Part 5 out of 5
was not perceptible, but which presently I made out to be a huge white
peacock. He wore a little cap perched upon the dome of his amazing
skull, and with one clawish hand resting upon the ebony of the table,
be sat slightly turned toward me, his emotionless face a mask of
incredible evil. In spite of, or because of, the high intellect
written upon it, the face of Dr. Fu-Manchu was more utterly repellent
than any I have ever known, and the green eyes, eyes green as those of
a cat in the darkness, which sometimes burned like witch lamps, and
sometimes were horribly filmed like nothing human or imaginable, might
have mirrored not a soul, but an emanation of hell, incarnate in this
gaunt, high-shouldered body.
Stretched flat upon the floor lay Nayland Smith, partially stripped,
his arms thrown back over his head and his wrists chained to a stout
iron staple attached to the wall; he was fully conscious and staring
intently at the Chinese doctor. His bare ankles also were manacled,
and fixed to a second chain, which quivered tautly across the green
carpet and passed out through the doorway, being attached to something
beyond the curtain, and invisible to me from where I sat.
Fu-Manchu was now silent. I could hear Smith's heavy breathing and
hear my watch ticking in my pocket. I suddenly realized that although
my body was lashed to the ebony chair, my hands and arms were free.
Next, looking dazedly about me, my attention was drawn to a heavy
sword which stood hilt upward against the wall within reach of my
hand. It was a magnificent piece, of Japanese workmanship; a long,
curved Damascened blade having a double-handed hilt of steel, inlaid
with gold, and resembling fine Kuft work. A host of possibilities
swept through my mind. Then I perceived that the sword was attached to
the wall by a thin steel chain some five feet in length.
"Even if you had the dexterity of a Mexican knife-thrower," came the
guttural voice of Fu-Manchu, "you would be unable to reach me, dear
The Chinaman had read my thoughts.
Smith turned his eyes upon me momentarily, only to look away again in
the direction of Fu-Manchu. My friend's face was slightly pale beneath
the tan, and his jaw muscles stood out with unusual prominence. By
this fact alone did he reveal his knowledge that he lay at the mercy
of this enemy of the white race, of this inhuman being who himself
knew no mercy, of this man whose very genius was inspired by the cool,
calculated cruelty of his race, of that race which to this day
disposes of hundreds, nay! thousands, of its unwanted girl-children by
the simple measure of throwing them down a well specially dedicated to
"The weapon near your hand," continued the Chinaman, imperturbably,
"is a product of the civilization of our near neighbors, the Japanese,
a race to whose courage I prostrate myself in meekness. It is the
sword of a samurai, Dr. Petrie. It is of very great age, and was,
until an unfortunate misunderstanding with myself led to the
extinction of the family, a treasured possession of a noble Japanese
house . . ."
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."
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.
Upon his back he carried a sort of wire box rather less than six feet
long, some two feet high, and about two feet wide. In short, it was a
stout framework covered with fine wire-netting on the top, sides and
ends, but being open at the bottom. It seemed to be made in five
sections or to contain four sliding partitions which could be raised
or lowered at will. These were of wood, and in the bottom of each was
cut a little arch. The arches in the four partitions varied in size,
so that whereas the first was not more than five inches high, the
fourth opened almost to the wire roof of the box or cage; and a fifth,
which was but little higher than the first, was cut in the actual end
of the contrivance.
So intent was I upon this device, the purpose of which I was wholly
unable to divine, that I directed the whole of my attention upon it.
Then, as the Burman paused in the doorway, resting a corner of the
cage upon the brilliant carpet, I glanced toward Fu-Manchu, He was
watching Nayland Smith, and revealing his irregular yellow teeth--the
teeth of an opium smoker--in the awful mirthless smile which I knew.
"God!" whispered Smith--"the Six Gates!"
"The knowledge of my beautiful country serves you well," replied
Instantly I looked to my friend . . . and every drop of blood seemed
to recede from my heart, leaving it cold in my breast. If I did not
know the purpose of the cage, obviously Smith knew it all too well.
His pallor had grown more marked, and although his gray eyes stared
defiantly at the Chinaman, I, who knew him, could read a deathly
horror in their depths.
The dacoit, in obedience to a guttural order from Dr. Fu-Manchu,
placed the cage upon the carpet, completely covering Smith's body, but
leaving his neck and head exposed. The seared and pock-marked face set
in a sort of placid leer, the dacoit adjusted the sliding partitions
to Smith's recumbent form, and I saw the purpose of the graduated
arches. They were intended to divide a human body in just such
fashion, and, as I realized, were most cunningly shaped to that end.
The whole of Smith's body lay now in the wire cage, each of the five
compartments whereof was shut off from its neighbor.
The Burman stepped back and stood waiting in the doorway. Dr.
Fu-Manchu, removing his gaze from the face of my friend, directed it
now upon me.
"Mr. Commissioner Nayland Smith shall have the honor of acting as
hierophant, admitting himself to the Mysteries," said Fu-Manchu
softly, "and you, Dr. Petrie, shall be the Friend."
THE SIX GATES
He glanced toward the Burman, who retired immediately, to re-enter a
moment later carrying a curious leather sack, in shape not unlike that
of a sakka or Arab water-carrier. Opening a little trap in the top of
the first compartment of the cage (that is, the compartment which
covered Smith's bare feet and ankles) he inserted the neck of the
sack, then suddenly seized it by the bottom and shook it vigorously.
Before my horrified gaze four huge rats came tumbling out from the bag
into the cage! The dacoit snatched away the sack and snapped the
shutter fast. A moving mist obscured my sight, a mist through which I
saw the green eyes of Dr. Fu-Manchu fixed upon me, and through which,
as from a great distance, his voice, sunk to a snake-like hiss, came
to my ears.
"Cantonese rats, Dr. Petrie, the most ravenous in the world . . . they
have eaten nothing for nearly a week!"
