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|The Return of Dr. Fu-Manchu||Sax Rohmer|
|Page 2 of 3||
My several attempts at conversation had elicited nothing but growls; therefore, as dusk descended, having dismissed my few patients, I busied myself collating my notes upon the renewed activity of the Yellow Doctor, and was thus engaged when the 'phone bell disturbed me. It was Smith who was wanted, however; and he went out eagerly, leaving me to my task.
At the end of a lengthy conversation, he returned from the 'phone and began, restlessly, to pace the room. I made a pretense of continuing my labors, but covertly I was watching him. He was twitching at the lobe of his left ear, and his face was a study in perplexity. Abruptly he burst out:
"I shall throw the thing up, Petrie! Either I am growing too old to cope with such an adversary as Fu-Manchu, or else my intellect has become dull. I cannot seem to think clearly or consistently. For the Doctor, this crime, this removal of Slattin, is clumsy--unfinished. There are two explanations. Either he, too, is losing his old cunning or he has been interrupted!"
"Take the facts, Petrie,"--Smith clapped his hands upon my table and bent down, peering into my eyes--"is it characteristic of Fu-Manchu to kill a man by the direct agency of a snake and to implicate one of his own damnable servants in this way?"
"But we have found no snake!"
"Karamaneh introduced one in some way. Do you doubt it?"
"Certainly Karamaneh visited him on the evening of his death, but you must be perfectly well aware that even if she had been arrested, no jury could convict her."
Smith resumed his restless pacings up and down.
"You are very useful to me, Petrie," he replied; as a counsel for the defense you constantly rectify my errors of prejudice. Yet I am convinced that our presence at Slattin's house last night prevented Fu-Manchu from finishing off this little matter as he had designed to do."
"What has given you this idea?"
"Weymouth is responsible. He has rung me up from the Yard. The constable on duty at the house where the murder was committed, reports that some one, less than an hour ago, attempted to break in."
"Ah! you are interested? I thought the circumstance illuminating, also!"
"Did the officer see this person?"
"No; he only heard him. It was some one who endeavored to enter by the bathroom window, which, I am told, may be reached fairly easily by an agile climber."
"The attempt did not succeed?"
"No; the constable interrupted, but failed to make a capture or even to secure a glimpse of the man."
We were both silent for some moments; then:
"What do you propose to do?" I asked.
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