The Project Gutenberg eBook of The Devil of East Lupton, Vermont, by William Fitzgerald

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Title: The Devil of East Lupton, Vermont

Author: William Fitzgerald

Illustrator: Vincent Napoli

Release Date: January 3, 2023 [eBook #69694]

Language: English

Produced by: Greg Weeks, Mary Meehan and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team at




[Transcriber's Note: This etext was produced from
Thrilling Wonder Stories August 1948.
Extensive research did not uncover any evidence that
the U.S. copyright on this publication was renewed.]

To this day nobody pretends to understand the Devil of East Lupton, Vermont. There are even differences of opinion about the end to which that devil came. Mr. Tedder is sure he was the fiend in question, and that he ceased to be fiendish when he rid himself of the pot over his head.

Other authorities believe that heavy ordnance did the trick, and point to a quarter-mile crater for proof. It takes close reasoning to decide.

But if by the Devil of East Lupton you mean the Whatever-it-was that came out of Somewhere to Here, and caused all the catastrophes by his mere arrival—why—then the Devil was the Whatever-it-was in the leathery, hide-like covering on the morning Mr. Tedder ran away from the constable.

On that morning, Mr. Tedder ran like a deer—or as nearly like a deer as Mr. Tedder could hope to run. The resemblance was not close. Deer do not hesitate helplessly between possible avenues of escape. Deer do not plunge out of concealing thickets to scuttle through merely shoulder-high brush because a pathway shows. But Mr. Tedder did.

The constable, behind him, shouted wrathfully. There was a thirty-day jail-sentence waiting for someone for vagrancy—which is to say, for not having any money. Mr. Tedder was elected.

He would not gain any money by staying in jail, but the constable who arrested him and the justice of the peace who sentenced him would receive fees for their activity. That was why this township was notoriously a bad place for tramps, bums, blanket-stiffs and itinerant workmen in need of a job.

"I can't go much further," Mr. Tedder thought. His heart thumped horribly. There was an agonizing stitch in his side. His breath was a hoarse, honking noise as it rushed in and out. Despair filled him as exhaustion neared.

He pounded, sobbing for breath, up a little ten-foot rise. His eyes tried to blur with tears. Then he lurched down the other side of the ridge and saw that he was in the neglected, broken-limbed orchard of an abandoned farm.

The house was partly collapsed and wholly ruined. A remaining shed leaned crazily. Vines climbed over a rail fence—three parts rotten—and went on along a strand of barbed wire nailed to tree-trunks.

He could run no further. He looked, despairing, for a hiding place. His haggard, ineffectual face turned desperately. He saw something dark and large. To his blurred eyes it looked like a cow. He ran toward it. It shrank back, stirring....

There was a thin, high screaming noise, like gas escaping through a punctured tire, but a tire inflated to a monstrous pressure. There was a vast, foggy vaporousness. The dark shape made convulsive movements, but Mr. Tedder was too lost in panic to take note. He ran blindly toward it.

"Ug!" gasped Mr. Tedder.

The scream descended in pitch. A pungent, ammoniacal smell filled the air. Mr. Tedder ran into a wisp of fog which tore at his lungs. He choked and fell—which was fortunate, because the air was clearer near the ground. He lay kicking among dead leaves and dry grass-stems while a gray vapor spread and spread, and a very gentle breeze urged it sidewise among the unkempt trees of the orchard.

Mr. Tedder ran into a wisp of fog which tore at his lungs.

The noise died away in a long-continued moan which included gurglings. It still sounded like gas escaping from very high pressure.

The gurglings were like spoutings of liquid within.

But Mr. Tedder was in no mood to analyze. He had been breathless to begin with. He had been strangled on top of that. Now he writhed in the dry grass, ready to sob because the constable would presently lay hands on him and haul him to jail.

He heard the constable shout again, furiously. Then Mr. Tedder heard him cough. The constable bellowed, "Fire!" and fled.

He ran into a tendril of wispy, creeping vapor which did look a lot like smoke. He fell down, strangling. Again the air was clearer among the tangled stalks of frost-killed grasses. The constable coughed and wheezed.

