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In one of his most important adventures, the Man of Bronze journeys north to Canada, and in her magnificent wilderness solves a billion-dollar riddle: Who or What has committed murder — and worse! — to possess the secret of the miracle called Benlanium?
194 pages, with a reading time of ~3.0 hours (48,629 words), and first published in 1934. This DRM-Free edition published by epubBooks, 2015.
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New York is a city where many people have unusual occupations. There are, for example, individuals who make their living snipping at newspapers with a pair of scissors.
These persons operate news-clipping agencies. Pay them a fee, and they will deliver to you clippings concerning yourself from all over the world—providing you are important enough to have had your name appear in all those newspapers. Clippings can be had concerning others, as well.
Celebrities who like to keep scrapbooks patronize these clipping agencies. Another type of gentry, not so wholesome, also do business with them.
Mahal was a sample of the latter.
Mahal was an oily specimen. He had a head like an almond, and many fine white teeth. He claimed to be an Oriental and, probably, he was. He also claimed to be a mystic. On that point, he was, beyond doubt, a liar. But he had made a little money out of the gullible with his fakery.
The police had a time or two considered putting a detective to watching him. It was too bad they did not do this. A sharp-eyed sleuth on Mahal’s trail might have made some interesting observations.
Mahal was careful to pick a clipping agency which did not inquire too carefully into the motives of its customers.
“I am Mahal,” he announced. “Yesterday I telephoned you for clippings concerning a certain individual. You have them, sahib?”
Mahal spoke excellent English, but he affected occasionally a word of his mother tongue of the Orient. It lent color to him.
He was handed an envelope, stuffed full with paper.
Mahal seemed surprised by the number of clippings the envelope obviously held. But he thrust the container in the outside pocket of his immaculate brown topcoat, paid the rather exorbitant fee requested, and walked out.
The clipping agency was on the seventeenth floor of an office building. Mahal took an elevator down.
In the elevator, a strange thing happened. There were numerous passengers aboard the car. Among these was a stooped gentleman with a flowing white beard. His clothing was extremely well-cut. He seemed rather feeble, for he leaned heavily on a plain black cane. He looked benign, peaceful.
The white-bearded gentleman’s cane slipped on the smooth floor of the elevator, and he stumbled heavily against Mahal.
“Burha bakra!” growled Mahal, and gave the elderly-looking one a shove.
Respect for age is one of the finer qualities of Orientals. But Mahal did not have it. He had called, in his native tongue, the bearded fellow an old goat. He would have called him an old goat in English, but he did not want trouble. He thought the white-whiskered one could not understand the Oriental words.
But he would have been surprised. For the benign old chap with the snowy beard had now the envelope of clippings. He had slipped it expertly from Mahal’s pocket during the collision.
* * * * *
The elevator reached the ground floor and discharged its passengers.
Mahal strode out to the street and glanced about for a taxi. He had not as yet missed the envelope.
The elderly-looking gentleman now showed surprising agility in scampering around behind a cigar stand. This concealed him from the door.
The envelope was not sealed. He opened it, drew out the clippings. There were scores of them. Headlines on the topmost read:
DOC SAVAGE SMASHES TIBETAN MENACE
Another story was captioned:
DOC SAVAGE ON MYSTERY MISSION GOES TO ARABIA BY SUBMARINE
His white beard shook as the reader said something explosive under his breath. He worked toward the back of the clipping sheaf and studied another headline:
DOC SAVAGE, MAN OF MIRACLES, GIVES SURGERY NEW OPERATION METHOD
By now, the whiskered one was certain all the clippings concerned Doc Savage. He replaced the contents of the envelope: then he hobbled toward the door, leaning heavily on his black cane.
At the door, he met Mahal.
Mahal had missed his property, and he was in a sweat. He saw the envelope in the elderly-looking man’s hand.
“Old Goat!” he yelled, this time in English. “Where did you get that?”
“It came out of your pocket in the elevator,” was the reply, delivered in a quavering voice.
And that was no lie.
Mahal snatched the envelope. Without a word of thanks, he stamped outside.
A taxi swung to the curb. Mahal got in, and gave the address of his seance room uptown.
Now the driver of the cab had some remarkable characteristics. His hands were of an almost unearthly hugeness. Each was composed of only a little less than a gallon of bone and gristle. The driver’s face was a long one, and it bore an expression of great gloom, as if he were going to a funeral. The fellow hunched low in the seat, possibly to hide the fact that he was a giant who weighed all of two hundred and fifty pounds.