The Thief of Time
by Captain S. P. Meek
"That man never entered and stole that money as the picture shows,
unless he managed to make himself invisible."
Harvey Winston, paying
teller of the First National
Bank of Chicago, stripped the
band from a bundle of twenty
dollar bills, counted out seventeen of
them and added
them to the pile
on the counter
tens," he read from the payroll
change slip before him. The paymaster
of the Cramer Packing Company nodded
an assent and Winston turned to
the stacked bills in his rear currency
rack. He picked up a handful of bundles
and turned back to the grill. His
gaze swept the
counter where, a
he had stacked
the twenties, and
his jaw dropped.
"You got those twenties, Mr. Trier?"
"Got them? Of course not, how
could I?" replied the paymaster.
"There they are...."
His voice trailed off into nothingness
as he looked at the empty counter.
"I must have dropped them," said
Winston as he turned. He glanced
back at the rear rack where his main
stock of currency was piled. He stood
paralyzed for a moment and then
reached under the counter and pushed
The bank resounded instantly to the
clangor of gongs and huge steel grills
shot into place with a clang, sealing all
doors and preventing anyone from entering
or leaving the bank. The guards
sprang to their stations with drawn
weapons and from the inner offices the
bank officials came swarming out. The
cashier, followed by two men, hurried
to the paying teller's cage.
"What is it, Mr. Winston?" he cried.
"I've been robbed!" gasped the
"Who by? How?" demanded the
"I—I don't know, sir," stammered
the teller. "I was counting out Mr.
Trier's payroll, and after I had stacked
the twenties I turned to get the tens.
When I turned back the twenties were
"Where had they gone?" asked the
"I don't know, sir. Mr. Trier was as
surprised as I was, and then I turned
back, thinking that I had knocked them
off the counter, and I saw at a glance
that there was a big hole in my back
racks. You can see yourself, sir."
The cashier turned to the paymaster.
"Is this a practical joke, Mr. Trier?"
he demanded sharply.
"Of course not," replied the paymaster.
"Winston's grill was closed. It
still is. Granted that I might have
reached the twenties he had piled up,
how could I have gone through a grill
and taken the rest of the missing
money without his seeing me? The
money disappeared almost instantly.
It was there a moment before, for I
noticed when Winston took the twenties
from his rack that it was full."
"But someone must have taken it,"
said the bewildered cashier. "Money
doesn't walk off of its own accord or
vanish into thin air—"
A bell interrupted his speech.
"There are the police," he said with
an air of relief. "I'll let them in."
The smaller of the two men who
had followed the cashier from his
office when the alarm had sounded
stepped forward and spoke quietly.
His voice was low and well pitched
yet it carried a note of authority and
power that held his auditors' attention
while he spoke. The voice harmonized
with the man. The most noticeable
point about him was the
of his voice and manner, yet there was
a glint of steel in his gray eyes that
told of enormous force in him.
"I don't believe that I would let
them in for a few moments, Mr.
Rogers," he said. "I think that we are
up against something a little different
from the usual bank robbery."
"But, Mr. Carnes," protested the
cashier, "we must call in the police in
a case like this, and the sooner they
take charge the better chance there
will be of apprehending the thief."
"Suit yourself," replied the little
man with a shrug of his shoulders. "I
merely offered my advice."
"Will you take charge, Mr. Carnes?"
asked the cashier.
"I can't supersede the local authorities
in a case like this," replied Carnes.
"The secret service is primarily interested
in the suppression of counterfeiting
and the enforcement of certain
federal statutes, but I will be glad to
assist the local authorities to the best
of my ability, provided they desire my
help. My advice to you would be to
keep out the patrolmen who are demanding
admittance and get in touch
with the chief of police. I would ask
that his best detective together with an
expert finger-print photographer be
sent here before anyone else is admitted.
If the patrolmen are allowed
to wipe their hands over Mr. Winston's
counter they may destroy valuable evidence."
