By: John Thomas McIntyre (1871-1951)
Those who have read "Ashton-Kirk, Investigator" will recall references to several affairs in which the United States government found the investigator's unusual powers of inestimable service. In such matters, tremendous interests often stand dangerously balanced, and the most delicate touch is required if they are not to be sent toppling. As Ashton-Kirk has said: "When a crisis arises between two of the giant modern nations, with their vast armies, their swift fleets, their dreadful engines of war, the hands which control their affairs must be steady, secret, and sure. Otherwise an unthinkable horror might be brought about." It frequently happens that such a crisis arises, the issue is joined and fought out to the bitter end, and the watchful public press never gets even a hint of it. Indeed, if the secret archives of the nations were thrown open for inspection, a long series of appalling dangers would be shown to have been passed by each—dangers arising from small and apparently remote things, but capable of swift and deadly growth. Experience, steady courage, and sure talent are required in dealing with such things; and these qualities Ashton-Kirk possesses in abundance. To be sure, the departments of the government have the "Secret Service" at their hand; but the specialist is called in when the general practitioner is at a loss, and he is as much a part of the structure as his regularly employed colleague. The adventure of the present story is only one of many to be told of Ashton-Kirk.