Ki-Ming, by means of the unholy arts of the Lamas of Rache-Churan, had caused my to murder my best friend!
“Smith!” I whispered huskily—“God forgive me, what have I done? What have I done?”
I stepped forward to support him ere he fell; but utter oblivion closed down upon me, and I knew no more.
* * * * * * *
“He will do quite well now.” said a voice that seemed to come from a vast distance. “The effects of the drug will have entirely worn off when he wakes, except that there may be nausea, and possibly muscular pain for a time.”
I opened my eyes; they were throbbing agonizingly. I lay in bed, and beside me stood Murdoch McCabe, the famous toxicological expert from Charing Cross Hospital—and Nayland Smith!
“Ah, that’s better!” cried McCabe cheerily. “Here—drink this.”
I drank from the glass which he raised to my lips. I was too weak for speech, too weak for wonder. Nayland Smith, his face gray and drawn in the cold light of early morning, watched me anxiously. McCabe in a matter of fact way that acted upon me like a welcome tonic, put several purely medical questions, which at first by dint of a great effort, but, with ever-increasing ease, I answered.
“Yes,” he said musingly at last. “Of course it is all but impossible to speak with certainty, but I am disposed to think that you have been drugged with some preparation of hashish. The most likely is that known in Eastern countries as maagun or barsh, composed of equal parts of cannabis indica and opium, with hellebore and two other constituents, which vary according to the purpose which the maagun is intended to serve. This renders the subject particularly open to subjective hallucination, and a pliable instrument in the hands of a hypnotic operator, for instance.”
“You see, old man?” cried Smith eagerly. “You see?”
But I shook my head weakly.
“I shot you,” I said. “It is impossible that I could have missed.”
“Mr. Smith has placed me in possession of the facts,” interrupted McCabe, “and I can outline with reasonable certainty what took place. Of course, it’s all very amazing, utterly fantastic in fact, but I have met with almost parallel cases in Egypt, in India, and elsewhere in the East: never in London, I’ll confess. You see, Dr. Petrie, you were taken into the presence of a very accomplished hypnotist, having been previously prepared by a stiff administration of maagun. You are doubtless familiar with the remarkable experiments in psycho-therapeutics conducted at the Salpetrier in Paris, and you will readily understand me when I say that, prior to your recovering consciousness in the presence of the mandarin Ki-Ming, you had received your hypnotic instructions.
“These were to be put into execution either at a certain time (duly impressed upon your drugged mind) or at a given signal....”