The Mystery HTML version

PART III: The Maroon
In The Wardroom
Over the wardroom of the Wolverine had fallen a silence. It held after Slade had finished.
Captain Parkinson, stiff and erect in his chair, staring fixedly at a spot two feet above the
reporter's head, seemed to weigh, as a judge weighs, the facts so picturesquely, set forth.
Dr. Trendon, his sturdy frame half in shadow, had slouched far down into himself. Only
the regard of his keen eyes fixed upon Slade's face, unwaveringly and a bit anxiously,
showed that he was thinking of the narrator as well as of the narrative. The others had
fallen completely under the spell of the tale. They sat, as children in a theatre, absorbed,
forgetful of the world around them, wrapped in a more vivid element. At the close, they
stirred and blinked, half dazed by the abrupt fall of the curtain.
Slade had told his story with fire, with something of passion, even. Now he felt the sharp
reflex. He muttered uncertainly beneath his breath and glanced from one to another of the
circled faces.
"That's all," he said unsteadily.
There passed through the group a stir and a murmur. Someone broke into sharp coughing.
Chairs, shoved back, grated on the floor.
"Well, of all the extraordinary--" began a voice, ruminatingly, and broke short off, as if
abashed at its own infraction of the silence.
"That's all," repeated Slade, a note of insistence in his voice. "Why don't you say
something? Confound you, why don't you say something?" His speech rose husky and
cracked. "Don't you believe it?"
"Hold on," said the surgeon quietly. "No need to get excited."
"Oh, well," muttered the reporter, with a sudden lapse. "Possibly you think I'm
romancing. It doesn't matter. I don't suppose I'd believe it myself, in your place."
"But we're heading for the island," suggested Forsythe.
"That's so," cried Slade. "Well, that's all right. Believe or disbelieve as much as you like.
Only get Percy Darrow off that island. Then we'll have his version. There are a few
things I want to find out about, myself."
"There are several that promise to be fairly interesting," said Forsythe, under his breath.