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Page:Weird Tales volume 30 number 01.djvu/36

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WEIRD TALES

a fire-station. I mean," he explained, "whistlings and shriekings and stampings just lull you to sleep! You on deck A? No! I'm in Number 18. There's a damned nuisance of a colonel in 14. Kept up an infernal racket last night."

"Pipe down, my lad, pipe down! He's a friend of the captain!"

"Well, he's going to have an 'in loving memory' label on him soon! Never had such a night."

A tall, straight ramrod of a man stalked in, made his way to the table and took the vacant place at the captain's right.

"I say!" bleated the butter-haired one. "What's the great idea of practising your tin whistle all night? You may think Number 14's sound-proof. Is it? All you've got to do is to come outside and listen to yourself!"

Colonel Everett drank down a cup of coffee almost at a gulp, murmured something about the shortage of reliable nurses, and gave an order to the steward. A good many faces were turned toward him. Other accusers gave vent to their rancor.

"If you're the occupant of Number 14, sir, I think it was damned thoughtless—damned thoughtless of you!" And:

"I'm not one of the complaining ones, but the noise you made was unbearable. My husband got up five times and knocked at your door. And you simply took no notice!" And:

"Are you the person in Number 14? I was just telling the captain that it's disgraceful. After all, one does expect some decency and quiet in first-class. My two children were awake and crying all night. No wonder! Such an uproar! Why, even steerage couldn't be more rowdy."

"What is all this about the noise in your stateroom?" asked Captain Ross.

"Someone's idea of a joke." Colonel Everett's face and manner were grim.

The captain frowned at him and spoke under his breath.

"Were you pickled when you went to bed, Tom?"

"Don't be a fool! You've known me all my life. I never take more than four whiskies a day."

"Then why didn't you hear all the din?"

"Dunno! Unless I'm due for malaria again. I felt deuced queer when I woke. Dizzy. Couldn't get the hang of things. Feel half doped now."

"Hm-m-m-m! Perhaps you are—doped! This fool notion about Number 14 being haunted! Some maniac's trying it out on us. I'll put him in irons, whoever it is. I've given fair warning I'll have no more of their pet spook on my ship."

Colonel Everett thrust his face forward. His eyes glared. His lips stretched in an ugly grin. His clear emphatic voice changed to a thin dry rustling whisper.

"What are you going to do about it?"

Captain Ross's fork dropped with a clatter. He met the evil, malevolent stare hardily, but his face grew white to the lips. Quite literally, he was unable to speak. His thick black brows met. Was this Tom Everett? He didn't recognize the man he'd known so long and intimately. Those cold eyes—hating, defying him! This was a stranger! An enemy!

A voice broke the spell—a boy's voice, eager, confident, friendly.

"How queer! I thought that was Colonel Everett at first. He seemed to change. It's the man I drew last night. The prince in disguise, you know."

Colonel Everett drew back, looked round him with a frown. His face and eyes were blank now. He seemed rather