Then all became blurred as though a painter with a brush steeped in
red had smudged out the details of the picture. For an indefinite
period, which seemed like many minutes yet probably was only a few
seconds, I saw nothing and heard nothing; my sensory nerves were
dulled entirely. From this state I was awakened and brought back to
the realities by a sound which ever afterward I was doomed to
associate with that ghastly scene.
This was the squealing of the rats.
The red mist seemed to disperse at that, and with frightfully intense
interest, I began to study the awful torture to which Nayland Smith
was being subjected. The dacoit had disappeared, and Fu-Manchu
placidly was watching the four lean and hideous animals in the cage.
As I also turned my eyes in that direction, the rats overcame their
temporary fear, and began . . .
"You have been good enough to notice," said the Chinaman, his voice
still sunk in that sibilant whisper, "my partiality for dumb allies.
You have met my scorpions, my death-adders, my baboon-man. The uses of
such a playful little animal as a marmoset have never been fully
appreciated before, I think, but to an indiscretion of this last-named
pet of mine, I seem to remember that you owed something in the past,
Dr. Petrie . . ."
Nayland Smith stifled a deep groan. One rapid glance I ventured at his
face. It was a grayish hue, now, and dank with perspiration. His gaze
The rats had almost ceased squealing.
"Much depends upon yourself, Doctor," continued Fu-Manchu, slightly
raising his voice. "I credit Mr. Commissioner Nayland Smith with
courage high enough to sustain the raising of all the gates; but I
estimate the strength of your friendship highly, also, and predict
that you will use the sword of the samurai certainly not later than
the time when I shall raise the third gate. . . ."
A low shuddering sound, which I cannot hope to describe, but alas I
can never forget, broke from the lips of the tortured man.
"In China," resumed Fu-Manchu, "we call this quaint fancy the Six
Gates of joyful Wisdom. The first gate, by which the rats are
admitted, is called the Gate of joyous Hope; the second, the Gate of
Mirthful Doubt. The third gate is poetically named, the Gate of True
Rapture, and the fourth, the Gate of Gentle Sorrow. I once was honored
in the friendship of an exalted mandarin who sustained the course of
joyful Wisdom to the raising of the Fifth Gate (called the Gate of
Sweet Desires) and the admission of the twentieth rat. I esteem him
almost equally with my ancestors. The Sixth, or Gate Celestial--
whereby a man enters into the joy of Complete Understanding--I have
dispensed with, here, substituting a Japanese fancy of an antiquity
nearly as great and honorable. The introduction of this element of
speculation, I count a happy thought, and accordingly take pride to
"The sword, Petrie!" whispered Smith. I should not have recognized his
voice, but he spoke quite evenly and steadily. "I rely upon you, old
man, to spare me the humiliation of asking mercy from that yellow
My mind throughout this time had been gaining a sort of dreadful
clarity. I had avoided looking at the sword of hara-kiri, but my
thoughts had been leading me mercilessly up to the point at which we
were now arrived. No vestige of anger, of condemnation of the inhuman
being seated in the ebony chair, remained; that was past. Of all that
had gone before, and of what was to come in the future, I thought
nothing, knew nothing. Our long fight against the yellow group, our
encounters with the numberless creatures of Fu-Manchu, the dacoits--
even Karamaneh--were forgotten, blotted out. I saw nothing of the
strange appointments of that subterranean chamber; but face to face
with the supreme moment of a lifetime, I was alone with my poor friend
The rats began squealing again. They were fighting . . .
"Quick, Petrie! Quick, man! I am weakening . . . ."
I turned and took up the samurai sword. My hands were very hot and
dry, but perfectly steady, and I tested the edge of the heavy weapon
upon my left thumb-nail as quietly as one might test a razor blade. It
was as keen, this blade of ghastly history, as any razor ever wrought
in Sheffield. I seized the graven hilt, bent forward in my chair, and
raised the Friend's Sword high above my head. With the heavy weapon
poised there, I looked into my friend's eyes. They were feverishly
bright, but never in all my days, nor upon the many beds of suffering
which it had been my lot to visit, had I seen an expression like that
"The raising of the First Gate is always a crucial moment," came the
guttural voice of the Chinaman. Although I did not see him, and barely
heard his words, I was aware that he had stood up and was bending
forward over the lower end of the cage.
"Now, Petrie! now! God bless you . . . and good-by . . ."
From somewhere--somewhere remote--I heard a hoarse and animal-like
cry, followed by the sound of a heavy fall. I can scarcely bear to
write of that moment, for I had actually begun the downward sweep of
the great sword when that sound came--a faint Hope, speaking of aid
where I had thought no aid possible.
How I contrived to divert the blade, I do not know to this day; but I
do know that its mighty sweep sheared a lock from Smith's head and
laid bare the scalp. With the hilt in my quivering hands I saw the
blade bite deeply through the carpet and floor above Nayland Smith's
skull. There, buried fully two inches in the woodwork, it stuck, and
still clutching the hilt, I looked to the right and across the room--I
looked to the curtained doorway.
Fu-Manchu, with one long, claw-like hand upon the top of the First
Gate, was bending over the trap, but his brilliant green eyes were
turned in the same direction as my own--upon the curtained doorway.
Upright within it, her beautiful face as pale as death, but her great
eyes blazing with a sort of splendid madness, stood Karamaneh!
She looked, not at the tortured man, not at me, but fully at Dr.
Fu-Manchu. One hand clutched the trembling draperies; now she suddenly
raised the other, so that the jewels on her white arm glittered in the
light of the lamp above the door. She held my Browning pistol!
Fu-Manchu sprang upright, inhaling sibilantly, as Karamaneh pointed
the pistol point blank at his high skull and fired. . . .
I saw a little red streak appear, up by the neutral colored hair,
under the black cap. I became as a detached intelligence, unlinked
with the corporeal, looking down upon a thing which for some reason I
had never thought to witness.
