated yourself there. I tell you that you had not one chance of
escape. Nothing that you could have done that had not been anticipated
and prepared for. Not all the police in New York could have held you
back from me tonight.

"Because, James Kirkham, I had willed your coming!"

I had listened to this astonishing mixture of subtle flattery, threat
and colossal boasting with ever-increasing amazement. I stood back
from the table.

"Who are you?" I asked, directly. "And what do you want of me?"

The weird blue eyes blazed out, intolerably.

"Since everything upon this earth toward which I direct my will does
as that will dictates," he answered, slowly, "you may call me--Satan!

"And what I offer you is a chance to rule this world with me--at a
price, of course!"


The two sentences tingled in my brain as though charged with
electricity. Absurd as they might have sounded under any other
circumstances, here they were as far removed from absurdity as
anything I have ever known.

Those lashless, intensely alive blue eyes in the immobile face were--
Satanic! I had long sensed the diabolic touch in every experience I
had undergone that night. In the stillness of the huge body, in the
strangeness of the organ pipe voice that welled, expressionless, from
the almost still lips was something diabolic too--as though the body
were but an automaton in which dwelt some infernal spirit, some alien
being that made itself manifest through eyes and voice only. That my
host was the exact opposite of the long, lank, dark Mephisto of opera,
play and story made him only the more terrifying. And it has long been
my experience that fat men are capable of far greater deviltries than
thin men.

No, this man who bade me call him Satan had nothing of the absurd
about him. I acknowledged to myself that he was--dreadful.

A bell rang, a mellow note. A light pulsed on a wall, a panel slid
aside and Consardine stepped into the room. Vaguely, I noted that the
panel was a different one than that through which the Manchu butler
had gone. At the same time I recalled, aimlessly it seemed, that I had
seen no stairway leading up from the great hall. And on the heels of
that was recollection that I had noticed neither windows nor doors in
the bedroom to which I had been conducted by the valet. The thoughts
came and went without my mind then taking in their significance. That
was to come later.

I arose, returning Consardine's bow. He seated himself without
salutation or ceremony at Satan's right.

"I have been telling James Kirkham how entertaining I have found him,"
said my host.

"And I," smiled Consardine. "But I am afraid my companions did not.
Cobham was quite upset. That was really cruel of you, Kirkham. Vanity
is one of Cobham's besetting sins."

So Walter's name was Cobham. What was Eve's, I wondered.

"Your stratagem of the rag-doll was--demoralizing," I said. "I thought
I was rather restrained in my observations upon Mr. Cobham. There was
so much more opportunity, you know. And after all, so much

"The rag-doll was a diverting idea," observed Satan. "And effective."

"Diabolically so," I spoke to Consardine. "But I find that was to have
been expected. Just before you entered I discovered that I have been
dining with--Satan."

"Ah, yes," said Consardine, coolly. "And you are no doubt expecting me
to produce a lancet and open a vein in your wrist while Satan puts in
front of you a document written in brimstone and orders you to sign
away your soul in your blood."

"I am expecting no such childish thing," I replied with some show of

Satan chuckled; his face did not move but his eyes danced.

"Obsolete methods," he said. "I gave them up after my experiences with
the late Dr. Faustus."

"Perhaps," Consardine addressed me, blandly, "you think I may be the
late Dr. Faustus. No, no--or if so, Kirkham," he looked at me slyly,
"Eve is not Marguerite."

"Let us say, not your Marguerite," amended Satan.

I felt the blood rush up into my face. And again Satan chuckled. They
were playing with me, these two. Yet under that play the sinister note
persisted, not to be mistaken. I felt uncomfortably like a mouse
between a pair of cats. I had a sudden vision of the girl as just such
another helpless mouse.

"No," it was Satan's sonorous voice. "No, I have become more modern. I
still buy souls, it is true. Or take them. But I am not so rigorous in
my terms as of old. I now also lease souls for certain periods. I pay
well for such leases, James Kirkham."

"Is it not time that you ceased treating me like a child?" I asked
coldly. "I admit all that you have said of me. I believe all that you
have said of yourself. I concede that you are--Satan. Very well. What

There was a slight pause. Consardine lighted a cigar, poured himself
some brandy and pushed aside a candle that stood between us, so I
thought, that he could have a clearer view of my face. Satan for the
first time turned his eyes away from me, looking over my head. I had
come to the third stage of this mysterious game.

"Did you ever hear the legend of the seven shining footsteps of
Buddha?" he asked me. I shook my head.

"It was that which made me change my ancient methods of snaring
souls," he said gravely. "Since it caused the beginning of a new
infernal epoch, the legend is important. But it is important to you
for other reasons as well. So listen.

"When the Lord Buddha, Gautama, the Enlightened One," he intoned, "was
about to be born, he was seen gleaming like a jewel of living light in
his Mother's womb. So filled with light was he that he made of her
body a lantern, himself the holy flame."

For the first time there was expression in the voice, a touch of
sardonic unctuousness.

"And when the time came for him to be delivered, he stepped forth from
his Mother's side, which miraculously closed behind him.

"Seven footsteps the infant Buddha took before he halted for the
worship of the devis, gen, rishis and all the Heavenly hierarchy that
had gathered round. Seven shining footsteps they were, seven footsteps
that gleamed like stars upon the soft greensward."

"And, lo! Even as Buddha was being worshipped, those shining footsteps
of his stirred and moved and marched away, beginning the opening of
the paths which later the Holy One would traverse. Seven interesting
little John the Baptists going before him--Ho! Ho! Ho!" laughed Satan,
from unchanged face and motionless lips.

"West went one and East went one," he continued. "One North and one
South--opening up the paths of deliverance to the whole four quarters
of the globe."

"But what of the other three? Ah--alas! Mara, the King of Illusion,
had watched with apprehension the advent of Buddha, because the light
of Buddha's words would be a light in which only the truth had shadow
and by it would be rendered useless the snares by which mankind, or
the most of it, was held in thrall by Mara. If Buddha conquered, Mara
would be destroyed. The King of Illusion did not take kindly to the
idea, since his supreme enjoyment was in wielding power and being
entertained. In that," commented Satan, apparently quite seriously,
"Mara was much like me. But in intelligence much inferior, because he
did not realize that truth, aptly manipulated, creates far better
illusions than do lies. However--"

"Before those laggard three could get very far away, Mara had captured

"And then by wile and artifice and sorcery Mara seduced them. He
taught them naughtiness, schooled them in delicious deceptions--and he
sent them forth to wander!"

"What happened? Well, naturally men and women followed the three. The
paths they picked out were so much pleasanter, so much more
delectable, so much softer and more fragrant and beautiful than the
stony, hard, austere, cold trails broken by the incorruptible four.
Who could blame people for following them? And besides, superficially,
all seven footprints were alike. The difference, of course, was in the
ending. Those souls who followed the three deceitful prints were
inevitably led back into the very heart of error, the inner lair of
illusion, and were lost there: while those who followed the four were

"And more and more followed the naughty prints while Mara waxed
joyful. Until it seemed that there would be none left to take the
paths of enlightenment. But now Buddha grew angry. He sent forth a
command and back to him from the four quarters of the world came
hurrying the shining holy quartette. They tracked down the erring
three and made them prisoners."

"Now arose a problem. Since the erring three were of Buddha, they
could not be destroyed. They had their rights, inalienable. But so
deep had been their defilement by Mara that they could not be cleansed
of their wickedness."

"So they were imprisoned for as long as the world shall last.
Somewhere near the great temple of Borobudur in Java, there is a
smaller, hidden temple. In it is a throne. To reach that throne, one
must climb seven steps. On each of these steps gleams one of Buddha's
seven baby footprints. Each looks precisely like the other--but, oh,
how different they are. Four are the holy ones, guarding the wicked
three. The temple is secret, the way to it beset with deadly perils.
He who lives through them and enters that temple may climb to the

"But--as he climbs he must set his foot on five of those shining

"Now, after he has done this, hear what must befall. If of those five
steps he has taken he has set his feet upon the three naughty prints,
behold, when he reaches the throne, all of earthly desire, all that
the King of Illusion can give him, is his for the wishing. To the
enslavement and possible destruction of his soul, naturally. But if,
of the five, three have been the holy prints, then is he freed of all
earthly desire, freed of all illusion, free of the wheel, a Bearer of
the Light, a Vessel of Wisdom--his soul one with the Pure One,

"Saint or sinner--if he steps on the three unholy footprints, all
worldly illusions are his, willy-nilly."

"And sinner or saint--if he treads on three of the holy footprints, he
is freed of all illusion, a blessed soul forever in Nirvana!"

"Poor devil!" murmured Consardine.

"Such is the legend." Satan turned his gaze upon me again. "Now I
never tried to collect those interesting footprints. They could have
served no purpose of mine. I have no desire to turn sinners into
saints, for one thing. But they gave me the most entertaining idea I
have had for--shall I say--centuries?

"Life, James Kirkham, is one long gamble between the two inexorable
gambles of birth and death. All men and all women are gamblers,
although most are very poor ones. All men and all women have at least
one desire during their lives for which they would willingly stake
their souls--and often even their lives. But life is such a crude
game, haphazardly directed, if directed at all, and with such
confusing, conflicting, contradictory and tawdry rules.

"Very well, I would improve the game for a chosen few, gamble with
them for their great desire, and for my own entertainment would use as
my model these seven footsteps of Buddha.

"And now, James Kirkham, listen intently, for this directly concerns
you. I constructed two thrones upon a dais up to which lead not seven
but twenty-one steps. On each third step there shines out a
footprint--seven of them in all.

"One of the thrones is lower than the other. Upon that I sit. On the
other rests a crown and a scepter.

"Now then. Three of these footsteps are--unfortunate. Four are
fortunate in the aggregate. He who would gamble with me must climb to
that throne on which are crown and scepter. In climbing he must place
a foot on four, not five of these seven prints.

"Should those four upon which he steps prove to be the fortunate ones,
that man may have every desire satisfied as long as he lives. I am his
servant--and his servant is all that vast organization which I have
created and which serves me. His, my billions to do as he pleases
with. His, my masterpieces. His, anything that he covets--power,
women, rule--anything. What he hates I punish or--remove. His is the
crown and scepter upon that throne higher than mine. It is power over
earth! He may have--everything!"

I glanced at Consardine. He was nervously bending and unbending a
silver knife in his strong fingers, his eyes glittering.

"But if he treads on the others?"

"Ah--that is my end of the gamble. If he treads upon the first of my
three--he must do me one service. Whatever I bid him. If he treads on
two--he must do my bidding for a year. They are my--minor leases.

"But if he treads on all my three"--I felt the blaze of the blue eyes
scorch me, heard a muffled groan from Consardine--"if he treads on all
my three--then he is mine, body and soul. To kill at once if it is my
mood--and in what slow ways I please. To live--if I please, as long as
I please, and then to die--again as I please. Mine! body and soul!

The rolling voice trumpeted, grew dreadful. Satanic enough was he now
with those weird eyes blazing at me as though behind them were flames
from that very pit whose Master's name he had taken.

"There are a few rules to remember," the voice abruptly regained its
calm. "One need not take the whole four steps. You may stop, if you
desire, at one. Or two. Or three. You need not take the next step.

"If you take one step and it is mine, and go no farther, then you do
my service, are well paid for it, and after it is done may ascend the
steps again.

"So if you go farther and touch the second of my steps. After your
year--if you are alive--you again have your chance. And are well paid
during that year."

I considered. Power over all the world! Every desire granted. An
Aladdin's lamp to rub! Not for a moment did I doubt that this--
whatever he was--could do what he promised.

"I will explain the mechanism," he said. "Obviously the relative
positions of the seven steps cannot remain the same at each essay.
Their combination would be too easy to learn. That combination I leave
to chance. Not even I know it. Through that I get the cream of my

"I sit upon my throne. I touch a lever that spins a hidden wheel over
which roll seven balls, three marked for my steps, four marked for the
fortunate ones. As those balls settle into place, they form an
electrical contact with the seven footprints. As the balls lie, so lie
the prints.

"Where I can see--and others if they are present--but not to be seen
by the climber of the steps, is an indicator. As the--aspirant--sets
his foot on the prints this indicator shows whether he has picked one
of my three or one of his four.

"And there is one final rule. When you climb you may not look back at
that indicator. You must take the next step in ignorance of whether
that from which you have come was good for you or--evil. If you do
weaken and look behind, you must descend and begin your climb anew."

"But it seems to me that you have the better end of the game," I
observed. "Suppose one steps upon a fortunate step and stops--what
does he get?"

"Nothing," he answered, "but the chance to take the next. You forget,
James Kirkham, that what he stands to win is immeasurably greater than
what I win if he loses. Winning, he wins me and all I stand for.
Losing, I win only one man--or one woman. Besides, for my limited
leases I pay high. And give protection."

I nodded. As a matter of fact I was profoundly stirred. Everything
that I had experienced had been carefully calculated to set my
imagination on fire. I thrilled at the thought of what I might not be
able to do with--well, admit he was Satan--and his power at my beck
and call. He watched me, imperturbably; Consardine, understandingly,
with a shadow of pity in his eyes.

"Look here," I said abruptly, "please clear up a few more things.
Suppose I refuse to play this game of yours--what happens to me?"

"You will be set back in Battery Park tomorrow," he answered. "Your
double will be withdrawn from your club. You will find he has done no
harm to your reputation. You may go your way. But--"

"I thought, sir, there was a but," I murmured.

"But I will be disappointed," he went on, quietly. "I do not like to
be disappointed. I am afraid your affairs would not prosper. It might
even be that I would find you such a constant reproach, such a living
reminder of a flaw in my judgment that--"

"I understand," I interrupted. "The living reminder would strangely
cease some day to be a reminder--living."

He did not speak--but, surely, I read the answer in his eyes.

"And what is to prevent me from taking your challenge," I asked again,
"going partly through with it, enough to get away from here, and

"Betray me?" again the chuckle came through the motionless lips. "Your
efforts would come to nothing. And as for you--better for you, James
Kirkham, had you remained unborn. I, Satan, tell you so!"

The blue eyes scorched; about him in his chair seemed to grow a
shadow, enveloping him. From him emanated something diabolic,
something that gripped my throat and checked the very pulse of my

"I, Satan, tell you so!" he repeated.

There was a little pause in which I strove to regain my badly shaken

Again the bell sounded.

"It is time," said Consardine. But I noticed that he had paled, knew
my own face was white.

"It happens," the organ-like voice was calm again, "it happens that
you have an opportunity to see what becomes of those who try to thwart
me. I will ask you to excuse certain precautions which it will be
necessary to take. You will not be harmed. Only it is essential that
you remain silent and motionless and that none read your face while
you see--what you are going to see."

Consardine arose, I followed him. The man who called himself Satan
lifted himself from his chair. Huge I had guessed him to be, but I was
unprepared for the giant that he was. I am all of six feet and he
towered over me a full twelve inches.

Involuntarily I looked at his feet.

"Ah," he said, suavely. "You are looking for my cloven hoof. Come, you
are about to see it."

He touched the wall. A panel slipped away revealing a wide corridor,
not long, and windowless and doorless. He leading, Consardine behind
me, Satan walked a few yards and pressed against the wainscoting. It
slid back, soundlessly. He stepped through.

I walked after him and halted, staring blankly, into one of the most
singular--rooms, chambers, no, temple is the only word that its size
and character deserve to describe it--I stood staring, I repeat, into
one of the most singular temples that probably man's eyes had ever
looked upon.


It was suffused with a dim amber light from some concealed source. Its
domed roof arched a hundred feet above me. Only one wall was straight;
the others curved out from it like the inner walls of a vast bubble.
The straight wall cut across what was the three-quarter arc of a huge

That wall was all of some lustrous green stone, malachite, I judged.
And upon its face was carved in the old Egyptian style a picture.

The subject was the Three Fates, the Moerae of the ancient Greeks, the
Parcse of the Romans, the Norns of the Norsemen. There was Clotho with
the distaff upon which were spun the threads of human destiny,
Lachesis guiding the threads, and Atropos with her shears that cut the
threads when the trio so willed. Above the Fates hovered the face of

One of his hands grasped that of Clotho, he seemed to whisper to
Lachesis, his other hand guided that of the Fate who wielded the
shears. The lines of the four figures were lined in blues, vermilions
and vivid green. The eyes of Satan were not upon the threads whose
destinies he was controlling. They were looking out over the temple.

And whoever the unknown genius who had cut that picture, he had
created a marvelous likeness. By some trick, the eyes blazed out of
the stone with the same living, jewel-like brilliancy of those of the
man who called himself Satan.

The curved walls of some black wood--teak or ebony. There was
shimmering tracery upon them--like webs. I saw that they were webs;
spider webs traced upon the black wood and glimmering like those same
silken traps beneath the moon. By the hundreds and thousands they were
interlaced upon the walls. They shimmered over the ceiling.

The floors of the temple lifted toward the back in row upon row of
seats carved out of black stone and arranged like those of the old
Roman amphitheaters.

But all of this I noted only after I had forced my gaze away from the
structure that dominated the whole strange place. This was a flight of
semicircular steps that swept out in gradually diminishing arcs from
the base of the malachite wall. There were twenty-one of them, the
lowest, I estimated, a hundred feet wide and the highest about thirty.
They were each about a foot high and some three feet deep. They were
of inky black stone.

At their top was a low dais upon which stood two elaborately carved
thrones--one of black wood, and the other, resting on a pedestal which
brought its seat well above the first, apparently of dull, yellow

The black throne was bare. Over the back of the golden throne was a
strip of royal purple velvet; upon its seat was a cushion of the same
royal purple.

And upon that cushion rested a crown and scepter. The crown was ablaze
with the multicolored fires of great diamonds, the soft blue flames of
huge sapphires; red glowings of immense rubies and green radiances
that were emeralds. The orb of the scepter was one enormous diamond.
And all its jeweled length blazed like the crown with gems.

Ranged down each side of the one and twenty steps were seven men in
white robes shaped like the burnooses of the Arabs. If they were Arabs
they were of a tribe I had never come across; to me they appeared more
like Persians. Their faces were gaunt and of a peculiar waxen pallor.
Their eyes seemed pupilless. Each carried in his right hand a snake-like
rope, noosed like a lariat.

From every third ebon step a footprint shone out, the footprint of a
child outlined as though by living fire.

There were seven of them, shining out with an unearthly brilliancy as
though they themselves were alive and poised to march up those steps.

I had looked first at the crown and scepter, and the sight of them had
fanned within me such desire as I had never known; a burning lust for
possession of them and the power that went with them; a lust that
shook me like a fever.

I had looked next at those gleaming marks of a babe's feet, and the
sight of them had stirred within me an inexplicable awe and terror and
loathing as great as had been the desire which the sight of them had
swiftly numbed.

And suddenly I heard Satan's voice.

"Sit, James Kirkham!"

There was an armed chair, oddly shaped, almost against the circular
wall and close beside the edge of the first curving step. It was
somewhat like a lesser throne. I dropped into it, glad at the moment
of its support.

Instantly, bands of steel sprang from the arms and circled my elbows;
other bands bound my ankles, and from the back where my head rested a
veil dropped, covering my face. Its lower edge, thick and softly
padded, was drawn tight across my lips.

I was held fast, gagged, my face hidden all in an instant. I made no
attempt to struggle. These, I realized, were the "precautions" of
which my host had warned me. The bonds held but did not constrict, the
silencing pad was not uncomfortable, the veil was of a material which,
though it hid my face, enabled me to see as clearly as though it were
not enveloping my head.

I saw Satan at the foot of the steps. His enormous body was covered
from neck to feet by a black cloak. He paced slowly up the flight. As
he trod upon the first step the white-robed, rope-bearing men bent
before him, low. Not until he had seated himself upon the black throne
did they straighten.

The amber light dulled and went out. Before there could be anything
but a thin slice of darkness, a strong white light beat down upon
thrones and steps. Its edge formed a sharp semicircle three yards away
from the curve of the first. It bathed Satan, the fourteen guardians
and myself. Under it the seven footprints leaped out more brilliantly,
seeming to be straining against some invisible leash and eager to
follow their master. The unwinking eyes of the man on the black throne
and their counterparts in the stone behind him glittered.

I heard a movement at the rear of the temple among the seats of stone.
There were rustlings as of many people seating themselves, faint
whisperings of panels sliding back and forth in the black walls,
opening of hidden entrances through which this unseen audience was

Who they were, what they were--I could not see. The semicircle of
light glaring upon the steps and thrones formed an impenetrable
curtain beyond which was utter darkness.

A gong sounded. Silence fell. Whatever that audience, the doors were
now closed upon them; the curtain ready to rise.

Now I saw, high up and halfway between roof and floor, a globe gleam
forth like a little moon. It was at the edge of the white light and as
I watched its left half darkened. The right half shone undimmed, the
black half was outlined by a narrow rim of radiance.

Abruptly the greater light went out again. For an instant only was the
temple in darkness. The light blazed forth once more.

But now he who called himself Satan was not alone on the dais. No.
Beside him stood a figure that the devil himself might have summoned
from hell!

It was a black man naked except for a loin cloth. His legs were short
and spindly; his shoulders inordinately wide, his arms long, and upon
shoulders and arms the muscles and sinews stood out like blackened
withes of thick rope. The face was flat-nosed, the jaw protruding,
brutish and ape-like. Ape-like too were the close-set, beady eyes that
burned like demon-lights. His mouth was a slit, and upon his face was
the stamp of a ravening cruelty.

He held in one hand a noosed cord, thin and long and braided as though
made of woman's hair. In his loin cloth was a slender knife.

A sighing quavered out of the darkness beyond me as from scores of
tightening throats.

Again the gong clanged.

Into the circle of light came two men. One was Consardine; the other a
tall, immaculately dressed and finely built man of about forty. He
looked like a highly bred, cultured English gentleman. As he faced the
black throne I heard a murmur as of surprise and pity well up from the
hidden audience.

There was a debonair unconcern in his poise, but I saw his face twitch
as he glanced at the horror standing beside Satan. He drew a cigarette
from his case and lighted it; in that action was a touch of bravado
that betrayed him; nor could he control the faint tremor of the hand
that held the match. Nevertheless, he took a deliberate inhalation and
met the eyes of Satan squarely.

"Cartright," the voice of Satan broke the silence. "You have disobeyed
me. You have tried to thwart me. You have dared to set your will
against mine. By your disobedience you almost wrecked a plan I had
conceived. You thought to reap gain and to escape me. You even had it
in your mind to betray me. I do not ask you if all this is so. I know
it is so. I do not ask you why you did it. You did it. That is

"I have no intention of offering any defense, Satan." answered the man
called Cartright, coolly enough. "I might urge, however, that any
inconvenience to which I have put you is entirely your own fault. You
claim perfection of judgment. Yet in me you picked a wrong tool. Is
the tool to blame or the artisan if that tool which he picks cannot
stand up under the task for which that artisan selects it?"

"The tool is not to blame," answered Satan. "But what does the artisan
do with such a tool thereafter? He does not use it again. He destroys

"The perfect artisan does not," said Cartright. "He uses it thereafter
for work for which it is fit."

"Not when he has more than enough good ones to choose from," said

"You have the power," Cartright replied. "Nevertheless, you know I
have answered you. I am simply an error of your judgment. Or if your
judgment is perfect as you boast, then you deliberately picked me to
fail. In either event, punish yourself, Satan--not me!"

For a long minute the black-robed figure regarded him. Cartright met
the gaze boldly.

"I ask only for justice," he said. "I ask no mercy of you. Satan."

"Not--yet!" answered Satan, slowly, and the flaming eyes grew bleak
and cold and once more a sighing passed me from the darkness of the

There was another interminable minute of silence.

"Cartright, you have given me an answer," the organ voice rolled out,
emotionless. "For that answer you shall be credited. You have reminded
me that a wise artisan uses a faulty tool only for work it can do
without breaking. That too I set down for you.

"Now, Cartright, this is my decree. You shall take the four steps.
Now. And all of them. You shall have, first of all, your chance to win
that crown and scepter and the empire of earth that they carry with
them. This if the four footprints that you tread upon are the four
fortunate ones.

"And if you place your foot on three of the fortunate prints and on
but one of mine--I forgive you. This in recognition of a certain
justice in your parable of the artisan and the faulty tool."

I saw Cartright's tenseness slacken, a shadow of relief pass over his

"If you tread upon two of the fortunate prints and upon two of mine
then I will give you a choice of a swift and merciful death or of
joining my slaves of the kehjt. In brief, Cartright, you pick between
the destruction of your body or slow annihilation of your soul. And
that mercy I hold out to you in recognition of your claim that the
wise artisan chooses some other use for the untrustworthy tool."

Once more the sighing, and Cartright's face paled.

"We come now to the last possibility--that on your journey upward you
tread upon all three of my dainty little servants. In that case"--the
voice chilled--"in that case, Cartright, you die. You die at the hands
of Sanchal here by the cord. Not one death, Cartright. No, a thousand
deaths. For slowly and with agony Sanchal's cord shall drag you to the
threshold of the gates of death. Slowly and with agony he shall drag
you back to life. Again and again... and again... and again... until
at last your torn soul has strength to return no more and crawls
whimpering over that threshold whose gates shall close upon it...
forever! Such is my decree! So is my will! So shall it be!"

The black horror had grinned evilly as he heard his name and had
shaken with a ghastly gesture the cord of braided woman's hair. As for
Cartright, at that dreadful sentence the blood had drained from his
face, the cigarette fallen from his fingers. He stood, all bravado
gone. And Consardine, who all the while had been beside him, slipped
back into the shadow, leaving him alone. Satan pressed down a lever
which stood like a slender rod between the two thrones. There was a
faint whirring sound. The seven gleaming prints of a child's bare foot
flashed as though fire had shot from them.

"The steps are prepared," called Satan. "Cartright--ascend!"

The white-robed men stirred; they unslung the loops of their ropes and
held the nooses ready, as though to cast swiftly. The black horror
thrust his head forward, mouth slavering, his talons caressing his

The silence in the temple deepened--as though all within had ceased to
breathe Now Cartright walked forward, moving slowly, studying the
gleaming footprints. Satan leaned back in his throne, hands hidden
beneath his robe, his huge head having disconcertingly the appearance
of being bodiless, floating over the dais as the head in the stone
floated above the three Norns.

And now Cartright had passed by the first print and had walked up the
two intervening steps. He set without hesitation his foot upon the
second gleaming mark.

Instantly a glittering duplicate of it shone out upon the white half
of the moon globe. I knew that he had trodden upon one of the
fortunate steps.

But Cartright, the globe hidden from him, forbidden to turn--Cartright
could not know it!

He shot a swift look at Satan, seeking some sign either of triumph or
chagrin. The marble face was expressionless, the eyes unchanged. Nor
was there any sound from the black seats.

He walked rapidly up the next two steps and again unhesitatingly set
his foot on the next print.

And again another glittered out upon the pale field of the globe. Two
chances he had won! Gone from him now was the threat of the thousand
deaths. At most he would have his choice of merciful extinction or
that mysterious slavery I had heard Satan name.

And again he could not know!

Once more he studied the face of his tormentor for some betraying
expression, some hint of how his score stood. Immobile as before, it
stared at him; expressionless too was the face of the monstrosity with
the cord.

Slowly Cartright ascended the next two steps. He hesitated before the
next devilish print, for minutes--and hours they seemed to me. And now
I saw that his mouth had become pinched and that little beads of sweat
stood out upon his forehead.

Plainly as though he were speaking, I could follow his thoughts. Had
the two prints upon which he had trodden been Satan's? And would the
next condemn him to the torture of the cord? Had he trodden upon only
one? Had he escaped as yet the traps that gave him over to Satan?

He could not know!

He passed that print and paced upward more slowly. He stood looking
down upon the fifth footprint. And then, slowly, his head began to

It was as though a strong hand were forcing it. The tormented brain,
wrestling with the panic that urged it to look... to look behind... to
see what the marks upon the moon-globe showed.

A groan came from his gray lips. He caught his head between his two
hands, held it rigid and leaped upon the footprint before him.

And he stood there, gasping, like a man who has run a long race. His
mouth hung open, drawing in sobbing breaths to the laboring lungs. His
hair was wet, his face dripping. His haggard eyes searched Satan--

The white field of the globe bore a third shining symbol!

Cartright had won--

And he could not know!

My own hands were shaking; my body drenched with sweat as though it
were I myself who stood in his place. Words leaped to my lips--a cry
to him that he need fear no more! That his torment was over! That
Satan had lost! The gag stifled them.

Upon me burst full realization of all the hellish cruelty, the truly
diabolic subtlety and ingenuity of this ordeal.

Cartright stood trembling. His despairing gaze ate into the impassive
face now not far above him. Did I see a flicker of evil triumph pass
over it, reflected on the black mask of his torturer? If so, it was
gone like a swift ripple on a still pond.

Had Cartright seen it? So it must have been, for the despair upon his
own face deepened and turned it into a thing of agony.

Once more his head began to turn backward with that slow and dreadful
suggestion of unseen compulsion!

He swayed forward, fighting against it. He stumbled up the steps. I
knew with what destroying effort he dragged his eyes down to the next
shining print. He poised over it a shaking foot--

And slowly, slowly, ever his head turned... back, back to the telltale

He drew back the foot. He thrust it forward again... and again
withdrew it. He sobbed. And I strained at my bonds, cursing and
sobbing with him...

Now his head was half around, his face turned directly to me...

He recoiled from the print. His body swung about with the snap of a
breaking spring. He looked at the globe and saw.

The three prints upon the fortunate field!

A vast sighing went up from the black amphitheater.

"The tool again betrays its weakness!" It was Satan's voice. "Lo,
deliverance was in your hands, Cartright. And like Lot's wife, you
turned to look! And now you must descend... and all is to do again.
But wait. Let us see if you may not have lost something far greater
than deliverance. That footprint upon which you could not summon the
courage to tread. What was it? I am curious to know."

He spoke in some strange tongue to the guard at the right of the
print. The man came forward and pressed his foot upon the mark.

Out upon the pale semi-disk of the globe flashed out another
shimmering print!

Crown and scepter! Empire of Earth! Not only free from Satan--but his

All this Cartright might have won.

And he had turned to look--and lost.

A groan went up from the darkness, murmurings. They were stilled by
the dreadful laughter that rolled from Satan's still lips.

"Lost! Lost!" he mocked. "Go back, Cartright, And climb again. And not
twice, I think, will such luck as this come to you. Go back, traitor.
And climb!" He pressed the lever and the hidden mechanism whirred and
the seven prints flashed out.

Cartright tottered down the steps. He walked like a puppet whose legs
are pulled by strings.

He stopped at the base of the steps. He turned, and again, like some
marionette, began to climb, putting his foot automatically on each
mark as he came to it. His eyes were fixed upon the scepter and the
crown. His arms were stretched out to them. His mouth was drawn at the
corners like a heartbroken child, and as he climbed he wept.

One--and a shining print sprang out on the black field of the globe.


Three--a print on the white side.

Four--a print on the black I

A roar of hellish laughter shook Satan. For an instant I seemed to see
his black robe melt, become vaporous and change into an enveloping
shadow. A blacker shadow seemed to hover over him.

And still his laughter roared and still Cartright climbed the steps,
his eyes streaming, face contorted, gaze fixed upon the glittering
baubles in the golden throne, arms reaching out for them...

There was a swishing sound. The black horror had leaned forward and
cast his cord. It circled over Cartright's head and tightened about
his shoulders.

A tug, and he had fallen.

Then hand over hand, unresisting, the torturer pulled him up the steps
and to him like a fish:

The light went out. It left a blackness made darker by the rolling,
demonic laughter.

The laughter ceased. I heard a thin, wailing cry.

The light came on.

The black throne was empty. Empty too was the dais. Empty of Satan, of
the torturer and of--Cartright!

Only the orb of the scepter and the crown glittered mockingly on the
golden throne between the two lines of watching, white-robed men.


I felt a touch upon my arm, sprang back and faced Consardine. On his
face was a shadow of that horror I knew was on my own.

The bands around my arms and legs sprang back, veil and gag were
lifted from me. I leaped from the chair. And again blackness fell.

The amber glow returned, slowly. I looked toward the back of the
temple. Empty now was the amphitheater of all that hidden audience
whose sighing and murmuring had come to me. I stared back at the

Golden throne and its burden had vanished. Gone were all but two of
the white-robed figures. These stood guarding the black throne.

The blue eyes of the stone Satan blazed out at me. The seven shining
prints of a child's foot sparkled.

"They opened his way into Paradise, and he weakened, and they led him
straight into Hell."

Consardine stared at the seven shining footsteps, and on his face was
that avid look I had seen on faces bent over the rouge-et-noir tables
at Monte Carlo; faces molded by the scorching fingers of the gambler's
passion which is a lust exceeding that for women; faces that glare
hungrily at the wheel just before it begins to spin and that see not
the wheel but the golden booty its spinning may draw for them from
Fortune's heaped hands. Like them, Consardine was seeing not the
gleaming prints but that enchanted land to which they led where all
desire was fulfilled.

The web of Satan's lure had him!

Well, despite what I had just beheld, so had it me. I was conscious of
an impatience, a straining desire to put my own luck to the test. But
in it, stronger far than the desire to gain the treasures he had
promised was the desire to make that mocking, cold and merciless devil
do my bidding as he had made me do his.

Consardine broke the spell that held him and turned to me.

"It's been rather an evening for you, Kirkham," he said. "Do you want
to go to your room now, or will you stop in my quarters and have a
night-cap with me?"

I hesitated. I had a thousand questions to ask. And yet I felt even
more the necessity of being by myself and digesting what I had heard
and seen since I had been brought to this place. Besides--of my
thousand questions how many would he answer? Reasoning from my recent
experiences, few. He, himself, ended the uncertainty.

"You'd better go to bed," he said. "Satan desires you to think over
what he has proposed to you. And, after all, I am not permitted"--he
caught himself hastily--"I mean I can add nothing to what he did say.
He will want your answer tomorrow--or rather"--he glanced at his
watch--"today, since it is nearly two o'clock."

"What time shall I see him?" I asked.

"Oh, not till afternoon, surely," he answered. "He"--a slight shudder
passed over him--"he will be occupied for hours still. You may sleep
till noon if you wish."

"Very well," I said, "I'll go to my room."

Without further comment he led me back toward the amphitheater, and up
to the rear wall. He pressed, and one of the inevitable panels slid
away revealing another of the little elevators. He looked back at the
footprints before closing the panel. They glimmered, alertly. The two
white-robed guards stood at the sides of the black throne, their
strange eyes intent upon us.