"You are right, Mr. Carnes," exclaimed
the cashier. "Mr. Jervis, will
you tell the police that there is no
violence threatening and ask them to
wait for a few minutes? I'll telephone
the chief of police at once."
As the cashier hurried away to his
telephone Carnes turned to his
companion who had stood an interested,
although silent spectator of the
scene. His companion was a marked
contrast to the secret service operator.
He stood well over six feet in height,
and his protruding jaw and shock of
unruly black hair combined with his
massive shoulders and chest to give
him the appearance of a man who
labored with his hands—until one
looked at them. His hands were in
strange contrast to the rest of him.
Long, slim, mobile hands they were,
with tapering nervous fingers—the
hands of a thinker or of a musician.
Telltale splotches of acid told of hours
spent in a laboratory, a tale that was
confirmed by the almost imperceptible
stoop of his shoulders.
"Do you agree with my advice, Dr.
Bird?" asked Carnes deferentially.
The noted scientist, who from his
laboratory in the Bureau of Standards
had sent forth many new things in the
realms of chemistry and physics, and
who, incidentally, had been instrumental
in solving some of the most
baffling mysteries which the secret
service had been called upon to face,
"It didn't do any harm," he said, "but
it is rather a waste of time. The thief
"How in thunder do you know that?"
"It's merely common sense. A man
who can do what he did had at least
some rudiments of intelligence, and
even the feeblest-minded crooks know
enough to wear gloves nowadays."
Carnes stepped a little closer to the
"Another reason why I didn't want
patrolmen tramping around," he said
in an undertone, "is this. If Winston
gave the alarm quickly enough, the
thief is probably still in the building."
"He's a good many miles away by
now," replied Dr. Bird with a shrug of
Carnes' eyes opened widely.
"Why?—how?—who?" he stammered.
"Have you any idea of who
did it, or how it was done?"
"Possibly I have an idea," replied
Dr. Bird with a cryptic smile. "My
advice to you, Carnes, is to keep away
from the local authorities as much as
possible. I want to be present when
Winston and Trier are questioned and
I may possibly wish to ask a few questions
myself. Use your authority that
far, but no farther. Don't volunteer
any information and especially don't
let my name get out. We'll drop the
counterfeiting case we were summoned
here on for the present and look into
this a little on our own hook. I will
want your aid, so don't get tied up
with the police."
"At that, we don't want the police
crossing our trail at every turn," protested
"They won't," promised the doctor.
"They will never get any evidence on
this case, if I am right, and neither
will we—for the present. Our stunt is
to lie low and wait for the next attempt
of this nature and thus accumulate
some evidence and some idea of
where to look."
"Will there be another attempt?"
"Surely. You don't expect a man
who got away with a crime like this
to quit operations just because a few
flatfeet run around and make a hullabaloo
about it, do you? I may be
wrong in my assumption, but if I am
right, the most important thing is to
keep all reference to my name or position
out of the press reports."
The cashier hastened up to them.
"Detective-Captain Sturtevant will
be here in a few minutes with a photographer
and some other men," he
said. "Is there anything that we can
do in the meantime, Mr. Carnes?"
"I would suggest that Mr. Trier and
his guard and Mr. Winston go into
your office," replied Carnes. "My assistant
and I would like to be present
during the questioning, if there are no
"I didn't know that you had an
assistant with you," answered the
Carnes indicated Dr. Bird.
"This gentleman is Mr. Berger, my
assistant," he said. "Do you understand?"
"Certainly. I am sure there will be
no objection to your presence, Mr.
Carnes," replied the cashier as he led
the way to his office.
A few minutes later Detective-Captain
Sturtevant of the Chicago
police was announced. He acknowledged
the introductions gruffly and
got down to business at once.
"What were the circumstances of
the robbery?" he asked.
Winston told his story, Trier and
the guard confirming it.
"Pretty thin!" snorted the detective
when they had finished. He whirled
suddenly on Winston.
"Where did you hide the loot?" he
"Why—uh—er—what do you mean?"
gulped the teller.
