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- The Exploits of Elaine - 40/58 -
One whiff of the horrible gas told me that he was right. I should not have been able to go fifty feet in it. I looked at him in despair. It was impossible.
"Listen," said the policeman, straining his ears.
There was indeed a faint noise from the black depths below us. A rope alongside the rough ladder began to move, as though someone was pulling it taut. We gazed down.
"Craig! Craig!" I called. "Is that you?"
No answer. But the rope still moved. Perhaps the helmet made it impossible for him to hear.
He had struggled back in the swirling current almost exhausted by his helpless burden. Holding Elaine's head above the surface of the water and pulling on the rope to attract my attention, for he could neither hear nor shout, he had taken a turn of the rope about Elaine. I tried pulling on it. There was something heavy on the other end and I kept on pulling.
At last I could make out Kennedy dimly mounting the ladder. The weight was the unconscious body of Elaine which he steadied as he mounted. I tugged harder and he slowly came up.
Together, at last, the policeman and I reached down and pulled them out.
We placed Elaine on the cellar floor, as comfortably as was possible, and the policeman began his first-aid motions for resuscitation.
"No--no," cried Kennedy, "Not here--take her up where the air is fresher."
With his revolver still drawn to overawe the prisoner, the policeman forced him to aid us in carrying her up the rickety flight of cellar steps. Kennedy followed quickly, unscrewing the oxygen helmet as he went.
In the deserted living room we deposited our senseless burden, while Kennedy, the helmet off now, bent over her.
"Quick--quick!" he cried to the officer, "An ambulance!"
"But the prisoner," the policeman indicated.
"Hurry--hurry--I'll take care of him," urged Craig, seizing the policeman's pistol and thrusting it into his pocket. "Walter--help me."
He was trying the ordinary methods of resuscitation. Meanwhile the officer had hurried out, seeking the nearest telephone, while we worked madly to bring Elaine back.
Again and again Kennedy bent and outstretched her arms, trying to induce respiration. So busy was I that for the moment I forgot our prisoner.
But Dan had seen his chance. Noiselessly he picked up the old chair in the room and with it raised was approaching Kennedy to knock him out.
Before I knew it myself, Kennedy had heard him. With a half instinctive motion, he drew the revolver from his pocket and, almost before I could see it, had shot the man. Without a word he returned the gun to his pocket and again bent over Elaine, without so much as a look at the crook who sank to the floor, dropping the chair from his nerveless hands.
Already the policeman had got an ambulance which was now tearing along to us.
Frantically Kennedy was working.
A moment he paused and looked at me--hopeless.
Just then, outside, we could hear the ambulance, and a doctor and two attendants hurried up to the door. Without a word the doctor seemed to appreciate the gravity of the case.
He finished his examination and shook his head.
"There is no hope--no hope," he said slowly.
Kennedy merely stared at him. But the rest of us instinctively removed our hats.
Kennedy gazed at Elaine, overcome. Was this the end?
It was not many minutes later that Kennedy had Elaine in the little sitting room off the laboratory, having taken her there in the ambulance, with the doctor and two attendants.
Elaine's body had been placed on a couch, covered by a blanket, and the shades were drawn. The light fell on her pale face.
There was something incongruous about death and the vast collection of scientific apparatus, a ghastly mocking of humanity. How futile was it all in the presence of the great destroyer?
Aunt Josephine had arrived, stunned, and a moment later, Perry Bennett. As I looked at the sorrowful party, Aunt Josephine rose slowly from her position on her knees where she had been weeping silently beside Elaine, and pressed her hands over her eyes, with every indication of faintness.
Before any of us could do anything, she had staggered into the laboratory itself, Bennett and I following quickly. There I was busy for some time getting restoratives.
Meanwhile Kennedy, beside the couch, with an air of desperate determination, turned away and opened a cabinet. From it he took a large coil and attached it to a storage battery, dragging the peculiar apparatus near Elaine's couch.
To an electric light socket, Craig attached wires. The doctor watched him in silent wonder.
"Doctor," he asked slowly as he worked, "do you know of Professor Leduc of the Nantes Ecole de Medicin?"
"Why--yes," answered the doctor, "but what of him?"
"Then you know of his method of electrical resuscitation."
"Yes--but--" He paused, looking apprehensively at Kennedy.
Craig paid no attention to his fears, but approaching the couch on which Elaine lay, applied the electrodes. "You see," he explained, with forced calmness, "I apply the anode here--the cathode there."
The ambulance surgeon looked on excitedly, as Craig turned on the current, applying it to the back of the neck and to the spine.
For some minutes the machine worked.
Then the young doctor's eyes began to bulge.
"My heavens!" he cried under his breath. "Look!"
Elaine's chest had slowly risen and fallen. Kennedy, his attention riveted on his work, applied himself with redoubled efforts. The young doctor looked on with increased wonder.
"Look! The color in her face! See her lips!" he cried.
At last her eyes slowly fluttered open--then closed.
Would the machine succeed? Or was it just the galvanic effect of the current? The doctor noticed it and quickly placed his ear to her heart. His face was a study in astonishment. The minutes sped fast.
To us outside, who had no idea what was transpiring in the other room, the minutes were leaden-feeted. Aunt Josephine, weak but now herself again, was sitting nervously.
Just then the door opened.
I shall never forget the look on the young ambulance surgeon's face, as he murmured under his breath, "Come here--the age of miracles is not passed--look!"
Raising his finger to indicate that we were to make no noise, he led us into the other room.
Kennedy was bending over the couch.
Elaine, her eyes open, now, was gazing up at him, and a wan smile flitted over her beautiful face.
Kennedy had taken her hand, and as he heard us enter, turned half way to us, while we stared in blank wonder from Elaine to the weird and complicated electrical apparatus.
"It is the life-current," he said simply, patting the Leduc apparatus with his other hand.
THE HOUR OF THREE
With the ominous forefinger of his Clutching Hand extended, the master criminal emphasized his instructions to his minions.
"Perry Bennett, her lawyer, is in favor again with Elaine Dodge," he was saying. "She and Kennedy are on the outs even yet. But they may become reconciled. Then she'll have that fellow on our trail again. Before that happens, we must 'get' her--see?"
It was in the latest headquarters to which Craig had chased the criminal, in one of the toughest parts of the old Greenwich village, on the west side of New York, not far from the river front.
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