Wednesday, January 04, 2017

Fu-Manchu Chapter Four

(I'm reading The Insidious Dr Fu-Manchu by Sax Rohmer, also known as The Mystery of Dr Fu-Manchu. Worth noting perhaps that the novel was originally published as separate stories; the first 3 chapters comprising The Zayat Kiss. We now proceed to the second story, The Severed Fingers)

Nayland Smith points out an article in the evening paper about a drowned lascar* and is confident that this is actually the dacoit that tried to kill them in the previous chapter, being punished for his failure. They are then called to see another body; Cadby, an undercover policeman at the docks. His left hand is mutilated and two fingers missing from his right. The same injuries were on the lascar/dacoit and on another dead policeman last week. Perhaps, they think, the deaths are related.

The 'clew' that caused them to call for Smith** was that Cadby had a Chinese pigtail attached to a bald wig shoved down his shirt. It doesn't fit Cadby and was made "for a most abnormal head." Cadby died of drowning, yet was a strong swimmer. They decide to go and collect his case book from his lodgings, but part way there Smith realises he has left the pigtail behind and sends Petrie on ahead. Splitting the party, always the best tactic!

Arriving there Petrie breaks the bad news to the landlady who has news of her own - a young lady is waiting in the rooms. What young lady? The Landlady says "God knows he was a good lad, and I like a mother to him; but she is not the girl I should have liked a son of mine to take up with."

Petrie, who claims he would find this amusing at another time because it's 1912 and people had to make their own entertainment, goes to meet her. He recognises her. "She cowered against the desk by the window, a slim figure in a clinging silk gown, which alone explained Mrs. Dolan's distrust. The gaslight was turned very low, and her hat shadowed her face, but could not hide its startling beauty, could not mar the brilliancy of the skin, nor dim the wonderful eyes of this modern Delilah. For it was she!" No Petrie, tell us what you really think of her, it's not at all clear.

He questions her. She explains that she is a slave, that he has no reason to turn her to the police. He wavers: "At that moment I honestly would have given half of my worldly possessions to have been spared the decision which I knew I must come to." Only half Petrie? What a cad.

After a bit more desperate pleading - "Hide me from your police, from HIM, from everybody, and I will no longer be his slave." - he turns his back for a moment, pondering the burning paper ash in the fireplace and, of course, she leaves.

* A sailor from India or other parts of Asia

** Is he the only expert on Asia in London? Fu-Manchu's campaign already having an impact I see.

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