Presently he staggered away to report that a vagabond had set fire to the woods to hinder pursuit. But there was no fire. The chill vapor which looked like smoke very gradually dissipated. A cursory glance would send the fire-fighters home again.

Mr. Tedder lay sobbing and gasping on the ground, expecting at any instant to be seized. He panted in despair. But the constable did not reappear. He never returned. Mr. Tedder was alone, his escape good.

When he realized it, he sat up abruptly. His meek face expressed astonishment. He stared all about him. There was still a small space from which an ever-thinner gray vapor seeped away. There was a reek as of ammonia in the air—a highly improbable smell around an abandoned farmhouse.

Presently Mr. Tedder got to his feet. He brushed off the leaves and grass-stems which clung to his shabby garments. He was a few yards from a distinctly tumbledown woodshed and almost under a gnarled apple-tree to which a few leaves still clung, and where he could observe a single, dried-up apple clinging tenaciously to its parent bough.

The sight of the apple gave him pause. He hunted busily. He found windfalls. Untended, the apples would be wormy and small and belated at best. But Mr. Tedder had learned not to be over-fastidious. He found a dozen or more scrubby objects which were partly eatable. He ate them.

It was then that he heard a bubbling noise, like something boiling in a pot. The sounds came from the place where the gray mist rose. He went to the spot, and wrinkled his nose. The smell of ammonia was stronger. It seemed to come from a collapsed object on the ground which was remotely like a deflated hide. A liquid came from a small rent in it and bubbled furiously to nothingness.

A student of physics would have said that it had an extraordinarily low boiling-point, like a liquefied gas. Mr. Tedder said nothing. He regarded the flaccid skin-like thing surprisedly. He had seen it a little while since, inflated and moving about.

There must have been something inside it to move it.

Mr. Tedder could see, of course, where it had a tiny tear. It had moved or been moved back against a single strand of barbed wire, hidden among vine-stems. It had punctured, and there it was. But Mr. Tedder could never have imagined a creature which required an extremely cold gas like ammonia and hydrogen, mixed, at extremely high pressure, in order to live. He could not have conceived of such a creature wearing a flexible garment to contain that high-pressure, low-temperature gas for it to breathe. Assuredly he would never envision anything, beast or devil, which at released pressure and the temperature of a Vermont autumn day would melt to liquid and boil away to nothing.

"It don't make sense," he muttered, scratching his unkempt head.

So Mr. Tedder, who could not think comprehendingly, did not think at all. He saw something on the ground—no, two things. They were metal, and they smouldered and smoked like the flat thing, because they were cold. They were unbelievably cold. One looked rather like an aluminum pot. But pots do not have chilly linked-metal straps in the place of handles, nor hemispherical knobs, a good inch and a half in diameter, on one rim. The other object looked like a gun. Not a real gun, of course. But vaguely, approximately, like a gun just the same.

He picked up the pot. It was all of an inch and a half thick. It was very light for such a thickness. Mr. Tedder cheered suddenly. It was undoubtedly aluminum. There is a market for scrap aluminum. East Lupton was out of bounds, of course, but there might be a junk-dealer in South Lupton. This ought to be worth fifty cents, and he might get a quarter for it.

"Two bits is still two bits," he thought.

He touched the other thing gingerly. It was still bitterly cold, but the frost melted under the warmth of his finger. It would weigh fifteen pounds or so. Another twenty-five cents....

Mr. Tedder marched on happily. Then he came upon broken branches, freshly crushed down from trees. He saw another gray mist before him. He approached it cautiously. He saw where something had crashed down through the trees and knocked off the top of a six-inch maple. He pushed on inquisitively....

The thing had ploughed into soft earth and almost buried itself. A foot-thick tree was splintered and had crashed to cover the object that had broken it. Mr. Tedder saw whiteness through the toppled branches. It seemed to be a sphere not much over ten feet in diameter, and it was completely covered with frost. A chilly mist oozed away from it. Mr. Tedder stared at it with the metal pot in one hand and the gun—if it was a gun—in the other.