Again he shivered, then sighed and closed the slide. We stepped out
into a long, vaulted corridor sheathed with slabs of marble. It was
doorless. He pressed upon one of the slabs and we entered a second
lift. It stopped and I passed out of it into the chamber where I had
changed into evening clothes.

Pajamas had been laid out for me on the bed, slippers and a bathrobe
were on an easy chair. On a table were decanters of Scotch, rye and
brandy, soda, a bowl of ice, some fruit and cakes, several boxes of my
favorite cigarettes--and my missing wallet.

I opened the latter. There were my cards and letters and my money all
intact. Making no comment, I poured myself out a drink and invited
Consardine to join me.

"To the fortunate steps," he raised his glass. "May you have the luck
to pick them!"

"May you," I answered. His face twitched, a haggard shadow dimmed his
eyes, he looked at me strangely, and half set down his drink.

"The toast is to you, not to me," he said at last and drained his
glass. He walked across the room. At the panel he paused.

"Kirkham," he spoke softly, "sleep without fear. But--keep away from
these walls. If you should want anything, ring the bell there"--he
pointed to a button on the table--"and Thomas will answer it. I
repeat--do not try to open any of these panels. And if I were you I
would go to sleep and do no more thinking until you awaken. Would you
like, by the way, a sleeping draught? I am really a doctor, you know,"
he smiled.

"Thanks," I said, "I'll need nothing to make me sleep."

"Good night," he bade me, and the panel closed.

I poured myself another drink and began to undress. I was not sleepy--
far from it. Despite Consardine's warning I went over the walls both
of the bed chamber and bathroom, touching them cautiously here and
there. They seemed solid, of heavy wood, beautifully grained and
polished. As I had thought, there were no windows or doors. My room
was, in truth, a luxurious cell.

I switched off the lights, one by one and, getting into the bed,
turned off the last light upon the side table.

How long I had lain there in the darkness, thinking, before I sensed
some one in the room besides myself I do not know. Perhaps half an
hour at most. I had heard not the slightest sound, but I knew with
absolute certainty that I was no longer alone. I slipped out of the
light covering, and twisted silently to the foot of the bed. There I
crouched upon one knee, ready to leap when my stealthy visitor had
reached its side. To have turned on the light would have put me
completely at his mercy. Whoever it was, he evidently thought me
asleep and his attack, if attack there was to be, would be made where
he would naturally suppose my body to lie. Well, my body was in an
entirely different place, and it was I who would provide the surprise.

Instead of an attack came a whisper:

"It's me, Cap'n Kirkham--'Arry Barker. For God's sake, sir, don't myke
no noise!"

I seemed to know that voice. And then I remembered. Barker, the little
cockney Tommy that I had run across, bled almost white, in a shell-torn
thicket of the Marne. I had given first aid to the little man and
had managed to carry him to a field hospital. I had happened to be for
some days in the town where was the base hospital to which he had
finally been taken and had dropped in regularly to talk to him,
bringing him cigarettes and other luxuries. His gratitude to me had
been dog-like and touching; he was a sentimental little beggar. Then I
had seen him no more. How in the name of Heaven had he come to this

"You remember me, Captain?" the whispering voice was anxious. "Wyte a
bit. I'll show you..."

There was the flash of a small light held in a cupped hand so that it
illuminated for a second only the speaker's face. But in that second I
recognized it as Barker's--shrewd and narrow, sandy hair bristling,
the short upper lip and buck teeth.

"Barker--well, I'll be damned!" I swore softly, but did not add that
the sight of him was so welcome that had he been close enough I would
have embraced him.

"S-sh!" he cautioned. "I'm fair sure there ain't nobody watchin'. You
can't always tell in this Gord awful plyce, though. Tyke me 'and, sir.
There's a chair over there just beside where I come through the wall.
Sit in it an' light a cigar. If I 'ear anything I can slip right
back--an' all you're doin' is sittin' up smokin'."

His hand caught mine. He seemed to be able to see in the dark for he
led me unerringly across the floor and pressed me into the cushioned

"Light up, sir," he said.

I struck a match and lighted a cigar. The flare showed the room, but
no Barker. I flicked it out and after a moment I heard his whisper
close to my ear.

"First thing I want to say, sir, is don't let 'im scare you with that
bunk about bein' the devil. 'E's a devil right enough, a bloody,
blinkin' one, but 'e ain't the devil. 'E's pullin' your leg, sir. 'E's
a man just like me an' you. A knife in 'is black 'eart or a bullet
through 'is guts an' you'd see."

"How did you know I was here?" I whispered.

"Seen you in the chair," he answered. "'Ere's my 'and. When you want
to sye anything, squeeze it an' I'll lean my ear close. It's syfer.
Yes, seen you in the chair--out there. Fact is, sir, I'm the one that
looks after that chair. Look after a lot of such damned things 'ere.
That's why 'e lets me live. Satan, I mean."

He went back to his first theme, bitterly.

"But 'e ain't the devil, sir. Always remember 'e ain't. I was brought
up Gord-fearin'. Pentecosters, my people was. Taught me Satan was in
'ell, they did. An' won't 'e just give this bloody swine particular
'ell for tykin' 'is nyme in vyne when 'e gets 'im in 'ell! Christ, 'ow
I'd like to see it.

"From h'outside lookin' in," he added hastily.

I pressed his hand and felt his ear close to my lips.

"How did you get here, Harry?" I murmured. "And who is this--Satan,
and what's his real game?"

"I'll tell you the 'ole tale, Captain," he answered. "It'll tyke a
little time, but Gord knows when I'll get the chance again. That's why
I beat it to you quick as I could. The bloody beast is gloatin' over
that poor devil Cartright. Watchin' 'im die! The rest is either
sleepin' or drinkin' themselves blind. Still, as I said, we'll tyke no
chances. You let me talk an' ask your questions afterwards."

"Go on," I said.

"I was an electrician before the war," came the whisper in the dark.
"None better. Master at it. 'E knows I am. It's why 'e let me live, as
I told you. Satan--augh-h-h!

"Things was different after the war. Jobs 'ard to get an' livin' 'igh.
Got lookin' at things different, too. Seen lots of muckers what hadn't
done a thing in the war but live cushy and pile up loot. What right
'ad they to 'ave all they 'ad when them as 'ad fought an' their
families was cold an' 'ungry?

"'Andy with my 'ands I always was. An' light on my feet. Climb! Climb
like a cat. Climb like a bloody centipede. An' quiet! A spook in
galoshes was a parade compared to me. I ain't praisin' myself, sir.
I'm just tellin' you.

"Syes I to myself, ''Arry, it's all wrong. 'Arry, it's time to turn
your talents to account. Time to settle down to real work, 'Arry.'

"I was good from the very start at the new trade. I kept goin' 'igher
an' 'igher. From villas to apartment 'ouses, apartment 'ouses to
mansions. Never once caught. King Cat 'Arry they called me. Swarm up a
water pipe as easy as porch pillar, up an apartment 'ouse wall as easy
as a water pipe. Master at my new trade just like my old.

"Then I met Maggie. They only myke one like Maggie once, sir. Quick
with 'er fingers! She made 'Oudini an' 'Errman look like slow movies.
An' a lydy. Regular Clare Vere de Vere when she wanted to be!

"Lot's of swell mobsmen wanted to myke Maggie. She'd 'ave none of
them. All wrapped up in 'er work she was. ''Ell!' she'd sye, just like
a duchess, 'what do I want with a 'usband? 'Ell,' she'd sye, 'A
'usband is about as much use as a 'eadache!' Sort of discouragin', was

"Captain, we was crazy h'about each other right off. Married we was,
quick. Took a nice 'ouse down in Maida Vale. Was I 'appy? Was she?

"'Now, Maggie,' I syes after we come back from the 'oneymoon, 'there
ain't no reason for you workin' no more. I'm a good provider. I'm a
'ard an' conscientious worker. All you 'ave to do is enjoy yourself
an' make our 'ome comfortable an' 'appy.'

"An' Maggie said, 'Righto, 'Arry.'

"I was wearin' I remember a stick pin she'd give me for a weddin'
present. Big ruby in it. An' a watch she'd give me, an' a nifty ring
with pearls. Admired 'em I 'ad when I see 'em on a couple of toffs at
the 'otel we stopped at. An' that night when we went to our room she
'anded 'em to me as a present! That was the kind of a worker Maggie

I suppressed a chuckle with difficulty. This whispered-in-the-dark
romance of the conscientious soldier and able electrician turned into
just as able and conscientious a burglar was the one touch needed to
make the night complete. It washed away the film of horror in my mind
and brought me back to normal.

"Night or two lyter I was takin' a dye off an' we went to the
theayter. ''Ow do you like that pin, 'Arry?' whispers Maggie an'
shoots a look at a sparkler in the toff's tie next me. 'Ain't it
pretty,' syes I, 'eedlessly.' 'Ere it is!' syes Maggie when we get

"'Now, Maggie,' I syes, 'I told you I don't want you to work no more.
Ain't I the good provider I promised? Can't I get all the pins I want,
myself? All I want, Maggie, is a snug, comfortable, 'appy 'ome when I
come back from a 'ard night's work an' my wife to welcome me. I won't
'ave you workin', Maggie!"

"'Righto, 'Arry,' syes she.

"But, Captain, it wasn't all right. It got so that when we went out
together I didn't dare to look at a man's tie or 'is watch or nothin'.
I couldn't even stand an' admire things in shops. Sure's I did, there
when we got 'ome or the next dye would be the things I'd admired. An'
Maggie so proud like an' pleased she'd got 'em for me that I 'adn't
the 'eart--Oh, it was love all right, but--Oh, 'ell!

"She'd be waitin' for me when I got 'ome. But if I'd wyke up from
sleep before my time, she was out. An' when I'd wyke up after she got
back, first thing I'd see was laces, or a fur coat, or a ring or two
lyde out on the tyble.

"She'd been workin' again!

"'Maggie, I'd sye, 'it ain't right. It 'urts my pride. An' ow'll it be
when kiddies come? With their daddy out workin' all night an' sleepin'
while their mother's out workin' all dye an' sleepin' while their
daddy's workin'--'ell, Maggie, they might as well be h'orphants!'

"But 'twas no good, Captain. She loved 'er work more than she did me,
or maybe she just couldn't tell us apart.

"An' at last I 'ad to leave 'er. Fair broke my 'eart, it did. I loved
'er an' my 'ome. But I just couldn't stand it.

"So I come to America. Me, King Cat 'Arry, an exile because my wife
couldn't stop workin'.

"Did well, too. But I wasn't 'appy. One dye I was out in the country
an' I ran across a big wall. Fair built to tempt me, it was. After
while I come to a pair of gates, iron and a guard house behind 'em.
Gates not barred. Solid.

"'Goramighty!' syes I to myself. 'It must be the Duke of New York
lives 'ere.' I reconnoitered. That wall must 'ave been five miles
long. I 'id around an' that night I climbed on top of it. Nothin' but
trees an' far-off lights shinin' as though it was a big castle.

"First thing I look for is wires. There was a wire just at the h'inner
edge of the wall. Careful I was not to touch it. Charged, I guessed
it. I looked over an' took a chance at shootin' my flash. There was
two more wires down at the base just where any one would land on 'em
if they shinned down the wall. An' it was a twelve-foot drop.

"Anybody else would have been discouraged. But they didn't nyme me
King Cat for nothin'. Took a leap, I did. Landed soft as a cat.
Sneaked through the trees like a weasel. Came up to the big 'ouse.

"Saw a 'ole lot of queer people goin' in an' around. After while most
of the lights went out. Swarmed up a place I'd spotted an' found
myself in a big room. An' Cripes, the stuff in that room! It fair
myde my 'ed swim. I picked up a few tysty bits, an' then I noticed
something funny. There wasn't no doors to that room! ''Ow the 'ell do
they get in?' I asked myself. An' then I looked around at the windows
I'd come through."

"Goramighty, Captain, I fair fell out of my shirt! There wasn't no
windows. They'd disappeared. There wasn't nothin' but wall!"

"An' then a big light blazed up an' out of the walls come about a
dozen men with ropes an' a big man after them. I shriveled when he
turned them h'eyes of 'is on me. Scared! If I'd nearly fell out of my
shirt before, now I was slippin' from my pants.

"Well, it was this bloody bloke Satan, y'understand. 'E just stood
scorchin' me. Then 'e started to ask me questions.

"Captain, I told 'im everythin'. Just like 'e was Gord. 'E 'ad me fair
kippered. Told 'im all about bein' an electrician, an' my new work,
an' about Maggie. Just as I been tellin' you, only more so. 'Strewth,
sir, 'e 'ad my life from the time I was out of swaddles.

"'E laughed. That awful laugh. You've 'eard it. 'Ow, 'e laughed! An'
next thing I knows I'm standin' at 'is table an' tellin' it all over
to Consardine.

"An' 'ere I've been ever since, Cap'n Kirkham. 'E put me under
sentence of death, sir, an' sooner or later 'e'll do for me. Unless
'e's done for first. But 'e finds me very useful, 'e does, an' 'e
won't do for me as long as I'm that to 'im. Also 'e syes I entertain
'em. Fair prize 'og for entertainment 'e is! Gets me in there with
Consardine an' others and mykes me tell 'em about my work, an'
ambitions an' my sacredest sentiments. All about Maggie, too.
Everything about 'er, sir.

"Gord, 'ow I 'ate 'im! The muckin', bloody, blue-eyed son of a mangy
she-dog! But 'e's got me! 'E's got me! Like 'e's got you!"

The little man's voice had risen dangerously high. The shrill edge of
hysteria was beginning to creep into it. All along I had sensed the
tension under which he was laboring. But aside from the welcome
diversion of his unintentionally droll story, I had realized the
necessity of letting him run along and pour out his heart to me. Mine
was perhaps the first sympathetic ear he had encountered since his
imprisonment in this place. Certainly I was the only friend, and it
must have seemed to him that I had dropped down from Heaven. I was
deeply touched by the swiftness with which he had flown to me as soon
as he had recognized me. That he had run grave risks to do this seemed

"Quiet, Harry! Quiet!" I whispered, patting his hand. "You're not
alone now. Between the two of us, we ought to find some way to get you

"No!" I could almost see the despairing shake of his head. "You don't
know 'im, sir. There wouldn't be a bit of use in my gettin' away. 'E'd
'ave me in no time. No. I can't get away while 'e's alive."

"How did you know where I was? How did you find me?" I asked.

"Come through the walls," he said. "There ain't an honest stairs or
door in this 'ole place. Nothin' but passages in the walls, an' panels
that slide, an' lifts all over, thick as the seeds in a pumpkin.
Satan, 'e's the only one that knows the 'ole combination. Consardine,
'e's 'is right 'and man 'ere, knows some of 'em. But I know more than
Consardine. I ought to. Been 'ere nigh on two years now, I 'ave. Never
once been out. 'E's warned me. If I go outside 'e does for me. Been
creepin', creepin', creepin', round like a rat in the walls whenever I
got the chance. A lot of wires to look after, too, an' that learned
me. I don't know all--but I know a 'ell of a lot. I was close behind
you and Consardine all the time."

"What is Satan?" I asked. "I mean, where does he come from--admitting
it's not from Hell?"

"I think he's part Rooshian and part Chink. 'E's got Chink in 'im,
sure. Where 'e was before 'e come 'ere, I don't know. I don't dare ask
questions. But I found out 'e took this plyce about ten years ago. An'
the people who tore it apart inside an' fixed up the panels an'
passages were all Chinks."

"But you can't look after a place like this all by yourself, Harry," I
considered. "And I can't see Satan giving many the chance to learn the

"'E lets me use the kehjt slyves," he answered astonishingly.

"That's twice tonight I've heard their name," I said. "What are they?"

"Them?" there was loathing and horror in his voice. "They fair give
you the creeps. 'E feeds 'em with the kehjt. Opium, coke, 'asheesh--
they're mother's milk compared to it. Gives each one of 'em 'is or 'er
particular Paradise--till they wake up. Murder's the least of what
they'll do to get another shot. Them fellows in the white nightgowns
that stood on the steps with their ropes, was some of 'em. You've
'eard of the Old Man of the Mountains who used to send out the
assassins. Feller told me about 'em in the war.

"Satan's gyme's the syme. One drink of it an' they can't do without
it. Then he gets 'em believin' if they get killed for 'im 'e can stick
their souls where they get forever the 'appiness the kehjt gives 'em
'ere only occasionally. Then! They'll do anything for Satan!

I broached the question I had long been waiting to ask.

"Do you know a girl named Eve? Big brown eyes and--"

"Eve Demerest," he answered. "Poor kid! 'E's got 'er all right. Gord,
what a shyme! 'E'll drag 'er down to 'ell, an' she's an angel, a--
Careful! Smoke up!"

His hand jerked from mine. I heard a faint sound from the opposite
wall. I drew upon my cigar, and stretched and sighed. Again the sound,
the veriest ghost of one.

"Who's there?" I called, sharply.

A light flashed up and by the wall, beside an opened panel, stood
Thomas, the valet.

"Did you call, sir?" he asked. His eyes glanced swiftly around the
room, then came to rest on mine, and there was suspicion in them.

"No," I said, indifferently.

"I am sure the bell rang, sir. I was half asleep--" he hesitated.

"Then you were dreaming," I told him.

"I'll just fix your bed for you, sir, while I'm here."

"Do," I said. "When I've finished my cigar I'll turn in."

He made it up and drew a handkerchief from his pocket. A coin dropped
upon the floor at his feet. As he stooped to pick it up it slipped
from his fingers and rolled beneath the bed. He got down upon his
knees and felt about. It was very neatly done. I had been wondering
whether he would boldly look under the bed or devise some such polite

"Will you have a drink, Thomas?" I asked him, cordially, as he stood
up, once more searching the room with his eyes.

"Thank you, sir, I will," he poured himself a rather stiff one. "If
you don't mind I'll get some plain water."

"Go ahead," I bade him. He walked into the bathroom and turned on the
light. I continued to smoke serenely. He emerged, satisfied apparently
that there was no one there. He took his drink and went to the panel.

"I hope you will sleep, sir."

"I shall," I answered cheerfully. "Turn out the light as you go."

He vanished, but I was certain that he was still behind the wall,
listening. And after a little while I yawned loudly, arose, walked
over to the bed and making what noise I could naturally, turned in.

For a little while I lay awake, turning over the situation in the
light of what Barker had told me. A castle with no stairs or "honest
doors."... A labyrinth of secret passages and sliding panels. And the
little thief creeping, creeping through the walls, denied the open,
patiently marking down one by one their secrets. Well, there was a
rare ally, indeed, if I should need one.

And Satan! Dealing out Paradise by retail to these mysterious slaves
of his potent drug. Promising Paradise to those others by his seven
shining footsteps. What was his aim? What did he get out of it?

Well, I would probably know more this afternoon after I had obeyed his
second summons.

And Eve? Damn that prying Thomas for interrupting just as I was
finding out something about her.

Well, I would play Satan's game--with a few reservations.

I went to sleep.


When I woke up, Thomas was at the closet selecting a suit. I heard the
taps running in the bath. How long he had been in the room I could not
tell. No doubt he had made a thorough search of it. Lazily I wondered
what it had been that had aroused his suspicions. I looked at my
watch. It had stopped.

"Hello, Thomas," I hailed him. "What's the time?"

He popped out of the wardrobe like a startled rabbit.

"It's one o'clock. I wouldn't have disturbed you, sir, but the Master
is expecting you to breakfast with him at two."

"Good." I made for the bath. As I splashed around, the half-formed
plan upon which I had gone to sleep suddenly crystallized. I would try
my luck at the footprints at once. But--I would not go the distance.
Not this time. I would step upon two of them and no more. There was
much I wanted to know before running the risk of delivering myself
over to Satan body and soul.

What I hoped was that only one of the two would be his. At the worst I
would incur a year's bondage. Well, I did not mind that so much

I had, in fact, determined to match my wits against Satan rather than
my luck.

I did not want to escape him. My keenest desire was to be incorporated
among his entourage, infernal or not. Barker gave me a unique
advantage. Out of it might well come the opportunity to tumble this
slanting blue-eyed devil off his black throne, break his power and--
well, why mince words--loot him.

Or, to put it more politely, recover from him a thousand fold what he
had so casually stripped me of.

That had been twenty thousand dollars. To wipe off the debt at that
rate I must strip Satan of twenty millions--

That would be a good game indeed. I laughed.

"You seem quite gay, sir," said Thomas.

"The birds, Thomas," I said, "are singing everywhere. Everywhere,
Thomas. Even here."

"Yes, sir," he answered, looking at me dubiously.

It was a quarter of two when I had finished. The valet walked me into
the hall and out again, stopping the lift this time at a much higher
level. Again I emerged into a small antechamber whose one door was
guarded by two tall slaves.

Passing through it, I was dazzled by a flood of sunshine. Then the
sunshine seemed to gather itself and center upon the girl who had half
risen from her seat at the table as I entered. It was Eve, but a far
different Eve than she who had so ably aided in my kidnaping the night
before. Then I had thought her extraordinarily pretty; now I realized
how inadequate was the adjective.

The girl was beautiful. Her clear brown eyes regarded me gravely,
studying me with a curious intentness. Her proud little head had the
poise of a princess, and the sunlight playing in her hair traced a
ruddy golden coronet within it; her mouth was sweeter even than I
had found it.

And as I looked at the lips I had kissed so ruthlessly, a quick rose
tinted her face.

"Eve--this is Mr. Kirkham," it was Consardine's voice, faintly amused.
"Miss Demerest and you have met, I think."

"I think," I answered, slowly, "that I am seeing Miss Demerest for the
first time. I am hoping that she--will consider it so."

It was as near to an apology as I could come. Would she take the
proffered olive branch? Her eyes widened as though with reproachful

"To think," mused Eve, mournfully, "that a man could so soon forget
having kissed me! It seems hardly a compliment, does it, Dr.

"It seems," said Consardine, truthfully, "impossible."

"Ah, no," sighed Eve. "No, Mr. Kirkham. I can't think it is our first
meeting. You have, you know, such a forceful way of impressing one
with your personality. And a woman cannot forget kisses so easily."

I flushed. That Eve was a consummate little actress she had given me
plenty of convincing proof. But what did this bit of by-play mean? I
could not believe that she was so bitterly offended by my actions in
the Subway; she was too intelligent for that. Yet if she distrusted
me, disliked me, how could I help her?

"My remark," I said, "was prompted wholly by politeness. The truth is,
Miss Demerest, that I consider those kisses generous payment for any
inconveniences of my interesting journey here."

"Well, then," she said coldly, "you have made your trade and the slate
is clean. And do not trouble to be polite with me, Mr. Kirkham. Just
be yourself. You are much more amusing."

I choked back an angry retort and bowed.

"Quite right," I returned, as coldly as she. "After all there seems to
be no reason why I should be polite to you."

"None at all," she answered indifferently. "And, frankly, the less I
come into contact with even your natural self, Mr. Kirkham, the better
it will be for both of us."

That was an oddly turned phrase, it flashed upon me. And there was an
enigmatic something deep in the brown eyes. What did she mean? Was she
trying to convey to me some message that Consardine would not suspect?
I heard a chuckle and turned to face--Satan.

I could not know how long he had been listening. As his gaze rested on
the girl I saw a momentary flashing of the brilliant eyes, and a
flicker passed over his face. It was as though the hidden devil within
him had licked its lips.

"Quarreling! Oh fie!" he said unctuously.

"Quarreling? Not at all," Eve answered coolly. "It happens that I
dislike Mr. Kirkham. I am sorry--but it is so. It seemed to me better
to tell him, that we may avoid each other in the future except, of
course, when you find it necessary for us to be together, Satan."

It was disconcerting, to say the least. I made no effort to hide my
chagrin. Satan looked at me and chuckled again. I had a curious
conviction that he was pleased.

"Well," he purred, "even I have no power over personal prejudices. All
that I can do is to make use of them. In the meantime--I am hungry."

He seated himself at the table's head; Eve at his right hand, I at his
left and Consardine beside me. The Manchu butler and another Chinese
served us.

We were in a tower room, clearly. The windows were set high above the
floor and through them I could see only the blue sky. The walls were
covered with Fragonard and Boucher panels, and I had no doubt that
they had been acquired by the "eloquence" of Satan's messengers. The
rest of the chamber was in keeping; furnished with that same amazing
eclecticism and perception of the beautiful that I had noted in the
great hall and in the room where I had first met the blue-eyed devil.

Eve, having defined my place--or lack of place--in her regard, was
coolly aloof to me but courteous, and sparkling and witty with Satan
and Consardine. The drama of the temple and Cartright's punishment
seemed to be forgotten by the three of them. Satan was in the best of
humors, but in his diabolic benignity--it is the only way I can
describe it--was, to me, the sinister suggestion of a wild beast
playful because its appetite has been appeased, an addict of cruelty
mellowed by the ultimate anguish to which he has subjected a
sacrifice. I had a vivid and unpleasant picture of him wallowing like
a tiger upon the torn carcass of the man whom he had sent out of life
a few hours before through the gateways of hell.

Yet the sunlight stripped him of much of his vague terror. And if he
was, as Barker had put it, "an 'og for entertainment" he was himself a
masterly entertainer. Something had shifted the conversation toward
Jenghis Khan and for half an hour Satan told us stories of that Ruler
of the Golden Horde and his black palace in his lost city of Khara-
Khoto in the Gobi that wiped all the present out of my mind and set me
back, seeing and hearing, into a world ten centuries gone; stories
tragic and comic. Rabelaisian and tender--and all as though he had
himself been a witness to what he described. Indeed, listening, it
seemed to me that he could have been nothing else. Devil or not, the
man had magic.

And at the end he signaled the two servants to go, and when they had
gone he said to me, abruptly: "Well, James Kirkham, is it yes or no?"
I feigned to hesitate. I leaned my head upon my hand and under its
cover shot a glance at Eve. She was patting her mouth with slim
fingers, suppressing a yawn--but there was a pallor upon her face that
had not been there a moment before. I felt Satan's will beating down
upon me, tangibly.

"Yes--or no?" he repeated.

"Yes," I said, "if, Satan, you will answer one question."

"It is always permitted to ask," he replied. "Well, then," I said, "I
want to know what kind of an--employer you are before I make a play
that may mean life service to me. A man is his aims plus the way he
works to attain them. As to your methods, I have had at least an
illuminative inkling. But what are your aims? In the olden days,
Satan, the question would have been unnecessary. Everybody who dealt
with you knew that what you were after were souls to keep your
furnaces busy. But Hell, I understand, has been modernized with its
Master. Furnaces are out of date and fuel therefore nothing like so
valuable. Yet still, as of old, you take your prospective customers up
a high mountain and offer them the kingdoms of Earth. Very well, the
question. What, Satan, do you get out of it now?"

"There you have one reason for my aversion to Mr. Kirkham," murmured
Eve. "He admits nothing that cannot be balanced in a set of books. He
has the shopkeeper outlook."

I ignored this thrust. But once more Satan chuckled from still lips.

"A proper question, Eve," he told her. "You forget that even I always
keep my accounts balanced--and present them when the time comes for

He spoke the last words slowly, contemplatively, staring at her--and
again I saw the devil's gloating flicker over his face. And she saw it
too, for she caught her lip between her teeth to check its trembling.

"Then answer," I spoke abruptly to draw his attention from her back to
me. He studied me as though picking the words to reply.

"Call it," he said at last, "amusement. It is for amusement that I
exist. It is for that alone that I remain upon a world in which, when
all is said and done, amusement in some form or guise is the one great
aim of all, the only thing that makes life upon it tolerable. My aim
is, therefore, you perceive, a simple one. But what is it that amuses

"Three things. I am a great playwright, the greatest that has ever
lived, since my plays are real. I set the scenes for my little single
acts, my farces and comedies, dramas and tragedies, my epics. I direct
the actors. I am the sole audience that can see every action, hear
every line, of my plays from beginning to end. Sometimes what began as
a farce turns into high tragedy, tragedies become farces, a one-act
diversion develops into an epic, governments fall, the mighty topple
from their pedestals, the lowly are exalted. Some people live their
lives for chess. I play my chess with living chessmen and I play a
score of games at once in all corners of the world. All this amuses
me. Furthermore, in my character as Prince of Darkness, which I
perceive, James Kirkham, that you do not wholly admit, my art puts me
on a par with that other super-dramatist, my ancient and Celestial
adversary known according to the dominant local creed as Jehovah. Nay,
it places me higher--since I rewrite his script. This also amuses me."

Under the suave, sardonic mockery I read truth. To this cold,
monstrous intellect, men and women were only puppets moving over a
worldwide stage. Suffering, sorrow, anguish of mind or body were to it
nothing but entertaining reactions to situations which it had
conceived. Like the dark Power whose name Satan had taken, souls were
his playthings. Their antics amused him. In that he found sufficient
reward for labor.

"That," he said, "is one of the three. The second? I am a lover of
beauty. It is, indeed, the one thing that can arouse in me what may be
called--emotion. It happens now and then that man with his mind and
eyes and heart and hands makes visible and manifest some thing which
bears that stamp of creative perfection the monopoly of which
tradition ascribes to the same Celestial adversary I have named. It
may be a painting, a statue, a carved bit of wood, a crystal, a vase,
a fabric--any one of ten thousand things. But in it is that essence of
beauty humanity calls divine and for which, in its blundering way, it
is always seeking--as it is amusement. The best of these things I make
from time to time my own. But--I will not have them come to me except
by my own way. Here enters the third element--the gamble, the game.

"For example. I decided, after mature reflection, that the Mona Lisa
of da Vinci, in the Louvre, had the quality I desired. It could not,
of course, be bought; nor did I desire to buy it. Yet it is here. In
this house. I allowed France to recover an excellent duplicate in
which my experts reproduced perfectly even the microscopic cracks in
the paint. Only now have they begun to suspect. They can never be
sure--and that amuses me more than if they knew.

"James Kirkham, men risk their lives over the globe in search of
treasure. I tell you that never, never since mankind began, was there
ever such a treasure trove as this house of mine. The fortunes of the
ten richest men in all the world could not buy it. It is more precious
than all the gold in the Bank of England.

"Its values in dollars and pounds is nothing to me. But to possess
this pure essence of beauty, to dwell with it, that is--much! And to
know that the best of my ancient adversary's choicest inspirations are
mine, Satan's--that is amusing! Ho! Ho!" he roared.

"Third and last," he checked his laughter, "is the game. Collector of
souls and beauty I am. Gambler am I, too, and as supreme in that as in
my collecting. It is the unknown quantity, the risk, that sharpens the
edge of my enjoyment of my plays. It is what gives the final zest to
my--acquirements. And I am a generous opponent. The stakes those who
play with me may win are immeasurably higher than any I could win from
them. But play with me--they must!"

For a moment he stared at me, huge head thrust forward.

"As for the rest," he said, "I have, as you surmised, no further
interest in stoking my traditional furnaces. What happens to any man
after he leaves this earth concerns me no longer. I have given up my
ancient domain for this where I am amused so well. But, James
Kirkham"--his blue eyes blazed out at me--"those who cross me find
that I have lost none of my old skill as a Hell maker. Now are you

"Fully, sir," I bowed. "I will gamble with you. And, win or lose, you
shall have no occasion to find fault with me. But, by your leave, one
more question. You have said that he who mounts the four fortunate
steps can have anything that he desires. Very well, if I do so can I
have"--I pointed to Eve--"her?"

I heard a gasp from Eve, watched Satan bend toward me, scrutinizing me
with eyes in which a menacing coldness had appeared. Consardine spoke:

"Oh, come, now, Kirkham, be reasonable. Eve's been honest with you.
She's made it pretty plain you're not an acceptable candidate for

I sensed a certain anxiety in his voice; the desire to placate. Placate
whom--me or Satan? It interested me, hugely. Perhaps Consardine--

"Marry--you? Not for anything in this world, not to save my life, not
to save myself torture!"

Eve's voice was shrill with anger. She had sprung to her feet and
stood, eyes flashing wrath, red danger signals on her cheeks. I met
Satan's gaze, squarely.

"Have I mentioned--marriage?" I asked him, blandly.

He took, as I had thought he would, the worst interpretation out of
that. I saw the menace and suspicion fade away as swiftly as it had
come. Yes, he took the worst interpretation, but--so did Eve.

"Satan," she stamped her foot and thrust her chair from her with such
force that it went careening over on its side, "Satan, I have a
question, too. If I take the steps will you give me this man to do
with as it pleases me?"

Satan looked from one to the other of us. Very evidently the situation
gave him much gratification. The blue eyes sparkled and there was a
benignant purr in his voice when he spoke.

"To both of you I must answer--no. No, to you, Eve, because James
Kirkham has accepted my challenge to the gamble of the steps. That
being so, I could not withdraw if I would. He must have his chance.
Also, if he should lose to me for one undertaking or enter my service
for a year, I am bound to protect him. I am bound also to give him his
other chances, should he claim them. But, Eve--if he should decide to
gamble no more--why, then, ask me again."

He paused and stared at me. I had no doubt as to his meaning.

"And no to you, James Kirkham," he said, "because all that I have said
to Eve as to your position applies equally to hers. She too has her
right to her chances. But"--his voice lost its benignity and grew
heavy--"there is another reason. I have decreed for Eve a high
destiny. Should she fulfill it--she will be far above the reach of any
man. Should she shirk it--"

He did not finish the sentence; only brooded upon her with unwinking,
blazing eyes. I watched the blood slowly drain from her cheeks, saw
her own eyes falter and drop. There was a sharp snap and a tinkle of
glass. Consardine's hand had been playing with a heavy goblet of thick
crystal and now, tightening around it, had crushed it as though it had
been made of paper. He thrust the hand into his pocket, but not before
I had seen blood upon it. Satan's eyes dwelt upon him inscrutably.

"Strength like yours, Consardine," he said, "is often dangerous--to
its owner."

"Faith, Satan," Consardine answered, ruefully, "I was dreaming, and
thought it was a neck I held in my hand."

"A warning, I should say," said Satan, grimly, "to leave that
particular neck alone."

"I've no choice," laughed Consardine, "since the throat I had in mind
was of an old enemy these ten years dead."

For another moment or two Satan studied him, but made no further
comment. He turned to me.

"You have decided," he said. "When will you mount the steps?"

"Any time," I answered. "The sooner the better. Now, if it's possible.
I'm feeling lucky."

"Consardine," he said, "have the temple prepared. Bid those who are
here assemble in half an hour, Eve."

He watched them go, the girl through a panel with never a look at me,
Consardine by way of the door that led into the tiny anteroom. For
long minutes Satan sat silent, regarding me. I smoked calmly, waiting
for him to speak.

