The Whispering Eye by G. T. Fleming-Roberts
A BRAND NEW BLACK HOOD NOVEL
Hunted by the police ... framed for robbery and murder by the EYE,
master fiend and vicious ruler of the underworld ... loathed by
Barbara Sutton, the girl who loves him ... The BLACK HOOD had to
face the blazing purgatory of this murder master's guns to win back
Barbara's love and clear himself of the framed charges.
Gray jets of live steam erupted from pipes around the
edge of the room which threatened to boil BLACK HOOD alive.
Rob And Kill
That night, the sounds that came from the metal stamping plant of
Weedham Industries, Incorporated, might have been prophetic of the
immediate and ugly future, for they were like the rattle of machine
guns. But Joseph, keeper of the south gate, was blissfully ignorant of a
Thompson gun and its deadly chatter, so that he drew no such comparison.
His only worry at the time lay in the dark sky above and the blue-white
stabs of lightning that promised an electrical storm.
He hated storms. Probably he hated the idea of being murdered, or would
have if it ever occurred to him. But then he didn't know that he was
going to be murdered, and he did know it was going to storm. The thunder
was the tocsin of the storm, but those who came to rob and kill moved
unheralded in swift silence.
The night shift had clocked in over an hour ago, and there should be no
passing through the gate for at least six hours. Joseph tilted his chair
back against the steel fence and kindled his cob pipe. The air was hot
and still so that blobs of pipe smoke clung like earth-bound ghosts
about him. In spite of the impending storm, Joseph was happy. In his
mind was a kindly thought for William "Old Bill" Weedham, principal
owner of Weedham Industries. That was because of the bonus Joseph was
Within the next twenty-four hours, Joseph knew, seventy-five thousand
dollars would be distributed in cash bonuses to the employees of the
metal stamping division. Joseph had mentally spent his tiny fraction of
the money a dozen times or more. He did a lot of dreaming, Joseph did.
But about pleasant things. He had never dreamed of those who rob and
A low slung maroon roadster came down the street and nosed into the
mouth of the tarvia drive at Joseph's gate. Joseph eased his chair
forward, stood up, approached the car, his faded eyes squinted against
the glare of the floodlights mounted on top of the high fence. The car
looked like the one young Jeff Weedham drove. Jeff Weedham was "Old
Bill" Weedham's son. He took no interest in his father's business or in
anything else unless it was that newspaper business which the elder
Weedham had purchased for him.
Yes, that was Jeff Weedham at the wheel, and beside him were two other
young people—a girl and a redheaded man. Joseph took off his cap and a
grin cracked his weathered face.
"Hi," Jeff Weedham said. He was a narrow-headed man with frail-looking
sloped shoulders and a thin triangle of face. He had an engaging,
careless grin, and light brown eyes that laughed. He had a marked
tendency to stutter.
"Well," Joseph said, highly pleased, "if it ain't Mr. Jeff Weedham!"
Joseph sent a shy glance toward the other occupants of the car. The girl
instantly reminded him of honey and violets. Hers was one of those
clear, golden complexions, and there was a certain unspoiled sweetness
about her mouth. It must have been her eyes that recalled violets.
The man on the girl's right seemed to overlap her possessively which
could have been accounted for by the width of his shoulders. His red
hair bristled in defiance to any comb. His nose looked as though it had
been hit a few times in its owner's lifetime. The greenish suit he wore
was filled to capacity with overly developed muscles. A leather cased
camera was suspended from his bull neck by means of a strap. He had a
flashlight gun in his right hand, and a photographer's tripod was
propped upright between his knees.
"D-d-do you think you could let us in?" Jeff Weedham asked of Joseph.
"The D-Daily Opinion is going to give D-d-dad a plug."
The Daily Opinion was the newspaper which Bill Weedham had bought for
his son, Joseph recalled.
"Why, I guess so," Joseph replied. "But your friends here will have to
sign the register book."
The big redhead had some difficulty getting into the pocket of his suit
coat from which he extracted a card. He swelled importantly as he handed
it across to the gate keeper. The card read, "The Daily Opinion. Joe
Strong, News Photographer."
He said, "I guess this will fix everything, huh Jeff?"
"This is Miss Barbara Sutton," Jeff said, indicating the girl beside
him. "I've hired her as a reporter, and Joe Strong is her cameraman. I
just came along to see that they get inside. They're d-d-doing an
article on the various manufacturing plants around New York."
Joseph bowed to Barbara Sutton. "You folks can go right in, just as soon
as you sign the book." He went back to his post and returned with a
ledger. He turned pages with a moistened thumb, took a pencil out of his
pocket, passed both to the passengers of the roadster. Barbara Sutton
and Joe Strong signed.
"Looks like it's kicking up a storm," Joseph said.
The thunder rolled ominous reply to his remark. Then Joseph went to the
gate, opened it, and the roadster rolled up the drive toward the
Joseph went back to his chair and rekindled his pipe. He smiled at the
memory of Barbara Sutton. He didn't know when he had seen a prettier
girl. There must be an awful lot of young fellows who thought the same
"And if I was twenty years younger I guess I'd try to give them a lot
of competition!" he said aloud and chuckled.
His chuckle stopped as lightning flare threw the shadow of a man across
the ground at Joseph's feet. He looked up, startled. The man faced
Joseph silently. He was slight, wore a workman's overall suit, and he
had a lunch box under his arm. His face, what could be seen of it
beneath the low drawn hat, was one of starved cheeks, lipless mouth,
pinched nose, and a chin that seemed to dangle.
Joseph at first thought the man was one of the mill hands who had
arrived late for work.
"You don't care what time you show up," Joseph grumped. "You know you're
over an hour late?"
The slight man laughed unpleasantly.
"I ain't late," he said. "I guess I'm just about in time."
Something with the glint of bright steel flashed from the lunch box
under the man's arm. Instantly Joseph's mind connected this with the
seventy-five thousand dollars in small bills that was to come in on the
bank express truck in a few minutes.
Stick-up! Joseph's brain shrieked the alarm. He tried to get out of
his chair, but a knife blade that was like a sliver of light was driven
into Joseph's throat, sliding through flesh and muscle, torturing every
pain nerve in his body, driving relentlessly until the point of it
wedged into the wood back of the gate keeper's chair.
The chair creaked and groaned beneath Josephs' writhings. But the knife
and the thin, dirty fingers of the killer did not permit his body to
alter its position. And then the pain nerves died. Joseph's brain
emptied, fortunately; a man would not want to know that he was tacked to
a chair, bleeding to death.
The killer released Joseph. A little of the spurting blood had got on
his dirty fingers, and he wiped his hands on the seat of his trousers.
Then he removed the keys from the gate keeper's pocket. He went to the
gate, unlocked it, and opened it wide.
There were great overgrown shrubs on either side of the gate just
outside the factory grounds. The killer walked to the bushes at the west
side of the gate, parted the branches with his dirty fingers.
"Delancy," his voice croaked.
The shrubbery shook. The thick torso of a man who squatted like a toad
could be seen partly emerging from the shrubs.
"Okay, Delancy," the killer chuckled. "His own mudder would t'ink he was
asleep in the chair. Don't death make a guy look natural, huh?"
"You get back to the car," the man in the bushes said. "Be ready to pick
us up as soon as we crack the money truck. If you get nervous, think of
the dough. Seventy-five grand!"
"I ain't noivous!" the killer said. "T'ink I never croaked a guy before.
It's a pipe. Dis whole job is a pipe, wit' us havin' a Monitor gun to
open dat armored truck. I'm almost ashamed to be associated wit' such a
pipe of a job."
"Sure it's a pipe," Delancy agreed from amid the bushes. "Only don't get
too cocky on account of there's one guy who could mess things up for us
if he ever hits our trail."
Shiv laughed. "You're worrying about the Black Hood, huh?"
"I'm not worrying," Delancy said crossly. "I'm just being cautious. Each
job we do for the boss gets a little bigger. One of these times we'll
run into Mr. Black Hood."
"And when we do—" the killer drew a line across his throat with his
forefinger. Then he turned and walked away from the bushes.
Delancy's moon face disappeared in the foliage. Only his hard little
eyes glittered in the shadows. Beside him, patiently silent, was Squid
Murphy. Murphy was motionless except for his twitching left eyelid.
Murphy was manning the Colt Monitor rifle, the kind of gun the G-men
used to death-drill the armor plate cars the mobsters sometimes used.
Tonight the weapon was in other hands.
Delancy watched the lean figure of the knifeman ambling leisurely up the
road toward where the get-away car was parked, lights out. Shiv wasn't
nervous. Neither was Murphy, in spite of his twitching eyelid. There was
nothing to be nervous about since they had hooked up with this new
boss—this guy Delancy had never seen; this guy who knew all the
answers. No, there was nothing to worry about as long as that relentless
hunter of criminals known as the Black Hood kept off their tail.
Delancy wasn't nervous even when the blunt gray snout of the bank
express truck turned into the mouth of the drive and slowed up before
the open gate. He just took a firmer grip on his automatic and waited.
The driver of the bank truck yelled at the motionless figure of Joseph.
And when Joseph didn't answer, the driver nudged the guard who rode
"What the hell's wrong with their watchman?"
Delancy heard that. His little eyes saw the guard get out of the cab. He
saw that the back door of the armored truck was opening and another
guard was getting out. Delancy thought, What a break this is! And then
he shot the driver in the back.
The guard who had ridden up in front snatched at his shoulder holster as
he turned in the direction of Delancy's fire. On the other side of the
drive, two more of Delancy's boys opened up with automatics, so that by
the time the guard had decided he was facing death, death spoke from
behind him. Two slugs ripped into him. His own gun jumped twice, the
first shot coming dangerously close to Delancy's head, while the second
was an unaimed thing caused by the convulsive jerk of the guard's
trigger finger as he spilled forward on his face.
The man who had got out of the rear of the truck saw a glimpse of the
hell that had spouted from the shrubbery and tried to duck for cover
behind the truck. And beside Delancy, the Monitor gun came to life. It
talked fast in a language that was all its own. It got the retreating
guard twice, the heavy, bone-shattering slugs knocking the man first one
way and then another as he fell crazily to the ground.
There were two guards inside the truck. Their guns roared from the ports
in the armored walls. But the Monitor rifle was a can opener. Crouching
beside Squid Murphy, Delancy felt the heat of its barrel and saw the
black periods that were bullet holes speckling the gray steel sides of
the truck. Now only one of the gun ports in the truck was active.
The barrel of the Monitor swung and the hot steel barrel burned
Delancy's arm. He said, "Hell!" hoarsely and jumped out of the bushes,
automatic in hand. Delancy dropped flat and heard the sound of a bullet
whining by. And then the Monitor's deafening hammer sounded again, and
after that, silence.
Delancy picked himself up, ran, his thick, toadlike body silhouetted by
the truck lights. Gun smoke lay in placidly moving layers of gray before
the light beams. Delancy ducked through the open door of the truck. One
of his own men was already inside, and he tossed a money bag to Delancy.
Delancy caught it with one arm and a belly and passed it back through
the door to Squid Murphy who was standing just outside.
Delancy said, "Cut it, Murphy!" Because Squid Murphy was giggling.
Murphy was kill-crazy, and tonight the Monitor rifle in his hands had
made him feel like a god. His giggling rasped on Delancy's nerves.
Delancy picked up another money bag, and then told his boys they'd have
to get going. He didn't know why he felt as though they ought to get
away in a hurry. Surely no one inside the Weedham plant could have heard
the gun fire above the racket the machines were making. Also, the
neighborhood about the factory was thinly populated.
But something he couldn't put his finger on was spurring Delancy to get
clear of the scene of the crime as soon as possible. Maybe it was the
lightning that flashed with ever increasing frequency. Or maybe it was
the ghastly tableau the body of Joseph, the watchman, made, sitting in
that chair, pinned there like a butterfly by Shiv's knife.
A big gray sedan stood in the middle of the road, the motor idling. Shiv
the knifeman slouched indolently behind the wheel. Murphy and the other
two gunmen were already getting into the rear seat, and Delancy went
cold with the sudden fear that his pals might run out on him. As fast as
his short bowed legs would carry him, he ran to the car and piled in
beside Shiv. The knifeman looked at Delancy and snickered.
"What's the rush, Delancy? You think Black Hood is on your tail?"
Delancy snarled, "Hell, no! But let's get going, huh?"
Now that Shiv had mentioned it, Delancy recognized the fear that plagued
him. It was fear of the Black Hood. The Black Hood wasn't like the cops
at all. He didn't trail a man with screaming sirens and blasting
whistles. He hunted like a panther in the night, alone and silent. And
you never knew just when the shadow of this master manhunter was to
fall across your path.
If Delancy had stayed a little longer at the scene of his crime, he
would have learned that his premonition was founded in truth. The Black
Hood was hard on Delancy's heels that night. Advance notice of the
stick-up at the Weedham plant had sifted up through the underworld
grapevine to come eventually to Black Hood's ears. It had been very
scanty information and late in its arrival—too late to enable the
master manhunter to block the plan. All that Black Hood had learned was
that robbery of the Weedham factory had been planned, which wasn't
anything very definite considering that the Weedham Industries occupied
over fifty acres of ground.
When all hell broke loose at the south gate of the factory, Black Hood
was actually at the north-west corner of the grounds. A cat could
scarcely have seen him, lurking in the shadows, his tall figure shrouded
in a black silk cape, his head and face hidden by his famous hood. But
his position did give him one advantage over those actually at work in
the factory buildings—he could distinguish the rattle of gun fire from
the racket made by the stamping mill.
At the sound of the first shot, Black Hood had climbed to the top of the
high wire fence to leap into the factory grounds. Lightning had seen him
streaking through the open areas between buildings—a weird figure in
yellow tights, night-black shorts and hooded mask, his cape whipping out
from his broad shoulders. He might have been mistaken for a man from
Mars or a devil out of Hell, yet beneath the grotesque garb beat a heart
that was warm and human.
Black Hood knew what it was to be a policeman with hands bound by red
tape or political intrigue. He knew what it was to be a criminal, to be
hunted as Delancy was hunted. Once he had been a young cop, determined
to work his way up in the police force. One of the most diabolical
fiends of the underworld had framed this cop for a crime. The frame had
stuck. In his efforts to clear himself, the young cop had taken half a
dozen lead slugs from underworld guns into his body. He had been left
on a lonely mountain road, apparently dead, later to be found by that
wise, gray-whiskered man known as the Hermit.
It was the Hermit's vast store of scientific knowledge that brought the
half-dead cop back to health. It was the Hermit who gave the ex-cop a
body with the strength of steel and a mind that was a veritable
encyclopedia of scientific knowledge. It was the Hermit who had sent the
ex-cop back into the world to live a useful life, to strike back at the
denizens of the underworld who had harmed him.
