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The Return of Dr. Fu Manchu


neighborhood of the house until the return of your servant."
"Look upon Cragmire Tower as your own, gentlemen!" cried
Van Roon. "Most of the rooms are unfurnished, and the garden is a
wilderness, but the structure of the brickwork in the tower may
interest you archaeologically, and the view across the moor is at
least as fine as any in the neighborhood."
So, with his brilliant smile and a gesture of one thin yellow
hand, the crippled traveler made us free of his odd dwelling. As I
passed out from the room close at Smith's heels, I glanced back, I
cannot say why. Van Roon already was bending over his papers, in
his green shadowed sanctuary, and the light shining down upon his
smoked glasses created the odd illusion that he was looking over
the tops of the lenses and not down at the table as his attitude
suggested. However, it was probably ascribable to the weird
chiaroscuro of the scene, although it gave the seated figure an
oddly malignant appearance, and I passed out through the utter
darkness of the outer room to the front door. Smith opening it, I
was conscious of surprise to find dusk come—to meet darkness
where I had looked for sunlight.
The silver wisps which had raced along the horizon, as we came
to Cragmire Tower, had been harbingers of other and heavier
banks. A stormy sunset smeared crimson streaks across the
skyline, where a great range of clouds, like the oily smoke of a city
burning, was banked, mountain topping mountain, and lighted
from below by this angry red. As we came down the steps and out
by the gate, I turned and looked across the moor behind us. A sort
of reflection from this distant blaze encrimsoned the whole
landscape. The inland bay glowed sullenly, as if internal fires and
not reflected light were at work; a scene both wild and majestic.
Nayland Smith was staring up at the cone-like top of the ancient
tower in a curious, speculative fashion. Under the influence of our
host's conversation I had forgotten the reasonless dread which had
touched me at the moment of our arrival, but now, with the red
light blazing over Sedgemoor, as if in memory of the blood which
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