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Mr. Gross leaned about two hundred of his pounds on the edge of the bar, so that part of him bulged over it, and said: "Mr. Co-han, I feel like variety this evening. How about a Yellow Rattler?"

The tall, saturnine-looking man said: "You better be careful. It's the queer drinks like that that end you up with the d.t.'s."

"Not no more than the rest," said the bartender, mixing away. "It's all how you take them. Funny that you would be mentioning d.t.'s along with a Yellow Rattler, now, Mr. Willison. The very last one I mixed in this bar was for that Mr. Van Nest, the poor young felly. The animals was after him, he said, and he needed a drink. But he acted sober when he came in here. As long as a man can stand up and behave himself he can have a drink in Gavagan's."

"Ah, it's a shame when a man has to take so much liquor he gets d.t.'s," said Gross. "I got a nephew knew a man like that once. He cut off one of his own toes with a butcher-knife, saying it was a snake trying to bite him. But he was one of them solitary drinkers."

"Campbell Van Nest wasn't a solitary drinker," said Willison. "Just a solitary guy. Though he had to be after his animals started coming alive on him."

"Yuh?" said Mr. Witherwax, almost choking on the olive from his Martini. "What animals? How did they come alive?"

"The animals out of his d.t.'s," said Willison. "I saw them. So did you, didn't you, Mr. Cohan?"

"Never a one," said Mr. Cohan, swabbing the bar. "That was why he came here, because they would not follow him into Gavagan's. But there's plenty would swear on the blessed sacraments they did see them. Like Patrolman Krevitz, that me brother Julius says is one of the steadiest men on the force, and old man Webster in the tailor shop. Not to be mentioning yourself, Mr. Willison."

"You say the animals from his d.t.'s came alive?" said Witherwax. "I'd like to hear about this. I was just reading in a book about something like that. They call it materialization."

"Well, I don't know," said Willison. "The few of us who knew him have always rather kept it quiet . . ."

"You can tell them," said Mr. Cohan. "No harm to anybody now the poor young felly is dead and gone, and his animals with him."

"Mmm. I suppose you're right," said Willison. "Well—fill me up another rye and water, Mr. Cohan, and let's see. I want to get this straight."

Campbell Van Nest [said Willison] was one of those natural-born square pegs, I guess. Nice-looking chap, nothing remarkable about him in any way, but it was as though he and the world had made an agreement not to get along together. Everything he tried went wrong somehow. Not in a spectacular way, but a little off the beam, so he was always being disappointed.

He traveled in toys. It will give you an idea of what I mean about the disappointments, when I tell you that although he was good at it and made plenty of money, he didn't like the life, rushing around and meeting people and going to conventions. He liked to stay home and read —a lot of things like astrology and Oriental lore. The part of the toy business that really interested him was designing toy animals—woolly pandas that would walk, and so on. But there isn't much of a full-time job in designing, so they'd only let him do it a week or so at a time, and then send him out on the road again.

He was always falling in love, too; not that he was a woman-chaser. He'd get into real deep, off-the-end-of-the-dock love with some girl, who always turned him down in the end. You've heard of people being hard-boiled? Well, I would say Campbell Van Nest was too soft-boiled. It broke him all up when one of these girls said no; and because it was the way he learned to do things from other salesmen, he'd go off on a two-day binge.

As near as I can make out, this business started with a day when everything went wrong at once. Van's latest girl threw him down; somebody got into his car and stole all the accessories; and a store to which he had made a big sale went broke, so he lost the commission. He went off on a bender that made the rest of them look like tea parties. It lasted three days; and the worst of it was that it wasn't public, either. He just kept buying bottle after bottle of whiskey and sat there in his room, loading up on it and reading these Oriental books. His landlady called me up on the third day; and I went up there and found the place a shambles, with bottles and books mixed up together all over the floor.

I got him into bed and picked up some of the things, and while I was doing it I noticed that Van hadn't been merely reading while he was on this particular toot. The place was filled with papers on which he had apparently been sketching designs for new animal toys, and some of them would nearly turn your stomach to see.

[Mr. Gross said: "Just like my cousin Louie, the time he stole all them ants." Willison gave him a glance of withering firmness and went on.

That was all I could do at the time, so I left. The next part of the story comes from Van himself. When he came to, about noon the next day, this thing was sitting on the foot of his bed. I only got a glance at it later, but it looked like some kind of monkey, only bigger, with eyes like saucers and enormously long fingers. I don't know whether it resembled any of the designs Van had made while he was pie-eyed or not. It had what you might call an evil expression.

A stocky pug-nosed man with glasses, who had been consulting a Daiquiri, spoke up: "I think that would be the spectral tarsier."

"Yes?" said Willison, facing him. "Are they blue?"

"I know of one that was," said the stocky man. "But that . . . Sorry to interrupt your story, old man. There may be a connection: Go on."

