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|The Insidious Dr. Fu Manchu||Sax Rohmer|
|Page 1 of 5||
IN what order we dashed down to the drawing-room I cannot recall. But none was before me when I leaped over the threshold and saw Miss Eltham prone by the French windows.
These were closed and bolted, and she lay with hands outstretched in the alcove which they formed. I bent over her. Nayland Smith was at my elbow.
"Get my bag" I said. "She has swooned. It is nothing serious."
Her father, pale and wide-eyed, hovered about me, muttering incoherently; but I managed to reassure him; and his gratitude when, I having administered a simple restorative, the girl sighed shudderingly and opened her eyes, was quite pathetic.
I would permit no questioning at that time, and on her father's arm she retired to her own rooms.
It was some fifteen minutes later that her message was brought to me. I followed the maid to a quaint little octagonal apartment, and Greba Eltham stood before me, the candlelight caressing the soft curves of her face and gleaming in the meshes of her rich brown hair.
When she had answered my first question she hesitated in pretty confusion.
"We are anxious to know what alarmed you, Miss Eltham."
She bit her lip and glanced with apprehension towards the window.
"I am almost afraid to tell father," she began rapidly. "He will think me imaginative, but you have been so kind. It was two green eyes! Oh! Dr. Petrie, they looked up at me from the steps leading to the lawn. And they shone like the eyes of a cat."
The words thrilled me strangely.
"Are you sure it was not a cat, Miss Eltham?"
"The eyes were too large, Dr. Petrie. There was something dreadful, most dreadful, in their appearance. I feel foolish and silly for having fainted, twice in two days! But the suspense is telling upon me, I suppose. Father thinks"--she was becoming charmingly confidential, as a woman often will with a tactful physician--"that shut up here we are safe from--whatever threatens us." I noted, with concern, a repetition of the nervous shudder. "But since our return someone else has been in Redmoat!"
"Whatever do you mean, Miss Eltham?"
"Oh! I don't quite know what I do mean, Dr. Petrie. What does it ALL mean? Vernon has been explaining to me that some awful Chinaman is seeking the life of Mr. Nayland Smith. But if the same man wants to kill my father, why has he not done so?"
"I am afraid you puzzle me."
"Of course, I must do so. But--the man in the train. He could have killed us both quite easily! And--last night someone was in father's room."
"In his room!"
"I could not sleep, and I heard something moving. My room is the next one. I knocked on the wall and woke father. There was nothing; so I said it was the howling of the dog that had frightened me."
"How, could anyone get into his room?"
"I cannot imagine. But I am not sure it was a man."
"Miss Eltham, you alarm me. What do you suspect?"
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