There was silence save for the faintly sibilant whispering of the trees overhead. There was the lurid coloring of Vermont in the fall. A bird called somewhere, a long distance away. Then Mr. Tedder heard a motor running. It sounded very queer.

"Thud-thud-thud-thud-CHUNK! Thud-thud-thud-thud-CHUNK!" It was running in the frost-covered sphere under the fallen tree.

"I'll be darned!" he said aloud.

It occurred vaguely to Mr. Tedder that this and the deflated object back yonder were somehow connected. He picked his way cautiously around the smashed branches and shattered trees. Well away, he felt cheerful because he had escaped the law and picked up salable junk. The two objects were pretty heavy, too. The pot would fit on his head, though, and would be easier to carry so. He put it over his battered soft hat and drew the chain-link strap under his chin. Then he examined the thing like a gun. There was a knob on one side, an inch and a half in diameter. He tugged at it.

There was a sharp buzzing sound. Something that looked like flame came out of the end. It spread out in a precisely shaped, mathematically perfect cone, and blotted out brushwood, trees—everything.

Mr. Tedder jerked the knob back, startled, on the first sounding of the noise. The flame-like appearance lasted less than half a second. But where the flame had played upon foliage and brush there wasn't anything left. Nothing at all but a little fine ash, sifting down toward earth. And the grass and topsoil were eaten away as if a virulent acid had been spilled over them.

Mr. Tedder stood frozen for the tenth part of a heartbeat. Then in one motion he threw away the gun and fled. The pot flopped down over his eyes, blinding him. He hit his head a terrific blow against a low-hanging limb. Instantly, it seemed to him, the chain-link strap tightened. He went almost mad with terror. But when he got the pot back so he could see, he fled with the heavy thing bobbing and bumping on his head.

Presently his own panting slowed him down. He remembered the knob on the rim of the pot. He stopped and fumbled with it. It came off in his hand with a crystalline fracture to show where it had broken in his first collision. He couldn't get the pot off.

He worked for a long time, sweating in something close to hysterical panic. He was terrified of the thing he had thrown away, and by transference, of the pot on his head. He desired passionately to be rid of it. He felt a sort of poignant desperation. But he would have to get somebody to cut the strap in order to be freed.

He came to the edge of the thicket beyond East Lupton. He looked out upon rolling country, undulating to the mountains' foot. There was a cluster of houses in the distance. Still terrified, and with the pot bumping on his head, Mr. Tedder struck out for the village.

He saw a tiny bundle of fur in his way. It was a dead rabbit. He passed on. He saw, very far ahead, a white dog running from a farmhouse to intercept him. But Mr. Tedder was not afraid of dogs. He was afraid of the pot on his head. Presently he saw the dog no more than ten feet away. It lay sprawled out, motionless. It looked dead. Then he saw the throb-throb of a heartbeat. It was asleep, or unconscious. He hastened on.

He came to the highway and ran toward a wagon for help. And there was a horse lying down between the shafts. The man in the wagon, too, had sagged limply. Both were alive, but both were unconscious.

"Something screwy here," he thought.

Mr. Tedder had his own terror, but this was an emergency even more immediate than his own. He tried to help the man. He did get him down to the road, and laid him solicitously on the dead-grass bank by the side of the road. He loosened his clothing and went on toward the village at a run to summon help. Afterward he would get the pot off his head.

But the village was unconscious, too, when he got there. Male and female, man, woman, child, and beast, the inhabitants of South Lupton lay in crumpled heaps.

He saw a small boy unconscious over a toy wagon. A woman had collapsed into a laundry-basket beside a clothes-line. A little farther on, a mule lay with its legs spraddled absurdly. Then he saw two men flung head-long as if they had been running when weakness overtook them. It began to look as if alarm had come to the village.

People had thronged out of their houses to fall in heaps on the sidewalk, at their doors—everywhere. He saw a car that had run into a gas-pump, and just beyond another car which had run off the road and stalled on a hillside. Dogs, cats, chickens—the very pigeons and crows lay motionless on the ground.

