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The Return of Dr. Fu Manchu


Nayland Smith's grip tightened on my arm.
"There it is again, Petrie!" he whispered.
"Look, look!"
His words were wholly unnecessary. I, too, had seen it; a
wonderful and uncanny sight. Out of the darkness under the elms,
low down upon the ground, grew a vaporous blue light. It flared
up, elfinish, then began to ascend. Like an igneous phantom, a
witch flame, it rose, high—higher—higher, to what I adjudged to
be some twelve feet or more from the ground. Then, high in the air,
it died away again as it had come!
"For God's sake, Smith, what was it?"
"Don't ask me, Petrie. I have seen it twice. We—"
He paused. Rapid footsteps sounded below. Over Smith's
shoulder I saw Forsyth cross the road, climb the low rail, and set
out across the common.
Smith sprang impetuously to his feet.
"We must stop him!" he said hoarsely; then, clapping a hand to
my mouth as I was about to call out—"Not a sound, Petrie!"
He ran out of the room and went blundering downstairs in the
dark, crying:
"Out through the garden—the side entrance!"
I overtook him as he threw wide the door of my dispensing
room. Through it he ran and opened the door at the other end. I
followed him out, closing it behind me. The smell from some
tobacco plants in a neighboring flower-bed was faintly perceptible;
no breeze stirred; and in the great silence I could hear Smith, in
front of me, tugging at the bolt of the gate.
Then he had it open, and I stepped out, close on his heels, and
left the door ajar.
"We must not appear to have come from your house," explained
Smith rapidly. "I will go along the highroad and cross to the
common a hundred yards up, where there is a pathway, as though
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