plane had been, she heard the boat again. But it did not return to shore at this point. It went on down the coast, till its soft purring faded into the distance.
Nellie found the cliff path and climbed up. The big dog met her almost the minute she scrambled up over the edge. He was still uncertain about her, but it would not have mattered now whether he barked or not. If he had, the sound would have been lost in the uproar coming from the house.
Screams, yells of men, and one high shriek: “The police! Get the police!”
She hurried to the gray stone structure. As she neared it, through a long French window, she could see the forms of people gathered in one room on her side. She went to the window and stared in.
He lay on the floor of that room—Hooley, utilities baron and owner of the estate. He had been murdered, but not just neatly put out of the world of the living.
The man lay in a red lake, looking as if a cageful of lions had been at him. He was literally torn to pieces. It seemed impossible that a human could have done that. It must have been an animal—or a man who crouched and moved like a gorilla and whose long arms, as Nellie knew from first-hand information, had a gorilla’s strength.
In any industry, if you trace origins and control closely enough, you find the channels leading more and more indirectly to fewer and fewer hands. Eventually, it becomes clear that a very small handful of men are the rulers of that industry.
It was so with electric power.
The seven men who were meeting in Blake’s Cleveland home, along with Blake himself, who was no pygmy in the business, could have caused almost as complete a power blackout as the strange failures that had already come to pass, if they had cared to. For they controlled almost all the power companies in North America.
Almost all—not quite. One empire was not represented here, because the emperor happened to be dead—that one being Hooley, of Bar Harbor.
There was a man named Jerand Jarvis, and another named Robert Vance; there were James J. Guest, Marvin Masters, Hall Singer, Pierpont Ryan and, of course, John Blake, their host.
They were the utilities masters of North America, powerful, wealthy, the final authority on electric power for a continent. But they didn’t look like masters at the moment. They looked like very bewildered, frightened men.
Some of them looked scared into a blue funk. Some seemed snarlingly angry at their own fear and the thing that had caused it. But all, no matter what their outward reactions, were obviously terrified.
“When’s he coming, anyway?” snapped Jerand Jarvis, a stout gentleman who looked as if he had to guard against gout and apoplexy.
Pierpont Ryan, a red-headed man with gray beginning to lighten his hair, but with advancing age not doing a thing to ameliorate his quick temper, glared at Blake.
“You’re responsible for this, Blake. You hired Nevlo in the first place. And then you fired him. Why didn’t you take him back when he threatened you with a power shutoff of Plant 4—and then went ahead and proved he could cause it?”
“I simply didn’t believe he was able to do such a thing,” said Blake. “Think a minute of the impossibility of it! Never in the history of electricity has a man been able to do the things that Nevlo claims he can do.”
“Claims?” snorted Ryan. “He can do it. He did it, didn’t he? He made your damned Plant 4 useless. And then, twice recently, he went far beyond that and cut off all power. Claim be damned!”
“Why didn’t you get in touch with Nevlo and do something before things reached such a state?” added James Guest, a lanky Westerner, whose empire took in eight states.
“I couldn’t find him,” protested Blake. “I tried to do just that, but Nevlo wouldn’t get in touch with me. Then, when he did, just recently—”
“Then it was too late,” Ryan finished for him. “Then he got in touch with you only to demand