Terry Sloane knew a lot about antiques; in fact, he knew a lot about many things. He also knew human nature, so he spoke gently and reassuringly to the elderly lady sitting across from him.
“Oh, Mr. Sloane, my little grandson Adam thinks you hung the moon,” said Elvira Slimp. “He says you are simply the greatest thing since Babe Ruth!”
“I think he’s a fine boy, too! He’s always welcome at the Fair Play Boy’s Club. Mister Terrific likes him as well. He’s good with the little kids — always shares. But about this robbery… you say your late husband’s antiques were stolen in shipment?”
“Yes, sir. The driver was held up at a blocked country road by a gang of… well… what is the term for those historical old carriage robbers?” she said hesitatingly.
“Highwaymen,” offered Sloane.
“Yes, a costumed band of highwaymen, like something from a storybook,” she said as her voice rose with excitement. “Their leader spoke like an Englishman, with flowery talk and bowing from the waist and such. But he was fast and tough, and when the driver tried to fight him off, he knocked him cold with one punch!”
“This highwayman gang were led by a man with a sword, is that correct?” asked Sloane.
“Oh you are bright! He did have a sword, and a plumed hat, like a… what were they called?” she asked.
“They were called cavaliers, and this criminal fancies himself a modern one, at that. He operates out of Gotham City. Perhaps I can get my friend Mister Terrific to go hunt him down and recover your lost antiques!”
“Oh, bless you both!” said Mrs. Slimp.
Mister Terrific was as good as his word. He immediately headed for Gotham City and realized his best lead would be Commissioner James W. Gordon. As Terrific suspected, the Cavalier had indeed broken free after being captured for the first time just days earlier. (*)
[(*) Editor’s note: See “Twenty Ton Robbery,” Batman #26 (December, 1944-January, 1945).]
“With Batman apparently away, Commissioner Gordon, I had hoped you could add to my knowledge of the Cavalier and his gang,” said Mister Terrific as he sat across from Gordon in his home. “I know his name is Mortimer Drake, and he poses as a real Cavalier. I suspect he also is a lover of antiques.”
Gordon nodded. “You know a lot more than most of my men! Drake is indeed a collector of rare items, and–”
A crash interrupted their conversation.
“Greetings and salutations, gentlemen!” said the Cavalier himself. “Kind sirs, do pardon this untoward intrusion into the sanctity of a man’s castle, but I fear I am compelled to escort you away from this charming abode posthaste!”
Well, this was easy, mused Terrific as he pushed Gordon behind him and charged the gang. Knocking a gunman down, he whirled to block the charge of the second gangster. A quick judo move sent his foe crashing to the floor.
Gordon whipped out a pistol, but before he could use it, he grimaced as the Cavalier flicked it deftly from his hand with a lightning thrust from his sword. Electrical current radiated from the tip to send Gordon down in a faint.
Mister Terrific tackled the Cavalier and pummeled him repeatedly, but the villain managed to kick free and grab Gordon’s prone form. “Do surrender, or I’ll be forced to slay your friend,” he said politely.
“Don’t hurt him! I surrender!” said Terrific.
“Fine! A man of rare good sense for your line of work! Come, my minions, let us away!”
Mister Terrific watched them drag Commissioner Gordon away through the terrace door. He knew rushing them would risk the older man’s life, and he already had an ace up his sleeve.
I know where you’ll strike next, Drake, he thought. You may have kidnapped Gordon for some employer, but your own M.O. says you’ll also hit the Queen Anne exhibit at the Flintmore House tour out in Robinson Grove. I’ll be there waiting for you, too.
The luxurious Flintmore House was a showplace of culture and forgotten grandeur outside Gotham City. The rare British art and furniture on special temporary exhibit there would certainly lure a lover of the past like the Cavalier. He had only kidnapped Gordon on orders from Hugo Strange as part of his plan of terror. That had been business, but ah, the collection of beauty was pure pleasure. The Cavalier and his gang now burst in on the throngs of well-dressed guests and culture lovers.
