With a mysterious black Chinaman, Doc Savage and his amazing crew journey to the jungles of Indo-China in a desperate gamble to destroy the infamous Thousand-headed Man. From the fogs of London to the jungles of Indo-China, Doc and his men follow the trail of the three mysterious black keys to an ancient lost city guarded by equally ancient terror known as the Thousand-Headed Man.
215 pages with a reading time of ~3.50 hours (53911 words), and first published in 1934. This DRM-Free edition published by epubBooks, 2016.
Interesting to read something of an heroic figure who influenced the creation of Batman and Superman... but Dent's story is facile and unbelievable and his dated style has not weathered the test of time like literary greats like Well's , Orwell and Lewis... The blatant racism is nonetheless accidentally amusing in this era... Yet I was left wondering just what was the point of Doc Savage's largely useless team of experts... And the ridiculous internationally travelled 'shoat'with no pet passport or quarantine was also a reminder of how times have changed!
There were several reasons why the first of the two shots did not attract attention. One explanation was due to the number of newspaper photographers on hand taking flash light pictures of the crowd. These London journalists were using the old-style flash light powder which made white smoke and noise, as well as flash.
Over in a hangar, a balky motor ran irregularly, backfiring often–another reason why the shot was not heard.
“I say, a jolly mean bug!” remarked one scribe, peering upward. Without knowing it, this man had heard the whiz of the glancing bullet.
It was dark, and only the landing lights marking the edge of Croydon Flying Field cut through the usual fog. Later, when the plane every one awaited was heard, floodlamps would be switched on.
Somewhat of a throng was on hand to greet the plane.
The man who had been shot at lay flat on the ground near the field edge, and pawed at his face. The bullet had knocked dirt into his eyes. It had been fired from some distance.
“Sen Gat!” the man groaned.
There was no one else near. Gloom, the wet swirl of fog, enwrapped the vicinity.
“Sen Gat!” the man repeated, snarling this time.
The man was thin of body, long of arms and legs. He made a grotesque shape lying on the ground, a black raincoat flung over himself. He had hoped the dark raincoat, coupled with the darkness, would conceal nun. It had failed.
Getting the bullet-driven dirt out of his eyes, he scuttled to one side, dragging the raincoat, then got to his feet and ran.
“Damn Sen Gat!” he gritted.
He came close to a border light and it shone on a jaw that was pointed, a nose hooked and somehow remindful of a parrot beak. His skin looked like muslin which had been much in the weather, and there was almost no flesh between the skin and the bones it covered.
One of his bony hands was darkly purple in hue.
He veered away from the light, and when a hangar loomed ahead he hesitated, then ran to it and crept inside. Thrusting his head out again, he listened for a long time for signs of pursuit, but none came to his ears. Next, he tried to catch some sound of a plane overhead. There was none.
Nervously, he prowled the hangar. In the rear, he found a pair of greasy coveralls draped over a workbench. Fingering these, he began to chuckle. The coveralls fitted fairly well when he tried them on, and he did not remove them.
The man pulled up his sleeve. Held tightly to his upper arm by rubber bands was a small packet. The packet was half an inch thick, possibly four inches long, and wrapped in oiled paper. The rubbers, cutting off circulation, had made his hand purple.
He stripped the bands off and kneaded his arm slowly to restore blood flow.
“Deuced nasty feeling,” he muttered. As an afterthought, he added, “Blast Sen Gat!”
He ended up by putting the slender packet in a coverall pocket, instead of fastening it back to his arm with the rubbers.
Then he left the hangar and mingled with the crowd, passing unnoticed among a score or so of mechanics garbed like himself. Anyway, all eyes were watching the southern sky expectantly.
The bony man drifted about and finally stopped beside a journalist.
“I say, why all the bloomin’ watchful waitin’?” he queried.
The scribe looked shocked. “Jove! Don’t you read the sheets?”
“The newspapers? Naw.”
The scribbler eyed the other as if observing a freak. The reporter failed to realize that he was being cleverly pumped for information.
“Did you ever hear of the Yankee they call the Man of Mystery?”
“No? He is a giant of a chap, a tremendous fellow. They say no living man has greater muscular strength.”
“Never heard of ‘im.”
“They call him the Man of Bronze! That help your memory?”
The journalist took a full breath and began to spread enlightenment.
“Listen, old chap–this bronze man is known as one of the greatest surgeons. As a chemist, he has made discoveries that your children will some day read about. The bronze man is rated a wizard in the field of electricity. Furthermore, he—-”
The thin man in the coveralls put a bony finger against the scribe’s chest. “How many blokes are you tellin’ me about?”
“You know what?”
“I think you’re joshin’.”
Disgustedly, the scribe stuffed hands in the pockets of his London wrap.
“A few weeks ago,” he said, “there was a revolution in the Balkan kingdom of Calbia. This Yankee put a stop to it. He’s now on his way back to America. We expect his plane any minute.”
The pseudo mechanic’s eyes roved over the surrounding crowd. The fellow was a good actor. No twitch of his features betrayed that he had been shot at a few moments before, or that he was now in fear of another bullet.
“What’s this bronze man’s business?” he asked.
The journalist shrugged. “He’s a remarkable character. Goes about the world aiding chaps who need help.”