With a sigh of relief, he leaned against the wall and closed his eyes. “An extremely powerful tranquilizer?” I hazarded. “Morphine,” Malcolm replied, replacing the flask in his pocket. “I didn’t want the others to know about it.”
“Am I right in assuming that you need the stuff, mainly for your use?” I asked. The last thing I wanted was to sound disapproving. I had immediately grasped that Malcolm used it to alleviate the chronic pain his spinal injury caused him. When visiting my home, he had probably omitted to take his usual dose.
Malcolm nodded. “I’m well aware that it won’t cure me and is detrimental to my general state of health, but without morphine, I could scarcely move a muscle. It’s the only thing that makes it possible for me to take part in this expedition.”
“I quite understand,” I said in a low voice. “Is there no chance of a cure?” “No,” he said firmly. “I’ve consulted more than one specialist.”
Sam Price, his eyes still closed, was softly humming a tune unfamiliar to me. “Please keep it to yourself.” Malcolm put his hand on my arm. “Just as I won’t advertise the fact that I know you know the meaning of the word ‘tupilak.’ I could see it in your face.” He paused for a moment. “We were good friends at university, Arthur. As far as I’m concerned, that friendship still stands. You can trust me.”
I went to the door and made sure it was securely shut. Outside, Colin Broke could briefly be heard issuing an order to the seamen. Then, discounting the low, but the incessant moaning of the wind, silence fell.
Sam Price seemed to have dozed off, so my explanations would not upset him.“Tupilak is the Greenlandic Inuit term in nature, demons,” I began. “They’re reputed to be grotesque creatures that constitute an extreme potential threat to human beings.”
Malcolm was listening intently. Do you know anything about the appearance of these tupilaks?”
“Descriptions of them differ widely,” I replied. “Many of the creatures are said to resemble us humans, but with bizarrely misshapen limbs and heads. They also possess immense physical strength. The Inuit, even claim that they simply appear out of nowhere and vanish just as quickly.” “Greenland isn’t too far away,” said Malcolm. He seemed disinclined to question my remarks about the tupilak. “But how likely is it that Sam Price knew the name at all?”
Someone knocked on the door. “What are you up to in there?” It was Roger McCafferty’s voice.
The two seamen took Sam Price back to the Ramsgate. Broke demanded that we are informed at once when Price recovered his wits and could help to clarify what had happened on the island.
We continued to explore the station but found no clue to where the other three men had gone. Some of the research equipment and furniture had been smashed. The two civil servants construed this as evidence of senseless vandalism, but it could just as well have resulted from a melee with intruders of any kind.