Mr. Tedder felt a horrible panic, and the pot on his head bumped him, but he tried desperately to rise to the emergency this situation constituted. He tried to rouse the unconscious people lying in the street. He loosened clothing, he sprinkled water, he chafed hands—to no avail. His meek, normally apprehensive features went consciously stern and resolute.

Presently he tried to summon help by telephone, but there was a local exchange and the operator lay unconscious in her chair. In the end, and in desperation, Mr. Tedder commandeered a bicycle on which to seek aid.

The essential rightness of his character was shown by the fact that he rifled no purses. He looted nothing. The Bank of South Lupton lay open to him, and it did not occur to him to fill his pockets. He got on a bicycle and rode off like mad, the absurd pot bobbing on his head as he pedaled.

He came to a car that had smashed into a ditch and turned over. Flames licked at its gasoline-tank. Mr. Tedder leaped off the bicycle and dragged out an unconscious man and a little girl. He hauled them to safety and tried to put out the fire. He failed.

He pedaled on madly in quest of a doctor, when attempts to rouse these two people failed as had all the rest. He was in a new panic now, somehow. He remembered, though vaguely, talk of a broadcast of years before concerning the landing of Martians upon the earth. Mr. Tedder was not quite sure whether Martians had landed or not, but somehow it suddenly frightened him to remember the frost-covered globe which had smashed trees in landing.

"You'd think I was Orson Welles or somebody," he gulped.

He reached the town of West Lupton. The names of towns in Vermont are not good evidence of Yankee ingenuity. The town itself was a tiny place of five hundred people. As he pedaled into it, it looked like the scene of a massacre. Its inhabitants lay unconscious everywhere. There were not even flies in the air.

Mr. Tedder did not give up for two full hours, during which he pedaled desperately in quest of some other conscious human being. By now his fear had come to be for himself, and it grew until it made him almost unaware of the ill-fitting, bumping pot upon his head. But at long last his teeth chattered.

"M-maybe," said Mr. Tedder quaveringly to himself, "I'm the only man left alive in these parts...."

With the terror came an impulse to hide. It was then late afternoon. It would soon be dark. He did not want to be in a town filled with still, not-dead forms after dark! He pedaled down a side road. It became a cart-track and climbed. It dwindled to a footpath. He dived into the obscurity of woodland as the shadows grew deep.

He came at last to an empty, rocky hilltop. Sunset was over. Only a lingering dim red glow remained in the west. Presently stars shone down. He looked up at them, sweating.

If that frost-covered thing had come from the stars, something from it—a sort of devil—had stricken down the hundreds of unconscious people Mr. Tedder had seen. Maybe it was getting ready for more of its kind. He stared upward and imagined other spheres swinging down out of the darkness overhead to gouge long furrows in the ground. Maybe such things were falling all over the world....

But he could look across-country for miles. Presently he saw joyfully that there were electric lights. He saw motorcar headlights on the highways. In particular, he saw that the very last town he had entered was now brightly lighted and there was traffic moving in and out....

"Well," he thought with relief. "Whatever it was, it ain't permanent." Come morning he would have somebody cut loose the pot from his head.

He could not find fuel to make a fire, but he snatched some fitful sleep toward dawn. He was bitterly cold when he woke, though, and at earliest daylight he made his way back toward town.

The dawn light was still gray and dreary when he reached it. The streets were empty. But there was a motor-truck stopped by a store, its motor purring. And there was a man tumbled in a heap above a bunch of big-city newspapers he had just put out of the truck for delivery. The man was alive, but unconscious. There was a cat in a motionless furry heap beside him, as if it had come out to rub against his legs and had collapsed without warning.

Mr. Tedder, shivering, turned the man over. He was insensible. He could not be roused. Mr. Tedder felt hysteria stirring within him. The pot hurt his head, now. The places where it rubbed most often were getting sore. Then he noticed the headlines.


Unexplained Mass Unconsciousness Strikes Countryside

In the gray twilight of dawn, with a softly purring truck behind him and before him an unconscious man, Mr. Tedder read.

