by Dave Barnowski
Dapper Dan Daniels had told the Batman the room number at the Ritz-Carlton where the photographs and negatives of his uncle were. As Bruce Wayne, he’d had many friends stay at the Ritz-Carlton and knew the hotel’s system of numbering the rooms. This was how he was able to go directly to the suite from the outside. Once there, he reconnoitered the suite instead of rushing in, and saw a man packing his clothes in a hurry.
Night and the temperature had both fallen. The Batman stayed in the shadows as he continued to watch what he thought was an unknown fifth member of the Dapper Dan Daniels Gang. When the man went to the wall safe, Batman prepared to strike. Batman unlocked the door to the balcony with ease as the man inside opened the wall safe. The Caped Crusader silently walked into the suite as the man took out two envelopes. “I’ll take those,” the Dark Knight said in his most intimidating voice.
The faux Frenchman swung around quickly with his left foot kicking out toward the voice. The Batman tried to duck out of the way, but received a glancing blow and fell backward out onto the balcony. The faux Frenchman kicked again at the Batman, but missed as the Caped Crusader backflipped away from his opponent to get his bearings and take the measure of his opponent.
The faux Frenchman was up on the balls of his feet as he came out onto the balcony. The Frenchman was wary of the Dark Knight and had one eye out for Robin as he neared the Batman. As he approached, he said in French, “I did not expect you to be involved with the likes of Philip Wayne. Perhaps what they say about you and your young partner are true, eh?” The man had heard that the Batman had spent some time in France and spoke the language, and hoped his query would anger the Dark Knight so that he would make a mistake. (*)
[(*) Editor’s note: See Batman, Detective Comics #31 (September, 1939) and Batman, Detective Comics #34 (December, 1939).]
The Batman merely smiled a vicious smile and said, in fluent French, “Believe what you wish.”
The two men began circling one another, looking for an advantage. The Batman had seen the speed with which his unknown opponent kicked out at him and wanted to take a little more of his measure before taking him down. The minute the man had spoken to him in French, the Dark Knight knew he was facing the leader of the gang of blackmailers. Bruce Wayne was going to enjoy talking this particular criminal down, and he was going to take him down hard. He smiled when the faux Frenchman followed him out onto the balcony, because the floor of the balcony had a thin layer of ice in spots and was slippery, which wasn’t good for someone using Savate as a fighting style.
The faux Frenchman attacked first with a series of kicks alternating between the Batman’s head and knees. The Dark Knight parried these blows and countered with several punches of his own. Neither one had landed a clean blow on the other.
Suddenly, his opponent changed tactics and kicked Batman solidly in the ankle, quickly going to follow up with a blow to the head. But Batman anticipated the attack and grabbed hold of the man’s foot as he ducked his head out of the way. Then, with his other arm, Batman drove his elbow into the knee of the master of Savate, cracking the faux Frenchman’s patella.
The supposed Frenchman cried out in pain and swore in English. This surprised the Batman, and while he didn’t let go of his opponent’s foot, he did momentarily loosen his grip. It was just enough for the now-revealed phony Frenchman to escape Batman’s grasp.
“Had enough?” asked the grim-faced Batman.
The false Frenchman was hopping on one leg, as he couldn’t put any weight on the other. He nodded yes. When he thought the Batman had relaxed, the man lashed out with both feet in an attempt to knock out the Caped Crusader. He misjudged the Batman, as the Dark Knight easily avoided the attack. The phony Frenchman also misjudged how close they were to the edge of the balcony. His momentum carried him over the side and down fifteen stories to his death.
The Batman left the Ritz-Carlton Hotel after he inspected the open wall safe. Inside were two large manila envelopes. Batman could tell just by the feel of them, and he could see from the outside, that both envelopes contained film negatives and probably eight by ten photographs. He took a chance that these were the evidence against his uncle and didn’t open the envelopes, because he wanted to respect his uncle’s dignity. It was a gamble, but the Dark Knight reasoned that it was a safe bet. There was nothing else in the safe.
The Caped Crusader left the suite the same way he came in and headed toward his uncle’s townhouse by going over the roofs of buildings or swinging on a rope between the streets of Gotham City. When he arrived on the block of his uncle’s townhouse, he saw several police cars and policemen standing about the building as they did whenever they were investigating an active crime scene.
The Batman wanted to go down to his uncle’s house immediately, but instead headed directly to the car he had driven into the city. The Batman was still officially wanted by the police. Although he was beginning to have a good working relationship with Police Commissioner Gordon, the two men kept their relationship quiet. He would have to arrive there as Bruce Wayne.
