by A21 Reporter Andy Clems
The Baker’s hand was almost at the release for the case. Matthew reached forward and hit a button on his miniature control panel. A tiny red light illuminated to show the latches had been sealed.
The Baker pressed the latch. Matthew held his breath. The case remained closed. Through the tiny periscope, Matthew saw a flicker of annoyance on the Baker’s face. He tried again, but the case refused to open. The Baker turned to his associate, made his apologies and explained that he would send a photostatic copy of the information by secure means shortly.
Their meeting adjourned, The Baker’s Dozen began the arduous task of disembarking their lair. This process had been as carefully planned as the security measures guarding the premises. In order so as not to arouse suspicion for anyone who may have been watching outside, the members would leave in pairs at 15 minute intervals. Finally, only the Baker himself remained. He shut off the lights and checked the security devices one by one as he left.
Matthew, still safe inside the briefcase, breathed a sigh of relief as he glimpsed the moonlit evening outside. Stuck in the middle of the veritable hood’s convention had rattled him more than he would have liked to admit. Now that the Baker was alone, he felt more reassured.
The Baker reached his car, put the case on the rear shelf and climbed into the driver’s seat. He was careful not to rush away, but accelerated slowly, another of his careful precautions to avoid drawing unwanted attention.
Now lying on his side, Matthew peered through the periscope of the case. By chance, he was angled towards the rear window of the vehicle. Matthew smiled as he caught sight of the innocent looking yellow Model-T Ford pulling out of a side-road far behind with its headlamps doused. He knew that Father Unwin would be at the wheel, listening intently to the homing device secreted in the case.
As if on cue, Unwin’s voice floated through the speaker grille and asked if Matthew was alright. Matthew replied in the affirmative, apologising for being out of contact while in the underground lair. They had anticipated that the top-secret meeting room would be screened against radio waves, so neither of them had been surprised by the lack of contact.
The moonlit pursuit continued for another half an hour, until eventually the Baker’s car turned into a driveway leading to a large house. Father Unwin stopped short of the driveway and climbed out of his trusty automobile, creeping along the shadowy tree-lined side of the approach. He was just in time to see the Baker carry his case inside and shut the door. A light went on in one of the side windows a moment later.
Unwin crept up to the house and peered in through the study window. The Baker was working at a complex looking machine, something like a teleprinter crossed with an electronic computer. He turned to the the case lying on the table and tried once more to open it. Still the case remained shut.
Father Unwin slipped around the front of the house and pulled the old-style bell chord by the front door, then swiftly made his way back to the side window,
He was just in time to see the Baker pull a pistol from his desk and leave the room, heading for the entrance hall. At the same moment, the case on the desk began to open and in a flash Matthew had emerged. He jumped down from the desk and swiftly climbed one of the curtains by the window. When he was near enough, he reached for the lock on the window frame and with a soft click it slid back. Father Unwin raised the window and hurried inside.
Taking a small camera from his pocket, he began to photograph the equipment by the desk while Matthew stood watch. At the sound of the front door closing, Matthew leapt out of sight and Father Unwin stored the camera in his pocket once more.
The door of the room swung open and the Baker entered. At first he was shocked, but soon recovered. The muzzle of his pistol was pointed right at Father Unwin’s heart.
But before he could utter a single syllable, Matthew had fired his own miniature gun, knocking the pistol out of the Baker’s hands. The Baker stared around him, bewildered. Father Unwin took the chance to approach from behind and clamp a pair of steel cuffs around the villains wrists.
With the head of the organisation in police custody, and photographic records of the equipment and other members of the gang, it didn’t take long for the Bishop’s operatives to track down the rest of the Baker’s Dozen. The ring has been smashed and countless lives saved.
Our thanks to Father Unwin and Matthew for a job well done!