South Lupton struck by strange, creeping unconsciousness that moved like a wall or an invisible flood of oblivion.... Entire village insensible for half an hour.... Some inhabitants undisturbed where they fell, others hauled about and pawed, but unharmed.... The same inexplicable insensibility moved along roads.... Man driving with his little daughter lost consciousness and came to to find his car overturned and burning, and himself and the little girl lying some distance away.... Farmers found their horses struggling up from unconsciousness....

Mr. Tedder's throat went dry. He looked around furtively. This town had born the look of a shambles yesterday, when he was here. From the hilltop he had seen it alive. But now it was dead again.... Suddenly he remembered a white dog that had come running toward him across a wide pasture. When he got to the dog it was unconscious....

"I wonder if...." He could not face the thought.

Mr. Tedder shivered. He almost whimpered. But after a little he picked up the unconscious man before him. He dragged him into the back of the truck. He drove clumsily and unaccustomedly out of the town. There was a long, straight stretch of road. Mr. Tedder went well out upon it. He stopped and let the unconscious man carefully down to the side of the road. He got back in the driver's seat and drove away. He watched through the back-view mirror.

When he was a little more than half a mile away, the still figure stirred, rolled over, and got dazedly upright.

Mr. Tedder swallowed noisily. He drove on a little way and found a place where he could turn. He headed back. The owner of the truck still stood bewildered in the road. Mr. Tedder drove toward him. When he was still half a mile away, the man crumpled up and lay in a heap on the road. He was a flaccid, limp, insensible figure when Mr. Tedder brought the truck to a stop and loaded him in again.

He turned once more and rode on toward South Lupton. Mr. Tedder's face was a sickly gray color. The meekness of his normal expression was replaced by an odd, fixed horror. He had found two things which he believed came from the frosted ten-foot sphere. One was a weapon which destroyed everything when a knob on its side was touched. The other was this pot, with a strap which now held it fast upon his head.

The pot was a weapon too. It did not affect the one who wore it. The tightening of the strap when it went on was to make sure—pure anguish sharpened Mr. Tedder's perceptions—that it could not fall off while it was operating. If it did, the person—or the devil—wearing it would fall a victim too. It did not fit a man because it was designed for the brain-case of something else, something Mr. Tedder had seen vaguely as a dark moving object backing into a rusty barbed wire strung between two trees. If the pot—or helmet—had been turned on then, Mr. Tedder would never have seen anything. He would have fallen unconscious a half-mile away....

He made a little sobbing noise in his throat. He drove unskillfully to South Lupton. One general store was open. He went into it and filled his pockets with canned food, a loaf of bread, and matches. He took two blankets from a shelf. He stepped carefully over the two clerks and four customers in the store. They were on the floor, of course. He walked out of the store and away from the little town.

"I got to get back there," he said unsteadily. "I got to!"

A long while later he strode across rolling pasture-land. A white dog ran to intercept him. He saw it as a distant white speck. When he came up to it, it was a still, senseless heap. He went on to the woods and into them. It took him two hours to find the gash blasted in the woods by the gun-like thing. Then it took him another half-hour to find the gun.

He shivered when he picked it up, and carried it gingerly, but he noted that the metal was deeply pitted now. On the side that was next to the damp earth, the metal was eaten away to a depth of a quarter of an inch or more.

He found the abandoned orchard, and the half-collapsed and wholly ruined house. Then he sat down and stared dully at nothing, trying to think of a solution to his predicament.

Night fell but he sat in a sort of lethargy of despair for a long while. Ultimately he rolled up in the blankets. The pot on his head was horribly uncomfortable. It had not been made for a human head, and it did not fit. Twice during the night, also, he woke with a feeling of strangulation. He had stirred in his sleep and the tight chin-strap had choked him. The second time he found himself close to the metal gun. He had almost touched it. He made an inarticulate sound, such as a man might make who found himself about to step on a rattlesnake.

He got up and found the well of the abandoned farm. He dropped a clod of earth in it. It splashed. He dropped in the gun-like thing. Bubbling sounds followed. They lasted a long time.

