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Death Under the Chapel

Summer Season
1937, 1938

Major Characters:

  • The Shadow/Lamont Cranston
  • Professor Phillip Kulima: A physically disabled university professor with a twisted mind.
  • Anton: A very strong deaf-mute who obeys Professor Kulima's every command by a series of finger tapping. Also Kulima's mode of transportation.
  • Professor Winwood: The president of the university.
  • Mr. Bragg: An instructor at the department, and Professor Kulima's assistant.

Featured Agents:

  • Margo Lane

Minor Characters:

  • Bobby Spence: A student of Professor Kulima
  • Guard (in front of the Chapel door)
  • Paper Boy

Synopsis: (Warning! Contains spoilers!)

Having tea in a garden near his alma mater, Lamont reminisces about his university days. He tells Margo about a brilliant instructor, Professor Kulima, who had to be carried like a baby around because of his shriveled legs and arms. Margo finds that sinister. Just then, a paper boy comes around selling newspapers, and Lamont buys one. In it, there is terrible news concerning the suicide of a university student, Bobby Spence, a philosophy major who was to graduate with honors in two days. Lamont decides to go to the campus.

Mr. Bragg, an instructor at the university, comes into Professor Kulima's office to warn him about the university president, Professor Winwood. This concerns the suicide of Bobby Spence, and Bragg fears the department that he and Kulima is in will be blamed. Winwood isn't very happy about the incident. Here, the listener learns about Anton, Kulima's manservant. He is a deaf-mute who is very obedient to Kulima and serves as his mode of transport. He gets instructions from Kulima via morse code-like tapping on the palm of his hand or on the wall. Winwood enters the office, and Anton and Bragg leave. Winwood asks Kulima for his resignation regarding Spence's death. Kulima protests. Winwood agrees that even though Kulima has a brilliant mind, all he does is teach the students that the world is vile and mankind should be destroyed. This has led, in this case, to Spence's depression and suicide. Winwood threatens to publish Spence's suicide note implicating Kulima as the cause of his death, thus ruining his career. No one would hire Kulima after he leaves. In the end Winwood gives him a dishonorable discharge.

After he leaves, Bragg returns with Anton. He has eavesdropped on their conversation and now knows of Kulima's discharge. Kulima is furious and vows revenge. He will place a bomb in the basement of the chapel during the commencement exercises. When Winwood gives out the degrees, the bomb will go off, killing everyone within. Bragg is not only horrified by the idea, but by the fact that Kulima wants him to help. He tries to leave but Anton blocks the door. In desperation, he jumps out of the window and flees. Kulima sends Anton after him.

At the faculty reception, Lamont introduces Margo to Professor Winwood. Winwood tells Lamont about Kulima's discharge and his implication in Spence's death. Surprised and shocked, Lamont decides to offer Kulima his help, believing it is all a mistake. At Kulima's house, Lamont asks Kulima if he remembers him and offers help, but Kulima merely rambles on and doesn't accept. He tells him about Anton (who has replaced Mack, the original manservant Lamont remembers from his university days) and the method he uses to communicate with him. He finally tells Lamont and Margo that he's wiser and wants to punish his enemies, and warns them both to leave. As they do so, Lamont laments that Kulima's brilliant mind is gone, as his genius has warped him.

Anton finally returns with a terrified Bragg. Bragg tries to change Kulima's mind about blowing up the chapel, but is threatened with death (mainly by Anton's hand), and locked up. When Kulima and Anton leave, The Shadow appears and asks for his help. Bragg reluctantly tells him about the plot. Kulima returns, having heard their voices, and asks Bragg who it was he was talking to. Bragg tells him about an invisible man who spoke to him and tries to call The Shadow. When no response returns, Kulima believes him to be mad and leaves him locked up. The Shadow follows Kulima to his lab and confronts him. Kulima only scoffs, showing no fear of him. If The Shadow tries to keep him in his lab, he will drop the bomb and blow them both up. The Shadow must now choose a different strategy. Calling Margo, he tells her to warn Winwood and everyone in the chapel. Margo attempts to do so, but is stopped at the chapel door by a guard who doesn't believe her story.

It is all up to The Shadow now. Kulima and Anton have sequestered themselves in the basement of the chapel and have planted the bomb. To prevent their discovery, the basement door has been locked. The commencement exercises have begun. The Shadow appears to confront Kulima a second time, but Kulima turns off the lights and orders Anton to find and kill him. Since the room is small, Anton will have no trouble, and Kulima has been put down in the middle of the room, so he can stay out of the way. Hearing The Shadow's voice, he pushes Anton in its direction. As Anton searches the room, Kulima taunts The Shadow. Suddenly, Anton finds the wall. Seizing the opportunity, The Shadow quickly uses Kulima's method against him. Tapping on the wall, The Shadow informs Anton that there is a bomb in the room, causing the manservant to break down the basement door and flee.

Left all alone, Kulima decides not to be taken alive and swallows a poison pill, ending his life.


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