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|The Insidious Dr. Fu Manchu||Sax Rohmer|
|Page 2 of 6||
"You will fulfill your promise to me?" said Karamaneh, and looked up into my face.
She was enveloped in a big, loose cloak, and from the shadow of the hood her wonderful eyes gleamed out like stars.
"What do you wish us to do?" asked Nayland Smith.
"You--and Dr. Petrie," she replied swiftly, "must enter first, and bring out Aziz. Until he is safe--until he is out of that place-- you are to make no attempt upon--"
"Upon Dr. Fu-Manchu?" interrupted Weymouth; for Karamaneh hesitated to pronounce the dreaded name, as she always did. "But how can we be sure that there is no trap laid for us?"
The Scotland Yard man did not entirely share my confidence in the integrity of this Eastern girl whom he knew to have been a creature of the Chinaman's.
"Aziz lies in the private room," she explained eagerly, her old accent more noticeable than usual. "There is only one of the Burmese men in the house, and he--he dare not enter without orders!"
"We have nothing to fear from him. He will be your prisoner within ten minutes from now! I have no time for words-- you must believe!" She stamped her foot impatiently. "And the dacoit?" snapped Smith.
"I think perhaps I'd better come in, too," said Weymouth slowly.
Karamaneh shrugged her shoulders with quick impatience, and unlocked the door in the high brick wall which divided the gloomy, evil-smelling court from the luxurious apartments of Dr. Fu-Manchu.
"Make no noise," she warned. And Smith and myself followed her along the uncarpeted passage beyond.
Inspector Weymouth, with a final word of instruction to his second in command, brought up the rear. The door was reclosed; a few paces farther on a second was unlocked. Passing through a small room, unfurnished, a farther passage led us to a balcony. The transition was startling.
Darkness was about us now, and silence: a perfumed, slumberous darkness-- a silence full of mystery. For, beyond the walls of the apartment whereon we looked down waged the unceasing battle of sounds that is the hymn of the great industrial river. About the scented confines which bounded us now floated the smoke-laden vapors of the Lower Thames.
From the metallic but infinitely human clangor of dock-side life, from the unpleasant but homely odors which prevail where ships swallow in and belch out the concrete evidences of commercial prosperity, we had come into this incensed stillness, where one shaded lamp painted dim enlargements of its Chinese silk upon the nearer walls, and left the greater part of the room the darker for its contrast.
Nothing of the Thames-side activity--of the riveting and scraping-- the bumping of bales--the bawling of orders--the hiss of steam-- penetrated to this perfumed place. In the pool of tinted light lay the deathlike figure of a dark-haired boy, Karamaneh's muffled form bending over him.
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