THE ABDUCTION OF ALEXANDRA SEINE

The Adbduction of Alexandra Seine

It has flying cars. It has food pills and push-button food dispensers. It has a time viewer. It has a telepathic communicator. It's a spoof of mysteries. And of adventure stories. And romances. And science fiction. And it was written in 1900.

(If you want to skip this introduction, click here to see the entire story text. Or click here to see scans of the original pages.)

"The Abduction of Alexandra Seine" is one of those rare proto-science fiction stories that hold up today, the spoofing elements allowing the modern reader to pass over the hoary cliches and marvel at the inventiveness of the snazzy new paint job over the timeworn fixtures. It's exactly as frenetically dumb as an action movie, making us sad that Frederick Charles Smale flourished a generation too soon for Hollywood to pay him the big bucks.

Exactly nothing is known about the man who wrote under the name of Fred C. Smale, except that he was British and wrote about 20 stories, most of them in the 1910s. "The Abduction of Alexandra Seine" is the first we know of. A spoof of the fiction they love is a good way to ease authors into print, something that calls for cleverness over craft and doesn't require a distinctive style. While fun, spoofs don't necessarily made a firm foundation for a career. Smale wouldn't sell another story for four years.

He did start fairly high, however. The story appeared in the November 1900 issue of The Harmsworth Magazine, edited by Cecil Harmsworth, one of the innumerable British magazines launched at the end of the 19th century to satisfy the public's seemingly insatiable appetite for the printed word. The FictionMags index states that "at its peak, around 1906-1913, it was probably the best popular fiction magazine in the UK." As was the norm at the time, the magazine was a mix of fiction and nonfiction and heavily illustrated. In fact, its name had only recently been shortened from The Harmsworth Monthly Pictorial Magazine, one of numerous name changes over its lifetime. If you want the nitpicky details read the next paragraph in brown; otherwise skip to the one in black.

 

(The few references that mention this story give different names to its point of origin, so an explanation is helpful to clear the mess up. Deep breath, now. Harold Sidney Harmsworth, 1st Viscount Rothermere, and his brother Alfred Harmsworth, later Viscount Northcliffe, had launched the hugely successful newspapers the Daily Mail and the Daily Mirror before resurrecting England's oldest literary magazine and giving it to younger brother Cecil to run. Cecil was one of 14 siblings in the Harmsworth tribe, who apparently could start newspapers and magazines and be sure of a healthy circulation just from the family. The Harmsworth Monthly Pictorial Magazine debuted in July 1898, shortened the name to The Harmsworth Magazine in July 1900 - which included the issue in which this story appeared, switched to The Harmsworth London Magazine in August 1901, The London Magazine being the name of the original ancestor, and stayed that way for just three issues before giving up and tossing the family name. The London Magazine flourished under that name until the November 1930 issue, when, for reasons not obvious to me, it became the New London Magazine until the Depression killed it with the November 1933 issue. But it was resurrected once again in 1954 as The London Magazine and is still publishing.)

Smale had a prodigious imagination and a flair for grabbing the reader's attention. Who wouldn't want to plunge into a story that started with "'Heighho! This is gruesome work,' exclaimed Bowden Snell, as he learned back in his old Victorian chair and placed a cocaine lozenge in his mouth."

Alexandra Seine title.JPG

If readers were supposed to think of Sherlock Holmes, Smale immediately instead whisks them into a future world where neither clues nor detectives are needed. His protagonist, Bowden Snell, a newspaper photographer, hastens to the scene of an "atrocious crime" and pulls out his Antegraph, which is able "to obtain good retrospective views of the crime, from the first frown of the murderer to the last dying throe of the victim." With this knowledge, "a constable, equipped with the new collapsible wings, had swooped down on the guilty ruffian whither he was making."

His work done for the day, he presses a button on the wall. Seemingly instantly, a meal of salmon cutlets appears. And so does an aerocar loom at his window. Aerocars, lovingly depicted in the accompanying drawings, are the conventional mode of transport in this future, which from internal evidence is supposed to be the 1950s.

