The Return of Dr. Fu Manchu
The shadow of the tower fell sharply across the path, which ran
up almost alongside of it. We were both extremely warm by reason
of our long and rapid walk on that hot day, and this shade should
have been grateful to us. In short, I find it difficult to account for
the unwelcome chill which I experienced at the moment that I
found myself at the foot of the time-worn monument. I know that
we both pulled up sharply and looked at one another as though
acted upon by some mutual disturbance.
But not a sound broke the stillness save a remote murmuring,
until a solitary sea gull rose in the air and circled directly over the
tower, uttering its mournful and unmusical cry. Automatically to
my mind sprang the lines of the poem:
Far from all brother-men, in the weird of the fen,
With God's creatures I bide, 'mid the birds that I ken;
Where the winds ever dree, where the hymn of the sea
Brings a message of peace from the ocean to me.
Not a soul was visible about the premises; there was no sound of
human activity and no dog barked. Nayland Smith drew a long
breath, glanced back along the way we had come, then went on,
following the wall, I beside him, until we came to the gate. It was
unfastened, and we walked up the stone path through a wilderness
of weeds. Four windows of the house were visible, two on the
ground floor and two above. Those on the ground floor were
heavily boarded up, those above, though glazed, boasted neither
blinds nor curtains. Cragmire Tower showed not the slightest
evidence of tenancy.
We mounted three steps and stood before a tremendously
massive oaken door. An iron bell-pull, ancient and rusty, hung on
the right of the door, and Smith, giving me an odd glance, seized
the ring and tugged it.
From somewhere within the building answered a mournful
clangor, a cracked and toneless jangle, which, seeming to echo
through empty apartments, sought and found an exit apparently by
way of one of the openings in the round tower; for it was from
above our heads that the noise came to us.