Fu-Manchu threw up both arms, so that the sleeves of the green robe
fell back to the elbows. He clutched at his head, and the black cap
fell behind him. He began to utter short, guttural cries; he swayed
backward--to the right--to the left then lurched forward right across
the cage. There he lay, writhing, for a moment, his baneful eyes
turned up, revealing the whites; and the great gray rats, released,
began leaping about the room. Two shot like gray streaks past the slim
figure in the doorway, one darted behind the chair to which I was
lashed, and the fourth ran all around against the wall . . .
Fu-Manchu, prostrate across the overturned cage, lay still, his
massive head sagging downward.
I experienced a mental repetition of my adventure in the earlier
evening--I was dropping, dropping, dropping into some bottomless pit
. . . warm arms were about my neck; and burning kisses upon my lips.
THE CALL OF THE EAST
I seemed to haul myself back out of the pit of unconsciousness by the
aid of two little hands which clasped my own. I uttered a sigh that
was almost a sob, and opened my eyes.
I was sitting in the big red-leathern armchair in my own study . . .
and a lovely but truly bizarre figure, in a harem dress, was kneeling
on the carpet at my feet; so that my first sight of the world was the
sweetest sight that the world had to offer me, the dark eyes of
Karamaneh, with tears trembling like jewels upon her lashes!
I looked no further than that, heeded not if there were others in the
room beside we two, but, gripping the jewel-laden fingers in what must
have been a cruel clasp, I searched the depths of the glorious eyes in
ever growing wonder. What change had taken place in those limpid,
mysterious pools? Why was a wild madness growing up within me like a
flame? Why was the old longing returned, ten-thousandfold, to snatch
that pliant, exquisite shape to my breast?
No word was spoken, but the spoken words of a thousand ages could not
have expressed one tithe of what was held in that silent communion. A
hand was laid hesitatingly on my shoulder. I tore my gaze away from
the lovely face so near to mine, and glanced up.
Aziz stood at the back of my chair.
"God is all merciful," he said. "My sister is restored to us" (I loved
him for the plural); "and she remembers."
Those few words were enough; I understood now that this lovely girl,
who half knelt, half lay, at my feet, was not the evil, perverted
creature of Fu-Manchu whom we had gone out to arrest with the other
vile servants of the Chinese doctor, but was the old, beloved
companion of two years ago, the Karamaneh for whom I had sought long
and wearily in Egypt, who had been swallowed up and lost to me in that
land of mystery.
The loss of memory which Fu-Manchu had artificially induced was
subject to the same inexplicable laws which ordinarily rule in cases
of amnesia. The shock of her brave action that night had begun to
effect a cure; the sight of Aziz had completed it.
Inspector Weymouth was standing by the writing-table. My mind cleared
rapidly now, and standing up, but without releasing the girl's hands,
so that I drew her up beside me, I said:
"He's waiting to see you, Doctor," replied the inspector.
A pang, almost physical, struck at my heart.
"Poor, dear old Smith!" I cried, with a break in my voice.
Dr. Gray, a neighboring practitioner, appeared in the doorway at the
moment that I spoke the words.
"It's all right, Petrie," he said, reassuringly; "I think we took it
in time. I have thoroughly cauterized the wounds, and granted that no
complication sets in, he'll be on his feet again in a week or two."
I suppose I was in a condition closely bordering upon the hysterical.
At any rate, my behavior was extraordinary. I raised both my hands
above my head.
"Thank God!" I cried at the top of my voice, "thank God!--thank God!"
"Thank Him, indeed," responded the musical voice of Aziz. He spoke
with all the passionate devoutness of the true Moslem.
Everything, even Karamaneh was forgotten, and I started for the door
as though my life depended upon my speed. With one foot upon the
landing, I turned, looked back, and met the glance of Inspector
"What have you done with--the body?" I asked.
"We haven't been able to get to it. That end of the vault collapsed
two minutes after we hauled you out!"
As I write, now, of those strange days, already they seem remote and
unreal. But, where other and more dreadful memories already are grown
misty, the memory of that evening in my rooms remains clear-cut and
intimate. It marked a crisis in my life.
During the days that immediately followed, whilst Smith was slowly
recovering from his hurts, I made my plans deliberately; I prepared to
cut myself off from old associations--prepared to exile myself,
gladly; how gladly I cannot hope to express in mere cold words.
That my friend approved of my projects, I cannot truthfully state, but
his disapproval at least was not openly expressed. To Karamaneh I said
nothing of my plans, but her complete reliance in my powers to protect
her, now, from all harm, was at once pathetic and exquisite.
Since, always, I have sought in these chronicles to confine myself to
the facts directly relating to the malignant activity of Dr.
Fu-Manchu, I shall abstain from burdening you with details of my
private affairs. As an instrument of the Chinese doctor, it has
sometimes been my duty to write of the beautiful Eastern girl; I
cannot suppose that my readers have any further curiosity respecting
her from the moment that Fate freed her from that awful servitude.
Therefore, when I shall have dealt with the episodes which marked our
voyage to Egypt--I had opened negotiations in regard to a practice in
Cairo--I may honorably lay down my pen.
These episodes opened, dramatically, upon the second night of the
voyage from Marseilles.
"MY SHADOW LIES UPON YOU"
I suppose I did not awake very readily. Following the nervous
vigilance of the past six months, my tired nerves, in the enjoyment of
this relaxation, were rapidly recuperating. I no longer feared to
awake to find a knife at my throat, no longer dreaded the darkness as
So that the voice may have been calling (indeed, had been calling) for
some time, and of this I had been hazily conscious before finally I
awoke. Then, ere the new sense of security came to reassure me, the
old sense of impending harm set my heart leaping nervously. There is
always a certain physical panic attendant upon such awakening in the
still of night, especially in novel surroundings. Now, I sat up
abruptly, clutching at the rail of my berth and listening.
There was a soft thudding on my cabin door, and a voice, low and
urgent, was crying my name.
