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|The Return of Dr. Fu-Manchu||Sax Rohmer|
Story Of The Gables
|Page 4 of 5||
"Only this: I learnt, indirectly, that the last member of the Quaker family to occupy the house had apparently witnessed the apparition, which had led to his vacating the place. I got the story from the wife of a man who had been employed as gardener there at that time. The apparition--which he witnessed in the hallway, if I remember rightly-- took the form of a sort of luminous hand clutching a long, curved knife."
"Oh, Heavens!" cried Smith, and laughed shortly; "that's quite in order!"
"This gentleman told no one of the occurrence until after he had left the house, no doubt in order that the place should not acquire an evil reputation. Most of the original furniture remained, and Mr. Maddison took the house furnished. I don't think there can be any doubt that what killed him was fear at seeing a repetition--"
"Of the fiery hand?" concluded Smith.
"Quite so. Well, I examined the Gables pretty closely, and, with another Scotland Yard man, spent a night in the empty house. We saw nothing; but once, very faintly, we heard the ringing of bells."
Smith spun around upon him rapidly.
"You can swear to that?" he snapped.
"I can swear to it," declared Weymouth stolidly. "It seemed to be over our heads. We were sitting in the dining-room. Then it was gone, and we heard nothing more whatever of an unusual nature. Following the death of Mr. Maddison, the Gables remained empty until a while ago, when a French gentleman, name Lejay, leased it--"
"Yes; nothing was removed--"
"Who kept the place in order?"
"A married couple living in the neighborhood undertook to do so. The man attended to the lawn and so forth, and the woman came once a week, I believe, to clean up the house."
"He came in only last week, having leased the house for six months. His family were to have joined him in a day or two, and he, with the aid of the pair I have just mentioned, and assisted by a French servant he brought over with him, was putting the place in order. At about twelve o'clock on Friday night this servant ran into a neighboring house screaming 'the fiery hand!' and when at last a constable arrived and a frightened group went up the avenue of the Gables, they found M. Lejay, dead in the avenue, near the steps just outside the hall door! He had the same face of horror . . ."
"What a tale for the press!" snapped Smith.
The owner has managed to keep it quiet so far, but this time I think it will leak into the press--yes."
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