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|The Return of Dr. Fu-Manchu||Sax Rohmer|
Enter Mr. Abel Slattin
|Page 2 of 3||
"Considering the importance of his proposal," I began, as the door closed, "you hardly received our visitor with cordiality."
"I hate to have any relations with him," answered my friend; "but we must not be squeamish respecting our instruments in dealing with Dr. Fu-Manchu. Slattin has a rotten reputation--even for a private inquiry agent. He is little better than a blackmailer--"
"How do you know?"
"Because I called on our friend Weymouth at the Yard yesterday and looked up the man's record."
"I knew that he was concerning himself, for some reason, in the case. Beyond doubt he has established some sort of communication with the Chinese group; I am only wondering--"
"You don't mean--"
"Yes--I do, Petrie! I tell you he is unscrupulous enough to stoop even to that."
No doubt, Slattin knew that this gaunt, eager-eyed Burmese commissioner was vested with ultimate authority in his quest of the mighty Chinaman who represented things unutterable, whose potentialities for evil were boundless as his genius, who personified a secret danger, the extent and nature of which none of us truly understood. And, learning of these things, with unerring Semitic instinct he had sought an opening in this glittering Rialto. But there were two bidders!
"You think he may have sunk so low as to become a creature of Fu-Manchu?" I asked, aghast.
"Exactly! If it paid him well I do not doubt that he would serve that master as readily as any other. His record is about as black as it well could be. Slattin is of course an assumed name; he was known as Lieutenant Pepley when he belonged to the New York Police, and he was kicked out of the service for complicity in an unsavory Chinatown case."
"Yes, Petrie, it made me wonder, too; and we must not forget that he is undeniably a clever scoundrel."
"Shall you keep any appointment which he may suggest?"
"Undoubtedly. But I shall not wait until tomorrow."
"I propose to pay a little informal visit to Mr. Abel Slattin, tonight." "At his office?"
"No; at his private residence. If, as I more than suspect, his object is to draw us into some trap, he will probably report his favorable progress to his employer to-night!"
"Then we should have followed him!"
Nayland Smith stood up and divested himself of the old shooting-jacket. "He has been followed, Petrie," he replied, with one of his rare smiles. "Two C.I.D. men have been watching the house all night!"
This was entirely characteristic of my friend's farseeing methods.
"By the way," I said, "you saw Eltham this morning. He will soon be convalescent. Where, in heaven's name, can he--"
"Don't be alarmed on his behalf, Petrie," interrupted Smith. "His life is no longer in danger."
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