So the Black Hood was born to live in two identities. By day he was a
pleasant, mild-mannered young man known as Kip Burland to Barbara
Sutton, Joe Strong, and others of their set. But at night Kip Burland
became the Black Hood, man of mystery, hunter of killers. Police who did
not understand the unorthodox methods of the Black Hood suspected him of
numerous crimes. The underworld that feared him wanted him dead. He was
the hunter hunted.
Once the secret of his dual identity became known, he knew that he faced
either death from the hands of criminals or prison from the hands of
police. Barbara Sutton, who merely tolerated Kip Burland, was deeply in
love with the Black Hood, yet even Barbara did not know that Kip and the
Black Hood were one and the same person.
Black Hood was not the only person at the Weedham plant who had heard
the gun fire at the south gate. Joe Strong, newly appointed cameraman on
Jeff Weedham's newspaper, had been standing at one of the doors of the
stamping mill, smoking a cigarette when the hold-up had taken place.
However, it required a few seconds for his dull brain to comprehend just
what was taking place and from what direction the shots had come.
Joe Strong had been trying to develop a nose for news. When he finally
realized what was going on at the south gate, he decided that here was a
chance for some swell pictures that would prove to Jeff Weedham and
Barbara Sutton that he was a natural born news hound. He ran from the
stamping mill, his camera bobbing from the strap around his neck and his
tripod dragging behind him. He had heard that a crack news photographer
could adjust a camera on the run and he figured that he could do that
and also mount the camera on the tripod at the same time.
It was a very good idea except that like most of the ideas that sprouted
slowly from Joe's brain, it didn't work. He was within fifteen yards of
the scene of the crime when he tripped over one leg of his tripod and
fell flat on his face.
When he picked himself up, he saw something that knocked all ideas of
picture taking out of his thick skull. A brilliant blaze of lightning
showed him the unmistakable figure of the Black Hood bending over the
body of Joseph, the watchman. He saw Black Hood's gauntlet gloved hand
closed on the handle of the knife that was thrust into Joseph's neck.
Joe Strong had met Black Hood many times before, and, like the police,
Joe was convinced that Black Hood was a clever criminal. It occurred to
Joe in the darkness that followed the lightning flash, that it was Black
Hood who had stuck up the bank truck, slaughtered the guards, and was
just now in the act of finishing off Joseph, the only remaining witness
to his crime.
So natural was the position of old Joseph in his chair that Black Hood,
too, had made the mistake of thinking that the watchman was alive. He
had approached Joseph with the idea of learning something about the
escaping criminals. He turned, now, from the murdered gate keeper to see
Joe Strong bearing down upon him, fists balled, square teeth showing,
his wide, coarse-featured face a mask of determination. He knew that Joe
Strong, in spite of his clumsiness, could be a nasty opponent in a
Joe closed in fast, led with his left fist in a blow that began way down
and ended exactly nowhere—nowhere, because Black Hood side-stepped both
the haymaker and Joe Strong.
"Gangway, muscle man!" Black Hood's voice rang out, and then like a slim
arrow unleashed from a taut drawn bow Black Hood sped up the tarvia
drive toward where the low slung roadster that belonged to Jeff Weedham
Black Hood vaulted into the roadster without bothering to open the door.
Jeff Weedham had left the key in the ignition lock. The black gauntlet
covered fingers of the master manhunter gave the key a twist and at the
same time he plugged in the starter button. The motor responded
instantly. Black Hood brought the car around in a wide sweeping turn to
head back toward the gate, had to swerve to avoid hitting Joe Strong.
There were some of the admirable qualities of the bull dog about Joe
Strong. Once his one-track mind got to functioning on a certain
objective it seldom digressed. And at the present moment his was
determined to stop Black Hood. As the roadster passed, straightening out
of its loop turn, Joe leaped to the running board, seized the wheel in
one hand and tried to get Black Hood by the throat with the other. The
car left the drive as Joe yanked at the wheel. It bounded toward a round
bed of evergreens that beautified the factory grounds. Black Hood
released the wheel, stood up on the pedals, and at the same time slammed
Joe across the face with the back of his gauntlet covered left hand. The
blow, the sudden stopping of the car, combined effectively to give Joe
the shake. He went backwards, sailing through the air, to land in the
Black Hood let the clutch slap in and the roadster bounded back onto the
tarvia drive. Perhaps none but the steel-nerved Black Hood would have
tried to get through that factory gate, partially blocked as it was by
the crippled bank truck. But the master manhunter could have driven a
gas truck through Hell's own fire. Instead of slowing the car to squeeze
through the narrow opening, he tramped on the gas pedal and set his
teeth for the shock he knew was coming. Because he knew that the space
between truck and gate post was too narrow to allow the roadster to pass
The right front fender hit the brick of the gate post. There was a
scream of tortured metal as the fender was sheared from the body. The
impact dragged down on the speed of the roadster so that the rear right
fender was only crumpled by the brick work. But momentum was sufficient
to carry Jeff Weedham's roadster out onto the road.
Black Hood knew that the criminals had taken the road toward town. As
soon as he had reached the south gate he had ascertained this by a
glance at the gravel shoulder of the road. Whoever had been driving the
get-away car had started in a hurry so that one rear wheel threw gravel
in the opposite direction of travel. Just how much of a lead the rob and
kill men had on him, Black Hood did not know. But he did know that Jeff
Weedham's car was a gallant piece of machinery, capable of tremendous
speed and so nicely balanced that it could cling to sharp curves.
Actually, only a few seconds had elapsed between the time when Delancy
and his killers had hit the road and the time when Black Hood had
arrived at the south gate. The man called Shiv was driving Delancy's
get-away car at a conservative pace so as not to excite suspicion. In
this Shiv showed more wisdom than did Delancy.
"You think you're going to a funeral?" Delancy demanded when his
patience could endure the pace no longer.
Shiv said, "But you'll be goin' to one if I open dis crate up. You want
speed cops on your tail, Delancy?"
"To hell with the cops," Delancy snarled. "Step it up a little."
Shiv speeded up to forty miles an hour as he rolled to the top of a
little hill. A mile or so distant the lights of one of New York's
suburbs twinkled in the darkness.
"We got lots of time," Shiv said. "You're noivous, Delancy. You got
ants. Up here at this next town we slide into a filling station and get
us a new paint job and new plates, all in the space of ten minutes. Like
I said before, dis job is a pipe."
Delancy didn't hear Shiv. He was twisted around in the front seat,
looking over the heads of Squid Murphy and the two other gunsels in the
back seat. Through the rear window, Delancy saw twin swords of light
from the lamps of another car not so far behind them.
"We're tailed now," he said hoarsely.
"Aw nuts!" Murphy said from the back seat. "We ought to make you get out
and walk. Every time you see a car behind you, you get the ants."
Delancy drew his tongue over dry lips. He said, "Take a look for
yourself, Murphy. That guy behind is burning asphalt off the road."
Murphy and the other hoods looked backwards. The car behind was a
roadster, they could see in a sudden splash of lightning. And it was
traveling like the wind.
Delancy opened the glove compartment in the instrument board and took
out a pair of field glasses. He got to his knees on the front seat,
turned around so that he could sight out the back window. He tried to
hold the speeding roadster in the range of the glasses, and when the
lightning came again he thought he could make out the figure of the
driver at the wheel. He thought that he saw a sleek rounded head closely
covered by a black silk hood. He was almost certain that he saw a black
silk cape whipping out from the shoulders of the lone man in the car.
Delancy got cold all over. He gripped Shiv's shoulder convulsively,
nearly sending his own car into the ditch by so doing.
"Step on it, Shiv," he said hoarsely. "I don't like the looks of that
guy in the car behind us."
"So you don't like the guy's hair-do!" Shiv sneered. "And I should kick
the bottom out of dis crate just because you don't like the looks of
somebody behind us!"
Delancy passed the glasses back to Squid Murphy.
"See what you see, Murphy," he said quietly. Then he turned around,
hauled out his gun, and shoved it into Shiv's ribs. "When I said step on
it, I wasn't fooling."
"Gees!" Murphy said. "That guy back there's got a hell of a thing on his
head. Looks like a hood."
"A black hood," Delancy said. "And I don't think I want to have anything
to do with that guy, do you, Shiv?"
Shiv came down on the gas pedal and the car picked up speed. He said,
"All right, all right! I'm steppin' on it, ain't I?"
If Delancy's car hadn't speeded up, Black Hood in the car behind might
not have taken particular notice of it. But that sudden spurt of speed
on the part of the gray sedan was a dead give-away. Black Hood knew that
he was hot on the trail.
The big gray sedan carrying Delancy and his pals, hit the suburban town
at a scant seventy miles an hour. It ran by three red lights without
shaking the roadster piloted by Black Hood. The streets were slippery
with rain that was sheeting out of the black sky, and when Shiv tried to
negotiate the next corner, the big sedan turned completely around.
Delancy thought then that the chase was over, but Shiv had a trick or
two up his sleeve. He spurted, took the car half way down the block,
heading in the very direction from which Black Hood was coming. Then
Shiv whipped his wheel around for a short turn into the mouth of an
Delancy breathed again. He could see where everything was going to be
all right now. The gray sedan bounced over the rough alley pavement, cut
across the street at the next block, and rolled onto the concrete area
in front of a large gas service station. The overhead doors beneath a
sign which advertised car washing by steam ran up on their track as the
gray sedan came into sight. Shiv steered into the wash room, and the
doors dropped back into place.
Delancy got out, his body bathed in a cold sweat. The proprietor of this
gas station was in the employ of Delancy's boss who had planned every
step of the stick-up at the Weedham plant and the subsequent get-away.
Delancy had supreme faith in his boss. For the first time since he had
sighted that strange figure in the roadster that had followed them, he
began to feel a little bit secure.
Delancy entered the filling station office, followed by his mob. The
proprietor, a huge bear of a man in brown coveralls, scowled at Delancy.
"The way you came in here, it's a wonder you didn't bring a whole squad
of cops with you. What's the matter, anyway?"
Delancy didn't answer just then. The proprietor of the station wasn't
alone in his office. There was a dame. She was a tall, well-dressed
woman with wax-pale skin and black hair that was parted in the middle
and slicked back to a soft knot. She had peculiarly cold green eyes that
were tilted at the outer extremities. Her lips were full, soft and
Delancy jerked his head at the woman and asked of the proprietor: "Who's
Burkey shrugged big shoulders. "She's from the boss. She's got a message
The woman was beautiful. But there was something about the chilly
expression in her eyes that made Delancy feel decidedly uncomfortable.
She did not smile as she opened a black purse and produced an envelope
which she handed to Delancy.
While Burkey was opening the steam valves that would spray hot vapor on
the car in the wash room, Delancy tore open the letter which the woman
had handed him. Inside was a slip of paper on which had been typed the
"The bearer will ride with you into Manhattan."
There was no signature, but in its stead was the crude drawing of an
eye, formed by two bowed lines that represented lids and two circles,
one within the other, representing iris and pupil. Delancy knew that the
message was from that man he had never seen—the big boss, the man who
knew all the answers.
Delancy touched a match to the message. He looked at the woman with the
cold green eyes.
"What's the idea?" he asked.
"I suppose," she said in a quiet voice, "that it will look less
suspicious if you are seen driving a car with a woman beside you. Your
men are to get into the baggage trunk at the rear or else crouch down on
the floor of the rear compartment."
Delancy snorted. "That's nuts. There ain't any sense to this. It was a
clean job. We didn't mix with any coppers."
"No?" she said, elevating her eyebrows. "Nevertheless, you will carry
out the orders. The Eye knows what he's doing."
Haven Of The Hunted
Ten minutes later, Delancy drove the get-away car out of the service
station. It was a gray sedan no longer. It was a brilliant blue job with
red wheels, and it carried a Texas license. Delancy was at the wheel and
the woman with the cold green eyes rode beside him. Two of Delancy's
gunmen crouched out of sight on the floor of the rear compartment while
two more had been crowded into the luggage compartment at the rear.
As the car rolled on toward Manhattan's northern boundary, the woman
with the green eyes switched on the radio on the dash. All of the cars
used on stick-up jobs were furnished with receivers capable of picking
up police calls, and out of the corner of his eye, Delancy saw that the
woman was twisting the dial down to the police band.
"What's the idea?" Delancy asked. He wasn't particularly pleasant to
this woman who rode with him, largely because she treated him like the
dirt under her feet.
"I simply want to check up," she said coldly. "I want to know just how
clean that job was."
"Clean?" Delancy fumed. "Listen, lady, we knocked off every damned guy
who could have told anything about us. And there wasn't a copper in
sight. Why, I haven't seen a bull in so long I'd have to look twice to
"That may be," she admitted, "but I want to make sure."
"Listen," Delancy said, now thoroughly angry, "how do you get that way?
Who the hell are you, checking up on me? You the Eye's moll?"
"Moll?" questioned the woman. "I do not understand."
"You don't understand!" Delancy scoffed. "Listen, babe, don't get
high-hat with me or I'll slap you down."
"You would not be so foolish," she said scornfully. "The Eye would tear
you into small pieces. He would—"
The flat voice of a police announcer came from the radio speaker and
interrupted the threat:
"Warning to all cars. Be on the lookout for blue Buick sedan, nineteen
thirty-nine model, red wheels, being driven by Raymond Delancy. Delancy
is wanted for hold-up and murder. Wanted for hold-up and murder, Ray
Delancy, height five feet eight inches, weighing one hundred eighty
Delancy's hand shot out to the radio switch, cutting off the voice of
the announcer. It was impossible! There had been no police at the
Weedham plant. No cops had tailed them. No cops had seen that the gray
sedan which had driven into Burkey's filling station had come out a blue
"A clean job, you said?" the woman with the green eyes mocked.
One of the gunmen who crouched on the floor of the rear compartment
cursed quietly and without interruption for nearly a minute. Delancy
tramped nervously on the gas pedal.
"Don't worry, anybody," he said. "The heat's on, and I don't know how
the hell the cops got that way, but it ain't the first time I've given
them the shake. We'll go to Jack Carlson's garage. He'll get us out of
this. It'll cost something, but hell, we've got lots of dough."
Delancy drove as though he was rolling on thin ice. The sight of a
traffic cop made him dodge around a corner that threw him off his
course. He came close to having convulsions when a squad car passed on
the next street west, its siren wailing. He told the boys in the back
seat to get their guns out, just in case they had to shoot it out. But
somehow all of his anxiety was wasted, and he at last sighted a neon
sign which read:
"ATLAS AUTO LIVERY"
Delancy turned the sedan through the door of the big garage, rolled
across the wide parking floor to the cement ramp at the rear. He got
into second gear and zoomed up the ramp to the second floor. Then he got
out of the car, walked to the office which was partitioned off from the
rest of the floor by means of frosted glass. The door of the office
carried the words, "Jack Carlson, President."
