Putting the quickly, but expertly, made cigarette between his lips, Sam said "Well, you shore killed the hell out of their car. Might have done a sight better if you'd blowed one of the sons a bitch's heads off!"
As he approached the other two men, Graveyard worked the bolt on his rifle extracting a round. "No use in killing a man unless you got no choice."
"No use in killin' a man? Hell man, you're Graveyard Toombs!"
As he placed the large rifle round into a special bandolier sewn into the inside of his jacket, Graveyard cocked an eyebrow at the agent. "I never killed a man that didn't deserve it."
"That's enough chit chat," Sandy broke in, blocking off any more talk about Graveyard's past. "We need to follow those men."
Turning to face Sandy, Sam spat. "I'm beginnin' to wonder about you fellers. We're too late to follow them, even if that Model T was workin'. My car should still be parked on the other side of the tunnel where I hid it, but that don't do us a lick of good. Those men are long gone!"
"I was hoping that we could use your car! Let's get to it quickly so that we can follow them!"
Sam scratched his head. "Are you not payin' attention? They're gone!"
Graveyard cradled the rifle in the crook of his left arm as he said "Give the boy a chance."
The agent glanced from one detective to the other then threw up his hands. "Okay, okay! Let's go," he said, the cigarette between his lips bobbing up and down.
The three men headed down the tunnel at a fast clip.
After exiting the far end of the tunnel, Sam led them to a spot about fifty yards away where he had hidden his car in a clump of shrubs.
"Didn't really take much time to hide it as them thugs wasn't too far behind me. But I remembered coming across this little spot when I was scouting around after the gold was stolen."
As Sam was talking Sandy placed his "field laboratory" case across the hood of the car and opened it. He reached in and pulled out a flat black wooden box that had a hinged top held closed by two clasps. He also pulled out a metal bar and some smaller pieces of wire that he attached vertically to each end of the bar. A cable was attached to the middle of the bar and ended in a plug.
"Bill, if you wouldn't mind, would you take my field lab case and place it in the back with you? I'll sit up front and use my direction finder." Shrugging, Graveyard took the suitcase and placed it in the rear of the car and then climbed in as well.
Sam had been watching all of this, the look of puzzlement growing on his face. "What in tarnation are you doing? What is that?"
After placing a fresh stick of gum in his mouth and chewing it for a few seconds, Sandy replied with a large smile "This my friend, is a radio tracking device of my own design. What those thugs didn't know was that hidden in my car was a radio transmitter. Inside this flat case is a radio receiver that I designed specifically to be used with this antenna. With this I can track the direction of the car."
Shaking his head Sam mumbled, "I'll give you the benefit of the doubt. Let's go." They climbed into the car. Sandy placed the case on his lap, opened the top, and plugged the cable from the antenna into a receptacle. He hung the antenna out the car window with his right hand, moving it back and forth, while working controls on the receiver with his left hand. "Go ahead and get to the access road Sam, I should be able to give you directions from there."
"No problem," growled the agent and stepped on the accelerator. Minutes later they were headed down the road with Sandy determining the proper direction by listening to the tone being emitted from his receiver as well as by watching a signal strength meter inset in the case.
They followed this procedure for nearly two hours until Sandy declared "I think the car has been parked and we're getting really close. The signal strength is very strong! Look, there's a small road leading off the main road and I think that's where they are. Pull off Sam and let's walk from here."
Sam pulled the car off the road and it was a quick five minutes work for the three men to hide the car in the trees and bushes as best they could. The rapidly failing sunlight would help to keep the car hidden.
They started slowly down the small dirt road. Graveyard walked slightly ahead looking at the ground in the dim light. "There have definitely been several vehicles down this road recently," he stated. Glancing around at the other two men he said "I'm gonna scout around a bit. You two continue on and I'll join you later." He looked specifically at his young partner. "Be careful. Things could be getting dangerous."
Sandy grinned. "You just watch out for yourself."
Graveyard gave a slight nod then turned and faded into the thick trees and brush beside the road making no sound whatsoever.
Removing the cigarette from his mouth Sam said in a near whisper, "I don't think I've ever seen anyone move that silent since I spent some time with an old Injun named Fishing Bear."
