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About Heppner gazette-times. (Heppner, Or.) 1925-current | View Entire Issue (May 24, 1928)
HEPPNER GAZETTE TIMES, HEPPNER, OREGON, THURSDAY, MAY 24, 1928.
(' Id Edison Marshall Illustrations PMF&M
WHAT HAPPENED BEFORE
Dr. Long, out fishing with Alexander
Pierce, a detective, tells of his projected
trip to Southley Downs. Pierce advises
him to keep his eyes wide open while
there. On the way In a train Dr. Long
Is attracted by a girl, who later faints.
Dr. Long treats her, and looking into
her bag, is astonished to And a loaded
revolver. Now read on
' CHAPTER H
I heard the conductor shout be
hind me. I turned from her, even
aa her eyes were upon me. It was
my station; and I did not stop to
realize the screaming folly of leav
ing the train.
Men who have thrown away the
wrong card In the biggest poker
hand of their lives might have some
Inkling of the way I felt For three
minutes I stood fuming, watching
the vanishing end of the train. It
soon swept out of sight
"Is this Dr. Long?" spoke a voice
The voice was deferential; yet It
had neither the tone nor the rhythm
of our Florida colored men. I think
that I expected to turn and see a
white servitor one of those gray
haired English butlers' of an old
and incomparable school. It was a
low voice, with a rather peculiar
purring quality. And so I was sur
prised to see the dusky face that
looked into mine. It wasn't black,
yet quite dark enough to be that of
a mulatto. But in a glance I knew
that the man had no African blood
The shape of his features was dis
tinctly Aryan. He had a straight
fine chiseled nose that was almost
classical, thin lips and rather high
cheek-bones. He wore the snow
white turban of a Mussulman. But
most of all I noticed his eyes. They
were the eyes of a mystic, very
black, and astoundlngly deep. They
gave no key to his thoughts, but
suggested the Bomber mysticism of
the East Of course he was one of
Southley's servants, and a native of
"Yes, I'm Long," I told him.
"I come from Southley Downs,
sahib and the car is waiting," he
went on in his strange, purring
voice. The great black eyes fas
He took my bag and led the way
to the car. I am not usually par
ticularly observant of casual ac
quaintances; but I found myself
studying the dark, straight form In
t T . . . .1 . . . : t .. -
liuui ui inc. i vuuiuu v ijuiig giaoiJ
what It was. I rather think It was
the somewhat stealthy way with
which he placed his feet a sinuous
ness and a grace that one might
expect In a dancer. I couldn't hear
his footfall on the gravel;, and I fell
to conjecturing what a successful
hunter he would be In the Western
mountains. It usually takes years
of practice to learn to stalk. He
seemed to know how intuitively.
The man walked Just like a cat He
placed his feet the same way.
"The other must have missed the
train," he told me in his correct
but hesitant English, as he helped
me Into Southley's great touring
Southley himself met me on the
great veranda. The shadows were
heavy there, and his face just a
white blur. But when we went Into
the lighted hall, I saw that the
months had changed him. The sight
of his line, old face In the soft candle-light
was, I think, the first real
shock of my stay at Southley
He greeted me with the finest
hospitality. He couldn't live In a
Southern manor house and do any
other thing. It's in the air and the
atmosphere, as all men know who
have visited the South. It is a tra
dition, too. The' voice itself was
rather wavering and shrill, rather
more aged than I remembered it
Then he turned to the Impassive
Oriental behind him.
"Ahmad Das," . he asked; didn't
I didn't hear the answer, for I
turned to shake hands with a tall,
straight youth that was Southley's
son. He was about twenty-one, evi
dently an undergraduate at college.
"My son Ernest" the old man
told me. He tried to straighten up.
, "Already taller than his father."
We walked Into the great drawing-room;
and thero tvio other n en
arose to greet us.
"Mr. Howard," my host .explained.
"And another Mr. Hayward, his
It was wholly possible that his
voice changed slightly when he in
troduced these two. But, of course,
it was to be expected. An instant
before he had just Introduced his
sun, evidently the joy and pride of
his life. But now it seemed to me
that the voice had an alien tone a
strain and a nervousness that was
not readily explained. I bowed over
the older man's hand.
He was a huge creature six feet
tall and more than a little obese,
and perhaps sixty-five years of age.
He was closely shaven, and his
white hair was clipped close, He
had rather peculiar, piercing gray
eyes, a firm mouth, and he had the
look of overflowing opulence. As I
shook his hand, a bell jingled In the
hall. For an Instant the Hindu's
face showed in the doorway, and
Southley went to meet him. They
talked together an Instant, and the
old man was beside me again by
the time I had turned to the young
He was a man possibly my own
ago. He also was In the newest of
dinner garb. He had a rather large
dark face perhaps a trifle severe
and forbidding. There was a dull
light that might have been ambition
and might have been a thousand
other things in his eyes.
