“My God!” he whispered, “his hand! His hand! He has sent me his hand!”
He began laughing. Whereupon, since I could see that the man was practically hysterical because of his mysterious fears:
“Stop that,” I said sharply. “Pull yourself together, Adderley. What the deuce is the matter with you?”
“Take it away!” he moaned, “take it away. Take the accursed thing away!”
“I admit it is an unpleasant gift to send to anybody,” I said, “but probably you know more about it than I do.”
“Take it away,” he repeated. “Take it away, for God’s sake, take it away, Knox!”
He was quite beyond reason, and therefore:
“Very well,” I said, and wrapped the casket in the brown paper in which it had come. “What do you want me to do with it?”
“Throw it in the river,” he answered. “Burn it. Do anything you like with it, but take it out of my sight!”
THE GOLD-CASED NAIL
As I descended to the street the liftman regarded me in a curious and rather significant way. Finally, just as I was about to step out into the hall:
“Excuse me, sir,” he said, having evidently decided that I was a fit person to converse with, “but are you a friend of Mr. Adderley’s?”
“Why do you ask?”
“Well, sir, I hope you will excuse me, but at times I have thought the gentleman was just a little bit queer, like.”
“You mean insane?” I asked sharply.
“Well, sir, I don’t know, but he is always asking me if I can see shadows and things in the lift, and sometimes when he comes in late of a night he absolutely gives me the cold shivers, he does.”
I lingered, the box under my arm, reluctant to obtain confidences from a servant, but at the same time keenly interested. Thus encouraged:
“Then there’s that lady friend of his who is always coming here,” the man continued. “She’s haunted by shadows, too.” He paused, watching me narrowly.
“There’s nothing better in this world than a clean conscience, sir,” he concluded.
Having returned to my room at the hotel, I set down the mysterious parcel, surveying it with much disfavour. That it contained the hand of the Mandarin Quong I could not doubt, the hand which had been amputated by Dr. Matheson. Its appearance in that dramatic fashion confirmed Matheson’s idea that the mandarin’s injury had been received at the hands of Adderley. What did all this portend, unless that the Mandarin Quong was dead? And if he were dead why was Adderley more afraid of him dead than he had been of him living?
I thought of the haunting shadow, I thought of the night at Katong, and I thought of Dr. Matheson’s words when he had told us of his discovery of the Chinaman lying in the road that night outside Singapore.
I felt strangely disinclined to touch the relic, and it was only after some moments’ hesitation that I undid the wrappings and raised the lid of the casket. Dusk was very near and I had not yet lighted the lamps; therefore at first I doubted the evidence of my senses. But having lighted up and peered long and anxiously into the sandal-wood lining of the casket I could doubt no longer.