"Just what I said," replied the detective.
"Where did you hide the "
"I didn't hide it anywhere," said the
teller. "It was stolen."
"You had better think up a better
one," sneered Sturtevant. "If you think
that you can make me believe that that
money was stolen from you in broad
daylight with two men in plain sight
of you who didn't see it, you might
just as well get over it. I know that
you have some hiding place where you
have slipped the stuff and the quicker
you come clean and spill it, the better
it will be for you. Where did you hide
"I didn't hide it!" cried the teller,
his voice trembling. "Mr. Trier can
tell you that I didn't touch it from the
time I laid it down until I turned
"That's right," replied the paymaster.
"He turned his back on me for
a moment, and when he turned back,
it was gone."
"So you're in on it too, are you?"
"What do you mean?" demanded
the paymaster hotly.
"Oh nothing, nothing at all," replied
the detective. "Of course Winston
didn't touch it and it disappeared and
you never saw it go, although you
were within three feet of it all the
time. Did you see anything?" he demanded
of the guard.
"Nothing that I am sure of," answered
the guard. "I thought that a
shadow passed in front of me for an
instant, but when I looked again, it
Dr. Bird sat forward suddenly.
"What did this shadow look
like?" he asked.
"It wasn't exactly a shadow," said
the guard. "It was as if a person had
passed suddenly before me so quickly
that I couldn't see him. I seemed to
feel that there was someone there, but
I didn't rightly see anything."
"Did you notice anything of the
sort?" demanded the doctor of Trier.
"I don't know," replied Trier
thoughtfully. "Now that Williams has
mentioned it, I did seem to feel a
breath of air or a motion as though
something had passed in front of me.
I didn't think of it at the time."
"Was this shadow opaque enough to
even momentarily obscure your vision?"
went on the doctor.
"Not that I am conscious of. It was
just a breath of air such as a person
cause by passing very rapidly."
"What made you ask Trier if he had
the money when you turned around?"
asked the doctor of Winston.
"Say-y-y," broke in the detective.
"Who the devil are you, and what do
you mean by breaking into my examination
and stopping it?"
Carnes tossed a leather wallet on the
"There are my credentials," he said
in his quiet voice. "I am chief of one
section of the United States Secret
Service as you will see, and this is Mr.
Berger, my assistant. We were in the
bank, engaged on a counterfeiting case,
when the robbery took place. We have
had a good deal of experience along
these lines and we are merely anxious
to aid you."
Sturtevant examined Carnes' credentials
carefully and returned them.
"This is a Chicago robbery," he said,
"and we have had a little experience in
robberies and in apprehending robbers
ourselves. I think that we can get
along without your help."
"You have had more experience with
robberies with apprehending robbers
if the papers tell the truth," said
Dr. Bird with a chuckle.
The detective's face flushed.
"That will be enough from you,
Mr. Sherlock Holmes," he said. "If
you open your mouth again, I'll arrest
you as a material witness and as a possible
"That sounds like Chicago methods,"
said Carnes quietly. "Now listen to
me, Captain. My assistant and I are
merely trying to assist you in this
case. If you don't desire our assistance
we'll proceed along our own lines without
interfering, but in the meantime
remember that this is a National Bank,
and that our questions will be answered.
The United States is higher
than even the Chicago police force, and
I am here under orders to investigate
a counterfeiting case. If I desire, I
can seal the doors of this bank and allow
no one in or out until I have the
evidence I desire. Do you understand?"
Sturtevant sprang to his feet with an
oath, but the sight of the gold badge
which Carnes displayed stopped him.
"Oh well," he said ungraciously. "I
suppose that no harm will come of
letting Winston answer your fool
questions, but I'll warn you that I'll report
to Washington that you are interfering
with the course of justice and
using your authority to aid the getaway
of a criminal."
"That is your privilege," replied
Carnes quietly. "Mr. Winston, will
you answer Mr. Berger's question?"
