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|The Insidious Dr. Fu Manchu||Sax Rohmer|
|Page 3 of 5||
She shocked me inexpressibly. Enveloped in her cloak again, and with only her slight accent to betray her, it was dreadful to hear such words from a girl who, save for her singular type of beauty, might have been a cultured European.
"Prove, then, that you really wish to leave this man's service. Tell me what killed Strozza and the Chinaman," I said.
She shrugged her shoulders.
"I do not know that. But if you will carry me off"--she clutched me nervously--"so that I am helpless, lock me up so that I cannot escape, beat me, if you like, I will tell you all I do know. While he is my master I will never betray him. Tear me from him--by force, do you understand, BY FORCE, and my lips will be sealed no longer. Ah! but you do not understand, with your `proper authorities'-- your police. Police! Ah, I have said enough."
A clock across the common began to strike. The girl started and laid her hands upon my shoulders again. There were tears glittering among the curved black lashes.
"You do not understand," she whispered. "Oh, will you never understand and release me from him! I must go. Already I have remained too long. Listen. Go out without delay. Remain out--at a hotel, where you will, but do not stay here."
"And Nayland Smith?"
"What is he to me, this Nayland Smith? Ah, why will you not unseal my lips? You are in danger--you hear me, in danger! Go away from here to-night."
She dropped her hands and ran from the room. In the open doorway she turned, stamping her foot passionately.
"You have hands and arms," she cried, "and yet you let me go. Be warned, then; fly from here--" She broke off with something that sounded like a sob.
I made no move to stay her--this beautiful accomplice of the arch-murderer, Fu-Manchu. I heard her light footsteps paltering down the stairs, I heard her open and close the door--the door of which Dr. Fu-Manchu held the key. Still I stood where she had parted from me, and was so standing when a key grated in the lock and Nayland Smith came running up.
"Did you see her?" I began.
But his face showed that he had not done so, and rapidly I told him of my strange visitor, of her words, of her warning.
"How can she have passed through London in that costume?" I cried in bewilderment. "Where can she have come from?"
Smith shrugged his shoulders and began to stuff broad-cut mixture into the familiar cracked briar.
"She might have traveled in a car or in a cab," he said; "and undoubtedly she came direct from the house of Dr. Fu-Manchu. You should have detained her, Petrie. It is the third time we have had that woman in our power, the third time we have let her go free."
"Smith," I replied, "I couldn't. She came of her own free will to give me a warning. She disarms me."
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