“Nor I, Smith!” I cried excitedly. “Good God! he holds them all in the palm of his hand! He has welded together the fanatics of every creed of the East into a giant weapon for his personal use! Small wonder that he is so formidable. But, Smith—who is that woman?”
“Petrie!” he said slowly, and I knew that I had betrayed my secret, “Petrie—where did you learn all this?”
I returned his steady gaze.
“I was present at the meeting of the Si-Fan,” I replied steadily.
“What? What? You were present?”
“I was present! Listen, and I will explain.”
Standing there in the hallway I related, as briefly as possible, the astounding events of the night. As I told of the woman in the train—
“That confirms my impression that Fu-Manchu was imposing upon the others!” he snapped. “I cannot conceive of a woman recluse from some Lamaserie, surrounded by silent attendants and trained for her exalted destiny in the way that the legendary veiled woman of Tibet is said to be trained, traveling alone in an English railway carriage! Did you observe, Petrie, if her eyes were oblique at all?”
“They did not strike me as being oblique. Why do you ask?”
“Because I strongly suspect that we have to do with none other than Fu-Manchu’s daughter! But go on.”
“By heavens, Smith! You may be right! I had no idea that a Chinese woman could possess such features.”
“She may not have a Chinese mother; furthermore, there are pretty women in China as well as in other countries; also, there are hair dyes and cosmetics. But for Heaven’s sake go on!”
I continued my all but incredible narrative; came to the point where I discovered the straying marmoset and entered the empty house, without provoking any comment from my listener. He stared at me with something very like surprised admiration when I related how I had become an unseen spectator of that singular meeting.
“And I though I had achieved the triumph of my life in gaining admission and smuggling Weymouth and Carter into the roof, armed with hooks and rope-ladders!” he murmured.
Now I came to the moment when, having withdrawn into the empty house, I had heard the police whistle and had heard Smith’s voice; I came to the moment when I had found myself face to face with Dr. Fu-Manchu.
Nayland Smith’s eyes were on fire now; he literally quivered with excitement, when—
“Ssh! what’s that?” he whispered, and grasped my arm. “I heard something move in the sitting-room, Petrie!”
“It was a coal dropping from the grate, perhaps,” I said—and rapidly continued my story, telling how, with my pistol to his head, I had forced the Chinese doctor to descend into the hallway of the empty house.
“Yes, yes,” snapped Smith. “For God’s sake go on, man! What have you done with him? Where is he?”