Page:Weird Tales volume 30 number 01.djvu/48

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be laws and barriers in every state of existence, and Vernon must be prevented from touching us—yet!"

"My first mate's given up now, driven away," the captain informed him. "There's no one at the wheel. Luckily the ship's heading north, right out of the fairway. No danger of a collision. We're going dead slow, too. Three more hours of this. Three more hours! My God, Amyas, if Everett doesn't come—doesn't tell me!"

"He will come."

"But he may not know. He may not know."

For the hundredth time Mr. Amyas reassured him. For the hundredth time Captain Ross turned to pace up and down the bridge, his ears tortured by the incessant, insistent whistle, rising to maniacal fury, then dwindling to thin, distant, unearthly piping. He had tried stuffing his ears with cotton-wool. It was useless—worse than useless. It increased the torment; his brain had felt like a hollow tube; the whistle shrieked through it, red-hot, searing as a flame.

And up and down the long, bare, gleaming deck below, to and fro, drifting, shifting, a horrible, seeking, wraith-like thing of fog loomed, hovered, eddied, wavered to nothingness, re-formed once more.

And northward through the dark sea drove the ship—haunted—lost—blind! her slow, discouraged heart beating in heavy rhythm. Northward to her doom.

Almost midnight. On the bridge Captain Ross and Mr. Amyas kept watch. Almost midnight. A new moon. Hard, bright stars. No wind. And the low continuous wash and ripple of following seas as the S. S. Dragon drove on her unguided, crooked course.

In Number 14 on deck A, its occupant moved with quick, uneasy steps. The sinuous grace, the wicked, glancing eyes were changing. Something of fear, of doubt, of grief showed every now and then, like a star's clear shining between dark clouds.

"It's very far off—very far off." His voice was crisper in spite of its note of anxious, painful doubt. "I can't remember—I don't even know what it is I must remember."

A sudden convulsive shudder took him. A sudden darkness dimmed and blurred his features. His head went back with a jerk. His hands grew taut with fingers that clenched and crisped like talons.

"Fool! Fool! What am I doing? What am I thinking? Almost midnight. A few short minutes and I will pass through. The door stands wide. I will pass through."

He glared at the tall figure reflected in the long glass of his wardrobe, leaned forward as if speaking to the image mirrored there.

"In a few more minutes I possess you utterly. Body—living human soul—all mine!"

The face in the glass returned his glare, grew gray and wavered. Its harsh and wicked lines smoothed out. Thought; emotion, effort showed in the mirrored face—stirring—changing it as wind changes the face of water.

"No! No! Stay here. You shall not go! I command. I command. I rule you now."

But the eyes in the mirror did not match the voice. They were steady, resolute, brave. And a new voice answered I the challenging words.

"I am Tom Everett. I am myself. And I must speak with the captain of this ship."