Page:Weird Tales volume 30 number 01.djvu/49

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He turned from the mirror. All soldier now—squared shoulders, erect, decisive, disciplined. He moved toward the door; his hand was on the latch when his body was torn and wrenched as if by torture. He fell against the wall.

"I must—speak——"

His voice grew thick and indistinct. His hands made blind, arrested movements. He lifted his feet as if he stood in quicksands and fell with a choking cry and hands at his throat. Stubbornly he dragged himself upright, dragged open the door and stumbled into the corridor. Moving more strongly now with every step he took, he made for the deck above. From the bridge Captain Ross saw him coming, heard a faint calling through the night.

"Captain! Captain! Are you keeping watch?"

"Here! On the bridge! Here, Tom, here!"

The colonel moved swiftly in reply. He seemed to slip his fetters, came running. Next moment he had gained the bridge and stood with clear gaze on his I friend.

Mr. Amyas fell back. It was between these two now.

"Tell me! Tell me quickly! I am ready. I will give all I have—body and soul, to save you!"

Everett looked deep into the agonized face confronting him.

"Yes—I see you are—quite ready."

A shrill piping sounded far off—drew nearer—nearer.

"Now!" cried the colonel.

He thrust a thin, long knife, trophy of the East, into Captain Ross's hand.

"We must go together. We must fight him together, afterward! Will you come with me?"

Below, the decks were blotted out. Fog rolled up... blind white world of terror... closing in with the whistling, tearing shrieking of the damned.

Captain Ross took the knife, grasped it strongly. Understanding, then profound triumphant joy illumined his worn face.

"Ah! Now I see the way! Wait for me, Tom! Together ... yes! ... together!"

He flung up an arm and struck with sure, strong aim. Everett fell, the knife deep in his heart. The captain pulled his sharp blade free again, stood up. One tremendous shout—thunder-clap bellowing above the wind's shrill squeal. The bright blade flashed again, sank to its hilt in the captain's own broad breast.

As he fell, stars and moon and foaming sea were blotted out from Mr. Amyas. The night was filled with the howl of rushing winds. Blackness descended. The ship spun crazy and demented under him.

In mortal terror he heard the thrashing roar of battle all about him. His heart grew colder than his icy hands. A world of yelling darkness where all the winds of hell tore loose.

But louder than winds, high above the devilish tumult shrilled the whistle, ceaseless, shrieking its menace, its everlasting hate....

Utter silence. Silence, huge as the empty dawn of time. A wide, sweet sense of freedom filled the universe.

The watcher stood, breathing the clean salt wind, blessing friendly stars and moonlit water.

He woke like a dreamer and looked at his watch. Five minutes—only five minutes that agony had endured after all!

He knelt by the quiet dead, profoundly sleeping, utterly at rest. They were freed as Mr. Amyas knew himself to be. The dark soul of Eldred Vernon was destroyed.