Glancing at the cigarette in the government agents hand Sandy suggested "You might want to put out that cigarette. Don't want anyone to smell it or see it."
Sam nodded. "Shore, shore." He pinched off the burning end of the cigarette between his thumb and forefinger. Rubbing his fingers together he put out the embers, apparently not feeling any pain. He then placed the cigarette in his shirt pocket. "Let's go."
A few minutes later the road entered a clearing in the trees. The two men edged into the trees to the side of the road so that they could observe but still remain out of site. A large house stood in the middle of the clearing with some smoke coming from a chimney. Parked in front of the house were a couple of large trucks and some cars, including Sandy's Nash Touring car!
After gently placing the radio direction finder on the ground, the blond detective stood up and used his right index finger to push up the front of his hat. "Well," he said softly, "we need to get over to that house and find out what's going on in there."
"It'll be completely dark in a few more minutes, which should help. Think we both should try to sneak up there?"
"Hmmmm," Sandy pondered a moment. "It might be best if I slip up to the house alone. You stay here and keep an eye out."
"Sure thing," Sam whispered as he pulled out his revolver. "What about Graveyard? Should we try to find him first?"
Sandy shook his head. "Bill does things his own way. Besides, I sometimes think he knows what I'm doing before I do."
Both men placed themselves behind trees and waited a few minutes until the sunlight completely faded away and the only light visible came from the windows of the house.
"I'm moving in," whispered Sandy.
"Okay," replied Sam softly.
Crouching down, the young detective moved across the open ground at a fast clip until he reached the side of house.
It was all Sam could do to make out the shadowy form of Sandy next to the house. It looked as if the young man was inching up to one of the windows. Suddenly a small movement caught Sam's eye. Another shadow had appeared from nowhere and was moving up behind Sandy!
Trying to decide the best way to alert Sandy, Sam was suddenly startled to hear a rustling sound behind him!
Something hard impacted the side of Sam's head just as he started to whirl around and he sank to the ground with a barely audible thud.
"I guess I hit him hard enough," chuckled a dark figure. "I like this blackjack, it work's great!"
"Keep your voice down," hissed a second voice.
Just about the time the blackjack was hitting the back of Sam's head, Sandy felt the cold metal of a gun barrel touch the nape of his neck. "Hold it right there, mister," said a calm voice. "We don't take kindly to sneaks around here."
Sandy slowly raised his hands. "No problem, I don't mean any harm."
"Walk around to the front door and don't make no sudden movements. My trigger finger acts a little funny sometimes and you wouldn't want to suddenly find your brains on the outside of your skull, now would you?"
Although the man talked funny, he sounded deadly serious. Sandy made his way to the front door, hoping that Sam was seeing what was going on and could help.
As Sandy approached the front door the man with the gun instructed "Knock on the door twice, wait a second, and then go on in."
Following the man's instructions, Sandy moved very slowly. He knocked once, twice, waited a second then slowly opened the door. As he stepped through the door he saw a large thug strike a woman across the face, knocking her to the floor. She lay on the floor cowering, her hands over her face. She looked too frightened to make a sound. It took everything Sandy had not to rush the thug. Instead, he gritted his teeth, raised his hands slightly, and looked around, taking stock of the situation. The thug that hat hit the woman turned to face Sandy and rested his hand on the butt of his holstered revolver.
To one side was a bricked up fireplace. Strange that, considering that smoke had been coming from the chimney.
"Hell Spat, looks like you done caught yourself a big one," chuckled the thug as he pulled up a chair next to the woman and grabbed some rope off the floor. He motioned for Sandy to sit down. "You can have a seat right next to Miss Haber, buddy."
His eyes widening a bit Sandy paused and cast a sharp look at the woman.
"I said sit down!" the thug said, raising his voice.
As he sat, Sandy was alarmed at Spat's next words.
"Jim and Ed went to get the others that was also out there. I reckon they'll be comin' in any minute."
Spat took a piece of rope from the man standing beside Sandy. "Hold out your hands so's I can tie'em. And no funny business or Ty will let you have it."
"Damn straight I will," said Ty. He pulled his revolver and pointed it at Sandy's head.
