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|The Insidious Dr. Fu Manchu||Sax Rohmer|
|Page 5 of 7||
"I can think of no one--no one of note--in London at present upon whom it is likely that Fu-Manchu would make an attempt," he said, "except ourselves."
We began methodically to go through the long list of names which we had compiled and to review our elaborate notes. When, at last, I turned in, the night had given place to a new day. But sleep evaded me, and "ANDAMAN--SECOND" danced like a mocking phantom through my brain.
Then I heard the telephone bell. I heard Smith speaking.
A minute afterwards he was in my room, his face very grim.
"I knew as well as if I'd seen it with my own eyes that some black business was afoot last night," he said. "And it was. Within pistol-shot of us! Someone has got at Frank Norris West. Inspector Weymouth has just been on the 'phone."
"Norris West!" I cried, "the American aviator--and inventor--" "Of the West aero-torpedo--yes. He's been offering it to the English War Office, and they have delayed too long."
I got out of bed.
"What do you mean?"
"I mean that the potentialities have attracted the attention of Dr. Fu-Manchu!"
Those words operated electrically. I do not know how long I was in dressing, how long a time elapsed ere the cab for which Smith had 'phoned arrived, how many precious minutes were lost upon the journey; but, in a nervous whirl, these things slipped into the past, like the telegraph poles seen from the window of an express, and, still in that tense state, we came upon the scene of this newest outrage.
Mr. Norris West, whose lean, stoic face had latterly figured so often in the daily press, lay upon the floor in the little entrance hall of his chambers, flat upon his back, with the telephone receiver in his hand.
The outer door had been forced by the police. They had had to remove a piece of the paneling to get at the bolt. A medical man was leaning over the recumbent figure in the striped pajama suit, and Detective-Inspector Weymouth stood watching him as Smith and I entered.
"He has been heavily drugged," said the Doctor, sniffing at West's lips, "but I cannot say what drug has been used. It isn't chloroform or anything of that nature. He can safely be left to sleep it off, I think."
I agreed, after a brief examination.
"It's most extraordinary," said Weymouth. "He rang up the Yard about an hour ago and said his chambers had been invaded by Chinamen. Then the man at the 'phone plainly heard him fall. When we got here his front door was bolted, as you've seen, and the windows are three floors up. Nothing is disturbed."
"The plans of the aero-torpedo?" rapped Smith.
"I take it they are in the safe in his bedroom," replied the detective, "and that is locked all right. I think he must have taken an overdose of something and had illusions. But in case there was anything in what he mumbled (you could hardly understand him) I thought it as well to send for you."
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