THE ADVENTURES OF THE SHADOW: A Text Story From Radio Comics Shadow #1-8
Lamont Cranston was bored. By all odds, he should have been the happiest young man in the world. Though sorrow had come into his life during his senior year at college, with the deaths of his two parents in a plane crash, their passing left him sole owner of a worldwide industrial combine worth billions of dollars. On his graduation, he could have sat down in the president’s chair of Cranston Corporation like a monarch ascends his corporation throne and become absolute ruler over one of the earth’s largest business empires.
But business bored him. The eager efforts of society’s prettiest debutantes to ensnare his heart and rugged good looks bored him. He had tried, for a brief time, the playboy bit, but he quickly wearied of champagne and chorus girls. He tried writing, painting, sculpting. However, Cranston wisely realized that his future did not lie with the creative arts. His destiny, he felt instinctively, lay in an entirely different direction. But what direction? Where to go to discover his true calling? After much restless self-searching and weighty thought, Cranston made his decision.
Travel!…To the ends of the earth, if necessary, but Cranston simply had to find himself and the life’s work to which he could dedicate himself. And so, one night, in his New York town house, he spun a huge globe of the world that rested on the floor near his desk, and closing his eyes, pressed his finger against the rotating, colored orb, stopping its revolutions. Cranston glanced at the geographical location fate had impelled him to choose at random. It was Cairo, Egypt!
“Cairo, eh?” he muttered to himself. “The center of one of the world’s oldest civilizations. Hmm…perhaps the ancient world has some secret to impart to a wanderer from the present!”
Next day, Cranston called an emergency conference of the chief officers of his corporation and announced he would be leaving soon on a journey that might last many years.
The top executives exchanged amazed looks. “But why, Lamont?” one of them finally stammered. “What do you expect to find on this trip of yours?”
“Something very precious,” replied Lamont Cranston.
“You mean like a Hope Diamond or a lost world?” smiled an elderly banker leeringly, as if he were indulging an idiot child.
“No, sir. Nothing so unimportant,” said Cranston gravely.
“Then what…?” asked another confused board member.
This time Cranston smiled. “I’m afraid that must remain my secret.” He rose from his seat at the head of the long conference table. “You’re all very competent men, the best in your respective fields. Geniuses, in fact. You need me to supervise your management like a hole in the head. So you’ll simply carry on. Do the jobs you’re so perfectly equipped to do and you’ll will hear from me eventually. Good luck and goodbye!”
As the last dumfounded executive filed out of the board room, Lamont Cranston grinned to himself. “In a million years they’d never understand what I’m up to, so why bother explaining? The only one I must justify myself to is myself. Now to make arranfments to fly to Cairo and the destiny that may await me there.”
Three days later, Lamont Cranston was walking through the bazaars of Cairo, attracted by the sights though repelled by the odors. A little knot of tourists in front of one booth caught his eye. A turbaned hypnotist was concentrating his skill on a stout, giggling, bespectacled woman dressed in a tweed suit.
“Bosh! Nobody could hypnotize me! I don’t believe in such Oriental hocus-pocus!” she chuckled. Nevertheless, witjin forty seconds she was standing before the Egyptian, staring blankly ahead as he began to issue commands to her.
Soon he had her doing ridiculous things…gurgling like a baby, flapping her “wings”, crowing like a rooster, and kissing a nearby goat as if the beast were a matinee idol. Cranston, sickened by the spectacle, snapped. “Stop it! Hypnotism is one thing. Making fools out of people is another!”
The Egyptian raised his eyebrows in annoyance. “You object, eh?” He glared at Cranston furiously. “Perhaps you will not interfere with our entertainment when you yourself become part of ot!” His eyes became black, glinting coals as they met Cranston’s cold gaze. Suddenly, an amazing thing happened! In shock and dismay, the onlookers backed away! And no wonder—The impossible had taken place!
