The Return of Dr. Fu Manchu HTML version
saw the whites of the oblique eyes turned and leaped from the
room with the agility of a wild cat. The ensuing darkness was split
by a streak of lightning... and there was Nayland Smith scrambling
around the foot of the bed and making for the door in hot pursuit.
We gained it almost together. Smith had dropped the cane, and
now held his pistol in his hand. Together we fired into the chasm
of the corridor, and in the flash, saw Van Roon hurling himself
down the stairs. He went silently in his stockinged feet, and our
own clatter was drowned by the awful booming of the thunder
which now burst over us again.
Crack!—crack!—crack! Three times our pistols spat
venomously after the flying figure... then we had crossed the hall
below and were in the wilderness of the night with the rain
descending upon us in sheets. Vaguely I saw the white shirt-
sleeves of the fugitive near the corner of the stone fence. A
moment he hesitated, then darted away inland, not toward Saul, but
toward the moor and the cup of the inland bay.
"Steady, Petrie! steady!" cried Nayland Smith. He ran, panting,
beside me. "It is the path to the mire." He breathed sibilantly
between every few words. "It was out there... that he hoped to lure
us... with the cry for help."
A great blaze of lightning illuminated the landscape as far as the
eye could see. Ahead of us a flying shape, hair lank and glistening
in the downpour, followed a faint path skirting that green tongue of
morass which we had noted from the upland. It was Kegan Van
Roon. He glanced over his shoulder, showing a yellow, terror-
stricken face. We were gaining upon him. Darkness fell, and the
thunder cracked and boomed as though the very moor were
splitting about us.
"Another fifty yards, Petrie," breathed Nayland Smith, "and after
that it's unchartered ground."
On we went through the rain and the darkness; then:
"Slow up! slow up!" cried Smith. "It feels soft!"