"Maywood airdrome," the doctor told the driver.
Two hours later the big Martin bomber which had carried the doctor to Chicago roared away into the night, and Bird turned back, reentered the taxi, and headed for the city alone.
When Carnes received the telephone call, which was one of those the doctor made from the booth in his club, he hurried over to the First National Bank. His badge secured him an entrance and he found Casey busily engaged in rigging up an elaborate piece of apparatus on one of the balconies where guards were normally stationed during banking hours.
"Dr. Bird said to tell you to keep on the job all night if necessary," he told Casey. "He thinks he will need your machine to-morrow."
"I'll have it ready to turn on the power at four A.M.," replied Casey.
Carnes watched him curiously for a while as he soldered together the electrical connections and assembled an apparatus which looked like a motion picture projector.
"What are you setting up?" he asked at length.
"It is a high speed motion picture camera," replied Casey, "with a telescopic lens. It is a piece of apparatus which Dr. Bird designed while he was in Washington last week and which I made from his sketches, using some apparatus we had on hand. It's a dandy, all right."
"What is special about it?"
"The speed. You know how fast an ordinary movie is taken, don't you? No? Well, it's sixteen exposures per second. The slow pictures are taken sometimes at a hundred and twenty-eight or two hundred and fifty-six exposures per second, and then shown at sixteen. This affair will take half a million pictures per second."
"I didn't know that a film would register with that short an exposure."
"That's slow," replied Casey with a laugh. "It all depends on the light. The best flash-light powder gives a flash about one ten-thousandth of a second in duration, but that is by no means the speed limit of the film. The only trouble is enough light and sufficient shutter speed. Pictures have been taken by means of spark photography with an exposure of less than one three-millionth of a second. The whole secret of this machine lies in the shutter. This big disc with the slots in the edge is set up before the lens and run at such a speed that half a million slots per second pass before the lens. The film, which is sixteen millimeter X-ray film, travels behind the lens at a speed of nearly five miles per second. It has to be gradually worked up to this speed, and after the whole thing is set up, it takes it nearly four hours to get to full speed."
"At that speed, it must take a million miles of film before you get up steam."
"It would, if the film were being exposed. There is only about a hundred yards of film all told, which will run over these huge drums in an endless belt. There is a regular camera shutter working on an electric principle which remains closed. When the switch is tripped, the shutter opens in about two thirty-thousandths of a second, stays open just one one-hundredth of a second, and then closes. This time is enough to expose nearly all of our film. When we have our picture, I shut the current down, start applying a magnetic brake, and let it slow down. It takes over an hour to stop it without breaking the film. It sounds complicated, but it works all right."
"Where is your switch?"
"That is the trick part of it. It is a remote control affair. The shutter opens and starts the machine taking pictures when the back door of the paying teller's cage is opened half an inch. There is also a hand switch in the line that can be opened so that you can open the door without setting off the camera, if you wish. When the hand switch is closed and the door opened, this is what happens. The shutter on the camera opens, the machine takes five thousand pictures during the next hundredth of a second, and then the shutter closes. Those five thousand exposures will take about five minutes to show at the usual rate of sixteen per second."
"You said that you had to get plenty of light. How are you managing that?"
"The camera is equipped with a special lens ground out of rock crystal. This lens lets in ultra-violet light which the ordinary lens shuts out, and X-ray film is especially sensitive to ultra-violet light. In order to be sure that we get enough illumination, I will set up these two ultra-violet floodlights to illumine the cage. The teller will have to wear glasses to protect his eyes and he'll get well sunburned, but something has to be sacrificed to science, as Dr. Bird is always telling me."
"It's too deep for me," said Carnes with a sigh. "Can I do anything to help? The doctor told me to stand by and do anything I could."
"I might be able to use you a little if you can use tools," said Casey with a grin. "You can start bolting together that light proof shield if you want to."
"Well, Carnes, did you have an instructive night?" asked Dr. Bird cheerfully as he entered the First National Bank at eight-thirty the next morning.
"I don't see that I did much good, Doctor. Casey would have had the machine ready on time anyway, and I'm no machinist."
"Well, frankly, Carnes, I didn't expect you to be of much help to him, but I did want you to see what Casey was doing, and a little of it was pretty heavy for him to handle alone. I suppose that everything is ready?"
