The Wing Of A Bat
For a long time our knocking and ringing elicited no response. The brilliant state
of the door-brass afforded evidence of the fact that Ah Tsong had arisen, even if
the other members of the household were still sleeping, and Harley, growing
irritable, executed a loud tattoo upon the knocker. This had its effect. The door
opened and Ah Tsong looked out.
"Tell your master that Mr. Paul Harley has called to see him upon urgent
"Master no got," replied Ah Tsong, and proceeded to close the door.
Paul Harley thrust his hand against it and addressed the man rapidly in Chinese.
I could not have supposed the face of Ah Tsong capable of expressing so much
animation. At the sound of his native tongue his eyes lighted up, and:
"Tchee, tchee," he said, turned, and disappeared.
Although he had studiously avoided looking at me, that Ah Tsong would inform
his master of the identity of his second visitor I did not doubt. If I had doubted I
should promptly have been disillusioned, for:
"Tell them to go away!" came a muffled cry from somewhere within. "No spy of
Devil Menendez shall ever pass my doors again!"
The Chinaman, on retiring, had left the door wide open, and I could see right to
the end of the gloomy hall. Ah Tsong presently re-appeared, shuffling along in
our direction. Unemotionally:
"Master no got," he repeated.
Paul Harley stamped his foot irritably.
"Good God, Knox," he said, "this unreasonable fool almost exhausts my
Again he addressed Ah Tsong in Chinese, and although the man's wrinkled ivory
face exhibited no trace of emotion, a deep understanding was to be read in those
oblique eyes; and a second time Ah Tsong turned and trotted back to the study. I
could hear a muttered colloquy in progress, and suddenly the gaunt figure of
Colin Camber burst into view.
He was shaved this morning, but arrayed as I had last seen him. Whilst he was
not in that state of incoherent anger which I remembered and still resented, he
was nevertheless in an evil temper.
He strode along the hallway, his large eyes widely opened, and fixing a cold
stare upon the face of Harley.
"I learn that your name is Mr. Paul Harley," he said, entirely ignoring my
presence, "and you send me a very strange message. I am used to the ways of
Senor Menendez, therefore your message does not deceive me. The gateway,
sir, is directly behind you."
Harley clenched his teeth, then:
"The scaffold, Mr. Camber," he replied, "is directly in front of you."