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|The Insidious Dr. Fu Manchu||Sax Rohmer|
|Page 1 of 5||
NIGHT fell on Redmoat. I glanced from the window at the nocturne in silver and green which lay beneath me. To the west of the shrubbery, with its broken canopy of elms and beyond the copper beech which marked the center of its mazes, a gap offered a glimpse of the Waverney where it swept into a broad. Faint bird-calls floated over the water. These, with the whisper of leaves, alone claimed the ear.
Ideal rural peace, and the music of an English summer evening; but to my eyes, every shadow holding fantastic terrors; to my ears, every sound a signal of dread. For the deathful hand of Fu-Manchu was stretched over Redmoat, at any hour to loose strange, Oriental horrors upon its inmates.
"Well," said Nayland Smith, joining me at the window, "we had dared to hope him dead, but we know now that he lives!"
The Rev. J. D. Eltham coughed nervously, and I turned, leaning my elbow upon the table, and studied the play of expression upon the refined, sensitive face of the clergyman.
"You think I acted rightly in sending for you, Mr. Smith?"
Nayland Smith smoked furiously.
"Mr. Eltham," he replied, "you see in me a man groping in the dark. I am to-day no nearer to the conclusion of my mission than upon the day when I left Mandalay. You offer me a clew; I am here. Your affair, I believe, stands thus: A series of attempted burglaries, or something of the kind, has alarmed your household. Yesterday, returning from London with your daughter, you were both drugged in some way and, occupying a compartment to yourselves, you both slept. Your daughter awoke, and saw someone else in the carriage-- a yellow-faced man who held a case of instruments in his hands."
"Yes; I was, of course, unable to enter into particulars over the telephone. The man was standing by one of the windows. Directly he observed that my daughter was awake, he stepped towards her."
"What did he do with the case in his hands?"
"She did not notice--or did not mention having noticed. In fact, as was natural, she was so frightened that she recalls nothing more, beyond the fact that she strove to arouse me, without succeeding, felt hands grasp her shoulders--and swooned."
"But someone used the emergency cord, and stopped the train."
"Greba has no recollection of having done so."
"Hm! Of course, no yellow-faced man was on the train. When did you awake?"
"I was aroused by the guard, but only when he had repeatedly shaken me."
"Upon reaching Great Yarmouth you immediately called up Scotland Yard? You acted very wisely, sir. How long were you in China?"
Mr. Eltham's start of surprise was almost comical.
"It is perhaps not strange that you should be aware of my residence in China, Mr. Smith," he said; "but my not having mentioned it may seem so. The fact is"--his sensitive face flushed in palpable embarrassment-- "I left China under what I may term an episcopal cloud. I have lived in retirement ever since. Unwittingly--I solemnly declare to you, Mr. Smith, unwittingly--I stirred up certain deep-seated prejudices in my endeavors to do my duty--my duty. I think you asked me how long I was in China? I was there from 1896 until 1900--four years."
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