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The Insidious Dr. Fu Manchu Sax Rohmer

Chapter XIX

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I HAVE never seen a man quite so surprised as Inspector Weymouth.

"This is absolutely incredible!" he said. "There's only one door to your chambers. We found it bolted from the inside."

"Yes," groaned West, pressing his hand to his forehead. "I bolted it myself at eleven o'clock, when I came in."

"No human being could climb up or down to your windows. The plans of the aero-torpedo were inside a safe."

"I put them there myself," said West, "on returning from the War Office, and I had occasion to consult them after I had come in and bolted the door. I returned them to the safe and locked it. That it was still locked you saw for yourselves, and no one else in the world knows the combination."

"But the plans have gone," said Weymouth. "It's magic! How was it done? What happened last night, sir? What did you mean when you rang us up?"

Smith during this colloquy was pacing rapidly up and down the room. He turned abruptly to the aviator.

"Every fact you can remember, Mr. West, please," he said tersely; "and be as brief as you possibly can."

"I came in, as I said," explained West "about eleven o'clock and having made some notes relating to an interview arranged for this morning, I locked the plans in the safe and turned in."

"There was no one hidden anywhere in your chambers?" snapped Smith.

"There was not," replied West. "I looked. I invariably do. Almost immediately, I went to sleep."

"How many chloral tabloids did you take?" I interrupted.

Norris West turned to me with a slow smile.

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"You're cute, Doctor," he said. "I took two. It's a bad habit, but I can't sleep without. They are specially made up for me by a firm in Philadelphia."

"How long sleep lasted, when it became filled with uncanny dreams, and when those dreams merged into reality, I do not know-- shall never know, I suppose. But out of the dreamless void a face came to me--closer--closer--and peered into mine.

"I was in that curious condition wherein one knows that one is dreaming and seeks to awaken--to escape. But a nightmare-like oppression held me. So I must lie and gaze into the seared yellow face that hung over me, for it would drop so close that I could trace the cicatrized scar running from the left ear to the corner of the mouth, and drawing up the lip like the lip of a snarling cur. I could look into the malignant, jaundiced eyes; I could hear the dim whispering of the distorted mouth-- whispering that seemed to counsel something--something evil. That whispering intimacy was indescribably repulsive. Then the wicked yellow face would be withdrawn, and would recede until it became as a pin's head in the darkness far above me-- almost like a glutinous, liquid thing.

"Somehow I got upon my feet, or dreamed I did--God knows where dreaming ended and reality began. Gentlemen maybe you'll conclude I went mad last night, but as I stood holding on to the bedrail I heard the blood throbbing through my arteries with a noise like a screw-propeller. I started laughing. The laughter issued from my lips with a shrill whistling sound that pierced me with physical pain and seemed to wake the echoes of the whole block. I thought myself I was going mad, and I tried to command my will-- to break the power of the chloral--for I concluded that I had accidentally taken an overdose.

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The Insidious Dr. Fu Manchu
Sax Rohmer

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