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|The Insidious Dr. Fu Manchu||Sax Rohmer|
|Page 2 of 5||
"You must think me hysterical and silly, but whilst father and I have been away from Redmoat perhaps the usual precautions have been neglected. Is there any creature, any large creature, which could climb up the wall to the window? Do you know of anything with a long, thin body?"
For a moment I offered no reply, studying the girl's pretty face, her eager, blue-gray eyes widely opened and fixed upon mine. She was not of the neurotic type, with her clear complexion and sun-kissed neck; her arms, healthily toned by exposure to the country airs, were rounded and firm, and she had the agile shape of a young Diana with none of the anaemic languor which breeds morbid dreams. She was frightened; yes, who would not have been? But the mere idea of this thing which she believed to be in Redmoat, without the apparition of the green eyes, must have prostrated a victim of "nerves."
"Have you seen such a creature, Miss Eltham?"
She hesitated again, glancing down and pressing her finger-tips together.
"As father awoke and called out to know why I knocked, I glanced from my window. The moonlight threw half the lawn into shadow, and just disappearing in this shadow was something-- something of a brown color, marked with sections!"
"What size and shape?"
"It moved so quickly I could form no idea of its shape; but I saw quite six feet of it flash across the grass!"
"Did you hear anything?"
"A swishing sound in the shrubbery, then nothing more."
She met my eyes expectantly. Her confidence in my powers of understanding and sympathy was gratifying, though I knew that I but occupied the position of a father-confessor.
"Have you any idea," I said, "how it came about that you awoke in the train yesterday whilst your father did not?"
"We had coffee at a refreshment-room; it must have been drugged in some way. I scarcely tasted mine, the flavor was so awful; but father is an old traveler and drank the whole of his cupful!"
Mr. Eltham's voice called from below.
"Dr. Petrie," said the girl quickly, "what do you think they want to do to him?"
"Ah!" I replied, "I wish I knew that."
"Will you think over what I have told you? For I do assure you there is something here in Redmoat--something that comes and goes in spite of father's `fortifications'? Caesar knows there is. Listen to him. He drags at his chain so that I wonder he does not break it."
As we passed downstairs the howling of the mastiff sounded eerily through the house, as did the clank-clank of the tightening chain as he threw the weight of his big body upon it.
I sat in Smith's room that night for some time, he pacing the floor smoking and talking.
"Eltham has influential Chinese friends," he said; "but they dare not have him in Nan-Yang at present. He knows the country as he knows Norfolk; he would see things!
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