Bruce drove the car to his uncle’s street as soon as he changed his clothes. He was stopped by a policeman until he showed him his driver’s license; the Wayne name carried a lot of weight in Gotham City. Bruce parked his car and went to the townhouse. Waiting there at the front stairs was Commissioner James W. Gordon himself. The policeman who stopped Bruce had quickly passed the word that he had arrived on the scene, and a man of Bruce Wayne’s importance had to be dealt with by the highest-ranking officer on the spot. The fact that Bruce and the commissioner were friends didn’t hurt, either.
Bruce was racing from his car when he saw Jim Gordon and began to fear the worst. “What happened?” he said when he reached the commissioner.
“Calm down, Bruce. There has been an apparent attempted break-in of your uncle’s house.”
“Where is he?
“At Mercy General Hospital.” When he saw the look on Bruce’s face, Commissioner Gordon quickly added, “He’s all right, Bruce. But the gunmen pistol-whipped the butler, and your Uncle Philip insisted on going to the hospital with him.”
Bruce calmed himself down immediately when he heard that his uncle was all right. Bruce again asked the commissioner what had happened.
“Well, two men knocked on the door of your uncle’s townhouse and attacked the butler when he opened the door. They then rushed in. Your uncle heard the noise their brutal entrance made and went to see what the matter was. He took a gun with him. A good thing, too, because these thugs were both armed. Your uncle confronted the gunmen, and the two crooks tried to shoot him.
“Your uncle’s quite an excellent shot, Bruce. He fired his gun only twice, and both bullets hit their marks. Philip Wayne hit both men, killing them nearly instantly. One of them got off a shot, but it missed your uncle.”
“Do you know who these men were?”
“Yes. They were one-half of the Dapper Dan Daniels Gang. And that’s the odd thing; I just received a report that the other half was killed on the other side of town, and that the damned Batman was involved somehow,” replied the commissioner as he lit a cigarette.
Bruce Wayne went directly to Mercy General Hospital himself after talking with Commissioner Gordon, who had offered gave him a police escort. Normally Bruce would have declined, but he wanted to get to his uncle as soon as possible, and he took the police commissioner up on his offer.
When he arrived, he quickly found out what room his Uncle Philip’s butler was in. Bruce entered the room and found his Uncle Philip and his chauffeur Anthony sitting by the bed of the unconscious butler, Julius. Philip stood up and went to Bruce as soon as he saw him, saying, “Bruce! Thank goodness you’re all right.”
The two men hugged one another and smiled with great relief that the other was safe and sound. Although he believed James Gordon when he told him that his uncle was all right, Bruce still worried about his uncle until he saw him for himself. “How’s Julius?” Bruce asked.
“They cracked his skull, but the doctor says he should be all right. The next twenty-four hours will tell for sure, though.”
“I’m sorry, Uncle. Are you going to stay here or return home? You could stay with me, if you like.”
“I hadn’t really thought about it. My whole concern has been about poor Julius.” Then Philip dropped his voice to a bare whisper, so his chauffeur wouldn’t hear. “And I’ve been sick with worry about you, too, Bruce. Did you get the photographs and negatives?”
Bruce nodded affirmative and whispered back, “I’m fine, Uncle Philip; I know how to take care of myself.”
“That doesn’t stop me from worrying, Bruce. Never will.”
“No, I don’t suppose it does. I know it doesn’t stop me from worrying about Dick.”
“Quite. Now that you mention it, though, I think it best if I go home. Would you give me a ride?”
Philip went over to his chauffeur and told him that his nephew was going to take him home.
Anthony asked his employer, “Are you sure, Mr. Wayne? I could drive you home, sir.”
Philip smiled at the man and said, “No, Anthony, I think it’s better if you wait here. I know Julius will feel a lot better if he sees you here when he wakes up. I want you to stay with him until he’s well enough to come home.”
Anthony’s face brightened as he said, “Thank you, Mr. Wayne. Thank you very much.” Anthony took out his handkerchief to wipe his eyes. Bruce could see that the man had been through an emotional wringer, because the cloth was already damp.
As Bruce and Philip left together, Bruce commented to his uncle about how nice it was to let Anthony stay with Julius.
Philip smiled and joked, “Just don’t tell anybody. I have a reputation to maintain as a hard-nosed man with a heart of stone.”