​​

Alexandra Seine Snell's apartment.JPG

Young Jack Arbuthnot has flown halfway around the world, from Japan, after a cry for help from his beloved, Ally. His aerocar was apparently electric-powered because it happened to be fully charged so he needed to do nothing more than add "a few food-pellets in my pocket" before leaving. Nevertheless, he is so "famishing" that he demands another instant meal so that he can lay out the exposition for the reader's sake. Ally has remained in England but communicates with Arbutnot via the second of Smale's three great inventions, the telepathic machine, which keeps them in touch though thought messages. Ally managed to send out a frenzied "Help, help, Jack! I am being carried away," before being cut off, triggering Arbuthnot's hurried flight.

Apparently again, he always carried Ally's image close to his heart because he hands Bowden Snell a vitograph. Smale doesn't bother to explain what that is, but pressing a knob on a small case makes her image visible through an aperture. Bowden Snell is taken aback. She is the exact image of his late wife, which he shows Arbuthnot via what we would today think of as a slide projector. She and their daughter were supposed to have died in the Siege of Paris after the invasion of 1930. If Ally is his daughter, all grown, she must be found!

How? Well, this future has the equivalent of a real time Google Earth, Smale's third grand idea. “Give me the whole of East London, from Greenwich to Saint Paul’s... in sections of square miles,” says Bowden Snell to an unseen distant voice. There are apertures in the wall for this that they can also put their eyes to, and the two men scan the skies over larger and larger distances. Yet the future is not quite perfect.

“Give me a line due east of Greenwich straight away to the sea.”

“Apparatus only reaches Swanley; line broken down,” came the reply.

“What a nuisance! When will they perfect these things?” said Arbuthnot, impatiently.

Soon enough, though, they sight a stalled aerocar belonging to the evil fiend ‘Eagle Malvowley, he of the secret castle in the Balkans.

Hopping into his newer aerocar, Bowden Snell and Arbuthnot race to the scene.

With a whiz and a flutter they rose through the cool evening air and, after soaring undecidedly over the ancient dome of St. Paul’s, sped away in an easterly direction.

The air was fairly full of business cars, which rose in shoals from the heart of the province and dropped in various suburbs about Essex, Suffolk, and Kent.

Alexandra Seine taking flight.JPG

Yet searching for a speck in the sky is never easy. They land on a beach - ah, the convenience of a flying car - and fortuitously espy a fellow Flash man, who had spotted Malvowley's aerocar stalled mid-Channel.

Alexandra Seine Minute Gun.JPG

They catch up swiftly, but Malvowley, makes for a formidable enemy. Instead of the expected gun, the villain tosses a bomb at Snell's aerocar, barely missing after Snell's frantic evasion.

Alexandra Seine Mulvowley.JPG

Now is the time for derring-do. Bowden Snell maneuvers his aerocar until it's just over Malvowley's vehicle and Arbuthnot makes the daring leap into the fiend's aerocar. Slinging the unconscious Ally over his shoulder, he hands her to Bowden Snell and then leaps back up so they can rise swiftly away. So swiftly that the second missile Malvowsky throws upward misses them and falls back onto his aerocar, exploding it and the fiend into a million fragments.

Alexandra Seine Mulvowley bombed.JPG

A happy ending for the good guys and the world rid of one extraneous villain. Old virtues updated for a new age. Smale spells it out, proud of his accomplishment.

“Rescued maiden; long-lost daughter. It seems like one of the old-fashioned novels, doesn’t it?”

“Romance is never old-fashioned, my dear; it is for all time,” said Bowden Snell.

As I said earlier, spoofs are required to be clever rather than deep, insightful, or plausible. Smale's cleverness is at the forefront throughout. The other virtues are questionable. Since it's a spoof, it's impossible to tell whether the idiocies are deliberate commentary on the cliches of contemporary romances or the failings of a young writer unsure of how to file down the rough spots in the plot.

The deepest hole Smale digs is having his hero on the other side of the planet. Nothing would produce more shock and awe at the end of the 19th century than personal transport that connected the Orient with the Occident in a single day. Smale would have had to travel about 400 mph for the entire trip to make it in sixteen hours, unthinkable speeds for the era. Unthinkable as well to do so in such flimsy, open craft as the ones depicted by R. W. Wallace.

