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|The Insidious Dr. Fu Manchu||Sax Rohmer|
|Page 1 of 6||
WITH the first coming of light, Eltham, Smith and I tested the electrical contrivances from every point. They were in perfect order. It became more and more incomprehensible how anyone could have entered and quitted Redmoat during the night. The barbed-wire fencing was intact, and bore no signs of having been tampered with.
Smith and I undertook an exhaustive examination of the shrubbery.
At the spot where we had found the dog, some five paces to the west of the copper beech, the grass and weeds were trampled and the surrounding laurels and rhododendrons bore evidence of a struggle, but no human footprint could be found.
"The ground is dry," said Smith. "We cannot expect much."
"In my opinion," I said, "someone tried to get at Caesar; his presence is dangerous. And in his rage he broke loose."
"I think so, too," agreed Smith. "But why did this person make for here? And how, having mastered the dog, get out of Redmoat? I am open to admit the possibility of someone's getting in during the day whilst the gates are open, and hiding until dusk. But how in the name of all that's wonderful does he GET OUT? He must possess the attributes of a bird."
I thought of Greba Eltham's statements, reminding my friend of her description of the thing which she had seen passing into this strangely haunted shrubbery.
"That line of speculation soon takes us out of our depth, Petrie," he said. "Let us stick to what we can understand, and that may help us to a clearer idea of what, at present, is incomprehensible. My view of the case to date stands thus:
"(1) Eltham, having rashly decided to return to the interior of China, is warned by an official whose friendship he has won in some way to stay in England.
"(2) I know this official for one of the Yellow group represented in England by Dr. Fu-Manchu.
"(3) Several attempts, of which we know but little, to get at Eltham are frustrated, presumably by his curious `defenses.' An attempt in a train fails owing to Miss Eltham's distaste for refreshment-room coffee. An attempt here fails owing to her insomnia.
"(4) During Eltham's absence from Redmoat certain preparations are made for his return. These lead to:
"(a) The death of Denby's collie;
"(b) The things heard and seen by Miss Eltham;
"(c) The things heard and seen by us all last night.
"So that the clearing up of my fourth point--id est, the discovery of the nature of these preparations--becomes our immediate concern. The prime object of these preparations, Petrie, was to enable someone to gain access to Eltham's room. The other events are incidental. The dogs HAD to be got rid of, for instance; and there is no doubt that Miss Eltham's wakefulness saved her father a second time."
"But from what? For Heaven's sake, from what?"
Smith glanced about into the light-patched shadows.
"From a visit by someone--perhaps by Fu-Manchu himself," he said in a hushed voice. "The object of that visit I hope we may never learn; for that would mean that it had been achieved."
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