As Lamont Cranston stood in front of a hypnotist’s booth in a Cairo Bazaar, the hypnotist’s audience gaped as the snarling fakir wagged a threatening finger at the brash American who had mocked his powers. “You’ll pay for your interference, you young fool!” The fakir’s eyes became black, glinting coals as they met Cranston’s gaze. “In a few instants you will be utterly under my spell,” the hypnotist muttered.
Suddenly an amazing thing happened! The onlookers gaped and instinctively moved back. Instead of Cranston, it was the hypnotist who stood there rigid, his eyes staring glassily into space. In the clash of gazes, Cranston had emerged the victor! The master hypnotist had been hypnotized!
“Step down from the platform!” ordered Cranston coldly. Mutely, the hypnotist obeyed. “Now kiss the toe of my boot!” snapped Cranston. The hypnotist groveled before Cranston and reverently planted his lips on Cranston’s muddy boots.
“Very good!” approved Cranston. “Now tell the audience what an idiot and fraud you are!”
“I am the dumbest of the dumb,” intoned the hypnotist. “I am a fakir, a liar and a cheat,” he droned on as the astonished crowd listened. “I am not worthy of any man’s trust or belief. I should go to prison as punishment for my foxiness.”
Cranston snapped his fingers. Abruptly the spell was broken. The hypnotist glanced around dumbfoundedly. “What am I doing here? Why am I not standing on my platform? Why are you all staring at me as if I committed some sin?
But he received no answer as the gathering turned away from him with loathing. He turned to Cranston but Cranston was staring at the ground, frowning, as if his mind were tortured by some mystery. The disturbed hypnotist called out to Cranston, but Cranston didn’t hear him. His thoughts were too concentrated on the fantastic thing that had just happened. As he dazedly shuffled away, an inner voice kept repeating, “I have phenomenal hypnotic powers! But never once did I suspect I possessed the skill to manipulate a man’s mind…scramble his brains…make him say what I wanted him to say…see what I wanted him to see!”
Tremblingly Cranston paused in the shadows of a mosque. The excitement of having discovered this unexpected and weird strength shook him to his roots. He had never dreamed…What sane man would? That his brain had been eerily endowed with the power to control other men’s minds. Cranston suddenly noticed a dog staring at him wonderingly and the thought occurred to Cranston…why only human minds? What about an animal’s mind? The mind of any living, thinking thing? Forthwith, he attempted an experiment. He stepped into the light and focused his gaze upon the dog’s gleaming green eyes. I will transmit a thought to the hound, Cranston decided grimly. I will make this dog feel he is encircled by alley cats all bent on attacking him. I will make him actually “see” the snarling felines. Moments after, the dog recoiled in abject terror. His tail drooped in sheer dismay. His head swiveled around wildly as if everywhere he turned he saw peril. Desperate whimpers came from his salivating jaws. Not desiring to torture the poor animal, Cranston instantly implanted another idea in the dog’s mind. The sudden change in the animal’s behavior was stounding. From the shivering, shrinking little animal there came the roar of a powerful beast of prey! Instead of retreating, the dog lunged forward, teeth bared like a lion about to destroy some weaker creature!
The dog roared and growled viciously, slashing with claw and teeth at some invisible circle of non-existent foes. Cranston chuckled, as he watched and realized that his experiment had been a success. He had conveyed to the beast’s mind that he was not an alley cur, but a LION, capable of putting to rout an army of tabbies!
He flashed one last gaze at the seemingly crazed animal and suddenly the dog stopped in his tracks, staring around bewilderedly. Cranston nodded. The cats had vanished in the dog’s mind, as Cranston realized they would. Cranston walked off with a secret smile. For he possessed an incredible power and nobody in the world except himself knew it. Lamont Cranston was well on his way to becoming the civilized univere’s most unique mortal!
