He was interrupted by a sudden loud crying of his name.
“Mr. Nayland Smith!” came from somewhere within the Joy-Shop. “This way, sir!”
Off he went, in his quick, impetuous manner, whilst I stood there, none too steadily, wondering what discovery this outcry portended. I had not long to wait. Out by the low doorway come Smith, a grimly triumphant smile upon his face, carrying the missing brass coffer!
He set it down upon the planking before me.
“John Ki,” he said, “who was also on the missing list, had dragged the thing out of the cellar where it was hidden, and in another minute must have slipped away with it. Detective Deacon saw the light shining through a crack in the floor. I shall never forget the look John gave us when we came upon him, as, lamp in hand, he bent over the precious chest.”
“Shall you open it now?”
“No.” He glanced at me oddly. “I shall have it valued in the morning by Messrs. Meyerstein.”
He was keeping something back; I was sure of it.
“Smith,” I said suddenly, “the man with the limp! I heard him in the place where you were confined! Did you ...”
Nayland Smith clicked his teeth together sharply, looking straightly and grimly into my eyes.
“I saw him!” he replied slowly; “and unless the effects of the anaesthetic had not wholly worn off ...”
“Well!” I cried.
“The man with the limp is Dr. Fu-Manchu!”
THE TULUN-NUR CHEST
“This box,” said Mr. Meyerstein, bending attentively over the carven brass coffer upon the table, “is certainly of considerable value, and possibly almost unique.”
Nayland Smith glanced across at me with a slight smile. Mr. Meyerstein ran one fat finger tenderly across the heavily embossed figures, which, like barnacles, encrusted the sides and lid of the weird curio which we had summoned him to appraise.
“What do you think, Lewison?” he added, glancing over his shoulder at the clerk who accompanied him.
Lewison, whose flaxen hair and light blue eyes almost served to mask his Semitic origin, shrugged his shoulders in a fashion incongruous in one of his complexion, though characteristic in one of his name.
“It is as you say, Mr. Meyerstein, an example of early Tulun-Nur work,” he said. “It may be sixteenth century or even earlier. The Kuren treasure-chest in the Hague Collection has points of similarity, but the workmanship of this specimen is infinitely finer.”
“In a word, gentlemen,” snapped Nayland Smith, rising from the arm-chair in which he had been sitting, and beginning restlessly to pace the room, “in a word, you would be prepared to make me a substantial offer for this box?”
Mr. Meyerstein, his shrewd eyes twinkling behind the pebbles of his pince-nez, straightened himself slowly, turned in the ponderous manner of a fat man, and readjusted the pince-nez upon his nose. He cleared his throat.