“All the crews, Summers told me, were Asiatics, and little groups of natives lined the Canal and performed obeisances as the vessel passed. Undoubtedly they had that woman on board, Petrie, the Lady of the Si-Fan, who escaped, together with Fu-Manchu, when we raided the meeting in London! Like a fool I came racing back here without advising you; and, all alone, my mind occupied with the tremendous import of these discoveries, started, long after dusk, to walk to Graywater Park.”
He shrugged his shoulders whimsically, and raised one hand to his bandaged head.
“Fu-Manchu employs weapons both of the future and of the past,” he said. “My movements had been watched, of course; I was mad. Some one, probably a dacoit, laid me low with a ball of clay propelled form a sling of the Ancient Persian pattern! I actually saw him ... then saw, and knew, no more!
“Smith!” I cried—whilst Sir Lionel Barton and Dr. Hamilton stared at one another, dumbfounded—“you think he is on the point of flying from England——”
“The Chinese yacht, Chanak-Kampo, is lying two miles off the coast and in the sight of the tower of Monkswell!”
THE SHADOW ARMY
The scene of our return to Graywater Park is destined to live in my memory for ever. The storm, of which the violet rainfall had been a prelude, gathered blackly over the hills. Ebon clouds lowered upon us as we came racing to the gates. Then the big car was spinning around the carriage sweep, amid a deathly stillness of Nature indescribably gloomy and ominous. I have said, a stillness of nature; but, as Kennedy leapt out and ran up the steps to the door, from the distant cages wherein Sire Lionel kept his collection of rare beasts proceeded the angry howling of the leopards and such a wild succession of roars from the African lioness that I stared at our eccentric host questioningly.
“It’s the gathering storm,” he explained. “These creatures are peculiarly susceptible to atmospheric disturbances.”
Now the door was thrown open, and, standing in the lighted hall, a picture fair to look upon in her dainty kimono and little red, high-heeled slippers, stood Karamaneh!
I was beside her in a moment; for the lovely face was pale and there was a wildness in her eyes which alarmed me.
“He is somewhere near!” she whispered, clinging to me. “Some great danger threatens. Where have you been?—what has happened?”
“Smith was attacked on his way back from London,” I replied. “But, as you see, he is quite recovered. We are in no danger; and I insist that you go back to bed. We shall tell you all about it in the morning.”
Rebellion blazed up in her wonderful eyes instantly—and as quickly was gone, leaving them exquisitely bright. Two tears, like twin pearls, hung upon the curved black lashes. It made my blood course faster to watch this lovely Eastern girl conquering the barbaric impulses that sometimes flamed up within, her, because I willed it; indeed this was a miracle that I never tired of witnessing.