"I've heard Southley speak of
you, the younger man tola me . i
am Vilas Hayward. It may help
you to keep us straight to know my
"I think that Is Joe now.
Then we all stood up. The whole
world faded the glittering table,
the watchful faces of the men, the
dark body of the Hindu servant
and left only the slender form at
the threshold of tpe door.
"Shes been on a visit to the
shore, and she was carried past her
station like the little stupid that
she Is," I heard Southley saying
from far away. "I had to send for
her In the car. Josephine come up
and meet my friend, Doctor Long.
Long my daughter, Miss South-ley."
The girl at the doorway was the
same girl I had carried in my arms
that afternoon; and she had not yet
removed the intriguing little hat
from the fine, brown hair.
I hope you don't mind candle
light" Southley apologized during
the excellent meal. "We have a
private lighting plant, but it's seri
ously out of order. We're sending
for new parts.
"I prefer candles, and I'd have
em if I had enough servants to
keep them trimmed," I replied. "It's
the most restful light on eafth."
Then the elder Hayward grunted
in his place.
"I fall all over the house with
'em," he said. "I like bright lights,
and lots of 'em. And the worst of
it is the plant broke three days
after I came. Spite work, I think."
I looked at him, expecting to find
him In jest There are men that
joke like that sometimes. But his
face gave no sign. And I was to
learn before night was done that
such remarks were quite to be ex
pected from the elder Hayward.
A long, tremulous call suddenly
shivered out of the darkness
seemingly just below the veranda.
It was a plaintive, haunting cry,
but except to a naturalist not worth
a moment's thought I had been
enough In the wilderness to recog
nize it as the cry of a certain large
species of owl a night-hunter that
is often found in our Florida
marshes. Those on the veranda with
me must have heard the same
sound dozens of times... But four
of thorn started In their chairs, and
one of the four uttered a half
smothered gasp of dismay.
Something was radically wrong
with the nerves of these occupants
of Southley Downs. Evidently the
swamp air had got into them and
left Its poison. The elderly South
ley had evidently not heard the
sound. At least he gave no sign.
His son, the nerves of whose hand
some body should have been of
steel, gave a scarcely perceptible
start Both of tire Haywards turned
with a nervous Jerk, and the elder
said something that sounded like an
oath under his breath. Josephine
had been the most affected of all;
and when I looked at her again I
saw that lingering, haunting sorrow
in her dark eyes.
She uttered a little, nervous laugh
a sound that was joyously musi
cal in spite of her embarrassment
Did you ever encounter just this
atmosphere before?" she asked me.
It's these marshes, I think the
traditions of this old house."
"All it needs is a ghost," I told
her. "If you can present a ghost
it's going to be the biggest week of
"Its here already."
"You don't mean It!"
"The newest most novel ghost In
She said It lightly; and I kept
my eyes upon her. Then we heard
the elder Hayward grunting from
"Oh, don't tell that silly story
again, Josephine," he muttered.
"I've heard it till I'm tired."
"Then take him into the library.
Joe," her father suggested. "I do
want him to hear It and since it
bores Mr. Hayward, you'd better
not tell It here. I want him to see
the house, anyway."
Josephine and I went through the
long hall, and Into the library.
There were other candles here, and
the shadows were long and unwa
vering. I held a chair for her, and
took one myself. -
"Of course I know you," she said
"I'm glad of that I wsa sure
you had forgotten."
-1 was watching with Immeasur
able delight every change of expres
sion In her face, every shadow in
her eyes, the delicious rising and
falling of tho color in her cheeks.
She was in the middle of a sen
tence, and all things else were for
gotten. Then, slowly as water
freezes, the life utterly died In her
There is no other word. In a
moment, the witchery and mystery
that men call life was sparkling in
her eyeB and dancing In her smile.
Her color was at Its height and I
was drinking It like wine. In the
next It was wholly gone. Probably
my first Impression was that her
color was fading.
She was watching something just
over my shoulder. Her gaze was
almost trance-llko. "The light went
out of her eyes, and they widened,
too. And a no less perceptible
change came In the set of her lips.
Very slowly I turned. I don't
know what I expected to see. But
I certainly expected nothing ,as
commonplace as I saw. Her eyes
were fixed on the form of Ahmad
Das, the servant who was doing
some household task at the end of
tho long room. ,
For an Instant I alsd followed his
motions with a senseless fascina
tion. He was on his hands and feet
on . the rug, evidently cleaning a
soiled place on the carpet And
even in that awkward position he
seemed to move with a strange,
feline grace, a lithe slnuousness be
yond all words.
I did not forget that this was
natural In the man. But by some
Satanic conniving of fate and cir
cumstance, his candle-light, had
found a reflection in his eyes. I
am a cold-blooded, self-disciplined
man, and it was not just imagina
tion, not just deluBton or moon-mad
ness that revealed to me a strange.e
greenish glare, not unlike the light
to be seen in the eyes of certain
great beasts of prey In the black
Ahmad Das left the room and I
spoke in the deadly quiet that fol
lowed his departure.
