Published August 1942 in
Maybe luck isn’t just something that happens to you;
it might be a sort of seventh sense or something.
Anyway, Enoch Higgins thought so and invented a way
of developing that sense.
Whenever I hear anybody speak of luck, I think of old
Enoch Higgins. There was a fellow who really had luck. And
even when his luck appeared to be at its worst, it turned
out to be good. But then, Enoch sort of stacked the cards,
you might say; he was the first man in history to ring in a
cold deck on the Fates. Let me tell you how it happened.
In the first place, old Enoch Higgins was about the
most exasperating man in our town. He had a way about him -
testy, arrogant, domineering - none of those words described
him completely, I’m forced to fall back on that one word,
And poor Elmer Bidwell, who was engaged to Enoch’s
daughter, Laura, was in a position which made him the butt
of all of Enoch’s testiness, arrogance and domination. For
Elmer had met Laura and fallen in love with her while still
in school, and after graduation he had got a job as
laboratory assistant in the big chemical works in our town,
and lo and behold, the man he was assigned to work with was
none other than old Enoch, his sweetheart’s father.
It didn’t take Enoch long to find out that the young
“sprout” that was going out with Laura was none other than
his lab assistant, and after that he cheerfully blackmailed
him into working many and many an hour overtime, in Enoch’s
home. He’d come to the boy, sweet as pie (or at least, as
sweet as he could), and invite him out to the house, and
Elmer, all anxious to spend as much time as he could with
Laura, would eagerly assent - and after supper Enoch would
haul him away to the laboratory, and it would be eleven or
twelve o’clock before he’d turn Elmer loose.
And, of course, long before that time, Laura would
have become tired of waiting and would have gone to bed, or
to a show, or maybe to some girl friend’s house.
Well, it doesn’t take a young fellow long to get tired
of a thing like that. You can imagine how much those two
were in love when I tell you that they put up with that
situation, and with Enoch’s intolerable ways for nearly a
year before the events which I’m going to tell about took
place. Put up with them and were still in love!
One day, after the usual invitation and supper, Enoch
came to Elmer with a deck of cards in his hand. They weren’t
ordinary playing cards, there were only twenty-five of them
and there were five of each kind. One kind had a circle on
it, one a square, and one a star. The others were parallel
lines and wavy lines.
Of course, you will probably recognize the fact that
these were a deck of the famous E. S. P. cards, but at that
time, Elmer had never heard of the famous Dr. Rhine, nor of
his experiments with extra-sensory perception and
telepathy, so he was quite ignorant of Enoch’s intentions.
It took the old man only a minute to show the boy what
he wanted, however. He shuffled the cards, laid them on the
table and told him to guess the order in which the cards
lay. It seemed a silly sort of game but Elmer did as he was
ordered, and then handed Enoch the paper on which he had
written his guesses. The old man glanced at it, said
“Humph!” in a disgusted sort of way, shuffled the cards and
ordered him to guess again.
Elmer guessed again. This time old Higgins was more
interested. He studied the sheet on which his young friend
had written his guesses, made a note or two on it, and in
another minute Elmer was guessing for a third time.
Pretty soon Laura excused herself and left the dining
room. Elmer tried to catch her eye as she went out, but in
vain. He sighed, picked up his pencil and under the
imperious eye of old Enoch, began his fourth series of
After a while, they adjourned to the library. Higgins
decided that he’d try to do a little guessing, himself, so
Elmer had to shuffle and keep score. And they kept it up
until long after midnight, and when Elmer left, Enoch
insisted that he come back the next night.
Elmer came back, all right, for Higgins’ request was a
command, and jobs didn’t grow on trees in those days. He
came back the next night, too, and for many a night
thereafter. And did his life go haywire, what with seeing
Laura every night at supper, and yet practically never
having a minute alone with her. Before long he was thinking
half seriously of suicide, and seriously of joining the
And then old Enoch got another screwy idea. You see,
even when he wasn’t experimenting with Elmer, his entire
mind was taken up with this strange, newly-discovered
principle of extrasensory perception, or clairvoyance. Dr.
Rhine’s experiments had started him off, but old Enoch
wasn’t the one to tread the careful, patient path that Rhine
had undertaken. That testy old codger wanted to get at the
heart of things at once, and no sooner was he convinced of
the authenticity of E. S. P. than he began to try it out in
all sorts of unorthodox ways.
