Page:Weird Tales volume 30 number 01.djvu/43

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which the two had vanished. "Not the colonel! Is the boy a bit touched? He seemed such a bright lad, I thought."

Captain Ross glowered.

"Brighter than all the rest of us put together, it appears. That was not Colonel Everett."

"Good lord! What! You don't mean it! I'd have staked my last shirt——"

"Not Colonel Everett," repeated the captain in grim, heavy accents. "I don't think it's any use to warn you, but keep clear of him—if you can!"

He stalked out.

"Raving!" a young man in flannels drawled. "There seems to be something that breeds lunatics on the S. S. Dragon. What is at the bottom of all this? Whistling and hysterics! Joke's wearing thin. I'm fed up.

A stout, quiet man, playing patience, voiced his opinion in the manner of one accustomed to authority.

"I advise you to take Captain Ross seriously—and literally."

The flanneled one attempted to register world-weary contempt, but his smooth young face betrayed him into sulky resentment.

Mr. Amyas turned. He stood for a moment with his back to the light in a doorway, his black eyes raking the room—very quiet, not a hair out of place, and yet he gave an impression of most desperate haste and disorder.

"Has anyone seen Doctor Fielding?"

A chorus of anxious voices answered. No one had seen the doctor lately. Was the boy bad? They'd go and search. The quiet, sleepy atmosphere became charged with electricity. Some dashed off to find Doctor Fielding. The remainder pressed for information.

"Heart," Mr. Amyas stated briefly. "He's collapsed. Seems to have had a bad shock. All, here's Fielding——"

"Yes. It's the boy. Quickly!"

The passengers saw a look of understanding flash between the two men as they hurried away.

"Mystery! Crime! Adventure!" the man in flannels sneered. "Victim guaranteed every two hours."

"You rather underestimate the time." The stout man was putting away his patience cards. "However, optimism is a privilege of youth."

"Oh, go to hell!" said the flanneled one. But he said it under his breath, and only the trembling flame of the lighted match in his unsteady fingers made response. He walked toward a doorway.

"Er—look out for fog."

The quiet man stowed away his pocketpack. His tone was perfectly casual.

"Fog! What d'you mean—fog?"

"Ran into some just before tea, I heard. Perhaps I should say—it ran into us."

"I know there was a hullabaloo. The mate got hysterics! But you don't suppose I think——"

"No! No!" the quiet man seemed really shocked at the idea. "Of course not. I know you don't."

The young man violently disappeared. The quiet man sat back in the attitude of one who awaits news. Several of those who had rushed off to find the doctor now returned. They seemed worried.

"Fog?" inquired the quiet man.

"What the devil makes you harp on fog?" one of them inquired.

"I was on deck B before tea," was the reply. "I've seen that sort of—fog, before! In North Borneo. Lived out there twenty years. It's apt to—er, hang about. Like poison-gas. More deadly, though."

"Well, you're right, as it happens," a muscular man in a Fair-isle sweater conceded. "There's a rum patch of fog or