Carlson had started out as the operator of a wildcat bus company. In
this business he had learned so many ways to circumvent the law that he
had decided to put that knowledge to more lucrative uses. Under the
cover of a legitimate auto livery and trucking business, he had built a
vast transportation system which was employed by any criminal who was
wanted by the police and could afford to pay Carlson's fee. When the
town got too hot for a killer or stick-up artist, Jack Carlson had many
tricks up his sleeve which would enable the wanted man to move to a
Delancy entered Carlson's reception room which was never closed. At the
invitation of the blonde stenographer at the desk, he squatted on a
chair and lighted a cigarette. Jack Carlson entered the room a moment
later, walking with the energetic bounce of a busy man.
Carlson was a little above medium height, dark complexioned, his brow a
washboard of horizontal wrinkles. He had a waxed mustache which he was
in the habit of twisting whenever in deep thought.
"Well, well, well," he said cheerfully as he shook hands with Delancy.
"Some little trouble bothering you tonight, Ray?"
Delancy scowled. He couldn't see that there was anything to be cheerful
"The boys and I pulled a little job," he said. "It didn't amount to a
whole lot, but I think there's a leak somewhere in our organization.
The cops got the heat on us, and we'd like a hand out of town for a few
Carlson went to his desk, sat down, stuck a slim cigar in his well
"How much was your job?" he asked quietly as he struck a match.
"Not much," Delancy said. "Maybe ten grand at the outside." He purposely
lied about the take because Carlson usually charged on the percentage
basis. Another thing which was inclined to influence Carlson's price was
that little business of murder. If you killed on a job Carlson
considered the danger greater and pushed up his fee accordingly.
"Anybody knocked off, Ray?" Jack Carlson asked.
Delancy squirmed uncomfortably in his chair. "One of the boys had to
shoot a guard in the leg. Nothing messy, though."
Carlson inhaled deeply. A faint smile came to his lips. He removed his
cigar and waved it at Delancy.
"So you got only ten grand, Ray? And nobody knocked off?"
"That's what I said," Delancy crabbed.
Carlson chuckled. "I happen to know that a number of men were killed,
that you're wanted for murder, and that your total take was about
seventy-five thousand dollars. And it'll cost you just thirty-two
thousand five hundred dollars of that money to get you out of the jam."
"Thirty-two thousand—" Delancy gasped.
Carlson waved his cigar. "But for that price I'll see that you and all
your boys get a nice cool spot to hideout in, somewhere a long way from
Delancy stood up. "Why you damned greaseball, you! I'd see you in hell
first. Pay fifty per cent of my take to you and the usual ten per cent
to the Eye for his part of the job! Hell, that leaves me a lousy forty
per cent without counting the split to the boys."
"Take it or leave it," Carlson shrugged.
"I'll leave it!" Delancy rapped. "Why, damn you, that's robbery!"
"And your crime was murder," Carlson said. He twisted his mustache
thoughtfully. "I think you'll take my offer, Delancy, because there just
isn't any other out for you."
Delancy's scowl deepened. His eyes narrowed. An idea was beginning to
roll around inside his head. He didn't know exactly what he ought to do
with it, but it was an idea, anyway.
He said, "You think there's no other out for me, huh? Well, I'll make an
out before I'll pay any such figure to you. And listen, fellah, if I
thought—" He stopped a moment, dropped his cigarette onto the carpet
and heeled it out. "Well anyway, Carlson, I'm going to have a little
talk with the Eye. And that little talk is going to be about you and the
rotten deal you tried to hand me."
"Go ahead and talk," Carlson said. "And when the cops start closing in
on you and your mob, let me know. I'll get you out of the jam for the
Carlson got up, walked around his desk to where Delancy stood in front
of the door. He stuck out his hand.
"No hard feelings, Ray?"
Delancy looked down at the hand and sneered.
"No hard feelings, chiseler, but I sure would like to put a couple of
slugs in your belly!" And Delancy swaggered out of the office. He
guessed he'd told that chiseler where he got off.
As soon as the door had closed, Jack Carlson bounded back to his desk,
touched a button on an inter-office communications box. Somebody on the
lower floor of the garage answered.
Carlson said, "Ray Delancy is just leaving. I want him tailed."
The Black Hood had reached a dead-end in the trail which had led him
from the Weedham Industries plant. The gray sedan in which the fleeing
criminals were riding had vanished, apparently into thin air. Black Hood
had spent thirty minutes of search at break-neck speed in an attempt to
pick up the trail of the gray sedan again. He had driven the roadster
which belonged to Jeff Weedham in and out of alleys in a trial and error
effort to sight the killers' car, but all without success.
It occurred to him then that it was entirely possible that the rob and
kill boys had not left the suburban town at all. Perhaps this was their
hideout. With that in mind, he parked Jeff Weedham's car and stepped out
into the rain, his black cape wrapped around him. He felt that he could
walk the streets in comparative safety in spite of his costume, for it
would have required close inspection under direct light to distinguish
the garb he wore from the standard poncho and rain-hood worn by the
traffic police in bad weather.
After an hour or more of leg work that yielded him no information so far
as a possible hideout for the criminals was concerned, Black Hood came
across the drunk. The drunk was in a dismal alley, leaning up against
the wall of a tavern which he had evidently just left. He was a young
man, and he wore some sort of a uniform—that of a chauffeur, taxi
driver, or something of the sort. When Black Hood put in his appearance,
the young man started to move along up the alley, staggering as he
"Wait a minute," Black Hood called.
"'S all right, officer," the drunk said, mistaking Black Hood for a cop.
"I'm on my way. I'm goin' home."
"You think you'll get there, weaving around that way?" Black Hood asked,
catching up with the man. "If you don't fall asleep under the wheels of
a truck you'll be mighty lucky."
"Only live a block from here," the drunk explained. "I'll make it. I
gotta skin full, all right. Never been drunk before, so help me,
officer. But Burkey fired me because he said I was drunk when I wasn't.
A man's gotta live up to his reputation, don't he?"
"Who's Burkey?" Black Hood asked. He was determined to see that the
young drunk got safely home.
"Runs the Super-Charged Gasoline Station two blocks south of here. He
said he wouldn't have a drunk working for him, but I was cold sober when
"When what happened?" Black Hood linked his arm with that of the young
"I was out at the gas pumps when a gray sedan barreled into the station
and in onto the wash rack," the young man explained. "Burkey brought the
doors down in the wash room and turned on the steam. About ten minutes
later, the gray sedan drove out the other side of the wash room, and it
wasn't gray any more. It was blue—blue with red wheels."
At the mention of a gray sedan traveling fast, Black Hood's interest
"Maybe," he suggested, "there were two cars in the wash room."
"Can't be," the young man said. "There's only room for one at a time. I
went to Burkey and asked him how it happened that a car would change
color like that. He said it hadn't changed color and if I thought it had
I must be drunk. So he fired me. But I was cold sober, I tell you. And
I'd like to know what I'm going to do and what my widowed mother is
going to do with me out of a job."
Black Hood reached inside his cape. The broad black belt which he wore
contained many secret pockets, and from one of these he extracted a
ten-dollar bill. He pressed the money into the young man's hand.
"That'll tide you over until you can find a job," he said. "Think you
can get across the street all right?"
They had reached the end of the alley by this time, and the young drunk
had said that his home was just on the other side of the street. The
drunk stared at the crumpled bill in his hand. Then he raised his eyes
to Black Hood's face. In the glow from a nearby street lamp he could
clearly see the black mask that covered the upper part of Black Hood's
face to the tip of his nose. The drunk was startled.
"Who—who are you?" he stammered.
Black Hood laughed. "Never mind, son. Just forget you ever saw me." Then
he turned and ran back along the alley to walk quickly in the direction
of the gas station where the drunk had worked, two blocks to the south.
The overhead door of the car washing room was open, and as Black Hood
entered it he glanced through the glass pane of the door connecting this
portion of the service station with the office. A big, shaggy-haired man
in brown overalls had just picked up the telephone from his battered,
grease-stained desk. This man would be Burkey, the owner of the station.
Black Hood's keen eyes flicked around the room in which he now stood. At
the back, near a stand that racked a number of grease guns, he saw a
second telephone fixed to the wall. An extension of the one in the
office, he wondered?
He crossed to the wall phone and gently removed the receiver from its
hook and held it to his ear. He heard a gruff voice which might well
have been that of the man Burkey, say: "Is this the Eye?"
Black Hood's eyes narrowed. The voice that came back over the wire was a
"This is the Eye speaking."
Burkey said, "Delancy came through here about a couple of hours ago."
"Delancy?" the Eye said. "Yes, I know."
"I changed paint jobs for him according to instructions," Burkey
explained. "But what I called you about, I got a young fellow working
here, grinding gas. He saw the gray sedan roll in here and he saw that
it was blue when it went out. He came to me to ask how come."
"What did you do?" the Eye whispered.
"Told him he was drunk and fired him," Burkey replied.
"That was careless of you," the voice whispered after the pause of a
moment. "Very careless. You should have silenced this man at once."
Burkey said, "How the hell could I do that?"
"That is your problem," the whisperer said. "But you must dispose of him
immediately, do you understand?"
"Is that an order?"
"That is an order," the Eye whispered grimly, and broke the connection.
Black Hood hung up quietly. Then crouching low, he crossed the room to
where the strainer top of the sewer drain was placed in the concrete
floor. It was in this room that Delancy's get-away car had changed paint
jobs, and in about ten minutes. How was such a thing possible?
He dropped to his knees, nerves tense as he lifted the strainer plate.
Dove gray particles clung to the sewer opening beneath—particles of
some sort of paint that was soluble in water or perhaps live steam. A
glint of understanding came into his eyes. Delancy had driven the
get-away car into this room. The car actually was not a gray car at all.
It was a blue car, the paint covered with this gray, steam soluble
substance. All that was necessary to convert the car which Black Hood
had been following into a blue car which he certainly would have missed
was a good bath of steam. It wouldn't have required more than ten
minutes at the outside.
A rumbling sound that did not originate in the thunder caps above jerked
Black Hood's attention from the drain. His glance darted toward the
overhead doors which were dropping swiftly into place. His eyes turned
toward the door leading into the service station office. Burkey, the
proprietor, was standing at the door, watching Black Hood through the
glass. There was a diabolical grin on the face of the station owner.
Black Hood straightened as the overhead doors fell into place and
locked. He took two long, springy strides toward the door. But he never
quite reached that door. With an explosive hiss, gray jets of live steam
erupted from pipes around the edge of the room. Scalding steam that
could burn and blister and boil human flesh.
Black Hood fell back from the door, staggered by his first contact with
that hissing gray hell. He threw back his head, looked above at steam
pipes that criss-crossed overhead. And then Burkey manipulated the valve
that controled the overhead pipes, and the steam poured down upon Black
Hood from above.
He couldn't see now, because of the steam. He dared not open his eyes
lest the heat blind him permanently. But in that brief glimpse upward,
Black Hood had marked the location of one of the steam pipes. He
crouched, nerves and muscles tense, controled in spite of the torturous
cloud of scalding vapor that pressed close to him. Suddenly, he
unleashed all the pent-up power of flexed legs, leaped into the air, one
gauntlet protected hand out-thrust for the pipe which he knew was there
even if he could not see it. Fingers grasped, held like steel hooks. He
drew himself up with one powerful arm until his other hand could join
The intense heat penetrated the leather palms of his black gauntlets.
Still he hung on, drawing himself upward to hook a leg over the very
pipe that threatened to boil him alive. He understood now why the
Hermit, that wise old man who had nursed him from the very jaws of
death, had been so insistent upon regular muscular exercise. The power
to save himself was there in the muscles of back, legs and arms. It was
there, waiting for just such moments of danger as these.
Gradually, he hauled himself to the pipe above, got his feet onto the
pipe and stood erect, his hands reaching up to the rafters to maintain
his balance. And there he waited in that hot gray cloud that pressed to
the roof where it condensed and fell like warm rain. His body was safe
from direct contact with the blistering jets of steam.
At last the steam was shut off, the gray clouds dissipated. Cautiously,
Burkey unlocked the door which connected the car washing room with his
office. He stepped out, doubtless expecting to find Black Hood curled up
on the floor, all consciousness driven from him by the pain of countless
steam burns. The Black Hood, watching from the pipes above, showed white
teeth in a wide grin.
"Look up, Burkey!" he sang out.
And as the big service station proprietor raised startled eyes, the
Black Hood let go of the rafters, took a dive from the pipe straight at
the man below. He caught Burkey at the throat and shoulders with his
hands. The driving weight of him crushed the big man to the floor,
knocked the breath out of him. And for a moment Black Hood just sat
there on top of Burkey, holding him in his powerful grasp.
"How does it feel to be utterly helpless, Burkey?" he said quietly. "You
see what I can do with you? I can choke the life out of you this way."
The fingers of his right hand constricted on Burkey's throat until the
man's eyes crawled a little way out of their sockets. Then he eased his
grip a little.
"Or I could dash your brains out against the floor like this."
And Black Hood seized Burkey's shaggy hair and bounced the filling
station operator's head against the floor a couple of times.
Burkey said nothing. Black Hood slapped him hard across the side of the
face with his gauntlet covered hand. Burkey winced, squirmed a little.
Then realizing that he was completely at the Black Hood's mercy, he lay
"Talk!" Black Hood said. "Who is the Eye?"
"I don't know," Burkey croaked. "I've never seen him. I don't know who
he is. You could kill me maybe, but you couldn't make me talk."
"What was that telephone number you just called?" Black Hood persisted.
Burkey's eyes rolled. "I can't tell you. The Eye would kill me if I
Black Hood laughed harshly. "And what do you think I'm going to do if
you don't talk?"
Burkey said nothing.
Black Hood got off the man, stood up. He told Burkey to get to his feet.
"And you'd better get your fists up, Burkey, because if you don't I'm
liable to knock your head off."
Possibly Burkey knew something about boxing. Possibly he had gone a
round or two with some second rate slugger some time in his life. But
certainly he had never fought with anybody who could equal the Black
Hood in speed and fire power. Black Hood's fists were everywhere at
once. His long arms were like rapiers, striking through Burkey's guard
to land time after time in the big man's face.
Finally, Burkey crumpled against the wall, one eye closed, the other
looking sleepy. Blood was dripping from nose and mouth.
"Talk!" Black Hood demanded, one closed fist raised like a hammer above
the man's head.
