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The Return of Dr. Fu Manchu


himself, than have remained another hour in that ill-omened house.
My companion must have read as much in my face. But he kept
up the strange, and to me, purposeless comedy, when presently he
spoke.
"I feel it to be incumbent upon me to suggest," he said, "that we
spend the night at a hotel after all."
He walked rapidly downstairs and into the library and began to
strap up the grip.
"After all," he said, "there may be a natural explanation of what
we've heard; for it is noteworthy that we have actually seen
nothing. It might even be possible to get used to the ringing and the
wailing after a time. Frankly, I am loath to go back on my
bargain!"
Whilst I stared at him in amazement, he stood there
indeterminate as it seemed, Then:
"Come, Pearce!" he cried loudly, "I can see that you do not share
my views; but for my own part I shall return to-morrow and devote
further attention to the phenomena."
Extinguishing the light, he walked out into the hallway, carrying
the grip in his hand. I was not far behind him. We walked toward
the door together, and:
"Turn the light out, Pearce," directed Smith; "the switch is at
your elbow. We can see our way to the door well enough, now."
In order to carry out these instructions, it became necessary for
me to remain a few paces in the rear of my companion, and I think
I have never experienced such a pang of nameless terror as pierced
me at the moment of extinguishing the light; for Smith had not yet
opened the door, and the utter darkness of the Gables was horrible
beyond expression. Surely darkness is the most potent weapon of
the Unknown. I know that at the moment my hand left the switch, I
made for the door as though the hosts of hell pursued me. I
collided violently with Smith. He was evidently facing toward me
in the darkness, for at the moment of our collision, he grasped my
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