By The Time Lamont Cranston left Egypt he had learned a number of vitally important things. First, he realized that by some prank of fate he had become an utterly unique human being, with physic powers beyond belief. He could instantly hypnotize any living creature and make him totally obedient to his command. Even more shocking, he had discovered that he possessed the eerie genius to convey any image, impression, concept to the brain of his victim and make him see only what Cranston wanted him to see. He could extract confessions of guilt from cunning criminals. He could make the strongest mind suppose anything Cranston wanted him to. In short, Cranston was supreme master of the human mind.
The second thing he realized as he leaned over the railing of a small tourist steamer heading for Greece, was that this power could be put to some positive good. Not for his own gain, for Cranston had money enough to burn. Using his phenomenal skills to line his pockets was nonsensical. To make a career out of amusing audiences as a super-hypnotist was equally out of the question. Then what? What could he do that would be of value, not himself, but to those around him…the downtrodden, the oppressed, the prey of evil forces and evil men? Yes, there lay his destiny. He could direct his occult energies into combatting evil wherever it existed! But what cause, what organization would accept his assistance? Should he join the U.S. secret service? The CIA? This might do his country some good. But the enemies of the American ideal were not only of the political sort. They could also be criminals, fiends and what-have-you…Master villains who plan evil to acquire personal wealth, not mere political power.
But even as Cranston’s mind churned over the possibilities of a new life, chance pointed the way, mulling over what course his life would now take, he heard a choked cry that seemed to come from a companion-way beneath the bridge. Whirling, he noticed several struggling men. One man in the middle seemed to be battling desperately against three others who seemed bent on pushing their lone antagonist toward the ship’s railing. There was no mistaking their intent. One had clapped a hand over the intended victim’s mouth. One kept his arm twisted behind his back in a sort of hammer-lock. The third was dragging the poor fellow toward the rail. Cranston glanced about swiftly, instinctively slipping into the shadows along the line of cabins. Nobody was around to interfere nor to summon help. If any one were to assist this bedeviled stranger it was himself. But Cranston was unarmed. Unarmed with a firearm, that is,. But Cranston had taken every boxing championship in his division in college. So actually he was not “un-armed.” He felt in his pocket for a tiny pen-knife. An idea had struck him. Slitheringly, as still as a moonbeam, he moved along the deck. Just as noiselessly, he took his tiny blade and cut out the shape of a poncho out of some dark canvas that covered one of the lifeboats. Darkness, he kept muttering to himself…darkness is what I need! Wrapped in darkness I will be able to sneak up on this murderous trio. Swiftly cloaking himself in the black sailcloth, he became a darting black object that went unseen amongst the shadows that lay between him and the life-and-death struggle that was taking place. Before the villains knew what was happening, a living shadow separated itself from the general darkness of the foredeck and leaped upon the unholy trio. One blow of Cranston’s fist sent the man who held his prey in a hammerlock reeling across the deck like a clubbed ox. The man who had been stifling the panicked man’s breath let out a screech as Cranston gave him a judo-chop behind the neck. Then he collapsed like a sack. The third one stopped dragging and pulled a revolver hastily from his shoulder holster…but not hastily enough. One blow from Cranston’s fist sent him into oblivion. Soon the intended victim and the hooded figure were the only persons left standing. Wonderingly, the set-upon man stared at Cranston. “Thanks,” he gasped. “They almost had me. But who are you?” His question stirred Cranston’s sense of humor. Instead of replying, he chuckled as he withdrew into the shadows. His reply was unvoiced. Had the man heard it, he would have caught four history-making words: Only THE SHADOW knows!” Yes…in only a few instants, THE SHADOW had been born!
Having rescued the bewildered stranger from his three assailants, Lamont Cranston slipped into the shadows of the fore companionway, still wearing the black mantle and hood which had permitted him to camouflage himself before surprising the villains.
“But you must tell me who you are,” the stranger stammered. “I owe my life to you. Those brutes would’ve killed me.”
“I know,” intoned Cranston, now totally unseen in the darkness. “But it wasn’t only you I was helping. I’d have done the same for anybody. When I see a person in distress, some instinct makes me go to his rescue, regardless of the odds against me.”