Van had never had d.t.'s before [Willison continued], and his first idea was that this was something that had escaped from a zoo. But with his hangover and all, he didn't like the idea of trying to capture it. An animal like that can give you a nasty bite. So he got himself a Bromo-Seltzer and some clothes, figuring that when he was outside, he'd call up the zoo or the S.P.C.A. and have it taken away. This spectral what-is-it just sat there quietly on the foot of the bed, following Van with its eyes.

It was so quiet that he thought he'd slip out for a cup of coffee before phoning. But when he opened the door, with his reflexes not under very good control, the thing leaped down and was through it like a flash. Van expected it to run. It didn't; it came hopping along down the hall and then down the stairs, always keeping about the same distance behind him. Every time he turned around toward it, it would retreat, and then follow him again as soon as he went on. It seemed attached to him.

That made Van think—as well as he could think through the fumes of his hangover—that he might be having a case of heebie-jeebies and not really seeing this thing at all. So he decided to ignore it and started down the street. Then he began to notice other people when he passed them, they'd do a double-take and give a grunt or a squeak or something; and when he looked over his shoulder, there the thing was, coming along behind him; and other people seemed to be seeing it too. He began to walk faster and faster. Pretty soon he passed a girl who was going in the same direction he was; and when the animal hopped past her feet, she looked down at it and let out a good loud shriek. That did for what was left of poor Van's nerves, and he started to run.

You know how it is when anyone runs down the street. People look to see who's chasing who, and with a little encouragement, they'll join in. This time they had lots of encouragement, with that monster coming along behind Van in big jumps. Some yelled: "It's after him!" and, in about half a minute, he had twenty or thirty helpful citizens rolling along behind.

Sheer force of habit, he said later, brought him here to Gavagan's, and he dived in, to get away from all those people and that animal. You remember the day, Mr. Cohan?

"Indeed and I do," said the bartender. "The poor felly came through the door there, like one of them fancy ice-skaters you see in the show, and stood hanging onto the bar. 'It's brandy you need, my lad,' I said, and poured one for him while the rest of them people come milling around, some of them inside and some out, after this animal. But no animal did they see, because none had come in with him. All they saw was Mr. Van Nest having a drink of brandy and his hand shaking. Some of them said it got away over the roofs; but you're telling me that's not true now, aren't you, Mr. Willison?"

Another rye and soda [said Willison]. No, it certainly isn't true. The thing just disappeared. A couple of the people who had followed came in to ask Van about it, and they got to talking. Well, there's only one way you can conduct a conversation in a bar—that is, with a drink in your hand. Presently Van was drinking a Yellow Rattler and feeling better, and then they began treating each other and he felt better still, and the first thing he knew it was evening, and he'd spent the afternoon in here.

Now I won't say he was really drunk, not like he had been the day before; and besides, Mr. Cohan wouldn't permit it. But you can't work all day on brandy and Yellow Rattlers and nothing to eat without getting a little high. What did you say? Oh, he had a roast pork sandwich. So he had a roast pork sandwich and a couple more drinks, and went home and had a couple of nightcaps; and then I guess he was a little more than high. So he tumbled into bed; it was late when he got there.

When he came to, toward noon the next day, this spectral monkey-thing was there again. And this time there was another monster with it, a thing like a lizard with a long tail and thin fingers and something that looked like a big ruff around its neck, as you sometimes see in old ancestor portraits. It was a dark maroon red.

"Chlemydosaurus kingi, the frilled lizard," said the pug-nosed man, "in an interesting chromatic variation."

"You know about it?" asked Willison.

"Yes. My name's Tobolka. I'm a biologist." He held out his hand. "May I buy you another?"

Thanks, I will have one [said Willison]. I don't want you to get the idea that Van was stupid. He could put two and two together, even with the bells ringing in his head; and he was perfectly certain that if he got out on the street again those two horrors would be right with him. So he called me up and asked me to come over.

By the time I got there, he was working on a pint he had sent out for to steady his nerves. The animals were there all right, both of them. I saw them. They were about so big. Every time I tried to approach one, it was out of reach like a flash; and then it would settle down and look at Van. He seemed depressed.

"I can't understand what makes this happen," he kept saying.

I told him about putting him to bed a couple of nights before and the shape I'd found the room in, with the books and weird animal drawings scattered around. "What kind of Hindu magic have you got mixed up with?" I asked him.

That made him more depressed than ever. "That's just the trouble," he said. "I haven't any idea. A good many of these books deal with the occult and materialization phenomena in one form or another, but I'm afraid I had rather a lot to drink that day, and I don't know what I tried to do."