"Mind if I chew a piece of gum?" the young detective asked.
Spat paused as he was reaching for the young mans wrists. "A piece of gum? Of all the, what the hell do I care if you chew a piece of gum? It just might be your last though."
"It's in my left pocket."
"Well, get it out, we ain't waitin' all night, but no funny moves or it's lights out!"
Sandy reached into his left pocket and pulled out a stick of gum, unwrapped it and stuck it in his mouth. He crumpled the wrapper in his fist.
"Crazy son-of-a-bitch," mumbled Spat as he tied Sandy's hands. Ty passed a few loops of rope around Sandy's body, binding him to the chair.
Just as the two men finished tying Sandy to the chair, there came two knocks on the door. There was a pause and then the door opened and a young man backed in dragging the unconscious form of Sam. Sandy winced.
Spat closed the door after the man had finished dragging in Sam. The man released Sam, letting him flop down to the floor, and stood up. Sandy recognized him as the man that had been driving the car back at the tunnel.
"Where's Ed?" inquired Ty.
The driver straightened his back with a pop and said "He's looking for the other one.
There were three of'em back at the tunnel. And I wanna get my hands on the man what shot my car!"
"You'll get your chance," stated Spat. "What I'd like to know is how they found us."
"Maybe we should beat it outta this one," said Ty as he slapped the underside of the brim of Sandy's hat, flipping it off and onto the floor.
"You know we don't do nothin' without orders." Ty glanced down at the woman a moment then looked up at Spat and crossed his arms. "Right," he said sullenly. "And when do you think we'll get more orders?"
Spat shook his head at Ty as if telling him to keep his mouth shut. "How should I know? Just stay calm and keep an eye on the prisoners. Ed should be back soon." No sooner had Spat finished speaking then there came a knock on the door followed a second later by another knock. Another second and then the door eased open.
"Hey Ed, did you find--" Spats voice froze as he realized that the man that had stepped through the door was not Ed.
"Howdy boys." The low voice carried well through out the room.
The hands of all three thugs itched to reach for their revolvers, but the large rifle being held by the man stayed any hasty action.
"Just who the hell are you?" Spat growled.
"Name's Toombs. Some call me Graveyard."
"Graveyard?" Ty whispered, the color draining from his face.
Spats right hand twitched. "I heard you was dead."
"Not yet." Graveyards eyes roamed from man to man. "And I don't aim to be anytime soon. So how about you boys drop your gun belts on the floor and then go stand against the wall, face first, with your hands in the air."
"I don't think that's gonna happen." Spat said as he slowly moved his head from side to side, loosening his neck muscles. "You might nota noticed, but you're outnumbered."
"I already took care of the man you had stomping through the woods looking for me. So that only leaves the three of you. I'm hoping that you boys are smarter then he was."
"Yeah, if you boys are smart, you'll surrender. You've all heard of Graveyard Toombs. You don't want to go up against him," Sandy voiced from the chair to which he was tied. He smiled. "You'd be stupid."
"You're the bastard what shot my car. I ain't never heard of no Graveyard Toombs and I ain't scared a nobody." The naive young driver growled staring hard at Graveyard.
Never taking his eyes off of the rifle being casually held by Graveyard, Ty muttered out of the side of his mouth, "Shut the hell up, Jim."
The young man looked at Ty, his eyes widening in surprise as he realized that Ty was scared. He'd never seen Ty scared of anything.
Graveyard's eyes shifted across the men, making eye contact with each one. "Well, what's it going to be? Are you going to surrender or do I have to kill all of you?"
Spat locked eyes with Graveyard and said "You're a cocky son-of-a-bitch." Just as soon as the last word left his mouth his right hand streaked for his holster, triumph shining in his eyes. He knew he was a faster draw than any man he had ever met and the rifle Graveyard was holding wasn't even pointed in his direction.
The explosion that came from the rifle in Graveyards hands nearly deafened everyone in the room. It permanently deafened Ty as the .375 slug tore a large hole through his chest, sending him flying against the wall behind him.
The instant the rifle fired, the young man who had been a driver flinched and then to his credit reached for the gun holstered to his hip.