“But your name. Certainly you must have a name.”
Cranston thought deeply. He looked at the black canvas costume he had adopted. An idea struck him!
“THE SHADOW!” he muttered. My name is THE SHADOW. I am the enemy of evil in any form, anywhere on earth.”
“THE SHADOW!” repeated the stranger dazedly. “I never heard of you before.”
Cranston smiled mirthlessly. “You will from now on…again and again. And now, friend, call the captain, have these three thugs locked up and retire for the night.”
With that, Cranston streaked down the companionway steps and darted into his cabin.
He removed the black material he’d been wearing and stared at it grimly. Rolling it into a large ball, he opened a porthole and tossed the improvised costume into the sea.
His black costume would now become the hallmark of his activities in behalf of justice. The one he had gotten rid of was too stiff, too clumsy to move about in properly. As soon as he’d reach Athens, he would have several hooded costumes made…sewn out of silk, light as air, compressible to the point where it could be inserted in a breast pocket like a pocket handkerchief or worn like an ascot tie. In that way, the instant he spotted an emergency, Lamont Cranston could immediately switch to another identity…THE SHADOW!
Cranston didn’t fall asleep that night. He was too excited, his mind too crammed with ideas for the future…the adventures he would encounter, the perils he would brave in order to do his life’s work as the protector of all good men and all good societies! Thus, on a tiny Greek steamboat a new force was born to startle the world with deeds of valor!
In Athens Cranston had six costumes made according to his specifications. The tailor was dumbfounded. “For what do you need this hood and why do you insist on such thin, silk material?”
Cranston smiled. “I’m giving them away as gifts to six different men…for an initiation ceremony.”
But when the tailor persisted in his curiosity, Cranston fixed his hypnotic gaze on the fella and all questions ceased. The tailor went to work quietly to complete the costumes ordered. Cranston paid him handsomely for the items and then brainwashed him with a glance so there would be no remembrance of the transaction!
Back at his hotel, Cranston distributed the costumes. One in his valise, one in his rented car, one in the secret lining of his jacket, and so forth. Thus, wherever danger might rear its ugly head, he could swiftly change into his other identity as THE SHADOW!
It was not long before his secret role was put to the acid test. One night, while wandering through the amusement section of Athens, Cranston heard three sharp reports which were unmistakably pistol shots. He sank back into the shadows as he saw a man in a white suit, shielding his eyes with his arms, smash through the front window of a smoke-filled bistro. No human would pull so desperate an act unless his life were in dire jeopardy. As the man in the white suit stumbled to the street, several bullets whizzed over his head and struck the wall a few feet from where Cranston stood in the shadows. Moments later, several swarthy characters, revolvers in hand, came sprinting out of the front door of the restaurant. In the same instant, Cranston donned his newly acquired costume.
The man in the white suit stumbled as he tried to run down the block. With a grunt of pain, he lay helpless in the gutter, his ankle twisted. His nemeses grinned as they began to stalk forward. It looked like the end for the man in white. But how could he guess help as wellas disaster was near at hand?
Nor, as THE SHADOW quickly decided on his strategy of attack, did THE SHADOW ever dream he was coming to the rescue of a certain individual named Westin, who was merely chief global director of the American Secret Service!
HOVERING UNSEEN in the darkness, on a street in the amusement section of Athens, lurked THE SHADOW! Quickly, in his secret guise of THE SHADOW, Lamnt Cranston assessed the deadly drama unfolding before him.
Nearby, was the smashed bistro window through which the man in the white suit had leapt desperately, as though the Spectre of Death itself had been close upon his heels. A violent end was indeed pursuing the hapless fellow, in the form of three swarthy, gun-wielding characters who had charged out of the restaurant after him.
