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The Phantom Detective: Harvest of Death
by Robert Wallace

Category: Mystery/Crime/Suspense/Thriller
Description: "Ripped from the pages of the May, 1937 issue of "The Phantom Detective" magazine, here is the complete lead novel (including illustrations)--HARVEST OF DEATH! Three men fall victim under the grim scythe of slaughter--with never a word to utter testimony against their ruthless betrayer! The Phantom sets himself the task of discovering a secret of doom locked within dead lips! Thrilling pulp action!"
eBook Publisher: Wildside Press/Wildside Pulp Classics, 1937 USA
eBookwise Release Date: June 2008

eBookeBook

6 Reader Ratings:
Great Good OK Poor
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [160 KB]
Words: 34076
Reading time: 97-136 min.


The storm came out of the north, a summer gale that lashed the dark Westchester countryside with a steady roar of wind and a tumult of rain. It began in the early evening, and at nine o'clock it was still raging. The prim little streets of Ramapo Hills, just north of the New York city line, were engulfed with water. The trees which thickly lined them bent to the press of the wind, shedding their autumn leaves so that every gust brought down a sodden shower.

Near the outskirts of the town, the neat little bungalow of Francis Green, general manager of the New York Specialties Paper Company, stood with its lighted windows blinking like blurred yellow eyes through the murk. Within the house, Francis Green was sitting alone in his living room--a thin grey-haired man of forty-odd.

He could not read. He picked up the evening newspaper; then tossed it aside. And then he began pacing the floor, at intervals nervously looking at his watch.

From the adjoining room came the notes of a piano, mingling with the roar of the outer storm. It seemed to annoy Green. He went to the door; crossed the little foyer. At the piano in the music room, his slim, dark-haired seventeen-year-old daughter, Gloria, sat playing for her fiancé, young Jim Crawford. They turned at the sound of his footsteps. Gloria leaped to her feet.

"Father! You startled us. What's the matter?"

Green was haggard. His eyes darted around the room and he was so obviously terrified that the alarmed girl repeated urgently:

"What is it, Father? What's wrong?"

"Nothing. I--I'm putting in a long distance call soon. The piano bothers me."

Their stares followed him as he went back to the living room. Again he tried to read; but in a moment he drew a penciled copy of a telegram from his pocket, and reread it mechanically. He had sent it three hours ago--going alone through the storm to the telegraph office, furtively dodging through the rain-lashed streets as though he feared he might be followed. He held now his scribbled copy, reading and rereading it, seemingly to convince himself that he had made no error.

The telegram read:

Senator Alcatraz, Ambassador

Aldaran Embassy

Washington, D. C.

Do nothing until we talk further. Will telephone your private number at exactly nine-thirty tonight. Be alone to receive it.--Francis Green.

Nine-thirty. Green gazed at his watch. Then with shaking fingers he lighted a match, applied it to the telegram. The little piece of paper flamed and curled into a wisp of black ash. Green dropped it to his feet, ground it under his heel.

For a moment he stood as though again listening to the storm, his gaze straying to the black rectangles of the sitting room windows where the rain rattled and poured down the glass in glistening rivulets.

Then with a hurried stride Green crossed the room and sat on a small taboret, lifted the telephone receiver.

In the adjoining music room, Gloria Green still sat with young Crawford. Except for her father, no one else was in the house.

"He looked terrified," Crawford was saying. "His eyes--"

"He's been that way ever since he came home this afternoon," the girl said agitatedly. "I never saw him look like that before. I tried to find out--"

Crawford was staring at her. Her fear was so communicable that in the eyes of them both now was a look of a dawning horror as though this snug, storm-swept little house held some nameless menace; something of deadly danger invisibly lurking here, ready to spring.

In the silence, both of them instinctively were listening. The gale moaned under the eaves; the rain pounded the roof and the windows with a staccato rattle. Occasionally there was a distant roll of muttering thunder, and lightning flares brightened the watery window panes with a brief lurid glare.

Then Gloria spoke.

"He told me--he was going to telephone George Carrington--but he didn't--"

"He's calling him now?"

"No. Long distance--"

Crawford's hand was on the girl's arm as together they sat listening. Over the rattle of the storm Green's voice from the adjoining room was barely heard; just a few sentences at intervals blurred by the lash of the wind and rain.

"Señor Alcatraz? This is Francis Green--"

The words became indistinguishable. Then Green was saying:

"It must be kept secret. We can't appeal to the local police, or anything like that. We'll have to get the very best detective in the country. Someone able to cope with--"

Another blur. But in a moment Green's low, tense words came again.

"No--I only found it out this afternoon. Absolute secrecy is necessary--these criminals, whoever they are, would kill us if they thought anyone was after them--"

Again it blurred.

"Ten million dollars--you don't know the murderous, desperate type of criminals we have here in America, Señor. With a stake like that? To kill me--and you--all of us--"

Gloria Green and young Crawford stared at each other wordlessly. Then they moved from the music room to the hall where they could hear a little better.

"A detective known as the Phantom," Green was now saying. "We'll have to get him. No, but I understand that a New York publisher named Frank Havens can locate him. I suggest, Señor, that you call a meeting at the embassy for tomorrow evening. The Aldaran Bondholders' Protective Association? Yes, of course, we should tell them this--certainly it vitally concerns the welfare of Aldara--"

Then abruptly Green seemed aware that his daughter was in the hall.

"Just a minute, Señor Alcatraz, I want to close a door here--I tell you, if even the regular police get wind of this, the lives of all of us would be snuffed out like a candle in a gale. Hold the wire a minute."

He jumped from the telephone and slammed the living room door. In the hall, the white-faced girl and youth stood numbly staring at each other. Presently they went back to the music room, sitting silently, listening. But there was only the noisy rattle of the storm. A minute. Five minutes. And then they stiffened with so great a terror sweeping them that for a breath they stood frozen. From behind the closed door of the sitting room, mingled with the rattle of the storm, came the faint sound of breaking glass; then the reverberations of a shot.

"Gloria--"

In that second young Crawford dashed for the living room door, flung it open. One of the windows was yawning with a broken pane, the rain and wind surging in, rattling the half drawn shade. Green evidently had just finished his call; the telephone receiver was on the hook. And on the floor beside the little taboret, his body lay crumpled. He was dead, a murderer's bullet in his heart, with a gruesome crimson stain spreading on the white fabric of his shirt!


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