"The motor reached full speed about fifteen minutes ago and Casey went out to get a cup of coffee. Would you mind telling me the object of the whole thing?"
"Not at all. I plan to make a permanent record of the work of the most ingenious bank robber in the world. I hope he keeps his word."
"What do you mean?"
"Three days ago when Sturtevant sweated a 'confession' out of poor Winston, the bank got a message that the robbery would be repeated this morning and dared them to prevent it. Rogers thought it was a hoax, but he telephoned me and I worked the Bureau men night and day to get my camera ready in time for him. I am afraid that I can't do much to prevent the robbery, but I may be able to take a picture of it and thus prevent other cases of a like nature."
"Was the warning written?"
"No. It was telephoned from a pay station in the loop district, and by the time it was traced and men got there, the telephoner was probably a mile away. He said that he would rob the same cage in the same manner as he did before."
"Aren't you taking any special precautions?"
"Oh, yes, the bank is putting on extra guards and making a lot of fuss of that sort, probably to the great amusement of the robber."
"Why not close the cage for the day?"
"Then he would rob a different one and we would have no way of photographing his actions. To be sure, we will put dummy money there, bundles with bills on the outside and paper on the inside, so if I don't get a picture of him, he won't get much. Every bill in the cage will be marked as well."
"Did he say at what time he would operate?"
"No, he didn't, so we'll have to stand by all day. Oh, hello, Casey, is everything all right?"
"As sweet as chocolate candy, Doctor. I have tested it out thoroughly, and unless we have to run it so long that the film wears out and breaks, we are sitting pretty. If we don't get the pictures you are looking for, I'm a dodo, and I haven't been called that yet."
"Good work, Casey. Keep the bearings oiled and pray that the film doesn't break."
The bank had been opened only ten minutes when the clangor of gongs announced a robbery. It was practically a duplicate of the first. The paying teller had turned from his window to take some bills from his rack and had found several dozens of bundles missing. As the gongs sounded, Dr. Bird and Casey leaped to the camera.
"She snapped, Doctor!" cried Casey as he threw two switches. "It'll take an hour to stop and half a day to develop the film, but I ought to be able to show you what we got by to-night."
"Good enough!" cried Dr. Bird. "Go ahead while I try to calm down the bank officials. Will you have everything ready by eight o'clock?"
"Easy, Doctor," replied Casey as he turned to the magnetic brake.
By eight o'clock quite a crowd had assembled in a private room at the Blackstone Hotel. Besides Dr. Bird and Carnes, Rogers and several other officials of the First National Bank were present, together with Detective-Captain Sturtevant and a group of the most prominent scientists and physicians gathered from the schools of the city.
"Gentlemen," said Dr. Bird when all had taken seats facing a miniature moving picture screen on one wall, "to-night I expect to show you some pictures which will, I am sure, astonish you. It marks the advent of a new departure in transcendental medicine. I will be glad to answer any questions you may wish to ask and to explain the pictures after they are shown, but before we start a discussion, I will ask that you examine what I have to show you. Lights out, please!"
He stepped to the rear of the room as the lights went out. As his eyes grew used to the dimness of the room he moved forward and took a vacant seat. His hand fumbled in his pocket for a second.
"Now!" he cried suddenly.
In the momentary silence which followed his cry, two dull metallic clicks could be heard, and a quick cry that was suddenly strangled as Dr. Bird clamped his hand over the mouth of the man who sat between him and Carnes.
"All right, Casey," called the doctor.
The whir of a projection machine could be heard and on the screen before them leaped a picture of the paying teller's cage of the First National Bank. Winston's successor was standing motionless at the wicket, his lips parted in a smile, but the attention of all was riveted on a figure who moved at the back of the cage. As the picture started, the figure was bent over an opened suitcase, stuffing into it bundles of bills. He straightened up and reached to the rack for more bills, and as he did so he faced the camera full for a moment. He picked up other bundles of bills, filled the suitcase, fastened it in a leisurely manner, opened the rear door of the cage and walked out.
"Again, please!" called Dr. Bird. "And stop when he faces us full."
The picture was repeated and stopped at the point indicated.
