Saturday, January 28, 2017

Fu-Manchu Chapter Twenty Eight

(I'm reading The Insidious Dr Fu-Manchu and these are my notes on chapter twenty eight; as there are thirty chapters in the book we are towards the end of the story, which is more of a series of related stories rather than a single integrated novel anyway)

"OF all that we had hoped for in our pursuit of Fu-Manchu how little had we accomplished," begins Petrie before listing their failures. Interestingly he notes as a success that Nayland Smith managed to keep everything out of the press*.

Petrie also talks about Karamaneh. "Many there are, I doubt not, who will regard the Eastern girl with horror." He quite likes her, although being foreign and oriental he doesn't understand her. So, at her request, they book passage for her and her brother to Egypt, their native land, to leave in three days.

They take a break and go and see some water colours in Bond Street when Aziz "feels" the presence of Fu-Manchu. They look but can't see him.  "Who could mistake that long, gaunt shape, with the high, mummy-like shoulders, and the indescribable gait, which I can only liken to that of an awkward cat?" Despite last being seen falling in the Thames none of them believe that "the lord of strange deaths... was no more."

Smith investigates "a tall, old man, wearing a black Inverness coat and a rather shabby silk hat. He had long white hair and a patriarchal beard, wore smoked glasses and walked slowly, leaning upon a stick."

The commissionaire recognises the man as Professor Jenner Monde, who he knew when he was a sergeant out in China, so obviously he's not Fu-Manchu. Smith ponders for a moment if a man who has spent so much time out in China might be an ally of the doctor, but Petrie points out that the unnatural feeling of disquiet would only be caused by Fu-Manchu himself, and he isn't Fu-Manchu as they now know.

They investigate; the professor has been in London for a week, and he is well known at the British Museum; for the greater part of the year he goes abroad**.

They are interrupted by James Weymouth who is shaken by "something uncanny going on at Maple Cottage.***" There was more knocking in the middle of the night. When he looked Mr Weymouth saw nothing but he did hear "SOMEONE LAUGHING!"

Smith and Petrie decide to go; they are not sure if it would be safe to remove Mrs Weymouth (the widow), but Petrie reckons he can administer "an opiate" to keep her out of the way while they investigate. They all want to know what Smith thinks they will find. "I dare not tell you what I hope, Petrie, nor what I fear."

* "In the absence of such a veto a veritable panic must have seized upon the entire country; for a monster—a thing more than humanly evil—existed in our midst." I mean, true, what good would it do to publicise Fu-Manchu's activities, other than for every natural death to be laid at his door, and uninvolved foreigners to be persecuted (Fu-Manchu and his associates being masters of disguise would probably escape notice)? Yet by putting it out there, it would at the very least aggravate him, a man who wishes his moves to be secret, and perhaps push him into making a mistake. And maybe the great British public would demand something be done and they could invade China or similar.

** Where exactly is he a professor of? They should question that institution. Or is it an honourary title? Perhaps Fu-Manchu has a side business in selling false degrees and honours.

*** Not so shaken as to fail to take advantage of their hospitality. "Weymouth took a cigarette from the box which I proffered and poured out a peg of whisky. His hand was not quite steady."
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