The Mystery Of Dr. Fu Manchu - Episode 12: The Queen of Hearts - Chapter XVIII, Queen Of Hearts

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Adapted from chapters 15-18 of The Si-Fan Mysteries (UK)/The Hand of Fu-Manchu (US) (1917), the third novel in the Dr. Fu Manchu series.

Online: Internet Archive

The Mystery Of Dr. Fu Manchu - Episode 12: The Queen of Hearts

  1. Zarmi Reappears
  2. I Track Zarmi
  3. I Meet Dr. Fu-Manchu
  4. Queen Of Hearts

scene from Queen Of Hearts



"Sir Baldwin Frazer," said Fu-Manchu, interrupting a wild outburst from the former, "your refusal is dictated by insufficient knowledge of your surroundings. You find yourself in a place strange to you, a place to which no clue can lead your friends; in the absolute power of a man—myself—who knows no law other than his own and that of those associated with him. Virtually, Sir Baldwin, you stand in China; and in China we know how to exact obedience. You will not refuse, for Dr. Petrie will tell you something of my wire-jackets and my files…."

I saw Sir Baldwin Frazer blanch. He could not know what I knew of the significance of those words—"my wire-jackets, my files"—but perhaps something of my own horror communicated itself to him.

"You will not refuse" continued Fu-Manchu softly; "my only fear for you is that the operation my prove unsuccessful! In that event not even my own great clemency could save you, for by virtue of your failure I should be powerless to intervene." He paused for some moments, staring directly at the surgeon. "There are those within sound of my voice," he added sibilantly, "who would flay you alive in the lamentable event of your failure, who would cast your flayed body"—he paused, waving one quivering fist above his head, "to the rats—to the rats!"

Sir Baldwin's forehead was bathed in perspiration now. It was an incredible and a gruesome situation, a nightmare become reality. But, whatever my own case, I could see that Sir Baldwin Frazer was convinced, I could see that his consent would no longer be withheld.

"You, my dear friend," said Fu-Manchu, turning to me and resuming his studied and painful composure of manner, "will also consent…."

Within my heart of hearts I could not doubt him; I knew that my courage was not of a quality high enough to sustain the frightful ordeals summoned up before my imagination by those words—"my files, my wire-jackets!"

"In the event, however, of any little obstinancy," he added, "another will plead with you."

A chill like that of death descended upon me—as, for the second time, Zarmi clapped her hands, pulled the curtain aside … and Kâramaneh was thrust into the room!

* * * * * * *

There comes a blank in my recollections. Long after Kâramaneh had been plucked out again by the two muscular brown hands which clutched her shoulders from the darkness beyond the doorway, I seemed to see her standing there, in her close-fitting traveling dress. Her hair was unbound, disheveled, her lovely face pale to the lips—and her eyes, her glorious, terror-bright eyes, looked fully into mine….

Not a word did she utter, and I was stricken dumb as one who has plucked the Flower of Silence. Only those wondrous eyes seemed to look into my soul, searing, consuming me.

Fu-Manchu had been speaking for some time ere my brain began again to record his words.

"——and this magnanimity," came dully to my ears, "extends to you, Dr. Petrie, because of my esteem. I have little cause to love Kâramaneh"—his voice quivered furiously—"but she can yet be of use to me, and I would not harm a hair of her beautiful head—except in the event of your obstinacy. Shall we then determine your immediate future upon the turn of a card, as the gamester within me, within every one of my race, suggests?

"Yes, yes!" came hoarsely.

I fought mentally to restore myself to a full knowledge of what was happening, and I realized that the last words had come from the lips of Sir Baldwin Frazer.

"Dr. Petrie," Frazer said, still in the same hoarse and unnatural voice, "what else can we do? At least take the chance of recovering your freedom, for how otherwise can you hope to serve—your friend…."

"God knows!" I said dully; "do as you wish"—and cared not to what I had agreed.

Plunging his hand beneath his white overall, the Chinaman who had been referred to as Li-King-Su calmly produced a pack of cards, unemotionally shuffled them and extended the pack to me.

I shook my head grimly, for my hands were tied. Picking up a lancet from the table, the Chinaman cut the cords which bound me, and again extended the pack. I took a card and laid it on my knee without even glancing at it. Fu-Manchu, with his left hand, in turn selected a card, looked at it and then turned its face towards me.

"It would seem, Dr. Petrie," he said calmly, "that you are fated to remain here as my guest. You will have the felicity of residing beneath the same roof with Kâramaneh."

The card was the Knave of Diamonds.

