The Twentieth Century

In 1900 a "Fuermosi," or Great Detective Syndrome (see my "You are NOT Sherlock Holmes" article) sufferer, left China and traveled to India and Tibet, searching out fakirs who could teach him skills which would help him become the equal of the Great Detective himself. This man, later known as Sir Ralf Clifford, was taught how to move invisibly, and when he debuted in the West, in 1905, he used this ability to great effect. I believe that Sir Ralf Clifford was found by Mr. Am's organisation, who gave him this ability once they determined that he would do good and not evil with it.

In 1901 the man later known as “Anton Zarnak” left Europe and traveled to Tibet, where he spent the next two decades being instructed by the “masters of A’alshirie” in the ways of the occult. “Zarnak” was a former leader of the Tcho-Tcho, but had left them and moved to Europe. However, following the murder of his wife and child by a werewolf he returned to his native East and began learning how to fight occult evils. Like Rocambole before him, his search for knowledge led him to the lamas of Mr. Am, who taught him the skills he would use for the next several decades.

In 1901 the American adventurer Jack Wright, traveling across India with his friends in his new dirigible, clashed with a group of Thugs and stole a diamond from an idol (and destroyed the idol itself for its gold) before returning to the United States. Interestingly, this adventure took place not long before his disappearance in the Alaskan city, and it may be that the beings in the city were the true owners of the diamond and the idol and punished Wright for the destruction of the idol.

In the early years of the first decade of the Twentieth Century an English couple in India entrusted much of their son's time to their Pathan bearer, Yussuf Khan. The child, John Meredith, was heavily influenced by Khan, and learned from him what he later called "the elementary principles of yoga." Khan, as it turned out, was an agent of British Intelligence, and John Meredith followed Khan's lead, solving various strange cases before World War Two and then, during the war, acting as a sleeper agent for British intelligence in Germany itself. Meredith's mental abilities were paranormal in nature, and I believe that Khan, Meredith's teacher, learned them from Mr. Am's lamas and may have been an agent for them, perhaps so that Mr. Am and his organisation could be sure that British Intelligence in India were acting in proper ways.

Sometime in 1904 or 1905 a Western orphan abandoned in Tibet or China and taken in to one of Mr. Am's bases began studying with one of Mr. Am's lamas. Mr. Am's organisation had a well-earned reputation for taking in the many orphans that China and the Indian sub-continent produced, and the sub-Deccan famine of the 1870s, the Boxer Rebellion, and the years afterward were unfortunately bumper crop years for orphans. It is believed that the Western orphan's parents were killed during the Boxer Rebellion. The Western orphan studied at the lamasery throughout his childhood, adolescence, and into his early adulthood. He eventually returned to the West and gained fame there in 1934 as “Mandrake the Magician.” Mandrake, like Jethro Dumont and Rocambole and many others, was the recipient of great powers from lamas working for Mr. Am. Unlike most of these other heroes, however, part of Mandrake’s past in Tibet eventually caught up to him, as Mandrake’s former teacher, a man formerly known as "Luciphor" and latern known as the “Cobra,” turned to evil and began hounding Mandrake. We can speculate as to the Cobra’s true nature; was he evil all along, and perhaps a plant by the Nine Unknown in one of Mr. Am’s lamaseries, or did he turn evil only after seeing his former pupil surpass him? We will never know for sure; the story that he was disfigured in a laboratory accident and, embittered, turned to evil smacks more of a writer's craft than of realism. Interestingly, however, the Cobra shares certain qualities, including ruthlessness and seemingly magical powers, with another man: the Asp, one of Oliver Warbucks’ assistants and possibly one of Warbucks’ killers. Perhaps the Asp, like Mandrake and the Cobra, is a product of Am’s lamaseries–but where the Cobra gave in to the seduction of evil, the Asp stayed good, albeit virtually without mercy?

In 1905 a German adventurer encountered a series of fantastic and evil foes in India. Many of these enemies were supernatural, or seemed to be, and it is clear that this adventurer (whose name was not recorded in the serial biography about him, Around the Indian Imperial Crown) was fighting against the forces of the Nine Unknown.

