Screaming, the guardsman was jerked through the air. An unearthly screech rang through the cavern. The unseen horror of Mammoth Cave had struck again.
Dr. Bird looked up impatiently as the door of his private laboratory in the Bureau of Standards swung open, but the frown on his face changed to a smile as he saw the form of Operative Carnes of the United States Secret Service framed in the doorway.
"Hello, Carnes," he called cheerfully. "Take a seat and make yourself at home for a few minutes. I'll be with you as soon as I finish getting this weight."
Carnes sat on the edge of a bench and watched with admiration the long nervous hands and the slim tapering fingers of the famous scientist.
Dr. Bird stood well over six feet and weighed two hundred and six pounds stripped: his massive shoulders and heavy shock of unruly black hair combined to give him the appearance of a prize-fighter—until one looked at his hands. Acid stains and scars could not hide the beauty of those mobile hands, the hands of an artist and a dreamer. An artist Dr. Bird was, albeit his artistry expressed itself in the most delicate and complicated experiments in the realms of pure and applied science that the world has ever seen, rather than in the commoner forms of art.
The doctor finished his task of weighing a porcelain crucible, set it carefully into a dessictator, and turned to his friend.
"What's on your mind, Carnes?" he asked. "You look worried. Is there another counterfeit on the market?"
The operative shook his head.
"Have you been reading those stories that the papers have been carrying about Mammoth Cave?" he asked.
Sterner St. Paul Meek (April 8, 1894-June 10, 1972) was a US military chemist, science fiction writer, and children's author. He wrote under a number of pseudonyms including Capt. S.P. Meek, Major S.P. Meek and Col. S. P. Meek. He published over 20 science fiction stories and short novels in pulp science fiction magazines.