“Mon dieu!” he cried, “this is Chinese—quite Chinese!”
He stood looking about him, flashing the ray of light upon doors which were opened and upon openings in the walls where properly there should have been no doors.
“I am too late!” he muttered; “they had information of this and they have ‘unloaded.’ That they intend to fly the country is proven by their leaving Mrs. Leroux behind. Ah, nom d’un nom, the good God grant that they have left also."...
Coincident with his thoughts of her, the voice of Helen Cumberly reached his ears! He stood there quivering in every nerve, as: “Help! Help!” followed by a choking, inarticulate cry, came, muffled, from somewhere—he could not determine where.
But the voice was the voice of Helen Cumberly. He raised his left fist and beat his brow as if to urge his brain to super-activity. Then, leaping, he was off.
Door after door he threw open, crying, “Miss Cumberly! Miss Cumberly! Where are you? Have courage! Help is here!”
But the silence remained unbroken—and always his wild search brought him back to the accursed cave of the golden dragon. He began to grow dizzy; he felt that his brain was bursting. For somewhere—somewhere but a few yards removed from him—a woman was in extreme peril!
Clutching dizzily at the pedestal of the dragon, he cried at the top of his voice:—
“Miss Cumberly! For the good God’s sake answer me! Where are you?”
“Here, M. Max!” he was answered; “the door on your right... and then to your right again—quick! Quick! Saints! she has killed me!”
It was Gianapolis who spoke!
Max hurled himself through the doorway indicated, falling up against the matting wall by reason of the impetus of his leap. He turned, leaped on, and one of the panels was slightly ajar; it was a masked door. Within was darkness out of which came the sounds of a great turmoil, as of wild beasts in conflict.
Max kicked the door fully open and flashed the ray of the torch into the room. It poured its cold light upon a group which, like some masterpiece of classic statuary, was to remain etched indelibly upon his mind.
Helen Cumberly lay, her head and shoulders pressed back upon the silken pillows of the bed, with both hands clutching the wrist of the Eurasian and striving to wrench the latter’s fingers from her throat, in the white skin of which they were bloodily embedded. With his left arm about the face and head of the devilish half-caste, and grasping with his right hand her slender right wrist—putting forth all his strength to hold it back—was Gianapolis!
His face was of a grayish pallor and clammy with sweat; his crooked eyes had the glare of madness. The lithe body of the Eurasian writhing in his grasp seemed to possess the strength of two strong men; for palpably the Greek was weakening. His left sleeve was torn to shreds—to bloody shreds beneath the teeth of the wild thing with which he fought; and lower, lower, always nearer to the throat of the victim, the slender, yellow arm forced itself, forced the tiny hand clutching a poniard no larger than a hatpin but sharp as an adder’s tooth.