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|The Insidious Dr. Fu Manchu||Sax Rohmer|
|Page 5 of 5||
I stifled a cry that rose to my lips; for, with a shrill whistling sound, a small shape came bounding into the dimly lit vault, then shot upward. A marmoset landed on the shoulder of Dr. Fu-Manchu and peered grotesquely into the dreadful yellow face. The Doctor raised his bony hand and fondled the little creature, crooning to it.
"One of my pets, Mr. Smith," he said, suddenly opening his eyes fully so that they blazed like green lamps. "I have others, equally useful. My scorpions--have you met my scorpions? No? My pythons and hamadryads? Then there are my fungi and my tiny allies, the bacilli. I have a collection in my laboratory quite unique. Have you ever visited Molokai, the leper island, Doctor? No? But Mr. Nayland Smith will be familiar with the asylum at Rangoon! And we must not forget my black spiders, with their diamond eyes-- my spiders, that sit in the dark and watch--then leap!"
He raised his lean hands, so that the sleeve of the robe fell back to the elbow, and the ape dropped, chattering, to the floor and ran from the cellar.
"O God of Cathay!" he cried, "by what death shall these die-- these miserable ones who would bind thine Empire, which is boundless!"
Like some priest of Tezcat he stood, his eyes upraised to the roof, his lean body quivering--a sight to shock the most unimpressionable mind.
"He is mad!" I whispered to Smith. "God help us, the man is a dangerous homicidal maniac!"
Nayland Smith's tanned face was very drawn, but he shook his head grimly.
"Dangerous, yes, I agree," he muttered; "his existence is a danger to the entire white race which, now, we are powerless to avert."
Dr. Fu-Manchu recovered himself, took up the lantern and, turning abruptly, walked to the door, with his awkward, yet feline gait. At the threshold be looked back.
"You would have warned Mr. Graham Guthrie?" he said, in a soft voice. "To-night, at half-past twelve, Mr. Graham Guthrie dies!"
Smith sat silent and motionless, his eyes fixed upon the speaker.
"You were in Rangoon in 1908?" continued Dr. Fu-Manchu-- "you remember the Call?"
From somewhere above us--I could not determine the exact direction-- came a low, wailing cry, an uncanny thing of falling cadences, which, in that dismal vault, with the sinister yellow-robed figure at the door, seemed to pour ice into my veins. Its effect upon Smith was truly extraordinary. His face showed grayly in the faint light, and I heard him draw a hissing breath through clenched teeth.
"It calls for you!" said Fu-Manchu. "At half-past twelve it calls for Graham Guthrie!"
The door closed and darkness mantled us again.
"Smith," I said, "what was that?" The horrors about us were playing havoc with my nerves.
"It was the Call of Siva!" replied Smith hoarsely.
"What is it? Who uttered it? What does it mean?"
"I don't know what it is, Petrie, nor who utters it. But it means death!"
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