"James Kirkham," he said at last, "I have told you before that you
please me. Everything I have seen of you since then pleases me even
more. But I must warn you of one thing. Do not let whatever chagrin or
feeling of dislike that you have toward Eve Demerest be the cause of
the slightest harm coming to her. You are not one that I have to
threaten, but--heed this warning."

"I put her out of my mind, Satan," I answered. "Yet I confess I'm a
bit curious about that high destiny you've promised her."

"The highest destiny," again there was the fateful heaviness in his
voice. "The highest honor that could come to any woman. I will tell
you, James Kirkham, so you may know how urgent is my warning. Sooner
or later I shall be compelled to visit other of my worlds. When that
time comes I shall turn this one over to my son and heir, and his
mother shall be--Eve!"


I consider it one of my few enough major victories that I took the
shock of that infernal enunciation with perfect outward composure. Of
course, in a way, I had been prepared. In spite of the rage and hatred
that seethed up in me, I managed to raise my glass with a steady hand
and my voice held nothing but the proper surprise and interest. "That
is an honor, sir, indeed," I said. "You will pardon me if I express a
certain wonder as to your choice. For you, I would have thought, some
empress, at least one of royal blood--"

"No, no," he interrupted me, but I knew that he swallowed with relish
my flattery, "you do not know the girl. You let your prejudice blind
you. Eve is as perfect as any of the masterpieces I have gathered
around me. To her beauty she adds brains. She has daring and spirit.
Whatever--to me--otherwise desirable qualities may be lacking in her
to pass on to my son, I can supply. He will be--my son. His training
will be in my hands. He will be what I make him."

"The son of Satan!" I said.

"Satan's own son!" a flame leaped from his eyes. "My true son, James

"You will understand," he went on, "that there is in this nothing of
what is called--love. Something of emotion, yes--but only that emotion
which any truly beautiful thing calls up in me. It is intrinsically,
solely, a matter of selective breeding: I have had the same idea
before, but--I was not fortunate in my selections."

"You mean--"

"They were girl children," he said somberly. "They were
disappointments. Therefore, they ceased to be."

And now behind the imperturbable, heavy mask of his face I glimpsed
the Chinese. Perceptibly the slant of the eyes had accentuated, the
high cheek bones became more prominent. I nodded, thoughtfully.

"But if again you are--" I had meant to add "disappointed."

He caught me up with a touch of that demonic fury he had shown at the
ordeal of Cartright.

"Do not dare say it! Do not dare think it! Her first-born shall be a
son! A son, I say!"

What I might have answered, what have done, I do not know. His sudden
deadliness, his arrogance, had set my smoldering wrath ablaze again.
Consardine saved me. I heard the door open and the menacing gaze
turned from me for a moment. It gave me my chance to recover myself.

"All is prepared, Satan," Consardine announced. I arose eagerly, nor
was that eagerness feigned. I was conscious of the beginning of a
curious excitement, a heady exaltation.

"It is your moment, James Kirkham." Satan's voice was again
expressionless, his face marble, his eyes sparkling. "But a few
minutes--and I may be your servant. The world your plaything! Who
knows! Who knows!"

He stepped to the farther wall and opened one of the panels.

"Dr. Consardine," he said, "you will escort the neophyte to the

He brooded upon me, almost caressingly--I saw the hidden devil lick
its lips.

"Master of the world!" he repeated. "And Satan your loyal slave! who

He was gone. Consardine drew a deep breath. He spoke, in carefully
matter-of-fact fashion.

"Want a drink before you try it, Kirkham?"

I shook my head, the tingling excitement increasing.

"You know the rules," he said briskly. "You step on any four of the
seven footprints. You can stop at any one of them you choose, and
abide by the consequences. One of Satan's gives you to him for one--
service; two give you to him for a year; three--and you are his
forever. No more chances for you then, Kirkham. Hit the four fortunate
ones and you sit on the top of the world, just as he promised you.
Look back while you're on the climb, and you have to begin all over
again. All clear?"

"Let's go," I said, somewhat huskily--my throat felt oddly dry.

He led me to the wall and through it into one of the marble-lined
corridors. From that we passed into a lift. It dropped. A panel slid
aside. Consardine leading, I stepped out into the webbed temple.

I was close to the base of the steps, just within the half-circle of
brilliant light that masked the amphitheater. From it came a faint
rustling and murmuring. Foolishly, I hoped that Eve had picked out a
good seat. I realized that I was trembling. Cursing myself silently, I
mastered the tremor, praying that it had been too slight to be

I looked up at the black throne, met Satan's mocking eyes and my
nerves steadied, my control clicked into place. He sat there in his
black robe, just as I had seen him the night before. The blue jeweled
eyes of his stone counterpart glittered behind him. Instead of the
fourteen white-robed, pallid-faced men with the noosed ropes there
were but two, midway up the steps. And something else was missing. The
black-visaged fiend of an executioner!

What did that mean? Was it Satan's way of telling me that even if I
trod upon his three prints he would not have me killed? Or at least
that I need not fear death until I had finished the work for which he
had picked me?

Or was it a trap?

That was the more likely. Somehow I could not conceive Satan thus
solicitously though subtly reassuring me of a suspended sentence. Was
it not, rather, that by cutting down his guards and eliminating his
torturer he had schemed to plant that very thought? Lure me on to make
the full gamble and go the limit of the four steps in the belief that
if I lost I was sure of a reprieve that might give me time to escape

Or, admitting that his present purpose was benevolent, if I did lose,
might it not suddenly occur to him that he would derive greater
amusement from evoking his hellish servant with the cord of woman's
hair and giving me to him--like Cartright.

As Cartright had, I studied his face. It was inscrutable, nothing in
it to guide me. And now, far more vividly than when I had watched that
despairing wretch being hauled in to his torment, did I realize the
infernal ingenuity of this game. For now it was I who had to play it.

I dropped my eyes from Satan's. They fell upon the seven shining
footprints and followed them up to the golden throne. Crown and
scepter glittered upon it. Their gem fires beckoned and called to me.
Again the excitement seized me, tingling along every nerve.

If I could win them! Win them and what they stood for!

Satan pressed down the lever between the two thrones. I heard the
whirring of the controlling mechanism and saw the seven marks of the
childish foot shine with intenser light.

"The steps are ready," he intoned, and thrust his hands beneath his
black robe. "They await their conqueror, the chosen one of fortune!
Are you he? Ascend--and learn!" I walked to the steps, mounted and set
my foot unhesitatingly upon the first of the prints. Behind me, I
knew, its symbol glimmered on the telltale of the luminous globe--

On Satan's side--or mine?

Again I ascended, more slowly, and paused at the next print. But it
was not to weigh its probabilities of good or evil that I halted. The
truth is that the gambler's fever was rising high within me, crazily
high, undermining my determination to limit this first game of mine
with Satan to only two of the footsteps.

Common sense bade me go slow and get back my grip upon my judgment.
Common sense, fighting for time, moved me past that mark and slowly on
to the next.

I trod upon it. There was another symbol on the telltale--mine--or

Now the fever had me wholly. My eyes were bright with it as Satan's
own. My heart was thumping like a drum, my fingers cold, a dry
electric heat beating about my head. The little feet of fire seemed to
quiver and dance with eagerness to lead me on.

"Take me!" beckoned one.

"Take me!" signaled another.

The jeweled crown and scepter summoned. On the golden throne I saw a
phantom--myself, triumphant, with crown upon my head, scepter in my
hand, Satan at my beck and the world at my knees!

It may be true that thoughts have form, and that intense emotion or
desire leave behind something of themselves that persists, lives on in
the place where it was called forth and wakes, ravening, when some one
moved by the same impulses that created it appears in that place. At
any rate, it was as though the ghosts of desire of all those who had
ascended those steps before me had rushed to me and, hungering for
fulfillment, were clamoring to me to go on.

But their will was also my will. I needed no urging. I wanted to go
on. After all, the two prints upon which I had trodden might well be
fortunate ones. At the worst, by all the laws of chance, I should have
broken even. And if so then there would be no more risk in making one
more throw than I had already resolved to incur.

What did the telltale show?

Ah, if I could but know! If I could but know!

And suddenly a chill went through me, as though the ghosts of despair
of all those who had mounted before me and lost had pressed back the
hungry wraiths of desire.

Glitter of crown and scepter tarnished and grew sinister.

For an instant I saw the seven shining prints not as those of a
child's foot, but as of a cloven hoof!

I drew back up and looked up at Satan. He sat head bent forward,
glaring at me, and with distinct shock I realized that with full force
of his will he was commanding me to proceed. Instantly after that
apperception came another. It was as though a hand touched my
shoulder, drawing me still further back, and clearly as though lips
were close to my ear I heard a counter-command, imperative--

"Stop! Stop now!"

The voice of--Eve!

For another minute I stood, shaken by the two contending impulses.
Then abruptly a shadow lifted from my mind, all fever fled, the spell
of the shining prints and lure of crown and orb broke. I turned my
face, reeking with sweat, once more to Satan.

"I've had enough... for this... time!" I panted.

He stared at me silently. I thought that behind the cold sparkle of
his gaze I read anger, thwarted purpose, a certain evil puzzlement. If
so, it was fleeing. He spoke.

"You have claimed the player's right. It was yours to stop when you
willed. Look behind you."

I swung around and sought the telltale globe.

Both of the prints upon which I had trodden had been--Satan's!


I was Satan's bond servant for a year, bound to do whatsoever he
commanded me.

The balance of that afternoon I had spent in my room, alternating
between intensive thought and hope of Barker cat-footing it out of the
wall. It was plain that my liberty was still limited. Not yet might I
run with the pack. Tentative overtures to Consardine following my
retreat from the steps, a hint that perhaps I ought to make a tour of
this citadel of the Prince of Darkness now I was enlisted among his
legionaries, had met courteous but firm rebuff. He had gravely
prescribed, as a doctor, the quietness of my chamber as a sedative for
the nervous strain I had just undergone.

What I had hoped for, of course, had been a chance to run across Eve.
Reflection assured me that it was much more important at the moment to
get in touch with the little cockney burglar.

As I waited I tried to analyze the fever that had so swept me off my
feet. I had thought myself cooler headed, better balanced. The fact is
that I was both ashamed of myself and uneasily puzzled. If I admitted
that the intensity of the passion I had felt had been due to Satan's
will, an actual compelling force pouring down upon me as I climbed the
steps--well, at least that was an explanation to soothe my smarting

But if it left me with the comforting thought that my will was quite
as strong as I had deemed it, it involved the humiliating alternative
that it was far weaker than Satan's. I took no credit for abstaining
from that next step which might have given me to him forever. It had
been the warning whisper, whether from Eve's mind or my own
subconscious one, that had pulled me back.

And Satan's attitude puzzled me. Why had he been so bent on forcing me
upward? Had it been simply the natural instinct of the gambler? The
urge to win? Had the sight of those two symbols flashing out one after
the other on his side of the telltale aroused the blood-lust in him?
If one or both of them had been on my side of the globe would he have
shown the same eagerness?

Or had he from the beginning willed me to go the limit and lose?

And if so--why?

I could find no answer to the questions, nor did Barker appear. And at
last, Thomas aiding, I dressed and was escorted by way of walls and
lifts to still another immense and vaulted chamber that in size and
trappings might have been a feast hall of the Medicis in the golden
prime of that magnificent clan. There were a score or more men and
women at a great oval table with Satan at the head, his flawless
evening dress giving him an oddly accentuated sardonic note. Plainly I
was late, but as plainly informality was the custom.

"Our newest recruit--James Kirkham."

With no more introduction than this, Satan waved me to my appointed
place. The others smiled and nodded and went on talking.

As I seated myself I saw with secret amazement that my right-hand
neighbor was a certain famous actress whose name was seldom missing
from Broadway's electrics. My rapid glance around the table showed me
a polo player of enviable American lineage and international
reputation, and a brilliant attorney high in the councils of Tammany
Hall. The others were unknown to me, but one and all bore the stamp of
unusual intelligence. If this were a representative slice of Satan's
court, then indeed his organization must be quite as extraordinary as
he had boasted. Eve was not there. Cobham was.

Walter sat at the actress's right. As the dinner went on I exerted
myself to be pleasant to him. For my own reasons, I wanted no lurking
enemies just then. He was a bit stiffish at first, then mellowed. He
drank freely, but, I noted with interest, not so freely as he would have
liked. Very clearly Walter loved to look upon the wine when it was not
only red, but all along the rainbow. I thought at first that it was the
restraint he had placed upon himself as to the rate of his consumption
that stirred up in him antagonism against other inhibitions, and
particularly that of discretion in expression of opinion. Then I
realized it was the drink itself that bred in Cobham a stern passion for
truth, a contempt for euphemisms and circumlocutions. What he wanted was
the plain fact unadorned, and no evasions. As he put it, "no tampering
with the formula." He was in fact an in-vino-veritas drinker of
Fundamentalist fervor. Also he was amusing, and the actress was vastly
entertained by our cross-conversation.

Some day or other soon, I resolved, I would usefully irrigate Walter
into such condition that he could not bear to leave even a shred of
covering on the clear-eyed goddess of the verities. I was astonished
to find that he was a chemist and spent much time in his laboratory in
the chateau. That explained his remark about the formula. He was very
explicit in telling me what an amazing chemist he was. I was to learn
later that he had not exaggerated. That is why I have lingered over
his picture.

It was a wonderful dinner, with a high note of sophistication and
delicately reckless gayety that had a constantly ringing undertone as
of fine steel. The only hints as to our peculiar position were when
the distinguished attorney, glancing at me, proposed a toast to "the
happy near damned," and when Satan sent for a casket and displayed
some of the most magnificent jewels I had ever seen.

He told their histories. This emerald set in turquoise was the seal
which Cleopatra had pressed upon the letters she wrote to Anthony;
this necklace of diamonds was the one with which the Cardinal de Rohan
had thought to buy the favors of Marie Antoinette, and so had set in
motion that trial which had been one of the midwives of the
Revolution, and finally cost the unhappy queen her head; this coronet
had shone among the curls of Nell Gwynne, set there by Charles, her
royal lover; this ring with its regal rubies had been given by
Montespan to the poisoner La Voiture for a love philter to warm the
cooling heart of the Roi du Soleil.

At last he gave the flashing little Frenchwoman who sat at his right a
bracelet of sapphires that had been, he said, Lucrezia Borgia's. I
wondered what she had done to deserve it, and if there were ironic
significance in his naming of its old owner. If so, it made no
difference in her delight.

And it gave me an enormously increased respect for Satan's power that
in this gathering there was no melodramatic secrecy, no masking, no
stale concealment of names by numbers. His people met face to face.
Evidently any thought of mutual betrayal was incredible, their faith
in Satan's protection absolute. That all of them, or many of them, had
witnessed my ordeal of the steps I had no doubt--nor that they had
watched the tragedy of Cartright. There was nothing to show it in
their behavior.

They bade good night to Satan. I arose and would have gone with them,
but his eyes caught mine and he shook his head.

"Remain with me, James Kirkham," he commanded.

And soon we were alone, the table cleared, the servants gone.

"And so," his lashless eyes glittered at me over the edge of his great
goblet, "and so--you have lost!"

"Yet not as much as I might have, Satan," I smiled, "since had I gone
but a bit higher my fall might have been like that ancient one of
yours--straight into Hell."

"A journey," he said blandly, "never devoid of interest. But a year
soon passes, and then you shall have your chance again."

"To fall, you mean?" I laughed.

"You gamble against Satan," he reminded me, then shook his head. "No,
you are wrong. My plans for you require your presence on earth. I
commend, however, your prudence in climbing. And I admit you--
surprised me."

"I have then," I arose and bowed, "begun my bondage with a most
notable achievement."

"May we both find your year a profitable one," he said. "And now,
James Kirkham--I claim my first service from you!"

I seated myself, waiting, with a little heightening of the pulse, for
him to go on.

"The Yunnan jades," he said. "It is true that I arranged matters so
that you might retain them, if you were clever enough. It is also true
that it would have amused me to have possessed the plaques. I was
forced to choose between two interests. Obviously whichever way the
cards fell I was bound to experience a half-disappointment."

"In other words, you observed, sir," I remarked, solemnly, "that even
you cannot have your cake and eat it, too."

"Exactly," he said. "Another blunder of a bunglingly devised world.
The museum has the jades; well, they shall keep them. But they must
pay me for my half-disappointment. I have decided to accept something
else that the museum owns which has long interested me. You shall--
persuade--them to let me have it, James Kirkham."

He raised his glass to me, ceremoniously, and drank; I followed suit,
with no illusion as to the word he had used.

"What is it," I asked, "and what is to be my method of--persuasion?"

"The task," he said, "will not be a difficult one. It is, in truth, in
the nature of the initial deed all knights of old were compelled to
perform before they could receive the accolade. I follow the custom."

"I bow to the rules, sir," I told him.

"Many centuries ago," he continued, "a Pharaoh summoned his greatest
goldsmith, the Benvenuto Cellini of that day, and commanded him to
make a necklace for his daughter.. Whether it was for her birthday or
her bridal, none knows. The goldsmith wrought it of finest gold and
carnelian and lapis lazuli and that green feldspar called aquamarine.
At one side of the golden cartouche that bore in hieroglyphs the
Pharaoh's name, he set a falcon crowned with the sun's disk--Horus the
son of Osiris, God, in a fashion, of Love, and guardian of happiness.
On the other the winged serpent, the uraeus, bearing the looped cross,
the crux ansata, the symbol of life. Below it he made a squatting god
grasping sheaves of years and set upon his elbow the tadpole symbol of
eternity. Thus did the Pharaoh by amulets and symbols invoke an
eternity of love and life for his daughter.

"Alas for love and human hope and faith! The princess died, and the
Pharaoh died and in time Horus and Osiris and all the gods of ancient
Egypt died.

"But the beauty which that forgotten Cellini wrought in that necklace
did not die. It could not. It was deathless. It lay for centuries with
the mummy of that princess in her hidden coffin of stone. It has
outlived her gods. It will outlive the gods of today and the gods of a
thousand tomorrows. Undimmed, its beauty shines from it as it did
three thousand years ago when the withered breast on which it was
found throbbed with life and sobbed with love and had, it may be, its
fleeting shadow of that same beauty which in the necklace is

"The necklace of Senusert the Second!" I exclaimed. "I know that
lovely thing, Satan."

"I must have that necklace, James Kirkham!"

I looked at him, disconcerted. If this was what he thought an easy
service, what would he consider a difficult one?

"It seems to me, Satan," I hazarded, "that you could hardly have
picked an object less likely to be yielded up by any--persuasion. It
is guarded day and night. It lies in a cabinet in the center of a
comparatively small room, in fact, and designedly, in the most
conspicuous part of that room--constantly under observation--"

"I must have it," he silenced me. "You shall get it for me. I answer
now your second question. How? By obeying to the minute, to the
second, without deviation, the instructions I am about to give you.
Take your pencil, put down these o'clocks, fix them unalterably in
your memory."

He waited until I had obeyed the first part of his command.

"You will leave here," he said, "at 10:30 tomorrow morning. Your
journey will be so timed that you may drop out of the car and enter
the museum at precisely one o'clock. You will be wearing a certain
suit which your valet will give you. He will also pick out your
overcoat, hat and other articles of dress. You must, as is the rule,
check your coat at the cloak room.

"From there you must go straight to the Yunnan jades, the ostensible
object of your visit. You may talk to whom you please, the more the
better, in fact. But you must so manage that at precisely 1:45 you
enter alone the north corridor of the Egyptian wing. You will interest
yourself in its collections until 2:05, when you will enter, upon the
minute, the room of the necklace. It has a guard for each of its two
entrances. Do they know you?"

"I'm not sure," I answered. "Probably so. At any rate, they know of

"You will find an excuse to introduce yourself to one of the guards in
the north corridor," he continued, "provided he does not know you by
sight. You will do the same with one of the guards in the necklace
room. You will then go to one of the four corners of that room, it
does not matter which, and become absorbed in whatever is in the case
before you. Your object will be to keep as far from you as possible
either of the two attendants who, conceivably, might think it his duty
to remain close to such," he raised his goblet to me, "a distinguished

"And, James Kirkham, at precisely 2:15 you will walk to the cabinet
containing the necklace, open it with an instrument which will be
provided for you, take out the necklace, drop it into the ingenious
pocket which you will find in the inside left of your coat, close the
case noiselessly and walk out."

I looked at him, incredulously.

"Did you say--walk out?" I asked.

"Walk out," he repeated.

"Carrying with me, I suppose," I suggested satirically, "the two

"You will pay no attention to the guards," he said.

"No?" I questioned. "But they will certainly be paying attention to
me, Satan!"

"Do not interrupt me again," he ordered, sternly enough. "You will do
exactly as I am telling you. You will pay no attention to the guards.
You will pay no attention to anything that may be happening around
you. Remember, James Kirkham, this is vital. You will have but one
thought--to open the case at exactly 2:15 and walk out of that room
with Senusert's necklace in your possession. You will see nothing,
hear nothing, do nothing but that. It will take you two minutes to
reach the cloak room. You will go from there straight to the outer
doors. As you pass through them you will step to the right, bend down
and tie a shoe. You will then walk down the steps to the street, still
giving no attention to whatever may be occurring around you. You will
see at the curb a blue limousine whose chauffeur will be polishing the
right-hand headlight.

"You will enter that car and give the person you find inside it the
necklace. The time should then be 2:20. It must not be later. You will
drive with that person for one hour. At 3:20 you will find the car
close to the obelisk behind the museum. You will descend from it
there, walk to the Avenue, take a taxi and return to the Discoverers'

"The Discoverers' Club, you said?" I honestly thought in my
astonishment that it had been a slip of his tongue.

"I repeat--the Discoverers' Club," he answered. "You will upon
arriving there go straight to the desk and tell the clerk on duty that
you have work to do that demands absolute concentration. You will
instruct him not to disturb you with either telephone calls or
visitors. You will say to him that it is more than likely reporters
from the newspapers will try to get in touch with you. He will tell
them that you left word that you would receive them at eight o'clock.
You will impress it upon him that the work which you have to do is
most important and that you must not be disturbed. You will further
instruct him to send up to your room at seven o'clock all the late
editions and extra editions of the afternoon newspapers."

He paused.

"Is all clear?" he demanded.

"All except what I am to say to the reporters," I said.

"You will know that," he replied enigmatically, "after you have read
the newspapers."

He sipped from his goblet, regarding me appraisingly.

"Repeat my instructions," he ordered.

Soberly, I did so.

"Good," he nodded. "You understand, of course, that this small
adventure is not the one that prompted my decision to acquire you.
That will be a real adventure. This is in the nature of a test. And
you must pass it. For your own sake, James Kirkham--you must pass it."

His jewel-hard eyes held a snake-like glitter. Mad as the performance
he had outlined seemed, he was in deadly earnest, no doubt about that.
I did not answer him. He had left me nothing to say.

"And now," he touched a bell, "no more excitement for you tonight. I
am solicitous for the welfare of my subjects, even those on--
probation. Go to your room and sleep well."

A panel opened and Thomas stepped from the lift and stood waiting for

"Good night, Satan," I said.

"Good night," he answered, "and however good it be, may your night
tomorrow be a better one."

It was close to eleven o'clock. The dinner had lasted longer than I
had realized. I found everything comfortable in my bedroom, told
Thomas so and dismissed him. In about half an hour and two brandies
and sodas I turned out the lights and went to bed hoping for Barker.

Waiting wide-eyed in the darkness I went over my amazing instructions.
I was, it was plain, part of a more or less intricate jig-saw puzzle.
I saw myself as a number of pieces that I must fit in at the exact
moments to click the whole design. Or better, I was a living chessman
in one of those games in which Satan delighted. I must make my moves
at the designated times. But what would his other chessmen be doing?
And suppose one of them moved a bit too soon or too late? Then where
would I be in this unknown game?

The picture of the glittering-eyed, bald devil on the malachite slabs
behind the two thrones came to me--Satan's double directing the hands
of the Fates. Oddly enough, it reassured me. The ethics of the matter
did not bother me greatly. After all, the bulk of the treasures in any
museum is loot; loot of graves, of tombs, of lost cities--and what is
not, has been stolen, the most of it, time and again.

But aside from all that--there was nothing else for me to do except
obey Satan. If I did not, well--that was an end to me. I had no doubt
of it. And Satan would go on. As for betraying him--why, I did not
even know the place of my polite imprisonment.

No, if it was in the cards that I might beat Satan, I must play the
game with him. There was no other way.

And what was any necklace beside--Eve!

I turned my mind to memorizing my instructions. It put me to sleep.
Nor did Barker awaken me.


Before the faithful Thomas could arrive next morning, I was up and in
the bath. I accepted without question the suit he laid out for me. It
was one I had never known I possessed. On the inner side of the coat,
the left, was a wide pocket. It was deep and across the top ran a line
of tiny, blunt-edged hooks. I examined them, carefully. The pendent
fringes of Senusert's necklace were about six inches long. Its upper
strand could be dropped upon the hooks and the whole ornament would
then hang from them freely without causing any betraying protuberance
through the cloth. It was, as Satan had indicated, ingeniously made
for holding that particular treasure.

He handed me, too, a superbly fitting gray overcoat entirely new to
me, but I was interested to note, with my name on the inside pocket,
my own soft hat and Malacca cane.

And at last he gave me a curiously shaped little instrument of dull
gray steel and--a wrist watch!

"I have a watch, Thomas," I said, studying the odd small instrument.

"Yes," he answered, "but this keeps the Master's time, sir."

"Oh, I see." Admiringly I reflected that Satan was taking no chances
upon his pawns' timepieces; all, evidently, were synchronized; I liked
that. "But this other affair. How does it work?"

"I meant to show you, sir."

He went to a wall and opened a closet. He carried out what appeared to
be a section of a strong cabinet with a sash of glass covering it.

"Try to open it, sir," he said.

I tried to lift the top. It resisted all my efforts. He took the steel
tool from me. It was shaped like a chisel, its edge razor sharp, its
length about four inches, broadening abruptly from the edge to an inch
and a half wide handle. In this handle was a screw.

He thrust the razor edge between the top sash and bottom support and
rapidly turned the screw. The tool seemed to melt into the almost
invisible crack. There was a muffled snap, and he lifted the lid. He
handed me back the instrument, smiling. I saw that the edge had opened
like a pair of jaws and that through them had been thrust another
blade like a tongue. The jaws had been raised and the tongue pushed
forward by incredibly powerful levers. The combination had snapped the
lock as though it had been made of brittle wood.

"Very easy to manage, sir," said Thomas.

"Very," I replied, drily. And again I felt a wave of admiration for

I breakfasted in my room and, escorted by Thomas, entered the waiting
car at exactly 10:30. The curtains were down and fastened. I thought
of using that irresistible little instrument in my pocket. It was an
impulse my better judgment warned me not to obey.

At precisely one o'clock I walked through the doors of the museum,
keenly conscious both of the empty pocket designed to hold old
Senusert's pectoral, and the tool that was to put it there.

I checked my overcoat and hat and cane, nodding to the attendant who
had recognized me. I went straight to the jades and spent half an
hour, looking them and some rare similar objects over in company with
an assistant curator who had happened along. I rid myself of him and
at 1:45 to the second strolled into the north corridor of the Egyptian
wing. I did not have to introduce myself to the guards there. They
knew me. By two o'clock I was close to the entrance of the necklace

At 2:05 by Satan's watch I entered it. If my heart was beating
somewhat more quickly, I did not show it. I looked casually about the
room. A guard stood close to the opposite entrance, the second guard
halfway between me and the central case that was my goal. Both of them
scanned me carefully. Neither of them knew me.

I walked over to the second guard, gave him my card and asked him a
few questions about a collection of scarabs I knew were to be
exhibited. I saw his official suspicion drop away from him as he read
my name, and his replies were in the tone that he would have taken to
an official of the museum. I walked over to the southeast comer of the
room and apparently lost myself in a study of the amulets there. Out
of the corner of my eye I saw the two guards meet, whisper and look at
me respectfully. They separated and resumed their places.

Satan's watch showed 2:10. Five minutes to go!

Swift glances about the room revealed a dozen or more sightseers.
There were three couples of manifest respectability, middle-aged
outlanders. A girl who might have been an artist, a scholarly looking,
white-haired man, a man with German professor written plain upon him,
two well-dressed Englishmen discussing learnedly the mutations of the
Tet hieroglyphic in well-bred, low, but carrying voices, and an
untidy-looking woman who seemed to be uncertain what it was all about,
and two or three others. The Englishmen and the girl were standing
beside the cabinet that held the necklace. The others were scattered
about the room.

Satan's watch registered 2:14.

There was a scurrying of feet in the north corridor. A woman screamed,
terrifyingly. I heard a shout:

"Stop him! Stop him!"

A figure flashed by the door. A woman running. Close after her darted
another, a man. I caught the glint of steel in his hand.

The watch marked 2:15. I walked over to the cabinet of the necklace,
my right hand clutching the opening tool.

The turmoil in the corridor was growing louder. Again the woman
screamed. The people in the room were rushing toward the door. The
guard from the far entrance ran past me.

I stood before the cabinet. I thrust the razor edge of the little
chisel between the flange of the top and the side. I turned the screw.
There was a click, and the lock had snapped.

The screaming ended in a dreadful gasping wail. There was another rush
of feet by the door. I heard an oath and the fall of a heavy body.

I withdrew my hand from the cabinet, the necklace in it. I dropped it
into my pocket, running its upper strand over the line of tiny hooks.

I walked to the entrance through which I had come. One of the guards
was lying upon the threshold. The German was bending over him. The
girl I had taken for an artist was crouched beside him, hands over her
eyes, crying hysterically. From the armor room across the corridor
came an agonized shrieking--a man's voice this time.

I went on, between the two black sarcophagi at the entrance to the
wing, out into the great hall where the Gobelin tapestries hang, and
passed through the turnstile. The guard had his back turned, listening
to the sounds which, both because of distance and the arrangement of
rooms and corridors, were here barely audible.

I took my coat from the attendant, who, it was clear, had heard

Walking to the entrance, I stepped to the right as Satan had bade and,
leaning over, fumbled with a shoe lace. Some one brushed past me, into
the museum.

Straightening, I proceeded to the steps. Down on the sidewalk two men
were fighting. A group had gathered around them, I saw a policeman
running up. Those upon the steps beside myself were absorbed in
watching the combatants.

I passed down. A dozen yards to my left was a blue limousine, the
chauffeur paying no attention to the fighters, but polishing with a
piece of chamois the right headlight of his car.

Strolling to it, I saw the chauffeur jump from his polishing, throw
open the door and stand at attention beside it, his alert gaze upon

Satan's watch registered 2:19.

I stepped into the car. The curtains were drawn and it was dark. The
door closed behind me and it was darker still.

The car started. Some one moved. Some one spoke softly, tremulously

"Are you all right, Mr. Kirkham?"

Eve's voice!


I struck a match. Eve turned her head quickly away, but not before I
had seen the tears in her eyes and how pale was her face.

"I'm quite all right, thank you," I said. "And everything, so far as I
know, has gone exactly according to Satan's schedule. I know that I
have. The necklace is in my pocket."

"I w-wasn't worrying about th-that," said Eve in a shaky little voice.

Her nerve was badly shattered, there was no mistaking that. Not for a
moment did I think that any anxiety about me was the cause of it. That
she had thoroughly understood Satan's sinister implications the night
before was certain. Probably she had had forebodings. But now she

Nevertheless, for one reason or another, she had felt anxiety for me.
I moved closer.

"Satan made it perfectly clear to me that my continued health and
getting the necklace were closely tied up together," I told her. "I am
obeying his instructions to the letter, naturally. My next move is to
give the necklace to you."

I slipped it off the hooks in my pocket.

"How do you turn on the lights?" I asked her. "I want you to be sure
that what I give you is what our Master is expecting to get."

"D-don't turn them on," whispered Eve. "Give me the--d-damned thing!"

I laughed. Sorry for her as I was, I couldn't help it. Her hands crept
out and touched me. I caught them in mine and she did not withdraw
them. And after a time she drew closer, pressing against me like a
frightened child. She was crying, I knew, but I said nothing, only
slipped an arm around her and let her cry. Yes, very much like a
little frightened child was Eve, weeping there in the darkness and
clutching my hands so tightly. And in my heart I cursed Satan in seven
tongues, a cold, implacable hatred growing within me.

At last she gave a little laugh and moved away.

"Thank you, Mr. Kirkham," she said tranquilly. "You make always a most
dependable audience."

"Miss Demerest," I told her bluntly, "I'm done with fencing. You're
panic-stricken. You know why--and so do I."

"Why should I be frightened?" she asked.

"At the destiny Satan promised you," I answered. "You know what it is.
If you have any doubts at all about it, let me tell you that he left
me with none after you had gone from the room last night."

There was a silence, and then out of the darkness came her voice,
small and despairing.

"He means to--take me! He will--take me! No matter what I do! I'd kill
myself--but I can't! I can't! Oh, God, what can I do? Oh, God, who can
help me!"

"I can make a damned good try at it," I told her, "if you'll only let

She did not answer immediately, sitting silently, fighting for self-
control. Suddenly she snapped on the light and leaned toward me, tear-
washed eyes searching mine, and voice firm as though she had come to
some momentous decision.

"Tell me, Mr. Kirkham, what made you stop after the second footprint?
You wanted to go on. Satan was urging you on. Why did you stop?"

"Because," I said, "I heard your voice telling me to go no farther."

She drew a sharp breath that was like a sob.

"Is that the truth, Mr. Kirkham?"

"It is God's own truth. It was as though you stood beside me, touching
my shoulder and whispered to me to stop where I was. To climb no
higher. Those devilish jewels on the crown and scepter were calling me
out of a thousand mouths. But when I heard you--or thought I did--I
heard them no longer."

"Oh!" Eve's eyes were rapt, her cheeks no longer pale, her exclamation
a song.

"You did call!" I whispered.

"I watched you from back there beyond the light, with the--others,"
she said. "And when the second foot shone out on Satan's side I tried
with all my strength of will to send my thought out to you, tried so
desperately to warn you. Over and over I prayed as you stood there
hesitating--'Oh, kind God, wherever you are, let him hear me! Please
let him hear me, dear God!' and you did hear--"

She stopped and stared at me with widening eyes and swiftly the color
deepened in her cheeks.

"And you knew it was my voice!" whispered Eve. "But you would not have
heard, or, hearing, would not have heeded, unless--unless--"

"Unless?" I prompted.

"Unless there were something outside our two selves ready to help us,"
said Eve, a bit breathlessly.

She was blushing now up to her eyes; and I was quite sure that the
reason she had given was not exactly that which caused the blush, not
the one that had been on the tip of her tongue a moment before.