Through the open porthole the moonlight streamed into my room, and
save for a remote and soothing throb, inseparable from the progress of
a great steamship, nothing else disturbed the stillness; I might have
floated lonely upon the bosom of the Mediterranean. But there was the
drumming on the door again, and the urgent appeal:
"Dr. Petrie! Dr. Petrie!"
I threw off the bedclothes and stepped on to the floor of the cabin,
fumbling hastily for my slippers. A fear that something was amiss,
that some aftermath, some wraith of the dread Chinaman, was yet to
come to disturb our premature peace, began to haunt me. I threw open
Upon the gleaming deck, blackly outlined against a wondrous sky, stood
a man who wore a blue greatcoat over his pyjamas, and whose
unstockinged feet were thrust into red slippers. It was Platts, the
"I'm awfully sorry to disturb you, Dr. Petrie," he said, "and I was
even less anxious to arouse your neighbor; but somebody seems to be
trying to get a message, presumably urgent, through to you."
"To me!" I cried.
"I cannot make it out," admitted Platts, running his fingers through
disheveled hair, "but I thought it better to arouse you. Will you come
I turned without a word, slipped into my dressing-gown, and with
Platts passed aft along the deserted deck. The sea was as calm as a
great lake. Ahead, on the port bow, an angry flambeau burned redly
beneath the peaceful vault of the heavens. Platts nodded absently in
the direction of the weird flames.
"Stromboli," he said; "we shall be nearly through the Straits by
We mounted the narrow stair to the Marconi deck. At the table sat
Platts' assistant with the Marconi attachment upon his head--an
apparatus which always set me thinking of the electric chair.
"Have you got it?" demanded my companion as we entered the room.
"It's still coming through," replied the other without moving, "but in
the same jerky fashion. Every time I get it, it seems to have gone
back to the beginning--just Dr. Petrie--Dr. Petrie."
He began to listen again for the elusive message. I turned to Platts.
"Where is it being sent from?" I asked.
Platts shook his head.
"That's the mystery," he declared. "Look!"--and he pointed to the
table; "according to the Marconi chart, there's a Messagerie boat due
west between us and Marseilles, and the homeward-bound P. & O. which
we passed this morning must be getting on that way also, by now. The
Isis is somewhere ahead, but I've spoken to all these, and the message
comes from none of them."
"Then it may come from Messina."
"It doesn't come from Messina," replied the man at the table,
beginning to write rapidly.
Platts stepped forward and bent over the message which the other was
"Here it is!" he cried, excitedly; "we're getting it."
Stepping in turn to the table, I leaned over between the two and read
these words as the operator wrote them down:
Dr. Petrie--my shadow . . .
I drew a quick breath and gripped Platts' shoulder harshly. His
assistant began fingering the instrument with irritation.
"Lost it again!" he muttered.
"This message," I began . . .
But again the pencil was traveling over the paper:
--lies upon you all . . . end of message.
The operator stood up and unclasped the receivers from his ears.
There, high above the sleeping ship's company, with the carpet of the
blue Mediterranean stretched indefinitely about us, we three stood
looking at one another. By virtue of a miracle of modern science, some
one, divided from me by mile upon mile of boundless ocean, had spoken
--and had been heard.
"Is there no means of learning," I said, "from whence this message
Platts shook his head, perplexedly.
"They gave no code word," he said. "God knows who they were. It's a
strange business and a strange message. Have you any sort of idea, Dr.
Petrie, respecting the identity of the sender?"
I stared him hard in the face; an idea had mechanically entered my
mind, but one of which I did not choose to speak, since it was opposed
to human possibility.
But, had I not seen with my own eyes the bloody streak across his
forehead as the shot fired by Karamaneh entered his high skull, had I
not known, so certainly as it is given to man to know, that the giant
intellect was no more, the mighty will impotent, I should have
"The message is from Dr. Fu-Manchu!"
My reflections were rudely terminated and my sinister thoughts given
new stimulus, by a loud though muffled cry which reached me from
somewhere in the ship, below. Both my companions started as violently
as I, whereby I knew that the mystery of the wireless message had not
been without its effect upon their minds also. But whereas they paused
in doubt, I leaped from the room and almost threw myself down the
It was Karamaneh who had uttered that cry of fear and horror!
Although I could perceive no connection betwixt the strange message
and the cry in the night, intuitively I linked them, intuitively I
knew that my fears had been well-grounded; that the shadow of
Fu-Manchu still lay upon us.
Karamaneh occupied a large stateroom aft on the main deck; so that I
had to descend from the upper deck on which my own room was situated
to the promenade deck, again to the main deck and thence proceed
nearly the whole length of the alleyway.
Karamaneh and her brother, Aziz, who occupied a neighboring room, met
me, near the library. Karamaneh's eyes were wide with fear; her
peerless coloring had fled, and she was white to the lips. Aziz, who
wore a dressing-gown thrown hastily over his night attire, had his arm
protectively about the girl's shoulders.
"The mummy!" she whispered tremulously--the mummy!"
There came a sound of opening doors, and several passengers, whom
Karamaneh cries had alarmed, appeared in various stages of undress. A
stewardess came running from the far end of the alleyway, and I found
time to wonder at my own speed; for, starting from the distant Marconi
deck, yet I had been the first to arrive upon the scene.
Stacey, the ship's doctor, was quartered at no great distance from the
spot, and he now joined the group. Anticipating the question which
trembled upon the lips of several of those about me:
"Come to Dr. Stacey's room," I said, taking Karamaneh arm; "we will
give you something to enable you to sleep." I turned to the group. "My
patient has had severe nerve trouble," I explained, "and has developed
I declined the stewardess' offer of assistance, with a slight shake of
the head, and shortly the four of us entered the doctor's cabin, on
the deck above. Stacey carefully closed the door. He was an old fellow
student of mine, and already he knew much of the history of the
beautiful Eastern girl and her brother Aziz.
"I fear there's mischief afoot, Petrie," he said.
