In reading a Doc Savage adventure today a certain passage caught my eye.
But he seemed somehow quite familiar to them because of the buckskins he was wearing, the coonskin cap and buckskin shirt and trousers and leggings, the long rifle he was carrying, the powder horn slung across his shoulders.
Well yes, I thought, there was a very familiar ring to this description. It was August 1934 and only the eighteenth adventure in the series. Memories of a ruthless and dangerous foe solidified into a spectral image of a ghostly figure dressed as described above — the Squeaking Goblin! Even though it sounds appropriate for The Squeaking Goblin, the above quote comes from Terror Takes 7. More on that story later, for now let’s talk about the Goblin.
The passage got me to thinking more about this favorite tale. There were a couple of technical details that always intrigued me early in the story when Chelton Raymond’s yacht is moored in the vicinity of Bar Harbor, Maine. The first appearance of the Goblin seems to put Chelton Raymond in too many places too quickly. One minute he on the shore shooting at the yacht and the next he is back on the boat. Not only did he have to swim out to the boat underwater and get aboard undetected, he had to also change from the Goblin costume and dry off.
The next incident occurs shortly afterwards when the detectives onshore discover the Goblin creeping around. They are struck by the fact that his clothes are dry. This is very fast work for one man.
The next quirk happens when Chelton Raymond is “killed” by the Squeaking Goblin. Everyone hears the unique report of the Goblin’s rifle. After we eventually learn Raymond was actually the Squeaking Goblin, it would seem that he fired that shot when he was lying in the boat. Yet, no one saw him pitch the rifle overboard. This seems odd. Exactly who did fire that shot?
Doc and his men fly back to Raymond’s yacht after spending some time searching for Jug Snow and his men. Practically as soon as Doc and his men arrive on the yacht, Monk spots the Squeaking Goblin. During the excitement, the contents of Raymond’s private safe disappear and the Squeaking Goblin makes a clean getaway.
How exactly did Chelton Raymond, who is really the Goblin, get back to his yacht so fast? Even considering the time lost by Doc and his men searching for Jug Doc feels confident they can still beat Jug back to Raymond’s yacht. So, it seems unlikely that Chelton Raymond has had sufficient time to get back to the vicinity of his yacht, hide his boat, and swim underwater to his craft.
There is no mention of a boat when Doc and his crew fly in. Surely that fact would have been mentioned in the story if there were indeed any type of craft moored to the yacht. If Raymond came by car he still had to swim from shore. Plus the fact that he had to get from the place where he was supposedly killed — an island — to a car in the first place. Remember, before landing at the yacht, Doc’s men searched the cove with binoculars from the air, looking for Jug. If a car was close by, it seems they would have noticed it from the air. How do we account for this?
One possible explanation would be an accomplice, some person who was fully aware of the Squeaking Goblin mystery and completely in on it. This individual could account for the Goblin being in so many places, so quickly. Who could such a person be? Perhaps a Mr. R. Jones-Field, who has a summer home on an island off the Maine coast, who has a leather stocking outfit complete with coonskin hat? The same Mr. Jones-Field who plays a significant role in Terror Takes 7.
Exactly what kind of person is Mr. Jones-Field? The reader learns exactly the kind of person Jones-Field is. He is a thief and would-be murderer. The account Jones-Field tells about his relative, Cultus Field, is a smoke screen. It is a lie. It is also very different from the one told earlier by Cultell about the suit belonging to an ancestor who was cursed. This is a considerably different version from that later told by Jones-Field where he explains it away as a joke.
Jones-Field has made a fatal mistake in keeping his Squeaking Goblin costume. It is true he viewed it as a good luck piece. It was a charm to him, he thought. He was one of an exceptional class, someone who had mixed it up with Doc Savage and escaped unscathed and unseen. Jones-Field is the unknown accomplice who aided Chelton Raymond. He escaped once but like all too many criminals he wanted more. His insatiable greed has led to a second encounter with the Man of Bronze. This outcome is considerably different from their first meeting. Justice has finally caught up with Mr. Jones-Field.