By EDMOND HAMILTON
Storm gathered ominously over the mid-Atlantic. Black clouds were boiling up across the western sky, and already the screaming wind was piling up great waves that battered at the little auxiliary yawl.
Brian Cullan, sole occupant of the little yawl, stood at its wheel and watched the gathering tempest in an agony of indecision and dread. Not dread for his personal safety, but fear that the storm might end the weird quest that had brought him to this lonely ocean waste.
"This storm will sink me unless I run before it," he muttered. "But if I stay, it might open the way to the Shining Land as it did before!"
Cullan's dark, lean young face was haggard as he looked down with tense hope at the ring on his finger. It was a strange ring, a worn, massive hoop of gold set with a curious prismatic crystal. But what he prayed for had not happened. The jewel was still dull, dead.
The storm was coming on with giant strides. Even under bare spars, the stout motor of the yawl could hardly keep it from swinging broadside to the climbing waves. He must flee at once if he were to escape the full fury of the tempest. But Cullan's agony of indecision suddenly ended in desperate resolve.
"I'll take the gamble! It's my only chance of entering Tir Sorcha again.