Page:Weird Tales volume 30 number 01.djvu/39

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face to meet the speculative watchful gaze of Mr. Amyas. He put a hand to his head.

"Better follow your advice after all, Doctor Fielding. I'm beginning to feel——"

Then, with appalling suddenness, he changed. Voice, face, manner took on the feral primitive hate of a jungle beast. He loomed over Mr. Amyas.

"You're one of the clever ones, you think—spying round, adding up, working out your little ideas! That's puzzled you, I'll swear!" He jerked his head toward the closed door; a wicked flare of laughter leaped in his eyes. "Go on worrying—I'm enjoying it! You'll not get me caged up there again, though. I'm out! ... and I stay out!"

Todd, the hysterical young steward, gave an odd, sighing cough and slid to the ground. Steevens dropped beside him, unfastened his collar, held up his head. The rest ran for it, bolted in panic, their feet thudding along the narrow passage like a roll of drums.

Under Mr. Amyas's steady look the red glare died in Colonel Everett's eyes, his convulsed features relaxed. He steadied himself by a polished brass handrail that ran along the wall.

"I thought—I thought someone called me," he said. "I feel a little dizzy!" He looked vaguely from Mr. Amyas to the unconscious Todd, then to Steevens. "What's been happening here? What the deuce is wrong with everyone on this ship?"

"Colonel Everett!" Mr. Amyas was profoundly serious. "Will you put prejudice aside? Will you be persuaded that you are in danger? Will you believe that this room is more poisonous than a rattlesnake's lair?" He gestured to the closed door behind them. "Have you been in since breakfast? No! Well, it's taking a risk, but it may convince you."

He opened the door.

"Well?" the colonel frowned. "What is it?"

But Mr. Amyas found no answer. There was nothing to say. There was nothing to see except the bunk with its tossed bed-clothes—the flowered green curtains fluttering at the open window—the white enameled v/ails splashed by the sun with golden light. Mr. Amyas closed the door. The three men faced one another in the corridor.

"Is there any explanation for all this?"

The colonel, very large and indignant, stood with a frown. He was answered by a shrill, fierce whistle. It seemed outside the room now. Todd, who had recovered consciousness, glanced up, and fell back in a dead faint once more. Steevens cowered against the wail with mouth grotesquely open. He pointed at Colonel Everett.

"Look! Look! It's him! ... ah, ha ha ha ha ha! ... it's him!"

The doctor and Mr. Amyas shuddered.

"You'd better look out for yourselves," came a savage whisper. "You'd better not interfere. Nothing can stop me. I'm out!"

A twisted mask of a face leered into theirs.

"Look out for yourselves!"

On this last sneering menace, Colonel Everett's hand opened the door of Number 14. He went inside. The door slammed to. The whistling shrilled louder... higher... higher....

"Fog, sir! Been drifting round for a couple of hours. I noticed it as soon as my watch began."

Captain Ross glanced down from his bridge toward the poop. There—among coils of tarry rope and a mass of can-