My own theory of what had happened was more materialistic. Something
within me had sensitized my mind, not something without. I've never
run across any particularly convincing evidence of disembodied
energies acting as spiritual springs to soften the bumps in a bad
piece of road on this earthly tour of ours. I much preferred a good
tangible Providence like the little cockney burglar with his knowledge
of Satan's trick walls. However, such things may be; and if it gave
Eve any comfort to believe it, then let her. So I nodded solemnly and
assured her it must be true.

"But," I asked, "is there no one among all Satan's people with whom
you have come in contact who might be persuaded to work against him?"

"Not one," she said. "Consardine likes me--I think he would go far to
protect me. But he is tied to Satan. So are all of them. Not only by
fear--you saw what happened to Cartright--but by other reasons as
well. Satan does pay highly, Mr. Kirkham. Not only in money, but in
other things--he has dreadful power... unholy power. Oh, it's not just
money that people want! Nor all that he gives them! You can't even
dream as yet..."

"Drugs?" I suggested, unimaginatively. 

"You're being stupid-- deliberately," she said. "You know very well what Lucifer was supposed to be able to give. And he can... and he does... and even those who
have lost to him still have the hope that they may do something that
will give them another chance--or that his caprice will."

"Has such a thing ever happened?"

"Yes," she replied, "it has. But don't think it was because he was
capable of mercy."

"You mean it was simply a play to hold them tighter by dangling the
hope of freedom under their noses?"

"Yes," she said. "So their usefulness would not be weakened by

"Miss Demerest," I asked her bluntly, "why should you think I am any
different from these others?"

"You did not come to him of your own will," she said. "And you are no
slave to his seven shining prints."

"I came pretty close to being so last night," I said, somewhat

"They haven't--got you," she whispered. "Not like the others. And they
won't. They mustn't get you, Mr. Kirkham."

"I don't intend to let them," I told her, grimly. She gave me her
other hand at that. I glanced at my watch and jumped. "There's only a
little more than ten minutes left to us," I said. "We've not even
spoken of any plan. We've got to meet again--quickly. And we've got to
keep right on hoodwinking Satan."

"That will be the great difficulty, of course," she nodded. "But I'll
take care of that. And you understand now, don't you, that it was that
necessity that made me treat you so outrageously?"

"Even before Satan's confession to me, I suspected something of the
sort," I grinned. "And of course you understand that my equally
outrageously sounding proposition to him to turn you over to me was
just a following of your lead."

"Better than that," she answered softly. "I knew what you really did

Again I shot a glance at my watch. Six minutes--just about time.

"Look here," I said abruptly. "Answer me truly. When did it first
occur to you that I might be the one to get you out of this trap?"

"Wh-when you kissed me," she whispered.

"And when did you get the idea of camouflaging what you thought about

"R-right after you began kissing me."

"Eve," I said, "do you see any necessity for camouflage at this

"No," answered Eve, ingenuously. "Why?"

"This is why!" I dropped her hands, drew her to me and kissed her. And
Eve put her arms around my neck tightly and kissed me quite as whole-
heartedly. And that was that uniquely satisfactory that.

"It's a coincidence," I murmured against her ear a moment or two
later, "but the exact second you had that idea was the precise second
I decided to stick the game out."

"Oh--Jim!" sighed Eve. This time she kissed me.

The car was going more slowly. I cursed helplessly Satan's inflexible

"Eve," I said swiftly, and thrust the necklace of Senusert in her
hands, "do you know a little Englishman named Barker? The electrician?
He seems to know you."

"Yes," she answered, eyes wide with wonder. "I know him. But how--"

"Get in touch with him as soon as you can," I bade her, "I haven't
time to explain. But Barker's to be trusted. Tell him he must get to
me in my room the first night I return. By hook or crook, he's got to.
You understand?"

She nodded, eyes wider.

"Arrange it," I said, "so that you'll be there that night, too."

"All right--Jim," said Eve.

I looked at my watch. I had one and three-quarters minutes more. We
put it to excellent use.

The car stopped.

"Remember Barker," I whispered.

I opened the door and stepped out. It closed behind me and the car
rolled off. The obelisk was near by. I walked around it obediently. As
I started for Fifth Avenue I saw a man on another path about a hundred
feet from me. His overcoat and hat were the same as mine. He swung a
Malacca cane. A vast curiosity struck me? Was it my double? I started
toward him, and halted. If I followed him I was disobeying Satan's
instructions. Less than at any time did I want to do that. Reluctantly
I turned and let him go.

I hailed a taxi and started to the Club. There was a rosy light
outside the windows; I felt like singing; the walkers on the Avenue
seemed to skip gaily. Eve had gone a bit to my head.

Suddenly the rosiness dimmed, the song died. Reason began to function.
No doubt the absence of the necklace had been soon discovered. The
doors of the museum would have been closed, and none allowed to depart
without being searched. Perhaps the alarm had been sounded even as I
had gone down the steps. It might be that I had been the only one who
had gotten out.

If that were so, then, obviously, I must be suspected. I had
deliberately drawn the attention of the guards to me, not only in the
corridor, but in the treasure room. They would remember me. Why had I
slipped away, ignoring the disturbances, if I had not had some strong
reason? What reason could I have had except making away with the

Or supposing the theft had not been discovered until after the museum
had been emptied. Still, I would find it difficult to explain why I
had so rapidly made my exit; been the only one to take no interest in
the happenings.

Had Satan missed a move in his complicated game, made an error in his
deliberate calculations? Or had he coldly planned to have suspicion
rest upon me? Whether he had or not, it must.

In no easy frame of mind I dismissed the taxi and entered the Club.

"Back early, Mr. Kirkham," smiled the clerk at the desk as he handed
me my keys. Quite evidently he had no suspicion that the Kirkham who
had gone out a few hours before and the one who had just returned were
two distinct persons. My double, I reflected, must be good indeed.

"I'm going to be almighty busy for the next few hours," I told him.
"I've some writing to do that will demand my entire concentration.
There's nothing, absolutely nothing, of sufficient importance to break
in on me. It's very likely that there will be telephone calls and
visitors. Tell everybody that I'm out. If it's reporters, tell them
I'll see them at eight o'clock. Slip copies of all the afternoon
papers up to me at seven o'clock. Not before. Get me the latest
editions. And no matter who calls, don't let me be bothered."

"I'll put an extra key in your box," he said. "It always looks

I went to my room. Locking the door, I made a minute inspection. On my
desk was my three-day accumulation of mail. There were not many
letters, none was important; all had been opened. Two were invitations
to speak at dinners. Carbon copies of notes of regret were attached to
them. My signature upon them was perfect. My double's powers of
imitation were clearly not limited to voice and appearance. My reason
for declining, I was much interested in learning, was that I would not
be in the city on the dates of the dinners. So? Where the devil, I
wondered, was I to be?

Beside my typewriter was a bulky document. Riffling its pages I
discovered that it was a report upon the possibilities of certain
mineralized lands in China. It was addressed to that same brilliant
attorney who had toasted the "near-damned" at Satan's feast of the
night before. It was corrected and annotated in my own handwriting. I
had, of course, no knowledge of its purpose, but I was sure that the
lawyer would be able to discuss it with easy familiarity if
circumstances forced it to his attention. My confidence in Satan
revived. I felt much more comfortable.

I looked through the pockets of my clothes, hanging in the closet.
There was not even a scrap of paper.

Seven o'clock came, and with it a discreet knock at my door. It was
Robert, the night clerk, with a bundle of the evening papers. His eyes
were rather wide, and I could see questions sticking out all over him.
Well, he couldn't be more curious about what I had to say regarding
what was in those papers than I was to know what was in them. Nor
would it do to let him suspect the extent of my ignorance.

So I took them from him with a discouragingly faraway air, and absent-
mindedly closed the door in his face.

The headlines leaped out at me from the first I opened:









In different words, all the rest of the headlines said about the same
thing. I read the stories. Now and then I had the feeling that
somebody was shooting a fine spray of ice-water between my shoulder
blades. I quote from the most complete account.

  An unknown woman was stabbed to death this afternoon in the
Metropolitan Museum of Art before the eyes of half a dozen guards and
some twenty or more visitors.

  Her murderer tried to escape, but before he could get far was
attacked by the companion of the woman, tripped, and a knife thrust
through his heart.

  The second slayer was caught after a chase. As he was being taken to
the Curator's office to await the police, he collapsed. He died within
a few seconds, the victim, apparently, of some swift poison which he
had managed to slip into his mouth.

  Both the murders and the suicide occurred close to the Egyptian room
where are kept some of the choicest treasures of the museum. Taking
advantage of the confusion, some one forced open the case containing
the ancient necklace given to his daughter by the Pharaoh Senusert II.
The necklace, a priceless relic of the past, and long the admiration
of thousands of visitors, was taken. Its removal from the building was
frustrated, however, by the alertness of Mr. James Kirkham, the noted
explorer, who caused the doors to be locked before any one could leave
the museum.

  Search of everyone within the walls failed to reveal the stolen
treasure. It is supposed that the thief became panic-stricken when he
found that no one could get out, and tucked the necklace away in some
hidden corner. Whether he did it thinking to return and recover it, or
merely to get rid of it cannot, of course, be known. The museum will
be closed to visitors until it is found, which, thanks to Mr.
Kirkham's quick thinking, is only a matter of time.

  Neither the museum authorities nor the police believe that there is
any connection between the tragedy and the theft, the latter having
obviously been a sudden temptation born from the opportunity-giving

Well, I reflected, I could tell them better than that. And if the
museum remained closed until they found the necklace there, the door
hinges would have a chance to become rusty.

But three lives the price of the bauble! I resumed the reading with
cold horror at my heart.

  It was shortly after two o'clock when one of the guards in the
Egyptian wing first took special notice of the woman and the two men.
They were talking together earnestly, discussing seemingly an exhibit
of ushabtiu figures, toy-like wooden models from a tomb. The woman was
about thirty, attractive, blonde and apparently English. The men were
older and the guard took them to be Syrians. What had particularly
drawn his attention to them was the curious pallor of their faces and
the out-of-the-ordinary largeness of their eyes.

  "Looked like dopes," he says, "and then again they didn't. Their
faces weren't a sick white, more of a transparent. They didn't behave
like dopes, either. They seemed to be talking sensible enough. Dressed
top-notch, too."

  He put them down finally as foreigners, and relaxed his attention.
In a few minutes he noticed one of the men walking by him. It was
later ascertained that this man had accompanied the woman when she
entered the museum about 1:30. The cloak room attendant's attention
had also been attracted by their pallor and their curious eyes. This
man passed the entrance to the small room where the Senusert necklace
was on display with other ancient jewels. He turned into the next
corridor and disappeared.

  The woman had continued talking to the second man, who, it appears,
came into the museum a little before two o'clock.

  Suddenly the guard heard a scream. He swung around and saw the two
struggling together, the woman trying to ward off blows from a long
knife with which the man was stabbing at her. The guard, William
Barton, shouted and ran for them. At the same time, visitors came
running in from all directions, drawn by the cries.

  They got in Barton's way, and he could not shoot for fear of hitting
the woman or some of the excited spectators.

  The whole affair was a matter of seconds. The knife plunged into the
woman's throat!

  The murderer, brandishing his red blade, burst through the horror-
stricken onlookers and ran in the direction the first man had gone. As
he was close to the door of the necklace room the people who had been
in it came rushing out. With them was one of the two guards who keep
watch there. They piled back, falling over each other in their haste
to get out of reach of the knife. There was a panic-stricken scramble,
which the second guard tried to quiet. In the meantime, the murderer
had come face to face with the woman's companion at the turn of the
next corridor. He struck at the latter and missed, and fled into the
armor room with the other close behind him, a knife now in his own

  The pair gripped and fell, rolling over the tiled floor, and each
striving to plunge his dagger into the other. Guards and visitors were
piling in from every side, and the place was in pandemonium.

  Then they saw the hand of the pursuer flash up and down. The under
man shrieked--and the knife was buried in his heart!

  The killer leaped to his feet, and began to run blindly. With the
guards and others after him he darted out into the Egyptian wing

  There they cornered him and brought him down.

  He was beaten half into insensibility. As he was being carried to
the Curator's office, his body went limp, and heavy. They put him

  He was dead!

  Either shock or some quick and powerful poison which he had taken
when he had realized escape was impossible had killed him. The autopsy
will decide which.

  The whole tragedy had occurred in an almost incredibly brief time.
Less than five minutes had elapsed between the first scream of the
woman and the third death.

  But it was time enough to give the necklace thief his opportunity.

  Among the visitors at the museum was Mr. James Kirkham, the noted
explorer, who recently brought to America the famous Yunnan jades
which Mr. Rockbilt presented to the Metropolitan. Mr. Kirkham had been
preparing an exhaustive report upon mining possibilities in China for
a certain powerful American syndicate. He had been working on it for
the last two days with intense concentration, and felt the need this
afternoon of a little relaxation. He decided to spend a couple of
hours at the museum.

  He had strolled into the Egyptian room where the necklace was kept
and was studying some amulets in a case in a far corner when he heard
the woman's scream. He saw those who were in the room running and
followed them. He did not see the killings, but was a witness to the
capture of the second man.

  Preoccupied by the necessity of completing his report, and deciding
that he had had enough "relaxation," Mr. Kirkham started to leave. He
had just reached the doors of the museum when a suspicion seized him.
Trained by the necessities of his occupation to keenest observation,
he recalled that while he was hastening to the entrance of the
necklace room, following the others, some one had brushed past him
going into the room. He recalled also hearing immediately afterward a
sharp click, like the forcing of a lock. With his attention focused
upon what was going on without, the impressions then carried with them
no significance.

  But now it seemed that they might be important.

  Mr. Kirkham turned back instantly, and ordered the alarm to be
sounded which at once closes the doors of the museum. As he is well
known at the Metropolitan, he was as instantly obeyed.

  And it was that trained observation of his and quick thinking which
beyond all doubt foiled the thief of the necklace.

There followed an account of the discovery of the raped cabinet, the
verification of the fact that no one had gone out of the museum either
during or after the disturbances, the searching of everybody in the
Curator's offices, and the careful shepherding of them out one by one
so no one could stop and pick up the necklace from wherever it had
been hidden. It interested me to find that I had demanded to be
searched with the rest, despite the Curator's protests!

I came to my interview, substantially the same in all the papers.

  "The truth is," so I was quoted as having said, "I feel a bit guilty
that I did not at once realize the importance of those impressions and
turn back into the room. I could probably have caught the thief red-
handed. The fact is that my mind was about nine-tenths taken up with
that infernal report which must be finished and mailed tonight. I have
a vague idea that there were about a dozen people in the room, but not
the slightest recollection of what they looked like.

  "When I heard the woman scream, it was like being jarred out of
sleep. My progress to the door was half-automatic. It was only when I
was about to go out of the museum that memory began to function, and I
recalled that furtive brushing past me of some one and the clicking

  "Then, of course, there was only one thing to be done. Make sure
that nobody got out until it was determined whether or not anything
had been stolen. The entrance guard deserves great credit for the
promptness with which he sounded that alarm.

  "I agree with the Curator that there can be no connection between
the theft and the killings. How could there possibly be? Some one, and
he can be no professional because any professional would know that
there was no way of selling such a thing, had a sudden crazy impulse.
His probable next thought was one of sincere repentance and an intense
desire to get rid of the necklace instantly. The only problem is
finding where he slipped it.

  "You say it was a lucky thing for the museum that I turned back when
I did," smiled Mr. Kirkham. "Well, I think it was a mighty lucky thing
for me. I wouldn't like being in the position that having been the
first one out of the museum--and maybe the only one, for the theft
would soon have been discovered--would have put me."

  At this the Curator, despite his anxiety, laughed heartily.

There was more to the story, much more; but that was all I was quoted
as saying. The guard whom I had seen lying across the threshold told
how he had been knocked down in the backward rush, and somebody "had
kicked me in the ear, or something." The second guard had joined in
the chase. One paper had a grisly "special" about the possibility of
the thief having crawled into one of the suits of armor and dying
within it, of thirst and hunger. The writer evidently thought of armor
as an iron box in which one could hide like a closet.

All the accounts agreed that there was little chance of identifying
the three dead. There was not a thing in their clothing or about them
to give a single clew.

Well, there it all was. There was my alibi, complete. There were
Satan's chessmen now all properly clicked into place, including the
three who would never be moved again. It wasn't nice reading for me,
not at all. Particularly did I wince at the Curator's amusement that
my honesty could come into question.

But again my double had done a good job. It had been he, of course,
who had slipped by me as I had bent to tie my shoe, smoothly taking up
my trail without apparent break. And it had been he whom I had passed
at the obelisk as I had slipped as smoothly back into his. No one had
noticed me come down the museum's steps and enter the automobile that
held Eve. The diversion on the sidewalk had made sure of that. There
were no gaps in the alibi.

And the three dead people who had furnished the diversion in the
museum that had enabled me to steal the necklace? Slaves of Satan's
mysterious drug, the kehjt. The description of their strange eyes and
their pallor proved that--if I had needed proof. Satan's slaves,
playing faithfully the parts he had given them, in blissful confidence
of a perpetual Paradise for their immediate reward.

I read the stories over again. At eight o'clock the reporters were
sent up to my room. I restrained myself severely to the lines of my
early interview. Their visit was largely perfunctory. After all, there
was not much that I could say. I left the report that had
"preoccupied" me so greatly lying where they could see it.

I went even further. Taking the hint from my double's remarks, I
sealed and addressed it and asked one of them to drop it into the Post
Office for me on his way back to his paper.

When they had gone, I had dinner sent up to my room.

But when I went to bed, hours later, it was with a cold little sick
feeling at the pit of my stomach. More than at any time, I was
inclined to credit Satan's version of his identity.

For the first time I was afraid of him.


Early next morning, the telephone rang, awakening me. The clerk at the
desk was on the other end. There was an urgent message for me, and the
bearer had instructions to wait until I had read it. I told him to
send it up. It was a letter. I opened it and read:

"You have done well, James Kirkham. I am pleased with you. Visit your
friends at the museum this afternoon. You will receive further
instructions from me tomorrow. S."

I phoned the desk to dismiss the messenger, and to send me up
breakfast and the morning papers.

It was a good story, and they had spread upon it. It surprised me, at
first, that they had given so much more space to the theft of the
necklace than they had to the murders and suicide. Then I realized,
inasmuch as there was no suspicion of any connection between them,
that this was sound newspaper judgment. After all, the lost lives were
only three among millions. They had been--and they were not. There
were many more.

But the necklace was unique.

That, I reflected, was undoubtedly the way Satan felt about it.
Certainly those three lives had seemed to him nothing like so
important as had the necklace. And quite plainly the newspapers agreed
with him.

The three bodies remained in the morgue, unidentified. The museum,
after an all-night search, had been unable to find the necklace. That
was all there was new, if new it could be called.

I went downstairs, and carried on the inevitable discussions of the
affair with various members of the Club. At one o'clock a messenger
brought me another letter. The name on the envelope was that of an
important legal firm of which the brilliant attorney was the head.

In it was a check for ten thousand dollars.

The accompanying note complimented me upon my report. The check, it
said, was for that and further possible services. For the latter only,
of course, in the nature of a retainer. Other work which I might be
asked to do would be paid for commensurately.

Again Satan had spoken the truth. He did pay well. But the "other

At three o'clock I went to the museum. I had no difficulty in passing
the barricade. In a fashion, I was a hero. The Curator was unhappy,
but hopeful. I, when I departed, was much more unhappy than he, and,
so far as the recovery of the necklace was concerned, with no hopes
whatever. Obviously, I was at pains to conceal both of these states of
mind from him.

The day went by without further word from Satan, or from any of his
servitors. As the hours passed, I became more and more uneasy. Suppose
that this one thing was all that he had wanted of me? That, now I had
carried it out, I was to be cast aside! Hell might be his realm, but
with Eve therein it was Paradise to me. I did not want his gates
closed against me. Nor, cast out, could I storm them. I did not know
where they were. What sleep I had that night was troubled indeed,
swinging between bitter rage and a nightmarish sense of irretrievable

When I opened Satan's letter next morning it was with the feeling that
the angel with the flaming sword had stood aside from the barred doors
of Eden and was beckoning me in.

"I am having a house party, and you will find congenial company. You
can have your mail called for at the Club, daily. On second thought, I
won't take no for an answer. A car will come for you at four o'clock.

On the surface, nothing but a cordial, insistent invitation to have a
little holiday. Actually, a command. Even had I wanted to, I would
have known better than to refuse.

My conscience abruptly ceased to trouble me. With a light heart I
packed a traveling bag, gave my instructions at the desk, and waited
impatiently for the hour to roll around. Precisely at four, a smart
limousine stopped in front of the Club, as smartly a liveried
chauffeur entered, saluted me respectfully and, in the manner of one
who knew me well, took my bag and ushered me into the car.

Here I had immediate proof that I had passed my novitiate and had been
accepted by Satan. The curtains were up. I was to be allowed to see
where I was going.

We went up Fifth Avenue and turned to the Queensborough Bridge. We
went over it into Long Island. In about forty minutes we had struck
the entrance of the Vanderbilt Speedway. We did its forty-five miles
to Lake Ronkonkoma in a flat fifty minutes. We turned north toward the
Sound, passed through Smithtown and out the North Shore road, A little
after six we swung toward the Sound again, and in a few minutes came
to a narrow private road penetrating a thick growth of pine and oak.
We took it. A couple of hundred yards farther on we paused at a
cottage where my driver gave a slip of some sort to a man who had
walked out to stop us. He carried a high-powered rifle, and was
plainly a guard. A mile or so farther on we came to another cottage
and the process was repeated.

The road began to skirt a strong high wall. I knew it was the one
Barker had told me about, and I wondered how he had managed to evade
these outer guards. At 6:30 we stopped at a pair of massive steel
gates. At a signal from the chauffeur they opened. We rolled through,
and they clanged behind us.

Under the high wall, on each side of the road, was a low, domed
structure of heavy concrete. They were distinctly warlike defenses.
They looked as though they might house machine guns. Several men came
out of them, questioned my driver, inspected me through the windows,
and waved us on.

My respect for Satan was steadily mounting.

Fifteen minutes more and we were at the doors of the chateau. It lay,
I figured, about ten miles on the New York side of Port Jefferson, in
the densely wooded section between it and Oyster Bay. It was built in
a small valley, and probably little if any of it could be seen from
the Sound which, I estimated, must be about three-quarters of a mile
away. So extensive were the grounds through which we had come and so
thickly wooded, that I doubted if the house could be seen even from
the public roads.

Consardine welcomed me. I had the impression that he was curiously
glad to see me. I had been shifted to new quarters, he told me, and he
would stay with me, if I didn't mind, while I dressed for dinner. I
told him that nothing would delight me more. I meant it. I liked

The new quarters were fresh evidence of my promotion. There was a big
bedroom, a bigger sitting-room and a bath. They were rather more than
wonderfully furnished, and they had windows. I appreciated the
subtlety of this assurance that I was no longer a prisoner. The
efficient Thomas was awaiting me. He grinned openly at my bag. My
clothes had been already laid on the bed. Consardine chatted as I
bathed and dressed.

Satan, he said, would not be with us this night. He had ordered
Consardine, however, to tell me that I had fulfilled his every
expectation of me. Some time tomorrow he would have a talk with me. I
would find an engaging lot of people at dinner. Afterwards there would
be a bridge game which I could join or not, as I pleased. We did not
discuss the affair of the necklace, although Thomas must have known
all about it.

I wanted rather badly to ask if Eve would be at the table, but decided
not to risk it. When we had reached the dining room, by three of the
wall passages and two of the lifts, she was not there.

We were eighteen, all told. My companions were all that Consardine had
promised, interesting, witty, entertaining. Among them a remarkably
beautiful Polish woman, an Italian count and a Japanese baron, the
three frequently featured in the news. Satan's webs spread wide.

It was an excellent dinner among excellent company--no need to go into
detail. There was no discussion of our absent host, nor of our
activities. Back of my mind throughout it was a strong impatience to
get to my rooms and await Barker. Did he know of my change of
quarters? Could he get to me? Was Eve in the chateau?

The dinner ended, and we passed into another room where were the
bridge tables. There were enough partners for four, and two persons
left over. It gave me my chance to avoid playing. Unfortunately for my
plans, it gave Consardine the same opportunity. He suggested that he
show me some of the wonders of the place. I could not refuse, of

We had looked over half a dozen rooms and galleries before I was able
decently to plead weariness. Of what I saw I will not write, it is not
essential. But the rareness and beauty of their contents stirred me
profoundly. Satan, so Consardine told me, had an enormous suite in
which he kept the treasures dearest to him. What I had seen had only
been a fraction of what the chateau contained, he said.

We looked in on the bridge game on our way back. Others had drifted in
during our absence, and several more tables were going.

At one of them, with Cobham for her partner, sat Eve.

She glanced up at me as I passed and nodded indifferently. Cobham got
up and shook hands with great friendliness. It was plain that all his
resentment was gone. While I was acknowledging introductions, Eve
leaned back, humming. I recognized the air as one of the new jazzy

"Meet me, darling, when the clocks are chiming twelve--At midnight,
When the moonlight Makes our hearts bright--"

I needed no moonlight to make my own heart bright. It was a message.
She had seen Barker.

After a moment or two, I pressed Consardine's foot. Eve was being
deliberately impolite, yawning and riffling the cards impatiently.
Cobham gave her an irritated glance.

"Well," she said, rudely, "are we playing bridge or aren't we? I'm
serving notice--twelve o'clock sees me in bed."

Again I understood; she was underscoring the message.

I bade them good night, and turned away with Consardine. Another
little group came in, and called to us to stay.

"Not tonight," I whispered to him. "I'm jumpy. Get me out."

He looked at Eve, and smiled faintly.

"Mr. Kirkham has work to do," he told them. "I'll be back in a few

He, took me to my rooms, showing me, as we went, how to manipulate the
panels through which we passed and the lifts.

"In the event of your changing your mind," he said, "and wanting to
come back."

"I won't," I told him. "I'll read a while and go to bed. Truth is,
Consardine, I don't feel as though I could stand much of Miss Demerest

"I'm going to speak to Eve," he answered. "There's no reason for your
being made uncomfortable."

"I wish you wouldn't," I said. "I'd rather handle the situation

"Have it your own way," he replied, and went on to tell me that Thomas
would awaken me in the morning. Satan would probably send a message by
him. If I wanted the valet I could call him by the room 'phone. The
'phone gave me an impression of privacy that the bell had not. Thomas,
I inferred, was no longer on duty as my guard. I was very glad of

Consardine bade me good night. At last I was alone.

I walked to the windows. They were not barred, but they were covered
with a fine steel mesh quite as efficient. I turned out all the lights
but one, and began to read. My watch showed 10:30.

It was very still. The time went slowly. It was close to eleven when
there came a hoarse whisper from the bedroom:

"'Ere I am, Cap'n, an' bloody glad to see you!"

Despite my absolute certainty that Barker would appear, my heart gave
a great leap, and a load seemed to slip from me. I jumped into the
bedroom and shook him by the shoulders.

"And, by God, Barker, but I'm glad to see you!" I said.

"Got your message," he grinned, his little eyes snapping. "Ain't no
need to 'ide in 'ere, though. Nobody's goin' to come bargin' in on you
now, they ain't. Ace 'igh, you are with Satan. A reg'ler one of 'em.
Tysty bit o' work, Cap'n, you done. Tyke it from me what knows what
good work is."

He took a cigar, lighted it and sat down, eyeing me admiringly.

"A tysty bit o' work," he repeated. "An' you with no trainin'! I
couldn't 'ave done better myself."

I bowed, and pushed the decanter over to him.

"Not me," he waved back. "It's all right if you're goin' to sleep an'
got a 'oliday. But old John Barleycorn ain't no use in our line o'
work, sir."

"I'm just a beginner, Harry," I said apologetically, and set the
decanter down untouched. He watched me approvingly.

"When Miss Demerest told me," he resumed, "you could fair 'ave wyved
me over with a feather. Bring 'im to me, syes she, the minute you can.
If I'm sleepin' or wykin' it mykes no difference, I want 'im she syes.
Any hour it's syfe, she syes, but don't you let 'im run no risks. 'Ell
on seein' you she is, sir."

"She just let me know she'd be back in her room by twelve," I said.

"All right, we'll be there," he nodded. "Got any plans? To squash 'im,
I mean."

I hesitated. The thought in my mind was too nebulous as yet even to be
called an idea. Certainly too flimsy to be brought out for inspection.

"No, Harry, I haven't," I answered him. "I don't know enough about the
game. I've got to have a chance to look around. I know this though--
I'm going to get Miss Demerest free of Satan or go out doing my

He cocked an ear at me, like a startled terrier.

"And if that's the only way, I'll pick the time and place to make sure
that I take Satan with me," I added.

He hitched his chair close up to mine.

"Cap'n Kirkham," he said earnestly, "that's the last plye to make. The
very last plye, sir. I'd be 'ot for it if we could get anybody else to
do it. An' if nobody knew we was behind it. But there ain't nobody
'ere who'd do for 'im, sir. Nobody. It's like pryin' for a mountain to
fall on 'im, or the h'earth to swaller 'im, sir."

He paused for a moment.

"It's just this, Cap'n. If you do for 'im, or I do for 'im, we got to
do for 'im knowin' there ain't no out for us. Not h'even a bloody
'arf-chance of us gettin' awye. The kehjt slyves'd see to that if
nobody else did. What! Us tykin' their 'Eaven from 'em? Suicide it'll
be, Cap'n, no less. An' if they suspect Miss Demerest knows anything
about it--Gord, I 'ates to think of it! No, we got to find some other
wye, Cap'n."

"I meant--only if there was no other way," I said. "And if it comes to
that I don't expect you to figure in it. I'll go it alone."

"Now, Cap'n, now, Cap'n!" he said, short upper lip quivering over buck
teeth and face contorted as though on the edge of tears. "You ain't
got no call to talk like that, sir. I'm with you whatever you do.
'Ell, ain't we partners?"

"Sure we are, Harry," I answered quickly, honestly touched. "But when
it comes to killing, well--I do my own. There's no reason why you
should run any suicidal risks for us."

"Ow!" he snarled. "There ain't, ain't there? Ow, the 'ell there ain't!
Maybe you think I'm 'avin' a 'appy 'oliday runnin' around these
walls like a bloody rat? A decent, Gord-fearin' jail I wouldn't 'ave a
word to sye against. But this--what is it? Just plain 'ell! An' you
an' Miss Demerest like my own family! No reason, ain't there! Christ,
don't talk like that, Cap'n!"

"There, there, Harry, I didn't mean it quite that way," I said, and
patted his shoulder. "What I mean is to leave Satan to me, and, if the
worst does come about, try to get Miss Demerest away."

"We stand together, Cap'n," he answered stubbornly. "If it comes to
killin' I'll be in it"--he hesitated, then muttered, "but I wish to
Gord I could be sure any honest bullet would do for 'im."

That touched me on the raw. It came too close to some damnably
disconcerting doubts of my own.

"Snap out of it, Harry," I said sharply. "Why, the first thing you
told me was that Satan's only a man like you and me. And that a bullet
or a knife would do for him. Why the change of heart?"

"I was braggin'," he muttered. "I was talkin' loud to keep my pecker
up. 'E ain't exactly what you'd call human, sir, now is he? I said 'e
wasn't the devil. I never said 'e wasn't a devil. An'--an'--Oh, Gord,
'e's so bloody 'uge!" he ended helplessly.

My uneasiness increased. I had thought I had an anchor in Barker's
lack of superstition about Satan. And now it apparently had him by the
throat. I tried ridicule.

"Well, I'll be damned!" I sneered. "I thought you were hard-boiled,
Harry. Satan tells you he comes from Hell. Sure, where else could he
come from, you tell yourself. I suppose if somebody told you the story
of Little Red Riding Hood you'd think every old woman with a shawl was
a wolf. Go hide under the bed, little man."

He looked at me somberly.

"'Ell's behind 'im," he said. "An' 'e's got all the passwords."

I began to get angry. One reason was that in arguing against him I had
also to argue against myself. After all, he was only voicing my
thoughts that I was reluctant to admit were my own.

"Well," I told him, "if he's made you think that, he's got you licked.
You're no use to me, Harry. Go back to your walls and creep. Creep
around them and stay alive. Devil or no devil, I fight him."

I had thought to prick him. To my surprise, he showed no resentment.

"An' devil or no devil, so do I," he said quietly. "Tryin' to pull my
leg, ain't you, Cap'n? You don't 'ave to. I told you I was with you,
and I am. I'm through bein' a rat in the walls. That's all, Cap'n

There was a curious dignity about Barker. I felt my face grow hot. I
was ashamed of myself. After all, he was showing the highest kind of
courage. And surely it was better for him to spread out his fears in
front of me than to let them ride him in secret. I thrust my hand out
to him.

"I'm damned sorry, Harry--" I began.

"No need to be, sir," he checked me. "Only there's lots about this
plyce an'--'im--that you don't know about yet. I do, though. Maybe
there wouldn't be no 'arm in showin' you a bit. Maybe you'd be seein'
a wolf or two yourself. What time is it?"

There was a hint of grimness in his voice. I grinned to myself, well
pleased. There was good hard metal in the little man. It was a
challenge he was throwing down to me, of course. I looked at my watch.

"Twenty after eleven," I said. "So that you keep a certain appointment
at midnight--lead on, Macduff."

"Your shirt," he said, "would look like a light'ouse in the dark. Put
on another suit."

I changed rapidly into the most unobtrusive of the wardrobe's

"Got a gun?" he asked.

I nodded, pointing to my left armpit. I had replenished my personal
arsenal, of which Consardine had deprived me, while at the Club.

"Throw it in a drawer," he bade me, surprisingly.

"What's the idea?" I asked.

"No good," he said, "you might be tempted to use it, Cap'n."

"Well, for God's sake," I said, "if I was, there would be good

"Might just as well carry along an alarm clock," said Barker. "Do you
just as much good, Or 'arm. Mostly 'arm. We don't exactly want no
h'advertisin' on this trip, Cap'n."

My respect for Harry took an abrupt upward swing. I dropped my gun
into the casual mouth of a nearby vase. I unslung my armpit holster,
and poked it under a pillow.

"Get thee behind me, Temptation," I said. "And now what?"

He dipped into a pocket.

"Sneakers," said Barker, and handed me a pair of thick rubber soles. I
slipped them over my shoes. He fumbled in another pocket.

"Knucks," he dropped a beautiful pair of brass knuckles in my hand. I
thrust my fingers through them.

