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Tag: background

Chapter Two: Sep. 5-8, 1933 - Death of Sea-Captain
The cabbie that James O'Neil had flagged down proved to be competent, if not terribly brave. While he managed to follow the black sedan across the Queensboro Bridge into Manhattan, the driver must have spotted them. As he sped away into traffic, James was stuck behind a traffic light. His reporter's instincts were sharp however, and he did manage to get the car's license down. Swearing under his breath, he handed the cabbie a $10 bill and hopped out after spotting a pay phone on a nearby corner. "Keep the change," he said as he raced to the phone.


The cabbie got James over the Queensboro Bridge in a hurry.

Quickly dialing the Amherst Hotel, he was rewarded by the voice of Tim, the desk clerk. Dr. Buernor Thorson and Dr. Williamn Scott Tyson had just returned from the New York Public Library, and took the call. James quickly explained what happened, and described the large man, the older gentleman, and provided them with its plate numbers. Though they doubted they could find the vehicle in the midday traffic, they quickly stepped out and flagged down a cab. Dr. Nikifor Schevchenko and Evelyn Dubois happened to be returning (from the Soviet Embassy and the docks, respectively), just as a dark sedan with two large men, one older gentleman, and plates matching the numbers James provided crept by on 42nd Street. "We need to follow that car!" Tyson reported. "James saw a man being kidnapped at Acacia Lexington's estate. If we lose them now, we'll never find out what happened!"

Evvy blew an ear-piercing whistle, stopping a passing cab, and hopped in. "Follow that sedan," she said to the cabbie. She turned to the rest and said, "Get Jimmy and wait by the phone, boys!" Pounding on the cab door, she and her driver sped off. Several minutes later, the sedan pulled down a short pier to a warehouse on the lower end of Manhattan. Slipping the cabbie a bill, Evvy said "Circle the block and wait. I've got to make a phone call."

By that time, James had arrived back at the Amherst, and the situation was explained in detail. Evvy's call came through, and the boys hopped in Dr. Scott's big Packard and took off for Lower Manhattan. Arriving nearly an hour after the big sedan pulled in, the investigators set on a plan of action. They cautiously approached the abandoned warehouse, avoiding the roll-up door in front and circled to a side-door. After borrowing one of Evvy's hairpins, Jeeves let his Cockney roots show as he deftly picked the rusty padlock on the door. The equally rusty hinge nearly gave them away, so they cricled to the front office door and tried again.


Yes, Dr. Tyson could afford a sweet, sweet ride.

Success! They made their way into the dusty office, and to a door standing slightly ajar on the far side. Above, they could hear the thwack of a fist hitting flesh, then a voice spoke in German-accented English. "Come now, Herr Roerich. Where is Herr Professor Dyer? Where is Herr Danforth? Who else knows about Pym's book? What is your business with Fraulien Lexington?"

"I don't know who that is, or what you mean." A voice accented in Russian answered back. "I only wanted to warn Miss Lexington not to go to Antarctica." A heavy sigh followed, and a few words in German were exchanged. The investigators had heard enough. Evvy grabbed a small bottle of whiskey from her purse, and made sure her pearl-handled .32 was at the top. Stacey picked up a broken chair leg as if it were a saber, and made sure his Webley service revolver was loosened in its shoulder holster under his coat. Jeeves watched the door as Dr. Tyson crept over to the big sedan and quietly got inside. Buernor followed Evvy up the stairs, doing his damndest to stay out of sight.

"Hey boys," Evvy began in a tipsy voice, "Bruno sent me over to..." she trailed off as three men in suits looked back. An older man sat tied to a chair, a bag over his head. The lead man drew an automatic pistol and leveled it at the young socialite. Time seemed to slow down. Cautious words were exchanged as he and the others apologized and prepared to tie up Evvy and the big Norwegian scientist. One went down to get the car, only to be whacked upside the head by Stacey. Dr. Tyson started up the car, smashing it into the roll-up door. The gunman, distracted for a second, caught Buernor's meaty fist upside his head. The big man grabbed the wrist of his gun-hand, forced the pistol out of his grip, and then broke it with a violent jerk. The other man quickly surrendered when he saw Evvy's pistol leveled at him.


Evvy was ready for trouble.

After a brief interrogation, Jeeves realized these men were professionals and would not talk, even under threat of violence. Wishing to avoid police involvement, the two parties decided to go their separate ways. Too late, the investigators heard a lauch leave from where it had been tied up on the short dock behind the warehouse. The Germans left, with more questions than answers in their wake.

After he was untied from the chair, the investigators realized the older man was none other than Nicholas Roerich, a famed Russian artist and philanthropist. "Thank you," he said with a hoarse cough. "Perhaps we should leave quickly, yes?" Tyson saw to his injuries and the group left the warehouse. A quick explanation followed. Roerich had been trying for the better part of a week to contact either James Starkweather or Professor William Moore, as he had an important package for them from William Dyer, a manuscript that the missing scientist swore was a true account of what he and Danforth experienced on the polar ice. Unable to get in touch with either man, Roerich instead opted to give the manuscript and warning to Acacia Lexington, as he was close friends with her late father. The Germans had been waiting in ambush for him, and made off with the manuscript as he was being questioned. He hadn't read Dyer's manuscript for himself, and could not swear to its contents. "I only know he returned a changed man, and was convinced that no man should venture on to the Antarctic contient again." Dr. Tyson knew that Dyer had changed, but had not realized it was to that extent. Still, they thanked Roerich for his information and made sure her arrived safely at a local hospital to have his injuries looked over more thoroughly.


Noted artist and philanthropist, Russian expatriate Nicholas Roerich


Upon their return to the Amherst Hotel, the investigators began to gather their facts. They surmised that Acacia Lexington was no doubt involved in the whole matter somehow, as she had ties to political groups all over the world. The Germans were after something in Dyer's manuscript, and Dr. Tyson remembered a story, The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket, by Poe. It was the story of a strange voyage into the South Pacific that ends abruptly with the protagonist aboard a native boat approaching the misty shores of Antarctica.
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Tags: Background , Recap