The Yellow Claw eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 260 pages of information about The Yellow Claw.

The door in the false granite blocks was open!

Soames, who had advanced to seek the bell-push, stopped short.  The match burnt down almost to his fingers, whereupon he blew it out and carefully crushed it under his foot.  A faint reflected light rendered perceptible the stone steps below.  At the top, Soames stood looking down.  Nothing stirred above, below, or around him.  What did it mean?  Dimly to his ears came the hooting of some siren from the river—­evidently that of a large vessel.  Still he hesitated; why he did so, he scarce knew, save that he was afraid—­vaguely afraid.

Then, he asked himself what he had to fear, and conjuring up a mental picture of his white bedroom below, he planted his foot firmly upon the first step, and from thence, descended to the bottom, guided by the faint light which shone out from the doorway beneath.

But the door proved to be only partly opened, and Soames knocked deferentially.  No response came to his knocking, and he so greatly ventured as to push the door fully open.

The cave of the golden dragon was empty.  Half frightfully, Soames glanced about the singular apartment, in amid the mountainous cushions of the leewans, behind the pedestal of the dragon; to the right and to the left of the doorway wherein he stood.

There was no one there; but the door on the right—­the door inlaid with ebony and green stone, which he had never yet seen open was open now, widely opened.  He glided across the floor, his wet boots creaking unmusically, and peeped through.  He saw a matting-lined corridor identical with that known as Block A. The door of one apartment, that on the extreme left, was opened.  Sickly fumes were wafted out to him, and these mingled with the incense-like odor which characterized the temple of the dragon.

A moment he stood so, then started back, appalled.

An outcry—­the outcry of a woman, of a woman whose very soul is assailed—­split the stillness.  Not from the passageway before him, but from somewhere behind him—­from the direction of Block A—­it came.

“For God’s sake—­oh! for God’s sake, have mercy!  Let me go!... let me go!” Higher, shriller, more fearful and urgent, grew the voice—­“Let me go!"...

Soames’ knees began to tremble beneath him; he clutched at the black wall for support; then turned, and with unsteady footsteps crossed to the door communicating with the corridor which contained his room.  It had a lever handle of the Continental pattern, and, trembling with apprehension that it might prove to be locked, Soames pressed down this handle.

The door opened...

“Hina, effendi!—­hina!”

The voice sounded like that of Said....

“Oh!  God in Heaven help me!...  Help!—­help!"...

“Imsik!"...

Footsteps were pattering upon the stone stairs; someone was descending from the warehouse!  The frenzied shrieks of the woman continued.  Soames broke into a cold perspiration; his heart, which had leaped wildly, seemed now to have changed to a cold stone in his breast.  Just at the entrance to the corridor he stood, frozen with horror at those cries.

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