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Our Library => Sax Rohmer - The Mask of Fu Manchu (1932) => Topic started by: Admin on January 04, 2023, 08:52:37 pm

Title: Chapter 50 - Dr. Fu Manchu Triumphs
Post by: Admin on January 04, 2023, 08:52:37 pm
THANKS to Ramin’s photographs, I proved my case. The blade of the sword, as I realized, had been provided by Solomon Ishak. It closely resembled the sword of the prophet, but differed in several essential particulars.

The stones in the hilt (the hilt had been reproduced exactly) were genuine and must have cost the chief some hundreds of pounds; but they were much smaller than those shown in the photograph; and some of them badly flawed.

Under a powerful lens the plates shrieked forgery aloud. I learned later that they had been photographed from Ramin’s negatives onto the gold and then engraved by Solomon’s workmen. Closely examined, the newly cut gold betrayed the secret.

The mask was the most perfect duplicate I have ever handled; but the two large jewels were reconstructed; and the delicate engravery, magnified, betrayed itself in the same way as that upon the plates.

However, a friendly atmosphere was reëstablished before the party broke up. I had admitted—could see no alternative—that Sir Lionel had had a duplicate set made in Persia. And it was obvious that this was the set which now lay upon the table.

When and where the substitution had taken place, I left to the imagination of my visitors. They were sympathetic in a way, but the Englishmen were laughing at me; and the Frenchman, who had come from Paris especially to view the relics, was very plainly annoyed.

Professor Eisner alone seemed to understand and to sympathize. He was last to leave, and:

“Mr. Greville,” he said in parting, “Sir Lionel Barton has touched deep, secret influences in this matter. He has been clever—very clever; but they have been more clever still. Eh? You will find out one day when this trick was done.”

But as from the window I watched him swinging down Bruton Street with the walk of a dragoon, I knew that I had nothing to find out. I knew where dreaming had ended and reality had begun. And I knew why Fah Lo Suee had whispered: “You will live to hate me. . . .”

I was still trying to get a call through to the chief, whose Norfolk number was a private extension, when Betts came in and announced:

“Sir Denis Nayland Smith and Dr. Petrie, sir.”

I hung up the receiver and positively sprang to meet them.

They were waiting for me in the room on the left of the lobby, the room in which I had received my learned visitors that morning. I suppose my expression must have betrayed me, for I saw, as I ran in, that both had sensed the fact that there was something wrong.

“What is it, Greville?” snapped Nayland Smith—“Barton? Ramin?”

“Both safe,” I replied. “This is a delightful surprise! You are a whole day ahead of your schedule!”

“Flew from Marseilles,” said Sir Denis.

“But something is wrong with you,” Dr. Petrie declared, holding onto my hand and looking at me searchingly.

I nodded, smiling, although I was far from mirthful.

“Suppose you prescribe a drink, Doctor!” I suggested; “I feel badly shot away. Then I will try to explain the position.”

It occupied me longer than I could have supposed; involving as it did an account of what had happened since I had parted from my friend on the previous night, right up to my recent interview with the four experts.

Long before I had reached the end of it, Nayland Smith was pacing up and down the room in his restless fashion, having relighted his pipe three or four times. But at last, when that strange story was ended:

“Amazing,” he snapped, “but ghastly.” He turned to Petrie. “I told you that Fu Manchu would be in England ahead of us.”

“You did,” the doctor agreed.

“He is here?” I exclaimed.

“Undoubtedly, Greville. He keeps a close watch upon his beautiful daughter! Your dream, as it seemed to you, was of course no dream at all. You were subjected last night, in the basement of the adjoining house, to the treatment referred to by Dr. Fu Manchu; an injection in your arm. Petrie can probably discover the mark. Eh, Petrie?”

“Possibly,” the doctor replied guardedly. “But I can make an examination later, Smith. Please carry on.”

“Very well. Later, you were given that ‘simple antidote’ which he mentioned. You remember now those lost hours in Cairo. And some of your memories, Greville, are most illuminating. I can see Hewlett and myself searching the Sukkariya quarter, when actually the house for which we were looking was somewhere out at Gizeh!

“The drug used by Fu Manchu (obviously that mentioned by McGovern) renders the subject peculiarly susceptible to suggestion. I suppose you appreciate that you had your instructions from Fah Lo Suee, who was awaiting your return in the adjoining empty house, to open the door for her at a specified time?”

“I must have opened it,” I returned blankly; “for, otherwise, how did she get in?”

“You certainly did open it; just as certainly as you once aided in the abduction of Ramin from Shepheard’s in Cairo!

“She substituted the duplicates, which of course she had brought with her, for the real relics, and presumably handed the latter to an accomplice in waiting. The phase which followed, Greville—” he smiled that inimitable smile—“is one which I prefer to forget.”

“Let’s all agree to forget it,” said Petrie.

“Dr. Fu Manchu is the greatest master of drugs this old world of ours has ever known. His daughter is an apt pupil. I believe she has a sincere affection for you, Greville—God knows why! But, since you did not dream, we have the word of Fu Manchu that no harm will come to you. Frankly, I think Barton has got off lightly——”

“So do I!” Petrie interrupted again.

“After all, even in this stage of laxity, there are things which are not done. The word of a prison governor to a convict is as sacred as any man’s word to any other man; and according to my view, which may be peculiar, Barton doubled on Dr. Fu Manchu. I believe that super-devil to be too great a character to waste a moment upon revenge. But in the circumstances, Greville, if you don’t mind, I should like to get through to Sir Lionel—and there’s someone there whom Petrie is dying to speak to. . . .”