For instance, Elmer came to the house one evening, and
for the first time since he’d been coming, there was wine on
the table. Enoch insisted on him drinking a couple of
glasses, and later, in the library, made him down a glass of
whisky, straight. Then he started again with that infernal
deck of cards. He seemed real delighted when Elmer couldn’t
guess one right in three times.
And whisky was only the beginning. Next time,
Elmer had to take a dose of caffeine, and before long, he
had him taking anytal and barbitrates and weird looking
concoctions that Elmer felt sure were drugs. He tried him
out with hormone extracts, too, and finally he began mixing
And then, one night, after it seemed that Elmer had
taken about everything in the pharmacopoeia, straight and
mixed, he handed the boy some kind of stuff that tasted like
arnica smells, and after Elmer drank it, he began his
eternal card guessing and— ran through the deck twice
without guessing a card wrong!
Now, if you know anything about the law of averages,
you’ll know what a remarkable statement that is. With five
different cards in the deck, of course, a man has one chance
in five of guessing right. Out of twenty-five cards, he
ought to average five correct guesses. But Elmer guessed
fifty right out of fifty!
And Elmer was scared. Elmer wasn’t one of these heroic
characters who want to be a master of men and wield weird
powers and have people in awe of him; and when he pulled an
impossible stunt like that it was like having a ghost
suddenly look over his shoulder.
So next day, at the laboratory, he pleaded sick when
Enoch invited him, as usual, to come out for supper. And
with one excuse or another, he managed to keep away from
Higgins’ place for a week. But by that time, his fear wore
off, and his desire to see Laura induced him to again accept
The old man said little before supper. That wasn’t
unusual, however, and Elmer knew better than to accept it as
a favorable sign. It was after he bad finished his supper
and had lighted up one of his atrocious cigars that Enoch
“This extra-sensory stuff,” he started off. You know,
I’ve really begun to make some progress with it. I guess
you realize that, Elmer, you got a dose that nearly scared
you to death last week. Yes, it did,” holding up a hand as
Elmer started to protest. “You’ve been shying away from here
all week because you got scared when I gave you that shot
“But I’ve been working like a trooper all this week,”
he went on. “And at last I’ve got what I’ve been working
for, I believe. Now, look here.” Somehow he managed to pin
both of them down with a single glance. “What I’ve been
trying to do is to find but a satisfactory explanation of
just what luck is. And I think I’ve got it. You know,
hunches, streaks of luck, so-called lucky breaks - they
occur too often to be accidents, they should have a
“Well, I’ve found it. To make it short and sweet, I’ve
learned that there are a certain combination of hormones - a
certain balance that may occasionally occur in the body—that
makes a person very susceptible to extrasensory perception.
‘Course, the perception is by the subconscious mind, and the
subconscious transmits them, without explanation, to the
conscious. The result is that the conscious mind feels it as
a guess or a vague hunch, although really the truth has been
perceived by the subconscious.
“Now,” his eyes began to glisten, “now, I’ve found out
just what that rare balance of hormones really is— and I can
produce it, synthetically, in just the right combination.”
Elmer looked at Laura, and she looked back at him.
They didn’t grasp the full implications of Enoch’s statement
at all. And Enoch saw that they didn’t and snorted
“Heh! You don’t see it, do you? Look, I’ll reduce it
to words of one syllable, I can give you a shot of good
luck, just like a doctor can give you a shot of dope. I’ve
reduced luck to a chemical formula! Now roll up your sleeve,
Elmer, and I’ll demonstrate.”
But right there Elmer drew the line. The guinea pig
decided to emulate the worm that turned. It wasn’t that he
was afraid that Enoch’s mixture wouldn’t work-—he was afraid
it would, and I’ve already mentioned that Elmer had no
desire to be a superman. And he told Higgins so, told him as
respectfully as possible, but he told him.
“Heh!” the old man snorted again. “Still scared, eh?
You never did have the sense the Lord calculated to put into
a goose. Here I give you the chance of a lifetime to get
fame and fortune; and you muff it. All right, I’ll show you
what you’re missing, by ginger! I’ll take it, myself!” And
without any more ado, he rolled up his sleeve, right there
at the supper table, and taking a hypodermic case out of his
pocket, prepared and injected into his arm a shot of that
goo which he had mixed up.