And now the man in the white suit sprawled helplessly in the gutter, wincing with pain as he clutched a twisted ankle. Smirkingly, the swarthy ones closed in on their prey, no longer running toward him, but pacing eagerly forward. Their gun hands were slightly lowered now, so confident were they that their victim could not escape. Jackal-like, their evil faces leered gleefully in anticipation of the apparently inevitable outcome of the unequal conflict.
But what especially caught the keen surveillance of the hidden dweller in the darkness, was the expression on the face on the man in the white suit. He had rugged, strong features…the face of a man of iron character and indomitable will…and right now that face, looking into the gloating evil countenances that promised a swift and violent death for him, was scornful and unafraid.
Respect and admiration for the cornered man filled THE SHADOW. Mentally, he vowed that the man would not die! He, THE SHADOW, the silent stalker and destroyer of crime and evil, would see to that! His weapons? A superb physique and an uncanny ability to becloud and command the minds of all living things!
Both the deadly human beasts, and their attended victim alike, were startled as mocking laughter pealed suddenly out of the night. Startled, the swarthy villains jerked to an abrupt halt, glanced quickly behind them and to all sides.
They saw no one!
But a few instants later, they did see something…a dark costumed apparition that slithered out of the street shadows into view between the gunmen and their prey.
Exclamations of surprise poured out of the gun-wielders’ lips, as they turned their weapons toward the fearsome-appearing intruder.
THE SHADOW smiled sardonically at sight of the trigger-fingers tightening on the weapons. Oh, how he welcomed this opportunity to once-again test his newly discovered amazing powers against verminous adversaries!
Swiftly, he willed a certain hypnotic command into the minds of the gunmen. And at once, before fingers could jerk gun-triggers, the powerful mental suggestion took affect.
“The gun’s burning HOT!”
“M-my fingers! OWW-ww!”
Yelling, the swarthy men dropped their weapons, recoiling in terror.
The white-suited man gaped incredulously. “What…?” he blurted to THE SHADOW. “They’re behaving as though the guns singed their fingers!”
“You haven’t seen anything, yet!” grinned the Man of Darkness. “Watch this!”
THE SHADOW pointed sternly at his foes.” Forget men and the man in the white-suit! Divert your violent natures upon one another!”
In instant response, the human wolf-pack leapt into a wild scramble, cursing and battering away at each other. The man who had been sprawled in the gutter watched in astonishment. THE SHADOW turned his dark, compelling eyes on the one he had aided. “Your ankle pains you no more! It will quickly repair itself! Stand up! Be healed!”
A moment later, the man in white, erect now, sputtered, “Fantastic! The pain is gone!” Then as he glanced toward the men who had menaced him but who were not battling each other, he asked: “WHO are you? HOW did you do that?
I am THE SHADOW! Men do whatever I will! I use this unique ability to aid the deserving and crush those of ill-will who work evil in the world! May I ask who you are and why you were attacked?”
“I am Weston, chief global director of the American Secret Service.”
THE SHADOW’s piercing eyes blazed deep, deep into Weston’s orbs, as though probing his very soul. “You speak the truth. I can tell. And the reason you were attacked?”
“You know of C.H.I.E.F.?”
“Yes. That is the abbreviation for Command Headquarters, International Espionage Forces, an organization composed of secret agents from various freedom-loving nations. It is dedicated to protecting the world against malignant forces.”
“I sometimes co-operate with C.H.I.E.F.—I am here in Athens to investigate what, if it truly exists, is the greatest menace our world has ever known! That led to the attack on me! Somehow, I suddenly feel that upon this chance meeting of ours, hinges the destiny of Earth!”
Intuitively, THE SHADOW sense this was…true!
And the DARK AVENGER’s only recently discovered ultra-acute power of extra-sensory perception, firmly impressed into his consciousness the knowledge that this was true!
THE SHADOW gestured toward the swarthy characters who a short while ago had been intent upon seeking to destroy Weston, but now, thanks to a powerful mental command from THE SHADOW, were venting their violent natures upon themselves. The malevolent trio rolled in the gutter in a mad tangle, cursing and battering away at one another.
