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The Return of Dr. Fu-Manchu Sax Rohmer

The Mummy

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We were scheduled to reach Port Said at about eight o'clock in the evening, but by reason of the delay occasioned so tragically, I learned that in all probability we should not arrive earlier than midnight, whilst passengers would not go ashore until the following morning. Karamaneh who had been staring ahead all day, seeking a first glimpse of her native land, was determined to remain up until the hour of our arrival, but after dinner a notice was posted up that we should not be in before two A.M. Even those passengers who were the most enthusiastic thereupon determined to postpone, for a few hours, their first glimpse of the land of the Pharaohs and even to forego the sight--one of the strangest and most interesting in the world--of Port Said by night.

For my own part, I confess that all the interest and hope with which I had looked forward to our arrival, had left me, and often I detected tears in the eyes of Karamaneh whereby I knew that the coldness in my heart had manifested itself even to her. I had sustained the greatest blow of my life, and not even the presence of so lovely a companion could entirely recompense me for the loss of my dearest friend.

The lights on the Egyptian shore were faintly visible when the last group of stragglers on deck broke up. I had long since prevailed upon Karamaneh to retire, and now, utterly sick at heart, I sought my own stateroom, mechanically undressed, and turned in.

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It may, or may not be singular that I had neglected all precautions since the night of the tragedy; I was not even conscious of a desire to visit retribution upon our hidden enemy; in some strange fashion I took it for granted that there would be no further attempts upon Karamaneh, Aziz, or myself. I had not troubled to confirm Smith's surmise respecting the closing of the portholes; but I know now for a fact that, whereas they had been closed from the time of our leaving the Straits of Messina, to-night, in sight of the Egyptian coast, the regulation was relaxed again. I cannot say if this is usual, but that it occurred on this ship is a fact to which I can testify--a fact to which my attention was to be drawn dramatically.

The night was steamingly hot, and because I welcomed the circumstance that my own port was widely opened, I reflected that those on the lower decks might be open also. A faint sense of danger stirred within me; indeed, I sat upright and was about to spring out of my berth when that occurred which induced me to change my mind.

All passengers had long since retired, and a midnight silence descended upon the ship, for we were not yet close enough to port for any unusual activities to have commenced.

Clearly outlined in the open porthole there suddenly arose that same grotesque silhouette which I had seen once before.

Prompted by I know not what, I lay still and simulated heavy breathing; for it was evident to me that I must be partly visible to the watcher, so bright was the night. For ten--twenty--thirty seconds he studied me in absolute silence, that gaunt thing so like a mummy; and, with my eyes partly closed, I watched him, breathing heavily all the time. Then, making no more noise than a cat, he moved away across the deck, and I could judge of his height by the fact that his small, swathed head remained visible almost to the time that he passed to the end of the white boat which swung opposite my stateroom.

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The Return of Dr. Fu-Manchu
Sax Rohmer

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