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The Toad. The Toad was created by “Eric North,” the pseudonym of the Australian author Bernard Cronin (Professor Montague, Dr. Lao Sars), and appeared in “The Toad” (as “The Green Flame” in the Melbourne Herald, 1924); the serial was collected as Toad (1929).

Maurice Murchison is walking through Melbourne, Australia, when he sees a famous Australian scientist burst into flame. Murchison is questioned by the authorities and then sent by the Australian premier to investigate the cause of the scientist’s death. The cause soon becomes known: a man calling himself the Toad has begun sending threatening letters to the premier demanding hundreds of thousands of pounds Or Else. The premier and his advisors meet with the Toad, who looks like a toad, but the Toad demonstrates that he has created a weapon, in pill form, which will ignite water. The Toad threatens to destroy the world by setting the oceans on fire if he is harassed or if his demands are not met. Murchison goes in search of the Toad and discovers that his accomplice is the father of Murchison’s girlfriend. Murchison tells the premier, but the premier and his advisors are unwilling to take a chance on a raid on the Toad’s headquarters failing, so they agree to meet his demands. But during the meeting in which he is to receive his money, the commissioner of police shoots the Toad, thus ending the threat.

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