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

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WEIRD TALES

ready begun his meal. As Mark and his new friend approached, the man looked up. Immediately he sprang to his feet, welcoming hand outstretched.

"How are you, Amyas? I'm delighted! Who's this you've got in tow? A stowaway?"

Mark was introduced to the ship's doctor. Mr. Amyas sat down. The boy stood, looking with bewildered frown at the third and only vacant place.

Doctor Fielding laughed. "What's the matter? Something wrong with that chair?"

The boy's face grew red. He looked from the doctor to Mr. Amyas with embarrassed reproach. "Oh—but——" He glanced apologetically at the third place, then moved hastily to a table near by and sat down there.

The two men stared at Mark. Covered with confusion, he was pretending to study a large menu-card.

"Must think we want to be by ourselves."

Mr. Amyas got up and crossed over to the boy's table. "Come and join us. What d'you mean by refusing to sit down with a friend of mine—eh?"

Mark glanced back at the other table. His face cleared. He went back with alacrity and slipped into the empty place.

"I think he was angry," he looked from one to the other of his companions' blank faces. "He's gone out without any dinner at all."

Then, as they continued to regard him with expressionless eyes, he laughed.

"Is it a joke, or something? That man didn't think it funny, anyhow, when you wanted me to sit down on top of him."

"What was he like?" The doctor's voice held a sudden arrested note of breathless interest.

"Didn't you notice him?" Mark marveled. "Such a queer man, too! A yellow sort of face, very lined and cross, and he'd black hair—like the Italian organ-grinder who comes round with his monkey at home."

"Did you—did you happen to notice if he wore a ring?" The doctor seemed quite amazingly interested.

"Yes. A very big one, rather dull and funny-looking! I thought he must be a foreign prince. Like the ones in the papers, you know. Going off somewhere because they'd taken his throne away. That's what he looked like."

Doctor Fielding put his arms on the table, leaned forward, regarded the boy with a strange look of awe.

"Look here! You're the kid the captain's looking after—the great Arthur Herron's son?"

Mark nodded, his face glowing at the admission.

"H-m-m! Captain Ross said you were a bit of a wizard yourself with your pencil. You can draw?"

Mark nodded again with calm confidence.

"Could you, by any chance, draw from memory the man you saw sitting here?" The boy smiled and pushed aside his soup-plate. He turned the menu-card face down, dug a pencil out of a pocket and set to work. Both men watched intently, Mr. Amyas interested in the peculiar mixture of child and artist, the doctor wholly absorbed in the portrait growing under the small, amazingly sure hand. The table steward removed three plates of cold soup and put three portions of fish down with bored resignation. He hovered with a dish of potatoes, caught a glare from the doctor and went to bestow his vegetables elsewhere.

Mark handed his sketch to Doctor Fielding, who regarded it long and frown-