"Thanks to your presence of mind, the ship's gossips need know nothing
I glanced at Karamaneh who, since the moment of my arrival had never
once removed her gaze from me; she remained in that state of passive
fear in which I had found her, the lovely face pallid; and she stared
at me fixedly in a childish, expressionless way which made me fear
that the shock to which she had been subjected, whatever its nature,
had caused a relapse into that strange condition of forgetfulness from
which a previous shock had aroused her. I could see that Stacey shared
my view, for:
"Something has frightened you," he said gently, seating himself on the
arm of Karamaneh chair and patting her hand as if to reassure her.
"Tell us all about it."
For the first time since our meeting that night, the girl turned her
eyes from me and glanced up at Stacey, a sudden warm blush stealing
over her face and throat and as quickly departing, to leave her even
more pale than before. She grasped Stacey's hand in both her own--and
looked again at me.
"Send for Mr. Nayland Smith without delay!" she said, and her sweet
voice was slightly tremulous. "He must be put on his guard!"
I started up.
"Why?" I said. "For God's sake tell us what has happened!"
Aziz who evidently was as anxious as myself for information, and who
now knelt at his sister's feet looking at her with that strange love,
which was almost adoration, in his eyes, glanced back at me and nodded
his head rapidly.
"Something"--Karamaneh paused, shuddering violently--"some dreadful
thing, like a mummy escaped from its tomb, came into my room to-night
through the porthole . . ."
"Through the porthole?" echoed Stacey, amazedly.
"Yes, yes, through the porthole! A creature tall and very, very thin.
He wore wrappings--yellow wrappings--swathed about his head, so that
only his eyes, his evil gleaming eyes, were visible. . . . From waist
to knees he was covered, also, but his body, his feet, and his legs
were bare . . .
"Was he--?" I began . . .
"He was a brown man, yes"--Karamaneh divining my question, nodded, and
the shimmering cloud of her wonderful hair, hastily confined, burst
free and rippled about her shoulders. "A gaunt, fleshless brown man,
who bent, and writhed bony fingers--so!"
"A thug!" I cried.
"He--it--the mummy thing--would have strangled me if I had slept, for
he crouched over the berth--seeking--seeking . . ."
I clenched my teeth convulsively.
"But I was sitting up--"
"With the light on?" interrupted Stacey in surprise.
"No," added Karamaneh; "the light was out." She turned her eyes toward
me, as the wonderful blush overspread her face once more. "I was
sitting thinking. It all happened within a few seconds, and quite
silently. As the mummy crouched over the berth, I unlocked the door
and leaped out into the passage. I think I screamed; I did not mean
to. Oh, Dr. Stacey, there is not a moment to spare! Mr. Nayland Smith
must be warned immediately. Some horrible servant of Dr. Fu-Manchu is
on the ship!"
Nayland Smith leaned against the edge of the dressing-table, attired
in pyjamas. The little stateroom was hazy with smoke, and my friend
gripped the charred briar between his teeth and watched the blue-gray
clouds arising from the bowl, in an abstracted way. I knew that he was
thinking hard, and from the fact that he had exhibited no surprise
when I had related to him the particular's of the attack upon
Karamaneh I judged that he had half anticipated something of the kind.
Suddenly he stood up, staring at me fixedly.
"Your tact has saved the situation, Petrie," he snapped. "It failed
you momentarily, though, when you proposed to me just now that we
should muster the lascars for inspection. Our game is to pretend that
we know nothing--that we believe Karamaneh to have had a bad dream."
"But, Smith," I began--
"It would be useless, Petrie," he interrupted me. "You cannot suppose
that I overlooked the possibility of some creature of the doctor's
being among the lascars. I can assure you that not one of them answers
to the description of the midnight assailant. From the girl's account
we have to look (discarding the idea of a revivified mummy) for a man
of unusual height--and there's no lascar of unusual height on board;
and from the visible evidence, that he entered the stateroom through
the porthole, we have to look for a man more than normally thin. In a
word, the servant of Dr. Fu-Manchu who attempted the life of Karamaneh
is either in hiding on the ship, or, if visible, is disguised."
With his usual clarity of vision, Nayland Smith had visualized the
facts of the case; I passed in mental survey each one of the
passengers, and those of the crew whose appearances were familiar to
me, with the result that I had to admit the justice of my friend's
conclusions. Smith began to pace the narrow strip of carpet between
the dressing-table and the door. Suddenly he began again. "From our
knowledge of Fu-Manchu and of the group surrounding him (and, don't
forget, surviving him)--we may further assume that the wireless
message was no gratuitous piece of melodrama, but that it was directed
to a definite end. Let us endeavor to link up the chain a little. You
occupy an upper deck berth; so do I. Experience of the Chinaman has
formed a habit in both of us; that of sleeping with closed windows.
Your port was fastened and so was my own. Karamaneh is quartered on
the main deck, and her brother's stateroom opens into the same
alleyway. Since the ship is in the Straits of Messina, and the glass
set fair, the stewards have not closed the portholes nightly at
present. We know that that of Karamaneh's stateroom was open.
Therefore, in any attempt upon our quartet, Karamaneh would
automatically be selected for the victim, since failing you or myself
she may be regarded as being the most obnoxious to Dr. Fu-Manchu.
I nodded comprehendingly. Smith's capacity for throwing the white
light of reason into the darkest places often amazed me.
"You may have noticed," he continued, "that Karamaneh's room is
directly below your own. In the event of any outcry, you would be
sooner upon the scene than I should, for instance, because I sleep on
the opposite side of the ship. This circumstance I take to be the
explanation of the wireless message, which, because of its hesitancy
(a piece of ingenuity very characteristic of the group), led to your
being awakened and invited up to the Marconi deck; in short, it gave
the would-be assassin a better chance of escaping before your
I watched my friend in growing wonder. The strange events, seemingly
having no link, took their places in the drama, and became well-
ordered episodes in a plot that only a criminal genius could have
devised. As I studied the keen, bronzed face, I realized to the full
the stupendous mental power of Dr. Fu-Manchu, measuring it by the
criterion of Nayland Smith's. For the cunning Chinaman, in a sense,
had foiled this brilliant man before me, whereby, if by nought else, I
might know him a master of his evil art.