"Lights, please!" cried the doctor.
The lights flashed on and Dr. Bird rose to his feet, pulling up after him the wilted figure of a middle-aged man.
"Gentlemen," said the doctor in ringing tones, "allow me to present to you Professor James Kirkwood of the faculty of the Richton University, formerly known as James Collier of the Bureau of Standards, and robber of the First National Bank."
Detective-Captain Sturtevant jumped to his feet and cast a searching glance at the captive.
"He's the man all right," he cried. "Hang on to him until I get a wagon here!"
"Oh, shut up!" said Carnes. "He's under federal arrest just now, charged with the possession of narcotics. When we are through with him, you can have him if you want him."
"How did you get that picture, Doctor?" cried the cashier. "I watched that cage every minute during the morning and I'll swear that man never entered and stole that money as the picture shows, unless he managed to make himself invisible."
"You're closer to the truth than you suspect, Mr. Rogers," said Dr. Bird. "It is not quite a matter of invisibility, but something pretty close to it. It is a matter of catalysts."
"What kind of cats?" asked the cashier.
"Not cats, Mr. Rogers, catalysts. Catalysts is the name of a chemical reaction consisting essentially of a decomposition and a new combination effected by means of a catalyst which acts on the compound bodies in question, but which goes through the reaction itself unchanged. There are a great many of them which are used in the arts and in manufacturing, and while their action is not always clearly understood, the results are well known and can be banked on.
"One of the commonest instances of the use of a catalyst is the use of sponge platinum in the manufacture of sulphuric acid. I will not burden you with the details of the 'contact' process, as it is known, but the combination is effected by means of finely divided platinum which is neither changed, consumed or wasted during the process. While there are a number of other catalysts known, for instance iron in reactions in which metallic magnesium is concerned, the commonest are the metals of the platinum group.
"Less is known of the action of catalysts in the organic reactions, but it has been the subject of intensive study by Dr. Knolles of the Bureau of Standards for several years. His studies of the effects of different colored lights, that is, rays of different wave-lengths, on the reactions which constitute growth in plants have had a great effect on hothouse forcing of plants and promise to revolutionize the truck gardening industry. He has speeded up the rate of growth to as high as ten times the normal rate in some cases.
"A few years ago, he and his assistant, James Collier, turned their attention toward discovering a catalyst which would do for the metabolic reactions in animal life what his light rays did for plants. What his method was, I will not disclose for obvious reasons, but suffice it to say that he met with great success. He took a puppy and by treating it with his catalytic drugs, made it grow to maturity, pass through its entire normal life span, and die of old age in six months."
"That is very interesting, Doctor, but I fail to see what bearing it has on the robbery."
"Mr. Rogers, how, on a dark day and in the absence of a timepiece, would you judge the passage of time?"
"Why, by my stomach, I guess."
"Exactly. By your metabolic rate. You eat a meal, it digests, you expend the energy which you have taken into your system, your stomach becomes empty and your system demands more energy. You are hungry and you judge that some five or six hours must have passed since you last ate. Do you follow?"
"Let us suppose that by means of some tonic, some catalytic drug, your rate of metabolism and also your rate of expenditure of energy has been increased six fold. You would eat a meal and in one hour you would be hungry again. Having no timepiece, and assuming that you were in a light-proof room, you would judge that some five hours had passed, would you not?"
"I expect so."
"Very well. Now suppose that this accelerated rate of digestion and expenditure of energy continued. You would be sleepy in perhaps three hours, would sleep about an hour and a quarter, and would then wake, ready for your breakfast. In other words, you would have lived through a day in four hours."
"What advantage would there be in that?"
"None, from your standpoint. It would, however, increase the rate of reproduction of cattle greatly and might be a great boom to agriculture, but we will not discuss this phase now. Suppose it were possible to increase your rate of metabolism and expenditure of energy, in other words, your rate of living, not six times, but thirty thousand times. In such a case you would live five minutes in one one-hundredth of a second."
"Naturally, and you would live a year in about seventeen and one-half minutes, and a normal lifespan of seventy years in about twenty hours. You would be as badly off as any common may-fly."
