Page:Weird Tales volume 28 number 02.djvu/34

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161
MASK OF DEATH

wizened treasurer snarled at each other. "We——"

The door of the office suite banged open. The assistant manager of the hotel staggered into the room. His blue eyes were blazing with excitement. His youngish face was contorted with it.

"I've just found out something that I think is of vital importance!" he gasped. "Something in the roulette room! I've been in there all night, as you know, looking around to see if I could find poison needles fastened to table or chairs, or anything like that, and quite by chance I noticed something else. The maddest thing! The roulette wheel! It's——"

He stopped.

"Go on, go on!" urged Kroner. "What about the roulette wheel? And what possible connection could it have with what happened to the people in that room?"

He stared at the young assistant manager, as did Gest and Chichester, with his hands clenched with suspense.

And the assistant manager slowly, like a falling tree, pitched forward on his face.

"My God——"

"What happened to him?"

The three got to him together. They rolled him over, lifted his head, began chafing his hands. But it was useless. And in a moment that was admitted in their faces as they looked at each other.

"Another victory for Doctor Satan," whispered Chichester, shuddering as though with palsy. "He's—dead!"

Gest opened his mouth as though to deny it, but closed his lips again. For palpably the assistant manager was dead, struck down an instant before he could tell them some vital news he had uncovered. He had died as though struck by lightning, at just the right time to save disclosure. It was as though the being who called himself Doctor Satan were there, in that office, and had acted to protect himself!

Shivering, Chichester glanced fearfully around. And Gest said: "God—if Ascott Keane were here——"


3. The Stopped Watch


Down at the lobby door, a long closed car slid to a stop. From it stepped two people. One was a tall, broad-shouldered man with a high-bridged nose, long, strong jaw, and pale gray eyes under heavy black eyebrows. The other was a girl, equally tall for her sex, beautifully formed, with reddish brown hair and dark blue eyes.

The two walked to the registration desk in the lobby.

"Ascott Keane," the man signed. "And secretary, Beatrice Dale."

"Your suite is ready for you, Mr. Keane," the clerk said obsequiously. "But we had no word of your secretary's coming. Shall we——"

"A suite for her on the same floor if possible," Keane said crisply. "Is Mr. Gest in the hotel?"

"Yes, sir. He is in the tower office."

"Have the boy take my things up. I'll go to the office first. Send word up there what suite you've given Miss Dale."

Keane nodded to Beatrice, and walked to the elevators.

"Secretary!" snorted the key clerk to the head bellhop. "What's he want a secretary for? He's never done any work in his life. Inherited umpteen million bucks, and plays around all the time. Wish I was Ascott Keane."

The head bellhop nodded. "Pretty soft for him, all right. Hardest job he has is to clip coupons...."

Which would have made Keane smile a little if he could have heard, for the clerk and the bellhop shared the opinion of him held by the rest of the world; an