"I regard the episode," continued Smith, "as a posthumous attempt of
the doctor's; a legacy of hate which may prove more disastrous than
any attempt made upon us by Fu-Manchu in life. Some fiendish member of
the murder group is on board the ship. We must, as always, meet guile
with guile. There must be no appeal to the captain, no public
examination of passengers and crew. One attempt has failed; I do not
doubt that others will be made. At present, you will enact the role of
physician-in-attendance upon Karamaneh, and will put it about for whom
it may interest that a slight return of her nervous trouble is causing
her to pass uneasy nights. I can safely leave this part of the case to
you, I think?"
I nodded rapidly.
"I haven't troubled to make inquiries," added Smith, "but I think it
probable that the regulation respecting closed ports will come into
operation immediately we have passed the Straits, or at any rate
immediately there is any likelihood of bad weather."
"I mean that no alteration should be made in our habits. A second
attempt along similar lines is to be apprehended--to-night. After that
we may begin to look out for a new danger."
"I pray we may avoid it," I said fervently.
As I entered the saloon for breakfast in the morning, I was subjected
to solicitous inquiries from Mrs. Prior, the gossip of the ship. Her
room adjoined Karamaneh's and she had been one of the passengers
aroused by the girl's cries in the night. Strictly adhering to my
role, I explained that my patient was threatened with a second nervous
breakdown, and was subject to vivid and disturbing dreams. One or two
other inquiries I met in the same way, ere escaping to the corner
table reserved to us.
That iron-bound code of conduct which rules the Anglo-Indian, in the
first days of the voyage had threatened to ostracize Karamaneh and
Aziz, by reason of the Eastern blood to which their brilliant but
peculiar type of beauty bore witness. Smith's attitude, however--and,
in a Burmese commissioner, it constituted something of a law--had done
much to break down the barriers; the extraordinary beauty of the girl
had done the rest. So that now, far from finding themselves shunned,
the society of Karamaneh and her romantic-looking brother was
universally courted. The last inquiry that morning, respecting my
interesting patient, came from the bishop of Damascus, a benevolent
old gentleman whose ancestry was not wholly innocent of Oriental
strains, and who sat at a table immediately behind me. As I settled
down to my porridge, he turned his chair slightly and bent to my ear.
"Mrs. Prior tells me that your charming friend was disturbed last
night," he whispered. "She seems rather pale this morning; I sincerely
trust that she is suffering no ill-effect."
I swung around, with a smile. Owing to my carelessness, there was a
slight collision, and the poor bishop, who had been invalided to
England after typhoid, in order to undergo special treatment,
suppressed an exclamation of pain, although his fine dark eyes gleamed
kindly upon me through the pebbles of his gold-rimmed pince-nez.
Indeed, despite his Eastern blood, he might have posed for a Sadler
picture, his small and refined features seeming out of place above the
"Can you forgive my clumsiness," I began--
But the bishop raised his small, slim fingered hand of old ivory hue,
His system was supercharged with typhoid bacilli, and, as sometimes
occurs, the superfluous "bugs" had sought exit. He could only walk
with the aid of two stout sticks, and bent very much at that. His left
leg had been surgically scraped to the bone, and I appreciated the
exquisite torture to which my awkwardness had subjected him. But he
would entertain no apologies, pressing his inquiry respecting
Karamaneh in the kindly manner which had made him so deservedly
popular on board.
"Many thanks for your solicitude," I said; "I have promised her sound
repose to-night, and since my professional reputation is at stake, I
shall see that she secures it."
In short, we were in pleasant company, and the day passed happily
enough and without notable event. Smith spent some considerable time
with the chief officer, wandering about unfrequented parts of the
ship. I learned later that he had explored the lascars' quarters, the
forecastle, the engine-room, and had even descended to the stokehold;
but this was done so unostentatiously that it occasioned no comment.
With the approach of evening, in place of that physical contentment
which usually heralds the dinner-hour, at sea, I experienced a fit of
the seemingly causeless apprehension which too often in the past had
harbingered the coming of grim events; which I had learnt to associate
with the nearing presence of one of Fu-Manchu's death-agents. In view
of the facts, as I afterwards knew them to be, I cannot account for
Yet, in an unexpected manner, my forebodings were realized. That night
I was destined to meet a sorrow surpassing any which my troubled life
had known. Even now I experience great difficulty in relating the
matters which befell, in speaking of the sense of irrevocable loss
which came to me. Briefly, then, at about ten minutes before the
dining hour, whilst all the passengers, myself included, were below,
dressing, a faint cry arose from somewhere aft on the upper deck--a
cry which was swiftly taken up by other voices, so that presently a
deck steward echoed it immediately outside my own stateroom:
"Man overboard! Man overboard!"
All my premonitions rallying in that one sickening moment, I sprang
out on the deck, half dressed as I was, and leaping past the boat
which swung nearly opposite my door, craned over the rail, looking
For a long time I could detect nothing unusual. The engine-room
telegraph was ringing--and the motion of the screws momentarily
ceased; then, in response to further ringing, recommenced, but so as
to jar the whole structure of the vessel; whereby I knew that the
engines were reversed. Peering intently into the wake of the ship, I
was but dimly aware of the ever growing turmoil around me, of the
swift mustering of a boat's crew, of the shouted orders of the
third-officer. Suddenly I saw it--the sight which was to haunt me for
succeeding days and nights.
Half in the streak of the wake and half out of it, I perceived the
sleeve of a white jacket, and, near to it, a soft felt hat. The sleeve
rose up once into clear view, seemed to describe a half-circle in the
air then sink back again into the glassy swell of the water. Only the
hat remained floating upon the surface.
By the evidence of the white sleeve alone I might have remained
unconvinced, although upon the voyage I had become familiar enough
with the drill shooting-jacket, but the presence of the gray felt hat
was almost conclusive.