As soon as he pulled the trigger of his H&H Nitro Express, Graveyards hands went into motion. He pitched the heavy rifle straight at the driver who had been standing to the far left beside Ty. His right hand streaked to his left side where his revolver was stuck in his belt.
Spats revolver had cleared the holster and was halfway up by the time Graveyard's right hand grasped his own revolver. Disbelief barely had time to replace the triumph in Spat's eyes as he watched the old gunfighters' hand move faster than anything he'd ever seen before.
The slug from Graveyard's Colt crashed into Spat's chest just as his finger was about to tighten on the trigger of his own weapon. The force of the slug jerked him backwards and he fell over, nearly hitting the woman lying there. Blood had spattered across her shirt and she had a horrified look on her face.
A second slug from Graveyards revolver stopped the driver Jim's struggle with the massive rifle that had hit him in the chest and delayed him in drawing his pistol. He dropped his weapon, a look of surprise on his face, and then dropped slowly to the floor.
As Graveyard put his gun away he turned and walked over to Sandy. The look on his face was one his young partner had never seen before; it seemed to portray various and conflicting emotions, such as triumph, disgust, satisfaction, and sadness. It lasted only a couple of seconds.
"Are you okay?" Graveyard asked as he untied his partner.
Standing, Sandy flexed his arms. "Yeah, I'll be all right."
"Good." Graveyard turned and walked over to the woman and squatted down. "Here Miss, let me help you up," he said as he reached out and then helped the woman stand. "How are you? Will you be okay?"
The woman wiped her face with her sleeve and nodded slowly. "I, I'll be okay," she stuttered. "I just knew they were going to kill me, but you showed up and stopped them."
"Who are you and how'd did you get here?" Sandy asked, staring intently at her.
She blinked and looked frightened. "I'll tell you who she is," said Sam, his voice sounding strained. He'd awakened when Graveyard was untying Sandy. "It's good to see you're awake, Sam. You okay?"
"Sure thing Sandy, I'll be just fine." Sam stood and rubbed the knot on his head. "Ain't the first time I've lost a fight with a blackjack."
"So, who is she?" asked Graveyard as he retrieved his rifle from the floor.
Sam looked at the woman. "She's Clara Hays, secretary of my boss, Bogart Sims." He paused a second then asked, "How did you get mixed up in this Clara?"
She shook her head. "It's crazy, Sam. Mr. Sims had asked me to go to his house to get some important papers he had left there and while I was there, these men burst in! They said they were after Mr. Sims, that he owed them their share of the gold and wanted to know where he had hidden it! I told them I didn't know anything about it. They grabbed me and brought me here."
"What?!" Sam ejaculated. "You mean to tell me that Bogart was involved with stealing the gold? I don't believe it!"
"Why didn't they go after Bogart instead?" asked Graveyard.
"I told them they should do that since I didn't now anything. They said that they had been at his office watching and right after I left, Bogart was arrested. So they came after me."
"Arrested? Bogart? This just ain't makin' any sense," Sam said exasperated. "I don't believe for a second that he'd do something like that!"
"Didn't he believe you had stolen the gold, Sam?" Graveyard asked.
"Well . . . maybe, but he was being pressured and was at his wits end. I don't think he really believed I had stolen the gold." Sam paused a second then muttered, "Even if he did try to have me arrested."
"Can we go Sam? I don't like it here," Clara said, fright evident in her voice.
"Sure, sure. Ain't no reason to hang around here. We need to get back to the office and straighten things out for Bogart."
"Hold on, Sam, I don't think so." Sandy sounded serious.
"Huh? Why not?" Sam asked, puzzled.
Sandy turned to Clara. "Did those men say anything about how they stole the gold?"
"Yeah, I'd like to know that myself," Sam said, looking at Clara.
Looking first a Sam then at Sandy, Clara shook here head. "They didn't talk about it."
Glancing at the dead men Sam muttered, "And I guess it's too late to ask them now."
"Do you know what's in the basement?" Sandy continued.
Clara shook her head again. "No."
"I think we should have a look."
Sam scratched his chin and then agreed with Sandy. "Yeah, that might not be a bad idea."