Burkey simply shook his head feebly and collapsed, unconscious.
Black Hood made a swift but careful search of the filling station office
without revealing anything in the way of incriminating evidence. If
Burkey knew the Eye's telephone number he apparently kept it in his
Black Hood found a short length of chain and a padlock which was used to
keep anyone from tampering with one of the oil pumps that topped a steel
drum. He returned to the car washing room, scooped the keys out of the
unconscious Burkey's pockets. Then he chained and locked the filling
station man to the steel cross member of the wash rack. Then he went
into the office, telephoned police headquarters. When the desk sergeant
had answered, he said:
"If you will send men to the Super-Charged Gas station here in your
city, you will find the proprietor, a man named Burkey. I suggest that
he be questioned in conjunction with the activities of the criminal
organizer known as the Eye, and especially in his connection with the
killing and robbery at the Weedham Industries plant tonight."
"Who is this?" the desk sergeant demanded.
Black Hood chuckled. "You'll never find out!" And then he hung up, left
the station to vanish into the murk of the rain swept night.
It must have been at about this time that Joe Strong, that demon
photographer on the staff of Jeff Weedham's paper, The Daily Opinion,
made a startling discovery. He was in the dark room at the newspaper
office with Barbara Sutton, developing films which he had exposed at the
Weedham factory that night.
He turned from his developing traps to face Barbara. The broad grin on
his coarse features was illuminated by the ruby light hanging above
"Honey," Joe said, "I got something that's going to set little old New
York right back on its heels. I've got positive proof that will identify
the dirty bum who's behind this crime wave. Positive evidence that will
point to the killer of that watchman at the Weedham plant tonight."
There was a skeptical gleam in Barbara's beautiful eyes. Since she had
been working on the newspaper with Joe Strong assigned as her pix man,
she had heard just such claims from Joe before. He was always turning up
a picture that was to be the scoop of the week and which usually
developed into a fogged film of no use to anybody.
She said, "Well, if you have you'd better turn it over to the editor
before you bungle the developing some way. Jeff Weedham is going to have
to pull something pretty soon to pick up circulation. He's got to prove
to his father that he can run this business. If he fails at this job as
he has at every other, I understand Mr. Weedham is going to cut Jeff off
from the Weedham fortune."
Joe stuck his thumbs in the arm holes of his vest.
"Jeff's worries are over, permanently. This is the scoop of the week. We
got the guy red handed. Take a look, beautiful."
Joe held up the negative strip which he had just developed. He pointed a
thick forefinger at the exposure near the end of the strip. Joe didn't
quite understand how he had got the picture unless that flare of
lightning had acted as a flashlight bulb and the lens of his camera had
been open at the time. But no matter how he had obtained it, there was
It showed the unmistakable figure of Black Hood standing over Joseph,
the Weedham gate keeper. It showed more than that. It showed Black
Hood's gauntlet covered right hand grasping the knife that was plunged
into Joseph's throat.
Barbara raised her hand to her mouth to check a startled cry. She stared
at the negative and repeatedly shook her head.
"I don't believe it," she whispered. "He wouldn't do such a thing. It's
a trick, Joe. You're trying to trick me."
"Not me," Joe said. "Just because you're in love with Black Hood you're
trying to kid yourself. I always said that guy was a crook. And now
there's proof. He's the Eye. He's the brains behind all this robbery and
murder that resulted in looted banks and jewelry stores. The camera
don't lie, Babs. And this little picture catches Mr. Hood with the goods
Barbara's indrawn breath sounded like a sob. She turned quickly and ran
from the dark room. Was it true? Could it possibly be true? Black Hood
had always told her that he was an outlaw, and she had loved him in
spite of that because of the many good and brave things he had done to
defend people against the criminals of the underworld.
But if Black Hood was guiltless—this had never occurred to Barbara
before—if he was actually guiltless, why had he never let her see his
The Brand Of Light
But Barbara Sutton had seen the face of the Black Hood. She saw it on
the following night when a group of wealthy and influential citizens met
at Gracelawn, the West End Avenue estate of William Weedham. Barbara saw
Black Hood's face without knowing it, for in the identity of Kip Burland
he had been with her all evening.
It was a pleasant face, sun-bronzed and well-formed, with waving brown
hair and eyes that could be gentle and compassionate. Kip Burland had
taken Barbara to dinner, much to the annoyance of Joe Strong, and later
in the evening they had picked up Joe and driven in Barbara's car to the
Barbara was obviously deeply concerned over the evidence which Joe
Strong had accidently turned up. The picture of Black Hood in the
apparent act of thrusting a knife into the throat of the Weedham
Industries watchman, had been plastered all over the front page of Jeff
Weedham's Daily Opinion. Other newspapers had taken up the cry,
demanding that the Black Hood be taken dead or alive.
When Barbara mentioned this news story to Kip Burland, Kip scarcely knew
what was the wisest course to pursue. If he defended the Black Hood he
ran the risk of exciting suspicion. The secret that Kip Burland and the
Black Hood were one and the same persons was more precious than ever,
now that Black Hood was wanted for murder.
"There's just one thing, Babs," he told the girl as they drove to the
Weedham home, "nobody can tell me that Black Hood and this criminal
genius known as the Eye are the same. I can't believe it."
"Listen, Burland," Joe Strong put in angrily, "you're not sitting there
and calling me a liar, either. All these stick-up jobs recently have
been planned by the Eye. You'll agree to that, no doubt. That one last
night at the Weedham works was the same sort of a thing—every possible
witness murdered. And I not only saw the Black Hood with my own eyes,
but I took a picture of him. And then he and I had a little scrap."
"How does it happen the Black Hood isn't right down in Tombs prison
now?" Kip Burland asked mildly.
"Well, er," Joe stammered, "some of his men pitched in on me from
behind. There must have been three of them, anyway."
Burland could scarcely repress a laugh.
"Only three? Why, you're slipping, aren't you, Joe?"
The bickering might have gone on the rest of the evening except that
Barbara Sutton told them they were both being very foolish. If Kip
didn't stop his arguing, she wouldn't vouch for him at this meeting
tonight at the Weedham home. She and Joe were to cover the meeting for
The Daily Opinion, but she had simply brought Kip along as a friend,
trusting that that would be enough to get him in.
Barbara Sutton's name was a prominent one in social circles as was that
of Joe Strong, so that there was no difficulty gaining admittance into
the Weedham home for Kip Burland. In the magnificent reception hall, Kip
was introduced to Jeff Weedham. The lanky heir to the Weedham wealth was
"D-d-don't see why you want to sit in on a stuffy meeting like this
just for pleasure," Jeff Weedham said, smiling, "but I can assure you
that any friend of Barbara's is a friend of mine."
The tall oak door of the library was opened by William Weedham
himself—a plump, white-haired man with black, overhanging eyebrows.
"Son," he said to Jeff, "we're all ready to begin. As the owner of a
newspaper which is instrumental in molding public opinion, you ought to
welcome this opportunity to serve your community."
Jeff Weedham laughed. "Since the Eye or the Black Hood, whatever his
name is, swiped my roadster, d-d-don't you think I'm not interested in
laying him by the heels, D-d-dad."
William Weedham brought scowling eyes to focus upon Kip Burland.
"I don't believe I know this young man," he said.
Jeff said, "This is Kip Burland, a friend of mine, D-d-dad. He wants a
try-out as a reporter. And I thought I'd let him help cover this
business together with Joe and Barbara."
And that fixed it up. With a whispered warning to Kip to try and look
like a would-be reporter, Jeff Weedham led Burland into the library. The
elder Weedham took his place at the head of a long refectory table about
which were seated six men. Some of those included in the committee which
had been formed to take protective measures against the master criminal
known as the Eye, were familiar to Kip Burland. There was short, beefy
Sergeant McGinty, a representative from the police who was to serve as
coordinator. McGinty, Kip Burland knew well enough, was the most ardent
enemy of the Black Hood on the police force.
Then there was a cocky little man with sandy hair and one glass eye. He
was Major Paxton, a retired army man and brother-in-law of William
Weedham. Paxton made his home at the Weedham estate and quite naturally
had been included in the group.
The tall, grim man with the long side whiskers was Harold Adler, an
executive of the Bankers Express service. Certainly he had a grievance
against the Eye after that attack on his guards and armored truck at the
Weedham plant on the night before.
Kip Burland also recognized the handsome, energetic man with the sleek
black hair and small, waxed mustache. This was Jack Carlson who operated
the Atlas Auto Livery and some sort of a trucking concern. Just exactly
why Carlson should have been called into this group, Kip did not know.
He knew something of Carlson's past, perhaps more than even Sergeant
McGinty did, and there were some blotches of shadow on Mr. Carlson's
William Weedham rapped the meeting to order, remarked briefly that they
had come here tonight to see if some definite plan could not be formed
to cope with the ever rising danger of a major crime wave, planned and
directed by this man who called himself the Eye.
"We are fortunate," the elder Weedham said, "in having Mr. Carlson with
us tonight. It has been frequently said by the police that if taxi
companies and other common carriers would cooperate with the law more
closely, there would be much less chance for the criminal to escape. Mr.
Carlson has a message for us which I hope will be representative of all
members of all taxi and transport systems."
"It seems to me," Major Paxton put in, his small body swelling with
importance, "that the crux of the whole matter lies in the fact that
these criminals, who are operating under the direction of the Eye, have
discovered some fool proof means of escaping from the scene of their
crime. Is that correct, Sergeant McGinty?"
McGinty's face reddened. "I don't know whether you'd call it the crux or
not, Major, but in any crime if a criminal has some fool proof means of
escape, as you put it, there isn't a whole lot the police can do about
Somebody snickered. It was obvious that Major Paxton's remark hadn't
been a particularly bright one.
"But I'll say this," the sergeant went on, "this fellow the Eye, and I
prefer to call him the Black Hood, has developed a means of moving
criminals beyond our reach to a hell of a high point." The sergeant
coughed and apologized for his bit of profanity. "I mean, he's got a
hole in the police dragnet big enough so you could drive a whole
mechanized division of the army through it. If Jack Carlson can throw
any light on the matter, I'd like to hear him do it."
Jack Carlson stood up, smiled smoothly, and bobbed his head to Sergeant
"I think, gentlemen," he began, "that you will find few taxi operators
in the city of New York who would not gladly assist in halting an
escaping criminal if they were given the opportunity. And the same goes
for any other common carrier—the railroads, bus service, and airlines.
At the same time, common carriers are obliged by law not to discriminate
against a prospective passenger just because he may look suspicious:
That is, if I am driving a cab and a man rushes out of a bank with what
I may interpret as a look of guilt upon his face, I cannot refuse to
take him as a fare. Nor can I very well ask for his finger prints and
check up to see if he has a criminal record before taking him to his
"We know all that, Carlson," Harold Adler said. "Suppose you tell these
men what you told me before the meeting."
Carlson frowned, remained dramatically silent for a moment while he
twisted his mustache. Kip Burland watched the man closely. If this was
acting, Carlson was a remarkable actor. Somehow, he could not trust the
man nor the words that came from his mouth.
Carlson said, "The Eye has not only organized the various mobs of gunmen
in this city, but he has accomplished something else. He has established
a perfect underground railway for transporting these criminals from one
place to another in secret. I know, because the Eye personally asked me
to handle that part of his business for him."
There was another dramatic pause. Then Sergeant McGinty sprang to his
"Say, Mr. Carlson, if the Eye approached you personally let's have it
right now. Is the Eye this same guy known as the Black Hood?"
Carlson smiled. "It would seem so from the picture which appeared this
morning in the Daily Opinion."
"Yeah," Joe Strong put in. "That's the picture I took."
No one was paying any attention to Joe. All eyes were focused upon Jack
"Understand," Carlson continued, "I did not meet the Eye face to face.
He called me on the telephone, spoke to me in a whispering voice. He
asked me if I would be interested in a money-making proposition. I
played him along, tried to draw him out. He wanted me to employ cars and
trucks for the secret transportation of criminals and in exchange I was
to get a cut of the money which would be looted by his criminals."
"And," Weedham said, "you believe that some transportation company in
this city is actually assisting the Eye in this business?"
"Undoubtedly," Carlson said. "I, of course, rejected his offer. I was
attempting to figure out a plan by which I might trace this call to the
Eye's hideout, but that's quite difficult with these dial phones, you
"But that is how the Eye is working his get-aways. He probably has
carefully placed stations all over the city where criminals who are
fleeing from some crime can get a fast car, or hide in some unsuspicious
looking truck to be transported beyond the reach of the law. It would
appear to me—"
Every light in the big room suddenly went out. Smothering blackness
dropped like a shroud over those at the refectory table and upon Barbara
Sutton, Joe Strong, Kip Burland, and Jeff Weedham who were seated along
"D-d-damn!" Jeff Weedham stuttered. "What's this—the well known
A white beam of light stabbed through the French windows at the end of
the room, spotted the wall directly above Jack Carson's sleek head. In
the center of the spot was a crude sign, projected in black lines upon
the wall. It was like a child's drawing of a human eye, round, staring,
and at the same time infinitely menacing.
Kip Burland was on his feet while the others remained spellbound by the
brand of light. Watching the projected sign of the eye upon the wall, he
nevertheless moved swiftly and silently toward the French windows.
The sign of the Eye flicked out, and in its place was a message in black
CARLSON HAS DEFIED ME.
HE WILL DIE.
Burland waited for no more, but slipped through the French windows and
onto the terrace. The white beam of light rayed out from a thick grove
of shrubs and small trees on the other side of the big yard. Kip Burland
raced across the lawn toward the source of the light.
The Lady In White
Half way toward the thicket, Kip Burland saw that the light had gone
out. But he had marked the spot from which it had originated, and in
another moment he had broken through the tangled branches of the shrubs
to the place from which the light ray had come. He saw no one. He
stopped, listening. On his left he heard the crackling of twigs. He
moved quickly in that direction, saw now a wraithlike figure in white.
It was the soft voice of a woman who called. Kip Burland took a few more
cautious steps in the direction of the figure in white. Now that his
eyes were more used to the gloom, he could see that the woman was not
alone. There was a man standing beside her.
"Hello," Kip responded calmly. He took a box of matches from his pocket,
struck one, and held it high. The woman wore a white evening gown. Her
beautifully molded face was nearly as white as her dress. Her hair was
black as India ink, drawn back from her rounded forehead to knot softly
at the back of her head. Her eyes were cool green with an exotic lift at
the outer extremities of the lids.
The man beside her was evidently her chauffeur, judging from his
uniform. He was a dark, somber looking man with a particularly ugly scar
on his chin.
The woman smiled—a smile that did not quite reach her green eyes.