"Agreed, but suppose that you could so regulate the dose of your catalyst that its effect would last for only one one-hundredth of a second. During that short period of time, you would be able to do the work that would ordinarily take you five minutes. In other words, you could enter a bank, pack a satchel with currency and walk out. You would be working in a leisurely manner, yet your actions would have been so quick that no human eye could have detected them. This is my theory of what actually took place. For verification, I will turn to Dr. Kirkwood, as he prefers to be known now."
"I don't know how you got that picture, but what you have said is about right," replied the prisoner.
"I got that picture by using a speed of thirty thousand times the normal sixteen exposures per second," replied Dr. Bird. "That figure I got from Dr. Knolles, the man who perfected the secret you stole when you left the Bureau three years ago. You secured only part of it and I suppose it took all your time since to perfect and complete it. You gave yourself away when you experimented on young Ladd. I was a track man myself in my college days and when I saw an account of his running, I smelt a rat, so I came back and watched him. As soon as I saw him crush and swallow a capsule just as the gun was fired, I was sure, and got hold of him. He was pretty stubborn, but he finally told me what name you were running under now, and the rest was easy. I would have got you in time anyway, but your bravado in telling us when you would next operate gave me the idea of letting you do it and photographing you at work. That is all I have to say. Captain Sturtevant, you can take your prisoner whenever you want him."
"I reckoned without you, Dr. Bird, but the end hasn't come yet. You may send me up for a few years, but you'll never find that money. I'm sure of that."
"Tut, tut, Professor," laughed Carnes. "Your safety deposit box in the Commercial National is already sealed until a court orders it opened. The bills you took this morning were all marked, so that is merely additional proof, if we needed it. You surely didn't think that such a transparent device as changing your name from 'James Collier' to 'John Collyer' and signing with your left hand instead of your right would fool the secret service, did you? Remember, your old Bureau records showed you to be ambidextrous."
"What about Winston's confession?" asked Rogers suddenly.
"Detective-Captain Sturtevant can explain that to a court when Mr. Winston brings suit against him for false arrest and brutal treatment," replied Carnes.
"A very interesting case, Carnes," remarked the doctor a few hours later. "It was an enjoyable interlude in the routine of most of the cases on which you consult me, but our play time is over. We'll have to get after that counterfeiting case to-morrow."
REEL LIFE FILMS.
By Sam Merwin
Pity the poor purveyor of mere entertainment in today's world. He can't afford to offend a soul, yet must have a villain.
Twenty-five years ago Cyril Bezdek and E. Carter Dorwin would have met in a private railway car belonging to one of them. They might even have met in a private train. At any rate they would have met in absolute privacy. But it being the present, they had to be content with a series of adjoining rooms taking up less than one half of a car on the Super-Sachem, fastest coast-to-coast train in the country.
Their meeting in private was very important. Upon its results hinged the future of Gigantic Studios, one of Hollywood's big three production companies.
Dorwin was the powerful plenipotentiary of the Consolidated Trust Company of Manhattan and backer of Gigantic's multimillion-dollar productions. He was on his way West to make sure that the interests of his bank were being adequately served by the studio.
Bezdek was Gigantic's supreme production boss. Former office boy, writer, prop man, assistant-director, director, producer, and story editor, he was the works--unless Dorwin decided otherwise during this meeting and pulled the props out from under him. He had thought Dorwin's trip sufficiently important to fly to Kansas City and get aboard the Super-Sachem to be with the banker during the remainder of his trip.
They had dined in the privacy of Dorwin's suite--Bezdek as befitted his tortured duodenum on yogurt and Melba toast--Dorwin on caviar, consomme, a thick steak with full trimmings, and a golden baked Alaska accompanied by Armagnac.
"How do you manage to keep thin?" Bezdek asked him, honestly envious. "Polo, tennis? Golf would never do it."
"I haven't exercised in ten years," said the banker, biting off the end of a Havana Perfecto. He studied the little movie-maker over the flame of his lighter. Outside, the flat expanse of Kansas rushed past through the night at close to a hundred miles an hour.
"Some people are lucky," said Bezdek, adjusting the broad knot of his hand-painted Windsor tie. He was remarshaling his thoughts and ideas. It was very important that he and Dorwin be in perfect accord before they reached Hollywood.