Young heroes are supposed to be all brawn and no brain, but when time is of the essence you'd have to be a complete idiot not to notify anyone of your loved one being in distress rather than starting on a sixteen-hour flight. The introduction of the telepathy machine, while a good marvel to start off a story, undercuts the rest of it. Surely if a nobody like young Arbuthnot has one, such equipment must be everyday technology. Why couldn't he go to another expat Brit and have him start the search earlier? He couldn't possibly expect Ally to be close after a sixteen-hour start unless, in modern terms, he had read the script or, in Raymond Chandler's phrase, "having God sit in your lap." Malvolsky's utter lack of progress despite sixteen hours plus dinner, plus searching time, plus chase time elapsing is a cheat to a proper chase story. Besides, if everybody has telepathy machines, why couldn't Malvolsky simply call for help? Why not flag down one of the airborne customs officers who were constantly scanning for signs of smuggling? Why would no one stop to give assistance? And, as long as I'm asking, why would a telepathic machine cut off Ally's message just because Malvowsky flung her into the bottom of his aerocar? Does this mean they are like portable radios that are easily carried on one's person? And why would anyone shout into a telepathic machine, when the word means thought transmission?

Of course the answers to all these questions is that there wouldn't be a story if any of the characters behaved sensibly, a tradition heartily embraced by modern movies, and television, and comics, and pretty much every branch of popular media. Seeing all the beats laid out in a story from 1900 reminds us of how quickly and thoroughly the elements of craft involved in hooking readers developed and stuck. They stick out in this story because constantly contradicts himself, inventing gadgets and devices that then required him to instantly discard. (Here's another example: If Arbuthnot had food pills in his pocket why exactly is he so hungry?) Being good enough to provide a quick chuckle is not the same as lasting quality. Perhaps that's why the story was never reprinted until it was dredged up to include in proto-science fiction anthologies three quarters of a century later.

As far as I can tell, it has never appeared in text on the internet either. The only reason "The Abduction of Alexandra Seine" deserves rediscovery is because of the rich lode of advanced ideas buried in it. The time viewer alone is three decades earlier than the first appearance of "Time-Space Television" in science fiction pulps listed on Technovelgy.com. And the illustrations by R. W. Wallace are superb renditions of classic steampunk designs. Note also the snappiness of the short back-and-forth of the dialog and background compared to the contemporary fiction of H. G. Wells and others, which describe the action in long narrative paragraphs. Smale's work marks proto-science fiction - scientific romance, as it was known then - at a cusp, a point where the field had become accepted and even familiar but had not yet advanced beyond marvels. The very idea of suspension of disbelief is mocked in the story. Smale clearly patterns his aerocars on boats rather than make them a new type of transportation, with their own logic and customs. Yet his light touch keeps the story moving in a way that few of the Golden Age writers in the Gernsback era would match. "The Abduction of Alexandra Seine" is a curiosity, a morsel, a diversion, not required reading. Just pop your cocaine lozenge in your mouth and enjoy.

 

THE ABDUCTION OF ALEXANDRA SNELL

by FRED C. SMALE

“Heighho! This is gruesome work,” exclaimed Bowden Snell, as he learned back in his old Victorian chair and placed a cocaine lozenge in his mouth.

A particularly atrocious crime had been committed that morning in the suburb of Slough, and Snell, in his capacity of graphist to the Hourly Flash, had been sent to procure a record of it, by means of the Antegraph then coming into general use with the news offices.

He had the advantage of possessing a good instrument, and five or six minutes had been sufficient in which to obtain good retrospective views of the crime, from the first frown of the murderer to the last dying throe of the victim.

Bowden Snell was now developing the film in his room at the Flash office, and the aerocar which had brought him was still outside the large bay window swinging gently to and fro in its moorings in the summer breeze.

It was now sixteen o’clock, and the pictures were needed for the seventeen o’clock edition. The murderer had been caught, of course; a constable, equipped with the new collapsible wings, had swooped down on the guilty ruffian whither he was making, doubtless with the intention of taking an aerocar from the rank on Castle Hill.

Bowden Snell was not young, being over fifty, and the more rapid methods of the times made it difficult for him to compete with younger men; but the Flash people retained him chiefly because of his extensive knowledge of the great province of London.

