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The Return of Dr. Fu-Manchu Sax Rohmer

The Climber Returns

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I cannot dwell upon the end of that encounter; I cannot hope to make acceptable to my readers an account of how Nayland Smith, glassy-eyed, and with consciousness ebbing from him instant by instant, stood there, a realization of Leighton's "Athlete," his arms rigid as iron bars even after Fu-Manchu's servant hung limply in that frightful grip.

In his last moments of consciousness, with the blood from his wounded head trickling down into his eyes, he pointed to the stick which I had torn from the grip of the dacoit, and which I still held in my hand.

"Not Aaron's rod, Petrie!" he gasped hoarsely--"the rod of Moses!-- Slattin's stick!"

Even in upon my anxiety for my friend, amazement intruded.

"But," I began--and turned to the rack in which Slattin's favorite cane at that moment reposed--had reposed at the time of his death.

Yes!-- there stood Slattin's cane; we had not moved it; we had disturbed nothing in that stricken house; there it stood, in company with an umbrella and a malacca.

I glanced at the cane in my hand. Surely there could not be two such in the world?

Smith collapsed on the floor at my feet.

"Examine the one in the rack, Petrie," he whispered, almost inaudibly, "but do not touch it. It may not be yet. . . ."

I propped him up against the foot of the stairs, and as the constable began knocking violently at the street door, crossed to the rack and lifted out the replica of the cane which I held in my hand.

A faint cry from Smith--and as if it had been a leprous thing, I dropped the cane instantly.

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"Merciful God!" I groaned.

Although, in every other particular, it corresponded with that which I held--which I had taken from the dacoit--which he had come to substitute for the cane now lying upon the floor--in one dreadful particular it differed.

Up to the snake's head it was an accurate copy; but the head lived!

Either from pain, fear or starvation, the thing confined in the hollow tube of this awful duplicate was become torpid. Otherwise, no power on earth could have saved me from the fate of Abel Slattin; for the creature was an Australian death-adder.

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The Return of Dr. Fu-Manchu
Sax Rohmer

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