We agreed that the only sensible thing to do was to reverse the process, so I went out and got something to eat on a tray; and then we sat down with his books. Those two animals watched us all the time. I couldn't make head or tail of what I was reading, and he couldn't seem to find anything that was of the least use. About five o'clock I gave up and went home, arranging for dinner to be sent up to him. The only thing we were hopeful about was that the animals might go away during the night. He had finished the pint, but that wasn't anything to a fellow of Van's capacity, and you could call him reasonably sober.

But he called up the next morning to say that they were still there on the foot of his bed, staring at him. What was worse, the office was calling. They didn't mind his staying out a couple of days, but this made five now, and he was due for a trip through the Middle West. The idea of going out on a sales trip with those two beasts mixed up with his samples didn't strike him as the way to win friends and influence people.

I went over after dinner, and we talked the whole thing upside and down. Finally, I said: "Look here. There are two parts of this business that may be connected. Aren't those two some of the animals you drew while you were having that toot?"

He dug out the drawings; and although his hand had been pretty unsteady when he made them, this frilled lizard and spectral monkey were recognizable.

"All right," I said. "You remember the first one disappeared when you went into Gavagan's? Now I'll get a taxi and shoot you over there quick; and while you're gone, I'll destroy these drawings."

He said it seemed far-fetched, but couldn't think of anything better; and the second day of consulting his books hadn't turned up anything, so he agreed. I had the cab waiting with its engine running when he came dashing downstairs with the two monsters after him. The lizard one rode on top. I went back up and dug out every one of those drawings he'd made and burned them, for good measure adding some designs he'd made for toys that didn't look like monsters at all.

Then I came over here. It seems quite a few people had seen Van with his monsters—not as many as the first time but enough to make a good deal of conversation—so that practically everybody in the place was buying Van a drink and trying to get him to talk about it. You can imagine what happened. He was as boiled as a fifteen-minute egg by the time I got him out of here, and next morning he had three pets instead of two.

Only it was worse this time. The new one didn't look like anything I remembered seeing in the drawings; it didn't look like anything I ever saw; and Dr. Tobolka, I don't think it looked like anything you ever saw. It looked like an enormous centipede, with the head of a cat. Van called me up and I went over again and saw it. The office had been after him again, and he told them he was sick. I stayed with him a while, trying to work out something more from the books; but while I was out getting something to eat, he got so he couldn't take the stares of the three animals any more, summoned a taxi by telephone, and was off here to Gavagan's again. It was the only place where he felt safe.

["The poor felly said he would clean the cuspidors if he could only stay here in a blanket on the floor," said Mr. Cohan. "I put it up to Gavagan myself, but he wouldn't hear a word of it."]

I hadn't heard from him [continued Willison], but I worked my way into his place on maybe the fifth day after it started. The office had sent around a basket of fruit and then one of flowers by a special messenger. I had to knock four or five times before he let me in and then it was with a suspicious look, peeking around the corner of the door. He hadn't shaved in God knows when; and there was a fifth in his hand, about three-quarters empty. By that time there were six of these animals in the room, all of them but the first two looking as though they had been put together out of spare parts of real animals and beasts from a child's picture book. I couldn't get near any of them; but I was spared the trouble, because Van waved the bottle at me, said: "See?" took a swig, and fell down across the bed, with all those incredible creatures looking at him. They didn't eat; they didn't do anything but just jostle each other and look.

He collapsed across the bed, and I looked at him and thought. He was obviously on the way out in some direction; and if I could do anything to help him, I figured it would be pure gain. There were parts of an evening newspaper strewn around the place, so I picked them up and found in them the ad for a Caribbean cruise. I called the line, the ship was sailing in three-quarters of an hour, and fortunately they had a vacant cabin, since there had been a cancellation. I got him into a cab and took him down to the pier and poured him aboard; and I've always been sorry, because the ship turned out to be the Trinidad Castle.

"That's the one that was lost?" inquired Witherwax.

"Correct," said Willison. "Ran on a reef in the Bahamas during a hurricane and went down with everybody on board."

"I doubt it," suddenly said the stocky little man who had described himself as Tobolka.

"I beg your pardon," said Willison, with some disfavor.

"I beg yours. No offense meant, old man. I wasn't questioning your word, merely the accuracy of your data. When you mentioned a blue spectral tarsier, I said there might be a connection with a case I know of; now I'm certain of it. Your friend Van Nest did not go down on the Trinidad Castle. If Mr. Cohan will kindly provide me with another Daiquiri, I'll explain."

[He turned round with a gesture.] Gentlemen, the story has not been broadcast outside the scientific world for much the same reasons that persuaded Mr. Willison to keep it quiet. I am a biologist and have been rather closely associated with several members of the Harvard Marine Life expedition to the Bahamas. You may or may not know that its purpose was to collect specimens of marine life on Jackson Key. This is rather a miserable little sandpit off Great Abaco Island, but it does have peculiarly interesting forms of minor marine fauna.