His films completed and dispatched by tube to the lower offices, Bowden Snell mechanically pressed a button in the wall behind him, and commenced to apply himself voraciously to the resulting salmon cutlets. The apartment and its conveniences were placed entirely at his disposal by the proprietors of the Flash, and being a lonely man – a widower in fact – Bowden Snell made it almost his home.

He had scarcely eaten a mouthful when the room was suddenly darkened by the apparition of a second aerocar of strange old-fashioned construction, which bumped clumsily against Snell’s own machine, and ultimately drew up at the window.

Immediately a young man, clad in white from head to foot, leaped into the room. His face was brown with exposure to the sun, and he looked anxious and travel-worn.

“Arbuthnot!” exclaimed Bowden Snell, “you here? What on earth ---?”

“Ah, how familiar it is to hear one of your dear old-fashioned sayings, Mr. Snell,” said the new-comer. “On earth indeed! when I haven’t touched earth for sixteen hours. Do give me a bite of something, for Heaven’s sake; I’m famishing,” and the young man looked longingly at the salmon cutlers.

Still bewildered, the other turned to the wall and hurriedly pressed a number of buttons.

“Steady, I say; steady,” said the young man, with a faint smile. “Roast turkey, cold salad, mushrooms, fried soles, Burgundy – a bit of a mixture, eh?”

Somewhat confused, the elder man checked himself and turned from the buttons.

“But how is it you are here?” he asked. “I thought you were in Japan, helping to develop that part of the empire.”

“I must talk and eat at the same time,” replied Arbuthnot. “Potatoes, stuffing, and green peas, if you don’t mind – thanks. Mr. Snell, I am in great trouble.”

“Hum, it hasn’t affected your appetite, at any rate,” said the other.

“Perhaps not; but I can tell you the air of the Ghauts is pretty keen, at least I found it so this morning as I came through.”

“Well, don’t hurry yourself; I’ll go on with my own luncheon,” said Snell, reseating himself.

All right,” replied Arbuthnot, with his mouth full,” I won’t waste more time than I can help. Listen: I took to Japan with me two telephathic instruments.”

“Ah, a lady’s whim, eh?” suggested Bowden Snell.

“Something of my own idea as well,” replied the young man, a slight flush overspreading his handsome face. “You see, one couldn’t be running home to England every few weeks, and Ally and I thought it would be nice to sit and talk to each other sometimes, even though thousands of miles of clouds floated between us.”

Bowden Snell nodded indulgently; and Arbuthnot, leaning back with a sign, lit a cigarette – he was a steady young man and refrained from drugs.

“Now this morning a strange thing happened,” he continued. “You must understand I have one instrument upstairs and the other down in my sitting-room; it isn’t always so easy to hit the mark in Japan, you know, owing to the earthquakes, so that when Ally missed one with a message the chances were that she would hit the other.”

“I see.”

“Well, I was sitting down having a smoke after the day’s work – of course it was evening there – when the signal of the  instrument clicked, and I instantly placed my ear to it. Then I heard my dar- Ally’s voice, I mean, seemingly in great distress, calling me, saying, ‘Help, help, Jack! I am being carried away,’ and then there was a dead silence.”

The young man paused, and passed a trembling hand across his damp brow. He went on-

“I rushed upstairs to the other instrument, thinking possibly that it might be catching what the other missed, but I heard nothing more, though I shouted continually.”

“Shouting’s never any good; only rattles the mechanism,” said Bowden Snell. “Of course, you took the direction?”

“Yes, I thought of that,” replied Arbuthnot. “It was due west and two degrees from normal.”

“Two degrees from normal, eh!” repeated the other musingly. Then he took a scrap of paper from his pocket and made a few rapid calculations, at the end of which he exclaimed-

“Hullo, she must have been in the air then.”

“Of course,” answered the young man, “that is how I worked it out; three hundred feet from the ground, and fifty miles south of Greenwich.”

“About that,” concurred Bowden Snell. “Well, what are you going to do, and what do you want of me?”

“I thought of you immediately,” said Arbuthnot, “and, placing a few food-pellets in my pocket, I jumped on my machine and away just as I was. Luckily my aerocar, which is, as you see, one of the old-fashioned ones – I can’t afford a new one – was charged, and I can tell you I made her rattle coming along over Thibet, Russia, and Germany. Once I caught up the daylight, yet it took me sixteen hours to do the journey,” he concluded, apologetically.