"Why, I asked him because he was
right close to the money and I thought
that he might have reached through the
wicket and picked it up. Then, too—"
He hesitated for a moment and Dr.
Bird smiled encouragingly.
"What else?" he asked.
"Why, I can't exactly tell. It just
seemed to me that I had heard the
rustle that bills make when they are
pulled across a counter. When I saw
them gone, I thought that he might
have taken them. Then when I turned
toward him, I seemed to hear the rustle
of bills behind me, although I knew
that I was alone in the cage. When I
looked back the money was gone."
"Did you see or hear anything like a
shadow or a person moving?"
"No—yes—I don't know. Just as I
turned around it seemed to me that the
rear door to my cage had moved and
there may have been a shadow for an
instant. I don't know. I hadn't
thought of it before."
"How long after that did you ring
the alarm gongs?"
"Not over a second or two."
"That's all," said Dr. Bird.
"If your high and mightiness has no
further questions to ask, perhaps you
will let me ask a few," said Sturtevant.
"Go ahead, ask all you wish," replied
Dr. Bird with a laugh. "I
have all the information I desire here
for the present. I may want to ask
other questions later, but just now I
think we'll be going."
"If you find any strange finger-prints
on Winston's counter, I'll be glad to
have them compared with our files,"
"I am not bothering with finger-prints,"
snorted the detective. "This
is an open and shut case. There would
be lots of Winston's finger-prints there
and no others. There isn't the slightest
doubt that this is an inside case
and I have the men I want right here.
Mr. Rogers, your bank is closed for
. Everyone in it will be searched
and then all those not needed to close
up will be sent away. I will get a
squad of men here to go over your
building and locate the hiding place.
Your money is still on the premises
unless these men slipped it to a confederate
who got out before the alarm
was given. I'll question the guards
about that. If that happened, a little
sweating will get it out of them."
"Are you going to arrest me?" demanded
Trier in surprise.
"Yes, dearie," answered the detective.
"I am going to arrest you and
your two little playmates if these
Washington experts will allow me to.
You will save a lot of time and quite
a few painful experiences if you will
come clean now instead of later."
"I demand to see my lawyer and to
communicate with my firm," said the
"Time enough for that when I am
through with you," replied the detective.
He turned to Carnes.
"Have I your gracious permission to
arrest these three criminals?" he
"Yes indeed, Captain," replied
Carnes sweetly. "You have my gracious
permission to make just as big
an ass of yourself as you wish. We're
"By the way, Captain," said Dr.
Bird as he followed Carnes out.
"When you get through playing with
your prisoners and start to look for
the thief, here is a tip. Look for a
left-handed man who has a thorough
knowledge of chemistry and especially
"It's easy enough to see that he was
left-handed if he pulled that money
out through the grill from the positions
occupied by Trier and his guard,
but what the dickens led you to suspect
that he is a chemist and a toxicologist?"
asked Carnes as he and the
doctor left the bank.
"Merely a shrewd guess, my dear
Watson," replied the doctor with a
chuckle. "I am likely to be wrong, but
there is a good chance that I am right.
I am judging solely from the method
"Have you solved the method?" demanded
Carnes in amazement. "What
on earth was it? The more I have
thought about it, the more inclined I
am to believe that Sturtevant is right
and that it is an inside job. It seems
to me impossible that a man could have
entered in broad daylight and lifted
that money in front of three men and
within sight of a hundred more without
some one getting a glimpse of him.
He must have taken the money out in
a grip or a sack or something like that,
yet the bank record shows that no one
but Trier entered with a grip and no
one left with a package for ten minutes
before Trier entered."
"There may be something in what
you say, Carnes, but I am inclined to
have a different idea. I don't think it
is the usual run of bank robbery, and
I would rather not hazard a guess just
now. I am going back to Washington
to-night. Before I go any further into
the matter, I need some rather specialized
knowledge that I don't possess
and I want to consult with Dr. Knolles.