"Are you the man with the flashlight who was out here a moment ago?" she
Kip's eyes narrowed. He wondered if the woman was beating him to the
draw. He might have asked her, and with better reason, if it was she who
had turned that beam of light on the Weedham house.
The match burned out in Kip's fingers. He tossed the stub of it aside.
"Obviously I'm not the man with the flashlight," he said evenly, "or I
would not have had to light a match just now."
"How silly of me," the woman with the green eyes laughed. "Of course you
are not. But I am so anxious to find my little locket. I am Vida
Gervais, and I live just over the wall in the next house. I think I lost
my little locket while walking here this afternoon. I hoped that you
were the man with the flashlight and could help me find it."
"Don't you find that gown something of a liability hunting in this
jungle?" Kip asked. Her explanation was entirely too glib to suit him.
But before she could form an answer, the whip-crack of a shot rang out
from the direction of the Weedham house. The woman who had introduced
herself as Vida Gervais uttered a short, sharp cry. Then she and her
chauffeur turned and fled.
Kip Burland thrashed his way through the bushes to the border of the
thicket. In the dim night glow, he saw a man running toward the house
and a second figure that lay huddled on the lawn in front of the terrace
steps. Burland could not be absolutely certain, but he thought that the
running man was Jack Carlson. There were hoarse shouts from the
immediate vicinity of the house, and Kip recognized the bellow of Joe
Strong and the harsh rasping voice of Sergeant McGinty.
Kip broke away from the shrubbery and ran across the open lawn toward
that point where the man lay on the ground. The second figure, which he
thought was Jack Carlson, was now kneeling beside the fallen man.
In another moment, Kip saw that his first impression had been correct.
The second man was Carlson. He looked up at Kip, his face chalk white in
the uncertain light.
"He's dead," Carlson said. "He's been shot."
Burland dropped beside Jack Carlson, brought out his matches, struck
one. The man on the ground was wearing an ordinary business suit. He was
entirely bald, with a large, shapeless nose and chubby cheeks. He was
lying on one side, his left arm extended. Clutched in the dead fingers
of his left hand was a yellow slip of paper. It looked like bank check
paper to Burland.
Others were coming from around the side of the house—Jeff Weedham and
Barbara Sutton. Behind them came Major Paxton and two other members of
Kip Burland shot a glance at Jack Carlson, saw that the latter was
looking in the direction of the newcomers. Kip thrust out a hand toward
the piece of yellow paper in the fingers of the corpse. It was so rapid
a movement that even if Carlson had been watching him it is doubtful if
the auto livery operator could have caught it. Kip jerked the piece of
paper from the hand of the dead man, and stood up.
By the time Barbara and Jeff Weedham had joined them, Burland had rolled
the slip of yellow paper into a cylinder and placed it inside the cap of
his fountain pen.
"Kip!" Barbara gasped. "What's happened?"
"Someone seems to have been shot," he replied mildly. "I don't know just
Jeff Weedham had a flashlight. He turned the beam on the face of the
"D-d-damn!" he stammered. "It's Biggert. Poor old Biggert. Why, he's
D-d-dad's private secretary. Attended to everything for D-d-dad."
William Weedham, Adler, and the rest of the committee men hurried from
the corner of the house.
"Biggert, did you say?" William Weedham gasped. "Good lord! Where's that
Sergeant McGinty?" And then Weedham dropped beside the dead man, looked
long and searchingly into the immobile face.
Sergeant McGinty put in his appearance a moment later and with him was
Joe Strong. He was holding onto Joe by the ear.
"Try your football tackles on me, will you!" McGinty was growling, while
Joe was trying to break away without losing an ear.
"Aw, Sergeant, how did I know it was you prowling around in all that
dark?" Joe complained.
It was evident that Joe had made another of his unfortunate mistakes.
But McGinty forgot and forgave when he saw the body of Biggert lying
there on the lawn. The sergeant bent his thick knees, took Jeff
Weedham's flashlight, turned it on the corpse.
"It was obviously a mistake," Jack Carlson was explaining smoothly. "The
killer had no designs on Biggert, certainly."
"Huh?" McGinty looked up, his red face contorted by a puzzled frown.
"What do you mean, it was a mistake?"
"This is obviously the Eye's work," Carlson explained. "I was standing
just about in this spot when this man Biggert came running around the
house and directly in front of me. That was when the shot was fired. The
bullet was intended for me. You would expect as much after the Eye's
McGinty nodded his head. "Could be. And believe me, Mr. Carlson, you'd
better put yourself under police protection."
"I can take care of myself, thanks," Carlson insisted. As he turned away
from McGinty and the body, his eyes met those of Kip Burland. And then
Carlson stepped quickly to the outer rim of the circle around the body.
Kip Burland knew that Carlson was lying. Carlson hadn't been near
Biggert at the time of the shooting. It was Carlson whom Burland had
seen running toward the body.
"D-d-dad," Jeff Weedham stammered, "where was Biggert when we were in
"Oh, how should I know!" The elder Weedham ran his fingers through his
gray hair. "I don't know where he was. In his room, I suppose, going
over my personal accounts."
"Possibly," Major Paxton put in, "he was disturbed when the lights went
out in the house and came down to investigate. He probably heard the
rest of us outside the house, searching for that prowler who turned the
light through the library window."
"And possibly," McGinty said, "Biggert had discovered something pretty
important, too! There's a little scrap of yellow paper in his
fingers—just a corner, as though somebody snatched a note or something
from his hand."
"Just a corner, you say, Sergeant?" Jack Carlson asked. "When he fell in
front of me, I noticed that there was quite a sizable slip of paper in
"There was, huh?" McGinty's eyes rested accusingly upon each face in the
circle about the body. "All right. Now just tell me who first joined you
and the murdered man, Mr. Carlson."
Carlson looked at Kip Burland. "It was that young man," he said.
"Burland, huh?" McGinty said. "I guess I'll have to search your pockets,
Burland, if you've no objection."
Kip smiled. "None whatever, Sergeant."
McGinty went through Kip's pockets. He ignored the fountain pen which
was clipped in plain sight. He stood back, shook his head.
"I guess you're clean, Burland," he admitted, and then turned to the
others. "But I'm finding whatever was in Biggert's hand, understand?
Mr. Weedham, you'll go call headquarters and tell them I want the
Homicide Detail out here."
"You mean me, d-d-don't you?" Jeff Weedham asked.
McGinty shook his head. "I mean your father. You and the rest stay here.
I'll have a little more searching to do. And a lot more questions to
Though McGinty fulfilled his promise in so far as the questions and the
searching were concerned, he didn't turn up the piece of paper he was
looking for. Neither did he find the weapon or the murderer.
It was about eleven o'clock when Jack Carlson asked permission to leave.
He had some urgent business to attend to, he explained to the sergeant.
McGinty had no grounds for holding Carlson, told him to go ahead.
But Carlson did not leave alone. Kip Burland, without asking permission
from anybody or even saying good-night to Barbara, slipped quietly from
the house. He was particularly interested in the urgent business which
was pressing Mr. Jack Carlson.
The Trail Of The Beam
If Jack Carlson was as innocent as he pretended to be, it was curious
that he should stop just outside the gate of the Weedham home, reach
into a bed of dwarf evergreens from which he took a long copper cylinder
which closely resembled a flashlight.
From his hiding place in the shadows, Kip Burland saw this move on the
part of Carlson. He then saw Carlson get into his car and drive away.
Burland hailed a passing cab, ordered the driver to keep Carlson's car
Carlson drove down into the lower east side of town, parked his car in a
narrow street, and got out. Kip ordered his cab to pass Carlson's car.
Looking back through the rear window, he saw Carlson turn up a narrow
walk between two tenement buildings.
"Stop here," Kip ordered the cab driver. And as the taxi braked, he got
out, threw a bill to the driver, and ran up the street toward the place
where Carlson had disappeared.
In the dusky shadows between the two tenements, Burland watched Carlson
put something into a wooden milk box attached just outside what was
apparently someone's kitchen door. Then Kip had to duck back into a
darkened doorway as Carlson retraced his steps, and got back into his
Kip had to make a choice quickly. Either he continued to follow Carlson
or he investigated the milk box which Carlson had mysteriously visited.
In as much as there was no taxi in sight, Kip decided on the latter
course. As soon as Carlson was out of sight, he left the doorway, went
up the walk between the two buildings, opened the milk box.
Inside the box he found the copper cylinder which he had seen Carlson
take from its hiding place outside the Weedham home. The thing resembled
a flashlight more closely than ever on close inspection. It was a little
longer than the usual three cell case, and there was a finely ground
lens at the end.
Around the outside of the case was a piece of paper, held in place by a
rubber band. Kip removed the rubber band, unrolled the paper, studied it
in match light. On the paper was penciled the name "Delancy" followed by
the words, "Second floor rear at end of fire escape, sixty-eight A
Seventh Avenue." At the bottom of the paper was that crude drawing, the
sign of the Eye.
Kip's pulse quickened. Could it be that Carlson was the Eye? Certain
here was a message which Carlson had delivered and which carried the
Eye's signature. And the flashlight device—Kip understood its
construction and purpose immediately. Inside the case was some sort of a
trigger mechanism operated by a button on the outside. The trigger
operated a narrow strip of film, perhaps eight millimeter film, on which
were photographed the messages which the Eye intended to send. This film
would be placed between the light globe and the lens, so that the
photographed message could be projected on any wall from a long
This was the device which had been used tonight at the Weedham home.
Someone on the outside, probably the lady with the green eyes, Vida
Gervais, had employed the light beam projected message. That warning
which seemed to have been intended for Carlson was probably no warning
at all. Perhaps the police had been keeping rather a sharp eye on
Carlson, and Carlson had decided to put himself in the clear by faking
that little scene at the Weedham's and pretending that the Eye intended
to kill Carlson.
"And that would be suicide, I'd be willing to bet my last dollar!" Kip
He replaced the light signal device in the milk box together with the
note which was attached to the copper case. He would await further
developments. Carlson was the Eye, he was certain. It was now the job of
the Black Hood to catch Carlson red-handed.
He left the narrow corridor between buildings to take up a post on the
other side of the street. He did not have to wait very long until a man
in the garb of a telegraph messenger came up the street. The messenger
looked both ways and finally turned up that sidewalk between the two
tenements. Even from where he stood, Kip Burland could hear the rattle
of the milk box top. A moment later, the messenger appeared. He was
carrying that self-same copper cased flashlight device.
It was a tangled trail that Kip Burland followed that night, shadowing
that man who wore a telegraph messenger's costume. From half a block
behind the man, Kip watched the messenger walk along side of the bleak
walls of Tombs prison. He saw the narrow ray of that signal beam reach
out and up to one of the narrow, barred windows. The Eye was signaling
to someone who was even now in the hands of the police!
The further he delved into the mystery of the whispering criminal known
as the Eye, the more intriguing it became. Who but a perverted genius
could have planned so completely, so thoroughly that not even prison
walls offered any sort of a barrier?
It was when the messenger crossed over to Seventh Avenue that Kip
Burland decided that this time he would be on the receiving end of that
message that traveled the light beam. He knew where the messenger was
heading. That paper banded to the flashlight device had carried a
Seventh Avenue address. Someone else was to receive one of the Eye's
little missives. A man by the name of Delancy, judging from the writing
on the note paper.
The name struck a responsive cord in Kip Burland's memory. It recalled
Ray Delancy, one of the most dangerous rob and kill men in the
business. Delancy would be the sort of a person valuable to the Eye.
In a murky alley off Seventh Avenue, Kip Burland paused for a few
precious moments. Quickly, he shed his outer garments, revealing beneath
the yellow silk tights, the wide belt, and the black athletic shorts
that identified the Black Hood. From the inter-lining in the back of his
suit coat, he took a flat folded package composed of his gauntlet
gloves, his black silk cape, and that combination mask and hood that
completed the costume. Shortly, Kip Burland had vanished, completely
over-shadowed by his famous alias—the Black Hood.
The Eye's messenger had been moving at a leisurely pace. In spite of the
delay his costume change had necessitated, Black Hood easily outstripped
the messenger, reached the Seventh Avenue address which had been noted
on that slip of paper attached to the signal device. This proved to be
an ancient red brick lodging house which would have made an excellent
hideout for a criminal.
There was a fire escape on the side of the building. Black Hood raised
his eyes to the second story, marked the window which was nearest the
fire escape at this point. This was the window mentioned in the Eye's
instructions. Just across the alley from this point, Black Hood spied a
wood telephone pole. He grinned. Nothing could be sweeter! He crossed to
the pole, leaped for the lowest climbing spike, driven into the wood
about eight feet from the ground, and drew himself upwards. At the
second climbing spike, he stopped. From this position he would be able
to see the upper part of the wall of the second floor room of the
building across the alley, and also the ceiling. He pulled his black
cape around him and waited.
It wasn't long before he heard the footsteps of the messenger crunching
along the alley. The man came to a stop within a few feet of the very
post to which Black Hood was clinging. He pointed the copper cased
flashlight device upward toward the dark window which Black Hood was
watching. The white ray stabbed out through the darkness, and Black Hood
could clearly see the brand of the Eye, projected on the ceiling of the
room across the alley.
The light beam lingered for a moment, then went out. The shadowy figure
of a man appeared at the window. A cigarette glowed in his lips. A
signal, Black Hood wondered? And then the figure in the window withdrew
and the light beam again shot up from below. This time the words of the
Eye's message were clearly projected onto the ceiling of the crimester's
hideout. Black Hood read:
"Delancy, come to headquarters at once."
And then the beam of light went out.
Black Hood altered his position slightly so that he clung to the pole
with one hand, his body poised for a leap. The faint rustle of the Black
Hood's cape caused the messenger on the ground to look up.
Black Hood knew that he had to act fast. That signaling device which the
messenger carried was an important piece of evidence. Jack Carlson's
finger prints would be on the case. That, together with the photo film
which carried the Eye's message and was enclosed in the trigger
mechanism of the novel projector, constituted evidence that would prove
that Jack Carlson was the Eye.
Black Hood sprang out from the pole, swooped down upon the messenger
like a huge black bat. The man turned to flee too late. Black Hood
caught him by the coat tails, dragged him back. The messenger turned,
grappled with Black Hood. Then followed one of those grim, silent
struggles, too deadly serious for oaths and threats. Rat this pawn of
the Eye may have been, but even a cornered rat will fight with the
courage of a lion.
Time after time the man tried to bash Black Hood's skull with the copper
cased signal device—tried once too often; for Black Hood's gauntlet
covered fingers closed like steel hooks upon the device. A twist, a
sudden jerk, and it was Black Hood who had the signal device now.
