Page:Weird Tales volume 30 number 04.djvu/58

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there was a noise of cutlery being moved in the kitchen, and the front door opened and closed.

As it had come, that strange prescience vanished and I tried to reason out what I had heard. Of course the man was Carse; who could it have been save him, for were we not alone in the house? I sat for hours on the bed working up a determination to shake the truth out of him when he returned, but shortly after four o'clock my strength ran out of me and I shook with fear as I heard that awful ghost-like tread ascending the stairs. My heart beat wildly when the person reached my door and twisted the knob to enter.

One thought flashed through my head: Thank God the door was locked! The terrible feeling that it was not Carse came back upon me, and I sat motionless as I listened to the sounds from outside. Foe a moment there were no sounds from the intruder, but I did hear a faint tap-tap-tap like that of a liquid falling to the wooden floor. In a minute the knob was released and the footsteps continued down the hall to Carse's room.

Any attempt to explain my thoughts as I sat smoking throughout the night would only add to the confusion of these revelations. They were not sane and rational thoughts, but rather strange suggestions and premonitions. I thought myself to be in the presence of a tremendous evil.

In the morning Carse was up early, and moved back and forth in the corridor with strange industry. He was crying, for his sobs came disturbingly to my ears, and once I heard him descend into the cellar and there was a faint digging sound as he performed some outlandish task. Then I heard him in the hallway and on the stairs. I heard the splashing of water and the sound of scrubbing.

I pounded on the door for him to let me out, but it was not until nearly noon that he finished his chores and finally opened my door. He was stooped and fatigued, and without bothering to return my amenities, he turned away and went to his study.

I went into the hallway and noticed, as I had surmised, that the floor showed signs of recent and vigorous cleaning. I walked down to his room and looked in, not surprized to notice that here, too, was the unmistakable evidence of scrubbing. I knew there was only one more thing to do; I must go down to the cellar and unearth what he had buried there!

The horrible truth had been dawning upon me for hours, and when I came face to face with him in the kitchen at the head of the cellar stairs I looked squarely into his eyes with the full realization that Jason Carse was the Headhunter.

I was not frightened—not for my personal safety, at any rate—but a sensation of sickening horror went through me as I looked into his tired face and understood that at last he had fallen into the cesspool which had tormented him since early years. The words of the coroner came back into my ears: "He is a madman of uncanny intelligence," and I knew that he knew I recognized him for what he was.

The awful silence of our conflicting glances was unbroken for several seconds, and then words came uncontrollably from my mouth and I managed to snap that nerve-cracking tension.

"What's in the cellar?" I cried. "What have you buried there?"

"If anything happens to you," he returned, ignoring my questions, "I am not to be blamed. 1 warned you in time to get away from this house. What do you think is in the cellar?"

"I dare to suggest there are six small graves."