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The Return of Dr. Fu Manchu


"Bells?"
"They said that it became unbearable. Night and day there were
bells ringing all over the house. At any rate, they went, and for
three or four days the Gables was occupied only by Mr. Maddison
and his man, whose name was Stevens. I interviewed the latter
also, and he was an altogether more reliable witness; a decent,
steady sort of man whose story impressed me very much at the
time."
"Did he confirm the ringing?"
"He swore to it—a sort of jangle, sometimes up in the air, near
the ceilings, and sometimes under the floor, like the shaking of
silver bells."
Nayland Smith stood up abruptly and began to pace the room,
leaving great trails of blue-gray smoke behind him.
"Your story is sufficiently interesting, Inspector," he declared,
"even to divert my mind from the eternal contemplation of the Fu-
Manchu problem. This would appear to be distinctly a case of an
'astral bell' such as we sometimes hear of in India."
"It was Stevens," continued Weymouth, "who found Mr.
Maddison. He (Stevens) had been out on business connected with
the household arrangements, and at about eleven o'clock he
returned, letting himself in with a key. There was a light in the
library, and getting no response to his knocking, Stevens entered.
He found his master sitting bolt upright in a chair, clutching the
arms with rigid fingers and staring straight before him with a look
of such frightful horror on his face, that Stevens positively ran
from the room and out of the house. Mr. Maddison was stone dead.
When a doctor, who lives at no great distance away, came and
examined him, he could find no trace of violence whatever; he had
apparently died of fright, to judge from the expression on his face."
"Anything else?"
"Only this: I learnt, indirectly, that the last member of the
Quaker family to occupy the house had apparently witnessed the
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