Bowden Snell smiled grimly. He thought of the old days of his boyhood, when a voyage from Japan was considered a very serious undertaking, occupying weeks of wearisome crawling over land and water.

“And now,” cried the young man, jumping up from his chair, “I have come to ask you to help me. You know this great province of London as well as any man, and, moreover, your particular occupation gives you immense facilities for discovering what I want to know.”

“And that is?”

“I want to find Ally,” said Arbuthnot. “I am to blame for wasting time as I have, but I was really famishing.”

“What is she like, to being with?” asked Bowden Snell.

“Oh, I forgot; you have never seen her, have you?’ replied the young man. “Look,” and taking a small case from his breast-pocket he handed it to Snell, who said as he took it-

“I was in Canada the afternoon you brought her to my house remember, so that, as you

say, I have never seen her.” He then applied his eye to an aperture in the case, and pressed a knob. Instantly a faint ticking sound was heard, and the holder stated violently. “Young man, who is this girl? What is her name?” he asked agitatedly as he returned the case.

“Do you know her?” said Arbuthnot in surprise at the effect the vitograph had produced on his companion. “Her name is Seine; at least-“ and the young man hesitated a moment – “that is the name she goes by – Alexandra Seine. To tell you the truth, her real name is not known. She was discovered in Paris when we entered the city in ’30. Of course, she was just a tiny child then, and as no clue to her identity could be found, they christened her Alexandra, after the then Dowager Empress, and Seine after the river on the banks of which she was found. An English lady adopted her, and that’s all her history.”

Bowden Snell had been sitting with his face buried in his hands whilst the young man had been speaking.

“Paris! – 1930! – my little Violet – can it be?” he cried disjointedly; “the very same smile – her very movements!”

“Your daughter!” exclaimed Arbuthnot in amazement, momentarily forgetting the urgency of his errand.

“Yes, yes. Come here a moment,” and the elder man led him to the far end of the apartment, which was curtained off, and there facing a blank white wall stood, on a pedestal, a box-shaped machine somewhat resembling the old magic-lanterns pictured in the books of our boyhood. It was evidently fixed there for film-testing purposes.

Snell drew the curtains after them, and they stood almost in darkness. Carefully taking a small square sheet of gelatinous substance from his pocket-book, he inserted it in the instrument and pressed a knob at its side. Instantly a bluish flame kindled within, and on the blank wall appeared the life-sized figure of a pretty woman dressed in the late Victorian style – large sleeves, curled hair, skirts reaching to the ankles and all. She smiled bewitchingly, yet with a slight touch of sadness; then she seemed to step forward, and the vision faded.

“My Ally to the life!” exclaimed Arbuthnot; “but how did you get her graphfilm? And in that queer costume! Was it a masquerade?”

“That was not ‘Ally’ as you call her,” replied Bowden Snell; “it was her mother, and my dear dead wife. If I could have inserted her voice-record at the same time, I have no doubt it would have been a further proof, but the cylinder is at home.”

“Your wife!” cried Arbuthnot. “Can it be?”

“I served with the City Imperial Volunteers at the Siege of Paris in ’30,” replied Bowden Snell as he carefully replaced the film in his book. “My wife and child were in Paris when the war broke out. My wife was killed by a chance shell; our babe, it seems, escaped.” Then, subduing his emotions with an effort, he seized Arbuthnot by the arm and exclaimed, “Come, come, let us find her; don’t ask questions now, let us away!”

“Yes,” said Arbuthnot, “but whither? We have no clue.”

“Let me think, let me think,” said Snell, passing his hand over his forehead; then, stepping quickly across the room, he pressed a knob in the wall, causing a little shutter to fall.

“What place?” asked a faint voice.

“Give me the whole of East London, from Greenwich to Saint Paul’s,” replied Bowden Snell, “in sections of square miles.”

“It’s rather dark,” said the voice, grumblingly, “but I’ll try.”

“Come, Arbuthnot, you had better look as well,” said Snell, motioning the young man to his side.

The two men applied their eyes to circular orifices in the wall, and waited.