I'll be back in a week or so and then
we can look into that counterfeiting
case after we get this disposed of."
"What am I to do?" asked Carnes.
"Sit around the lobby of your hotel,
eat three meals a day, and read the papers.
If you get bored, I would recommend
that you pay a visit to the Art
Institute and admire the graceful lions
which adorn the steps. Artistic contemplations
may well improve your
"All right," replied Carnes. "I'll assume
a pensive air and moon at the
lions, but I might do better if you told
me what I was looking for."
"You are looking for knowledge, my
dear Carnes," said the doctor with a
laugh. "Remember the saying of the
sages: To the wise man, no knowledge
A huge Martin bomber roared
down to a landing at the Maywood
airdrome, and a burly figure
descended from the rear cockpit and
waved his hand jovially to the waiting
Carnes. The secret service man
hastened over to greet his colleague.
"Have you got that truck I wired
you to have ready?" demanded the
"Waiting at the entrance; but say,
I've got some news for you."
"It can wait. Get a detail of men
and help us to unload this ship. Some
of the cases are pretty heavy."
Carnes hurried off and returned with
a gang of laborers, who took from the
bomber a dozen heavy packing cases
of various sizes, several of them
labelled either "Fragile" or "Inflammable"
in large type.
"Where do they go, Doctor?" he
asked when the last of them had been
loaded onto the waiting truck.
"To the First National Bank," replied
Dr. Bird, "and Casey here goes
with them. You know Casey, don't
you, Carnes? He is the best photographer
in the Bureau."
"Shall I go along too?" asked
Carnes as he acknowledged the introduction.
"No need for it. I wired Rogers and
he knows the stuff is coming and what
to do with it. Unpack as soon as you
get there, Casey, and start setting up
as soon as the bank closes."
"All right, Doctor," replied Casey as
he mounted the truck beside the
"Where do we go, Doctor?" asked
Carnes as the truck rolled off.
"To the Blackstone Hotel for a bath
and some clean clothes," replied the
doctor. "And now, what is the news
you have for me?"
"The news is this, Doctor. I carried
out your instructions diligently and,
during the daylight hours, the lions
have not moved."
Dr. Bird looked contrite.
"I beg your pardon, Carnes," he
said. "I really didn't think when I
left you so mystified how you must
have felt. Believe me, I had my own
reasons, excellent ones, for secrecy."
"I have usually been able to maintain
silence when asked to," replied
"My dear fellow, I didn't mean to
question your discretion. I know that
whatever I tell you is safe, but there
are angles to this affair that are so
weird and improbable that I don't dare
to trust my own conclusions, let alone
share them. I'll tell you all about it
soon. Did you get those tickets I
"Of course I got them, but what have
two tickets to the A. A. U. track meet
this afternoon got to do with a bank
"One trouble with you, Carnes," replied
the doctor with a air, "is
that you have no idea of the importance
of proper relaxation. Is it
possible that you have no desire to see
Ladd, this new marvel who is smashing
records right and left, run? He performs
for the Illinois Athletic Club
this afternoon, and it would not surprise
me to see him lower the world's
record again. He has already lowered
the record for the hundred yard dash
from nine and three-fifths to eight and
four-fifths. There is no telling what
he will do."
"Are we going to waste the whole
just to watch a man run?"
demanded Carnes in disgust.
"We will see many men run, my dear
fellow, but there is only one in whom
I have a deep abiding interest, and
that is Mr. Ladd. Have you your
binoculars with you?"
"Then by all means beg, borrow or
steal two pairs before this afternoon.
We might easily miss half the fun
without them. Are our seats near the
starting line for the sprints?"
"Yes. The big demand was for seats
near the finish line."
"The start will be much more interesting,
Carnes. I was somewhat of a
minor star in track myself in my college
days and it will be of the greatest
interest to me to observe the starting
form of this new speed artist. Now
Carnes, don't ask any more questions.
I may be barking up the wrong tree
and I don't want to give you a chance
to laugh at me. I'll tell you what to
watch for at the track."