The man overboard was Nayland Smith!
I cannot hope, writing now, to convey in any words at my command, a
sense, even remote, of the utter loneliness which in that dreadful
moment closed coldly down upon me.
To spring overboard to the rescue was a natural impulse, but to have
obeyed it would have been worse than quixotic. In the first place, the
drowning man was close upon half a mile astern; in the second place,
others had seen the hat and the white coat as clearly as I; among them
the third-officer, standing upright in the stern of the boat--which,
with commendable promptitude had already been swung into the water.
The steamer was being put about, describing a wide arc around the
little boat dancing on the deep blue rollers. . . .
Of the next hour, I cannot bear to write at all. Long as I had known
him, I was ignorant of my friend's powers as a swimmer, but I judged
that he must have been a poor one from the fact that he had sunk so
rapidly in a calm sea. Except the hat, no trace of Nayland Smith
remained when the boat got to the spot.
Dinner was out of the question that night for all of us. Karamaneh who
had spoken no word, but, grasping my hands, had looked into my
eyes--her own glassy with unshed tears--and then stolen away to her
cabin, had not since reappeared. Seated upon my berth, I stared
unseeingly before me, upon a changed ship, a changed sea and sky upon
another world. The poor old bishop, my neighbor, had glanced in
several times, as he hobbled by, and his spectacles were unmistakably
humid; but even he had vouchsafed no word, realizing that my sorrow
was too deep for such consolation.
When at last I became capable of connected thought, I found myself
faced by a big problem. Should I place the facts of the matter, as I
knew them to be, before the captain? or could I hope to apprehend
Fu-Manchu's servant by the methods suggested by my poor friend? That
Smith's death was an accident, I did not believe for a moment; it was
impossible not to link it with the attempt upon Karamaneh. In my
misery and doubt, I determined to take counsel with Dr. Stacey. I
stood up, and passed out on to the deck.
Those passengers whom I met on my way to his room regarded me in
respectful silence. By contrast, Stacey's attitude surprised and even
"I'd be prepared to stake all I possess--although it's not much," he
said, "that this was not the work of your hidden enemy."
He blankly refused to give me his reasons for the statement and
strongly advised me to watch and wait but to make no communication to
At this hour I can look back and savor again something of the profound
dejection of that time. I could not face the passengers; I even
avoided Karamaneh and Aziz. I shut myself in my cabin and sat staring
aimlessly into the growing darkness. The steward knocked, once,
inquiring if I needed anything, but I dismissed him abruptly. So I
passed the evening and the greater part of the night.
Those groups of promenaders who passed my door, invariably were
discussing my poor friend's tragic end; but as the night wore on, the
deck grew empty, and I sat amid a silence that in my miserable state I
welcomed more than the presence of any friend, saving only the one
whom I should never welcome again.
Since I had not counted the bells, to this day I have only the vaguest
idea respecting the time whereat the next incident occurred which it
is my duty to chronicle. Perhaps I was on the verge of falling asleep,
seated there as I was; at any rate, I could scarcely believe myself
awake, when, unheralded by any footsteps to indicate his coming, some
one who seemed to be crouching outside my stateroom, slightly raised
himself and peered in through the porthole--which I had not troubled
He must have been a fairly tall man to have looked in at all, and
although his features were indistinguishable in the darkness, his
outline, which was clearly perceptible against the white boat beyond,
was unfamiliar to me. He seemed to have a small, and oddly swathed
head, and what I could make out of the gaunt neck and square shoulders
in some way suggested an unnatural thinness; in short, the smudgy
silhouette in the porthole was weirdly like that of a mummy!
For some moments I stared at the apparition; then, rousing myself from
the apathy into which I had sunk, I stood up very quickly and stepped
across the room. As I did so the figure vanished, and when I threw
open the door and looked out upon the deck . . . the deck was wholly
I realized at once that it would be useless, even had I chosen the
course, to seek confirmation of what I had seen from the officer on
the bridge: my own berth, together with the one adjoining--that of the
bishop--was not visible from the bridge.
For some time I stood in my doorway, wondering in a disinterested
fashion which now I cannot explain, if the hidden enemy had revealed
himself to me, or if disordered imagination had played me a trick.
Later, I was destined to know the truth of the matter, but when at
last I fell into a troubled sleep, that night, I was still in some
doubt upon the point.
My state of mind when I awakened on the following day was
indescribable; I found it difficult to doubt that Nayland Smith would
meet me on the way to the bathroom as usual, with the cracked briar
fuming between his teeth. I felt myself almost compelled to pass
around to his stateroom in order to convince myself that he was not
really there. The catastrophe was still unreal to me, and the world a
dream-world. Indeed I retain scarcely any recollections of the traffic
of that day, or of the days that followed it until we reached Port
Two things only made any striking appeal to my dulled intelligence at
that time. These were: the aloof attitude of Dr. Stacey, who seemed
carefully to avoid me; and a curious circumstance which the second
officer mentioned in conversation one evening as we strolled up and
down the main deck together.
"Either I was fast asleep at my post, Dr. Petrie," he said, "or last
night, in the middle watch, some one or something came over the side
of the ship just aft the bridge, slipped across the deck, and
I stared at him wonderingly.
"Do you mean something that came up out of the sea?" I said.
"Nothing could very well have come up out of the sea," he replied,
smiling slightly, "so that it must have come up from the deck below."
"Was it a man?"
"It looked like a man, and a fairly tall one, but be came and was gone
like a flash, and I saw no more of him up to the time I was relieved.
To tell you the truth, I did not report it because I thought I must
have been dozing; it's a dead slow watch, and the navigation on this
part of the run is child's play."
I was on the point of telling him what I had seen myself, two evenings
before, but for some reason I refrained from doing so, although I
think had I confided in him he would have abandoned the idea that what
he had seen was phantasmal; for the pair of us could not very well
have been dreaming. Some malignant presence haunted the ship; I could
not doubt this; yet I remained passive, sunk in a lethargy of sorrow.