Elmer watched him for a while, nervously, but nothing
happened. After a while, Higgins arose and started for the
library. Elmer started obediently to follow, but the old man
said testily, I don’t need you no more tonight, Elmer. You
and Laura get out of here and go to a picture show or
Elmer was pretty surprised. He’d never heard an order
like that from old Enoch before. He hesitated a while,
halfway suspecting that the drug had had some deleterious
effect on Enoch’s mind. But the old man sat down and picked
up a magazine and proceeded to finish his cigar, quite
naturally. So Elmer called to Laura, and they got out of the
house before the old man could change his mind.
Next day, old Enoch worked in a vague, abstracted
manner all morning, and when noon arrived, he asked Elmer to
go to lunch with him. He pushed down his food in the usual
silent manner; and when it was over, he leaned back and
said, “Now, Elmer, I want you to tell me the truth; and
don’t try to hedge, or to lie out of it. Did you ever play
Elmer was relieved. He could truthfully say that he
had never played the races in his life. But to his surprise,
Enoch was disappointed again.
“Honest, Elmer,” he grumbled. “You don’t seem to be
good for anything. You haven’t even got a good constructive
Nevertheless, he continued to quiz the boy, and pretty
soon it developed that even Elmer’s ignorance wasn’t as
great as Enoch’s. Elmer had read a thing or two about
racing. and had heard this and that from his friends, and
the upshot of the thing was that they took the afternoon off
and went to the race track. Elmer was sure that it was that
serum that had put this idea into Enoch’s head, and he was
beginning to wonder how it was coming out.
Well, he soon found out. For Enoch looked the horses
over as they paraded for the first race, and put a bet of
two dollars on Haddock. Haddock paid six and a half dollars
for two. Enoch bet the eight and a half on Peasant Gal in
the second, and had forty-one dollars and sixty-eight cents
at the end of the race. Forty dollars of that went on
Stillwell in the third; Stillwell was a long shot and Enoch
cashed in his tickets for four hundred dollars!
Elmer felt sure he ought to be satisfied then, but
no! He was at the window for the fourth race, sinking the
whole roll on Whistler. He had nine hundred dollars at the
end of that race, and finished the day with a profit of
twenty-seven hundred and twenty dollars!
And that was only the beginning. You can imagine the
effect that streak of luck had on old Enoch. If he was cocky
and overbearing before, he became impossible now. He was
right, and he knew it, and you couldn’t tell him otherwise.
And the worst of it was, he was right. Just you disagree
with Enoch Higgins, and you could depend on it, you’d be
proved wrong. His least guess would turn out to be fact,
For instance, he took Laura and Elmer to supper one
night at a hotel in town, and on the way back, he insisted
on walking. Halfway home, he decided that they must take a
short cut through a certain alley, and dragged the two with
him in spite of their protestations. And about a hundred
yards from the street, he suddenly ejaculated that “Heh!” of
his and stooped over and picked up two neatly folded twenty
Another time, on the way home from the picture house,
he suddenly decided to cut up through Jay Street, instead of
going, as usual, down Martin. And the next day he showed
Elmer an item in the paper which told of a successful holdup
which had been perpetrated on Martin Street at just about
the time they were avoiding it.
Day by day, Enoch’s fortune was increasing. He hardly
let a day go by without going to the races, and his
winnings must have averaged about a thousand dollars a day!
After a week or two, the hangers-on at the track began to
notice and whenever Enoch showed up at a window, the place
was mobbed by men trying to get bets clown on whatever horse
Enoch favored. Of course, that interfered with the odds, and
Enoch’s profits began to drop off. By this time he was
crowding his luck, and he wasn’t satisfied with a day’s
winnings if they didn’t run up into the hundreds of dollars.
So he began to look around for some other way of gambling.
One day he asked Elmer about gambling houses, but that
was the one thing in the world that Elmer knew less about
than horse racing. But Higgins found out somehow, for the
next evening he told Elmer to come along with him, and,
calling a taxi: “Drive me to that place you told me about,
Bert,” he instructed the driver; and half an hour later,
Elmer was amazed to find himself entering that almost
legendary gambling casino, the Gilbert Arms.