The sprinters lined up on the
hundred yard mark and Dr. Bird
and Carnes sat with their glasses
glued to their eyes watching the slim
figure in the colors of the Illinois
Athletic Club, whose large "62" on his
back identified him as the new star.
"On your mark!" cried the starter.
"Ah!" cried Dr. Bird. "Did you see
The starting gun cracked and the
runners were off on their short grind.
Ladd leaped into the lead and rapidly
distanced the field, his legs twinkling
under him almost faster than the eye
could follow. He was fully twenty
yards in the lead when his speed suddenly
lessened and the balance of the
runners closed up the gap he had
opened. His lead was too great for
them, and he was still a good ten yards
in the lead when he crossed the tape.
The official time was posted as eight
and nine-tenths seconds.
"Another thirty yards and he would
have been beaten," said Carnes as he
lowered his glasses.
"That is the way he has won all of
his races," replied the doctor. "He
piles up a huge lead at first and then
loses a good deal at the finish. His
speed doesn't hold up. Never mind
that, though, it is only an additional
point in my favor. Did you notice his
jaws just before the gun went?"
"They seemed to clench and then he
swallowed, but most of them did some
thing like that."
"Watch him carefully for the next
heat and see if he puts anything into
his mouth. That is the important
Dr. Bird sank into a brown study
and paid no attention to the next few
events, but he came to attention
promptly when the final heat of the
hundred yard dash was called. With
his glasses he watched Ladd closely as
the runner trotted up to the starting
"There, Carnes!" he cried suddenly.
"Did you see?"
"I saw him wipe his mouth," said
"All right, now watch his jaws just
before the gun goes."
The final heat was a duplicate of
the first preliminary. Ladd took
an early lead which he held for three-fourths
of the distance to the tape,
then his pace slackened and he finished
only a bare ten yards ahead of the next
runner. The time tied his previous
world's record of eight and four-fifths
"He crunched and swallowed all
right, Doctor," said Carnes.
"That is all I wanted to be sure of.
Now Carnes, here is something for you
to do. Get hold of the United States
Commissioner and get a John Doe
warrant and go back to the hotel with
it and wait for me. I may phone you
at any minute and I may not. If I
don't, wait in your room until you hear
from me. Don't leave it for a minute."
"Where are you going, Doctor?"
"I'm going down and congratulate
Mr. Ladd. An old track man like me
can't let such an opportunity pass."
"I don't know what this is all about,
Doctor," replied Carnes, "but I know
you well enough to obey orders and to
keep my mouth shut until it is my
turn to speak."
Few men could resist Dr. Bird when
he set out to make a favorable impression,
and even a world's champion is
apt to be flattered by the attention of
one of the greatest scientists of his
day, especially when that scientist has
made an enviable reputation as an athlete
in his college days and can talk
the jargon of the champion's particular
sport. Henry Ladd promptly capitulated
to the charm of the doctor and
allowed himself to be led away to supper
at Bird's club. The supper passed
off pleasantly, and when the doctor requested
an interview with the young
athlete in a private room, he gladly
consented. They entered the room together,
remained for an hour and a
half, and then came out. The smile
had left Ladd's face and he appeared
nervous and distracted. The doctor
talked cheerfully with him but kept a
firm grip on his arm as they descended
the stairs together. They entered a
telephone booth where the doctor made
several calls, and then descended to the
street, where they entered a taxi.
"Maywood airdrome," the doctor told
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
"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
"What are you setting up?" he asked
"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
"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
"I don't see that I did much good,
Doctor. Casey would have had the machine
ready on time anyway, and I'm
"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
"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
"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
"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
"No, he didn't, so we'll have to stand
by all day. Oh, hello, Casey, is everything
"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
"Good work, Casey. Keep the bearings
oiled and pray that the film doesn't
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
"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
"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
"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
"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
"What advantage would there be in
"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
"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
"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
"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 ."
"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
"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."