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.
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.
In a moment I slipped quietly to the floor, crossed, and peered out of
the porthole; so that at last I had a clear view of the sinister
mummy-man. He was crouching under the bow of the boat, and attaching
to the white rails, below, a contrivance of a kind with which I was
not entirely unfamiliar. This was a thin ladder of silken rope, having
bamboo rungs, with two metal hooks for attaching it to any suitable
The one thus engaged was, as Karamaneh had declared, almost
superhumanly thin. His loins were swathed in a sort of linen garment,
and his head so bound about, turban fashion, that only his gleaming
eyes remained visible. The bare limbs and body were of a dusky yellow
color, and, at sight of him, I experienced a sudden nausea.
My pistol was in my cabin-trunk, and to have found it in the dark,
without making a good deal of noise, would have been impossible.
Doubting how I should act, I stood watching the man with the swathed
head whilst he threw the end of the ladder over the side, crept past
the bow of the boat, and swung his gaunt body over the rail,
exhibiting the agility of an ape. One quick glance fore and aft he
gave, then began to swarm down the ladder: in which instant I knew his
With a choking cry, which forced itself unwilled from my lips, I tore
at the door, threw it open, and sprang across the deck. Plans, I had
none, and since I carried no instrument wherewith to sever the ladder,
the murderer might indeed have carried out his design for all that I
could have done to prevent him, were it not that another took a hand
in the game. . . .
At the moment that the mummy-man--his head now on a level with the
deck--perceived me, he stopped dead. Coincident with his stopping, the
crack of a pistol shot sounded--from immediately beyond the boat.
Uttering a sort of sobbing sound, the creature fell--then clutched,
with straining yellow fingers, at the rails, and, seemingly by dint of
a great effort, swarmed along aft some twenty feet, with incredible
swiftness and agility, and clambered onto the deck.
A second shot cracked sharply; and a voice (God! was I mad!) cried:
"Hold him, Petrie!"
Rigid with fearful astonishment I stood, as out from the boat above me
leaped a figure attired solely in shirt and trousers. The newcomer
leaped away in the wake of the mummy-man--who had vanished around the
corner by the smoke-room. Over his shoulder he cried back at me:
"The bishop's stateroom! See that no one enters!"
I clutched at my head--which seemed to be fiery hot; I realized in my
own person the sensation of one who knows himself mad.
For the man who pursued the mummy was Nayland Smith!
* * * * *
I stood in the bishop's state-room, Nayland Smith, his gaunt face wet
with perspiration, beside me, handling certain odd looking objects
which littered the place, and lay about amid the discarded garments of
the absent cleric.
"Pneumatic pads!" he snapped. "The man was a walking air-cushion!" He
gingerly fingered two strange rubber appliances. "For distending the
cheeks," he muttered, dropping them disgustedly on the floor. "His
hands and wrists betrayed him, Petrie. He wore his cuff unusually long
but he could not entirely hide his bony wrists. To have watched him,
whilst remaining myself unseen, was next to impossible; hence my
device of tossing a dummy overboard, calculated to float for less than
ten minutes! It actually floated nearly fifteen, as a matter of fact,
and I had some horrible moments!"
"Smith!" I said--"how could you submit me . . ."
He clapped his hands on my shoulders.
"My dear old chap--there was no other way, believe me. From that boat
I could see right into his stateroom, but, once in, I dare not leave
it--except late at night, stealthily! The second spotted me one night
and I thought the game was up, but evidently he didn't report it."
"But you might have confided . . ."
"Impossible! I'll admit I nearly fell to the temptation that first
night; for I could see into your room as well as into his!" He slapped
me boisterously on the back, but his gray eyes were suspiciously
moist. "Dear old Petrie! Thank God for our friends! But you'd be the
first to admit, old man, that you're a dead rotten actor! Your
portrayal of grief for the loss of a valued chum would not have
convinced a soul on board!
"Therefore I made use of Stacey, whose callous attitude was less
remarkable. Gad, Petrie! I nearly bagged our man the first night! The
elaborate plan--Marconi message to get you out of the way, and so
forth--had miscarried, and he knew the porthole trick would be useless
once we got into the open sea. He took a big chance. He discarded his
clerical guise and peeped into your room--you remember?--but you were
awake, and I made no move when he slipped back to his own cabin; I
wanted to take him red-handed."
"Have you any idea . . ."
"Who he is? No more than where he is! Probably some creature of Dr.
Fu-Manchu specially chosen for the purpose; obviously a man of
culture, and probably of thug ancestry. I hit him--in the shoulder;
but even then he ran like a hare. We've searched the ship, without
result. He may have gone overboard and chanced the swim to
shore . . ."
We stepped out onto the deck. Around us was that unforgettable
scene--Port Said by night. The ship was barely moving through the
glassy water, now. Smith took my arm and we walked forward. Above us
was the mighty peace of Egypt's sky ablaze with splendor; around and
about us moved the unique turmoil of the clearing-house of the Near
"I would give much to know the real identity of the bishop of
Damascus," muttered Smith.
He stopped abruptly, snapping his teeth together and grasping my arm
as in a vise. Hard upon his words had followed the rattling clangor as
the great anchor was let go; but horribly intermingled with the
metallic roar there came to us such a fearful, inarticulate shrieking
as to chill one's heart.
The anchor plunged into the water of the harbor; the shrieking ceased.
Smith turned to me, and his face was tragic in the light of the arc
lamp swung hard by.
"We shall never know," he whispered. "God forgive him--he must be in
bloody tatters now. Petrie, the poor fool was hiding in the chainlocker!"
A little hand stole into mine. I turned quickly. Karamaneh stood
beside me. I placed my arm about her shoulders, drawing her close;
and I blush to relate that all else was forgotten.
For a moment, heedless of the fearful turmoil forward, Nayland Smith
stood looking at us. Then he turned, with his rare smile, and walked aft.
"Perhaps you're right, Petrie!" he said.