If you’ve ever been to our town, you’ve heard of the
Gilbert Arms. It was a swanky resort hotel in the early
twenties, but first bankruptcy and then prohibition and
bootleggers got hold of it, and at last it evolved into one
of those shady roadhouses where anything can happen and
But old Enoch had tasted success in the gambling game
and couldn’t be stopped. Ordinarily, he was of a type that
would have been as chary of visiting the place as Elmer, but
with the luck he was having, he was convinced that none of
the more or less sinister things that occasionally happened
to Gilbert Arms visitors could happen to him.
So he barged into the Gilbert Arms, and after a talk
with the head waiter, he was escorted into the famous Big
Back Room. He was at the roulette table five minutes after
he entered, He bought chips, stacked a hundred dollars on
the red nine, arid as the ball came to a stop, raked in his
winnings with a smile.
Next he played the black twenty, and won again.
Several people looked at him curiously. Still smiling, he
played fifty on the black four.
Up to now, Elmer had tagged along behind him, silent
and wondering. He didn’t know why the old man had dragged
him along in the first place. And he had been too full of
wonder to say or do anything, for this was a new world to
Elmer. But now it suddenly dawned on him that if he followed
Enoch, he might get a little of the gravy, too.
So he peeled a five dollar bill off of his rather slim
roll and put it on the black four, too. The wheel spun,
slowed and stopped—in the red sixteen!
Enoch smiled happily, stepped aside and murmured to
the boy, “I should have told you, Elmer. I lose once in a
while so they won’t get suspicious. Heh!”
But Elmer was cured right then. He bet no more. He
more than half suspected that Enoch had had a hunch that he
was going to bet, and had lost for just that reason.
But if Elmer was cured, not so with Enoch. He had only
started. By one o’clock, he had broken the bank. The manager
came, was very polite and very sorry that he was out of
funds. He had felt sure, he said, that thirty-five thousand
would see him through the night. Mr. Higgins’ luck was
without precedent. But if Mr. Higgins would come back again,
he’d try to show him a little better entertainment.
Enoch grinned sardonically and agreed to come back
soon - very soon. They left, and Enoch led Elmer around to
the back of the building, and across the fields for a mile
or more. When they finally emerged on a road, there was
Enoch’s car where he had parked it earlier in the day.
‘I’m wise to that gentry, Elmer!” he snorted, when the
boy demanded an explanation. “I’ve a hunch that there’s a
bunch of hoodlums waiting somewhere along the road right
now, figuring oil getting this money back. But, by ginger,
they’ll have to go some to get it away from ‘Lucky’
Now, anybody would have thought that cleaning up a
fortune like that would have satisfied Enoch. But no, he was
ready to tackle the Gilbert Arms again, the very next night.
And again he asked Elmer to go with him. I don’t know why he
was so interested in taking the boy along with him. Either
he had gotten used to him or he just dragged him along to
show him what he had missed by not submitting to Enoch’s
Anyway, he asked Elmer to go along and, instead of
dissembling, instead of telling him some cock and bull story
that would have made Enoch order him to stay home, Elmer
told him that he thought it would be a pretty dangerous
thing to try to tackle those jackals two nights in a row.
But Elmer’s objection not only made Enoch more determined
than ever, but made him determined to take Elmer along.
So off to the roadhouse they went, and, of course, by
midnight, old Higgins had broken the bank again. The manager
(who, by the way, was none other than the notorious “Budge”
Radcliffe) came to Enoch, all apologies, and asked him if he
would come to the office. He had no money in the house,
Enoch had broken all records for continuous winning, but he
had a proposition to make that he felt sure would interest
one of Enoch’s sporting nature.
Enoch swelled up like a pouter pigeon at the man’s
suave flattery, but Elmer felt cold right down to the bottom
of his shoes. Radcliffe’s record was clean enough, he’d
never been caught or convicted of any crime; but Radcliffe’s
reputation was something else again. Rumor had connected him
with every crooked deal that had been pulled in the county
in the last five years. And Elmer had a gruesome hunch that
once they entered Radcliffe’s office, their chances of
getting out would be about the same as that of the fly that
visited the well-known spider. But Enoch arose and followed
the manager, and when he saw Elmer lagging behind, he
beckoned him imperiously to follow. And Elmer, perforce,
followed; for even though he had little faith in his ability
to protect the old man, he felt that it would be out of
place to leave him alone to his doom.
