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The old man's prophecy teas coming true. For he had warned: "The secret of the dead conquistador will bring bloodshed in its wake!" Bob wasn't worried for himself but for his fiancee


JULY, 1941 Vol. 14, No. 1

Ashes to Ashes


A THIN sword of shadow swung like a pendulum in the blue Peruvian moonlight; crossed the bars of Bob Newton's tiny cell window. Newton sprang from his cot; leaped up; caught at the window's high bars. He hung there, waiting, watching for that shadow.

"She's alive! She must be alive. They can't have.... murdered Ellen!" he muttered through clenched teeth.

A sandy mop of hair dropped down over his tanned, lean face. With a steel-hard grip he clung to the window's bars, his feet dangling almost a yard above the cell's stone floor. His shoulders ached with the effort of supporting his tall, muscular frame.

Again the shadow passed his window. But it was more than a shadow. It was a narrow ribbon of fragile silk, hanging down from the floor above.

Bob Newton tensed. There was a spill of paper tied to the end of the dangling ribbon.

He thrust out one hard, brown hand; clutched; missed. Then he tried again. This time he succeeded. He drew the scrap of paper through the bars of the window, unfastened it. Tying the dangling ribbon to a window-bar, he dropped to the floor and opened the paper.

In the brilliant moonlight, he read the message:

If it's you beneath, come for me before it is too late!

A wave of relief and hope flooded through Bob Newton's soul. Ellen—his Ellen—was alive! They had not harmed her.... yet!

Desperately he ran his hands through his pockets. He must send her a reply. But he had nothing with which to write. Yesterday, Moreno's cutthroats had stolen everything, when they had kidnaped Newton and Ellen on the Callao waterfront ....

THEN an idea came to him. Carefully he tore the note, until he had three words. They were "Bob," and the pair "It is." His message was: "It is Bob."

He leaped back to the cell window with them, tied the scraps to the dangling ribbon. He jerked the ribbon lightly. Jubilantly, he saw the ribbon being pulled upward.

He dropped back to the floor of the cell; stared about him. He must break out—gain his freedom—rescue Ellen! But how! He was caged, imprisoned, helpless. The dungeon's only exit was a narrow, heavy door. In sudden red fury, Newton hurled himself at the wooden portal; crashed his two hundred pounds of bone and sinew against it.

Amazingly, it burst open, spilling him out upon the floor of the pitch-dark hallway outside the cell. Dazed, bewildered, Bob Newton scrambled to his feet and stood there for a brief moment unsteadily. He shook his head. He was out—free! He was free.... and Ellen was on the floor just above in this strange house that had its cellar divided off into cells!

Stealthily, he crept down the hall. He found a narrow staircase; hesitated. Everything was strangely, ominously quiet. There was an atmosphere of danger, allpervading and intense in the darkness. Newton still could not understand how his cell-door had come to be unbarred. And Ellen...?

Up the stairs he went swiftly, noiselessly; gained the'floor above. He was in another hallway now; and still he had encountered no sign of his abductors. Yesterday it had taken a half-dozen men to bring him here. Perhaps they were all gone—

He counted the doors on this floor, found the room directly over the cell in which he had been imprisoned. He tried the knob.

The door was unlocked. Slowly, quietly, he pushed inward. And then he was inside the chamber. He heard a faint sound in the solid darkness; crept toward it.

HE stumbled against a cot; put out his hands. His fingers encountered soft, warmly-pliant flesh.... A girl's flesh.... A woman's naked shoulder!

"Ellen!" Bob Newton whispered. Something caught in his throat. Was she unconscious? Had they hurt her? "Ellen!" he breathed again, harshly. In the blackness his hands groped for the warm loveliness of her unseen body. Tingling thrills raced through his veins as he pulled her close. Never before had he been so near to Ellen Lanhart, his fiancee. Her natural modesty and reserve had forbidden any situation as intimat...

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