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The Return of Dr. Fu-Manchu Sax Rohmer

The Samurai's Sword

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The soft voice, into which an occasional sibilance crept, but which never rose above a cool monotone, gradually was lashing me into fury, and I could see the muscles moving in Smith's jaws as he convulsively clenched his teeth; whereby I knew that, impotent, he burned with a rage at least as great as mine. But I did not speak, and did not move.

"The ancient tradition of seppuku," continued the Chinaman, "or hara-kiri, still rules, as you know, in the great families of Japan. There is a sacred ritual, and the samurai who dedicates himself to this honorable end, must follow strictly the ritual. As a physician, the exact nature of the ceremony might possibly interest you, Dr. Petrie, but a technical account of the two incisions which the sacrificant employs in his self-dismissal, might, on the other hand, bore Mr. Nayland Smith. Therefore I will merely enlighten you upon one little point, a minor one, but interesting to the student of human nature. In short, even a samurai--and no braver race has ever honored the world--sometimes hesitates to complete the operation. The weapon near to your hand, my dear Dr. Petrie, is known as the Friend's Sword. On such occasions as we are discussing, a trusty friend is given the post--an honored one of standing behind the brave man who offers himself to his gods, and should the latter's courage momentarily fail him, the friend with the trusty blade (to which now I especially direct your attention) diverts the hierophant's mind from his digression, and rectifies his temporary breach of etiquette by severing the cervical vertebrae of the spinal column with the friendly blade--which you can reach quite easily, Dr. Petrie, if you care to extend your hand."

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Some dim perceptions of the truth was beginning to creep into my mind. When I say a perception of the truth, I mean rather of some part of the purpose of Dr. Fu-Manchu; of the whole horrible truth, of the scheme which had been conceived by that mighty, evil man, I had no glimmering, but I foresaw that a frightful ordeal was before us both.

"That I hold you in high esteem," continued Fu-Manchu, "is a fact which must be apparent to you by this time, but in regard to your companion, I entertain very different sentiments. . . ."

Always underlying the deliberate calm of the speaker, sometimes showing itself in an unusually deep guttural, sometimes in an unusually serpentine sibilance, lurked the frenzy of hatred which in the past had revealed itself occasionally in wild outbursts. Momentarily I expected such an outburst now, but it did not come.

"One quality possessed by Mr. Nayland Smith," resumed the Chinaman, "I admire; I refer to his courage. I would wish that so courageous a man should seek his own end, should voluntarily efface himself from the path of that world-movement which he is powerless to check. In short, I would have him show himself a samurai. Always his friend, you shall remain so to the end, Dr. Petrie. I have arranged for this."

He struck lightly a little silver gong, dependent from the corner of the table, whereupon, from the curtained doorway, there entered a short, thickly built Burman whom I recognized for a dacoit. He wore a shoddy blue suit, which had been made for a much larger man; but these things claimed little of my attention, which automatically was directed to the load beneath which the Burman labored.

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The Return of Dr. Fu-Manchu
Sax Rohmer

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