Once in the office, sure enough, they were covered
with revolvers in the hands of three very determined and
very serious young men. The manager, debonair as ever,
“I suppose you realize, Mr. Higgins, that I’m not in
this business for my health,” he started off. ‘And I’m no
philanthropist, either. Now, you’ve taken about seventy
thousand dollars from me in two days, and I’d be a fool if I
let you get away with that.
“But—” he stopped long enough to light a cigarette and
to emphasize what he was about to say. “I looked you up
today, and I’ve found out that you are one of these
scientist guys. I put two and two together, and I’ve figured
out that you have a system. I’ve heard of hundreds of
systems in my life and none I ever heard of worked; but I’d
be a fool not to realize that you’ve got one that does.
“So-o-o—you’ll be a good fellow and let me in on your
system, and I’ll be a good fellow and let you get away with
the seventy G's you’ve took me for. Ain’t I right?”
Elmer would have sold his chances of getting out of
there alive for a thin dime when he heard Enoch’s answer.
Enoch said, as cool and cocky as if he’d been talking to
Elmer in his own dining room, “No, Mr. Radcliffe, you’re not
Elmer really began to tremble and was just about to
begin protesting when it dawned on him that Enoch wouldn’t
have taken such a cocky attitude if he didn’t have some kind
of hunch that everything would come out all right. So he
kept quiet and was just beginning to bless the Higgins luck
when it dawned on him that it was the Higgins luck he was
counting on, and that it couldn’t be expected to cover him,
at all. So he began to tremble all over again.
As for Radcliffe, when he heard Enoch, he could hardly
believe his ears. There was Enoch, not a particularly hard
looking old fellow, and there were three of the toughest
hotshots in town holding him down with big wicked pistols,
and he was calmly refusing to do as he was told. For a
minute, Radcliffe was speechless. If it had been merely the
getting of his money back, he’d probably have let Enoch and
Elmer both have it right then and there; but Radcliffe had
watched Enoch’s play all evening and he was positive that
Enoch had a workable system that was worth far more to him
than the money Enoch had won.
So at last he said, “Well, I’ll give you till morning
to think it over.” Then he got up and said to one of the
gunmen. “Hold ‘em both, in the little room upstairs. And
don’t let that young one get around you. Remember, he
knows too much, and he ain’t worth nothing, either.”
Then he and the others went out of the room and the
remaining gangster motioned them out of the other door.
“You boys is going upstairs and think this over,” he
said. “And don’t try any funny stuff, ‘cause I get excited
awful easy, see?”
They marched upstairs, entered one of the rooms and
sat down. Enoch said nothing and Elmer followed his example.
The gangster sat in one of the overstuffed chairs and toyed
with his revolver.
An hour passed. Elmer was nervous, sweating profusely.
Enoch yawned once or twice.
Another hour passed. It was well after two.
Elmer was showing signs of approaching nervous
prostration. The gangster now began to show signs of being
nervous, too. Enoch took a pair of dice out of his pocket
and began toying with them. Their captor’s face lit up, he
cleared his throat, and: “I didn’t know you had any bones
witcha,” he said, eagerly. ‘What about a game, huh? A nice,
friendly little game, quiet-like, huh?”
Enoch agreed, and Elmer sighed the granddaddy of all
sighs, and sank into a chair. The tension had broken at last
and Enoch’s luck had begun to function again, Elmer was
The game lasted fifteen minutes and at the end of that
time, the gangster’s pockets were bare. He sighed and got
lip from the floor.
“I thought it would last longer than that,” he said,
disgruntled. “Now what’ll we do to pass the time?”
“I’ll tell you what,” said Enoch, in a seemingly
speculative manner. “I’ll roll a hundred dollars against one
of the bullets in your gun. Just to keep the game going, heh?”
The sucker hesitated, and Enoch started to pick up his
winnings unconcernedly. It was Inure than the other could
stand; —he stepped away from us. broke his gun quickly and
took out one of the cartridges. He came back, and in a
minute or two, Enoch owned the bullet.
He offered to shoot another hundred and the first
bullet for a second. But the sucker was getting wise and
hesitated a good ten minutes before agreeing.
Enoch won the second bullet. Then he offered to shoot
for the third.
"The thug refused. Enoch snorted that famous
contemptuous snort of his and settled down into his and
settled down into his chair suggestively with his dice. The
thug reddened and lost his temper, but he didn’t give in.
