Page:Weird Tales volume 31 number 02.djvu/74

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priest of Bhan-Guru tried to stroke her?"

"Oh, forget it!"

"That man must have been a hundred–dried-up skin, bones showing through like a skeleton's, voice like a reed. But his hands were young and powerful–dark black with nails painted blue-green."

"Say, I agreed to stay here, but not to listen to your memoirs. I remember it just as well as you do; you don't have to tell me."

Tony was looking past me. "Remember, how he tried to tell us that the human sacrifice was an ancient custom not used any more, and how Captain Clark knew he was lying because he'd seen the skeleton of a man behind the altar steps, and how later we found twenty or more, with their necks twisted? And you said that the victims probably hadn't suffered because the execution had been done so skilfully. You still think that, don't you, Mac?"

"Heaven knows what I think, except that you're pretty much of an ass."

He straightened up in his chair, his eyes blazing. "You're the ass, damn you! Answer me: they didn't suffer. Tell me they didn't!"

I got up and went over to him, confident now that Tony Henderson was the victim of a mental delusion rather than the unskilful liar I had thought him.

"No," I said slowly, "they didn't suffer. I'm fairly sure of that. Why do you ask?"

He collapsed with a sigh. After a minute he looked up. "Why'd I ask? When you're in danger of death, it helps to know that it won't be painful." He took out his watch and compared his time with mine. "It's eleven twenty-five." with a shudder; "that means forty-two more minutes. Mac. It is the sixth of July?"

"As far as I know, unless the whole world's gone as coocoo as you seem to be. Now, look here, Tony, there's absolutely no danger of any kind; even if those priests did want to kill you, just wishing it couldn't do it. They're in Africa; you're in America; there are some five thousand miles of ocean between you."

"Miles! And you're quite ready to sit down any evening and listen to a man singing in London. And when you're told that no wires connect you across the ocean and that you're hearing it just as it's being given and at virtually the same time–that very same voice coming across thousands of miles of emptiness–what do you say? If you remember to marvel at all, you say, 'Science certainly is wonderful.' You don't begin to doubt that you're really hearing anything, do you? You don't question that a voice or picture can be sent through the air from anywhere to you, because scientists say it can be done. You don't know how, you just believe them. They talk about the possibilities of recovering the voices of the past or of sending thought-waves, and you believe them. But I'm telling you what I know!"

Unable to answer his arguments with any assurance, I picked up a newspaper and turned to the sports section, hunted in vain for my favorite columnist, and after a brief glance at the other periodicals, looked at my watch.

"It's eighteen minutes of midnight, Tony. What's the program?"

He looked up with a start. "Why, just sit here, I guess."

"I've been thinking, Tony," I said, "that, perhaps, you really did see those hands."

"I did see them, Mac."

"Have you any acquaintances who