The War Terror
The Phantom Destroyer
"Guy Fawkes himself would shudder in that mill. Think of it--five explosions on five
successive days, and not a clue!"
Our visitor had presented a card bearing the name of Donald MacLeod, chief of the
Nitropolis Powder Company's Secret Service. It was plain that he was greatly worried
over the case about which he had at last been forced to consult Kennedy.
As he spoke, I remembered having read in the despatches about the explosions, but the
accounts had been so meager that I had not realized that there was anything especially
unusual about them, for it was at the time when accidents in and attacks on the
munitions-plants were of common occurrence.
"Why," went on MacLeod, "the whole business is as mysterious as if there were some
phantom destroyer at work! The men are so frightened that they threaten to quit. Several
have been killed. There's something strange about that, too. There are ugly rumors of
poisonous gases being responsible, quite as much as the explosions, though, so far, I've
been able to find nothing in that notion."
"What sort of place is it?" asked Kennedy, interested at once.
"Well, you see," explained MacLeod, "since the company's business has increased so fast
lately, it has been forced to erect a new plant. Perhaps you have heard of the Old Grove
Amusement Park, which failed? It's not far from that."
MacLeod looked at us inquiringly, and Kennedy nodded to go on, though I am sure
neither of us was familiar with the place.
"They've called the new plant Nitropolis--rather a neat name for a powder-works, don't
you think?" resumed MacLeod. "Everything went along all right until a few days ago.
Then one of the buildings, a storehouse, was blown up. We couldn't be sure that it was an
accident, so we redoubled our precautions. It was of no use. That started it. The very next
day another building was blown up, then another, until now there have been five of them.
What may happen to-day Heaven only knows! I want to get back as soon as I can."
"Rather too frequent, I must admit, to be coincidences," remarked Kennedy.
"No; they can't all be accidents," asserted MacLeod, confidently. "There's too great
regularity for that. I think I've considered almost everything. I don't see how they can be
from bombs placed by workmen. At least, it's not a bit likely. Besides, the explosions all
occur in broad daylight, not at night. We're very careful about the men we employ, and
they're watched all the time. The company has a guard of its own, twenty-five picked
men, under me--all honorably discharged United States army men."
"You have formed no theory of your own?" queried Kennedy.