The Return of Dr. Fu Manchu
displayed for sale, I crossed the roadway, entered Museum Street,
and, rather in order to distract my mind than because I
contemplated any purchase, began to examine the Oriental Pottery,
Egyptian statuettes, Indian armor, and other curios, displayed in
the window of an antique dealer.
But, strive as I would to concentrate my mind upon the objects
in the window, my memories persistently haunted me, and haunted
me to the exclusion even of the actualities. The crowds thronging
the Pavement, the traffic in New Oxford Street, swept past
unheeded; my eyes saw nothing of pot nor statuette, but only met,
in a misty imaginative world, the glance of two other eyes—the
dark and beautiful eyes of Karamaneh. In the exquisite tinting of a
Chinese vase dimly perceptible in the background of the shop, I
perceived only the blushing cheeks of Karamaneh; her face rose
up, a taunting phantom, from out of the darkness between a
hideous, gilded idol and an Indian sandalwood screen.
I strove to dispel this obsessing thought, resolutely fixing my
attention upon a tall Etruscan vase in the corner of the window,
near to the shop door. Was I losing my senses indeed? A doubt of
my own sanity momentarily possessed me. For, struggle as I would
to dispel the illusion—there, looking out at me over that ancient
piece of pottery, was the bewitching face of the slave-girl!
Probably I was glaring madly, and possibly I attracted the notice
of the passers-by; but of this I cannot be certain, for all my
attention was centered upon that phantasmal face, with the cloudy
hair, slightly parted red lips, and the brilliant dark eyes which
looked into mine out of the shadows of the shop.
It was bewildering—it was uncanny; for, delusion or verity, the
glamour prevailed. I exerted a great mental effort, stepped to the
door, turned the handle, and entered the shop with as great a show
of composure as I could muster.
A curtain draped in a little door at the back of one counter
swayed slightly, with no greater violence than may have been
occasioned by the draught. But I fixed my eyes upon this swaying