The copper cylinder gone, the messenger's courage seemed to have gone
with it. He turned, fled like a frightened rabbit up the alley and into
Again Black Hood was faced with one of two choices. He might follow the
messenger, might catch him, turn him over to the cops. But in all
probability, the messenger knew less about the identity of the Eye than
Black Hood knew. He was merely a tool in the hands of a master criminal.
And Black Hood was after that master criminal.
The second choice, and the one which he decided to take, was to follow
Delancy who had been given orders from the Eye to appear at the
headquarters of the mob immediately. And in as much as Black Hood had
not the slightest idea where the Eye had his headquarters, this was the
wisest course to pursue.
His heart beat high with hope as he waited in the alley for Delancy to
make his appearance. He felt that he was nearing the end of the case,
approaching the time when the Eye, that menace to the peace and safety
of all New York, could be placed behind prison bars. And when he had
proved that Jack Carlson was the Eye, Black Hood would clear himself of
the charge of murder!
The Forces Of Evil
The Eye had chosen his headquarters well. It was in the basement room of
what had once been a Greenwich Village speakeasy. There he had brought
together all of the important rival mobs of the city—forces of evil
which might otherwise have been at each other's throats. The Eye had
brought unity to the underworld. He had taught them that there was
nothing to be gained by warring among themselves; and there were
millions to be gained by united action.
Delancy was there, his toadlike form crouching on the edge of his chair
placed next to that of Ron "The Bug" Brayton, formerly Delancy's rival
in the rob and kill profession. All of Delancy's star gunsels were
there—Squid Murphy, Shiv and the rest.
The Eye was there, standing on a rough wood platform at one end of the
room. His coat was off so that anyone present might plainly see the twin
gun harness he wore and the black butts of two heavy automatics. His
face and head was covered with a full mask of thin white rubber, pierced
by two slots for eyeholes. He wore a black slouch hat.
Black Hood was there, but nobody knew about that except the guard at the
top of the basement stairway. The guard knew, but bound and gagged he
was in no position to say anything about it. Black Hood stood in that
shadowy stairway and was himself like one of the shadows—watching,
listening, waiting for his time.
Ray Delancy shuffled to his feet as the meeting began.
"Mr. Eye," Delancy said, "I got a complaint to make, that is if you
don't mind. Like to get it off my chest before we go into anything in
the way of new business."
The Eye inclined his head. "Make your complaint, Mister—" He coughed.
"Well, go ahead."
"It's about this man Carlson who works for you," Delancy said. "When I
pulled that job at the Weedham plant for you, I was hot on the get-away.
I thought I was hot, anyway. We switched paint jobs at Burkey's station,
see, and rolling into town that dame you sent to ride with us switched
on the radio. A police call came through. The coppers were looking for
us. I didn't figure how come until a good bit later."
"Go on," the Eye said.
Delancy shuffled his feet and looked at the floor.
"I don't like to make trouble, see, but that was a put-up job."
"You mean what?" the Eye questioned.
"I mean that wasn't no police call. There was some sort of a phonograph
device under the cowl of that get-away car, and this was hooked up to
the radio switch. That police call was a phoney. We wasn't hot. That was
just rigged up to send us to Jack Carlson to ask that he get us out of
town in a hurry.
"I went to Carlson. I told him we was hot, because at the time I figured
we was. He wanted fifty per cent of our total take to move us out of
town. Fifty per cent, and with the ten that we are supposed to pay you,
that don't leave a guy much profit. I told Carlson I'd rot in jail
first. And all the time, I ain't hot at all, because the bulls haven't
turned the heat on me. It was a phoney, see, just to get me to spend a
lot of dough on a get-away."
The Eye nodded. "There have been some other complaints about Carlson. I
will see that he is eliminated. Someone else will take over the position
which he has filled."
In the shadows of the stairway, Black Hood laughed soundlessly. That was
a hot one, that was! Here was Carlson, playing both ends against the
middle, getting his cut as the Eye and getting a second and large
helping out of his crooked transport business. And now the Eye was
talking about eliminating Carlson to appease Ray Delancy!
"To get back to the business at hand," the Eye said, "our next job is a
small matter of one hundred thousand in unset jewels. And by a hundred
thousand, I am not referring to the current market price. We can realize
that amount from a fence. It sounds good, eh?"
Some of the mobsters cursed appreciatively.
"There is," the Eye continued, "an obscure little jewelry shop known as
Tauber's which has received such a shipment of gems."
"Diamonds or other stuff?" Ron "The Bugs" Brayton asked.
The Eye coughed. "The former," he said. "Tomorrow night I will require
the services of a select number of you. I'll want Murphy, and—" he
nodded at Delancy—"you. You, too, Brayton, and a number of your best
men. We will also need a good safe expert."
One of the crooks held up his hand. "That's me."
"Agreed, then," the Eye said. "If there is nothing else to attend to, we
may as well adjourn."
As some of the crooks started toward the foot of the steps leading up
from the basement room, it appeared as though there was quite a bit more
to attend to. This was the moment for which Black Hood had been waiting.
Standing near the top of the stairs, he reached out and hauled the bound
and helpless guard down to his level. As the first of the hoods showed
his face at the foot of the stairs, Black Hood gave the guard a shove
that sent the man flopping down the stairs to bowl over two of the
foremost members of the mob.
The Black Hood took a couple of strides and then leaped from halfway
down the steps. He cleared the roped guard and the two fallen hoods,
landed lightly on the balls of his feet within a yard of Squid Murphy.
And then, before anyone in the room could quite understand what this was
all about, the Black Hood unleashed a furious one-man attack on the
startled crimesters. His two long arms reached out. His gloved fingers
closed on Squid Murphy and the killer called Shiv simultaneously. He
brought the two together, all but jerked them from their feet, to crack
Murphy's head against that of Shiv. Murphy and Shiv went limp, and as
they fell, Black Hood snatched a half-drawn automatic from the shoulder
holster of gunman Murphy. He stepped clear of the two men, faced the
others, a mocking smile on his lips.
"I am seldom required to carry a gun, since one of my opponents nearly
always gives me his," he said quietly. "It will take just one smart move
from any one among you to find out whether or not the Black Hood can
Ten of the most dangerous criminals in the city plus that master-mind,
the Eye, stood there in awed silence, watching that tall figure in
yellow tights and black silk hood.
"I want the Eye," Black Hood said. "If you will surrender him to me, I
will give the rest of you a break—a break of five minutes in which to
take your chances with the law."
Black Hood knew that the criminals would make no such bargain. He was
talking to stall for time. He knew that sooner or later, either he or
the criminals would have to make a move. What that move would be, he had
no idea. But he was ready for anything.
It was Delancy who made the first move. He had the idea that he could
draw and shoot before Black Hood could discover from just what
particular point of the room the danger threatened. And it was Delancy's
fatal mistake. Before he had his gun out of his shoulder holster, Black
Hood had fired. He had fired, remembering that cold-blooded slaughter at
the Weedham Industries plant. A third black and hollow eye appeared
suddenly in Delancy's forehead. The legs of the gunman bowed beneath the
weight of his toadlike body. There was a dull, bewildered expression on
Delancy's face as he hit the floor.
But that first shot was the spark that touched off the powder barrel.
Two more followed—one that tugged at the Black Hood's cape, a second
that shot out the light in the room. Black Hood backed toward the bottom
of the stair. He'd plant himself there in that narrow exit, and if the
crimesters thought there was an avenue of escape, let them try. The
automatic in his hand bucked and barked. His only target was the flame
from the snouts of the gangster guns, but agonized cries told him that
at least a portion of his slugs had found their mark.
Suddenly he saw at the rear of the room, a narrow shaft of gray light.
Somebody had opened a door. For just a moment, he saw the white face of
the Eye, his rubber mask glowing like the surface of a moon. Black Hood
shot twice, pulled the trigger a third time only to hear the hammer
click on an empty chamber.
Perhaps the Eye heard that click and understood its meaning, for it was
then that he made his dash through the rear door. Black Hood knew that
retreat was now his only course. He was without weapons in a battle of
screaming lead. He turned, stumbled over a fallen form, caught his
balance, and then took the stairway in long strides. A cop, attracted by
the shooting, appeared at the top of the steps, but he was only a
momentary barrier to the Black Hood—a very hard man to stop once he got
under way. His fist lashed out, caught the copper on the chin. The man
probably never knew exactly when the floor came up to slap the back of
Black Hood was clear of the building now, his legs working like tireless
pistons. He heard the shrill scream of police sirens, and in the
basement of the building the roar of gun fire still sounded. Perhaps the
criminals did not know that their opponent had left. One thing was
certain: Black Hood had dealt the forces of evil a hard blow that night,
and he had showed the Eye that the Black Hood was hard on his trail.
Rounding a corner, Black Hood sighted a taxi cab cruising along. He
dashed into the street, waving his arm. The cab stopped, the driver
goggling at the strange figure that had hailed him.
"I'm in a big hurry to get to a masquerade," Black Hood said as he
opened the door of the taxi.
"So that's what it is," the driver said, apparently satisfied.
As Black Hood got into the cab, he gave the address of Jack Carlson's
auto livery. So the Eye thought he had escaped, did he? Black Hood
chuckled. Well, he'd planned a little surprise for Jack Carlson, alias,
Alias, The Corpse
It was after two o'clock in the morning when Black Hood alighted from
the cab near the location of Jack Carlson's auto livery garage. There
was not a sign of light in the garage building, and the big doors were
closed and locked. Black Hood went to the side entrance. This also was
locked. Reaching into one of the secret pockets of his wide black belt
he removed a curiously shaped tool of finest tempered steel. He had met
few locks in his adventures which this tool could not open. A deft
thrust, a twist of the wrist, and the door was no longer a barrier to
He returned the tool to its pocket and pulled out a tiny flashlight. The
ray of light seemed swallowed by the gloom of the vast, lonely room that
lay before him. Here and there were parked cars, oil drums, huge vans.
Black Hood wondered how many of these vehicles had been used by the
members of the Eye's criminal pack.
He crossed the room to the concrete ramp that twisted up to the second
story. His footsteps whispered on the ramp. On the second floor there
was neither light nor sound—not so much as the squeak of a rat. His
flashlight pointed out the office, partitioned off from the rest of the
big room. He crossed quickly, pushed open the office door, spotted the
light switch. He turned the light switch to the on position, but no
illumination came from either the central fixtures nor the lamps on the
desk. A queer set-up, this.
He went into Jack Carlsons private office, tried the switch in there,
still without results. He pointed his flashlight beam around until it
fell on the huge iron safe in the corner. The safe door was standing
wide open, the interior cleanly empty. Queerer and queerer.
He paused in the center of the room, his nostrils dilated. There was a
faint, pleasant odor lingering in the room—a vaguely familiar odor.
Black Hood crossed to the door of a coat closet, jerked it open. A body
fell stiffly into the room, struck the carpet with a dull, jarring
sound. Black Hood sprang back, turned his light down at the corpse. He
dropped to his knees beside the dead man, grasped the shoulder of the
coat of the corpse, turned the man over on his back. And as he saw that
gray deathmask of a face, Black Hood knew that all his carefully worked
out solution had tumbled like a house of cards. The corpse on the floor
was that of Jack Carlson, and he had been dead for hours.
Carlson could not have been the Eye, for less than an hour ago, Black
Hood had seen and fought with the Eye!
Bullets had pierced the chest of Carlson in three places. High on the
left lapel of his dark suit coat was a white smudge made by some sort of
powder. Black Hood stepped to Carlson's desk, picked up an envelope and
a letter opener, and returned to the body. With great care, he scraped
some of the white powder from the coat lapel into the envelope. Then he
moistened the flap and sealed it.
Turning the flashlight away from the body, he suddenly noticed something
else. That white smudge on Carlson's coat glowed in the darkness.
The Black Hood's keen eyes narrowed on that patch of pale light. Then,
as though seized by a sudden inspiration, he sprang to Carlson's desk
and tipped up the desk lamp. He reached in under the shade and laid his
bare hand on the lamp bulb. The glass of that bulb was warm. Then he
crossed to the door, flipped the light switch to the off position, and
looked back in the direction of the corpse.
The pale glow of light which came from that powder smudge on Carlson's
lapel was no longer visible!
An understanding gleam came into Black Hood's eyes. At least he
understood how Jack Carlson had died, even if the mystery of the
identity of the Eye had deepened. He withdrew quietly from the room and
left the garage.
At the fringe of dawn the next morning, Black Hood was high in the
Catskills, in the mountain fastness of that whiskered old man who had
been his teacher—that man known simply as the Hermit. There in the
Hermit's laboratory, Black Hood and the old man made a careful analysis
of that scanty sample of powder which Black Hood had scraped from the
coat of the murdered Jack Carlson.
Finally, the old man straightened from the microscope over which he had
"My son," he asked of the Black Hood, "what are your findings?"
"The stuff is face powder," Black Hood said. "But it's something else,
too. Mixed in with the face powder is another substance."
"Naphthionate of sodium," the Hermit said.
"That's what I thought," Black Hood nodded. "It's one of those
substances which becomes phosphorescent in ultra-violet light. And those
light bulbs in Jack Carlson's garage were ultra-violet bulbs. The light
from them is invisible to us poor mortals. You see what that means,
"Not entirely," the Hermit said.
"It means that Jack Carlson was marked for murder. That face powder came
from the cheek of a woman—some woman who pressed her cheek against
Carlson's lapel. And a pretty gesture of affection it was, too. It made
Carlson so easy to kill!
"You see, the naphthionate of sodium in that powder sticks to just about
anything. Even if Carlson had brushed the face powder off, the
naphthionate would still have been there. When Carlson entered the
garage, he turned on the light switch. No visible light came from those
bulbs—only "black light" as it is called. And the killer was waiting.
In the black light, the killer could not be seen, but Carlson was
perfectly targeted by that smudge of naphthionate which glowed on his
"It was all planned in advance—the lady's part to smear the powder on
Carlsons' lapel, a sort of Judas kiss. And then there was the killer's
part—to replace the ordinary bulbs with the ultra-violet type, and to
wait with drawn gun to shoot Carlson."
"Who, then, is the Eye?" the Hermit asked.
"I'll stick to my original idea," Black Hood said after a moment's
thought. "I still think that Jack Carlson is—was—the Eye. That alibi
he arranged for himself at Weedham's home, that warning from the Eye
which stated that Carlson was to die, his efforts to make Biggert's
death look as though the killer had been shooting at Carlson instead of
at Biggert—that all points to Carlson as the Eye. He was trying to make
himself appear the fair-haired boy in front of Sergeant McGinty.