He stubbornly refused to bet another bullet, but he set
there and eyed the cubes in Enoch hand as if he were a bird
and they those mythical hypnotic snakes.
Enoch laughed. ‘‘What’s the matter,’’ he barked. ‘‘You
act as if you were taking a chance. I’m the one that takes
the chances. Even if you lost you’d still have the bun and
three more bullets, wouldn’t you?”
The gangster scowled, then his face brightened suddenly
into a smile.
“Why, sure,” he said. “Sure I have. Yeah, that’s
right. I still got three bullets, and that luck of yours
can’t last forever. Okeh! One more bullet against all you’ve
won from me and a century besides. Are you on?”
He picked up the dice as he spoke, but Enoch covered
his hand. “I ain’t playing blind, son,” the old man snarled.
“Lay that bullet down there!” The gangster affected to sneer
at this “piker’s trick,” but he stepped aside, broke his gun
and laid the third bullet down on the floor. Then he picked
up the dice, tossed them—and they came up seven!
Elmer was all fixed to sigh with relief, but his sigh
changed to a gasp of alarm. it looked as if Enoch’s luck had
deserted him. But Elmer still wasn’t fully aware of the
devious and mysterious ways of that weird power. Before his
gasp of alarm was half over, Enoch had jumped on the hoodlum
(who had stooped to pick up his winnings), and the old man
was shouting, “Come on, Elmer. Help me get him. I gotta
hunch he only had three bullets in that gun!”
From his long hours of worry and nervous fright, Elmer
was as tense as a guy-wire; and at Higgins’ cry, he blew up
like a dropped blunderbuss. it was a downright pleasure to
throw himself on that thug and pound him and pound him,
unmercifully. Elmer never did know whether the thug offered
any resistance or not; all he remembered afterward was that
Enoch and he sort of swelled up and flowed over the mug; and
several minutes after, he was lying on the floor and Elmer
and Enoch were standing over him and shaking hands and
laughing fit to kill.
Then they tied him up, and Enoch took his revolver and
reloaded it, and they cautiously left the room. It was dark
in the hallway, and for a while, they searched in vain for
the stairs. They found a flight at last, but they were a
narrow flight that led, apparently, directly into the
manager’s office. And apparently the gang hadn’t left or
gone to sleep yet, in spite of the fact that it was nearly
three o’clock, for a light came from under the door and the
voices of Radcliffe and the others came through it.
Enoch stopped for a moment and stared at the door,
speculatively. Then, in spite of the fact that Elmer was
pulling at his sleeve and whispering that they better go
back upstairs and hunt for another exit, he unlatched the
door softly and, kicking it open, he stepped in quickly and
covered the three men inside with his weapon.
Radcliffe snarled and leaped to his feet, but Enoch
motioned him sternly down again. “Take it easy, Radcliffe,”
he snapped. “I got the upper hand now, and, by ginger, I can
hold it. Besides, I’m here to do you a favor, before I go.
One of your men is two-timing you, and I think you ought to
know it. That rat there,” he pointed, “if you search him,
I’ve a hunch you’ll find a letter that will prove what I
As he spoke, he was edging gradually around the men
and working his way to the door opposite. And Elmer was
hugging as close to him as he knew how. The crook whom he
accused got white as a sheet, but he managed to smile
scornfully and to spit with an air of braggadocio.
“Ain’t dat a joke,” he snarled. “If you didn’t have me
covered, I’d smash your ugly mug fer dat crack. Why, me and
Budge is buddies. He’d trust me anywhere, wouldn’t you,
“I sure would,” Radcliffe answered softly. ‘I’d trust
you anywhere, Paoli.
And just to show him how wrong he is, turn out your
pockets and show him what you’ve got there.”
Paoli turned, if possible, just a little paler.
“Aw, gee, Budge…,” he started to protest; but
Radcliffe’s soft tones turned to a snarl of: “Turn out them
Then, suddenly, Paoli and one of the others dropped
behind the table at which they stood, and Radcliffe had a
revolver in his hand and already it was smoking and the
echoes of a shot were dying away, and Enoch was pushing
Elmer through the door arid into a hallway.