“Why did they want to kill you, Weston?”
“As I told you, I’m chief global director of the American Secret Service. But I often co-operate with C.H.I.E.F….Command Headquarters, International Forces…whose secret agents from many nations protect the world against even forces.
“Our operatives in Hong Kong, Tibet, England, China and elsewhere kept coming across vague, unsubstantiated, yet persistent rumors of some terrible conspiracy against all humanity. More than once, when a man was on the verge of discovering the nature of the threat, he would either vanish suddenly into thin air, or was found slain.
“We of C.H.E.I.F. were deeply concerned. And so, when I received a report that enemy agents connected with that conspiracy frequented this bistro in the amusement section of Athens, I jetted here for some personal sleuthing.
“Evidently, I was recognized, or the enemy…whoever it may be…had learned of my attention by some uncanny means, and was ready. I walked into a death-trap! When these killers closed in on me, their intention was unmistakable! Outnumbered, I had to flee for my life. If not for you, I’d be dead, now!”
“And you think these jackals who attacked you, possess vital information you want?”
“Beyond any doubt! I have seen you perform virtual miracles of the mind, tonight…mental feats I’d have sworn, until now, were impossible! If you can learn the nature of the malignant conspiracy and who is behind it…”
“I can help you. Watch!”
THE SHADOW turned toward the embattled swarthy ones. “Stop fighting!” he commanded. They obeyed and rising erect, faced toward the dark costumed form with blank, hypnotized expressions.
“Who instructed you to kill the man in the white suit?”
Weston eagerly awaited their reply. None came.
THE SHADOW’s orbs began to glow eerily in the darkness. “In your mind’s eye,” he intoned, you shall see whatever you fear most! The instant you answer my question truthfully, you will be free from that awful terror. Answer the question!”
The man from C.H.E.I.F. was amazed to see the swarthy villains suddenly perspire and tremble in great fright. He was glad he did not know whatever mentally tormented each of the despicable wretches.
“Speak!” commanded THE SHADOW. “Speak!”
But the quivering rascals remained silent!
“You will see the mind-terrors no more. Relax.” The villains’ faces became immobile again.
“Strange,” commented the DARK AVENGER to Weston. “Evidently these fellows were brainwashed by some powerful device or force so that it is impossible to frighten any admission out of them concerning the evil conspiracy you want to know about. Let’s see, now, if I can get the facts from them in a way the master-brainwasher didn’t anticipate! Fear didn’t work. Now I’ll try…flattery! I’ll allow you to see an illusion I will produce…to get what we want from these men. Do not be afraid, no matter what you observe!”
Despite the warning, Weston couldn’t prevent a chill from tingling along his spine as he saw THE SHADOW turn and face the rascals who had tried to kill him. For—a split-instant afterward, THE SHADOW’s form appeared to become flimsy, twist and distort like a tortured soul, then coalesce into the tall, RED, behorned, tailed, cloven-hoofed, eerily costumed satanic form of…THE DEVIL!
The swarthy men, their features no-longer blankly staring, sucked in their breaths, and their eyes bulged with surprise.
“Do not fear me,” smirked His Satanic Majesty. “I have come from the bottomless pit, not to plague you, but to compliment you for so wisely becoming the underlings of an earthly one whose evil plans even I admire! His name?”
The three hypnotized henchmen leered gleefully.
“SHIWAN KHAN!” they chorused.
Weston’s eyes widened. He whispered toward the illusory apparition. “More!” he pleaded. “For the sake of all humanity, we must know MORE!”
But the Satanic Figure was merely an illusion produced by the uncanny occult powers of the mysterious nemesis of evildoers…THE SHADOW. This, the man in white who had been rescued by the DARK AVENGER from the trio of swarthy villains knew. The man in white attire who stood beside the hallucinatory form of the disguised SHADOW as Weston, chief global director of the American Secret Service. He was also associated with C.H.I.E.F., a world-wide organization dedicated to battling evil menaces against freedom-loving nations.
