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Tom Slade on a Transport
written by "Fitzhugh, Percy Keese, 1876-1950"
...He had been mistaken, he thought; had jumped at a crazy notion. And he half turned to go up again. But instead he listened at the companionway, then tiptoed stealthily along the passage and looked over the oily iron rail, down, down into the depths of the great, dim, oil-smelling space with its iron galleries and the mammoth steel arms, moving back and forth, back and forth, far down there upon the grated floor. A tiny figure in a jumper went down from one of the lower galleries, paused to look at a big dial, then crossed the floor and disappeared, making never a 79sound. No other living thing was in sight—unless those mighty steel arms, ever meeting and parting might be said to be living. To come up from down there would mean the ascent of three iron stairways. Tom withdrew into the passage and quietly lifting one of the fire-buckets from the rack, tiptoed with it to the door which was directly opposite the passageway. Then he paused again. He could open that door, he knew, for no keys or bolts were allowed on any stateroom door. He could surprise the occupant, whom he would find in darkness. If his suspicion was correct (and he was beginning now to fear that it was not) there would be no actual proof of anything inside of that dark little room, save only just what the authorities had already found—an apparently innocent mess plate. The criminal act would consist of simply holding a shiny plate in a certain position. The moment a sound was heard outside the plate could be laid down. And who would be the wiser? Tom’s heart was thumping in his breast, his eyes anxiously scanning one end of the passage, then the other. Not a sound—no sign of anyone. 80Tom Slade had been a scout and notwithstanding his suspense and almost panicky apprehension, he was not going to act impulsively or thoughtlessly. He knew that if he could only present a convincing case to his superiors, they would forgive him his presumpt...

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