Clara stepped over to Sam and put her hands on his chest. "Can't we please just go?"
Sam looked down into the woman's eyes and then up at Sandy. "Why don't you and Graveyard go and have a look in the basement and I'll stay with Clara."
Sandy frowned. "Well, okay, but keep a very close eye on her."
Sam nodded. "Sure."
Sandy and Graveyard quickly found the basement door. It was padlocked. Sandy reached into his pocket and pulled out his lock picking kit. The lock proved to particularly difficult for Sandy to pick, taking all of five minutes. Sandy removed the padlock and reached for the door knob.
"Be particular as you go in, Sandy."
"You bet," Sandy said, his jaws working the piece of gum in his mouth.
Pulling the door open slowly the young detective saw that lights were on in the basement. He moved slowly down the stairs, Graveyard following behind. Just beyond the end of the stairs a room opened up that contained a vast array of apparatus, seemingly a jungle of glass tubing and containers, some sort of chemical laboratory. There was some type of furnace there with a pipe running into what was apparently the fireplace above which would explain the smoke Sandy had seen earlier rising from the chimney. "Looks like something you'd have in your basement, Sandy." Graveyard said.
"Matter of fact," Sandy chuckled, "I do have something similar."
"And here I was making a joke," Graveyard said wryly. "What do you think they've been doing down here?"
"I have a good idea and with a little examination, I think I'll be able to tell for sure." Sandy paused. "There's another door over there, think I'll make sure nobody's hiding in there first."
"Now your thinking like I taught you. I'll wait here by the stairs and cover you."
"Okay." Sandy moved to the left, and walked up to the door. "No lock on this one." He reached down, turned the knob and slowly swung open the door. He glanced inside then said over his shoulder. "Don't see anyone in here, but I do believe I've found something interesting. Be right back."
Graveyard watched from the stairs, covering the room. A moment later, Sandy reappeared, holding a gleaming bar of gold in his hand. "Look at what I found. The boxes of gold are here. Looks like they only opened a couple of them."
"Been awhile since I've seen a bar of gold," Graveyard said. Something small fell past Graveyard and hit floor with a small tinkling of broken glass. "What..." Graveyard started to say and froze. Instantly Sandy dropped the bar of gold, which hit the floor with a dull clunk, and reached for his Lugar.
Sandy saw a figure coming down the stairs and suddenly he stopped moving. The figure reached the bottom of the stairs and stepped into the light. It was Clara. She stepped up to Graveyard and with a sneer pulled his rifle from his hands. He never moved or made any expression. It was almost as if he had become a mannequin. After throwing the rifle under one of the tables holding the array of chemistry equipment, she walked over Sandy. "Well if it isn't young Mr. Detective. Not so smart now are you? I had heard about you and that old gunfighter Toombs working together. Too bad for you that Sam hired you. You won't be taking on any more cases!"
She turned to go to one of the tables which held several racks of vials. Just as she turned Sandy's right hand shot up and grabbed her left arm and twisted it around behind back! Clara screamed and fought. "Stop that, let me go!"
Managing to grab her other arm and also bend it behind her back, Sandy pushed her to the floor and put his knee in the small of her back. Holding her down he reached into a pocket and pulled out a piece of coiled insulated wire. He used that to bind her hands and feet together. The whole time she was struggling and screaming. He flipped her over and then stood back.
Clara stopped struggling and looked up at Sandy. "I'm going to kill you."
"I don't think so."
"What the hell?!" Graveyards voice suddenly filled the room! He was looking around, apparently confused and angry.
"Hold on Bill, everything's under control." Graveyard's face suddenly went back to its normal, near emotionless state. "What happened?"
"Well, she was more than just a secretary," Sandy stated.
Bogart leaned back in his chair and asked, "Just who was she? And how did she steal the gold?"
"Yeah, I'd like to know that! She made me look like a fool," Sam paused then added "Twice. After you two went down into the basement, I turned my back and WHAM! She laid me out colder than a mackerel. I've been knocked out plenty of times, but never twice in one day!"
"Well," the young detective said, "I had taken some samples in the tunnel and run some tests. The results had given me some ideas and when one of the men in the house called her Ms. Haber, my suspicions were confirmed."
