Page:Weird Tales volume 31 number 02.djvu/107

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233
THE PIPER FROM BHUTAN

old piper to the home of a radio impersonator, who had known the late Richford Mason. Professor Du Bois planned everything. He spoke to the radio artist, with the latter imitating Richford Mason's voice, while the Bhutanese played away on his pipe and Lieutenant Crane and I worked with a phonographic machine, making records.

The piper took it all deadly seriously, though he kept jabbering in his Tibetan or Chinese dialect, asking, I'm sure, where the dead body was. His music, well–you can't hear it now, for which I'm terribly sorry–but what music!

It wailed, seemed to be talking, pleading, in a weird melancholy voice that somehow seemed to beat right through you. No melody, as we know the term, just a haunting, lilting strain, like nothing I've ever heard before–or hope again to hear!

At Professor Du Bois' direction, we made two excellent recordings, and in a few hours everything was ready.

In a secluded house at the end of town, the accused Rumster was made the subject of the experiment. We had the corpse of Richford Mason in one room; in another, the Bhutanese piper. In the room where the lieutenant, the professor and I sat with Rumster were the two records.

One was on a phonograph on the table. The other was on a phonograph hidden behind the sofa. This hidden machine had a catch protruding just a sixteenth of an inch from the corner of the rug. A tug with your shoe-tip would set off the record.

Well, first Lieutenant Crane gave Rumster the third degree; but no use. He looked guilty, his voice sounded guilty, and his story had a few frayed edges–but he denied the crime while admitting he had the best motive for it.

Then Professor Du Bois, introduced to the accused as a friend of the late Richford Mason, went to work. It made me laugh sardonically to hear the professor build up a case for "the subtle revivifying effects of music, that is, the vibrations we call music."

In his book, Backgrounds of Psychology, Professor Du Bois calls the ancients "misguided and misguiding interpreters of natural phenomena, with no just claim whatsoever to science." But to Rumster he said:

"The wise men of the ancient world, Asclepiades and Pythagoras, taught and demonstrated the profound effect of music upon the body. The sages of Egypt, indeed, went so far as to bring life to the dead, so it is reliably reported." He went on and on, citing the reports of travelers in the orient, and after that sank in, he mentioned the Bhutanese piper.

"One wise old man, who has astounded observers by his ability to infuse life into the recently dead with the magical music of his pipe, has been brought to this country." And he showed Rumster clippings from the sensational press, which of course had been inspired by the unscientific "experiments" of the mystic society.

Well, as the professor kept on, Rumster scoffed, but he was getting uneasy, perspiring, wondering. Then Professor Du Bois said, "Last night, after hearing of the marvelous success of this piper from Bhutan, we brought him to the bier of Richford Mason–to try him out–"

"And it worked!" Lieutenant Crane cut in.

"It worked?" Rumster yelled, and Lieutenant Crane growled:

"Yeah: That's what I said, and we got his word that you did it, murdered him!"

While Rumster chafed and squirmed,