"Further, and I think conclusive proof, is that signal device which was
used to 'warn' Carlson. That was—Carlson's own device. It was Vida
Gervais, I believe, who turned the signal light through the French
windows at the Weedham house. And then later, in a previously appointed
spot, she left the signal light for Carlson to pick up as he left the
"Carlson changed the film in that light, putting in one which would
deliver two more of the Eye's messages—one of which went to Delancy,
telling him to come to a meeting tonight."
Black Hood propped one foot on a laboratory stool, rested an elbow on
his knee. His eyes were bright, his face animated.
"Don't you see that up to that point, Carlson was the Eye. But shortly
after he had planted the signal device for his messenger to pick up,
Carlson was murdered. The man who directed the criminal meeting later on
wasn't Carlson, because Carlson was dead. It means that somebody took
over where Carlson left off. It means that somebody muscled in on
Carlson's little racket, killed Carlson, began playing the part of the
"Which means," the Hermit said, "that you're not at the end of your task
"Not by a long shot," Black Hood replied. "And I'm wondering about this
Vida Gervais. Is she the woman whose face powder was smeared on Jack
Carlson's lapel? I thought the odor of the powder was familiar. And
here's another thing I didn't mention."
Black Hood searched the pockets of his wide belt, brought out his
"Here's a little item which I snitched from the hand of the murdered
Biggert, who was William Weedham's personal secretary. It's a check, and
I've scarcely had time to look at it myself."
He unscrewed the cap of the fountain pen and removed the piece of rolled
up yellow paper which he had taken from the dead Biggert's hand. He
flattened out the slip of paper and placed it on the table in front of
It was a check in the sum of forty thousand dollars, made out to the
order of Major Paxton and signed by William Weedham, the major's
brother-in-law. The check had been endorsed and paid through a New York
"I think this is the reason that Biggert was killed," Black Hood said.
"Weedham said that Biggert was going over his personal bank account, and
it's entirely possible that Biggert discovered there was something queer
about that check."
"A forgery, perhaps," the Hermit suggested.
"That was my idea," Black Hood agreed. "Anyway, that gives us a couple
of leads—Vida Gervais and Major Paxton. And if both of them are knocked
off before I can get the truth out of them—" Black Hood laughed without
The following morning, Kip Burland read the early edition of Jeff
Weedham's paper, The Daily Opinion, with his breakfast coffee. The
latest story concerning the criminal exploits of the Eye was headlined:
"EYE IS BLACK HOOD"—BURKEY
The following story told how A. J. Burkey, filling station operator from
a northern suburb, had been held in Tombs prison for questioning in
conjunction with the murder and robbery at the Weedham plant. The night
before, Burkey had confessed that his boss, the criminal known as the
Eye, was actually the Black Hood.
The part of the story that put a dull ache in Kip Burland's heart was
the fact that it was by-lined by Barbara Sutton, The Daily Opinion
police reporter—and more particularly the woman whom Kip Burland loved.
There was another "Eye" story, stating that the body of Jack Carlson had
been found. This murder, too, was attributed to the Eye. And once again
it was pointed out that the Eye and the Black Hood were one and the
As night fell upon the city, Kip Burland once more vanished behind the
identity of the Black Hood, not without full realization that he was
taking his life into his hands. Again he visited the Weedham estate on
West End Avenue, this time determined to have a talk with Major Paxton.
Prowling around the house in search for a suitable entrance, Black Hood
discovered that he could not have come at a worse time. William Weedham
was host to Sergeant McGinty and his cops as well as a number of
reporters, including Barbara Sutton and her clumsy cameraman, Joe
Strong. Evidently the police expected to gain further information about
the crimes of the Eye.
Black Hood took to a stout iron trellis, climbed quickly to the second
story where he found a bedroom window open. He slipped into the empty
bedroom and from there went into the hall. Tiptoeing down the hall, he
came to a small upstairs living room in which a light burned. There,
studying a European war map was Major Paxton.
Black Hood entered silently and closed the door behind him. As the
major looked up, Black Hood stepped quickly forward so that his tall
figure over-shadowed that of the peppery little major.
"What—what—who—" Paxton sputtered. "Why, look here, you can't come in
here like this!"
"But I am in," Black Hood said quietly. "And you won't utter a sound, or
you'll force me to live up to my unjustly earned reputation as a
"But it's illegal! It—it's damnable!"
"Now sit down and cool off, Major," Black Hood said patiently. "You can
blow off steam after I've left."
"Left, huh? You'll get out of here over my dead body!"
Black Hood nodded. "If necessary, even that. But first we're going to
have a quiet little chat, you and I. A little talk about a check in the
amount of forty thousand dollars."
"I'll not pay you one cent!" Paxton exploded. "Why, do you think you can
frighten me into—"
"I have frightened you, Major," Black Hood said, smiling. "And it won't
cost you a cent, either. All I want you to do is take a look at this
Black Hood drew the check, which he had taken from the dead fingers of
the murdered Biggert, from a pocket in his belt. He held it so that
Paxton could look at it. Paxton stared, and then suddenly looked at the
Black Hood's eyes revealed in the slots of his black mask.
"Why, it's made out to me!"
"Remarkable, isn't it?" Black Hood said. "It was found in the fingers of
the murdered Biggert." He turned the check over to show the endorsement.
"Is that your signature?"
"It most certainly is! But, great heavens, I didn't receive any money
from William Weedham. I'll have you know that I am a man of independent
means. He's never given me a penny. Why, what does this mean?"
Black Hood studied the little man closely. He had seen liars before, and
it seemed to him that if Paxton was lying he was doing a remarkable job
"That's your signature, though," he persisted.
"Yes, but I didn't sign it." The major pressed a hand to his forehead.
"Wait. I've an idea. A mere ghost of an idea!" He reached into his
pocket and pulled out a cigarette lighter. "My signature is engraved on
this lighter," he explained. "Anyone could have borrowed my lighter and
traced that endorsement. Let me see the check a moment."
Black Hood shook his head. "And have you destroy it?" he said with a
smile. "Rather, let me see the lighter."
The major handed over the cigarette lighter. Holding it beneath the
check, Black Hood could see that the signature of Paxton on the back of
the check followed in every detail the engraved signature on the
lighter. He handed the lighter back.
"And the signature of William Weedham," he said. "Take a look at that?"
Major Paxton scowled. He shook his head doubtfully. "It could be
genuine. And then again, it could be a forgery. It seems to me—"
The door behind Black Hood opened. The master manhunter wheeled, saw the
lank figure of Jeff Weedham standing in the door. Jeff Weedham opened
his mouth, shouted at the top of his voice.
"D-d-dad! Help! The Black Hood!" And then young Weedham tried a necktie
tackle that was supposed to flatten Black Hood to the floor.
Black Hood bent double to duck that high tackle. The result was that
Jeff Weedham landed squarely across Black Hood's broad back. The
manhunter straightened, threw Jeff to the floor, darted from the room
and out into the hall.
The stairway was within three long strides of him. Black Hood slid half
way down the broad stair railing before he saw William Weedham and
Sergeant McGinty at the foot of the steps waiting for him. McGinty had
his gun out. Black Hood kicked his legs over the rail, reversing his
position, gave himself a shove with his hands. He dropped over the
railing, landed on his feet in the hall below. He turned, dashed through
a door that stood open beneath the stairs. This brought him into a huge
But he wasn't there long enough to tell about it. He went through a
swinging door into a butler's pantry, then into a kitchen. There was a
cop at the back door, waiting for him. He pivoted in his tracks, doubled
back into the dining room, went through another door that brought him to
the living room. No way out there. And then he remembered that William
Weedham's library was between living room and hall. The French windows
of the library might be the one avenue of escape which McGinty's thinly
spread men were not guarding.
He reached the library, ran to the French windows. They were locked, but
the key was in place. He was about to unlock the windows when he heard
the door off the hall open and close.
Black Hood turned, just a little slowly this time, because he had
recognized that voice—a voice that haunted his dreams as did the face
of the lovely girl who owned it. Barbara Sutton stood in the doorway, a
small but businesslike revolver in her hand.
The Frame Complete
"Barbara," Black Hood said quietly, "you're joking!"
She shook her head. Her lower lip trembled.
Black Hood took two steps toward her and saw her gun wrist stiffen.
"Listen," he said grimly, "I could take that penny pea shooter away from
you in a second. I want you to know that I'm staying here in this room
when every second of delay may spell my death. I'm staying here because
if it's the last thing I do, I'm going to convince you that I'm not a
killer. And I'm not the Eye."
"That picture Joe took," she said. "And that confession of the man in
Tombs. And you've told me time and time again that you're an outlaw."
He nodded. "If my real identity were known, the police could take me on
the charge of robbery. But that charge would be a frame, just as this
one is. I can never clear myself of the robbery charge. But I can and
will clear the Black Hood of the charge of murder. Joe must have got
that picture by accident. I was simply bending over that watchman at the
Weedham plant gate to see if there was any chance that he was alive and
had witnessed the crime. When I saw the knife, I planned to withdraw it
from the watchman's throat, to use it as possible evidence.
"You've got to believe me, Barbara. I'm fighting this creature who calls
himself the Eye just as you are and just as the police are. You and I
have been through a lot of adventures together. Ask yourself if I have
ever done a single thing which would indicate that I would stoop to the
slaughter of the innocent. Ask yourself that, Barbara."
He took another step toward her. Her violet eyes glistened with tears.
"Joe Strong has tried to poison your mind against me," he said. "I can't
blame him for that, since all's fair in love and war. But you've got to
believe me, Barbara. You've got to believe me because—because I love
you. I've always loved you from the first day I set eyes on you. And—"
The gun spilled from Barbara's limp fingers, and suddenly she was in his
arms. He held her fiercely, tenderly for a long moment, kissed her warm
lips. And then there were sounds of footsteps in the hall. He heard Jeff
"D-d-did anybody look in the library?"
Black Hood released Barbara, turned, dashed back to the French windows.
He looked back before he plunged out into the darkness, and his teeth
gleamed in a smile. Barbara was smiling, too—smiling and crying at the
There was a police guard at the gate of the Weedham estate, but then
Black Hood had never cared a whole lot about using gates anyway. He
raced across the lawn, vaulted over the wall which separated the Weedham
property from the place belonging to the green-eyed Vida Gervais next
To all appearances, the green-eyed lady was not at home—not unless
those catlike eyes of hers were capable of seeing in the dark. Black
Hood found his way into the house through a window. Inside, the house
was as silent as it was dark.
Eventually, he found his way to Vida Gervais' boudoir and there poked
and sniffed among the boxes and jars of cosmetics on her dressing table.
A box of face powder attracted his particular attention, and when he
looked into the adjoining bathroom he discovered a suitable means of
testing the powder to make sure that it was the same which he had
scraped from the coat lapel of the dead Jack Carlson. Evidently, the
lady was somewhat concerned about her pale complexion, for there was a
sun lamp in the bathroom. Beneath its ultra-violet rays Black Hood
discovered that the face powder took on a phosphorescent glow, proving
that sodium naphthionate had been added to it. He took the powder with
him when he left the house a few minutes later dressed in a spare
uniform of Vida Gervais' chauffeur.
It was an hour later that Black Hood came to an obscure little jewelry
shop known simply as "Tauber's." It was here that the Eye's crimesters
were supposed to pull their next job, according to the plans which had
been set forth at the meeting on the night before. Whether or not Black
Hood's unexpected appearance at that meeting had put a crimp in those
plans, he did not know. But there was no way of learning except by trial
and error. Except for a night light which glinted through the show
window, the place was dark.
Black Hood reflected that had he any desire to live up to his false
reputation as a criminal, he could have done very nicely for himself. It
required just twenty minutes of work for him to open the window at the
back of the shop—steel grill work, burglar alarm, lock and all. It was
rather a tight squeeze for his broad shoulders, getting through the
opening, but he managed it. No sooner had his feet hit the floor,
however, than he felt the cold, stern prod of the barrel of an
"All right, Mr. Hood, put up your hands!"
Black Hood jerked a glance over his right shoulder to behold the
unlovely visage of Mr. Ron "The Bugs" Brayton.
"Hi there, Bugs," he said lightly, raising his hands to the level of his
shoulders. "Fancy meeting you here."
Brayton laughed. "If you'da knocked at the front door, we'd have let you
in, Mr. Hood. It's pretty early, for a heist, ain't it? But we figured
the early bird would get the diamonds. And then you was wised up to this
job, wasn't you?"
"Oh, I did hear it mentioned at the lodge meeting last night," Black
Hood said. He laughed. "Isn't that Squid Murphy over there in the
corner, trying to disguise himself as a corner of that safe?"
Murphy stepped out of the shadows. He had a gun in his fist. A third
hood put in his appearance from the front of the store and a fourth came
out of Tauber's private office.
"You're just a little bit too late, Mr. Hood," Bugs Brayton said. "That
is, too late to get your hands on these beauties."
Brayton extended his right arm in front of him. He was holding a small
leather satchel, the mouth of the bag wide open. What light there was in
the place scintillated on a layer of unset diamonds in the bottom of the
bag. It was then that Black Hood got one of those sudden inspirations
which had made him the underworld's most capable adversary. His right
hand dropped with incredible swiftness to his wide black belt, snatched
something from a concealed pocket there. That same hand shot out toward
the bag of diamonds, lingered over its open mouth a moment before it
clenched into a fist and hammered to the point of Squid Murphy's jaw.
Murphy went back very fast and didn't stop until he had rammed into the
Tauber safe. But the three other hoods closed in upon Black Hood. Bugs
Brayton's big automatic rose and fell like an ax. The barrel of it
caught Black Hood on the temple with stunning force. Black Hood fell to
the floor and an unidentified but effective shoe toe caught the side of
his head with a powerful kick. Blazing blobs of light exploded within
his brain, and then the total blackness of unconsciousness funneled down
upon his brain.
Bugs Brayton stood over the fallen manhunter. He weighed his automatic
thoughtfully in his hand. He looked at Squid Murphy and the others.
"Well, boys," he said, "I guess it's up to me to finish off Mr. Hood.
And I can't say that I got any regrets about him dying so young." He
laughed, stooped over Black Hood, pressed the muzzle of his gun to the
"Stop, Bugs!" came a whispered command from the front of the store.
Brayton straightened. Coming toward the group of crimesters around the
unconscious Black Hood, was the man they knew as the Eye, his white
rubber mask resembling a death's head in the half light.
"It would be a grave mistake to kill Black Hood, Brayton," the Eye said.
"Once he is dead, the police will turn their attention to
others—perhaps to any one of us. You understand?"
"But the guy's dangerous," Squid Murphy protested. "I'll take my chances
with the bulls any day, rather than with Black Hood."
"He won't be dangerous to us in prison," the criminal chief argued.
"Hand me the gems, Brayton."