Weston whispered to the disguised Man of Darkness, “Through flattery, you’ve tricked them into disclosing that their leader is someone named SHIWAN KHAN! For the sake of all humanity, we must know more!
The Devil winked at Weston, and nodded. Despite himself, a shiver coursed up and down Weston’s spine, even though he knew the terrifying form was a friend and not a foe, and was merely a hallucinatory vision created by the strangest man the Secret Service operative had ever encountered.
Once again, the “Evil One” questioned the swarthy ones. “Ah, yes, SHIWAN KHAN! How admirably he performs my diabolical work on Earth! His goal?”
Smirking, the three henchmen opened their mouths to reply eagerly. But then, apparently much to their own surprise, their mouths remained open! Mightily, they strove to speak, until perspiration beaded their brows. Weston gaped at the macabre scene of the formerly voluble underlings who were now unable to speak even a single word! Then, as he watched, the three men became rigid and glassy-eyed as though in a trance.
“Speak,” commanded the pseudo-Satan. “I command you to speak!”
No response, not even the blinking of an eyelash, came from the trio that now resembled inanimate statues.
At once, THE SHADOW discarded his illusory disguise of His Satanic Majesty. Again he was visible as his customary, yet extraordinary self!
“What has happened?” asked Weston. “Why don’t they speak?”
“Remarkable,” replied THE SHADOW. “You remember that they failed to answer my direct questions, despite my hypnotic powers? Apparently, it was because they’d been powerfully brainwashed by someone so they wouldn’t divulge the nature of the conspiracy you want to learn about. I succeeded in discovering the name of their leader SHIWAN KHAN, while disguised as the Devil, through flattery.”
“What silenced them, suddenly?”
“Apparently, my trick worked only briefly. Their brains must have been ‘programmed’ so that their subconscious minds, upon detecting a mind-bending trick of any sort, went into action slightly belatedly, yet soon enough to prevent further disclosures from their conscious minds. A deliberately implanted engram in their brain, put their bodies into a paralytic state, silencing their duped, wagging tongues.
“I can do no more. Farewell.”
But as the SHADOWY CRUSADER turned to depart, Weston exclaimed. “No. Don’t go yet!” Then as the Man of Darkness hesitated, “The world is menaced by an awful doom, and we of C.H.I.E.F. don’t even know its nature yet! If you would join our organization, perhaps your amazing abilities could…”
“Thank you, but I’m not a ‘joiner.’” And as Weston’s features showed great disappointment, “However, I have a friend, Lamont Cranston, a wealthy, powerful young man who could be a valuable addition to C.H.I.E.F. He has means of contacting me, when he desires. If you will give me your address, I’ll have him call on you tomorrow evening at ten o’clock.”
Taking a pad and pencil out of his jacket pocket, Weston scribbled an address. “Thank you. I’ve rented a cottage. I’ll expect your friend there tomorrow night.”
Weston handed the paper slip containing the address to THE SHADOW. Next instant, he blinked his eyes in surprise. THE SHADOW had vanished! What he didn’t realize was that the Man of Darkness had blended back into a screening shadow so swiftly, he seemed to vanish.
Deep within the protective covering of darkness, the DARK AVENGER smiled mirthlessly at the amazement of Weston. Afterward, as Weston strode off, THE SHADOW mused, “Yes, I’ll be able to operate more effectively if not one living soul ever learns that Lamont Cranston is the alter-ego of THE SHADOW. That will be my own little secret!”
The next evening, at exactly ten o’clock, Lamont Cranston approached the door of Weston’s cottage on a lonely stretch of beach, and knocked.
“Come in,” said a voice.
Cranston entered…and looked directly into the face of DEATH!