“Do you see anything?” asked Arbuthnot, presently.

“Nothing, replied the other, “only the usual crowd of aerocars above and athletes walking in the streets below. It is almost too dark to discern faces. I can see no car that is suspicious. Stay! Ah, no! – only some air-sailors drinking absinthe.”

“What is to be done?” exclaimed Arbuthnot, despairingly.

“You there?” called Snell.

“Yes,” came the voice in reply.

“Give me a line due east of Greenwich straight away to the sea.”

“Apparatus only reaches Swanley; line broken down,” came the reply.

“What a nuisance! When will they perfect these things?” said Arbuthnot, impatiently.

“Give me as far as you can then,” cried Snell.

“Right.”

“Now then, keep your eyes open,” warned the elder man.

“Look!” Arbuthnot cried suddenly, “there she is!” and then Snell clicked a switch on his left.

“I’ve checked it,” he said, in tones of suppressed excitement. “You are sure it is she?”

“Quite,” said Arbuthnot, agitatedly; “but who is the man with her? I cannot see.”

“Great Heavens! ‘Eagle Malvowley; I might have guessed it, the fiend!” cried Bowden Snell.

“Malvowley! What, he that owns the secret castle in the Balkans?” queried Arbuthnot, breathlessly.

“The same,” answered Bowden Snell; “he is bearing her thither, the villain. But where are they? We must follow at once.”

“I cannot understand,” said Arbuthnot, straining his eyes at the aperture, “there is open sea beneath, and yet the operator said-“

“You there?” came the voice.

“Well?” said Snell, quickly.

“The instrument is a little out of order. By mistake I started you from the French end; you have checked it in mid-channel.”

“That is all right, thank you,” said Snell. “That explains it,” he said, turning to his companion; “but let us watch. How is this – they seem stationary?”

“They are stationary,” cried Arbuthnot, after a moment. “Come, let us away.”

Bowden Snell turned off the knob and followed the younger man to the window.

“My machine,” he said briefly, “it is the answer.”

Arbuthnot leaped in, and Bowden Snell followed him.

With a whiz and a flutter they rose through the cool evening air and, after soaring undecidedly over the ancient dome of St. Paul’s, sped away in an easterly direction.

The air was fairly full of business cars, which rose in shoals from the heart of the province and dropped in various suburbs about Essex, Suffolk, and Kent.

Once away from the great centre, however, our travellers were able to put on speed, and in a few minutes the silvery gleam of the Channel appeared in sight.

They searched the air with strained eyes as they sped along; but, beyond the usual Continental and Far East cars, they saw nothing of consequence.

As they neared the sea they decided to descend, and dropped lightly at the very water’s edge, on a secluded beach between Dover and Folkestone. They stepped out on the yielding sand, and stood by the rippling waves.

A huge full moon was just appearing above the horizon, and its pale beauty was reflected in touches of silver on the darkening sea. Far above them a few aerocars wafted their way toward their various destinations, and the alert customs officers in their crimson-painted machines flitted restlessly hither and thither.

The two men stood silent for a few moments, awed by the beauty and solitude of the scene.

“We are beaten,” bitterly exclaimed Arbuthnot at last.

“Wait,” said Bowden Snell as he narrowly scanned an approaching car; if I am not greatly mistaken that is Jim Travers of the Minute Gun. It looks like his machine: yes, it is. Above there, Travers!” he shouted lustily.

“Hello, Snell!” came the reply, “what’s amiss?” and the car swooped gracefully to within a few yards of their heads, Travers looking over the side at his fellow graphist.

“Have you seen ‘Eagle Malvowley in your travels?” asked Snell.

“Just passed him about half way across,” was the welcome answer: “he had had a breakdown – jammed lever – I fancy – and is fluttering about like a wounded gull.”

“Anyone with him?” shouted Arbuthnot, as with Snell he stepped hastily aboard their machine.

“Couldn’t see: too dark,” replied Travers, as he resumed his progress Londonwards. “Anything special on?” he called back. “If so, telepath us at the office, there’s a good fellow.”

But, with a shout of thanks, Bowden Snell and Arbuthnot were already soaring over the sea.

“He just back from Baden Races – lucky I saw him,” muttered the former, as he pulled out all the speed-bars.

