The Yellow Claw eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 339 pages of information about The Yellow Claw.

The vase was on the left and not on the right of the pedestal.  His theory was correct; he had been groping in the mysterious precincts of that Block B which he had never entered, which he had never seen any one else enter, and from whence he had never known any one to emerge!  It was the fall that had confused him; now, he took his bearings anew, bent down to feel for any tables that might lie in his path, and crept across the apartment toward the door which he sought.

Ah! this time there could be no mistake!  He depressed the lever handle, and, as the door swung open before him, crept furtively into the corridor.

Repeating the process whereby he had determined the position of the end door, he fumbled once again for the keyhole.  He found it with even less difficulty than he had experienced in the wrong corridor, inserted the key in the lock, and with intense satisfaction felt it slip into place.

He inhaled a long breath of the lifeless air, turned the key, and threw the door open.  One step forward he took...

A whistle (God! he knew it!) a low, minor whistle, wavered through the stillness.  He was enveloped, mantled, choked, by the perfume of roses!

The door, which, although it had opened easily, had seemed to be a remarkably heavy one, swung to behind him; he heard the click of the lock.  Like a trapped animal, he turned, leaped back, and found his quivering hands in contact with books—­books—­books...

A lamp lighted up in the center of the room.

Soames turned and stood pressed closely against the book-shelves, against the book-shelves which magically had grown up in front of the door by which he had entered.  He was in the place of books and roses—­in the haunt of Mr. King!

A great clarity of mind came to him, as it comes to a drowning man; he knew that those endless passages, through which once he had been led in darkness, did not exist, that he had been deceived, had been guided along the same corridor again and again; he knew that this room of roses did not lie at the heart of a labyrinth, but almost adjoined the cave of the golden dragon.

He knew that he was a poor, blind fool; that his plotting had been known to those whom he had thought to betray; that the new key which had opened a way into this place of dread was not the key which his accomplice had given him.  He knew that that upon which he had tripped at the outset of his journey had been set in his path by cunning design, in order that the fall might confuse his sense of direction.  He knew that the great vase of poppies had been moved, that night....

God! his brain became a seething furnace.

There, before him, upstood the sandalwood screen, with one corner of the table projecting beyond it.  Nothing of life was visible in the perfumed place, where deathly silence prevailed....

No lion has greater courage than a cornered rat.  Soames plucked the pistol from his pocket and fired at the screen—­once!—­Twice!

Project Gutenberg
The Yellow Claw from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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