You may have seen photographs of the expedition at work. If you have, the center of the picture was almost certainly occupied by a young lady clad in shorts and performing some scientific task. She is blonde and extremely photogenic, and her name is Cornelia Hartwig.

The morning after the Trinidad Castle disaster, she found a survivor of that ship who had floated into the surf of Jackson Key on a grating. I think there can be very little doubt that it was your friend Van Nest, though he gave his name as Campbell. He was not in good condition when discovered, though not in serious danger. Restoratives were applied, but there could be no question of sending him to the mainland at once, because the expedition's supply ship made only periodic visits and neither of the two small motorboats was adequate.

My friend Professor Rousseau says that, when the young man recovered consciousness and was informed of this, he did not appear to object. He was looking at Cornelia Hartwig, and with an almost equal intensity she was looking at him. I should perhaps explain about her. She is a highly competent biologist but, like your friend Van Nest, may be described as always falling in love. On field expeditions like the one to Jackson Key, it is her usual habit to select one of the older and more thoroughly married members of the scientific staff; and this has caused some trouble in the past. In fact, the members of the expedition were waiting with some apprehension to see who would be the victim on this occasion; and it was with relief that they observed her spending the entire day with the castaway. I cannot imagine what they found in common to talk about, but Professor Rousseau says they had no difficulty.

In the evening, when Campbell, or rather Van Nest, was able to be up and about and had eaten something, Cornelia took him to the opposite side of the island from the camp, where there were some palm trees, to look for ghost crabs by the light of the full moon. I don't know whether they discovered any ghost crabs; but as they sat there under the palms, the extraordinary series of animals you describe appeared as if from nowhere and formed a circle around them at a respectful distance, including a blue spectral tarsier and a frilled lizard of a rich maroon color.

There is no doubt that Cornelia was enchanted. At the sight of so many species unknown to science, I would have been myself. The couple did not return to camp until long after all the rest were in bed. When Cornelia told her story in the morning, it was received with a certain amount of skepticism and even of merriment, by the other members of the expedition. I am not surprised. The behavior of Van Nest's animals at Jackson Key was somewhat different than that you describe in the city. Not one of them was visible that morning. They had disappeared with the night.

This reception of her story irritated Cornelia; and, on the following evening, she persuaded Professor Rousseau himself to accompany them to the palm trees. He says the animals appeared to come out of the undergrowth and their description tallied with that you gave, Mr. Willison. He threw a flashlight on them and dispelled any idea that they were hallucinations, for they had solidity; but all his efforts to collect a specimen failed because of their agility.

After this, Cornelia and Van Nest went to the palm grove every evening, often taking along a sketch pad and a flash; and she produced some remarkable drawings. The pair rather rudely discouraged efforts of other members of the expedition to go with them and seemed so much in love with each other that everyone was content to leave them in privacy. However Professor Rousseau observed that after about three weeks Cornelia—whose daytime work suffered severely by the amount of time she spent out at night—appeared to be growing cooler toward the young man.

Seeking the cause, he concealed himself near the palm grove before dark. The moon was now in its second quarter, and he had some difficulty in seeing; but when Campbell and Cornelia arrived and the animals began to come out, it was at once evident that something was wrong. There were only four of them, and these not of the most eccentric character. Moreover, though he was not near enough to hear what was being said, Professor Rousseau declares there was no difficulty in making out the tone of the voices. Cornelia was upbraiding the young man, and he was pleading with her.

Willison put out his glass for another refill. "I think I get it," he said. "That sea air and exercise were getting the booze out of his system. That's what I told him he ought to do."

"Such was evidently Campbell's own conclusion," continued Tobolka. "On the morning after this, while the members of the expedition were at work, Campbell raided the stock of whiskey, drank almost an entire bottle of it, and was found in his cot in a stupor. Professor Rousseau was very much annoyed and reproved Campbell severely. However, the object of his maneuver was attained. Cornelia accompanied him to the palm grove once more and next morning appeared radiant, with sketches of an entirely new and very aberrant form of Limulus.

"After this, he persuaded Cornelia to obtain whiskey for him. The process did not last long, for the base ship soon arrived and the work of the expedition was completed. At this point, Professor Rousseau encountered a difficulty, for Cornelia absolutely refused to leave the island until she had seen some more of Campbell's animals. With equal vehemence, he refused to leave her; and they could not come back together because of those same animals.

"Director Rousseau decided that they were both adults, entitled to make their own decisions, so he left them some tents and supplies and arranged for a boat to make periodic calls at Jackson Key. He tells me that, as Cornelia doesn't have a great deal of money and Campbell had none at all when he was cast on the beach, they were finding it difficult to pay for liquor. When last seen, they were trying to ferment coconut milk. Perhaps we may learn some day whether they succeeded."

"Well, thank you, Dr. Tobolka," said Willison. "Maybe I ought to arrange to send his books down there. What do you think?"

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