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Adventure's End

By Robert Leslie Bellem

Tate Shevlin pits himself against mighty powers
smashes through incredible oriental horrors—in his
last magnificent adventure with the Golden Girl

UP AHEAD, high wheeled drivers crashed thunderously over a dark draw. Back through the night floated the shrill wail of the locomotive's whistle—eery, ominous foreboding. Like a hurtling comet the Linchow Limited sped through the impenetrable darkness of the Asiatic night.

Tate Shevlin, American soldier of fortune, stared out through the window of his first-class compartment, stared out grimly into nothingness. Again there came to him the wailing moan of the locomotive's whistle, like the rising shriek of a soul in torment. Shevlin shuddered. And then, abruptly, his muscles bunched under his linen coat.

Someone had knocked on the closed door of his compartment.

Tate Shevlin's hard right hand dropped imperceptibly toward the cold butt of the Webley automatic in his coat pocket. His grim eyes narrowed. "Come in!" he rasped.

The door opened. A man entered.

The American stared at the newcomer. He saw a tall, broad-shouldered, slant-eyed Manchurian. A Manchurian who bore in his outstretched hand a tiny object—

It was a mask of yellow silk.

That was all. Yet it was enough to send Tate Shevlin's blood pounding hotly through his veins. He had been awaiting that fragile silk token for three days, ever since he had boarded the Linchow Limited back in Shanghai seventy-two hours before. Now it had come; and the sight of that yellow domino brought him a pulse-stirring mental image of the Golden Girl....

The Golden Girl, with her bright yellow hair and her mysterious, enigmatic blue eyes! Tate Shevlin's heart pounded at the very thought of her. Once more, in imagination, he clasped her seductive young feminine body close to him, smelled the faint fragrance of her hair, felt the sweet firmness of her rounded breasts against his chest.... He stared into the slanted almond eyes of the broad-shouldered Manchurian. "Who are you?" Shevlin demanded quietly.

"I am a messenger in the service of Chen Tsing Gat," the Manchurian responded in flawless Mandarin dialect.

TATE SHEVLIN'S hand still rested upon the hard butt of his Webley. His voice was still cold with suspicion as he said, "What has that to do with me?"

The Manchurian smiled faintly. "You are Tate Shevlin," he answered. "Months ago, you entered the service of a mysterious American woman known only as the Golden Girl. She, in turn, served an ancient Chinese whose name is Chen Tsing Gat."

"Go on," Tate Shevlin spoke brusquely. "Chen Tsing Gat plans to overthrow the present corrupt government of Linchow Province," the Manchurian continued his calm recital. "There were five famous jewels of fabulous value called the Claws of the Dragon. These jewels Chen Tsing Gat planned to sell in order to get money with which to equip a revolutionary army."

Tate Shevlin said, "And then—?"

"And then Chen Tsing Gat's enemies captured you and the Golden Girl. To rescue her, you were forced to part with the jeweled Claws. Since then, Tate Shevlin, you have succeeded in recovering four of those five lost jewels. And now you are on your way to a meeting- place, where you are to see the Golden Girl and lay plans for the recovery of the final Claw." The Manchurian smiled. "I am Chen Tsing Gat's messenger, assigned to the task of guiding you to the place where the Golden Girl awaits you."

Satisfied at last, Tate Shevlin's fist emerged empty from his coat pocket. He did not notice the glitter that leaped into the Manchurian's hooded eyes. Instead, he said, "It is well. You have proven yourself to be what you claim. Now tell me where I am to meet the Golden Girl."

The Manchurian shrugged. "Not yet," he said slowly. "Not until you have satisfied me as to your identity, even as I have satisfied you as to mine."

"What proof do you want?" Shevlin spoke with some surprise.

"Give me a glimpse of the four Claws which are in your possession. They alone can prove that you are the real Tate Shevlin."

The American's eyes narrowed; he felt a throbbing sense of impending danger leap into his chest. He stared at the Manchurian—and abruptly he knew that the man was an imposter, a spy. Because Tate Shevlin did not have the four Claws; they were in the possession of Chen Tsing Gat himself ! And Chen Tsing Gat, having the Claws, would not have instructed his messenger to request them of Shevlin!

The soldier of fortune got slowly to his feet, braced himself against the swaying of the hurtling Limited. His steel-hard muscles tensed. "You've been lying to me, you dog!" he rasped. "You're not Chen Tsing Gat's emissary—"

The words died in his throat as the Manchurian leaped at him with an upraised, glittering knife!

Shevlin's hand dived for his Webley. Before he could draw the weapon, the burly Manchurian was upon him. The American grunted a snarling oath as his attacker's knife descended—

Grunted an oath, and swept aside the Manchurian's arm with a crashing sweep of his left fist. The two men smashed together, locked in savage embrace. Shevlin felt the steel tip of the deflected blade slice through the shoulder of his linen coat, graze his skin. He grabbed for his adversary's wrist, twisted with all the strength of his sinewy muscles. The Manchurian gasped in sudden pain; the knife clattered to the floor.

"Now, you louse!" Tate Shevlin rasped out. His right fist thudded viciously against the other's mouth, splintering teeth under the terrific impact of his iron- hard knuckles. The Manchurian swayed, spat bloody froth from between puffed lips. The American leaped in, fists flailing like steel pistons....

The Manchurian staggered backward. Shevlin followed grimly. Followed—and stepped into a cunning Oriental trap!

HIS adversary leaped forward with unexpected suddenness. The man's hard arms encircled Tate Shevlin's pan...

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