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The Return of Dr. Fu Manchu


CHAPTER VI. UNDER THE ELMS
Dusk found Nayland Smith and me at the top bedroom window.
We knew, now that poor Forsyth's body had been properly
examined, that he had died from poisoning. Smith, declaring that I
did not deserve his confidence, had refused to confide in me his
theory of the origin of the peculiar marks upon the body.
"On the soft ground under the trees," he said, "I found his tracks
right up to the point where something happened. There were no
other fresh tracks for several yards around. He was attacked as he
stood close to the trunk of one of the elms. Six or seven feet away I
found some other tracks, very much like this."
He marked a series of dots upon the blotting pad at his elbow.
"Claws!" I cried. "That eerie call! like the call of a nighthawk—
is it some unknown species of—flying thing?"
"We shall see, shortly; possibly to-night," was his reply. "Since,
probably owing to the absence of any moon, a mistake was made,"
his jaw hardened at the thoughts of poor Forsyth—"another
attempt along the same lines will almost certainly follow—you
know Fu-Manchu's system?"
So in the darkness, expectant, we sat watching the group of nine
elms. To-night the moon was come, raising her Aladdin's lamp up
to the star world and summoning magic shadows into being. By
midnight the highroad showed deserted, the common was a place
of mystery; and save for the periodical passage of an electric car,
in blazing modernity, this was a fit enough stage for an eerie
drama.
No notice of the tragedy had appeared in print; Nayland Smith
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