Nayland Smith lighted his pipe with care.
“If only we could, Petrie!” he said; “but, damn it!”—he dashed his left fist into the palm of his right hand—“we are doomed to remain inactive. We can only await the arrival of Karamaneh and see if she has anything to tell us. I must admit that there are certain theories of my own which I haven’t yet had an opportunity of testing. Perhaps in the near future such an opportunity may arise.”
How soon that opportunity was to arise neither of us suspected then; but Fate is a merry trickster, and even as we spoke of these matters events were brewing which were to lead us along strange paths.
With such glad anticipations as my pen cannot describe, their gladness not unmixed with fear, I retired to rest that night, scarcely expecting to sleep, so eager was I for the morrow. The musical voice of Karamaneh seemed to ring in my ears; I seemed to feel the touch of her soft hands and to detect, as I drifted into the borderland betwixt reality and slumber, that faint, exquisite perfume which from the first moment of my meeting with the beautiful Eastern girl, had become to me inseparable from her personality.
It seemed that sleep had but just claimed me when I was awakened by some one roughly shaking my shoulder. I sprang upright, my mind alert to sudden danger. The room looked yellow and dismal, illuminated as it was by a cold light of dawn which crept through the window and with which competed the luminance of the electric lamps.
Nayland Smith stood at my bedside, partially dressed!
“Wake up, Petrie!” he cried; “you instincts serve you better than my reasoning. Hell’s afoot, old man! Even as you predicted it, perhaps in that same hour, the yellow fiends were at work!”
“What, Smith, what!” I said, leaping out of bed; “you don’t mean——”
“Not that, old man,” he replied, clapping his hand upon my shoulder; “there is no further news of her, but Weymouth is waiting outside. Sir Baldwin Frazer has disappeared!”
I rubbed my eyes hard and sought to clear my mind of the vapors of sleep.
“Sir Baldwin Frazer!” I said, “of Half-Moon Street? But what——”
“God knows what,” snapped Smith; “but our old friend Zarmi, or so it would appear, bore him off last night, and he has completely vanished, leaving practically no trace behind.”
Only a few sleeping servants were about as we descended the marble stairs to the lobby of the hotel where Weymouth was awaiting us.
“I have a cab outside from the Yard,” he said. “I came straight here to fetch you before going on to Half-Moon Street.”
“Quite right!” snapped Smith; “but you are sure the cab is from the Yard? I have had painful experience of strange cabs recently!”
“You can trust this one,” said Weymouth, smiling slightly. “It has carried me to the scene of many a crime.”
“Hem!” said Smith—“a dubious recommendation.”