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|The Insidious Dr. Fu Manchu||Sax Rohmer|
|Page 3 of 4||
No curious audience was present, for sunrise was not yet come; no concourse of excited students followed the hand of the Master; but within that surrounded cottage was performed one of those miracles of science which in other circumstances had made the fame of Dr. Fu-Manchu to live forever.
Inspector Weymouth, dazed, disheveled, clutching his head as a man who has passed through the Valley of the Shadow-- but sane--sane!--walked out into the porch!
He looked towards us--his eyes wild, but not with the fearsome wildness of insanity.
"Mr. Smith!" he cried--and staggered down the path--"Dr. Petrie! What--"
There came a deafening explosion. From EVERY visible window of the deserted cottage flames burst forth!
"QUICK!" Smith's voice rose almost to a scream--"into the house!"
He raced up the path, past Inspector Weymouth, who stood swaying there like a drunken man. I was close upon his heels. Behind me came the police.
The door was impassable! Already, it vomited a deathly heat, borne upon stifling fumes like those of the mouth of the Pit. We burst a window. The room within was a furnace!
"My God!" cried someone. "This is supernatural!"
"Listen!" cried another. "Listen!"
The crowd which a fire can conjure up at any hour of day or night, out of the void of nowhere, was gathering already. But upon all descended a pall of silence.
From the heat of the holocaust a voice proclaimed itself--a voice raised, not in anguish but in TRIUMPH! It chanted barbarically--and was still.
The abnormal flames rose higher--leaping forth from every window.
"The alarm!" said Smith hoarsely. "Call up the brigade!"
I come to the close of my chronicle, and feel that I betray a trust-- the trust of my reader. For having limned in the colors at my command the fiendish Chinese doctor, I am unable to conclude my task as I should desire, unable, with any consciousness of finality, to write Finis to the end of my narrative.
It seems to me sometimes that my pen is but temporarily idle--that I have but dealt with a single phase of a movement having a hundred phases. One sequel I hope for, and against all the promptings of logic and Western bias. If my hope shall be realized I cannot, at this time, pretend to state.
The future, 'mid its many secrets, holds this precious one from me.
I ask you then, to absolve me from the charge of ill completing my work; for any curiosity with which this narrative may leave the reader burdened is shared by the writer.
With intent, I have rushed you from the chambers of Professor Jenner Monde to that closing episode at the deserted cottage; I have made the pace hot in order to impart to these last pages of my account something of the breathless scurry which characterized those happenings.
My canvas may seem sketchy: it is my impression of the reality. No hard details remain in my mind of the dealings of that night. Fu-Manchu arrested--Fu-Manchu, manacled, entering the cottage on his mission of healing; Weymouth, miraculously rendered sane, coming forth; the place in flames.
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