"Good," said Barker. "They ain't got the range of a gun, but if we
'ave to get violent we'll 'ave to see it's quiet like. Get up close
an' 'it 'ard an' quick."

"Let's go," I said.

He snapped off the lights in the outer room. He returned, moving with
absolute silence, and took my hand. He led me to the bedroom wall.

"Put your 'and on my shoulder, an' step right be'ind me," he ordered.
I had heard no sound of a panel, and could distinguish no opening in
the blackness. But a panel had opened, for I walked through what a
moment before had been solid wall. He halted, no doubt closing the
aperture. He swung off at a right-angle, I following. I had counted
fifty paces before he stopped again. The corridor was a long one. He
flashed a light, brief as the blink of a firefly. Before me was one of
the little lifts. He pressed my arm, and guided me in. The lift began
to drop. He drew a faint sigh, as of relief.

"There was dynger along there," he whispered. "Now it'll be fair clear

The descent of the elevator seemed very slow. When it stopped, I was
sure that we must be well below the floor of the great hall, somewhere
down among the foundations.

"What we're goin' into is one of 'is private wyes," again he
whispered. "I don't think even Consardine knows it. An' we won't meet
Satan on it. 'Cause why? I'm goin' to show you."

We slipped out of the lift, and crossed what was apparently a ten-foot-wide corridor, black as a windowless dungeon. We passed, I
conjectured, through its opposite wall, and along another passage of
eighteen short paces. Here Barker paused, listening.

Then in front of me a hair line of faint light appeared. Slowly, ever
so slowly, it widened. Barker's head became silhouetted against it.
Cautiously he advanced, peering out. Then he nodded, reassuringly. He
moved forward.

We were in a dimly lighted, narrow corridor. It was hardly wide enough
for two men to walk side by side. It was lined and paved with some
polished black stone into which the light, from some hidden source,
seemed to sink and drown. We were at one end of it. The floor fell in
a gradual ramp for a hundred yards or more, and there the way either
ceased or curved, the light was so faint and the effect of the
polished stone so confusing I could not tell which.

"Looks like a h'alley into 'Ell, don't it?" muttered Harry. "Well, in
a minute or two try to sye it ain't."

He set grimly forth down it, I at his heels. We came to the part that
had perplexed me, and I saw that it was a curve, a sharp one. The
curve was unlighted, its darkness relieved only by faint reflections
from behind. I could not see its end. We moved on into the thickening
gloom. The floor had become level.

Suddenly Barker halted, his mouth close to my ear.

"Lay down. Not a sound now when you look in. On your life! Don't
'ardly breathe!"

I looked through the crack. I felt a cold prickling along my spine and
in the roots of my hair.

A little below me and not more than fifty feet away sat Satan. And he
was opening the gates of his Black Paradise to the dying souls of his
kehjt slaves!

The meaning of the scene struck clear with my first glimpse of it.
Satan was leaning forward from a massive throne of heavy black stone
cushioned in scarlet and standing on a low broad dais. His robes were
scarlet. At his side squatted the ape-faced monstrosity of an
executioner, Sanchal. At his left hand stood two figures with veiled
faces. One of them held a deep ewer, and the other a golden goblet.

At Satan's feet was a woman, rising from her knees. She was not old,
fair haired, and must once have been very beautiful. Her body, seen
through the one white robe that was her only covering, was still so.
Her wide eyes were fixed with a dreadful avidness upon another golden
goblet in Satan's hand. Her mouth was half open, her lips drawn tight
against her teeth. Her body quivered and strained as though she were
about to leap upon him.

The executioner whirred the loop of his cord, and grinned. She shrank
back. Satan lifted the goblet high. His voice rolled out, sonorous and

"You, woman who was Greta von Bohnheim, who am I?"

She answered as tonelessly.

"You are Satan."

"And what am I, Satan?"

She replied:

"You are my God!"

I felt Barker shudder. Well, I was doing a little shivering myself.
The infernal litany went on.

"You shall have no God but me!"

"I have no God but you, Satan!"

"What is it, woman, that is your desire?"

Her hands were clenched, and she drew them up to her heart. Her voice
was tremulous, and so low that barely could I hear it.

"A man and a child who are dead!"

"Through me they shall live again for you! Drink!"

There was faint mockery in his voice, and derision in his eyes, as he
handed the goblet to the woman. She clutched it in both hands, and
drained it. She bowed low, and walked away. She passed out of the
narrow range of my vision, stepping ever more firmly, face rapt, lips
moving as though she talked with one unseen who walked beside her.

Again I felt the cold creep down my back. In what I had beheld there
had been something diabolic, something that truly savored of the
Prince of the Damned. It betrayed itself in Satan's cold arrogance and
pride during the blasphemous litany. It was in his face, his
glittering eyes, and in the poise of his huge body. Something truly of
Hell that possessed him, emanated from him, hovered around him. As
though, as once before I have tried to describe it, as though he were
a mechanism of flesh and blood in which a demon had housed itself.

My gaze followed the woman until I could see her no more. The chamber
was immense. What I could see of it through the crack must have been
less than a third of it. The walls were of rose marble, without
hangings or ornamentation of any kind. There were pierced openings
like the mouths of deep niches over which silvery curtains fell. There
was a great fountain that sent up tinkling jets of water out of a
blood-red bowl. Couches of the rosy stone were scattered about. They
were richly covered and on them lay, as though sleeping, men and
women. There must have been dozens of these, for there were a score of
them within my limited vision alone. I could not see the roof.

I thought that these curtained apertures might be cubicles or cells in
which the slaves dwelt.

A gong sounded. The curtains were plucked aside. In each of the
openings stood a slave, their eyes fastened upon Satan with a horrid
eagerness. I shivered. It was like an eruption of the damned.

Satan beckoned. A man stepped forward toward the dais. I took him for
an American, a Westerner. He was tall and lanky, and in his gait
something of the rocking habit of the range rider. His face was the
hawk-like type that the mountain country breeds, and, curiously, it
made the peculiar pallor and dilated eyes mask-like and grotesque. His
mouth was thin and bitter.

Like the woman, he prostrated himself before Satan. The veiled figure
with the goblet held it out to the ewer bearer who poured into it a
green liquid. The cup bearer handed the goblet to Satan.

"Rise," he commanded. The suppliant sprang to his feet, burning gaze
upon the cup. The unholy ritual began again!

"You, man who was Robert Taylor, who am I?"

"You are Satan!"

"And what am I, Satan?" Again the blasphemous avowal: "You are my

"You shall have no God but me!"

"I have no God but you, Satan!"

"What is it, man, that is your desire?" The slave straightened, his
voice lost its lifelessness. His face grew cruel as that of the
executioner's own.

"To kill the man I hate... to find him... to ruin him... to kill him
slowly in many ways!"

"As you killed him once--too swiftly," said Satan maliciously, and
then, again tonelessly:

"Through me you shall find him whom you hate, and slay him as you
desire! Drink!"

He drank and passed. Twice more I heard the clang of the summoning
gong, and twice I watched the white faces of these doomed ones with
their avid eyes appear through the silver curtains and disappear
behind them. I heard one man ask for dominance over a kingdom of
beasts. Another for a Paradise of women.

And Satan promised, and gave them the green draught. The kehjt!

The subtle, devilish drug that gave to its drinkers the illusion of
fulfilled desire. That turned the mind upon itself, to eat itself. And
that by some hellish alchemy dissolved the very soul.

I stared on, fascinated, Eve forgotten. But if I had forgotten, Barker
had not. The crack through which I was looking closed. He touched me,
and we arose. Soundlessly we slipped up the ramp through the dim,
black passage. I felt a bit sick.

It had been no nice picture, that of Satan wallowing in the worship of
those slaves of his, dealing them out love and hate, dark power and
lust, sardonically and impartially giving each what he or she most

Illusions, yes. But more real than life to the drinkers when the drug
had them. But, God, their awakening!

And after that awakening the burning craving to escape reality! To
return to that place of illusion to which the kehjt was the only key!

No wonder that the three of the museum affair had gone to their deaths
with such blind obedience!

And, if Satan was not what he pretended, very surely he was not
disgracing that power whose name he had taken.

I had paid little attention to where we were going, blindly following
Barker's lead.

"Well," he whispered, suddenly, "was I right? Wasn't it a h'alley into
'Ell? What price Satan now, Cap'n?"

I came back to myself with nerves jumping.

"A drug dealer," I answered him. "A dope den  la Ritz. That's all.
I've seen opium joints in China that would make it look like a trench
dugout. And the pipe hitters there would cut your throat for a pill
just as quick as these would for Satan."

Neither of which assertions was at all true, but it gave me comfort to
say them.

"Yes?" he said, cynically. "Well, it's a good wye to think. I 'opes
you keep on thinkin' that wye, Cap'n."

I hoped that I might begin to think so.

"Soft along 'ere," he whispered. We were moving like ghosts in the
darkness of a passage. I had an indistinct memory of having entered
several lifts. Of even the probable location of my room I had not the
slightest idea.

"'Ere we are," he muttered, and stood for an instant listening. I
thrust my hand into the pocket where I had slipped my wrist watch,
that its illuminated dial might not betray us. I took a swift look. It
was almost half past midnight.

Barker drew me forward. There was a faint scent in the air, a delicate

Eve's! We were in her room.


"Beat her to it," I whispered incautiously.

There was a rustle, as of some one sitting hastily up in bed.

"Who's there?" came Eve's voice, softly. "I've got my finger on the

"It's me--Jim," I answered, as softly as she, but mighty hastily.

"Jim!" A subdued light gleamed suddenly. "Where have you been? I've
been worried to death about you!"

Eve was leaning forward from her pillows, brown eyes wide and
luminous, silken mop of hair a bit tousled. She looked like a wakeful
little girl who had been exasperatedly pulling it. She was, also, the
prettiest thing I had ever seen. Every time I looked at Eve she seemed
prettier. I wondered where she was going to stop. She had on some sort
of a lacy pink negligee. All the rest of my life, I knew, my heart
would beat faster whenever I saw a lacy pink negligee, even when it
was only in a shop window.

She slipped out of bed, ran straight to me, and kissed me. It was so
pleasant that I entirely forgot everything else.

I became aware of a queer noise behind me. Harry was teetering from
side to side, his hands clasped, his eyes half closed and moist, his
face ecstatic, and he was crooning like an affectionate parrot. He was
a sentimental little burglar, Harry.

Eve looked, and laughed.

"If you want to say 'Bless you, my children,' go ahead, Harry," she
said mischievously.

He blinked, snapped out of it, and grinned at her.

"Made me think of me an' Maggie," he said. "Just like when we was
courtin'. Fair warmed my 'eart, it did."

"Well," I said, "I move that this meeting comes to order. We've got a
lot of ground to cover, and not much time to do it. What's the chance
of us being interrupted, Eve?"

"Hardly any," she answered. "Frankly, everybody does as they like
about having room parties. So everybody is extraordinarily discreet
about visiting without an invitation. On the other hand, Jim, you're
the one person it wouldn't do to have found here. Our aversion to each
other has been so marked, darling, you know. Satan would be bound to
hear about it. And the second he did--"

She didn't have to finish the sentence. I had a very clear idea of
what Satan would do.

"It would be hard to explain Barker, too," she added.

"How about it, Harry?" I asked him. "Likely to be any calls for you?
Any awkward searching parties?"

"Not unless something big goes wrong," he said. "If they look for me
in my room, I can say I was workin' somewhere else. Satan won't be
'untin' me, that's certain."

"Well," I said, "we have to take some chances. But we'll talk low and
in the dark."

Eve stepped over, and put out the lamp. She drew aside the heavy
curtains from one of the windows. A faint light flickered in from the
moon hidden behind a hazy sky. Barker and I moved the chaise longue to
a shadowed corner. The three of us sat down upon it.

We talked. Not the slightest use of setting down a word of it. We got
nowhere. A few schemes gleamed brightly for an instant, and then went
glimmering like will-o'-the-wisps. The spell of what I had beheld in
Satan's unholy shrine was heavy on me, try as I would to throw it off.
I had to fight a sense of futility. We were like three flies in a web
of the Temple of the Footsteps. If we got out of one, it was only to
find ourselves in another. But steadily Eve's warm, soft body pressing
against mine, her courage, her trust, armed me against the devastating
sapping of my confidence. There was a way. There must be a way.

More than an hour had passed, and we had found not a solitary clew to

And Barker had been growing fidgety, nervously abstracted.

"What's the matter, Harry?" I asked him at last.

"I'm h'uneasy, sir," he said. "I don't know why. But I 'ave a feelin'
somethin's wrong somewhere."

It struck me as funny.

"You're devilish well right there is," I couldn't help chuckling.
"It's what we've been giving all this time trying to right."

"No," he said soberly. "I'm bl--I'm h'unusually h'uneasy. An' I'm
never that wye h'unless somethin's bl--'orrible wrong. Cap'n, I think
we'd better call it a night an' get back."

I hesitated. As I say, we had gotten nowhere. At any moment one of us
might get a flash that would open up a way out. Truth was, of course,
I didn't want to leave Eve. But there was no denying the little man's
distress. And if he should go and not be able to return--well, then I
would be in a pretty fix. I hadn't the slightest idea of where my room
was, or how to get to it.

"We've decided a lot of things won't do," said Eve. "It sounds
Pollyanna-ish, I know, but it really is some progress. The day may
bring some new ideas. We'll meet again tonight."

"All right," I said. "We'll go, Harry."

By the involuntary breath of relief he drew, I realized how troubled
he was. Eve slipped to the windows, and let drop the curtains. The
room resumed its original darkness. I felt her hand touch mine, and
then her arms were around my neck.

"It's going to seem a long, long time till tonight, Jim, darling,"
whispered Eve.

"'Urry!" came Harry's whisper. "'Urry up, Cap'n!"

I cautiously began to make my way toward where he stood by the wall.

"Gord!" I heard him gasp.

The word was thick with terror. I leaped forward.

The ray of the flashlight struck Barker full in the face. A hand shot
out with the quickness of a snake, and caught his throat. I saw his
face distorted with agony as his own two hands flew up to break that
merciless grip.

The light struck me in the eyes, dazzling me. I ducked, and dived in.
Before I could touch whoever it was that held it, the flash dropped to
the rug and Barker's body hit me like a bag of sand hurled by an
elephant. I staggered back with a grunt. The lights in the room
flashed up.

Just in front of me, menacing me with his automatic, stood Consardine!

And Consardine's eyes were cold and deadly. There was death in them.
They flashed from me to Eve. His face softened, as though with relief
from some fear. Swiftly it gave way to bewilderment, incredulity. It
grew hard and deadly again. The muzzle of the gun pointing at me never
wavered. At my feet Harry gasped, and staggered up dizzily. I put an
arm out and steadied him.

"What are these men doing here, Eve?"

Consardine's voice was still and flat, as though he were holding
himself in check by enormous effort. I had read the thought behind
those swiftly changing expressions. First, that we had crept into
Eve's room for some sinister purpose. Then--suspicion of Eve herself.
I must wipe that out. Keep Eve out of it. Play on Consardine's first
card. I answered before she could speak.

"You're rather--impetuous, Consardine," I said in a voice as hard as
his own. "But your gun makes that safe, I suppose, when you let loose
on an unarmed man. I was restless, and decided to go back to the
bridge game. I got lost in your cursed rabbit warren. I ran across
this man here who told me that he was working around the place. I
asked him to guide me back to my room. By some damned irony, he
managed to make the mistake of all mistakes of getting me into Miss
Demerest's. Believe me, I was quite as anxious to get away as she was
for me to go. Miss Demerest, I think you will confirm what I say?"

I turned to her. It was an open lead, and it sounded plausible enough.
Consardine paid no attention to me whatever.

"I asked you, Eve, what these men are doing here?" he repeated.

Eve looked at him steadily for a moment, and then walked over and
stood beside me.

"Dr. Consardine," she said, "Mr. Kirkham is lying like a gentleman, to
save me. The truth is that I asked him to come and see me. And I asked
Barker to guide him to me. Both of them are entirely innocent of
anything except courteously doing as I asked. The whole responsibility
is mine."

The veins suddenly stood out on Consardine's temples, and the gun in
his hand wavered. His face flushed. The cold fury had given way to hot
anger. He might be just as dangerous, but I had a flash that Eve knew
what she was doing, that her instinct had been truer than mine.

"So!" said Consardine thickly. "You thought you could make a fool out
of me! Dupe me! I don't enjoy being fooled, and I don't enjoy being a
dupe. How long have you two known each other?"

"We never set eyes on each other until you brought us together," said

"And why did you send for him?"

"To get me away from Satan," answered Eve, steadily. "What else?"

He regarded her with smoldering eyes.

"And why did you think he could do that?" he asked her.

"Because I love him! And because he loves me!" said Eve quietly.

He stared at us. Then abruptly all anger fled, his eyes softened.

"Good God," said Consardine. "You Babes in the Wood!"

Eve put her hand out to him. He took it, patting it gently. He looked
us over carefully again, as though we were some new and puzzling
specimens. He turned out all the lights except the shaded one beside
Eve's bed, strode over to the window, and peeped out the curtains. He
came back to us.

"Let's talk this over," he said. "Barker, I'm sorry I choked you.
Kirkham, I'm sorry I bowled you over. I'm sorry, too, that I misjudged
you. And glad I did. Eve, I wasn't spying on you from out there. You
were on my mind. You have been, child, for some time. I could see how
restless and disturbed you were at the game. I thought--it was
something else. You were on my mind, I say. I thought that perhaps you
had not gone to bed. And that a talk with me, who am more than old
enough to be your father, might help. There were--some things I had to
say. I stood out there for minutes, hesitating. I thought I might slip
the panel a mite and see if you were up--or awake. I thought you might
be crying. And just as I was about to do it, it opened and I heard
Barker curse. Then the rest happened. That's all."

I gave him my hand. Barker grinned widely, and saluted.

"Had I better be goin', sir?" he asked.

"Not yet," said Consardine. "Kirkham, how long have you known Barker?"

"'E syved my life, 'e did," broke in Harry. "'E pulled me out o' 'Ell.
An' while we're all tellin' the truth, Dr. Consardine, I'll sye I'm
fair set on doin' the syme by 'im an' 'is young lydy."

I gave Consardine a brief account of my acquaintance with Barker. He
nodded, approvingly.

"First," he said, "it will be well to clarify the situation by stating
my own position. I am Satan's servant. I am bound by a certain oath to
him. I took that oath with open eyes, fully realizing all that it
entailed. I came to him voluntarily, not like you, Kirkham. I
recognize that your oath was under duress, and that therefore you are
entitled to act in ways that I am not. I do not break my voluntary
oath nor my word. Besides that I am convinced that if I did I would
not live long. I have a foolish partiality for living. I could cheat
Satan of his pleasure in my torture, but--I do not believe in any
existence beyond the grave, and I find life, at times, vastly
interesting. Furthermore, I have certain standards of living,
appetites, desires and likings which my contact with Satan insures of
satisfaction. Away from him they certainly would not be satisfied.
Also I was an outlaw when I came to him. Outlaw I am, but hunted
outlaw I would be without his protection. First and last--there is my

"Let it be understood, then, that any assistance that I can promise
you will be largely negative. It will consist of warning you of
pitfalls to avoid, and of closing my eyes and ears to what I may see
or hear. Like this affair tonight, for instance."

"It is all we could ask, sir," I said. "And a great deal more than I
had any right to expect."

"And now I say to you, Kirkham," he went on, "that I think you have
little chance to win against Satan. I think that the road you have
picked has death at its end. I tell you so because I know you have
courage, and you should be told what is in my mind. And I say it
before you, Eve, because you too have courage. And you must consider,
child, whether you should allow your lover to take this almost certain
risk of death, or whether you should do--something else."

I looked into Eve's face. Her mouth was quivering, and her eyes were

"What--what is the something else, Dr. Consardine?" she whispered.

"Become Mme. Satan, I suppose!" I answered for him. "Not while I'm

"That," he acquiesced quietly, "of course. But it is not what I had in
mind--" He hesitated, shot a glance at Harry and quickly switched to
another thought, or back, rather, to his old one.

"Understand," he said, "I want you to win, Kirkham. In any way that
does not break my oath to Satan, or threaten my prejudice for
remaining alive, I will help you. At least--I will keep my hands off.
But realize this--I am Satan's servant. If he orders me to take you, I
shall take you. If he orders me to kill you, I shall--kill you."

"If Jim dies, I die. If you kill him, you kill me," said Eve
tranquilly. She meant it. He knew she meant it, and he winced.

"Nevertheless, child, I would do it," he told her. And I knew he meant
that. So did Eve.

"You--you started to--you were about to speak of another way--" she

"I do not want you to tell me your plans, Kirkham," he interrupted
her, quickly. "Only this. Do any of them involve your trying to kill

I hesitated. It was a dangerous question to answer. After all,
Consardine had warned me he could be trusted only so far. What did he
consider the limits of his oath?

"I perceive they do," he had interpreted my silence. "Well, it is the
one thing you must not attempt. It is the one thing that is
impossible. You may think you can kill him while you and he are alone.
Kirkham, I tell you Satan is never alone. Always there are guards
hidden about--in the walls, in secret places. Before you could fire,
they would have you winged. And there is Satan's abnormal quickness of
mind. He would perceive your thought before it could be transformed
into action. If you tried it while others were about, they would have
you down before you could fire a second shot--assuming that you
managed to get in a first one. And Satan has an unhuman vitality. I do
not believe one bullet or two could kill him any more than they could
an elephant. The real point is, however, that you would never get the

Well, Consardine did not know everything--that was clear. With that
stone in the wall of the slavers' hall up half an inch instead of a
quarter, and a rifle poking through the crack, I would not have given
much for Satan's survival. Assuming, of course, that basically he was

"Furthermore," he went on, almost as in answer to my thought, "suppose
you did perform what I believe the impossible--kill him. Still there
could be no escape for you. Better to be slain at once. There is not a
place on earth where you could hide from the vengeance of his people.
For it is not only by fear that Satan rules. Far from it. As he has
told you, he pays his servants well. His continuance means ease,
luxury, safety, power--most of the things of life for which man
commonly strives--to more people than you can imagine. Satan has his
splendid side as well as his dark one. And his people are scattered
over all the globe. Many of them are more highly placed than you, as
yet, can dream. Is it not so, Eve?"

"It is so," she said, and the trouble in her eyes grew.

"Satan's throne does not rest upon the backs of cringing slaves," he
said. "As always, he has his princes and his legions. To sum up. I do
not believe you can kill him. If you try and fail, you die--horribly.
And Eve is not saved. If you did kill him, you die as inevitably. Eve
would be saved from him--yes. But will she have her freedom at such a

"No! No!" cried Eve, and stood in front of me, arms outstretched,
despair in her face.

"Consardine," I said abruptly, "why does Satan hide his hands when the
climbers go up the steps?"

"What's that? What do you mean?" He stared at me.

"I've seen him on the black throne three times," I said. "Twice with
Cartright, once with myself. He pulls the lever, and then he hides his
hands under the robe. What does he do with them, Consardine?"

"Are you hinting that the steps are a crooked game? That's absurd,
Kirkham!" His voice was amused, but I saw his strong hands clench.

"I'm hinting nothing," I answered. "I--wonder. You must have seen many
go up those steps. Have you ever seen Satan's hands in the open while
they were mounting? Think back, Consardine."

He was silent. I could see him marshaling in his memory those he had
beheld beckoned by the shining footprints. And his face had whitened.

"I--can't tell," he said at last. "I didn't notice. But--I don't think

He jumped to his feet.

"Nonsense!" he said. "Even so--it means nothing!"

I was shooting in the dark. No, not quite. I was giving substance to
that shadowy thought, that nebulous suspicion, I had feared to bring
out before Barker.

"No?" I said. "Do you believe, then, that Satan, with all his genius
for details, his setting up of the cards, his discounting of every
chance--do you believe that Satan would leave any door open through
which one could come and rule him? Has crown and scepter ever been

"Yes," he replied, disconcertingly. "Unfortunately for the doubt with
which you nearly netted me, Kirkham, they have. I have been with Satan
eight years. Three times I have seen the steps conquered!"

That was like a slap in the face. For the moment it silenced me. Not
so Eve.

"What became of them?" she asked.

"Well," he looked at her, uneasily, "one of them wanted something--
something rather peculiar. He died of it in six months."

"Yes," drawled Eve, "so he died of it. What about the others?"

"One of them died in an aeroplane accident between London and Paris,"
he said. "She was on her way to--what she wanted. Not even Satan could
have helped that. Everybody was burned."

"Rather unlucky, weren't they?" asked Eve, innocently. "Both of them.
But the third?"

"I don't know," said Consardine, half angrily. "I suppose he's all
right. He went to Asia. I've never heard of him since then. He wanted
a sort of a hidden little pocket kingdom where he could do as he
pleased. Satan gave it to him."

"Two dead, and one--disappeared," mused Eve. "But don't you think that
you ought to have heard something about that third one, Dr.
Consardine? Couldn't you find out what became of him? Maybe--maybe, he
died, too, like the others."

"As Eve says, two of them didn't last long," I said. "The third is
doubtful. If you were in Satan's place, Consardine, wouldn't it occur
to you that it was advisable to keep up hope in the aspirants by
showing them now and then that it could be done? It would to me. And,
still assuming that we thought like Satan, wouldn't we handpick our
successful climbers? I would. But I wouldn't pick the kind that would
be likely to live long, would you? Or if they were well and hearty, a
little accident might be arranged. Like that Croydon air bus you've
mentioned, for instance."

"Gorblyme!" gasped Harry. "The swine! That wouldn't be 'ard to do. An'
I'll bet 'e done it!"

"What does Satan do with his hands when he hides them under his robe?"
I repeated.

"And what became of that third winner?" murmured Eve.

On Consardine's forehead little beads of sweat stood out. He was

"See here, Consardine," I said, "you told us you didn't like being a
dupe. You didn't like being fooled. Suppose Satan has been making a
colossal mock of you--and the others. What happens?"

I saw the effort with which he mastered himself. It frightened me a
bit. After all, I hadn't the slightest evidence to back up what I had
been hinting. And if Consardine thought that I was deliberately
deceiving him--

But I wasn't. The doubts I had raised were entirely legitimate. Satan
did hide his hands. The bad after-luck of the step conquerors had been
something that Consardine had known, not we.

"Barker," he turned to Harry, "have you ever looked over the mechanism
that Satan tells us controls the choice of the shining footprints?
Answer me! Is it what he says it is?"

Barker wrung his hands, looking first at him and then at Eve and me,
piteously. He swallowed once or twice.

"Answer me," ordered Consardine.

"Gord 'elp me, Cap'n," Harry turned to me desperately, "I never wanted
to lie so 'ard in my life. I want to sye I 'aven't seen it. Or that it
don't work them bloody prints. But Gord 'elp me, Miss Demerest, I 'ave
looked it over. An' it does work 'em, Dr. Consardine. It does, just as
'e syes it does!"

Well, that was that. It knocked, apparently, my theories clean through
the vanishing point. For a moment I had hoped that the little man
would be diplomatic. Say, at least, that he didn't know. But I could
not deny him his right to tell the truth--if he felt like it.

"That's all right, Harry," I said cheerfully. "What we're looking for
is the truth. And what you say settles everything, I suppose."

"I'd like to 'ave lied, Cap'n," he half whimpered. "But, 'ell, I

Consardine, I suddenly noticed, was behaving rather oddly. He did not
seem at all like one whose faith in Satan had been impregnably
re-enforced. He seemed, indeed, more disturbed than ever.

"Barker," he said, "you'd better go now. I will see Captain Kirkham
back to his room."

Harry slid over to one of the walls. He bowed to us, miserably. A
panel opened, and he was gone. Consardine turned to us.

"Now, Eve," he said, "I'll tell you what brought me here tonight. I
told you that you'd been on my mind. So you have. Damnably. I wanted
to save you from Satan. I had a way to suggest. I stole the idea from
Shakespeare. You remember the stratagem by which the honest friar
schemed to get Juliet to her Romeo? And cheat their respective warring
families? Their Satan, in a sense."

"The draught that would make her appear to be dead," whispered Eve.

"Exactly," nodded Consardine. "It was something like that which I was
about to propose to you. To treat you, from my medical knowledge, in
such a way that the health and beauty and spirit which makes you so
desirable to Satan would fade--temporarily. To put you in such
condition as obviously to make impossible, at least in the near
future, his personal plans for you. And to keep you in that condition
until he had found a substitute for his paternal impulses--or
something else happened.

"There was risk to it, certainly. Great risk to you, Eve. The waiting
might be too long--I might not be able to restore to you what I had
taken from you. Yet you might have preferred that risk to the
certainty of--Satan's arms. I was going to let you decide."

"Was going to?" repeated Eve breathlessly. "Of course I'll take the
risk. Oh, Dr. Consardine--it seems like the way out!"

"Does it?" asked he grimly. "I think not--now. The original scheme
from which I stole my idea came to grief, you remember, because of
Romeo. Well, I was reckoning without Romeo. I didn't know there was

"I--I don't quite--get that," said Eve.

"Child," he took her hands, "are you willing to give up your lover?
Never see him, never meet him, never communicate with him? Not for
weeks or months, but for years? Kill your love for him, or live on,
starving upon memories?"

"No," answered Eve directly, and shook her curly head.

"And even if you persuaded her to, Consardine, what do you think I
would be doing?" the bare suggestion stirred in me resentment and
stubborn anger. "Fold my hands and turn my eyes Heavenward and meekly
murmur, 'Thy will be done!' Not me!"

"I'm persuading no one, Kirkham," he replied quietly. "I'm only
pointing out that it's the only way the thing could be done. If I did
to Eve what I have described, what would happen? Treatment here for a
time, of course, so Satan could see her failing. Then her removal
somewhere, for other doctors to look after her. Her symptoms could not
be feigned. They would have to be real. The medical fraternity is not
wholly represented by me in Satan's entourage. He has some highly
placed specialists among his dependents. And if he had not, he could
call them in. And would, unless at the very outset he was persuaded
that her condition would inevitably mean a faulty maternity weakness
in offspring. Forgive me, child, for talking so plainly, but it's no
time to be beating around the bush.

"The specialists I could take care of. Hoodwink. I could have been a
very great"--he hesitated, and sighed--"well, no matter. But Satan has
set his will on you, Eve. He will not lightly give up his purpose. If
it were only as a woman that he desired you, it would not be so
difficult. But you are more than that to him, far more. You are to be
the bearer of his child. Not upon my word alone, much as he trusts my
judgment, would he relinquish you as unfit. He would have to be
convinced beyond all doubt--and therein lies the danger to you and

He paused, looked pityingly into her troubled eyes.

"Too great a risk," I said. "I'll try my way first, Consardine."

"Enter Romeo," he smiled faintly. "You'll have to, Kirkham. You've
made the other impossible. You think that life would be worthless
without Eve, I take it?"

"I don't think it, I know it," I answered.

"And you feel the same way about--Jim?"

"Yes," she said softly. "But--to save his life--"

"It wouldn't," said Consardine. "I know men and women. No matter what
you made up your mind to do, Eve, he would be working and planning to
get you away. Nor are you exactly the kind to sit down, as he
expresses it, with meekly folded hands. He would be trapped, sooner or
later. It might very likely follow that the trick would be discovered.
Then I would have to give up my foolish prejudice for living. I won't
take the chance of that. But assume that you do escape. Together. You
would be two hares running around the world with the hounds constantly
at your heels. Satan's hounds, always on the move. Always with his
threat hanging over you. Would such a life be worth living? There
might be a child. Be sure that Satan's vengeance would not spare it. I
repeat--would such a life be worth living?"

"No," I said, and Eve drew a deep breath and shook her head.

"What can we do!" she whispered.

Consardine strode once across the room, and back. He stood before me,
and I saw that again the veins in his forehead were standing out like
cords, and that his gray eyes were hard and cold as steel. He tapped
me thrice on the breast with his clenched fist.

"Find out what Satan does with his hands when he hides them!" he said.

He turned from us, plainly not trusting himself to speak further. Eve
was staring at him, wondering, even as I, at the intensity of the rage
that was shaking him.

"Come, Kirkham," he had mastered himself. He ran his fingers through
Eve's bob, ruffling it caressingly.

"Babes in the Wood," he repeated.

He walked to the panel, slowly. Considerately.

"Tonight," I whispered to Eve.

Her arms were around my neck, her lips pressed to mine.

"Jim--dear!" she whispered, and let me go.

I looked back as I passed through the opening. She was standing as I
had left her, hands stretched out to me, eyes wide and wistful. She
was like a lonely little child, afraid to go to bed. I felt a deeper
twinge at my heart. A strengthening of resolve. The panel closed.

In silence I followed Consardine as he led me to my room. He entered
with me and stood for a moment staring at me somberly. Quite suddenly
I felt dog-tired.

"I hope you sleep better tonight than I shall," said Consardine,

He was gone. I was too tired to wonder what he had meant by that. I
managed to get out of my clothes, and was asleep before I could draw
the bed covers over me.


The ringing of the telephone aroused me. I reached out for it, only
half awake, not in the least realizing where I was. Consardine's voice
brought me out of my lethargy like a bucket of water.

"Hello, Kirkham," he said. "Don't want to spoil your beauty sleep, but
how about having breakfast with me, and then taking a canter? We've
some excellent horses, and the morning's too nice to be wasted."

"Fine," I answered. "I'll be down in ten minutes. How will I find

"Ring for Thomas. I'll be waiting." He hung up.

The sun was streaming through the windows. I looked at my watch. It
was close to eleven. I had slept soundly about seven hours. I rang for

Sleep, a plunge and the brilliant sunshine were charms that sent the
shadow of Satan far below the rim of the world. Whistling, I hoped
half-guiltily that Eve felt as fit. The valet brought me out what
Barker would have called a "real tysty ridin' rig." He convoyed me to
a sunny, old-world lovely room looking out on a broad, green terrace.
There were a dozen or so nice-looking people breakfasting at small
tables. Some of them I had met the night before.

Over in a corner I saw Consardine. I joined him. We had an extremely
pleasant meal, at least I did. Consardine did not seem to have a care
on earth. His talk had a subtly sardonic flavor that I found most
stimulating. So far as the conversation was concerned, our encounter
in Eve's room might never have been. He made no slightest reference to
it. Nor, following his lead, did I.

We went from there to the stables. He took a powerful black gelding
that whinnied to him as he entered. I mounted a trim roan. We rode at
a brisk canter along bridle paths that wound through thick woods to
scrub pine and oak. Now and then we met a guard who stood at
attention, and saluted Consardine as we passed by. It was a silent

We came abruptly out of the woods. Consardine reined in. We were upon
the cleared top of a low hillock. Below us and a hundred yards away
sparkled the waters of the Sound.

