“For God’s sake what is going on, Smith? Some one climbed from your window.”
“I climbed from my window!”
“What!” I said dazedly—“it was you! But what does it all mean? Karamaneh——”
“It is for her I fear, Petrie, now. We have not a moment to waste!”
He made for the door.
“Sir Lionel must be warned at all cost!” I cried.
“Impossible!” snapped Smith.
“What do you mean?”
“Sir Lionel has disappeared!”
We were out in the corridor now, Smith showing the way with the light of his electric pocket-lamp. My mind was clear enough, but I felt as weak as a child.
“You look positively ghastly, old man,” rapped Smith, “which is no matter for wonder. I have yet to learn how it happened that you are not lying insensible, or dead, as a result of the drugged wine. When I heard some one moving in your room, it never occurred to me that it was you.”
“Smith,” I said—“the house seems as still as death.”
“You, Karamaneh, and myself are the only occupants of the east wing. Homopoulo saw to that.”
“He is a member of the Si-Fan, a creature of Dr. Fu-Manchu—yes, beyond all doubt! Sir Lionel is unfortunate—as ever—in his choice of servants. I blame my own stupidity entirely, Petrie; and I pray that my enlightenment has not come too late.”
“What does it all mean?—what have you learnt?”
“Mind these three steps,” warned Smith, glancing back. “I found my mind persistently dwelling upon the matter of that weird rapping, Petrie, and I recollected the situation of Sir Lionel’s room, on the southeast front. A brief inspection revealed the fact that, by means of a kindly branch of ivy, I could reach the roof of the east tower from my window.”
“One may walk from there along the roof of the southeast front, and by lying face downwards at the point where it projects above the main entrance look into Sir Lionel’s room!”
“I saw you go!”
“I feared that some one was watching me, but that it was you I had never supposed. Neither Barton nor his man are in that room, Petrie! They have been spirited away! This is Karamaneh’s door.”
He grasped me by the arm, at the same time directing the light upon a closed door before which we stood. I raised my fist and beat upon the panels; then, every muscle tensed and my heart throbbing wildly, I listened for the girl’s voice.
Not a sound broke that deathly stillness except the beating of my own heart, which, I thought, must surely be audible to my companion. Frantically I hurled myself against the stubborn oak, but Smith thrust me back.