Arbuthnot was in a state of fierce excitement; he peered anxiously forward, and at length his bloodshot eyes detected a fluttering object between himself and the full orbed moon.

Mutely he grasped Snell’s arm and pointed.

“I see,” said the other, laconically; and with a skillfully executed upward swoop he guided the machine to within a dozen yards of the apparently uncontrollable fugitive car, in which a tall, slight man with a dark, saturnine countenance was uttering vicious oaths, and spitefully hammering at some part of the machinery.

Arbuthnot jumped recklessly on to the high platform of their car, and with a gasp of mingled fear and relief beheld the beloved object of his search lying on the bottom of the other machine, to all appearance lifeless.

Malvowley was so engrossed in his task that he had noticed the approach of his pursuers, but a fierce hail from Arbuthnot caused him to leap up.

With an execration he picked up some ball-shaped object and hurled it at his interrupters, but in his sudden surprise he missed his aim.

Bowden Snell hastily seized a lever and drew it back with a jerk. The car rose vertically some fifty feet above Malvowley’s.

“Rippite bomb,” said Snell with a white face, as the missile struck the water below and burst with the soft seductive whirr of that deadly explosive.

“You are helpless, Malvowley,” cried Arbuthnot. “Hand over Miss Seine at once.”

“Come and take her,” yelled Malvowley, defiantly; “I won’t miss you a second time,” and he seemed to apply himself again to the task of repairing his gear.

“We must board him,” said Snell; “it is our only chance. If he once gets his machine in hand again he will be on the other side of Europe in five minutes. She’s a racer, built for the America Cup Race of last year. I will swoop close to him, and you must leap for it.”

“I’ll try it,” said Arbuthnot desperately. “If I miss, you must descend on the chance of picking me up.”

“Now, then!” cried Snell, as they swept down.

With a fast-beating heart Arbuthnot hurled himself into the car, knocking the surprised Malvowsky into a corner, where he lay momentarily stunned.

With lightning movements the young man seized the unconscious girl in his arms and passed her over to Bowden Snell, who, pale as death, stood ready to receive her. Arbuthnot had scarcely time to leap back after when Malvowley recovered himself and, with horrible oaths, rushed to the side of the car.

“Curse you!” he shrieked,” I’ll wreck you; I’ll send you all to eternity!”

“Up – up – quick!” shouted Arbuthnot, “another bomb.”

They rose with sickening speed, and Malvowley, foaming with demonical rage, hurled another deadly missile up after them, putting all his strength into the attempt.

They were too quick, however, and the bomb fell back again on Malvowley’s own car, exploding on the contact, and scattering machine and its unhappy occupant into a million fragments.

Some of the wreckage struck the victors as they still soared rapidly upwards, but they were rising too fast to suffer any injury. When at last, pale and trembling, they found courage to look down, only a few pieces of floating wood and aluminum far below remained as witnesses of ‘Eagle Malvowley’s fearful end. To their great joy, Snell and Arbuthnot discovered that the rescued girl had merely fainted, and in a short time the keen upper air revived her.

It appeared that Malvowley had swooped unexpectedly down upon her as she was walking on a lonely road near Reading, and, despite her cries had carried her off. She had retained presence of mind enough to note the sun’s position and rapidly make the mental calculation necessary in order to obtain her lover’s exact direction; she then telepathed, but ere many thoughts had left her brain, her captor had suspected something, and brutally flung her into the bottom of the car.

Having telepathed to allay the natural anxiety of her guardian at Reading, they sped back to Snell’s private house at Bexley. The happy girl smilingly caressed her lover’s hand, and leaning her head against her newly-found father’s shoulder, said brightly-

“Rescued maiden; long-lost daughter. It seems like one of the old-fashioned novels, doesn’t it?”

“Romance is never old-fashioned, my dear; it is for all time,” said Bowden Snell.

 
the abduction of alexandra seine, Fred C. Smale, The Harmsworth Magazine, Nov. 1900, 291.J
the abduction of alexandra seine, Fred C. Smale, The Harmsworth Magazine, Nov. 1900, 292.J
the abduction of alexandra seine, Fred C. Smale, The Harmsworth Magazine, Nov. 1900, 293.J
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February 6, 2022