Perhaps a quarter mile out lay a perfect beauty of a yacht. She was
about two hundred feet long and not more than thirty in beam. Seagoing
and serviceable, and built for speed as well. Her paint and brass
shone, dazzling white and golden.

"The Cherub," said Consardine, dryly. "She's Satan's. He named her
that because she looks so spotless and innocent. There is a more
descriptive word for her, however, but not a polite one. She can do
her thirty knots, by the way."

My gaze dropped from the yacht to a strong landing that thrust out
from the shore. A little fleet of launches and speed boats were
clustered near it. I caught a glimpse of an old-fashioned rambling
house nestled among the trees near the water's edge.

My eyes followed the curve of the shore. A few hundred feet from the
pier was a pile of great rocks, huge boulders dropped by the glacier
that once covered the Island. I started, and looked more closely.

Upon one of them stood Satan, black-cloaked, arms folded, staring out
at the gleaming yacht. I touched Consardine's arm.

"Look!" I whispered, "Sat--" I stopped. The rock was bare. I had
turned my eyes from it for the barest fraction of a second. Yet in
that time Satan had disappeared.

"What did you see?" asked Consardine.

"Satan," I said. "He was standing on that pile of rocks. Where could
he have gone!"

"He has a hole there," he answered indifferently. "A tunnel that runs
from the big house to the shore."

He swung around to the woods. I followed. We rode along for a quarter
of an hour more. We came out into a small meadow through which ran a
brook. He dismounted, and dropped the reins over the black's neck.

"I want to talk to you," he said to me.

I gave the roan its freedom, and sat down beside Consardine.

"Kirkham, you've set my world rocking under my feet," he said curtly.
"You've put the black doubt in me. Of the few things that I would have
staked my life on, the first was that Satan's gamble of the seven
footprints was a straight one. And now--I would not."

"You don't accept Barker's testimony, then?" I asked.

"Talk straight, Kirkham," he warned, coldly. "Your implication was
that Satan manipulated the telltale from the Black Throne. With his
hidden hands. If so, he has the cunning to do it in a way that Barker,
going over the other mechanism, would never suspect. You know that.
Talk straight, I tell you."

"The thought that Barker might be wrong occurred to me, Consardine," I
said. "I preferred to let it occur to you without my suggesting it. I
had said enough."

"Too much--or not enough," he said. "You have put the doubt in me.
Well, you've got to rid me of it."

"Just what do you mean by that?" I asked him.

"I mean," he said, "that you must find out the truth. Give me back my
faith in Satan, or change my doubt into certainty."

"And if I do the latter--" I began eagerly.

"You will have struck a greater blow at him than any with knife or
bullet. You will be no longer alone in your fight. That I promise

His voice was thick, and the handle of his riding crop snapped in the
sudden clenching of his strong hand.

"Consardine," I said bluntly, "why should the possibility of Satan's
play being crooked move you so? You are closest to him here, I gather.
His service, so you say, brings you all that you desire. And you tell
me he is the shield between you and the law. What difference, then,
does it make to you whether his gamble of the seven footprints is on
the level or isn't?"

He caught my shoulder, and I winced at the crushing grip.

"Because," he answered, "I am under Satan's sentence of death!"

"You!" I exclaimed, incredulously.

"For eight years," he said, "that threat has been over me. For eight
years he has tormented me, as the mood swayed him. Now with hint of
the imminent carrying out of that sentence. Now with half-promise of
its wiping out, and another trial at the steps. Kirkham, I am no
coward--yet death fills me with horror. If I knew it to be inevitable,
I would face it calmly. But I believe it to be eternal blackness,
oblivion, extinction. There is something in me that recoils from that,
something that shrinks from it with a deadly terror, with loathing.
Kirkham, I love life.

"Yet if the gamble was straight, he was within his rights. But if it
was not straight--then all those eight years he has played with me,
made a mock of me, laughed at me. And still laughing, would have
watched me go to whatever death he had decreed, unresisting, since I
would have believed that by my oath I was so bound.

"And that, Kirkham, is not to be endured. Not by me!

"Nor is that all. I have watched many men and women take the steps,
risking all on Satan's word. And I have seen some of them go to death,
as calmly as I would have done, their honor, like mine, rooted in
dishonor. And others go broken and wailing. Like Cartright. While
Satan laughed. And there are more who live like me on Satan's
sufferance. And all this on a cast of loaded dice? If so, then I tell
you, Kirkham, it is not a thing to be borne! Nor shall it be borne!"

He plucked at his collar, gasping, as though it choked him.

"God!" he whispered. "To pay him back for that! If it is true... I
would face death... singing... but I must know if it is true."

I waited until he had regained control.

"Help me find out whether it is or not," I said. "It may well turn out
to be an impossible job for me--alone."

He shook his head.

"You have Barker to help you," he replied.

"I don't want to run him into any more risks." I would cover up the
little man as much as I could. "There's a certain amount of prowling
involved, Consardine. We might run across somebody not so well
disposed as you. But the three of us ought to be able to settle
matters one way or the other quickly."

"No," he said, stubbornly. "Why should I? It is up to you, Kirkham. It
is you who have raised the doubt. It is you who must resolve it. One
way or the other. After all, your suspicions are based upon the
vaguest evidence. A triviality, and two, or it may be three, perfectly
explicable happenings. The chances that you are wrong are enormously
greater than those that you are right. Why should I risk my life upon
them? I have already gone far. I have promised you neutrality, and
somewhat more. I will go no further. Take Barker. I promise neither to
see nor hear you should I meet you in your--wanderings. But at this
time I will not invite certain death by joining you in them. I have
been reasonably content. If you are wrong, I shall still be. If you
are right--ah, then, I repeat, you will be no longer alone.

"In the meantime--Michael Consardine holds fast to his place in the

He chirruped to the black gelding, and mounted it. There was no use in
further argument, that was plain. We rode away, through the woods, and
after a while turned back to the chateau.

I left him at the stable, and went to my rooms to change. There was a
note pinned to my pillow. It was from Satan. A casual sort of message.
He hoped I was enjoying myself as I deserved, and would see me about
nine o'clock that evening.

The rest of the day passed uneventfully. The more I thought over
Consardine's talk, the more I sympathized with his viewpoint. Also,
oddly enough, the higher rose my spirits. I sat down to dinner in a
pleasantly reckless state of mind.

Consardine was at the head of the board as on the previous night. I
had Cobham for companion. I saw Eve toward the far end. She ignored
me. It was difficult for me to do the same toward her.

Cobham had been drinking. For some reason he seemed to feel a certain
responsibility for me. He paid no attention to any one else, nor would
he let me. He was vastly interesting, but as the time wore on I began
to feel a profound distaste for Cobham. He was expounding his theories
of life as a mere electrochemical reaction. He made it clear that
neither the individual nor the mass meant anything to him in terms of
what is commonly called humanity. He was appallingly callous about it.

He seemed to have no more feeling about men and women than he would
have about his test tubes. Rather less, I fancied. In fact, that was
what men and women appeared to him to be, just a lot of animated test
tubes with minute curiosity-provoking differences in their contents.
And he saw no reason why they should not be broken, or emptied or the
contents changed in the way of experimentation. He sketched a few
rather awful experiments with gases upon the kehjt slaves. At least, I
hoped that the unfortunate subjects had been the slaves. He did not
say so.

Listening, I was convinced that of the two, Satan might be the more
humane. Cobham kept on drinking steadily. The only effect of the
liquor was to make him more coldly, inhumanly scientific.

"You've got too much sentiment in your ferment, Kirkham," he said.
"You probably think that life is sacred, to use the cant word, not to
be destroyed unless by dire necessity. Bosh! It is no more sacred than
the current I turn on or off at will from my lamps, nor the ferments
in my tubes that I end at will. Whenever did Nature give a damn about
the individual? Neutralize the weakening ingredient in you, Kirkham,
and you might become a great man. I can do it for you, if you will let

I promised to think it over.

At 8:30 Satan appeared. I had been wondering where I was to see him.
Consardine yielded his place, and Satan beckoned me to sit at his left

"To my new follower, James Kirkham," he raised his glass. "I am much
pleased with him."

They drank to me, standing. I saw Eve pointedly set down her glass
untouched. So, as she had meant him to do, did Satan.

At 8:45, as though at some signal, the company began to drift out of
the room. In a few minutes there remained only Satan, Cobham and
myself. It rather surprised me to see Consardine leave. Servants
cleared the table, and at a nod from Satan withdrew.

"There is a ship," he said abruptly, "that sails from Havre within
three days. She is the Astarte. A slow boat. She carries some things
of superlative beauty which I feel it time for me to claim. There is a
painting by Sir Joshua Reynolds, another by Romney. There is a ewer of
rock crystal and twelve rock crystal cups, marvelously engraved and
set with great cabochon sapphires and rubies. They were made, it may
be, in ancient Crete for Queen Pasiphae. At least, they are
immemorially old. And to them an unknown genius gave his best. They
were long hidden in the Kremlin. The Communists have sold them. There
is a necklace of emeralds upon each of which is graven one of the
Metamorphoses of Ovid. There is nothing like it in the world."

He paused, then bent his head toward me.

"I must have them, James Kirkham. You and Cobham shall get them for

I bowed, awaiting further enlightenment. Cobham, I noticed, had not
drunk anything since Satan's entrance. He did not show at all what he
had drunk. He sat silent, eyes upon the glass with which his fingers
played; cynical, a faint smile upon his full lips. Yet I felt that he
was watching me covertly, as though awaiting something. Whatever Satan
was about to tell me, I suspected that he had already gone over it
with him.

"I have selected you as leader," Satan went on, "not only because the
task may demand the exercise of unusual resourcefulness, but also that
close obedience to orders which you have proved to me you can
exercise. I am merely outlining the venture tonight so you may be
turning it over in your mind. You will receive your detailed
instructions before you sail."

Sail? That meant leave Eve! I moved restlessly. I suppose my
discomfort showed in my face. At any rate, he sensed it.

"Yes," he said. "The transfer will not be made on land after the
Astarte arrives. I prefer to make it on the high seas. You are to
engage in what the prejudiced would call piracy, James Kirkham. Ah,
well, it is a romantic calling."

He eyed me, faint malice in the sparkling gaze.

"And you have your romantic side," he purred. "I admire it. For I,
too, have mine. Therefore, I envy you, somewhat, this venture."

"And I am grateful," I smiled, meeting his scrutiny squarely. But the
palms of my hands had grown suddenly moist.

"The Astarte," he continued, "will take the southern route. There is
little likelihood of her encountering any serious storms at this time
of year in those latitudes. On the day she sails, you and Cobham will
set out in my yacht which I perceived you admiring today. Besides her
crew, the yacht will carry a dozen of my drinkers of the kehjt. They
will be for use in emergency. But it is my hope that none such may
arise. The Cherub--is it not a lovely name?--the Cherub will leave
ostensibly for a coastwise voyage. On the first day out, the night
rather, the Cherub will cease to be her angelic self--yes, I assure
you there were girl cherubs as well as boy ones. She will be cunningly
changed to the semblance of the Sea Wolf, the yacht of an eminently
respectable financier which at that moment will be logging along its
unsuspecting way to Havana. This also in case of emergency. And, of
course, the name of the Sea Wolf will replace that of the Cherub
wherever the name is noticeable.

"You will circle the Astarte two days later at a designated section,
keeping out of sight, of course. Her speed is fifteen knots, yours
thirty. You will be able, therefore, to stop her, remove what I
desire, and get back here--again the innocent, spotless Cherub--at
least two days before she can arrive in port."

My heart, which had been growing steadily heavier, lightened. Satan
intended no mischief to the ship then, or to its crew. Else he would
not speak of her return. Cobham gave a short bark, like a suppressed
laugh. The cynicism of his smile had deepened. Satan's blue stare
rested upon him for an instant. Cobham moved uneasily.

"You have planned, of course, sir," I said, "how we are to stop the

"Naturally," he answered. "I am coming to that. At this time of year,
this boat would not carry more than a hundred persons. Some of the
passengers she does carry will be my people. But beside that, I have
arranged it so that there will be even fewer than usual. A number of
staterooms have been reserved for a tourists' club. But, oddly, just
before the Astarte is to sail, these reservations will be canceled.
There will have been an unavoidable change of plans. The generous
representative of the club will waive all claims upon the reservation
money, and the line will be guaranteed indemnity. The Astarte, because
of the anxiety of the owners of the objects I intend to acquire, will
not delay her sailing. I think there will be not more than thirty
passengers, of whom ten, at least, will be of my following.

"Very well, James Kirkham. We come now to the night of your adventure.
All that afternoon you have been following the Astarte at a distance
of ten miles. It is a moonless night. At nine o'clock there is a
concert going on in the saloon. The few passengers are a happy little
family party. They are probably all there. So are some of the
officers. You have put out your lights and have steamed up to within
four miles.

"There will be a signal from the Astarte which you will answer. At the
moment of that signal, two men assigned to that task will hurl a few
bombs into the engine room of the Astarte. The bombs will be filled
with a certain gas, the invention of Mr. Cobham. Immediately
thereafter the occupants of the engine room will take no further
interest in their work. A third man of mine will slip into the engine
room and bring the boat to a standstill."

He paused, scrutinizing me; I felt upon me again the covert glance of
Cobham. By some miracle I managed to keep from my face the horror I
felt in my heart; managed to make my voice indifferent and steady as I

"Well, that wipes out the engine room crew. Then what?"

For many moments Satan did not answer me. His brilliant eyes searched
me. I drove from my mind the swift picture that had come into it of
men choking and writhing on the floor of the Astarte's engine room. I
bore his gaze, frowning as though puzzled. Whether he had found what
he had been hunting I do not know, but suddenly its disconcerting
intensity diminished.

"Oh, fie, James Kirkham!" he said unctuously, "it is not necessary to
kill. The gas I refer to is not lethal. It is a sleep gas. Its effect
is practically instantaneous. At least, it acts within five seconds.
But it is harmless. Six hours, and its breathers awaken without even a
headache. How bloodthirsty he thinks us, Cobham!"

Something warned me to hide my relief, even as I had hidden my dread.

"We still have the officers and the crew," I said indifferently. "What
happens to them? Frankly, in all you have outlined, Satan, I seem to
be nothing but an onlooker. A messenger boy. Where are my piratical

"The venture at this point passes into your hands," he answered. "You
will by this time have drawn up beside, the Astarte and will board her
with Cobham and a sufficient force to take charge. Conditions may now
arise which I can foresee, but must trust to your ingenuity and
courage to meet. There will be much confusion on board the Astarte.
You must see to it that no boats are launched, and that no one escapes
from her. Before you board, the captain, and a mate or two, may have
suffered some slight accident. Nothing serious. No, no. Merely
disabling. Then again--they may not. You may have their resistance to
overcome. Without bloodshed, if you can. But with or without--it must
be overcome. Then weather conditions may complicate matters. I think
you will not find it too tame, James Kirkham."

Nor did I. I had an uneasy feeling that Satan was not presenting me
with the full picture.

"In your final instructions you will find definite information as to
the location of what you are to bring to me," he said. "The objects
are in a strong safe in a steel storeroom. So precious are the jewels
that only the captain will know the combination of the safe. You need
waste no time trying to persuade him to tell it to you. There will be
with you an expert to whom the safe will have no mysteries. After you
have recovered the things for me, you will cut loose from the Astarte
and make all speed home, taking off from her, before starting, certain
of my people on board her who would find it embarrassing to remain.
That is all."

I considered for a moment. What he meant was that some of his agents
on the Astarte would be questioned and might be recognized for what
they were. Well, how about us on the Cherub?

"Have you considered the probability of some one on the Astarte
identifying us later, sir?" I began.

"You will all be masked, of course," he interrupted, smoothly. Cobham
moved suddenly, impatiently.

"The wireless," I suggested. "I suppose that will be disabled before
the engine room attack?"

"It will not be necessary," he answered. "The yacht carries
extraordinarily strong batteries. At the moment of the signal, the
Astarte's radio will be blanketed, her waves strangled. There will be
no message from her that can break through the barrier the able
operator of the Cherub will interpose."

I sat for a moment in thought. Everything seemed to be plain. And
yet--I felt a cold unease, a boding depression. There was something
else, something deadly sinister hiding behind Satan's smooth phrases.

"I trust you were satisfied with the rewards of your necklace
venture," he broke the current of my thoughts. "The rewards of this
one will be proportionately greater, naturally. The invitation to join
me cut your vacation rather short. What would you say to taking, after
the affair, a six months' trip? You shall go where you please, and as
you please, and do as you please. At my expense, of course. You may
also spend what you please, let me add."

"Thank you, sir," I said, "but I feel no need of a vacation. And
frankly, I find my contacts with you infinitely more interesting than
anything I could hope to experience away from you."

His face was inscrutable as ever, but I felt that I had pleased him.

"Well," he said, "we shall see. Only continue as you have begun, James
Kirkham, and you shall have no cause to complain of my generosity."

He arose. I stood up, politely; Cobham, cautiously. Satan for a moment
considered us.

"How are you spending the evening?" he asked me.

"Cobham spoke of us joining the bridge game," I answered, "but if you
have any other desire--"

Cobham had done nothing of the sort. He had said so much, however,
that I hoped he might take it for granted that he had. I particularly
did not want to be separated from Cobham just then. If Satan had
thought, as I half feared, of asking either of us to accompany him, he
changed his mind. He nodded, and walked toward the wall.

"It would be a good idea," he turned beside the opened panel, "to look
over the Cherub tomorrow. Familiarize yourself with her. Good night."

Cobham sat silently for a good minute, staring at the point where
Satan had disappeared.

"That was damned decent of you, Kirkham," he said at last, slowly. "I
don't know how you guessed it, but I couldn't have stood much more of
Satan tonight. Damned decent!"

He stretched out a hand to the brandy. I grinned--Cobham had
remembered, then, and was aware of my maneuver. He poured his goblet
half full of the liquor and drank it neat.

"Damned decent," he repeated, and I saw the brandy take hold of him
swiftly. "Have a drink with me."

I poured myself a small one. Again he half filled his glass and tossed
it off.

"A damned shame," he muttered, "treating you like a child. Treating a
man like you as if you were in swaddles. You're a man, you are,
Kirkham. You've got guts, you have, Kirkham. Why should you be
coddled? Lied to? God damn it, Kirkham, you deserve the truth!"

So! It was coming, was it! That hidden, sinister something I had
sensed was getting ready to crawl from Cobham's lips.

"Have a drink with me," I said, and tipped the decanter. "Who's
treating me like a child?"

He glared at me, drunkenly.

"You think that gas is going to put that engine room crew to sleep,
eh?" he chuckled. "Nice little lullaby for poor tired sailors? Sweet
little chemical sl-slumber song composh-composed by Pa Satan and M-Ma
Cobham? Well, Kirkham, you're damned well right it's going put 'em to
sh-sleep. Forever!"

I poured myself another brandy, and drank it composedly.

"Well, what of it?" I asked. "A long sleep or a short one--what does
it matter?"

"What's it matter? What's it matter!" he stared at me, then brought
his fist down with a thump on the table. "By God, I was right! Told
Satan you had the guts! Told him needn't--needn't tamper with the
form-florm-formula with you! What's it matter, he asks. Have a drink
with me."

I drank with him. He began to shake with laughter.

"Masks!" he said. "You wanted masks so people on Astarte couldn't
recognize you later. Later! Ha! Ha! Later! That's good, that is. Hell,
man, there's not going to be any later for them!"

The room swam around me. What was Cobham saying now?

"Not exactly accurate. Say--twenty minutes later. Twenty minutes
later--Bonk! goes nice bomb. Gentlemanly bomb. Quiet, dignified. But
strong. Bonk! Out goes bottom of the Astarte. No boats. Kehjt drinkers
have tended to them. Astarte sunk without trace! Bonk! Swoo-oosh!
Bubbles! Finish!"

He became drunkenly plaintive.

"Don't--don't believe fooled old Kirkham for a minute. Don't believe
he thought Satan would run rish-risk anybody on Astarte running across
one of us. Anybody telling police about wicked pirates holding 'em up
in midocean. To hell with the witnesses! That's Satan's motto. Make it
'nother unfathomed mish-mystery of the ocean. That's best way. That's
Satan's way."

"Well," I said, "I'm damned glad to hear it. It was the one thing that
I was uneasy about--"

The drunkenness dropped from Cobham like a cast-off cloak. His face
became white and pinched. The glass fell from his hand.

Out of a darkened corner of the room walked Satan!


It was a crisis. And a bad one. There was no doubt about that. A time
for quick thinking, if ever there was one. I cared nothing about what
happened to Cobham. That callous devil could have been whisked to Hell
without my turning a hair. But I, myself, was in the gravest danger of
sharing his fate. If Satan thought that I had deliberately drawn his
confidences he would waste no time asking for explanations. The fact
that I had not accepted his word would in itself call for my

Worst of all, I had caught him lying to me. He might decide that would
render me useless to him thereafter. But that was secondary. The
paramount thing was that it made him, as the Chinese say, "lose face."
If his ancestry was what Barker believed, that was the one
unforgivable affront. Whether it was or was not, I knew that Satan's
infernal intellect was clothed with as infernal a pride. And that
pride had been wounded.

My only chance for escape lay in healing the wound before Satan knew
that I had perceived it. I jumped to my feet and walked towards him.

"Well," I laughed, "have I passed the test?"

Instantly he caught it. Whether, at the moment, he believed me as
naive as my question implied, I could not know. Still, after all, why
not? It was exactly the kind of trap, or rather experiment, he had
been teaching me to expect him to conceive.

Nor did I know how long he had been listening. Had he intentionally
left Cobham and me together to see what would happen? And heard all?
Probably. If so there had been no single word I had spoken upon which
his suspicion could feed. At any rate, to follow my lead was the only
way he could maintain his pride. Save his face. He followed it.

"Cobham," he said, "you were right."

He turned to me.

"Tell me, James Kirkham, when did you first suspect that you were
under test? I am curious to know exactly how keen that perception of
yours is."

He waved to me to be seated, and dropped into his own chair. I kept my
eyes steadily averted from Cobham.

"The first thing that puzzled me, Satan," I said, "was your attitude
toward the Astarte. It would certainly not have been mine. That dead
men tell no tales, is a safe and sane old rule. I would have followed
your instructions--but," I added, boldly, "I would not have approved
of them."

His eyes never left me as I spoke. I felt his will beating against
mine like a hammer, endeavoring to strike out the truth.

"When did your suspicion become certainty?" he asked.

"At the moment you appeared here," I told him.

Suddenly I let some of my anger find vent.

"I'll stand for no more such experiments upon me, Satan," I cried,
with a cold fury that had none of its roots in the matter in hand, but
was real enough nevertheless. "Either I am to be trusted wholly, or I
am not to be trusted at all. If you do trust me and I fail you--well,
you have the remedy in your hands and I am ready to pay the penalty.
But I'll not be the subject of any more laboratory experiments, like a
child in a psychological clinic. By God, I won't!"

I thought that I had won. Not only won, but that I had leaped into
higher regard than Satan had ever held me. If those gem-hard eyes
could be said to soften, they did.

"I agree, James Kirkham," he said, quietly. "Yet I am glad that I put
you to this test. Since it has fully revealed to me what dependence I
can place upon you."

"I made my decision. I gave my word," I said, a little stiffly. "As
long as you play fair with me, I obey your orders, Satan. Let that be
understood, and you will find no more loyal servant."

"I do understand, James Kirkham," he answered.

I ventured to look at Cobham. He had regained some of his color. He
was watching me, queerly.

"Cobham," I laughed, "you could be as good an actor as you are a

"Cobham--has been--very valuable to me," said Satan. "And never more
than tonight."

I saw a deep shudder shake Cobham. I feigned to observe nothing. Satan

"Come with me, Cobham," he said: "There are matters we must discuss.
And you--" he looked at me.

"I'll turn in," I said. "I know the way."

He strode across the room, Cobham following. Once he turned and shot
me a strange glance. There was gratitude in it--and there was deadly

I walked over to the panel that was the beginning of the road to my

"James Kirkham," I turned, and saw Satan standing by the opposite
wall. His bulk almost hid Cobham, now in front of him.

"Sir?" I answered.

"James Kirkham," he said, "I was never better pleased with you than I
am now. Good night."

"I am glad, sir," I replied. "Good night."

The panel behind him clicked open. I pressed upon a hidden spring, the
wall parted. Before me was the tiny elevator. I entered it. Satan and
Cobham were passing through that other wall.

I caught a glimpse of two of the kehjt slaves, cords in hands, gliding
to Cobham's side.

As my panel closed I thought I saw them pinion his arms!

And now I was in my rooms. Eve would be expecting me, but I had no
desire to make further excursion that night. That Satan had taken my
bait, I was reasonably sure. But Cobham was in for punishment--how
severe I could not tell. The emphasis Satan had put upon that "has
been" in speaking of his usefulness was ominous. Cobham had caught the
threat. And there had been that swift vision of the slaves closing in
on him. I would be on Satan's mind, whatever he believed. It was
possible that he might summon me; might even come to me.

It was best to stay where I was. Barker would be along sooner or
later. I would send him with a message to Eve.

I snapped out all the lights except a dim one in the living room,
undressed, and turned in. I lay there, smoking, I felt more than a
little sick, and filled with a hot, helpless rage. The affair of the
Astarte would have been bad enough even as Satan had outlined it.
Cobham's revelations made it hideous. I would go on with it, of
course. There was nothing else to do. If I refused, it would be the
end both of Eve and myself. And some one else would take my place.
Cobham, in fact, had made it imperative that I should go. I must find
some means of averting that ruthless destruction of the treasure ship.
Obviously, the chances were that would mean the end for me also. But
it had to be done. I knew that if I stood aside and let those helpless
people go down, I could never more live at peace with myself. I knew
that Eve would feel the same about it.

What I hoped most desperately was that we could find the way to break
Satan before the time came for my sailing.

Suddenly I was aware that some one was in the outer room. I slipped
noiselessly out of bed and to the curtains. It was Barker.

I beckoned to him.

"Careful, Harry," I whispered. "Come in here, and keep those ears of
yours wide open. Things have been happening."

Briefly I sketched the developments of the day, from my conversation
with Consardine to Cobham's drunken disclosures and his sinister
shepherding by Satan. I could feel the little man shiver at that.

"Gord," he muttered. "Cobham's a proper devil, but I'm sorry for 'im.
Satan, 'e'll see 'e don't no more talkin'. We got to work quick,

"I've an unbreakable hunch that my work is to stay right in this
room," I told him. "And if you don't think that is going to be the
hardest kind of work, with Miss Demerest expecting me, you're wrong."

"No," he said, "you're right, sir. An' I've got to get h'out quick as
may be. 'Ere's what I come to tell you. I h'acted like a bloody dummy
last night when you 'inted about Satan an' what 'e done when 'e 'id
'is 'ands. Fair took me off my feet, you did, just like Consardine. I
'adn't been away from you five minutes before I saw 'ow it could be
done. 'Ell, I saw a dozen wyes it could be done."

"Right," I whispered, "but cut the explanations. How are we going to
find out if he does it?"

"That's what 'as been rackin' my brains all dye," he answered. "'Ow to
get in the Temple an' look over the black throne. The gold one sinks
down an' under, but the black one's built in. An' there's two of the
kehjt slyves watchin' it in there h'every hour of the dye an' night.
Four-hour shifts they got, an' you can bloody well wyger 'e picks
proper plucked 'uns for that duty, Cap'n."

"No trouble gettin' in, there's 'arf a dozen trick entrances back of
them thrones. Ten minutes, an' we'd know what was what. But 'ow the
bloody 'ell to get them ten minutes? No good shootin' the paste-faced
blighters. That'll bring 'em all down on us. No good killin' 'em
nohow. The minute they found 'em Satan'ld know what the gyme was."

He was silent for a moment.

"Cripes!" he said at last, "if we could only get some bloomin' h'angel
to drop down an' 'old a glass of the kehjt under their noses! They'd
follow it like a 'ungry lion would a bone! An' see no thin' else!"

I caught his shoulders, heart thumping.

"By God, Harry! You've hit it!" My voice was shaking. "Do you know
where he keeps that hell brew? Can you get at it?"

"Sure I know," he said, "An' there ain't none better at my trade than
me, Cap'n, as I told you. I'd sye I could get it. But then what?"

"We'll be the angel," I told him. "It works quick, I know that. How
long does it keep them under?"

"I don't know," he answered. "Some longer, some shorter. We'd 'ave our
ten minutes, though, an' a lot to spare--

"Cripes!" he chuckled. "What a gyme! If they wake up before the relief
comes they ain't likely to say nothin'. An' if they don't, they ain't
likely to get a chance to say nothin'. An' if they do get a chance
either way, who the 'ell would believe 'em?"

"Get the stuff," I said. "Try to get it tomorrow. And now play safe.
Get out of here. If you can manage it, tell Miss Demerest not to look
for me tonight. Tell her not to worry. But take no chances. Harry,
you're a wonder. If you were a girl, I'd kiss you. Scoot!"

Again he chuckled; another moment and I knew he had gone.

I went into the other room and put out the dim light. For the first
time since I had fallen into Satan's hands I felt free of that
damnable depression--oppression, rather--which had shadowed me. It was
as though a door had begun to open. A door of escape.

I slept soundly. I awakened once in the night from a dream that Satan
was standing over me, watching me. Whether it was all a dream, I do
not know. Perhaps he had really entered to resolve some lingering
doubt. If so, my sleep must have reassured him, for it was that of one
who had not a care on his mind. I lost no time worrying about it; in
another moment I was asleep again.

The next day passed quickly enough. I was up early. As I was dressing,
the 'phone rang. It was Consardine. He said that Satan wished me to go
out to the yacht after I had breakfasted. He, Consardine, would
accompany me.

There had been no change of plans, then. I was still cast for my
piratical role.

When I entered the breakfast room, Consardine was waiting for me. We
ate together. I was itching with curiosity about Cobham. But I asked
no questions, nor did Consardine speak of him. We walked down to the
boat landing, talking of this and that. Tacitly, neither of us made
any reference to the conversation of the previous day. It must have
been uppermost in his mind, as it was in mine. Yet, after all, there
was nothing more to say. He had made his position sufficiently plain.

A cutter was waiting for us, and took us out to the Cherub. The yacht
was as beautiful inside as out. The captain was a squat, thickset,
broad-shouldered Newfoundlander. He was introduced to me as Captain
Morrisey. It may or may not have been the name his parents gave him.
Probably not. He was a genial pirate. A hundred years back, and he
would have been floating the Jolly Roger. The first mate was a clean-cut
saturnine chap with the hall mark of Annapolis. The crew were as
hard-boiled looking a lot as any the Marine Corps ever produced.

The discipline was military and perfect. It reached its apotheosis in
the engine room. The engines, specially designed, oil-burning Diesels,
were marvels. So interested was I that lunch time came around before I
realized it. I had not been mistaken about Morrisey. He told us tales
of smuggling and gun- and rum-running in which he had been active
before he had signed with Satan. Born a hundred years too late for the
Black Flag, he had done his best with the material at hand. He was a
pirate, but I liked him.

When we got back to the chateau, I found a summons from Satan. With
many misgivings I obeyed it. The misgivings were all wrong. I spent
two of the most fascinating hours I had ever known. I was guided to
that part of the great house which was Satan's own intimate domain. I
cannot begin to describe what I saw there, nor the atmosphere of those
dozen or more chambers, large and small, wherein that dark strange
soul took its delight. Each of them was a temple in which the
mysterious, indefinable and eternal spirit that humanity calls beauty
and has always worshiped and sought to capture had become incarnate. A
living thing.

And Satan was different. He was transformed--gentle, no mockery either
in word or look. He talked only of the treasures about us. It came to
me that he loved beauty even more than he did power; that he
considered power only as a means toward beauty. And that, evil though
he was, he knew beauty better than any one alive.

When I left him, his spell upon me was strong. I had to fight against
the conviction that what I had beheld justified him as to any means he
had taken to get it; that the true criminal was he who would try to
thwart him. Absurd as it may seem, I felt myself hideously guilty in
the plans I was harboring. It was with difficulty that I held myself
back from confessing them, throwing myself on his mercy, swearing
myself to him. I think that only the thought of Eve kept me from doing

That was, perhaps, his object. But I had to tell myself so, over and
over again after I had left him, to banish the loathing I felt about
going on against him. If this seems deplorable weakness, I can only
say that he who thinks so would not if he had been subjected to that
same sorcery, and had listened to Satan preaching in the heart of the
miracle he had fashioned.

If it was a trap, I escaped it. But to this day--I do not know whether
in the greater sense Satan was not right.

The company at dinner helped me to throw off the obsession. A brisk
bridge game afterward did more. It was close to midnight when I
returned to my rooms. I had not seen Eve all day. Consardine had
mentioned, casually, as we were going in to dinner, that she had gone
to town, and probably would not return that night. I took it as a hint
that it would be useless for me to venture to her room.

I dropped off to sleep hoping for Barker. He did not come.

There were some truly charming people at the breakfast table next
morning. Among them an Australian major, a soldierly and engaging
scoundrel. We went riding together, following a different road than
that which I had covered with Consardine. At one point it ran parallel
to the driveway. A smart little roadster hummed by, headed for the
chateau. Eve was driving it. She waved. The Australian took the
greeting to himself, remarking that there went a damned nice girl.
Everything seemed suddenly brighter. It meant that I would see her
that night. At least, that was what I thought then.

After we had stabled the horses, I hung about the pleasant terrace.
Maybe I would get another glimpse of Eve, maybe even a whispered word.
About four o'clock Consardine appeared and dropped down at the table
beside me.

Consardine seemed ill at ease. We had a drink or two, and talked of
this and that, but it was plain that something was on his mind. I
waited for him to speak, not without a certain apprehension. At last
he sighed, and shook his great shoulders.

"Well," he said, "unpleasant medicine gets no sweeter while we
hesitate over taking it. Come along with me, Kirkham. Satan's orders."

I remembered vividly his declaration that if his master commanded him,
he would unhesitatingly take me prisoner. I felt a distinct shock.

"Does that mean that I am under arrest?" I asked.

"Not at all," he answered. "There is something--some one--Satan wishes
you to see. Do not ask me his purpose. I do not know it. I might
guess, but--ask me no questions. Let us go."