Conscious of a sudden excitement, I snatched up the card from my knee. It was the Queen of Hearts! For a moment I tasted exultation, then I tossed it upon the floor. I was not fool enough to suppose that the Chinese Doctor would pay his debt of honor and release me.

"Your star above mine," said Fu-Manchu, his calm unruffled. "I place myself in your hands, Sir Baldwin."

Assisted by his unemotional compatriot, Fu-Manchu discarded the yellow robe, revealing himself in a white singlet in all his gaunt ugliness, and extended his frame upon the operating-table.

Li-King-Su ignited the large lamp over the head of the table, and from his case took out a trephine.

* * * * * * *

"Other points for your guidance from my own considerable store of experience"—Fu-Manchu was speaking—"are written out clearly in the notebook which lies upon the table…."

His voice, now, was toneless, emotionless, as though his part in the critical operation about to be performed were that of a spectator. No trace of nervousness, of fear, could I discern; his pulse was practically normal.

How I shuddered as I touched his yellow skin! how my very soul rose up in revolt! …

* * * * * * *

"There is the bullet!—quick! … Steady, Petrie!"

Sir Baldwin Frazer, keen, cool, deft, was metamorphosed, was the enthusiastic, brilliant surgeon whom I knew and revered, and another than the nerveless captive who, but a few minutes ago, had stared, panic-stricken, at Dr. Fu-Manchu.

Although I had met him once or twice professionally, I had never hitherto seen him operate; and his method was little short of miraculous. It was stimulating, inspiring. With unerring touch he whittled madness, death, from the very throne of reason, of life.

Now was the crucial moment of his task … and, with its coming, every light in the room suddenly failed—went out!

"My God!" whispered Frazer, in the darkness, "quick! quick! lights! a match!—a candle!—something, anything!"

There came a faint click, and a beam of white light was directed, steadily, upon the patient's skull. Li-King-Su—unmoved—held an electric torch in his hand!

Frazer and I set to work, in a fierce battle to fend off Death, who already outstretched his pinions over the insensible man—to fend off Death from the arch-murderer, the enemy of the white races, who lay there at our mercy! …

* * * * * * *

"It seems you want a pick-me-up!" said Zarmi. Sir Baldwin Frazer collapsed into the cane arm-chair. Only a matting curtain separated us from the room wherein he had successfully performed perhaps the most wonderful operation of his career.

"I could not have lasted out another thirty seconds, Petrie!" he whispered. "The events which led up to it had exhausted my nerves and I had no reserve to call upon. If that last …"

He broke off, the sentence uncompleted, and eagerly seized the tumbler containing brandy and soda, which the beautiful, wicked-eyed Eurasian passed to him. She turned, and prepared a drink for me, with the insolent insouciance which had never deserted her.

I emptied the tumbler at a draught.

Even as I set the glass down I realized, too late, that it was the first drink I had ever permitted to pass my lips within an abode of Dr. Fu-Manchu….

I started to my feet.

"Frazer!" I muttered—"we've been drugged! we …"

"You sit down," came Zarmi's husky voice, and I felt her hands upon my breast, pushing me back into my seat. "You very tired … you go to sleep…."

* * * * * * *

"Petrie! Dr. Petrie!"

The words broke in through the curtain of unconsciousness. I strove to arouse myself. I felt cold and wet. I opened my eyes—and the world seemed to be swimming dizzily about me. Then a hand grasped my arm, roughly.

"Brace up! Brace up, Petrie—and thank God you are alive! …"

I was sitting beside Sir Baldwin Frazer on a wooden bench, under a leafless tree, from the ghostly limbs whereof rain trickled down upon me! In the gray light, which, I thought, must be the light of dawn, I discerned other trees about us and an open expanse, tree-dotted, stretching into the misty grayness.

"Where are we?" I muttered—"where …"

"Unless I am greatly mistaken," replied my bedraggled companion, "and
I don't think I am, for I attended a consultation in this neighborhood
less than a week ago, we somewhere on the west side of Wandsworth

He ceased speaking; then uttered a suppressed cry. There came a jangling of coins, and dimly I saw him to be staring at a canvas bag of money which he held.

"Merciful heavens!" he said, "am I mad—or did I really perform that operation? And can this be my fee? …"

I laughed loudly, wildly, plunging my wet, cold hands into the pockets of my rain-soaked overcoat. In one of them, my fingers came in contact with a piece of cardboard. It had an unfamiliar feel, and I pulled it out, peering at it in the dim light.

"Well, I'm damned!" muttered Frazer—"then I'm not mad, after all!"

It was the Queen of Hearts!