“I had a hunch about that letter,” he panted as they
ran down the hall and into the main dining room of the
place. Looks as if my hunches were still working, eh,
From the sound of shots that still came from the
office, it looked as if he were right. As the two left the
building though, the shots died away, and Elmer realized
that one group or the other had won the fight. And
whichever side won, it was a pretty sure bet that they’d be
hunting the ones that had started it all. Indeed, almost
immediately, a jumble of shouted commands came distantly to
them, and Elmer would have sworn that there was something
shouted about the “old man and the kid.”
They sped down the tree-lined avenue that led from the
state highway to the house, making no attempt to get their
machine which was parked on the side of the house. Both
instinctively knew that they wouldn’t have time to reach the
car and set it in motion. So they ran, hoping that they’d
find some place of concealment before the remains of the mob
managed to organize a pursuit and try to find them.
Now, the chances are that Radcliffe and his men who
still survived were less interested in capturing or harming
Enoch and Elmer than they were in putting as much distance
as possible between themselves and the terrible mess of
things that had resulted from crossing old Enoch. Whether
that is so or not, the fact remains that they rushed from
the house and, instead of pursuing the fugitives, they went
at once to the garage and in a moment or two, a big Cadillac
swept out and down the road to the highway.
They didn’t put the lights on, and so they were pretty
close to Elmer and Enoch before those two realized that the
noise they heard was a car bearing down on them. They
probably thought it was a car on the highway, until Elmer,
glancing back, saw the huge black mass descending on them
out of the lesser gloom. He shouted a warning and leaped for
the protection of the trees on the side of the road and then
turned to see if Enoch was safe. To his horror, he saw
Enoch, who had rushed for the other side of the road, turn
suddenly and rush back, straight into the path of the
oncoming juggernaut. He heard a thump and covered his eyes,
he heard a terrible grunt from Enoch and a gleeful cry: “You
got the old one, Budge,” from the car. Then the sound of a
motor rapidly dying away, and Elmer took his hands from his
face to look into the gloom of the night, and wonder
miserably if Enoch was dead or only mortally wounded.
Well, I guess that’s the climax of the story. There’s
no use of telling what happened in the next few hours.
Briefly, Elmer stood and wrung his hands for ten minutes
that seemed like hours, and then, afraid to move old Enoch
for fear he’d add to his injuries, he went back to the
garage to get the car, found a telephone there and called a
hospital. They came and got Enoch, took him to the hospital
and it was four months before he got out.
Of course, the wealth that Enoch had amassed stood him
in good stead, then. He could afford to have, and did have,
the best and most famous surgeon in the country. The doctor
was called from half way across the country, and came on a
fast chartered plane. Of course, he had to operate, and he
frankly said that he couldn’t tell whether Enoch would live
or not, until after the operation.
You can imagine Elmer’s physical state, as he and
Laura waited in the hospital for news of the operation. He
walked the floor like a new father, trying to keep awake.
The night before, he had sat up most of the time with Laura;
the night before that, had been the night of the accident.
Now, he was practically out on his feet. At last, after
hours that seemed centuries, the doctor appeared. His eyes
were glowing and Elmer knew, even before he spoke, that the
operation was a successful one. But just how successful, he
didn’t know until the doctor spoke.
“Mr. Bidwell,” he said. “Do you know if Mr. Higgins
ever exhibited any queer traits, any neurotic tendencies or
tendencies toward hysteria?”
“Gosh, no!” Elmer was shocked.
“Just the opposite, I’d say, doctor.”
“Did he ever take drugs of any sort?”
“No, not that I know of—” Elmer began, and then he
thought of that dose of luck that Enoch had taken. After a
moment’s thought, he decided to tell, and unburdened himself
of the whole story of Enoch Higgins’ luck. To say the doctor
was astounded was putting it mildly.
“Mr. Bidwell,” he said. “I came out here to tell you
that Enoch Higgins was the luckiest man I’ve ever seen in
all my years of practice. I didn’t imagine, of course, that
his luck was artificial. But—well, now I don’t know what to
think. When I first looked at that broken skull of his, I
noticed something, and when the time came to operate, I
verified those suspicions. To be brief, Enoch Higgins had a
small but well-developed cancer of the brain. Some things
about it make it seem certain that it was artificially
induced, probably by that drug he took. I removed it, and I
can insure you there’s no danger of its return.
“But if that accident hadn’t happened when it did, the
thing would have gotten beyond control in a few months and
Enoch would more than likely have died of madness. He’s the
luckiest man I ever heard of!”