I went with him, wondering. When he finally stopped we were, I
thought, in one of the towers, certainly we had gone far above the
ground floor. We were in a small, bare room. More a crypt, in fact,
than a room. One of its walls was slightly curved, the bulge toward
us. Consardine walked over to this wall, and beckoned me beside him.
He touched a hidden spring. An aperture about a foot square, like a
window, opened at the level of my eyes.

"Look through," he said.

The place into which I peered was filled with a curiously clear and
palely purplish light. It was distinctly unpleasant. I became aware of
a thin droning sound, faint but continuous, upon one note. I was not
enough of a musician to place the note, but it was quite as high as
that made by the rapid vibration of a bee's wings. That, too, was
unpleasant. Light and droning had a concentration-shattering quality,
a blurring effect upon the mind.

At first glance I thought that I was looking into a circular place in
which was a crowd of men, all facing a common center. Then I realized
that this could not be so, since all the men were in exactly the same
attitude, crouching upon one knee. There seemed to be thousands of
these crouching men, line after line of them, one behind the other,
growing smaller and smaller and vanishing off into immense distances.

I looked to right and to left. There were the kneeling men, but now in
profile. I raised my eyes to the ceiling of the place. And there they
appeared to hang, heads downward.

I stared again at those facing me. It was strange how the purplish
light and the droning clouded one's thought. They held back, like two
hands, the understanding from fulfillment.

Then I realized abruptly that all those thousands of faces were--the

And that each was the face of Cobham!

They were the face of Cobham, drawn and distorted, reflected over and
over again from scores of mirrors with which the place was lined. The
circular walls were faceted with mirrors, and so was the globed
ceiling, and all these mirrors curved down to a circular mirrored slab
about seven feet in diameter which was their focus.

Upon this slab knelt Cobham, glaring at the countless reflections of
himself, reflected with sharpest accuracy by that clear and evil
purplish light.

As I looked, he jumped to his feet and began to wave his arms,
crazily. Like regiments of automatons, the reflections leaped with
him, waving. He turned, and they wheeled as one man in diminishing
rank upon rank. He threw himself down upon his face, and I knew that
unless his eyes were closed his face still stared up at him, buoyed,
it must have seemed, upon the backs of the thousands reflected upon
the slab from the mirrors in the ceiling. And I knew that no man could
keep his eyes closed long in that room, that he must open them, to
look and look again.

I shrank back, trembling. This thing was hellish. It was mind-destroying.
There could be no sleep. The drone rasped along the nerves
and would not permit it. The light was sleep-killing, too, keying up,
stretching the tense nerves to the breaking point. And the mimicking
hosts of reflections slowly, inexorably, led the mind into the paths
of madness.

"For God's sake... for God's sake..." I turned to Consardine
half-incoherent, white-lipped. "I've seen... Consardine... a bullet would
be mercy..."

He drew me back to the opening.

"Thrust in your head," he said, coldly. "You must see yourself in the
mirrors, and Cobham must see you. It is Satan's order."

I tried to struggle away. He gripped my neck and forced my head
forward as one does a puppy to make him drink.

The wall at this point was only a couple of inches thick. Held
helpless, my head was now beyond that wall. Cobham had staggered to
his feet. I saw my face leap out in the mirrors. He saw it, too. His
eyes moved from one reflection to another, striving to find the real.

"Kirkham!" he howled. "Kirkham! Get me out!"

Consardine drew me back. He snapped the opening shut.

"You devil! You cold-blooded devil!" I sobbed, and threw myself upon

He caught my arms. He held me as easily as though I had been a child,
while I kicked and writhed in futile attempt to break the inexorable
grip. And at last my fury spent itself. Still sobbing, I went limp.

"There, there, lad," he said, gently. "I am not responsible for what
you've seen. I told you it was unpleasant medicine. But Satan ordered
it, and I must obey. Come with me. Back to your rooms."

I followed him, all resistance for the moment gone from me. It was not
any affection for Cobham that had so stirred me. He had probably
watched others in the mirrored cell from that same window. If the
necessity had arisen, I would have shot Cobham down without the
slightest feeling about it. Nor had the ordeal of Cartright shaken my
nerve at all like this. Bad as that had been, it had been in the open,
with people around him. And Cartright, so it seemed, had been given
some chance.

But this torture of the many-mirrored cell, with its sleep-slaying
light and sound, its slow killing, in utter aloneness, of a man's
mind--there was something about that, something not to be put in
words, that shook me to the soul.

"How long will he--last?" I put the question to Consardine as we
passed in to my rooms.

"It is hard to say," he answered, gently again. "He will come out of
that room without memory. He will not know his name, nor what he has
been, nor anything that he has ever learned. He will know nothing of
all these hereafter--ever. Like an animal, he will know when he is
hungry and thirsty, cold or warm. That is all. He will forget from
minute to minute. He will live only in each moment. And when that
moment goes it will be forgotten. Mindless, soulless--empty. I have
known men to come to it in a week, others have resisted for three.
Never longer."

I shivered.

"I'll not go down for dinner, Consardine," I said.

"I would, if I were you," he said gravely. "It will be wiser. You
cannot help Cobham. After all, it is Satan's right. Like me, Cobham
had taken the steps and lost. He lived at Satan's will. And Satan will
be watching you. He will want to know how you have taken it. Pull
yourself together, Kirkham. Come down, and be gay. I shall tell him
that you were only interested in his exhibition. What, lad! Will you
let him know what he has made you feel? Where is your pride? And to do
so would be dangerous--for any plans you may have. I tell you so."

"Stay with me till it's time to go, Consardine," I said. "Can you?"

"I intended to," he answered, "if you asked me. And I think both of us
can stand putting ourselves outside of an extra-sized drink."

I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror as I poured. The glass in
my hand shook and spilled.

"I'll never want to look in one again," I told him.

He poured me another drink.

"Enough of that," he said briskly. "You must get it from your mind.
Should Satan be at dinner--thank him for a new experience."

Satan was not at dinner. I hoped that he would receive a report, as no
doubt he did, of my behavior. I was gay enough to satisfy Consardine.
I drank recklessly and often.

Eve was there. I caught her glancing at me, puzzled, now and then.

If she had known how little real gayety there was in my heart, how
much of black despair, she would have been more puzzled still.


I sat late at dinner, with a few others who, like me, had declined the
bridge game. It was close to twelve when I returned to my room. I had
the feeling that I would see Barker this night, whether or not he had
been successful in getting hold of the kehjt.

Alone, the memory of Cobham and the mirrored cell swept back on me
with full force. Why had Satan willed me to look upon the prisoner?
Why to see myself in those cursed glasses? And why had he decreed that
Cobham must see me?

To the first two questions there could be but one answer. He meant it
as a warning. He was not, then, wholly satisfied with my explanation.
And yet, if he were not, would he not have used harsher measures?
Satan was not given to taking chances. I decided that he was
satisfied, but nevertheless wished to give me a warning of what might
happen to me if he should ever become not so.

Why, if Cobham's memory was to be destroyed, he should have wished him
to take note of me peering in upon him, I could not tell. There seemed
no answer to that, unless it was one of his whims. But, again, Satan's
whims, as he called them, were never without reason. I gave it up,
reluctantly and uneasily.

It was twelve-thirty when I heard a jubilant whisper from the bedroom.

"Got it, Cap'n!"

I walked into the bedroom. My nerves had suddenly grown taut, and
there was a little ache in my throat. The moment had come. There could
be no withdrawing now. The hand was ready to be played. And, without
doubt, Death in a peculiarly unpleasant mood was the other player.

"'Ere it is!" Barker thrust a half-pint flask into my cold fingers. It
was full of that green liquor which I had watched Satan give to the
slaves in the marble hall. The kehjt.

It was a clear fluid, with an elusive sparkle as of microscopic
particles catching the light. I uncorked the flask and smelled it. It
had a faintly acrid odor with an undertaint of musk. I was about to
taste it when Barker stopped me.

"Keep awye from it, Cap'n," he said earnestly. "That stuff was brewed
in 'Ell, it was. You're close enough."

"All right," I recorked the flask. "When do we go?"

"Right awye," he answered. "They chynged the blighters in the Temple
at midnight. Syfe to start now as at anytime. Oh, yes--"

He fished down in a pocket.

"Thought I'd best bring along some of the scenery," he grinned.

He held out a pair of the golden cups into which the veiled figure
with the ewer had poured the kehjt.

"Did you have a hard time getting the stuff, Harry?" I asked.

"It was touch an' go," he said soberly. "I 'ate to think of gettin'
them cups back. I 'ates to think of it, but it's got to be done.
Still," he added, hopefully, "I'm good."

"I'll say you are, Harry," I told him.

He hesitated.

"Cap'n," he said, "I won't 'ide from you; I feel as if we was h'about
to slip into a room what's got a 'undred snakes in every corner."

"You've nothing on me, Harry," I answered cheerfully. "I think maybe
it's got a snake carpet and scorpion curtains."

"Well," he said, "let's go."

"Sure," I said, "let's go."

I snapped off the lights in the outer room. We passed through the wall
of the bedroom into a dimly lighted passage. A little along it and we
went into one of the lifts. We dropped. We came out into a long
passage, transverse to the first; another short drop, and we were in a
pitch dark corridor. Here Harry took my hand and led me. Suddenly he
stopped and flashed his light against the wall. He pressed his finger
upon a certain spot. I could not see what had guided him, but a small
panel slid aside. It revealed an aperture in which were a number of

"Light control," Barker's mouth was close to my ear. "We're right
be'ind the chair you set in. Lie down."

I slipped to the floor. He dropped softly beside me. Another panel
about six inches wide and a foot high opened with the noiseless
swiftness of a camera shutter.

I looked into the Temple.

The slit through which I was peering was at the level of the floor. It
was hidden by the apparatus in which I had been prisoned when
Cartright climbed to his doom. By craning my neck, I could see between
its legs a horizontal slice of the whole immense chamber.

A brilliant light poured directly upon the black throne. It stood
there empty--but menacing. About a dozen feet on each side of it was
one of the kehjt slaves. They were tall, strong fellows, white robed,
with their noosed cords ready in their hands. Their pallid faces
showed dead-white under the glare. The pupilless eyes were not
dreaming, but alert.

I caught a glitter of blue eyes behind the black throne. The eyes of
the Satan of the pictured stone. They seemed to watch me, malignantly.
I turned my gaze abruptly away from them. I saw the back of the

It, too, was illumined by one strong light. It was larger even than I
had sensed it to be. The black seats ranged upward in semicircles, and
there were at least three hundred of them.

The slit through which I had been looking closed. Barker touched me,
and I arose.

"Give me the dope," he whispered. I handed him the flask of the kehjt;
he had kept the golden cups.

Again he flashed his light upon the switches. He took my hands and
placed them upon two.

"County sixty," he said. "Then open them switches. It puts out the
lights. Keep your 'ands on 'em till I get back. Start now like this--

He snapped out the flash. Although I had heard no sound, I knew he was
gone. At the sixtieth count I pulled open the switches. It seemed a
long time, standing there in the dark. It was probably no more than
three or four minutes.

As noiselessly as he had gone, Barker was back. He tapped my hands
away, and pressed the switches in place.

"Down," he muttered.

We slid to the floor. Once more the observation panel flew open.

The two guardians of the black throne were standing where I had last
seen them. They were blinking, dazed by the swift return of the
glaring light. And they were nervous as hunting dogs who had sensed a
quarry. They were quivering, twirling their noosed cords, peering here
and there.

I saw upon the black throne the two golden cups of the kehjt.

The slaves saw them at the same moment.

They stared at them, incredulously. They looked at each other. Like a
pair of automatons moved by the same impulse, they took a step
forward, and stared again at the glittering lure. And suddenly into
their faces came that look of dreadful hunger. The cords dropped. They
rushed to the black throne.

They seized the golden cups. And drank.

"Gord!" I heard Barker mutter. He was gasping and shuddering like one
who had taken an icy plunge. Well, so was I. There had been something
infinitely horrible in that rush of the pair upon the green drink.
Something infernal in the irresistible tidal rush of desire that had
swept their drugged minds clear of every impulse but that single one.
To drink.

They turned from the black throne, the golden cups still clasped in
their hands. I watched first one and then the other sink down upon the
steps. Their eyes closed. Their bodies relaxed. But still their
fingers gripped the cups.

"Now!" said Barker. He shut the slit, and closed the panel that hid
the switches. He led me quickly along the dark corridor. We turned a
sharp corner. There was the faintest of rustling sounds. Light
streamed out in my face from a narrow opening.

"Quick!" muttered Barker, and pushed me through.

We stood on the dais, beside the black throne. Below us sprawled the
bodies of the two guardians. The seven shining footprints glimmered up
at me, watchfully.

Barker had dropped upon his knees. The lever which Satan had
manipulated to set at work the mechanism of the steps lay flat, locked
within an indentation in the stone cut out to receive it when at rest.
Barker was working swiftly at its base. A thin slab moved aside. Under
it was an arrangement of small cogs. He reached under and moved
something. The telltale globe swung down from the ceiling.

Barker released the lever, cautiously. He brought it to upright, then
pressed it downward, as I had seen Satan do. I heard no whirring, and
understood that the little man had in some way silenced it.

"You got to go down and walk up, Cap'n," he whispered. "Make it
snappy, sir. Tread on every one of them prints."

I ran down the steps, turned, and came quickly up, treading firmly on
each of the shining marks. I turned at the top of the stairs and
looked at the telltale globe. From the pale field three symbols shone
out, from Satan's darker field gleamed four. My heart sank.

"Cheer up," said Harry. "You look fair crumpled. No need. It's what I
expected. Wyte a moment."

He fumbled around among the cogs again, lying flat, his head half
hidden in the aperture.

He gave an exclamation, and leaped to his feet, face sharpened, eyes
glittering. He ran over to the black throne, pawing at it like an
excited terrier.

Suddenly he threw himself into it and began pressing here and there at
the edge of the seat.

"'Ere," he beckoned me. "Sit where I am. Put your fingers 'ere and
'ere. When I tell you, press 'em in 'ard."

He jumped aside. I seated myself on the black throne. He took my hands
and placed my fingers in a row about five inches long. They rested
upon seven indentations along the edge, barely discernible. Nor did
what I touched feel like stone. It was softer.

Barker slipped over to the cogs and resumed his manipulation of them.

"Press," he whispered. "Press 'em all together."

I pressed. The indentations yielded slightly under my fingers. My eyes
fell upon the telltale. It had gone blank. All the shining marks upon
it had disappeared.

"Press 'em now, one at a time," ordered Barker.

I pressed them one at a time.

"The swine," said Barker. "The bloody double-crossin' swine! Come
'ere, Cap'n, and look."

I dropped beside him and peered down at the cogs. I looked from them
up at the telltale. And stared at it, only half believing what I saw.

"Got him!" muttered Harry. "Got him!"

He worked rapidly on the cogs, and closed the slab upon them. The
telltale swung back to its resting place in the ceiling.

"The cups," he said. He ran down the steps and took the golden goblets
that had held the kehjt from the still resisting fingers of the
dreaming guardians.

"Got him!" repeated Harry.

We swung back of the black throne. Barker slid aside the panel through
which we had entered. We passed out into the dark passageway.

A wild jubilance possessed me. Yet in it was a shadow of regret, the
echo of the afternoon's hours of beauty's sorcery.

For what we had found ended Satan's power over his dupes forever.

Dethroned him!


We had reached the dimly lighted corridor wherein lay the entrance to
my rooms. Barker halted with a warning gesture.

"Listen!" he breathed.

I heard a noise, faint and far away; a murmuring. There were men
moving somewhere behind the walls, and coming toward us. Could they
have found the drugged slaves so soon?

"Get into your room. Quick," whispered Harry.

We started on the run. And halted again. Ten feet ahead of us a man
had appeared. He had seemed to melt out of the wall with a magical
quickness. He leaned against it for a moment sobbing. He turned his
face toward us--

It was Cobham!

His face was gray and lined and shrunken. His eyes were so darkly
circled that they looked, in that faint illumination, like the sockets
of a skull. They stared vaguely, as though the mind behind them were
dimmed. His lips were puffed and bleeding as though he had bitten them
through time and time again.

"You're Kirkham!" he staggered forward. "Yes, I remember you! I was
coming to you. Hide me."

The murmuring sounds were closer. I saw Barker slip the brass knuckles
over his fingers and make ready to leap upon Cobham. I caught his arm.

"No use," I warned him. "They'd find him. The man's more than half
mad. But they'd make him tell. I'll take him. Hurry! Get out of

I seized Cobham's arm, and raced him to the panel that opened into the
bedroom. I opened it, and thrust him through. Barker at my heels, I
slipped in and closed the slide.

"Get in that closet," I ordered Cobham, and shoved him among my
clothes. I shut the doors and moved quickly with Barker into the outer

"Good!" he muttered, "but I don't fancy this."

"It's the only way," I said. "I'll have to figure some way to get rid
of him later. I don't believe they'll come in here. They won't suspect
me. Why should they? Still--there's the chance. If they found you
here, then the fat would be in the fire. Is there any way you can dig
right out without too much risk?"

"Yes," the little man's voice and eyes were troubled. "I can myke the
getawye all right. But, Gord, I don't like leavin' you, Cap'n!"

"Beat it!" I said brusquely. "Get to Consardine. Tell him exactly what
we found. Tell Miss Demerest what's happened. If anything does go
wrong, it's all up to you, Harry."

He groaned. I heard a faint noise in the bedroom. I walked over to the
door and looked in. It was Cobham, stirring in the closet. I tapped
upon it.

"Be quiet," I told him. "They may be here any minute."

I snapped all the lights on, full. I went back to the other room.
Barker was gone.

I threw off my coat and vest, and piled some books on the reading
table. I fixed myself comfortably, lighted my pipe and began to read.
The minutes passed slowly. Every nerve was tense, and every sense
alert. But I flattered myself I was giving an excellent impersonation
of one entirely absorbed in what I was reading.

And suddenly I knew that eyes were upon me. That some one was standing
behind me, watching me.

I went on reading. The silent scrutiny became intolerable. I yawned
and stretched, arose and turned--

Satan stood there.

He was cloaked from neck to feet in scarlet. At his back were half a
dozen of the kehjt slaves. Two more were standing by the open panel in
the bedroom.

"Satan!" I exclaimed, and the surprise I put into the words was
genuine. Whatever the possibilities I had admitted, that Satan himself
would head the manhunt had not been among them.

"You are startled, James Kirkham," there seemed a hint of solicitude
in the expressionless voice. "I, too, was startled when, knocking at
your wall, you failed to answer."

"I did not hear you," I said, truthfully. Had he really knocked?

"You were, I see, deep in your book," he said. "But you wonder,
perhaps, why your silence should have disturbed me? I am in pursuit of
a fugitive, a dangerous man, James Kirkham. A desperate man, I fear.
The trail led us by here. It occurred to me that he might have
attempted to hide in your rooms, and that resisting him you had come
to harm."

It sounded reasonable enough. I remembered the extraordinary favor he
had shown me that afternoon. My doubts were lulled; I let myself

"I thank you, sir," I told him. "But I have seen no one. Who is the

"The man I seek is Cobham," he interrupted me.

"Cobham!" I stared at him as though I had not understood. "But I
thought that Cobham--"

"You thought that Cobham was in the room of the mirrors," he
interrupted. "You have wondered, without doubt, why I had put him
there. You thought that he was one of my trusted aides. You thought
him most valuable to me. So he was. Then suddenly that Cobham whom I
trusted and who was valuable--ceased to be. Another spirit entered
him, one that I cannot trust and that therefore can never be other
than a menace to me."

With a sinking heart I saw the cold mockery in the hard bright eyes,
realized that he had raised his voice as though to let it carry
throughout the rooms.

"That poor departed Cobham," he intoned, "shall I not avenge him? Yea,
verily. I will punish that usurping spirit, torment it until it prays
to me to loose it from that body it has stolen. My poor, lost Cobham!
He will not care what I do with that body that once was his--so he be

There was no mistaking the mockery now. I felt my throat contract.

"You say you saw nothing?" he asked me.

"Nothing," I answered. "If anyone had come in the rooms I would have
heard them."

Instantly I realized the error of that, and cursed myself.

"Ah, no," said Satan, smoothly. "You forget how immersed you were in
your reading. You did not hear me. Either when I knocked or when I
entered. I cannot let you run the risk of him being hidden here. We
must search."

He gave an order to the slaves attending him. Before they could move,
the closet door in the bedroom flew open. Cobham leaped out.

His first jump took him halfway to the opened panel. I caught the
gleam of steel in his hand. In an instant he was at the two slaves
guarding the opening. One went down gurgling, his throat slit. The
other stumbled back, hands holding his side, blood spurting through
his fingers.

And Cobham was gone.

Satan gave another curt order. Four of the six behind him raced away
and through the panel.

The other two closed in on me, pinioning my arms to my sides with
their cords.

Satan considered me, the mockery in his eyes grown devilish.

"I thought he would come here," he said. "It was why, James Kirkham, I
let him escape!"

So that, too, had been a web of Satan's weaving! And he had snared me
in it!

Suddenly an uncontrollable rage swept me. I would lie no more. I would
wear a mask no more. I would never be afraid of him again. He could
hurt me, damnably. He could kill me. He was probably planning to do
both. But I knew him for what he was. He was stripped of his mystery
and--I still had an ace in the hole of which he knew nothing. I drew a
deep breath, and laughed at him.

"Maybe!" I said cynically. "But I notice that you couldn't keep him
from escaping this time. The pity of it is that he didn't slit your
damned black throat as he went, instead of that poor devil's yonder."

"Ah," he answered, with no resentment, "truth begins to pour out of
the stricken Kirkham as water poured for Moses from the stricken rock.
But you are wrong once more. It is long since I have enjoyed a
manhunt. Cobham is an ideal quarry. It was why I left the panel open.
He will last, I hope, for days and days."

He spoke to one of the two kehjt drinkers guarding me. I did not
understand the tongue. The slave bowed and slipped out.

"Yes," Satan turned to me, "he will probably last for days and days.
But you, James Kirkham, equally as probably will not. Cobham cannot
escape. Neither can you. I shall consider tonight with what form of
amusement you shall furnish me."

The slave who had gone out entered with six others. Again Satan
instructed them. They massed about me, and guided me toward the wall.
I went, unresisting. I did not look back at Satan.

But as I passed through the wall I could not shut my ears to his


A day had gone and another night had come before I saw Satan again.
Before, in fact, I saw any one except the pallid-faced drinkers of the
kehjt who brought my food.

I had been taken, I conjectured, to one of the underground rooms. It
was comfortable enough, but windowless and, of course, doorless. There
they had unbound my arms and left me.

And then, my rage swiftly ebbing, hopelessness took possession of me.
Barker would make every effort to get to Consardine. I was sure of
that. But would he be able to get to him in time? Would Consardine
accept his word for what we had discovered? I did not think so.
Consardine was of the kind that has to be shown. Or, supposing he did
believe, would his own hot wrath lead him to some hasty action that
would set him with Cobham and myself? Leave Satan triumphant?

And what of Eve? What might she not do when she heard from Harry what
had happened to me? For I had no doubt that the little man would soon
find a way of finding out what had occurred.

What deviltries upon me was Satan hatching for his--amusement?

My night had not been an exactly hilarious one. The day had dragged
endlessly. When I faced Satan I hoped that I showed no signs of those

He had entered unannounced, Consardine with him. He wore the long
black cloak. His eyes glittered over me. I looked from him to
Consardine. Had Barker seen him? His face was calm, and he regarded me
indifferently. My heart sank.

Satan sat down. Without invitation, I followed suit. I pulled out my
cigarette case, and politely offered Satan one; a bit of childish
bravado for which I was immediately sorry. He paid no attention to the
gesture, studying me.

"I am not angry with you, James Kirkham," Satan spoke. "If I could
feel regret, I would feel it for you. But you, yourself, are wholly
responsible for your plight."

He paused. I made no answer.

"You would have deceived me," he went on. "You lied to me. You
attempted to save from my justice a man I had condemned. You put your
will against mine. You dared to try to thwart me. You have endangered
my venture regarding the Astarte, if indeed you have not negatived it.
You are no more to be trusted. You are useless to me. What is the

"My elimination, I suppose," I replied, carelessly. "But why waste
time justifying one of your murders, Satan? By this time, I should
think, murder would be second nature to you, no more to be explained
than why you eat when you are hungry."

His eyes flickered.

"You deliberately invited Cobham's confidences, and you would have
attempted to prevent the sinking of the Astarte, knowing that I had
decreed it," he said.

"Right," I agreed.

"And you lied to me," he repeated. "To me!"

"One good lie deserves another, Satan," I answered. "You began the
lying. If you had come clean with me, I'd have told you not to trust
me with that job. You didn't. I suspected you hadn't. Very well, the
man who lies to me in one thing will lie in another."

I shot a swift glance at Consardine. His face was as indifferent as
ever, imperturbable as Satan's own.

"The minute Cogham let the cat out of the bag, I lost all faith in
you," I went on. "For all I know, your assassins on the Cherub might
have had their orders to do away with me after I had pulled your
chestnuts. As I once heard another of your dupes say--blame yourself,
Satan. Not me."

Consardine was watching me intently. I was feeling pretty reckless by

"Father of Lies," I said, "or to give you another of your ancient
titles, Prince of Liars, the whole matter can be summed up in two
short sentences. You can't trust me, and I know too much. All right.
For both of those conditions you have only yourself to thank. But I
also know you. And if you think I'm going to beg you for any mercy--
you don't know me."

"Consardine," he said, tranquilly, "James Kirkham had such good
material in him. He could have been so useful to me. It's a pity,
Consardine. Yes, it is a pity!"

He regarded me benevolently.

"Although, frankly, I do not see how the knowledge can profit you," he
said, "I feel that you should know the error that betrayed you. Yes, I
wish to help you, James Kirkham," the great voice purred, "for it may
be that there is a land to which we go when this mortal coil is cut.
If so, it is probably much like this. You may even find me or my
counterpart there. You will not care to repeat your mistakes."

I listened to this sinister jesting silently; after all, I was

"Your first error was your reference to the bridge game. I noted the
surprise it caused Cobham. You were too precipitate. You could just as
well have waited your time. Remember, then, if you should reach that
next world, never to be precipitate.

"Obviously, you had a reason. Equally obviously, it was my cue to
discover that reason. Lesson two--in that world to which you may
shortly be traveling, be careful to give to your opponent no cue to

"When I re-entered, you ingenuously forbore to notice Cobham's very
apparent consternation. You studiously kept your eyes from him during
the ensuing conversation. That was too naive, James Kirkham. It showed
you underestimated the intelligence you were seeking to convince. Your
proper move was complete and instant indignation. You should have
sacrificed Cobham by accusing him to me. In that bright new world in
which you may or may not soon find yourself, never underestimate your

"But I gave you still another chance. Knowing Cobham, I knew that
after my careful--ah--treatment--his mind would fasten upon you as a
refuge, his only refuge. He was given the treatment, he saw you, and
then he was allowed to escape. He came, as I thought he would,
straight to you. If, at the moment he entered your rooms, you had
caught him, sounded the alarm, again--sacrificed him, perhaps I would
still have believed in you. It was weakness, sentimentality. What was
Cobham to you? Remember, then, in your new sphere, to eschew all

Out of that cynical harangue two facts apparently shone clear. Satan
did not know that I had gone out of my rooms, nor that I had
encountered Cobham outside them. I took some comfort from that. But--
had Cobham been caught? Would he tell?

"By the way, how is Cobham?" I asked, politely.

"Not so well, not so well, poor fellow," said Satan, "yet he was able
to give me an enjoyable afternoon. At present he is lying in the
darkness of a crypt near the laboratory, resting. Shortly he will be
given an opportunity to leave it. During his carefully guided
wanderings thereafter, he will have the chance to snatch a little food
and drink. I do not wish him to wear himself out in his efforts to
amuse me. Or, to put it another way, it is not my intention to allow
him to die of exhaustion or famine. No, no, the excellent Cobham will
provide me with many merry hours still. I shall not send him back to
my little mirrors. They have drawn his fangs. But at the last I will
inform him of your interest, since, I am quite sure, you will be

He arose.

"James Kirkham," said Satan, "in half an hour you shall be judged. Be
ready at that time to appear in the Temple. Come, Consardine."

My hope that he would leave Consardine with me went crumbling.
Desperately I wanted to talk to him. He followed Satan out. The wall
closed behind him. He had not even turned his head.

I remembered Cartright. Consardine had brought him in, stood beside
him before he had begun the ordeal of the steps. Probably he would
return for me.

But he did not. When the half hour had elapsed four of the kehjt
drinkers came for me. Two in front of me, two behind me, they marched
me through long corridors and up steep ramps of stone. They halted. I
heard the sound of a gong. A panel opened. The slaves would have
pushed me in, but I struck aside their hands and stepped through. The
panel closed.

I stood within the Temple.

I was within the semidarkness beyond the ring of brilliant light
beating down upon the steps. I heard a murmuring. It came from my left
where the amphitheater circled. I caught movement there, glimpses of
white faces. The seats seemed full. I thought I heard Eve's voice,
whispering, vibrant--


I could not see her.

I looked toward the dais. It was as it had been when I had watched
Cartright stumble up toward it. The golden throne gleamed. On it
glittered the jeweled scepter and crown.

Upon the black throne sat Satan.

Squatting beside him, fiend's face agrin, twirling his cord of woman's
hair, was Sanchal, the executioner.

Again the gong sounded.

"James Kirkham! Approach for judgment!" Satan's voice rolled out.

I walked forward. I paused at the foot of the steps, within the circle
of light. The seven glimmering prints of the child's foot stared at me
out of the black stone.

Guarding them, seven upon each side, stood the white-robed slaves of
the kehjt. Their eyes were fixed upon me.

The thoughts went racing through my brain. Should I cry out the secret
of the black throne to those who sat silent, watching me from the
circled seats of stone? I knew that before I uttered a dozen words the
cords of the kehjt slaves would be strangling me. Could I make one
swift dash up the steps and grapple with Satan? They would have me
before I had reached halfway.

One thing I might do. Take the steps leisurely. Make my fourth and
final one the sixth of the shining prints. Their arrangement was
irregular. The sixth was not far from the black throne. Closer than
the seventh. I could leap from it upon Satan. Sink fingers and teeth
into his throat. Once I had gripped I did not believe it would be easy
for any to tear me away, were I alive or dead.

But Barker? Barker might have his plan. It would not be like the
little man to lurk hidden, and supinely let me pass. And Consardine?
But did Consardine know?

And Eve!

The thoughts jostled. I could not think clearly. I held fast to my
last idea, fixing my gaze upon Satan's throat just below the ear.
There was where I would sink my teeth.

But was I to be allowed to take the steps?

"James Kirkham," Satan's voice rolled forth, "I have set upon the
throne of gold the crown and scepter of worldly power. It is to remind
you of that opportunity which your contumacy has lost to you,

I looked at them. For all that I cared they might be bits of colored
glass. But I heard a faint sighing from the hidden seats.

"James Kirkham, you would have betrayed me! You are a traitor! It
remains now but to decree your punishment!"

He paused again. In all the Temple there was no sound. The silence was
smothering. It was broken by a sibilant whirring, the twirling of the
noose in the talons of the executioner. Satan raised a hand, and it
was stilled.

"Yet I am inclined to be merciful,"--only I, perhaps, caught the
malicious glint in the jewel-bright eyes. "There are three things
which man has to which he clings hardest. In the last analysis, they
are all he has. One is contained in the other--yet each is separate.
They are his soul, his personality and his life. By his soul I mean
that unseen and not yet accurately located essence upon which religion
lays such stress, considers immortal, and that may or may not be. By
personality I mean the ego, the mind, that which says--I am I, the
storehouse of old memories, the seeker of new ones. Life I need not

"Now, James Kirkham, I offer you a choice. Upon one side I place your
soul, upon the other your life and your mind.

"You may join my drinkers of the kehjt. Drink it, and your life and
your ego are safe. From time to time you will be happy, happy with an
intensity that normally you would never be. But you lose your soul!
You will not miss it--at least not often. Soon the kehjt will be more
desirable to you than ever that usually troublesome guest--somewhere
within you."

He paused again, scrutinizing me.

"If you do not drink the kehjt," he continued, "you take the steps. If
you tread upon my three, you lose your life. Slowly, in agony, at the
hands of Sanchal.

"If you tread upon the four fortunate ones, you shall have your life
and your soul. But you must leave with me your ego, that which says I
am I, all your memories. It will not be dangerous to you, it will not
be painful. I will not give you to the mirrors. A sleep--and then a
knife, cunningly cutting here and there within your brain. You will
awaken as one new-born. Literally so, James Kirkham, since from you
will have been taken, and taken forever, all recollection of what you
have been. Like a child you will set forth upon your new pilgrimage.
But with life--and with your precious soul unharmed."

And now I heard a whispering behind me from the dark amphitheater.
Satan raised his hand, and it was stilled.

"Such is my decree!" he intoned. "Such is my will! So shall it be!"

"I take the steps," I said, with no hesitation.

"Your guardian angels," he said unctuously, "applaud without doubt
your decision. You remember that they have no power where Satan rules.
I thought that would be your choice. And now, to prove how little
strained is the quality of my mercy, I offer you, James Kirkham, a
door for escape--escape with life and mind and soul, all three of
them, intact!"

Now I stared at him, every sense alert. Well I knew that there was no
mercy in Satan. Knowing, too, the secret of the steps, the diabolic
mockery of that offer of his was an open page to me. But what blacker
diabolism was coming? I was soon to learn.

"The roots of this man's offense against me," he turned his gaze
toward the amphitheater, "were in sentiment. He placed the welfare of
others before mine. Let this be a lesson to all of you. I must be

"But I am just. Others he could save, himself he could not save. Yet
there may be one who can save him. He gives up, it is probable, his
life because he dared to stand between me and the lives of others.

"Is there one who will stand between me and his life?"

Once more there came a murmuring, louder now, from the hidden darkness
of the Temple; whisperings.

"Wait!" he raised a hand. "This is what I mean. If there is one among
you who will step forth and take but three of the steps in his place,
then this is what shall happen. If two of the shining prints are
fortunate, both shall go forth free and unharmed! Yes, even with rich

"But if two of the steps are mine--then both shall die and by those
same torments which I have promised James Kirkham.

"Such is my decree! Such is my will! So shall it be!

"And now, if such person there be, let him step forth."

I heard a louder murmuring. I believed that he suspected I had not
been alone. It might even be that this was a trap for Barker. I did
not know to what lengths the little man's devotion might take him. At
any rate, it was a line thrown out for the unwary. I walked hastily
forward to the very base of the steps.

"I can do my own climbing, Satan," I said. "Set your game."

