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|The Insidious Dr. Fu Manchu||Sax Rohmer|
|Page 4 of 5||
It was Dr. Fu-Manchu.
At last they were face to face--the head of the great Yellow Movement, and the man who fought on behalf of the entire white race. How can I paint the individual who now stood before us-- perhaps the greatest genius of modern times?
Of him it had been fitly said that he had a brow like Shakespeare and a face like Satan. Something serpentine, hypnotic, was in his very presence. Smith drew one sharp breath, and was silent. Together, chained to the wall, two mediaeval captives, living mockeries of our boasted modern security, we crouched before Dr. Fu-Manchu.
He came forward with an indescribable gait, cat-like yet awkward, carrying his high shoulders almost hunched. He placed the lantern in a niche in the wall, never turning away the reptilian gaze of those eyes which must haunt my dreams forever. They possessed a viridescence which hitherto I had supposed possible only in the eye of the cat--and the film intermittently clouded their brightness-- but I can speak of them no more.
I had never supposed, prior to meeting Dr. Fu-Manchu, that so intense a force of malignancy could radiate--from any human being. He spoke. His English was perfect, though at times his words were oddly chosen; his delivery alternately was guttural and sibilant.
"Mr. Smith and Dr. Petrie, your interference with my plans has gone too far. I have seriously turned my attention to you."
He displayed his teeth, small and evenly separated, but discolored in a way that was familiar to me. I studied his eyes with a new professional interest, which even the extremity of our danger could not wholly banish. Their greenness seemed to be of the iris; the pupil was oddly contracted--a pin-point.
Smith leaned his back against the wall with assumed indifference.
"You have presumed," continued Fu-Manchu, "to meddle with a world-change. Poor spiders--caught in the wheels of the inevitable! You have linked my name with the futility of the Young China Movement-- the name of Fu-Manchu! Mr. Smith, you are an incompetent meddler-- I despise you! Dr. Petrie, you are a fool--I am sorry for you!"
He rested one bony hand on his hip, narrowing the long eyes as he looked down on us. The purposeful cruelty of the man was inherent; it was entirely untheatrical. Still Smith remained silent.
"So I am determined to remove you from the scene of your blunders!" added Fu-Manchu.
"Opium will very shortly do the same for you!" I rapped at him savagely.
Without emotion he turned the narrowed eyes upon me.
"That is a matter of opinion, Doctor," he said. "You may have lacked the opportunities which have been mine for studying that subject-- and in any event I shall not be privileged to enjoy your advice in the future."
"You will not long outlive me," I replied. "And our deaths will not profit you, incidentally; because--" Smith's foot touched mine.
"Because?" inquired Fu-Manchu softly.
"Ah! Mr. Smith is so prudent! He is thinking that I have FILES!" He pronounced the word in a way that made me shudder. "Mr. Smith has seen a WIRE JACKET! Have you ever seen a wire jacket? As a surgeon its functions would interest you!"
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