Page:Guy Boothby--A Bid for Fortune.djvu/226

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216
A BID FOR FORTUNE.

man-servant and we entered. The hall, which was a spacious one for so small a dwelling, was filled with curios and weapons, but I had small time for observing them as my host led me towards a room at the back. As we entered it he said, 'I make you welcome to my house, my lord. I hope, now that you have taken the trouble to come, I shall be able to show you something that will repay your visit.' Thereupon, bidding me seat myself for a few moments, he excused himself and left the room. When he returned he began to do the honours. First we examined a rack of Australian spears, nulla-nullas, and boomerangs, then another containing some New Zealand hatchets and clubs. After this we crossed to a sort of alcove where reposed in cases a great number of curios collected from the further islands of the Pacific. I was about to take up one of these when the door on the other side of the room opened and some one entered. At first I did not look round, but hearing the new-comer approaching me I turned to find myself, to my horrified surprise, face to face with no less a person than Dr. Nikola. He was dressed entirely in black, his coat was buttoned and displayed all the symmetry of his peculiar figure, while his hair seemed blacker and his complexion even paler than before. He had evidently been prepared for my visit, for he held out his hand and greeted me without a sign of astonishment upon his face.

"'This is indeed a pleasure, my lord,' he said, still with his hand outstretched, looking, hard at me with his peculiar cat-like eyes. 'I did not expect to see you again so soon. You are evidently a little surprised to see me.'

"'I am more than surprised,' I answered bitterly, seeing how easily I had been entrapped. 'I am hor-