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Page:Weird Tales volume 30 number 01.djvu/44

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mist or something drifting around near the wireless room. I heard that everlasting whistle going strong and thought I'd do a spot of investigating. Almost ran into the fog. Could have sworn the whistling came from it."

No one questioned his impression. He went on with increasing embarrassment.

"Don't know what came over me. The thing looked—well, I funked! Legged it back here as fast as I knew how!"

"Very sensible," approved the quiet man. "My experience has been that it only—er, functions in the open air, for some reason."

In a cabin close by, Mr. Ainyas and the doctor looked down at Mark's quiet, unconscious face.

"He'll do for a few hours. That stuff'll make him sleep. Only question is whether we oughtn't to let him go—now—easily! Seems damnable to bring him back to face that devil again. The boy knows. And he's heard the death-signal. Why let him wake? Why let him face tomorrow? What d'you say, Amyas?"

The other nodded. "I agree. He mustn't come back to that. How long will your stuff hold him? Four or five hours?"

"Easily. More likely seven or eight." "Five will take us to midnight. We'll leave it until then. Captain Ross is sending out S. O. S's. Going to transfer to a home-bound ship, if possible. Best give him another injection at midnight if no ship answers us—in time."

No need to harass the doctor before it became necessary. Mr. Amyas, therefore, did not admit that he had no hope of their S. O. S. messages getting through. He'd seen what the young man in the Fair-isle sweater had seen. More! He had looked inside the wireless room. No operator was there. A cloud of fog hung over it. It was not humanly possible for any man to sit in the place with that shrieking menace in his ears. There was no chance of outside help. The fight must be lost or won on board within the next few hours.

He looked down at the helpless, doomed little figure, turned toward the door, stepped back for a brief farewell.

"I promised you a gift in memory of this trip together. You shall have it—before midnight, Mark."

A pale, chill twilight lingered in the sky. Electric lights shone from reflectors on deck. The sea ran smooth, gray-green below the ship's steep sides. Mr. Amyas looked about him with quick, bright eyes. Passengers—those not demoralized by fear, those who hadn't seen and didn't believe in fogs and foam and fantasies—were below, dressing for dinner. Those who did believe were dressing too. It didn't get you anywhere to encourage thoughts of that sort. A good dinner—dancing—lights—music—they'd forget it soon!

Mr. Amyas caught sight of the third mate making for the captain's bridge. Lights were on all over the ship. He thought how brilliant the S. S. Dragon must look, foaming on through the dark water, gleaming, illumined, swift. What passing craft would guess she was a ship of the damned? That she was bearing hundreds of souls to hell? That on her long, white, level decks, behind her lighted port-holes, in luxurious cabins and beautifully decorated saloons, horror stalked, biding its time?

His eyes followed the third mate. He was staggering uncertainly. He climbed up to the bridge with painful effort. The strong lights flooded him, showed a ghastly, twisted face of fear. He spoke with Captain Ross. Bad news, evidently. The captain's gesture was eloquent. He dismissed the officer, turned away, and