He stayed at the abandoned farm for three days, living on the canned stuff he had taken. His cheeks grew sunken and his eyes querulously pathetic. Also, a sore place started from the rubbing of the pot on his head. On the second day he found the frosted globe again. The motor in it still ran. "Thud-thud-thud-thud-CHUNK! Thud-thud-thud-thud-CHUNK!" There was no sign that anything had come out. Perhaps there had only been one Whatever-it-was in it, and that had succumbed to a rip in its artificial hide by a bit of barbed wire. No trace of that thing remained, now. It had evaporated.

"Jellyfish. Like jellyfish," he told himself.

Mr. Tedder did not think in scientific terms nor speculate from what planet or star the Whatever-it-was had come. If he had been told that on the planet Jupiter there was an atmosphere of ammonia and hydrogen under enormous pressure, it would have meant nothing to him. The suggestion that the specific gravity of the giant planet meant that only light metals like sodium, potassium, and lithium—all interacting readily with water—could exist there.... Such a suggestion would have had exactly no meaning at all.

His mind dwelt exclusively upon the fact that any human being who came within a half-mile of him must fall unconscious and remain so. To the human race he was a menace; a devil. And that if he should manage to get the thick and clumsy pot off his head, he too would fall unconscious and remain so. He was in the most horrible solitary confinement imaginable.

He was invulnerable, to be sure. He could rob with impunity and do murder without fear of any penalty. But nobody could speak to him. Ever.

On the fourth day he went into East Lupton for food.

On the fifth day aeroplanes flew overhead, back and forth. One suddenly went spinning, out of control, dipping down toward the treetops. It recovered, a bare few hundred feet up and three-quarters of a mile away. The planes disappeared.

On the sixth day bombs fell. The first racking explosions terrified him incomparably. He fled through the underbrush. He came out of it and saw soldiers. They made a cordon about an area of woodland probably two miles square. They toppled in unconscious heaps as Mr. Tedder drew near them, and as if that were a signal there were distant boomings and artillery shells fell close to where he peered out. Mr. Tedder ran away. He dodged shells and bombs until night fell, then he ran, weeping bitterly to himself.

"I ain't done nothing wrong!" The thought beat through his imprisoned head.

Of course the troops could not stop him. He pelted through their lines, unheeding. Presently he reached the village of East Lupton. No figures moved in it. Desperate, he entered it. There were many soldiers among the heaps of shallow-breathing, staring-eyed folk who lay slackly wherever unconsciousness had overtaken them.

Mr. Tedder found food, and wolfed it. The store in which he found it was a country-village general store and sold everything. Mr. Tedder was half-mad, now. The thing he wore was an intolerable burden. One of the sore places on his head from its rubbing was excruciatingly painful. It was infected. Other sore places were developing. And he was a sort of devil, working havoc wherever he moved. He took weapons—for which he had no need—and metal-cutting tools he would not dare to use.... And he saw newspapers.


He read the news account. The one-mile circle of insensibility had been deduced. Its cause was not understood, but it was certain that some sensate thing was its center. It moved. It had made definite travels and returned to its starting-point. Troops now cordoned the place where it nested restlessly, and artillery was being massed. A barrage that nothing could survive would presently be poured in....

Mr. Tedder looked at a powerful, sleek car. He could take it and go anywhere, and all of humanity was powerless to stop him—or to help him. Anyone who came near him would fall senseless. Even he, if he took off the thing on his head....

A motor-truck came rolling into the village, its driver stricken unconscious at the wheel. It seemed certain to roll on and on.

Mr. Tedder screamed at it. But something deflected its wheels. It curved sedately from the highway and plowed across a sidewalk and crashed into the corner of a house.

When the sun rose, Mr. Tedder was back at the abandoned farm which for no reason at all he considered his headquarters. His eyes were red with bitter weeping. His meek expression was utterly woebegone. But his determination was made.

Great bombers roared high overhead, so high they were mere specks. Things dropped from them. Boomings began, all around the horizon. Shells struck and blasted. The tumult, once begun, was unending.

