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|The Return of Dr. Fu-Manchu||Sax Rohmer|
"My Shadow Lies Upon You"
|Page 2 of 4||
He began to listen again for the elusive message. I turned to Platts.
"Where is it being sent from?" I asked.
Platts shook his head.
"That's the mystery," he declared. "Look!"--and he pointed to the table; "according to the Marconi chart, there's a Messagerie boat due west between us and Marseilles, and the homeward-bound P. & O. which we passed this morning must be getting on that way also, by now. The Isis is somewhere ahead, but I've spoken to all these, and the message comes from none of them."
"Then it may come from Messina."
"It doesn't come from Messina," replied the man at the table, beginning to write rapidly.
Platts stepped forward and bent over the message which the other was writing.
"Here it is!" he cried, excitedly; "we're getting it."
Stepping in turn to the table, I leaned over between the two and read these words as the operator wrote them down:
Dr. Petrie--my shadow . . .
I drew a quick breath and gripped Platts' shoulder harshly. His assistant began fingering the instrument with irritation.
"Lost it again!" he muttered.
"This message," I began . . .
But again the pencil was traveling over the paper:
--lies upon you all . . . end of message.
The operator stood up and unclasped the receivers from his ears. There, high above the sleeping ship's company, with the carpet of the blue Mediterranean stretched indefinitely about us, we three stood looking at one another. By virtue of a miracle of modern science, some one, divided from me by mile upon mile of boundless ocean, had spoken --and had been heard.
"Is there no means of learning," I said, "from whence this message emanated?"
Platts shook his head, perplexedly.
"They gave no code word," he said. "God knows who they were. It's a strange business and a strange message. Have you any sort of idea, Dr. Petrie, respecting the identity of the sender?"
I stared him hard in the face; an idea had mechanically entered my mind, but one of which I did not choose to speak, since it was opposed to human possibility.
But, had I not seen with my own eyes the bloody streak across his forehead as the shot fired by Karamaneh entered his high skull, had I not known, so certainly as it is given to man to know, that the giant intellect was no more, the mighty will impotent, I should have replied:
"The message is from Dr. Fu-Manchu!"
My reflections were rudely terminated and my sinister thoughts given new stimulus, by a loud though muffled cry which reached me from somewhere in the ship, below. Both my companions started as violently as I, whereby I knew that the mystery of the wireless message had not been without its effect upon their minds also. But whereas they paused in doubt, I leaped from the room and almost threw myself down the ladder.
It was Karamaneh who had uttered that cry of fear and horror!
Although I could perceive no connection betwixt the strange message and the cry in the night, intuitively I linked them, intuitively I knew that my fears had been well-grounded; that the shadow of Fu-Manchu still lay upon us.
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