In 1906 the British detective Gordon Keith came to the attention of the British public with a series of highly-publicized cases which he successfully solved. As Keith’s biographer wrote in the pages of Brave and Bold, Keith had spent some years in India, training to be a detective and learning various skills, including a great ability at disguise. Interestingly, his similarity to Sexton Blake was marked, and the pair are so similar, in personality and operating methods, as to raise suspicions. Although it was not obvious at the time, at the remove of some decades it is clear that Keith transformed himself into a copy of Blake, down to his appearance, in order to capitalise on the fame of his better known colleague. I believe that Keith, while in India, was trained by agents of Mr. Am and used his skill at disguise to copy Sexton Blake, in much the same way that many detectives at the time copied Sherlock Holmes (see my “You are NOT Sherlock Holmes” article ).

In 1907 the Indian detective Rama Singh began to attract national attention in India. He, like many another detective of the era, was skilled at disguise, almost unnaturally so, and I believe that, like Gordon Keith, he was trained by agents of Mr. Am.

In that same year American adventurer Nick Carter had two curious adventures in the sub-continent. The first, in Tibet, involved Carter’s discovery of a “lost city” in the Tibetan Himalayans. The inhabitants of the lost city possessed a very advanced science and were very xenophobic. The second adventure involved Carter venturing into a “sacred valley” in Nepal which he discovered was inhabited by a blond people ruled by a woman named Idayah. The natives of the valley were masters of a very advanced science and possessed superhuman abilities. Like the inhabitants of the Tibetan lost city, they were xenophobic, and in both cases Carter had to fight his way to freedom. I believe that both cities were in reality bases for the forces of the Nine Unknown and that Carter’s biographer, Frederic Dey, was forced to conceal their more unpleasant aspects. Many biographers of the unknown history of the world were forced to censor their own work in this way, including many of the men and women mentioned in this article. Another example of this was Maurice Champagne, whose Les Sondeurs d'Abime, about one of the Nine Unknown's subterranean bases in Tibet, was changed by Champagne to make the end result more palatable to the reading public.

The following year a further blow was struck in the ongoing Mars-Earth war, this time by humanity. An American engineer named Robert Darvil traveled to Mars with the help of a Hindu prince and the combined psychic energy of several thousand Indian fakirs. On Mars Darvil battled with a variety of monstrous Martian natives. Given the hostility of the Martians toward Earth, and their possible links with the Old Ones, I believe that the Indian fakirs who provided Darvil with his psychic spaceship were part of Mr. Am’s forces, and that the Hindu prince may have been Mr. Am himself in disguise. This attack may have proven to be very successful, for later that year Mr. Am's organisation repeated it, sending the French engineer and inventor Serge Myrandhal to Mars by the same means. It is not known whether the "Rajah of Almowrat" who aided Serge Myrandhal was the same individual who aided Robert Darvil, but it seems likely.

1908 also saw the French child adventurer and detective Toto Fouinard duel with a group of “Hindu” fanatics–really agents of the Nine Unknown–in Paris.

In 1909 the famous Hindu mystic Sar Dubnotal began his activities in Europe. Dubnotal, a man of many superhuman abilities, was (in his own words) "instructed in the school of the brahmins and the most famous Hindu yogis.” I believe Sar Dubnotal was a product of Mr. Am’s lamaseries, like Anton Zarnak before him and several others to come.

In 1910 the noted American Secret Service agent, Aurelius Smith, went to India in search of a man who’d plotted against the American government. Once Smith completed that assignment he was permanently seconded to the British Criminal Intelligence Department, and fought the enemies of civilisation and the Crown (not necessarily in that order) across the sub-continent. In 1930 Smith returned to New York City and began work as a consulting detective. All during this time Smith was greatly assisted by Langa Doonh, a Sikh whose life Smith had once saved. Doonh, a man of exceptional capabilities and enormous contacts across the sub-continent, was devoted to Smith, as Smith’s biographer, R.T.M. Scott shows, but the amount of effort Doonh went to for Smith, and the length of his service with Smith, was somewhat excessive, especially considering that Doonh, by a rough estimate, saved Smith’s life three times for every time that Smith saved Doonh’s life. I believe that Doonh was an operative for Mr. Am and that he was placed with Aurelius Smith initially to make sure that Smith was not in India to do harm and then to watch over Smith and to help him do good.

