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|The Return of Dr. Fu-Manchu||Sax Rohmer|
|Page 3 of 4||
Smith bounded out into the road, and stood, a weird silhouette, with upraised arms, fully in its course!
The brakes were applied hurriedly. It was a big limousine, and its driver swerved perilously in avoiding Smith and nearly ran into me. But, the breathless moment past, the car was pulled up, head on to the railings; and a man in evening clothes was demanding excitedly what had happened. Smith, a hatless, disheveled figure, stepped up to the door.
"My name is Nayland Smith," he said rapidly--Burmese Commissioner." He snatched a letter from his pocket and thrust it into the hands of the bewildered man. "Read that. It is signed by another Commissioner--the Commissioner of Police."
With amazement written all over him, the other obeyed.
"You see," continued my friend, tersely--"it is carte blanche. I wish to commandeer your car, sir, on a matter of life and death!".
The other returned the letter.
"Allow me to offer it!" he said, descending. "My man will take your orders. I can finish my journey by cab. I am--"
But Smith did not wait to learn whom he might be.
"Quick!" he cried to the stupefied chauffeur--"You passed a car a minute ago--yonder. Can you overtake it?"
"I can try, sir, if I don't lose her track."
Smith leaped in, pulling me after him.
"Do it!" he snapped."There are no speed limits for me. Thanks! Goodnight, sir!"
We were off! The car swung around and the chase commenced.
One last glimpse I had of the man we had dispossessed, standing alone by the roadside, and at ever increasing speed, we leaped away in the track of Eltham's captors.
Smith was too highly excited for ordinary conversation, but he threw out short, staccato remarks.
"I have followed Fu-Manchu from Hongkong," he jerked. "Lost him at Suez. He got here a boat ahead of me. Eltham has been corresponding with some mandarin up-country. Knew that. Came straight to you. Only got in this evening. He--Fu-Manchu--has been sent here to get Eltham. My God! and he has him! He will question him! The interior of China--a seething pot, Petrie! They had to stop the leakage of information. He is here for that."
The car pulled up with a jerk that pitched me out of my seat, and the chauffeur leaped to the road and ran ahead. Smith was out in a trice, as the man, who had run up to a constable, came racing back.
"Jump in, sir--jump in!" he cried, his eyes bright with the lust of the chase; "they are making for Battersea!"
And we were off again.
Through the empty streets we roared on. A place of gasometers and desolate waste lots slipped behind and we were in a narrow way where gates of yards and a few lowly houses faced upon a prospect of high blank wall.
"Thames on our right," said Smith, peering ahead. "His rathole is by the river as usual. Hi!"-- he grabbed up the speaking-tube--"Stop! Stop!"
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