Thursday, January 12, 2017

Fu-Manchu Chapter Twelve

(Reading The Insidious Dr Fu-Manchu; in the previous chapter they first thought Sir Lionel Barton was dead, then found that it wasn't him, but his secretary and also his Chinese servant who Smith assumes was working for Fu-Manchu. However they are left puzzled as to exactly how they died, and try to figure it out in this chapter.)

Petrie admits to having more questions than answers for the events of the previous chapter; Smith says it is "...more like a case for the Psychical Research people than for a plain Civil Servant, lately of Mandalay." While puzzling about it on his own someone sneaks into Petrie's rooms and he finds himself "looking into the beautiful dark eyes of Dr. Fu-Manchu's messenger." She reveals that HE* has a duplicate key to the house and suggests to Petrie that he change his locks. Good advice.

Petrie sets down several lines describing her indescribable good looks, then tells her that she is a free agent, he can protect her and to talk of slavery in England is nonsense. She replies:

"Slavery is put down, you imagine, perhaps? You do not believe that to-day—TO-DAY—twenty-five English sovereigns will buy a Galla girl, who is brown, and"—whisper—"two hundred and fifty a Circassian, who is white. No, there is no slavery! So! Then what am I?"

She goes on to prove her point be revealing that under her cloak "she was arrayed in gossamer silk which more than indicated the perfect lines of her slim shape; wore a jeweled girdle and barbaric ornaments; was a figure fit for the walled gardens of Stamboul." She says she had no time to array herself as an English Miss, and instead just went out in her casual lounging wear.

Petrie rubs his eyes.

She says that she will tell all - IF Petrie carries her off, by force. He doesn't and she leaves.

Smith returns and Petrie asks how she could have crossed London in that costume. Smith is not really interested in that question, instead bemoaning that this is the third time they have encountered her and the third time she has gone free. He asserts that she is in love with Petrie and gives him some romantic advice. "You don't know the Oriental mind as I do; but I quite understand the girl's position. She fears the English authorities, but would submit to capture by you! If you would only seize her by the hair, drag her to some cellar, hurl her down and stand over her with a whip, she would tell you everything she knows, and salve her strange Eastern conscience with the reflection that speech was forced from her. I am not joking; it is so, I assure you. And she would adore you for your savagery, deeming you forceful and strong!" Not sure I would take the advice of Nayland Smith, confirmed bachelor, on this topic Petrie. Just my opinion.

They are sadly interrupted before Smith can continue discussing methods of wooing women by the delivery of a package from the docks. Smith explains that he believes Fu-Manchu intercepted the sarcophagus and put someone in it; this explains a rubber stopper they found that had concealed a ventilation hole. Petrie is still puzzled about the green mist, but Smith tells him not to put too much importance on it.

He opens the package and a green mist comes out. Petrie drags him from the room. "It is a poisonous gas! In many respects identical with chlorine, but having unique properties which prove it to be something else—God and Fu-Manchu, alone know what!" They discuss it. "Chlorine gas has a specific gravity of 2.470, two and a half times heavier than air. You can pour it from jar to jar like a liquid—if you are wearing a chemist's mask. In these respects this stuff appears to be similar; the points of difference would not interest you." So it came out of the sarcophagus when Strozza overturned it, then went down the steps and suffocated Kwee. Well okay then.

Smith, as always has to have the final word. "His contempt is justified. I am a child striving to cope with a mental giant. It is by no wit of mine that Dr. Fu-Manchu scores a double failure." Smith is paranoid, but is he paranoid enough?

* Dr Fu-Manchu

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