There is some speculation that Hurree Jamset Ram Singh, the Sikh student at Greyfriars School, was one of Mr. Am’s moles, but there is no evidence for this.

In 1913 the Nine Unknown, finally reacting to the repeated victories of Mr. Am’s forces, began attempting to extend their influence into the West. Kathlyn Hare, the American heiress, was threatened by the Delhi crime boss Umballah, a man now known to have been in the employ of the Nine Unknown. And in 1914 Hassam Ali, a supernaturally-empowered Hindu mystic, threatened America, as related (in a fictionalised version) in the film Zudora. Both Umballah and Hassam Ali were defeated and slain in the end, however, and the Nine Unknown’s efforts were wasted.

In 1914, in India, Aurelius Smith and Langa Doonh found and defeated Jerome Cardan, the so-called "Black Magician" and an agent of the Nine Unknown.

In 1915 Hans Stark, the German adventurer and flier, clashed with a group of Thuggees in India. Stark while active in the war for the Germans, was a true free agent and spent as much time adventuring around the world as he did flying above the Eastern and Western Fronts, and at his heart he was a good man. Thus when he found a group of Thuggees, he destroyed them. We may never know whether he knew they were linked with the Nine Unknown and the Old Ones.

In 1916 an English teenager named James Bigglesworth, the child of English parents, left India, where he’d been born and raised, and went to England, where he began fighting the Germans during the War. He became perhaps the greatest English air ace of his generation, and went on to a long and illustrious career as “Biggles,” an adventurer, flier, and agent for the British Secret Intelligence Service. While Biggles’ career is fairly well-documented by his biographer, William E. Johns, I do not believe it out of the question that Biggles was influenced during his upbringing by Mr. Am’s organisation, perhaps only third- or fourth-hand through friends of Biggles’ parents.

Later in 1916 the American scientist, occultist, and mystic Dr. Payson Alden prevented the Black Order, a group of pseudo-Rosicrucians, from using their various mental abilities to revealing their presence to the world. Alden carried the war to the Black Order and destroyed them. Both Alden and the Order possessed a variety of mentally-based powers, and it seems clear that the battle between the Order and Alden was an extension of the Nine Unknown-Mr. Am war into America.

Sometime after this, perhaps in 1917 or 1918, Oliver Warbucks, an American orphan who later gained fame as the “richest man in the world,” was traveling through India when he met the man who would become his life-long friend and companion: Punjab. Punjab, an Indian of so-far unrevealed ethnicity (Muslim? Hindu? Sikh? Jain? No one knows), accompanied Warbucks through decades of the most dangerous adventures with never a complaint. Punjab displayed unflagging energy, great strength, skill with his sword, and a “magic cloak” which gave him the ability to transport others to other locations and perhaps even dimensions.

The origin of the cloak was never revealed, nor was Punjab’s background ever explored. I believe that Punjab was an agent of Mr. Am’s lamasery system, perhaps even trained by Mr. Am themselves. Harold Gray, Warbucks’ biographer, portrayed the interaction between Mr. Am and Punjab in a very curious light, and I do not believe it unreasonable to suppose that there was a previous relationship between Mr. Am and Punjab that Gray never revealed.  Certainly the “magic cloak” bespeaks a high level of technology, far beyond what Punjab and even Warbucks would be capable of buying or inventing, but not beyond the abilities of Mr. Am or his lamas.

As a side note, a number of scholars have wondered at the recently revealed association, some time during the 1930s, between Warbucks and Shiwan Khan, the infamous enemy of the Shadow. These scholars have wondered at any alliance between Warbucks, an old-fashioned American arch-conservative, and Khan, an Asian bent on world domination. And these scholars have also wondered at how Warbucks and Punjab survived the ending of their involvement with Khan, when Khan’s minions turned on Warbucks and Punjab.