"Haber?" Sims was puzzled. "Her name is Hays."
"Actually, no. Her name is Clara Haber, the daughter of Dr. Fritz Haber."
Sandy cocked his head, looking at Sims. "Fritz Haber. That name seems familiar."
Sims shook his head. "Can't quite place it though."
"Dr. Fritz Haber was the man who created the poisonous gas that Germany used in the War."
"I'll be damned!" Sims leaned forward and slammed the desktop with his fist. "You're right! I recognize his name now! She's his daughter?"
"That's right. I figured as much but with the help of your department I was able to confirm it." Sam shook his head. "And here I was a bit sweet on her. I never would have suspected." Sims should his head. "If that don't beat all. But tell me, how did she manage to steal the gold? I still don't understand that."
Nodding, Sam agreed. "Yeah, still has me puzzled to, and I was right standing right there when it happened!"
"She had been carrying on some of her father's work and discovered a form of gas that not only causes a person to become unconscious, but it invokes a part of the brain that causes the muscles to paralyze. And it causes unconsciousness in a way that when the victim recovers, they don't even realize that they were unconscious." Sandy paused while he popped a piece of spearmint gum into his mouth.
"Sounds a bit far fetched." Sam said.
"It does," the blond detective agreed, "but you experienced it first hand. What she did was fill the tunnel with the gas and when the train entered, all of you were rendered unconscious. Her men simply stopped the train, unlocked the doors of the gold car with duplicate keys made by Clara, moved the gold onto trucks and drove away. She knew how long the affects of the gas lasted and after the trucks were gone one of her men restarted the train and jumped off. To everyone onboard, including you Sam, the gold simply vanished."
"That's the craziest thing I ever heard, and if it hadn't happened to me, I wouldn't believe it!" Sam exclaimed.
"It does sound crazy," Graveyard said, "But apparently she threw a vial of that gas down the steps while Sandy and I were down there and it sure had that affect on me. I didn't understand what had happened until Sandy explained it to me."
Sims looked at Sandy. "How come the gas didn't seem to affect you? How was it that you were able to overcome her?"
"As it happens, I've done a bit of experimenting with gas myself, and after seeing the results of my tests in the tunnel, I had an idea of what to expect. One of the results of my experiments was a substance that when ingested will nullify the effects of certain chemicals. I was carrying some of that with me and after realizing whom the woman in the room was, I thought I had better take precautions. Therefore, when those thugs went to tie me up, I asked if I could chew a piece of gum. What I chewed, however, was no ordinary piece of gum. It was infused with the nullifying substance I had created and worked so that Ms. Haber's gas had virtually no affect on me."
Bogart slapped the desk again. "You're the kind of man we need on our team, son! You wanna come to work for me?"
Sandy smiled. "I'm already doing what I like, Mr. Sims, but thanks anyway."
Sims laughed. "I can see that. Well, since all the gold was recovered, you boys are entitled to a reward. It comes to a total of one percent of the total amount of the gold, or $100,000. I'll let the three of you decide how to split it up."
Sam spoke up, "Is it all right with you boys if we just split it evenly three ways? I think that's fair."
Graveyard glanced at Sandy then said "Since it was you that hired us Sam, how about you take $50,000 and Sandy and I will split the other $50,000."
Grinning, Sandy agreed. "Yeah, I think that's fair Sam."
Sam scratched his head. "Well, I guess that'll be okay."
"It's a deal then," Sandy said and stuck out his hand.
Sam shook the young mans hand then shook Graveyard's hand. "It's sure been a pleasure working with you boys."
Sandy turned back to Sims. "What's gonna happen to Ms. Haber?"
"She's gonna spend a long time in prison. I don't know what she was gonna do with all of that gold, but she'll have plenty of time to think about it."
Graveyard stood up and said to Sims, "Just send the check to our office." He turned to Sandy. "Let's go Sandy. I think it's time for a nice juicy steak and a glass of milk."
"Right you are Bill." Sandy stood up and nodded to Sam and Sims as he walked out the door.
Sims glanced at Sam then asked incredulously "Did he say a glass of milk?"
Sam nodded. "He shore did." Both men smiled and then laughed.