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Weird Tales

MAY, 1950

At the End of the Corridor

Heading by John Giunta

BY EVANGELINE WALTON

WHENEVER Philip Martin felt like being funny he would say that he was a professional graverobber. If people looked properly shocked he would add, "I began with a king's grave," and then grin. A mild joke, not in the best of taste perhaps, but then everything about Philip was mild; his nearsighted brown eyes, his tall, shambling frame, his face that never had been quite young. Even his shy way of showing off, of hoping, a little wistfully, that he could shock people or make them laugh.

As a matter of fact, His Majesty the King had been dead about 3,000 years when Philip and his father, the late and distinguished James K. Martin, Ph.D., had dug him up. It is generally considered respectable to rob a man's grave if he has been dead long enough. The Martins, father and son, had always made a most correct and respectable thing of grave-robbing, just as they had of everything else they turned their well-kept, somewhat dry Bostonian hands to. That anything could ever change this (or indeed his own prim, proper personal life) Philip never dreamed when he set out for Greece to carry on the work of the late Dr. Kimon Dragoumis. He was contemptuously amused when, at a farewell dinner, a slightly tipsy Parisian savant said to him:

"Some day you may rob one grave too many, my friend."

Philip grinned. "You mean curses? That old tripe about ancient tombs having invisible guardians?"

M. de Lesseps smiled. "You think me a foolish old man, hein? Not all ancient things are toothless. Yet you may be wise, my young friend. Perhaps it-is safer to rob the tombs of the ancient dead, of those who have had time to forget their wrongs. When I was young I too went to Greece, to Maina where the old blood is purest, to write a book. But I saw what I dared not write. There are dead there who need no curses—they can act!" He shuddered and crossed himself.

Philip said indulgently, "If dead men could walk because they had reason for revenge, a lot of them would have done it these last few years. The men who died in concentration camps, for instance."

The savant said seriously, "That depends on the nun, my friend. On what he studied while he was alive, what he knew and believed. On what his background was. Among simple yet ancient peoples, who are still near the source of things, there are survivals—" He rambled on, learnedly yet drunkenly, about primeval man, about vision and gifts that his modern descendants had lost. Until Philip got very bored, and took too many drinks.

He had a headache next morning, when he boarded the plane for Athens. But it was only the beginning of his headaches. For when he reached the little seaside village that had been the site of Dragoumis' work he found—nothing. Only the few tholoi that the great Greek had first found and explored were still visible. The bulk of that underground collection of mysterious Mycenean tomb-chambers had vanished as if the hills out of whose sides they had been carved had swallowed them up again.

It seemed strange, in spite of the disaster that had come upon Dr. Dragoumis and his co-workers; the guerrilla warfare that had raged for years afterward through this grim land of sea and mountains, and was still uncomfortably near. So near, in fact, that it had taken Philip years to get his own permit to dig.

A landslide had covered the excavations; that was all he could learn. Though some of the villagers must have known the approximate location of the buried sites they would tell him nothing. They acted either sullen or blandly ignorant—too ignorant. He had a queer and unreasonable feeling that they were afraid.

Sophoulis, the local school-teacher, advised him to go to Mme. Dragoumis, "She may still have some of her husband's papers, kyrie."

"You mean she still lives here?" Philip asked in surprise. He had heard of Mme. Dragoumis as one of the famous beauties of the Balkans, a very gay and fashionable woman, much younger than her husband. "In that island villa of theirs?"<...

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