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|The Insidious Dr. Fu Manchu||Sax Rohmer|
|Page 2 of 7||
My friend reached across the table and rested the tip of a long ringer upon one of the sub-headings to the account:
"SIR FRANK NARCOMBE SUMMONED TOO LATE."
"You see," said Smith, "Southery died during the night, but Sir Frank Narcombe, arriving a few minutes later, unhesitatingly pronounced death to be due to syncope, and seems to have noticed nothing suspicious."
I looked at him thoughtfully.
"Sir Frank is a great physician," I said slowly; "but we must remember he would be looking for nothing suspicious."
"We must remember," rapped Smith, "that, if Dr. Fu-Manchu is responsible for Southery's death, except to the eye of an expert there would be nothing suspicious to see. Fu-Manchu leaves no clews."
"Are you going around?" I asked.
Smith shrugged his shoulders.
"I think not," he replied. "Either a greater One than Fu-Manchu has taken Lord Southery, or the yellow doctor has done his work so well that no trace remains of his presence in the matter."
Leaving his breakfast untasted, he wandered aimlessly about the room, littering the hearth with matches as he constantly relighted his pipe, which went out every few minutes.
"It's no good, Petrie," he burst out suddenly; "it cannot be a coincidence. We must go around and see him."
An hour later we stood in the silent room, with its drawn blinds and its deathful atmosphere, looking down at the pale, intellectual face of Henry Stradwick, Lord Southery, the greatest engineer of his day. The mind that lay behind that splendid brow had planned the construction of the railway for which Russia had paid so great a price, had conceived the scheme for the canal which, in the near future, was to bring two great continents, a full week's journey nearer one to the other. But now it would plan no more.
"He had latterly developed symptoms of angina pectoris," explained the family physician; "but I had not anticipated a fatal termination so soon. I was called about two o'clock this morning, and found Lord Southery in a dangerously exhausted condition. I did all that was possible, and Sir Frank Narcombe was sent for. But shortly before his arrival the patient expired."
"I understand, Doctor, that you had been treating Lord Southery for angina pectoris?" I said.
"Yes," was the reply, "for some months."
"You regard the circumstances of his end as entirely consistent with a death from that cause?"
"Certainly. Do you observe anything unusual yourself? Sir Frank Narcombe quite agrees with me. There is surely no room for doubt?"
"No," said Smith, tugging reflectively at the lobe of his left ear. "We do not question the accuracy of your diagnosis in any way, sir."
The physician seemed puzzled.
"But am I not right in supposing that you are connected with the police?" asked the physician.
"Neither Dr. Petrie nor myself are in any way connected with the police," answered Smith. "But, nevertheless, I look to you to regard our recent questions as confidential."
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