The crass boors! thought the Cavalier as he and his men started looting the place. They only gawk without having the sensibilities to truly appreciate the splendor before them!
As they worked at thievery, into the room raced the red-and-green-clad form of Mister Terrific. He slammed into the gang with rapid results. They fell to his punches and could not resist his skill.
“Sorry, fellows, but this is one time you’ll have to forgo soaking up culture in favor of just soaking… all over the floor!” he quipped.
“Wait!” said the Cavalier. “You dare challenge me twice? Though you have the skill of Batman, you’ll not live to boast of this night’s fatal deeds. In the words of the famous cavalier poet Lovelace, ‘…this same flower that smiles to-day, To-morrow will be dying.'”
“Actually, that line is by Herrick, not Lovelace. Spend some time in the prison library!” joked Mister Terrific. The angry Cavalier slammed the hero with his weighted scarf, and Terrific fell down, hard. A moment later he jumped back up, and though dizzy from the blow, he began chasing his enemy.
An elderly lady stumbled in their path, and the Cavalier stopped to graciously steady her and release her safely aside. “Fear not, madam! No lady fair need fear the Cavalier’s swift sword!”
“You claim to be a man of honor and a swordsman?” asked Mister Terrific.
“I am indeed both!” said the Cavalier.
“Then duel me!” he said. “If I win, you’ll take me to Gordon and surrender!”
“I accept!” said Mortimer Drake.
Mister Terrific snapped out his fencing foil after the Cavalier tossed one to him. He was a very skilled fencer, just as he was extremely talented at about every pursuit he undertook.
“My friend, I fear you may know your literature, but how can you hope to defeat one who has made swordplay his forte?” said Cavalier as they circled one another.
“Oh, I fenced a bit in school,” said the modest Terrific.
Their blades met, and a deadly duel of quick thrusts and hair-trigger parries began. They moved each other back and forth as the blades formed a deadly ballet. They fought silently for what seemed to be an hour. Mister Terrific knew that the Cavalier was a master with the blade, but as with almost every other thing he tried in life, Terrific soon proved to be his superior.
Mister Terrific then spun, and with a quick twist he sent the Cavalier’s sword skittering across the marbled floor. The gang rushed up with guns at the ready.
“Halt, my allies,” said the bowing, courtly Cavalier. “I am a man of my word. He bested me, and I bow to his skill. You, sir, are perhaps the Batman’s superior! I do surrender, and so does my gang!”
Mister Terrific smiled as the angry gangsters reluctantly obeyed their feared leader’s order. The man named Mortimer Drake even led Terrific to the hideout where Commissioner Gordon was stored for pick-up later by Strange. The antiques of Mrs. Slimp were there as well.
Later, as Mister Terrific and James W. Gordon strolled out in Gotham City’s streets, they discussed the villain’s intent.
“He claimed he did not know his employer’s true name and was only paid handsomely to deliver you to an address outside of the city near an old lighthouse, in fact,” said Terrific. “I believe him.”
“As do I; he never harmed my wife or son at the house, and he does keep his word,” mused Gordon.
“Wait a minute — I see a friend!” said Mister Terrific as he spotted the hero who had just beaten the Kite-Man. “Doctor Mid-Nite!”
“What brings you here, old friend?” asked Mid-Nite of his fellow JSAer.
“He just caught a crook named the Cavalier, and saved my life in doing so,” said Commissioner Gordon.
“In fact, I have a lead to his employer, who was to have the commissioner delivered to an address we were talking about,” said Terrific. “Would you care to brainstorm with us? Perhaps a substitution for Mr. Gordon, here, could be made.”
Doctor Mid-Nite grinned. “Well, Batman is out of town, so I’d say we’d better handle it. This may turn out to be a Justice Society case, after all.”