Open main menu

Page:Weird Tales volume 30 number 01.djvu/42

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
40
WEIRD TALES

Men were looking at the pair now, peering over the tops of their papers; glancing up from writing-tables. Desultory bits of talk now ceased altogether. Everyone seemed suddenly aware of a crisis of peculiar significance between Mark and the man in gray tweeds.

The latter looked down with cold venom.

"Don't make a little fool of yourself!" His low voice reached Mark's ear alone. "If you ever say such a thing again to me I'll—punish you. No good running to your Mr. Amyas either; he won't be able to interfere much longer."

He went out quickly, leaving Mark staring, shivering, sick with fright. The glint of those cold eyes! The hate in that low-pitched voice!

"What's wrong, kid? What did he say?" A good-natured young fellow close by drew the boy over to a group in a corner. "Queer sort of man, that Colonel Everett! He's a bit annoyed with all of us today. Liver or something!"

Mark's white, drawn face did not relax. He shivered convulsively, tried to speak, failed. One of the group rose with an exclamation, glass in hand.

"Look here, old man." He put a hand on Mark's shoulder, held the glass to his lips With the other. "Take a sip of this and tell us what it's all about."

The boy drank, choked, dropped his head down on his knees—a huddled, frantic heap of misery.

"Better get the doctor. The little chap's ill."

The good-natured young fellow went to one of the doors, collided with two men about to enter. They were Mr. Amyas and Captain Ross.

"Ill? Mark?"

They listened to the young man's hasty, confused explanation and hurried to the boy. He looked exhausted and was leaning back with half-closed eyes, his features twitching, his delicate hands clenched tightly.

It took Mr. Amyas some minutes to get a word out of him. Captain Ross waited witli a pinched gray look on his altered face.

"He was—awfully, awfully angry! As if he wanted to kill me!" Mark gasped. "It's that man! It's the prince! He said he was Colonel Everett—he's wearing his clothes—so I thought at first——"

Captain Ross exchanged a somber look with Mr. Amyas, who was supporting the boy.

"Oh! Oh! There he is whistling for me! And I don't like it—I don't like it!" Mark clapped his hands over his ears, dropped them again in bewildered fright. "It's in my head—the tune! Oh!—oh! I wish it would stop. It's—beastly!"

A strange silence fell on the rest. To no one but the boy was any whistling audible. The good-natured young man winked and touched his forehead significantly.

"Oh! Oh!" wailed the boy; "it's that funny old song—my nurse used to sing it to me. Kathleen Mavourneen! Oh. can't you make it stop?"

Mr. Amyas lifted him to his feet, put an arm about him. Above the boy's head he met the captain's eyes again.

"I'll get the doctor to give you something so that you won't hear it any more. Come along to my room. No need to be afraid of anything. You're quite right—that wasn't Colonel Everett. Come along. I'll explain. You'll be all right in a few minutes."

The last red rays of the setting sun flashed on the boy's face as he and his companion crossed the room and went out.

"What the deuce!" The good-natured young man stared at the doorway through