The murmuring behind me had grown louder.

Satan's immobility dropped from him.

For the first time I watched expression transform the mask of his
face. And that transformation was at first utter incredulity, then a
rage that leaped up straight from the Pit. Plainly, as though that
heavy face had melted away under it, I saw the hidden devil stand
forth stark naked. I felt a touch upon my arm.

Eve stood beside me!

"Go back!" I whispered to her, fiercely. "Get back there!"

"Too late!" she said, tranquilly.

She looked up at Satan.

"I will take the steps for him, Satan," she said.

Satan raised himself up from the black throne, hands clenched. He
glanced once at the executioner. The black leaned forward, loop
whirling. I threw myself in front of Eve.

"Your word, Satan," came a voice from the amphitheater, a voice I did
not recognize. "Your decree!"

Satan glared out into the darkness, striving to identify the speaker.
He signed to the executioner, and the black dropped the whirling cord.
Satan sank into his throne. With dreadful effort he thrust back the
freed devil that had snatched away the mask. His face resumed its
immobility. But he could not banish that devil from his eyes.

"It was my decree," he intoned monotonously, but there was something
strangled in the voice. "So shall it be. You offer, Eve Demerest, to
take the steps for him?"

"Yes," she answered.


"Because I love him," said Eve, calmly.

Satan's hands twisted beneath his robe. The heavy lips contorted. Upon
the enormous dome of his bald head tiny drops of sweat suddenly sprang
out, glistening.

Abruptly, he reached forward, and drew back the lever; the shining
prints glimmered out as though touched with fire--

I heard no whirring of the hidden cogs!

What did that mean? I looked at Satan. Either I had been mistaken, or
else in the rage that ruled him he had not noticed. I had no time to

"Eve Demerest," the rolling tones still held their curiously strangled
note, "you shall take the steps! And all shall be according to my
decree. But this I tell you--none who has ever taken them and lost has
died as you shall die. What they went through was Paradise, measured
against that which you shall undergo if you lose. And so shall it be
with your lover.

"First you shall see him die. Before he passes, he will turn from you
with loathing and with hate... that ever he knew you. And then I shall
give you to Sanchal. But not for him to slay. No, no! Not yet! When he
is through with you the drinkers of the kehjt shall have you. The
lowest of them. It shall be after them that Sanchal shall possess you
again... for his cords and his knives and his irons... for his
sport... and for mine!"

He pulled at the neck of his cloak as though it choked him. He
signaled to the slaves who stood on the bottom steps. He gave them
some command in the unknown tongue. They slithered toward me. I tensed
my muscles, about to make one despairing rush upon the blazing-eyed
devil in the black throne.

Eve covered her face with her hands.

"Jim, darling," she whispered swiftly, under their shelter, "go
quietly! Barker! Something's going to happen--"

The slaves had me. I let them lead me over to the chair from which I
had watched Cartright mount to his doom. They pressed me into it. Arm
and leg bands snapped into place. The veil dropped over my head. They
marched away.

A whisper came from below and behind me:

"Cap'n! The clamps don't hold! There's a gun right be'ind the slide.
It's open. I'm in a 'ell of a 'urry. When you see me next, grab it an'
get busy."

"Eve Demerest!" called Satan, "the steps await! Ascend!"

Eve walked forward steadily. Unhesitating, she put her foot upon the
first of the shining prints.

A symbol leaped out in the fortunate field of the swinging globe. I
heard a murmur, louder than before, go up from the darkened
amphitheater. Satan watched, immobile.

She mounted, and set her foot in the next gleaming mark of the child's

I saw Satan bend suddenly forward, glaring at the telltale, stark
disbelief in his eyes. From the amphitheater the murmuring swelled
into a roar.

A second symbol shone out in the fortunate field

She had won our freedom!

But how had it happened? And what was Eve doing--

She had mounted to the third point. She pressed upon it.

Out upon the telltale sprang a third symbol to join the other two!

Satan's face was writhing. The roaring at the back of the Temple had
become a tumult. I heard men shouting. Satan was fumbling frantically
under his robe--

And now Eve sped up the intervening steps between her and the dais. As
she passed them, she trod upon each of the gleaming prints. And as she
trod, out upon the fortunate field appeared, one after the other, a
shining symbol.

Seven of them--in the fortunate field!

None in Satan's!

The roaring had become deafening. Satan leaped from the black throne.
The wall behind him opened. Out sprang Barker, automatic in his hand.

Now he was at Satan's side, the barrel of the gun thrust into his
belly. The tumult in the Temple stilled, as though a cloud of silence
had fallen upon it.

"'Ands up!" snarled the little man. "Wye up! Two ticks an' I scatter
your guts h'over the map!"

Up went Satan's hands, high over his head.

I threw myself forward. The clamps of the chair gave so suddenly that
I slipped to my knees. I reached back into the slit, and felt the
barrel of a pistol. I gripped it--the executioner Sanchal was
crouching, ready to spring. I shot from the floor, and with an
accuracy that gave me one of the keenest joys I had ever known, I
drilled Sanchal through the head. He fell sideways, flopping half down
the steps.

The kehjt slaves stood dazed, irresolute, waiting command.

"One move o' them bastards, an' you're in pieces," I heard Harry say.
"Tell 'em, quick!"

He jabbed the muzzle of the gun viciously into Satan's side.

Satan spoke. The voice that came from his lips was like that which one
hears in nightmare. To this day I do not like to remember it. It was a
command in the unknown tongue, but I had a swift, uneasy suspicion
that it held more than the bare order to remain quiet. The slaves
dropped their ropes. They slid back toward the walls.

I took the steps on the jump. Eve was beside Barker. I ranged myself
at Satan's other side. She slipped behind him, and joined me.

The tumult in the amphitheater burst out afresh. Men were struggling
together in the semidarkness. There was a rush down from the seats.
The edge of the brilliant circle was abruptly lined with figures.

Out from them stepped Consardine.

His face was chalk-white. His eyes burned with a fire that matched
Satan's own. He held his hands before him with fingers curved like
talons. He stalked forward like a walking death. And his eyes never
left Satan.

"Not yet," whispered Barker. "Stop 'im, Cap'n."

"Consardine!" I called. "Stop where you are."

He paid no heed. He walked on, slowly, like a sleepwalker, the
dreadful gaze upon Satan unwavering.

"Consardine!" I called again, sharply. "Stop! I'll drop you. I mean
it. I don't want to kill you. But another step, and I drop you. By
God, I will!"

He halted.

"You... will not... kill him? You will... leave... him for me?"

Consardine's voice was thin and high. It was Death speaking.

"If we can," I answered him. "But keep those others back. One move
against us and Satan goes. And some of you with him. We've no time to
pick friends from foes."

He turned and spoke to them. Again they were silent, watching.

"Now then, Cap'n," said Barker, briskly, "stick your gun in 'im, and
move 'im over 'ere. I'm goin' to show 'em."

I thrust the automatic just under Satan's lower ribs, and pushed him
toward the throne of gold. He moved over unresistingly, quietly,
almost stolidly. He did not even look at me. I studied him, the vague
apprehension growing stronger. He was intent upon Consardine. His face
had regained all its impassivity. But the Devil looked out of his
eyes, unchained. It came to me that he believed Consardine to be the
archtraitor, that it was he who had set the snare! That we were
Consardine's tools!

But why this apparently passive resignation? Even with our guns at his
belly, it was not what I would have expected of Satan. And it seemed
to me that besides the murder in his gaze there was a certain
contempt. Had he, also, a final ace in the hole? My uneasiness
increased, sharply.

"Now look, all o' you. I'm goin' to show you what the double-crossin'
swine 'as been doin' to you."

It was Barker speaking. I did not dare turn my eyes from Satan to see
what he was doing. But there was no need. I knew.

"Promisin' you this an' that," went on the cockney drawl. "Sendin' you
to 'Ell! An' all the time larfin' up 'is sleeves at you. Larfin' fit
to die, 'e was. An' you like a parcel o' trustin' h'infants. I'm goin'
to show you. Miss Demerest, will you please walk down an' then walk up
them prints again?"

I saw Eve go down the steps.

"Wyte a second." She halted at the bottom. "'Ere I am sittin' in 'is
throne. I pull the lever. But h'after I've pulled it, I press on the
h'edge of the seat. Like this. Now, Miss Demerest. Walk up."

Eve ascended, stepping upon each of the shining prints.

I could see, out of the corner of my eye, the telltale. Nothing
appeared upon it. No symbol, either upon darkened field or lighted.

There was no sound from the watchers. They seemed dazed, waiting what
was to come next.

"Didn't make a damned bit o' difference where you trod," said Barker.
"It didn't register. 'Cause why? When I pressed on the h'edge of the
throne, a little plate slipped down under there where the machinery
is. An' at the same time, the cogs what myde the contacts what flashed
the signals on the globe got moved over to another set o' contacts.
The steps'd work all right when 'e wanted 'em to. They was always set
right when 'e was off 'is throne. But after 'e'd set 'imself on 'is
bloody black chair 'e'd 'ide 'is 'ands an' press an' disconnect 'em.
'Ell, a flock o' elephants could o' walked up 'em then an' they'd
never give a blink!"

The tumult broke out afresh; men, and women, too, crying out, cursing.
They surged forward, farther into the ring of light.

"Back!" I shouted. "Hold them back, Consardine!"

"Wyte!" yelped Barker. "Wyte! That ain't 'arf what the swine's done to

The uproar died. They stared up at us again. Consardine had moved to
the very bottom of the steps. His face was, if possible, whiter. His
eyes glared upon Satan from rings, black as though painted. He was
panting. I wished Harry would hurry. Consardine was near the end of
his restraint. I didn't want to shoot him.

All of this I had seen incompletely. Suddenly I had the thought that
Satan was listening, listening not to anything within the Temple, but
for some sound far away. That he was willing, willing with complete
concentration of all his unholy power for some certain thing to
happen. And as I watched I seemed to see a flicker of triumph pass
over the marble face.

"Now," came Barker's voice, "I'm goin' to show you. 'Ere on the syme
h'edge is seven little plyces. Rubber, set in the stone. After 'e'd
disconnected the contacts from the steps, 'e put 'is finger tips on
each o' them plyces. Three of 'em was linked up to the contacts so's
they'd flash the marks on 'is side the telltale. The other four was
rigged up to flash 'em on your side. When any o' you tread on a print
'e'd press the button 'e wanted. Up'd go the mark, of the one 'e'd
picked. You didn't make them marks show up. 'E did!' 'E 'ad you goin'
and comin'.

"Wyte a minute! Just a minute!" Clearly Barker was enjoying himself.
"I'm going to sit in 'is chair an' show you. Goin' to show you just
what blinkin' bloody fools he myde out o' you."

"Jim!" there was alarm in Eve's voice, close to my ear. "Jim! I've
just noticed. There were seven of the kehjt drinkers along that wall.
Now there are only six. One of them has slipped away!"

At that instant I knew for what Satan had been listening and waiting.
I had been right when I had sensed in his command to the slaves
something more than an order to be quiescent. He had bade them watch
for an opportunity that would let one of them creep away and raise the

Loose upon those who threatened him the horde of those soulless,
merciless devils to whom Satan was a god since he, and only he, could
open to them their Paradise.

In the absorption of us all in the drama of Satan's unmasking, a slave
had found that opportunity. Had been gone--how long?

The thoughts flashed through my head in a split second.

And at that same instant the Hell which had been piling up slowly and
steadily in the Temple like thunder heads broke loose.

Without warning, swiftly as the darting of a snake, Satan's arm struck
down. It caught my arm. It sent my automatic hurtling, exploding as it
flew. I heard Eve scream, heard Barker's sharp yelp.

I saw Consardine leaping up the steps, straight for Satan. Abruptly
the whole Temple was flooded with light. Like an image caught between
the opening and shutting of a camera shutter, I had a glimpse of
Bedlam. Those who would have followed Consardine and those who were
still faithful to Satan struggling for mastery.

Satan's hands swept in to catch me, lift me, hurl me against
Consardine. Quicker than he, I dropped, twisting, and threw myself
with every ounce of my strength against his legs.

He tottered. A foot slipped upon the edge of the dais. He reeled down
a step or two, swaying in effort to regain his balance.

Consardine was upon him!

His hands gripped Satan's throat. The mighty arms of Satan wrapped
themselves around him. The two fell. Locked, they went rolling down
the steps.

There was a howling, like packs of wolves. At the back of the Temple
and at the two sides, the panels flew open. Through them seethed the
kehjt slaves.

"Quick, Cap'n!"

Barker spun me around. He pointed to the throne of gold.

"Be'ind it!" he grunted, and ran.

I caught Eve's arm and we raced after him. He was on his knees,
working frantically at the floor. Something clicked, and a block slid
aside. I saw a hole down which dropped a narrow flight of steps.

"Go first," said Barker. "Quick!"

Eve slipped through. As I followed I caught a glimpse of the Temple
through the legs of the throne. It was a seething place of slaughter.
The knives of the kehjt slaves were flashing. Men were shooting. From
side to side was battle. Of Satan and Consardine I saw nothing. There
were a dozen of the slaves rushing up the stairs toward us--

Barker shoved me down the hole. He jumped after me, landing almost on
my head. The slab closed.

"'Urry!" gasped Barker. "Gord! If 'e gets us now!"

The stairs led into a bare and small chamber of stone. Over our heads
we could hear the tumult. The feet of the fighters beat on the ceiling
like drums.

"Watch the stairs. Where's your gun? 'Ere, tyke mine," Barker thrust
his automatic into my hand. He turned to the wall, scrutinizing it. I
ran back to where the narrow stairs entered the chamber. I could hear
hands working at the block.

"Got it!" cried Barker. "'Urry!"

A slab had opened in the wall. We passed through. It shut behind us. I
could see no place in the wall to mark where it had been.

We stood in one of those long and dimly lighted corridors that
honeycombed Satan's house.

Clearly to us came the turmoil of the fighting above us.

There were five quick sharp explosions.

And, then, abruptly, as though at some command, the turmoil was


The effect of that abrupt silencing of the tumult overhead was
disconcerting, to put it mildly. The five sharp reports had been less
like pistol shots than those of a rifle. But who had been shooting,
and how could so few bullets have ended such a melee as I had

"They're quiet! What does it mean?" whispered Eve.

"Somebody's won," I said.

"Satan--you don't think Satan?" she breathed.

Whether Consardine had done for Satan or Satan for him, I had no means
of knowing. Desperately I hoped that Consardine had killed him. But
whether he had or had not, my betting upon the general battle was with
the kehjt drinkers. They swung a wicked knife, and they didn't care.
If Consardine had choked Satan's life out of him, the kehjt slaves had
in all probability sent Consardine's life after Satan. I didn't tell
Eve that.

"Whether Satan has lost or won, his power is gone," I told her.
"There's little to fear from him now."

"Not if we can get out of this blinkin' 'ole without gettin' scragged,
there ain't," said Harry, gloomily. "It's only fair to tell you I'd a
lot rather be 'earin' that Bank 'Oliday goin' on up there."

"What's the matter with you?" I asked.

"It'd keep their minds off us, for one thing," he looked askance at
Eve. "But that ain't the 'ole of it."

"Will you kindly not regard me as a sensitive female, Barker," said
Eve with considerable acerbity. "Never mind considering my feelings.
What do you mean?"

"All right," said Barker. "I'll tell you stryte then. I don't know
where the 'ell we are."

I whistled.

"But you knew your way here," I said.

"No," he answered, "I didn't. I took a long chance on that, Cap'n. I
knew about the trap be'ind the gold throne an' the room under it. It's
where 'e stows it, an' I been there, from up above. I took a chance
there was another wye out. I was lucky enough to find it. But 'ow to
get from 'ere--I don't know."

"Hadn't we better be moving along, somewhere?" said Eve.

"We sure had," I said. "We've only got one gun. Those slaves may come
piling in any minute."

"I move we tyke the right 'and," said Harry. "We're somewhere close to
Satan's private quarters. I know that. You keep the gun, Cap'n."

We moved along the corridor, cautiously. Barker kept scanning the
walls, shaking his head, and mumbling. Something had been puzzling me
ever since Eve had walked forth from the dark amphitheater to take my
place at the steps. It seemed as good a time as any to satisfy my

"Harry," I asked, "how did you work it so that all the prints
registered only on that one side of the globe? What kept Satan from
doing his double-crossing as usual from the black throne? He was
trying hard enough. Did you get back into the Temple again after we'd

"I fixed it before we went, Cap'n," he grinned. "You saw me fussin'
with the machinery after we'd tried it out, didn't you?"

"I thought you were readjusting it," I said.

"So I was," he grinned more broadly. "Settin' it so the steps threw
all the contacts on the lucky side o' the telltale. Settin' it so 'is
little arryngement in 'is chair wouldn't myke no contacts at all. Took
a chance, I did. Thought mybe the next Temple meetin' would be on
account o' you. Only thing I was afryd of was 'e'd miss the noise when
'e pulled the little lever. I couldn't 'elp that. Thank Gord, 'e
didn't. 'E was too mad."

"Harry," I took the little man by the shoulders, "you've surely paid
me back in full and more for whatever I did for you."

"Now, now," said Barker, "wyte till we're out--"

He halted.

"What's that?" he whispered.

There had been another sharp explosion, louder than those we had heard
before the silence had dropped upon the Temple. It was closer, too.
The floor of the corridor trembled. Quick upon it came another.

"Bombs!" exclaimed Barker.

There was a third explosion, nearer still.

"Cripes! We got to get out o' here!" Barker began questing along the
walls like a terrier. Suddenly he grunted, and stopped.

"Got something," he said. "Quiet now. Stand close be'ind me while I
tyke a look."

He pressed upon the wall. A panel slid aside revealing one of the
small lifts. He drew a long breath of relief. We crowded in.

"Down or up?" he closed the panel on us.

"What do you think?" I asked him.

"Well, the Temple's on the ground floor. We're just under it. If we go
down, we'll be somewhere around that slyves' den. If we go up, we got
to pass the Temple. If we can get by, an' keep on goin' up--well, it's
'ardly likely there'll be as many slyves over it as under an' around
it, Cap'n."

"Up we go," said Eve, decisively.

"Up it is," I said.

He sent the lift upward, slowly. There was a fourth explosion, louder
than any of the others. The frame of the elevator rattled. There was a
sound of falling masonry.

"Getting close," said Eve.

"If we could bryke into Satan's rooms, we'd 'ave a chance o' findin'
that private tunnel of 'is," Barker stopped the lift. "It's somewhere
close by. It's our best bet, Cap'n. With any luck at all, we could
come out syfe on the shore."

"I'll bet that by now everybody on the place knows what's going on,
and is somewhere around here," I said. "We could lift one of those
speed boats and get away."

"I smell something burning," said Eve.

"Cripes!" Barker sent the lift up at the limit of its speed, "I'll sye
you do!"

A crack had opened in the wall in front of us. Out of it had shot a
jet of smoke.

Suddenly Barker stopped the lift. He slid aside a panel, cautiously.
He peered out, then nodded to us. We stepped into a small room, paved
and walled with a dull black stone. On one side was a narrow door of
bronze. It was plainly an antechamber. But to what?

As we stood there, hesitating, we heard two more explosions, one
immediately following the other. They seemed to be upon the floor
where we were. From below us came another crash, as of a falling wall.
The lift from which we had just emerged went smashing down. Out of the
open panel poured a dense volume of smoke.

"Gord! The 'ole bloody plyce is on fire!" Barker jammed the panel
shut, and stared at us, white faced.

And suddenly I thought of Cobham.

Cobham, with his gentlemanly bomb that was to blow the bottom out of
the Astarte. Satan had said that he had been driven into hiding near
the laboratory. Had Cobham seen his chance to escape during the rush
of the kehjt slaves to aid Satan? Had he found his way clear, gone
straight to the laboratory, and was he now strewing in crazed
vengeance the death and destruction he had garnered there?

I tried the bronze door. It was unfastened. Gun ready, I slowly opened

We were at one end of that amazing group of rooms, that shrine of
beauty, which Satan had created for himself. That place of magic whose
spell had so wrought upon me not so long ago that I had gone forth
from it, half-considering the giving up of Eve, the placing of my
whole allegiance in Satan's hands. There was a thin veil of smoke in
the silent chamber. It dimmed the tapestries, the priceless paintings,
the carvings of stone and wood. We crossed its floor, and looked into
a larger treasure room. At its far side where were its doors, the
smoke hung like a curtain.

From behind the smoke, and close, came another explosion.

Through the curtain stumbled Satan!

At sight of him we huddled together, the three of us. My mouth went
dry, and I felt the sweat wet the roots of my hair. It was not with
fear. It was something more than fear.

For Satan, stumbling toward us, was blind!

His eyes were no longer blue, jewel-hard and jewel-bright. They were
dull and gray, like unpolished agates. They were dead. It was as
though a flame had seared them. There was a red stain over and around
them, like a crimson mask.

He was cloakless. Black upon the skin of his swollen neck were the
marks of strangling fingers. Consardine's.

One arm hung limp. The other clasped to his breast a little statue of
ivory, an Eros. Of all those things of beauty which he had schemed and
robbed and slain to possess, that statue was, I think, the thing he
loved the best; the thing in which he found the purest, perfect form
of that spirit of beauty which, evil as Satan was, he knew and

He stumbled on, rolling his great head from side to side like a
blinded beast. And as he came, tears fell steadily from the sightless
eyes and glistened on the heavy cheeks.

Through the curtain of smoke, following him, stalked Cobham.

A bag was slung over his left shoulder. It bulged, and as he emerged
he dipped a hand within it. In his hand when he drew it out was
something round, about as big as an orange, something that gleamed,
with a dully metallic luster.

As Cobham walked, he laughed; constantly, even as Satan wept.

Cobham halted.

"Satan!" he called. "Stop! Time for a rest, dear Master!"

The stumbling figure lurched on, unheeding. The jeering note in
Cobham's voice fled; it became menacing.

"Stop, you dog! Stop when I tell you. Do you want a bomb at your

Satan stood still, shuddering, the little statue clasped closer.

"Turn, Satan," jeered Cobham. "What, Master, would you deny me the
light of those eyes of yours!"

And Satan turned.

Cobham saw us.

The hand that held the bomb flew up.

"Walter!" cried Eve, and leaped in front of me, arms outstretched.
"Walter! Don't!"

I had not tried to shoot. To be honest, I had not thought of it. The
paralysis with which the sight of Satan had touched me still held me.
Eve's swift action saved us more surely than a bullet would have.

Cobham's arm dropped to his side. Satan did not turn. I doubt even if
he heard. He was past all except his agony and the voice of his
tormentor, and that, it came to me, he obeyed only to save from
destruction the thing he was clasping.

"Eve!" some of the madness was swept from Cobham's face. "Who's with
you? Come closer."

We moved toward him.

"Kirkham, eh? and little 'Arry. Stop where you are. Put your hands up,
both of you. I owe you something, Kirkham. But I don't trust you. Eve,
where do you think you're going?"

"We're trying to get away, Walter," she said gently. "Come with us."

"Come with you? Come with you!" I saw the madness fill his eyes again.
"I couldn't do that. There's only a part of me here, you know. The
rest of me is in a room full of little mirrors. A part of me in every
one of those mirrors. I couldn't go away and leave them."

He paused, seemingly to consider the matter. The smoke grew thicker.
Satan never moved.

"Disintegrated personality, that's it," said Cobham. "Satan did it.
But he didn't keep me there long enough. I got away. If I'd stayed a
little longer, all of me would have gone into the mirrors. Into them
and through them and away. As it is," said Cobham with a dreadful,
impersonal gravity, "the experiment remains unfinished. I can't go
away and leave those bits of myself behind. You see that, Eve?"

"Careful, Eve. Don't cross him," I muttered. He heard me.

"Shut up, you, Kirkham. Eve and I will do the talking," he said,

"We could help you, Walter," she said, steadily. "Come with us--"

"I went to the Temple," he interrupted her, speaking quite calmly, the
shattered mind abruptly taking another path, "I had my bombs with me.
I distributed a few of them. I used the sleep gas. Consardine was at
the bottom of the steps. His back was broken. Satan was just getting
up from him. He covered his mouth and nose and ran. I caught him. A
little spray across the eyes with something I was carrying. That was
all. He made for here like a rat to his hole. Blind as he was--"

The mood had changed. He roared his crazy laughter.

"Come with you! Leave him! After what he's done to me? No, no, Eve.
Not if you were all the angels in Heaven. We've had a nice long walk,
Satan and I. And when we go, we go together. With all the little bits
of me in his damned mirrors going, too. A long, long journey. But I've
arranged it so we'll have a swift, swift start!"

"Cobham," I said. "I want to save Eve. The tunnel to the shore. Will
you tell us how to find it? Or is the way to it blocked?"

"I told you to shut up, Kirkham," he leered at me. "Everybody used to
obey Satan. Now Satan obeys me. Therefore everybody obeys me. You've
disobeyed me. Walk over to that wall, Kirkham."

I walked to the wall. There was nothing else to do.

"You want to know how to get to the tunnel," he said when I had
reached it, and turned. "Go into that anteroom. Through the right wall
there--listen to me, you 'Arry," he shot a malicious look at me. "Six
panels left along the corridor. Through again into another passage. Go
down the ramp to the end. Through it at the last panel, right. That's
the start of the tunnel. So much for that. Now, Kirkham, let's see
whether you're going with them. Catch."

He raised his arm and threw the bomb at me.

It seemed to come to me slowly. I seemed to have plenty of time to
think of what would happen to me if I missed it, or dropped it, or
caught it too roughly. Luck was with me. I did none of the three.

"All right, you go," grinned Cobham. "Keep it in case you meet any of
the slaves. I think I cleaned them all out in the Temple. Gas bombs,
Kirkham, gas bombs. They're lying up there asleep and toasting."

Again he roared with laughter.

"Get out!" he snarled suddenly.

We walked back through the other room. We did not dare look into each
other's faces. At the door, I glanced back. Cobham was watching us.

Satan had not stirred.

We passed through the door, and closed it.

We got out of the little antechamber as quickly as we could. It was
pretty bad with the smoke, and rather too much like a furnace. The
first corridor was uncomfortably choky, too. The second was entirely
clear. When we reached its end, Barker had a bit of trouble with the
panel. Finally it swung open, like a door.

Before us was not, as I had expected, the entrance to the tunnel, but
a bare, stone room about twenty feet square. Opposite us was a massive
steel door closed with heavy bars. On each side of it was a kehjt
drinker. They were big fellows, armed with throwing cords and knives.
In addition to these they had carbines, the first guns I had seen in
the hands of the slaves.

I had thrust Cobham's bomb in my pocket. For an instant I thought of
using it. Then common sense told me that it might bring the place
crashing down about us, at any rate seal the tunnel entrance. I
dropped my hand on my automatic. But by that time the guards covered
us with their rifles. The only reason that they had not shot on sight,
I suppose, was that they had recognized Barker.

"'Ullo! 'Ullo! What's the matter with you?" Barker stepped toward

"What are you doing here?" one of the slaves spoke, and by the faint
accent in the deadened voice I thought that he had been Russian before
he had become--what he was.

"Satan's orders," answered Harry brusquely, and gestured to the guns.
"Put 'em down."

The slave who had spoken said something to the other in that
unfamiliar tongue I had heard Satan use. He nodded. They lowered their
carbines, but held them in readiness.

"You have his token?" asked the slave.

"You got it, Cap'n," Barker turned his head to me quickly, then back
to the guard. "No, you 'aven't. I 'ave--"

I had read the message in his eyes. My hand was on the automatic. I
shot from the hip at the second guard. His hand flew up to his breast
and he toppled.

At the instant of the report, Barker hurled himself at the legs of the
challenging slave. His feet flew from beneath him, and down he
crashed. Before he could arise I had put a bullet through his head.

I felt no compunction about killing him. The kehft drinkers had never
seemed to me to be human. But whether human or not, I had killed far
better men for much less reason during the war. Barker dropped upon
the guard he had tripped, and began to search him. He arose with a
bunch of small keys and ran to the steel door. It could not have been
more than a minute before he had the bars down and the door open. The
tunnel lay before us, long, cased with stone and dimly lighted.

"We've got to tyke it on the double," Barker jammed the heavy valve
shut. "I didn't like what 'e said about 'im an' Satan goin' awye
together quick. I think 'e fixed it to blow up the lab'ratory. An'
there's enough stuff there to move the northeast corner of 'Ell."

We set off at a run down the tunnel. After we had gone about a
thousand feet we came to another wall. It closed the way, making of
the passage apparently a blind alley.

Barker worked feverishly at it, going over it inch by inch with nimble
fingers. A block dropped suddenly, sliding downward as though in
grooves. We passed through the opening. And ran on.

The lights blinked out. We halted, in darkness. The ground quivered
under our feet. The quivering was followed by a deep-toned roar like
the bellow of a volcano. I threw an arm around Eve. The floor of the
tunnel heaved and rocked. I heard the crash of stones falling from its
roof and sides.

"Gord! There goes Satan!" Barker's voice was hysterically shrill.

I knew it must be so. Satan had--gone. And Cobham. And all those, dead
and alive, in the chateau--they, too, were gone. And all the treasures
of Satan, all the beauty that he had gathered about him--gone. Blasted
and shattered in that terrific explosion. Things of beauty
irreplaceable, things of beauty for which the world must be poorer
forever--destroyed for all time. Wiped out!

I had a sensation of sick emptiness. My very bones felt hollow. I felt
a remorse and horror as though I had been party to some supreme

Eve's arms were around my neck, tightly. I heard her sobbing. I thrust
away the weakening thoughts, and held her to me close, comforting her.

The stones ceased falling. We went on, picking our way over them by
the gleam of Barker's flashlight. The tunnel had been badly damaged.
If ever I prayed, I prayed then that no fall of stone or slip of earth
had blocked it against us. If so, we were probably due to die like
penned-in rats.

But the damage lessened as we drew further away from the center of the
explosion, although now and again we heard the crashing of loosened
stones behind us. We came at last to a breast of rocks, rough hewn, a
formidable barrier that closed the tunnel, and must be, we knew, its
further end.

Barker worked long at that, and I, too, and both of us at times
despairingly, before we found the key to its opening. At last, when
the flash was dying, a boulder sank. We breathed cool, fresh air.
Close to us we heard the ripple of waves. Another minute and we stood
upon that pile of rocks where I had seen Satan looking out over the
waters of the Sound.

We saw the lights of the Cherub. She had come closer to shore. Her
searchlight was playing upon the landing, sweeping from it along the
road that led through the woods to the great house.

We crept down the rocks, and began to skirt the shore to the landing.
At our right, the sky was glowing, pulsing. The tops of the trees
stood out against the glow like the silhouettes of trees in a Japanese

Satan's funeral pyre.

We reached the pier. The searchlight picked us up. We went forward
boldly. Barker dropped into a likely-looking launch that was fastened
to the landing. Those on the yacht must have thought we were making
ready to come to them. They held the light steady upon us.

The engines of the launch started to hum. I lowered Eve into it, and
jumped after her. Barker threw the propeller into first speed, and
then into direct drive. The launch shot forward.

There was no moon. A mist was on the waters. The glow of Satan's pyre
cast a red film on the sluggish waves.

Barker steered for the yacht. Suddenly he swung sharply to port, and
away from her. We heard shouts from her decks. The mists thickened as
we sped on. They dimmed the beam. And then it lost us and swept back
to the pier.

Barker headed the launch straight for the Connecticut shore. He gave
me the wheel, and went back to nurse the engines. Eve pressed close to
me. I put my arm around her and drew her closer. Her head dropped upon
my shoulder.

My thoughts went back to the burning chateau. What was happening
there? Had the great explosion and the glare of the flames brought
outsiders to it as yet, volunteer firefighters from the neighboring
villages, police? It was not likely. The place was so isolated, so
difficult of access. But on the morrow, surely they would come. What
would they find? What would be their reception? How many had escaped
from the chateau?

And those who had been trapped in Satan's house? Those who had fallen
before his slaves and Cobham's bombs? Among them had been men and
women of high place. What an aftermath their disappearance would have!
The newspapers would be busy for a long time about that.

And Satan! In the last analysis--a crooked gambler. Betrayed at the
end by the dice he himself had loaded. Had he but played his game of
the seven footprints straight he would have been unconquerable. But he
had not--and all his power had rested on a lie. And his power could be
no stronger than that which upheld it.

It was Satan's lie that had betrayed him.

Crooked gambler--yes, but more, much more than that--

Would his vengeance follow us, though he was gone?

Well, we would have to take our chances.

I shook off the oppression creeping over me, turned resolutely from
the past to the future.

"Eve," I whispered, "all I've got is what's left of sixty-six dollars
and ninety-five cents that was my sole capital when I met you."

"Well, what of it?" asked Eve, and snuggled in my arm.

"It's not much for a honeymoon trip," I said. "Of course, there's the
ten thousand I got for the museum job. I can't keep that. It'll have
to go back to the museum. Marked 'Anonymous Donor.'"

"Of course," said Eve, indifferently. "Oh, Jim, darling, isn't it good
to be free!"

Barker moved forward, and took the wheel from me. I put both arms
around Eve. Far ahead of us the lights of some Connecticut town
sparkled. They evoked a painful memory. I sighed.

"All those treasures--gone!" I groaned. "Why didn't I have the sense
to snatch that crown or scepter off the gold throne when I had the

"'Ere's the crown, Cap'n," said Barker.

He fished down into a pocket. He drew out the crown and dropped it
into Eve's lap. Its jewels blazed up at us. We stared at them, and
from them to Barker, and from Barker back to them--unbelievingly.

"Crown's a bit crumpled," remarked Barker, easily. "'Ad to bend it to
stow it awye. Grabbed the scepter, but it slipped. 'Adn't time to pick
it up. Picked up a few other tysty bits, though."

He poured a double handful of rings and necklaces and uncut gems over
the glittering crown. We stared at him, still speechless.

"Split 'em two wyes," said Harry, "so long as you an' Miss Eve's goin'
to be one. I only 'opes they're real."

"Harry!" whispered Eve, breathlessly. She leaned over and kissed him.

He blinked, and turned back to the wheel.

"Reminds me o' Maggie!" muttered Harry, forlornly.

I felt something round and hard in my pocket. Cobham's bomb! With a
little prickling of the scalp, I dropped it gingerly over the side.

The shore lights had crept nearer. I scooped the jewels from Eve's lap
and thrust them into Barker's pocket.

I clasped Eve close, and turned her face up to mine.

"Just like me an' Maggie!" whispered Harry, huskily.

I put my lips to hers, and felt hers cling. Life was very sweet just

Eve's lips were sweeter.


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