"What is it, Miss Southley?" I
asked her as gently as I could,
What has frightened you?"
"I must be ill," she said. "It was
just Ahmad Das."
"I know and that wild light in
his eyes was natural. It was Just
the glare from his candle."
She smiled at me, took me
through some of the great down
stairs rooms of the manor house.
The place was almoat Georgian.
There were many little alcoves-
the best of hiding places and long
corridors and indefinite flights of
stairs. I was amazed at the size
'And what traditions it . must
have!" I exclaimed. "You forgot
Miss Southley. You were going to
tell me about the ghost"
She paused and looked at me.
I've decided I hadn't better."
"I'm so sorry. It would give an
added zest to this visit "
"But you wouldn't believe it "
"And you wouldn't want me to!
Ghost stories aren't meant to be believed."
'But this story Is a little differ
ent Dr. Long. It has one or two
rather troublesome points and It
isn't to be laughed at even if it
isn't to be believed. I hope you'll
be able to laugh but I'm afraid
you won't. It's been a tradition in
this house since my father came,
forty years ago. And It isn't nice
at all. It's just that Southley
Downs needs a doctor even more
than I do."
"And maybe I'm the one it needs."
"Our ghost isn't the ghost of a
man," she said. "It isn't the ghost
of a lovely girl who died for a
sweetheart or even of a little
"I'm glad it Isn't a little child. I
can't bear to think of their sleep
being so uneasy that they would
"Our ghost isn't a human being
I couldn't laugh into her earnest
face. I didn't feel like laughing."
"It isn't very cheerful, is it doc
tor?" she went on. "And it is rather
embarrassing to sit here and "tell
you things I know you can't pos
sibly believe. My father came from
India forty years ago; and he
brought a tiger cub with him. It
was a pet a tawny little creature
that played and romped and pulled
at the curtains. He brought two
servants, too a Hindu man and my
mother's ayah. Both these two ser
vants are dead.- Although you
would hardly believe it, Ahmad Das
was born after they came to this
"The cub grew into a beautiful,
tawny, full-grown tiger, seemingly
as gentle as a collie. But one night
when the wind blew It seemed to
go mad. It attacked the Hindu
woman, and she wt.s badly torn be
fore my father drove the creature
off. In the condition that she was,
her wounds were even more danger
ous than they otherwise would have
been. It was unquestionably the
brute's intention to carry her off
and maybe you know something
"They say that they will play for
literally hours with their human
prey just as a cat plays with a
mouse, with the most terrible cruel
ty that can be imagined. The beast
attacked my father then, and leaped
through the window and escaped
into the marshes.
"When morning came all the
negroes and my father and the
Hindu tracked the tiger down and
finally killed him in the thickets.
And when they got back Ahmad
Das was born. On the very day,
and the same hour, that the tiger
"Of course that's just a detail.
The legend that has grown up deals
with the stories that the colored
people told about something they
She paused, and In the little si
lence we heard some night bird give
its sleepy call from the marsh.
"At first the stories were rather
vague. Now an J again they would
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get a glimpse of something tawny
and alive In the thickets. Everybody
laughed at first But as time went
on it got increasingly hard to laugh.
Too many people told the same
story. And one night a traveler
ttopocd ;it the house, simply speech
less with fright He said that a
tiger, clear and tawny in the moon
light, had followed his horse.
"The stories all agreed on one
point The beast was always seen
either on or about this hill on which
the house is built And then, one
midnight a negro came with a can
dle on some errand into the library,
the room we are now in. He told
rattier a straight story afterward.
He couldn't see at first He just
heard something bounding about in
the shadows playing with the cur
tains. His candle-light showed him
something big as an enormous
hound and yellow and black in
"That Is substantially the legend,
Dr. Long." Of course I don't want
you to think twice about it if you
do you would take your bag and go.
For years and years the story was
just told at Intervals, and not even
the negroes were afraid. But two
years ago But you ve heard en
ough. Let's talk of something else.'
"If I'm to cure this house of Its
troubles, you'd better tell me all."
I told her.
She braced herself and continued.
She was a sensible, cool-headed
American girl; and I had no doubt
but that the story was hard for her
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to tell. Already I was groping for
some natural explanation for the
"Two years ago Sam, one of our
colored men, came wild-eyed into
the house and said that he had seen
the thing Just below our veranda.
and all of us laughed at him. Per
haps a month later one of the
house-maids came with almost an
identical story she and one of the
young colored men had been walk
ing about the hillside, and it had
suddenly emerged from the shrub
bery. It makes such a story partic
ularly disquieting, doctor, to have
two people verify it
(Continued next week.)
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