Sunday, January 08, 2017

Fu-Manchu Chapter Eight

 (I'm reading The Insidious Dr Fu-Manchu, the first Fu-Manchu novel, and have reached Chapter Eight; our heroes have rushed to the sound of a scream)

Greba Eltham has swooned by the French Windows in the drawing room. When she wakes up she reveals that she saw two green eyes like a cat*. She is also puzzled; if the "awful Chinaman" wants to kill her father why has he not done so when he the opportunity, either in the railway carriage or... last night in his bedchamber.

Wait, what? It seems that they had dismissed her from their discussion after dinner, their serious conversation not deemed suitable for her maidenly ears. Unfortunately this had deprived them of a clew. It seems that she had heard something in her father's room last night and knocked on the wall; afterwards she saw something on the lawn; brown, marked in sections, fast moving and at least six feet long. The speed and movement and moonlight prevented her seeing clearly what is was, so we are left with a scary but indistinct description.

She also claims the reason she woke in the railway carriage is that their coffee was drugged; she drank very little as it was "so awful" but her father, a seasoned traveller necked his. Good man.

Petrie discusses the situation with Smith later that evening. Smith finally gives away Redmoat's location (Norfolk) and declares secret passages out of the question. He is left with many questions. The remaining dog, a mastiff named Caesar, keeps howling and baying.

Howling and baying until he stops. Petries checks his watch; twelve past midnight. Then the dog breaks his chain and escapes, followed by Rev Eltham in his dressing gown. Greda begs Petrie to save them both**, but Smith is on the case and calls them back. When they eventually get out there, Eltham is unharmed, but the dog is unconcious. They raise the household and beat the bushes but find nothing. Petrie tends to the dog and Greda helps him; "the sound of her voice, I think, rather than my more scientific ministration, which recalled Caesar to life. For, as she entered, his tail wagged feebly, and a moment later he struggled to his feet—one of which was injured."***

They find nothing, no trace.

"We stood on the lawn looking at one another, Nayland Smith, angry but thoughtful, tugging at the lobe of his left ear, as was his habit in moments of perplexity."

* But not a cat. "The eyes were too large, Dr. Petrie." So perhaps... a big cat?

** Every woman with a speaking part seems sweet on Petrie.

*** That's one dog that's survived Fu-Manchu. He's really slipping.

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