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Page:Weird Tales volume 30 number 01.djvu/47

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45
THE WHISTLING CORPSE

night all your beauty will be gone. You'll be dead. Have you ever seen a body that's been in the water for a day or two? For a week? For a month? Very revolting indeed. Bloated—swollen—oh! most nauseating. And the fishes——"

On and on went the horrible whispering voice, painting its hellish pictures, destroying her body—her eyes—her hair—giving her loveliness to hideous death 'with sure, unrelenting strokes. And, gripped in his iron arms, she had to listen. Her imagination flared to torturing life as all ability to struggle, to cry out, failed her.

"There are so many creatures of the sea that will come starved to rob you of this beauty you love. It would be a waste of time for your latest adorer to go on worshipping at your shrine. He shall see you day by day as you rot—and rot. I heard what he said. He shall live—and regret his living!"

Dick, watchful, not with anger, cold with terror, held in his place by baffling control, saw Wanda's profile as she passed before him—suffering—tortured.

Next time the pair came round, the colonel stopped, led Wanda to her seat, set her in it like a doll, then walked away in the direction of the band. Dick found himself unable to move a finger.

Music struck up again. An old tune. No one got up to dance. No one moved at all.

Colonel Everett stood as one crowned and robed with authority. Slowly, as if a heavy, jeweled cloak dragged at his heels, he turned and walked away.

The band played with maddening repetition. On and on wailed the sad little melody... Kathleen Mavourneen... on... and on... and on....


On one half-hourly visits to Mark, Mr. Amyas saw a tall, hatefully familiar figure standing outside the room. Colonel Everett's face, barely recognizable now in its dark, lean wolfishness, confronted him with a grin.

"Very conscientious! Well, make the most of your time. You won't be sick-visiting much longer. I'll take the boy off your hands soon—very soon."

Mr. Amyas opened the door and closed it softly, abruptly in the other's face. He felt better for the small act of defiance. After midnight! ... He choked back the cold, numbing sense of defeat that threatened, and crossed over to the bunk where Doctor Fielding watched.

"I've something to say to you," he began in a low, urgent voice. "No use telling you before—I wasn't sure of Captain Ross. And it's a remote chance anyhow. However——"

He explained briefly.

"I see." The doctor looked up, his eyes dead fires in a worn, ravaged face, "It all hangs on whether Everett knows, and if he does know, whether he will have the chance to communicate his vital knowledge. The only certain factor in the crisis is that Everett as Everett does momentarily take possession of himself again."

His companion assented.

"I admit my knowledge is limited. But I'm staking everything on it. And I have persuaded the captain to this point of view. About Mark——"

"Yes. If Everett speaks, Mark won't need the second injection. Very well. I'll wait for fifteen minutes after midnight. Then—if no message comes—I will use the needle."

The corridor was empty as Mr. Amyas went out again.

"I don't know," he confessed when he regained the bridge, "why the infernal fog leaves us alone up here. Vernon is reserving his powers, leaving us to the last—his strongest enemies. There must