Brayton obeyed. He watched the Eye's slim white fingers reach down into
the layer of diamonds, watched them sift the glittering gems. Then he
took a dozen or so of the stones from the bag, transferred them to a
pocket in Black Hood's belt.
"Now," he said, "the frame is complete. I will take care of the gems and
as soon as I have sold them, I will split with you. Let's get out of
So great was their fear of their leader that the crimesters obeyed
without protest. Just outside the rear door of the jewelry shop, the
criminal chief stopped, raised a whistle to his lips, and blew a
"What's the idea?" Brayton demanded, startled.
"To bring the police for the Black Hood, you fool!"
Black Hood staggered to his feet, his brain still whirling from that
blow to his head. He lurched toward the front door of the shop, stopped
half way there, clung to a counter for support. Somebody was pounding on
the front door. A hoarse voice was calling on him to open in the name of
Black Hood turned, spurred the muscles of his legs to carry on. The
brilliant light of a policeman's torch sliced through the semi-darkness
and spotted him. He kept going. Glass in the front door shattered
beneath a blow from the butt of the copper's revolver. Black Hood ran on
leaden feet into the rear of the shop. The back door stood invitingly
open. He stepped over the sill, all but fell into the arms of a second
cop. He struck just one wild haymaker of a blow that cleared the head of
the cop by nearly a foot. And then suddenly there were two cops—one on
either side of him.
"It's Black Hood!" one of the coppers shouted triumphantly. "We've got
him. We've got the Eye. Wait till Sergeant McGinty hears about this!"
Cold steel jaws of handcuffs closed on Black Hood's right wrist. A
second cop frisked him quickly, emptying the pockets of his belt.
"Look at the sparklers, will you!" the policeman gasped.
And Black Hood, his mind still in a daze, stared down at the gems in
the copper's hand. No use telling them it was a frame. That was the
standard alibi of every crook who ever found his way into police courts.
They had him cold, and in his present condition he was utterly unable to
As long as he lived he was never to forget that ride down to police
headquarters. Nor could he ever forget standing there in Sergeant
McGinty's office while the sergeant did a bit of triumphant gloating.
"As sure as my name's McGinty, I knew there'd come a day like this, Mr.
Black Hood, alias the Eye. I've got you, and I've got you where I want
you. You'll burn in the chair, Mr. Hood."
Black Hood stood erect, still handcuffed to the cop who had captured
him. He could think a little bit more clearly now and the muscles of his
powerful body were much more inclined to obey the dictates of his taut
nerves. He looked at the top of the sergeant's desk. There the entire
contents of his belt pockets had been spread out—the dozen diamonds
which had been used to frame him; that crumpled check which he had taken
from the dead fingers of Biggert; the powder box from Vida Gervais'
boudoir, most of its contents now gone; all his little tools and weapons
which he had found valuable in his valiant fight against crime.
"You know what I've done, Mr. Hood?" McGinty asked. "I've telephoned the
members of the citizens' committee who got together to tell the police
what to do to catch the Eye. I've asked them and their friends to come
down here to headquarters for the unveiling of Black Hood, alias the
Eye. When they get here, I'm going to jerk off that mask of yours and
we'll all have a little surprise party."
"You might spare me that 'alias, the Eye' business," Black Hood said,
some of his old-time banter returning. "The Eye died when Jack Carlson
died, and I can prove that. Since Carlson was murdered, another has
taken his place. The man who killed Biggert and also killed Jack
Carlson, now wears the white rubber mask that identifies the Eye, goes
around whispering orders to professional rob and kill men. He's robbed
Carlson's safe and robbed Carlson of his life and even robbed Carlson of
his identity as the Eye. And given half a chance, I'll prove that to
McGinty frowned. He could not deny that many times before Black Hood
had beaten him to the solution of crimes, much to his embarrassment.
And in each case, McGinty had received full credit for the solving of
"When the time comes, Mr. Hood," McGinty said, "you'll have your chance
to speak your little piece. I wouldn't deny that to any man."
"Then perhaps you'll unlock these handcuffs," Black Hood suggested.
"You've robbed my bag of all its tricks and I'm relatively harmless at
the present time. Besides," he added, glancing at the cop to whom he was
linked, "this man here becomes something of a liability after this
length of time."
"Unlock the cuffs, Bricker," McGinty ordered the cop. "Black Hood can't
get out of here, and that's a sure thing."
The cuff removed from his right wrist, Black Hood went to a chair beside
the desk and calmly sat down.
"I want to appeal to your reason a moment, Sergeant, before this
committee arrives for the 'unveiling' as you call it. First of all, is
it reasonable to suppose that I would crack open a jewelry store just to
get those few diamonds there on the desk? And having broken into the
store with intent to rob, as you seem to think, would I be silly enough
to fall on my head and knock myself out?"
"Could be those were the only diamonds you found in the store."
"There were one hundred thousand dollars worth of unset diamonds in that
store tonight," Black Hood said. "And that's what this man who is posing
as the Eye went after and got. The past record shows that none of these
crimes have been what you could call petty."
"A fact," McGinty said, "which doesn't prove you haven't hid the
"But kept a few of them on my person just to get myself in jail, huh?"
Black Hood laughed. "Listen, McGinty, why do you suppose Biggert,
Weedham's secretary, was killed?"
"The shot that killed Biggert was intended for Jack Carlson," McGinty
said. "So it was an accident that Biggert was shot."
Black Hood shook his head, "Jack Carlson was nowhere near Biggert when
the latter fell. That was no mistake. Biggert was killed because he was
about to expose somebody who had forged that check which is lying on
your desk. That check is the piece of paper that was in Biggert's hand
when he died."
McGinty's eyes narrowed. "How did you get hold of that, Mr. Hood?"
Black Hood saw that he would have to lie in order to protect his
prototype, Kip Burland.
"I reached the body of Biggert before Carlson or anyone else did. That's
how I know Carlson wasn't near the man when the shot was fired."
McGinty thought that over a moment.
"Go ahead, Mr. Hood. I'm not convinced, but every man has a right to
"Did the police notice the smudge of white powder on the lapel of
Carlson's coat when they found his body? Did they notice that the
regular light bulbs in his garage had been replaced with ultra-violet
McGinty nodded. "Our lab men don't miss much. That smudge of powder
contained some chemical that glows in black light. I figured it spotted
Carlson for the killer, made a target out of him in the dark."
"Right, McGinty. But do you know that Carlson was betrayed by a woman
named Vida Gervais? She lives in the house next to the Weedham place.
That powder box which you took from my pocket and which is now on your
desk, is a sample of her face powder, treated with naphthionate of
sodium. You can prove that yourself. And if you'll question the lady
thoroughly, you'll be able to get at the truth. She'll know that Carlson
was the Eye. And she may even admit that she threw Carlson over and
helped somebody else dispose of Carlson and step into the lucrative
position which Carlson occupied as the Eye."
McGinty looked up at one of his men. "Send out for that Gervais dame."
When the man had left the room, he turned to Black Hood. "You haven't
cleared yourself yet. You claim Carlson was the Eye. That's the world's
oldest alibi—putting the blame on a dead man."
"I can prove Carlson was the Eye," Black Hood persisted. "In the morning
I will send you that signal device which the Eye used. It carries
"You'll send it from jail, then," McGinty said.
Black Hood shook his head. "I wonder if you'd send to the police lab for
an ultra-violet lamp? I think I can conduct an experiment which will
prove my points."
McGinty considered this a moment, and finally sent out for an
ultra-violet lamp. It was not long after that before the members of the
citizens committee began to arrive. The two Weedhams, father and son,
were ushered into the room, followed by Major Paxton, Harold Adler, and
the rest of the committee. Jeff Weedham's newspaper was represented by
Barbara Sutton and her ace cameraman, Joe Strong. And finally the police
brought in a coldly furious Vida Gervais.
Black Hood carefully avoided meeting Barbara Sutton's eyes. He knew that
her emotions must be strained to the breaking point, and even a glance
from him might have caused her to betray herself.
"D-d-don't tell me you've finally caught Black Hood, Sergeant!" Jeff
The sergeant smiled. "Sooner or later, McGinty gets 'em all."
McGinty waited until all present were seated. Then he stood up alongside
of Black Hood.
"Now, folks," he said, "as you can see, I've got Black Hood just where I
want him. And I've wanted him quite a while. I promised you that I'd
show you his face, and that's just what I'm going to do."
Harold Adler uttered a hoarse cry of warning that came just a bit too
late. With one of those lightning-like movements of his, Black Hood had
pulled the revolver out of McGinty's holster, turned it on the sergeant.
A copper near the door started to intervene, but Black Hood stopped him
with a narrow-eyed glance that held all the threat of a thunderbolt.
"Make a move toward me, and I put a bullet into McGinty's back," he
said. "No one will ever see the face of Black Hood and live to talk
about it. I've just given McGinty the entire solution to this mystery.
I've told him that Jack Carlson was the Eye. I've explained how Jack
Carlson was murdered and his powerful position in the underworld was
usurped by another man who now poses as the Eye. If there is any doubt
in his mind, I am about to dispel it."
Black Hood picked up the ultra-violet lamp with his left hand while his
right kept the gun on McGinty. He said, "Mr. Adler, will you kindly
turn out the lights."
"Do as you're told," Black Hood insisted, "if you don't want to witness
murder. And I want to warn everyone in this room, that when the lights
go out if anyone makes any move toward me, McGinty will die. Even if I
were to be shot, the reflex action of my fingers would pull the trigger
of this revolver and McGinty will die. I am no murderer, but if you
interfere with me in this business, you'll make a murderer of me."
Adler switched out the lights. The darkness lay like a smothering
blanket upon them all. The air itself had a certain electrical tenseness
about it, like the silence before a storm.
"I am now going to switch on the ultra-violet light. If the filter is
perfect, you will not be able to see the light, because ultra-violet
rays, when unadulterated by other rays, cannot be seen by the human eye.
There. The light is on.
"I have offered evidence to Sergeant McGinty in which I intended to
prove that Biggert, William Weedham's secretary, was killed because he
was about to show to William Weedham a check to which William Weedham's
signature had been forged. Not only that, but the forger, in cashing the
check, also forged the endorsement of Major Paxton, to whom the check
was made out.
"I have further pointed out to McGinty, that this same killer disposed
of Jack Carlson, after Carlson had been betrayed by a woman. This woman
must have been Carlson's friend. She must have known all his secrets,
including the fact that Carlson was the Eye. She gave all this
information to another man—the same man who forged the check which I
mentioned before. Then she assisted this killer to shoot Carlson. This
woman's face powder was treated with naphthionate of sodium. A little of
this powder rubbed from her cheek to Carlson's lapel made Carlson a
perfect target in pitch darkness, provided that darkness was penetrated
by rays of invisible ultra-violet or black light. I have a sample of
that woman's face powder here on McGinty's desk."
Black Hood turned the ultra-violet lamp on the desk. The box of powder
there became phosphorescent.
"When I was framed for the Tauber jewel robbery tonight, I seized the
opportunity to toss some of this face powder onto the jewels in the
robbers' bag," Black Hood continued. "The face powder is that of Vida
Gervais. Watch, please."
Black Hood turned the ultra-violet lamp out toward his audience. Vida
Gervais' frightened face glowed in the black light. Startled gasps could
be heard from the others in the room as they stared at that ghostly
"Vida Gervais," Black Hood continued, "knew a good thing when she saw
it. To eventually better her social and financial position, she was
willing to sell out Carlson, alias the Eye, to another man who, if he
could accumulate, through fair means or foul, quite a tidy sum of money
now would get his hands on a great deal more money in the future.
"So Vida Gervais betrayed Carlson, alias the Eye, into the hands of the
man who had killed Biggert. The forty thousand dollars which this man
had got from the forged check was a small part of the money he needed.
But if he could step into the Eye's shoes for a little while, he could
rapidly accumulate the rest.
"I mentioned a moment ago that I had tossed some of Vida Gervais'
unusual face powder onto the diamonds stolen from Tauber's shop. The
naphthionate in that powder would cling to the diamonds and subsequently
cling to the hands of the criminal who eventually got hold of them.
Watch now for the glowing hands of the killer—the man who has been
impersonating the Eye ever since Carlson was killed. But one funny thing
about that impersonation which I did not realize until tonight. The
impersonator, this man who killed Biggert and Carlson, was most careful
to avoid any word or name beginning with the letter 'D.' He would not,
for instance, say the name 'Delancy,' nor would he speak the word
'diamonds.' Why? Because every time he says a word or name beginning
with that letter, he stutters. He might disguise his voice by
whispering, but he could not control this stutter, which would have been
a dead give-away."
In the black light, luminous fingers suddenly showed themselves. There
was a piercing scream. Men surged forward to close in and blot out the
glow from the killer's fingers.
"Watch out!" Black Hood's warning voice rang out. "He is probably
Men bumped into each other. There was the repeated thud of blows. There
were cries, grunts, stammered oaths. And when finally somebody turned on
the lights, Jeff Weedham was on the floor, two cops astride him. He had
a gun in his hand, but his hand was pinned to the floor.
Sergeant McGinty looked over his shoulder at the Black Hood—or rather
looked where he thought the Black Hood would be. McGinty's jaw sagged.
He looked down at his own gun which was poking him in the ribs. His
revolver had been wedged into the baby-gate extension arm of his own
desk telephone. And Black Hood was gone.
It was an hour later that McGinty and his men, by playing Vida Gervais
and Jeff Weedham, one against the other, got a full confession which
corresponded very closely to Black Hood's reconstruction of the crimes.
Jeff Weedham had been placed in rather a desperate position by his
father, Jeff explained. William Weedham had bought Jeff the newspaper,
insisting that he make a financial success of it and thus prove his
worth. If he failed in this as he had in everything else, William
Weedham was determined that none of the Weedham fortune should fall into
Jeff had run his newspaper into the red. As the time came closer in
which William Weedham was to examine the newspaper's ledger, Jeff
Weedham tried desperately to make up the lost money, first by forgery,
and then by stepping into Carlson's shoes as the Eye.
Ballistics tests proved that it was Jeff's gun which had killed both
Biggert and Carlson.
Just as McGinty was about to leave his office for the night, his phone
rang. Almost before he picked the instrument up, he knew who his caller
"I say, McGinty," the voice of the Black Hood came from the receiver, "I
really intended to apologize for making a fool of you there in your
office, sticking you up with a gun attached to that telephone arm. But
then, as I thought the matter over, it occurred to me that I really
wasn't to blame for making a fool of you. You've really got a bone to
pick with dear old Mother Nature on that score!"
"Say, will you kindly go to Hell!" McGinty exploded. And as he hung up,
a chuckle broke from his thick lips. "What that guy don't know is that
I'm beginning to get a kick out of tangling with him!"