The truth is relatively easily reached. Warbucks, a very cunning and hard man, anticipated betraying Khan when it was most advantageous to. Warbucks was a patriotic American and would never dream of betraying his country, especially to the likes of Khan. Khan merely double-crossed Warbucks first. While the fictionalised account of the alliance between Warbucks and Khan portrayed the death of Warbucks and Punjab, it is clear from later history that the pair survived. I surmise that Warbucks and Punjab survived either by taking advantage of Punjab’s “magic cloak” and teleporting away, or that the pair were later resurrected by Mr. Am, something Mr. Am would do for Punjab again in later years.

In 1919 Cuthbert Vanady, the notorious American thief the “Gray Phantom,” ran afoul of Mr. Am’s forces by engineering the theft of the Russian crown jewels. Unfortunately for Vanady, part of the crown jewels was the Koh-i-tur, the fabled gem that had formerly been the eye of an idol in Dabaredyh in India. Following Vanady’s theft of the Koh-i-tur a number of misfortunes befell him, misfortunes that seemed supernatural in nature, including the loss of his little finger and the murder of his servant Dulla. Finally Vanady was confronted by the Voice and the Hand, an Indian woman, who appeared and reclaimed the Koh-i-tur. In later stories written by Vanady’s biographer Herman Landon Vanady’s little finger and Dulla both reappeared. It is clear that the Koh-i-tur was the property of Mr. Am’s forces and that the Voice and the Hand used her advanced technology to first punish Vanady and then heal him and Dulla, a feat not beyond Mr. Am’s abilities. Interestingly, this, incident mirrors that of the 1868 case in which the famous English detective Sergeant Cuff was called in to investigate the theft of an Indian "moonstone," or pearl. While there is no chance that the Koh-i-tur was the same gem as the moonstone, it may be that the moonstone was part of the same idol from which the Koh-i-tur was illegally pried.

In an interesting bit of historical synchronicity--that, or as part of a Nine Unknown plot--another valuable gem was stolen in 1919. This one was also a diamond, but was not the eye of an idol but was rather the "head of Buddha," the top of a statue that would reportedly grant its bearer "mastery of Asia." The truth was that the diamond was part of a statue of the Buddha, and that it was valued, as the statue itself was, by countless millions of Buddhists in Asia, so that when Kay Hoog, an American sportsman and adventurer, went after the diamond the forces of Mr. Am set out to stop him. Unfortunately, Lio-Sha, an agent for the Nine Unknown, was also searching for the diamond, wishing to keep it for her masters. Hoog eventually triumphed over Lio-Sha and gained possession of the diamond. What the filmed fictionalisation of this battle does not mention, however, is that Hoog was "persuaded," as the Gray Phantom was, to return the diamond to its rightful owner.

In 1919 Jethro Dumont, an American veteran of World War One, left the West to seek peace and solitude in Tibet. He returned to America years later a full-fledged Lama, and once there, shocked at the amount of crime in America’s cities and towns, used his powers and weapons to fight crime and evil as the “Green Lama.” Again we see–and not for the last time--the pattern of a Westerner coming to Tibet, gaining powers, and returning to the West and becoming a powerful enemy of evil. Mr. Am’s lamas did their work well, in the case of the Green Lama.

And late in 1919 the American adventurer Peter Moore, better known as “Peter the Brazen,” fought and defeated Fong-Chi-Ah, a Nine Unknown agent controlling a large crime empire along the India-China border.

In 1919 or 1920 the American adventurer and pilot Richard Wentworth traveled to India, where he gained the service of Ram Singh. Singh, a Sikh of great capabilities, was of enormous help to Wentworth, especially during the 1930s, when Wentworth posed as the vigilante the Spider. There is no direct evidence linking Singh to Mr. Am's group, and Singh seems to have joined Wentworth of his own free will, but Singh may have been directed, at third or fourth-hand, towards Wentworth by Mr. Am and his associates.

In the beginning
Before the Twentieth Century
The Twentieth Century
The 1920s
The 1930s
The 1940s & Afterward

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