Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Fu-Manchu Chapter Twenty Five

(I'm reading The Insidious Dr Fu-Manchu also known as The Mystery of Fu-Manchu. As Chapter Twenty Five opens our heroes have been captured.)

Petrie wakes, and is being carried along a corridor with strange giant mushrooms in. I know the feeling. He's dumped on the ground and hears Smith's voice as well as the sound of something being hit but he is too dozy to react. I know that feeling as well. Then Fu-Manchu arrives. "Fu-Manchu picked his way through the fungi ranks as daintily as though the distorted, tumid things had been viper-headed."

The noise stops as Fu-Manchu closes a door. Fu-Manchu admits to being impressed by their exploits and so will keep them alive... for now. But maybe not Inspector Weymouth. "You are about to enjoy an unique opportunity of studying fungology. I have already drawn your attention to the anaesthetic properties of the lycoperdon, or common puff-ball." He has a new variety of his own*.

Petrie is unhappy**. Fu-Manchu "the greatest fungologist the world has ever known" has set a trap for the detectives assaulting his house. The toadstools explode when exposed to light the spores causing the men to go mad. Then the white empusa falls from the ceiling, covering them and growing over them.

"It is my fly-trap!" shrieked the Chinaman. "And I am the god of destruction!"***

* "Note the snowy growth upon the roof, Doctor. Do not be deceived by its size. It is a giant variety of my own culture and is of the order empusa. You, in England, are familiar with the death of the common house-fly—which is found attached to the window-pane by a coating of white mold. I have developed the spores of this mold and have produced a giant species. Observe the interesting effect of the strong light upon my orange and blue amanita fungus!"

** "For my own part, I could have shrieked in pure horror. FOR I KNEW WHAT WAS COMING."

*** Petrie also remarks, "I felt assured of something I had long suspected: that that magnificent, perverted brain was the brain of a homicidal maniac—though Smith would never accept the theory." May have to come back to that; why does Smith not think that Fu-Manchu is a homicidal maniac? Is there some subtlety to the way a doctor would use the term a hundred years ago? ("Not a psychopath, a high functioning sociopath.")
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