Mr. Tedder cringed. Shaken and battered, he filed at the chain-link strap which held the pot on his head. The metal was soft, but the links shifted under his fingers, which trembled uncontrollably.

A shell burst fifty yards away. Mr. Tedder was moved to sheer hysteria. He could do no such fine work as filing. He took the snips he had appropriated the night before. Once the thing was off his head, he would know nothing; no terror, no pain; nothing at all. The pot which had ridden him like the Old Man of the Sea would kill him. But he wanted to be rid of it. He did not want to be near it even in death. "Just get it off me!" he shouted. He was a little mad now.

The earth shook under him. Blast-waves beat at him. Half-deafened, sobbing, he crawled to the well. He pulled at the rotten boards. He hung his head over the noisesome depth. He used the metal-snips—he had trouble getting them under the chain-link strap—to chew at the soft metal. The earth trembled under concussions. Bits of loose earth and rotted wood tumbled into the well from its edges.

The snips met triumphantly.... The pot tumbled down into the well and floated for a moment, rocking. Then it tilted and filled and sank. A thin, scummy veil of bubbles arose. Some light metals react readily with water. Potassium violently, sodium freely, lithium readily. The pot was of an alloy which would be highly useful where it was permanently too cold for water ever to turn liquid. But on earth....

Mr. Tedder sat up. He felt giddy; light-headed; incredibly relieved. But a shell fell thirty yards away, and a bomb exploded horribly just over the ridge, and something ripped through the half-collapsed house and exploded on beyond. There had been a devil in this woods. The devil of East Lupton, Vermont. The artillery searched for it, to exorcise it, but Mr. Tedder was not unconscious.

"It's gone!" he cried joyfully. "And I'm okay now."

It would never occur to him that designers of a weapon who planned for the tightening of a fastening-strap when it was turned on, so that it could not possibly make its own wearer a victim, would also arrange for it to be turned off if the fastening-strap should be broken or cut. It would be the most obvious of safety devices.

But Mr. Tedder's intellectual processes would never grasp such a thing. He simply knew that he was not unconscious and that the bombardment went on. It was overwhelming. It was maddening. Mr. Tedder put his hands over his ears and wept, cringing to the earth and awaiting death.

Then the earth seemed to buckle beneath him. It raised up and dealt him a violent blow. Over where the frosted sphere lay self-buried in the ground, there was a sudden, incredible, impossible flare. A shell had hit the enigmatic globe in which an untended motor had run so long. The sphere exploded.

The violence of the explosion suggested power much greater than anything human. The fuel-store of the sphere must have detonated. It made a crater a quarter-mile across, and every least fragment of the sphere itself was atomized and destroyed.

The explosion seemed to the military to mark the death of something spectacular. They stopped the barrage and explored.

They found Mr. Tedder unconscious. He was sleeping as if drugged, from reaction to the end of strain. Near him there was a caved-in well which, of course, was not worth digging out.

It was assumed that Mr. Tedder had remained unconscious through all the career of the Devil of East Lupton, Vermont. He was hospitalized, and kindly told what had happened, and ultimately turned loose with a new suit of clothes and a five-dollar bill. And Mr. Tedder disappeared into the vast obscurity of the world of tramps, bums, blanket-stiffs and itinerant workmen.

And to this day nobody pretends that they really understood anything about the Devil of East Lupton, Vermont. There are even marked differences of opinion concerning its ending. Mr. Tedder thinks he was the Devil, and that he somehow ceased to be fiendish when he got the pot off his head. Other authorities think that heavy ordnance destroyed the Devil, and point to a quarter-mile crater as proof.

But if by the Devil of East Lupton you mean the Whatever-it-was that came out of the somewhere into the here and caused all the catastrophes by his mere arrival.... Why, in that case, and strictly speaking, the Devil of East Lupton, Vermont, was the Whatever-it-was which was in a leathery, hide-like garment or pressure-suit the morning Mr. Tedder ran away from the constable. And that Devil was destroyed by a rusty barb on a forgotten, vine-grown strand of barbed wire which was strung between two trees on an abandoned farm. And it was killed long before so much as the existence of a Devil in those parts was suspected.

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