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|The Insidious Dr. Fu Manchu||Sax Rohmer|
|Page 4 of 6||
When we all stood again on the lawn, I thought that I had never seen Smith so haggard.
"What in Heaven's name can we do?" he muttered. "What does it mean?"
He expected no answer; for there was none to offer one.
"Search! Everywhere," said Eltham hoarsely.
He ran off into the rose garden, and began beating about among the flowers like a madman, muttering: "Vernon! Vernon!" For close upon an hour we all searched. We searched every square yard, I think, within the wire fencing, and found no trace. Miss Eltham slipped out in the confusion, and joined with the rest of us in that frantic hunt. Some of the servants assisted too.
It was a group terrified and awestricken which came together again on the terrace. One and then another would give up, until only Eltham and Smith were missing. Then they came back together from examining the steps to the lower gate.
Eltham dropped on to a rustic seat, and sank his head in his hands.
Nayland Smith paced up and down like a newly caged animal, snapping his teeth together and tugging at his ear.
Possessed by some sudden idea, or pressed to action by his tumultuous thoughts, he snatched up a lantern and strode silently off across the grass and to the shrubbery once more. I followed him. I think his idea was that he might surprise anyone who lurked there. He surprised himself, and all of us.
For right at the margin he tripped and fell flat. I ran to him.
He had fallen over the body of Denby, which lay there!
Denby had not been there a few moments before, and how he came to be there now we dared not conjecture. Mr. Eltham joined us, uttered one short, dry sob, and dropped upon his knees. Then we were carrying Denby back to the house, with the mastiff howling a marche funebre.
We laid him on the grass where it sloped down from the terrace. Nayland Smith's haggard face was terrible. But the stark horror of the thing inspired him to that, which conceived earlier, had saved Denby. Twisting suddenly to Eltham, he roared in a voice audible beyond the river:
"Heavens! we are fools! LOOSE THE DOG!"
"But the dog--" I began.
Smith clapped his hand over my mouth.
"I know he's crippled," he whispered. "But if anything human lurks there, the dog will lead us to it. If a MAN is there, he will fly! Why did we not think of it before. Fools, fools!" He raised his voice again. "Keep him on leash, Edwards. He will lead us."
The scheme succeeded.
Edwards barely had started on his errand when bells began ridging inside the house.
"Wait!" snapped Eltham, and rushed indoors.
A moment later he was out again, his eyes gleaming madly. "Above the moat," he panted. And we were off en masse round the edge of the trees.
It was dark above the moat; but not so dark as to prevent our seeing a narrow ladder of thin bamboo joints and silken cord hanging by two hooks from the top of the twelve-foot wire fence. There was no sound.
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