AS LAMONT CRANSTON entered Weston’s cottage, he looked directly into the face of death…in the form of a gun pointed directly at his head. Quickly, Lamont noted the gun was in the firm grasp of an Oriental who was seated in a straight-back chair facing the door. Lying on the floor nearby, bound hand-and-foot, was the gagged form of Weston, the chief global director of the American Secret Service, with whom Lamont had had an appointment. Though Weston couldn’t speak because of the gag, his eyes revealed fear and anger and desperation as he tugged and twisted in a vain effort to free himself of the ropes that restrained him.
“Sit down,” commanded the Oriental, gesturing with his gun toward an empty chair that had been placed so that it faced him.
Mentally, Lamont debated whether or not to use his newly discovered amazing extra-sensory powers against this adversary, at once. “Not yet,” his intellect cautioned. “Wait. Listen. Learn.”
And so he seated himself in the chair facing his captor. Rapidly, he sized-up the man with the gun, and what he saw was shocking. In his lifetime, the young multi-millionaire industrialist had encountered a wide variety of types…including ruthless criminals. His great wealth had inflicted upon him the sinister designs of all sorts of unsavory people, like a magnet attracts metal fillings…schemers and scoundrels who were willing to go to any lengths to swindle or steal the riches Lamont had amassed through his astounding financial manipulations. But Lamont Cranston was no easy mark, they had soon learned. Mentally and physically, Cranston was a match for any and all opponents, the crooks had discovered ruefully.
What shocked Lamont Cranston was that never before had he encountered someone whose entire being so greatly radiated sheer, incarnate evil as the smirking Asiatic who now faced him. So powerful was this force of brutal, exultant wickedness that streamed forth from his captor, that it struck the beholder like a solid blow.
Picture, a leering behemoth of a man, with a physically powerful gorilla-like form. Visualize, atop the mighty physique, a huge bald head with an enormous cranium. See, crafty, squinting eyes glaring madly out of a cruel, harsh face…eyes whose owner had no doubt perpetrated every inequity capable of a warped intelligence. Thick eyebrows gashed upward on that face. A long moustache slashed downward on the saffron, incredibly menacing countenance. Thick brutish lips were parted to reveal large, white, voracious, tiger-like teeth.
The man with the gun began to chuckle gloatingly as his beady eyes bored at Lamont. His harrowing laughter boomed louder and louder, until it rang and reverberated off the walls deafeningly. Suddenly the laughter ceased.
“So you are a close friend of the one who calls himself THE SHADOW,” said the Oriental. Then as Lamont glanced toward the bound, helplessly writhing form on the floor, “No, the fool Weston did not tell me this. I have ways and means of learning many matters vital tom my interests. This I know: yesterday, two blundering idiots were defeated by a strange, fantastic figure who emerged out of the cover of darkness and bested them with ultra-hypnotic powers.
“Ordinarily, I, Shiwan Khan, do not personally soil my hands on those who would oppose me. I have a horde of minions who attend to such minor details…
A thrill of excitement coursed through Lamont Cranston. At the sound of that dread name, Weston, who had momentarily stopped attempting to free himself, made vigorous additional attempts to escape his bonds. And no wonder. For this was the name that THE SHADOW, with his astonishing powers, had managed to trick out of the reluctant lips of the swarthy would-be assassins who had tried to snuff out the life of Weston. Shiwan Khan was the hitherto unknown fiend who the United States Secret Service had good reason to suspect was poised to unleash a hideous conspiracy against all of mankind! The nature of the plot was still cloaked in mystery, just as the name of its creator had been a dark secret until the SHADOWY AVENGER had managed to cleverly wring it out of the villain’s hirelings.
“But this matter of THE SHADOW is not minor,” continued Shiwan Khan. “There is much I must learn about him, from you, his devoted friend, so I can more easily destroy him! Tell me all you know of him, every detail!”
“I will say nothing, until we make a deal first,” replied Lamont.
The helpless form Weston jerked with dismay and despair. Was Lamont Cranston about to betray THESHADOW? Of course, Weston was uaware that Cranston and THE SHADOW were actually one and the same person!