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The Third Adventure of Professor Forrester

The Monkey God

A Thrilling Novelette

By SEABURY QUINN

When Professor Forrester, unique detective, accepted Horatio Milsted's invitation
to a jazz house party he feared a dull time—and had it. But all at once his dullness
vanished, for he was suddenly plunged into a whirl of mystery, and exciting
adventure and fearful intrigue, that sharpened his wits and taxed his detective
ability to the utmost. The strange theft of Hanuman, the Monkey God, the equally
strange death of its owner, the consternation and panic that followed, and the
sinister shadow of oriental mysticism, hovering darkly over all—these offer
material for a brave tale that nobody can tell better than Seabury Quinn.

PROFESSOR HARVEY FORRESTER was having a beastly time. He had confided as much to himself more than once in the past twenty-four hours, and each passing minute confirmed the truth of it.

The Professor did not dance, and the younger members of the company fox trotted from breakfast to luncheon, from luncheon to dinner and from dinner to bed time. The Professor did not care for music, except classical compositions or the simple folk songs of primitive peoples, and the Milsted house was filled with the cacophonies of jazz from radio and phonograph all day and three- quarters of the night. The Professor despised bridge as a moronic substitute for intelligent conversation, and the older members of the company played for a cent a point from dinner till midnight with the avidity of professional gamblers.

The Professor was having a beastly time.

But old Horatio Milsted, in honor of whose son the house party was given, possessed one of the finest collections of oriental curios in the country, wherefore Forrester had accepted the invitation tendered him and Rosalie Osterhaut, his ward; for he greatly desired to examine a certain statuette of Hanuman, the Monkey God, which was the supreme jewel in the collection that Milsted had inherited from a sea-roving (and none too scrupulous) grandsire.

Two days—forty-eight interminable hours of fox trotting, syncopated music and card-ruffling— the Professor had endured, and as yet had not caught sight of the little monkey god's effigy. Each time he broached the subject to Milsted his host put him off with some excuse. The house party would break up the following morning, and meantime the Professor cooled his back against the wall of the Milsted drawing room while his anger rose hot and seething within him.

"Oh, Professor Forrester," whispered Arabella Milsted, the host's unmarried sister, in the irritatingly high, thin voice possessed by so many short, fat women, "you look so romantically aloof standing there all by yourself. Tell me, don't you ever unbend, even for a teeny, tinsy moment?" She looked archly at him above the serrated edge of her black fan and simpered with bovine coquettishness.

"Do you know," she went on in a more confidential whisper, her little, pale-blue eyes growing circular with sudden seriousness, "I have a presentiment—a premonition—that something terrible is going to happen?"

"Umpf?" growled Forrester noncommittally, gazing first at the obese damsel, then across the crowded dance floor in an effort to descry an exit. "Umpf!"

"Yes—" Miss Milsted, who would never again see forty, but dressed in a manner becoming to twenty, and talked chiefly in Italics, replied— "oh, yes; I'm very psychic, you know. Poor dear Mamma used to say—"

Poor dear Mamma's profound observations will never be known to posterity, for at that moment Horatio Milsted, looking anything but the urbane host, strode into the drawing room and commanded sharply, "Shut off that infernal music!"

"Hear, hear!" murmured the Professor under his breath.

Young Carmody, a vapid-faced youth in too- fashionably cut dinner clothes, who stood nearest the radio, turned the rheostat, and the lively dance tune expired with a dismal squawk.

"Someone has been tampering with my collection," Milsted announced in a hard, metallic voice. "Some infernal thief has stolen a priceless relic—the statue of Hanuman. Now, I don't make any accusations; but I want that curio back. I think I know the thief, and while I'd be justified in turning him over to the police, I'll give him a chance to return my property without a scandal—if he will. The museum is just beyond the library. I want everyone here—everyone—to step into the library, then go, one at a time, into the museum. There's only one door, and the windows are barred, so the thief can't get away. Each of you will be allowed thirty seconds—by himself—in the museum. There'll be a handkerchief on the table, and if I don't find the statuette under that handkerchief when the last of you has passed through the museum, why—" he swept the company with another frigid stare— "I shall have to ask you all to wait while I send for the sheriff. Is that clear?"

A wondering, frightened murmur of assent ran round the brightly lighted room, and the host turned on his heel as he shot out, "This way, if you please."

ROSALIE, the Professor's ward, glanced backward at her guardian as she accompanied her dancing partner and two other couples into the library, and the look in her wide, topaz eyes was a troubled one. She had lived with the Professor nearly a year, now, and knew him as only a woman can know the man she idolizes. The straight- backed little scientist was the soul of honor and propriety, but so immersed in his beloved study of anthropology that theft or murder would scarcely deter him from the acquisition of a relic of scientific value, "What if he should—" she shook her narrow shoulders as one who puts away an unpleasant thought, and stepped across the library threshold.

"I know something terrible will happen," Miss Milsted wailed softly in the Professor's ear.

"Nonsense, Madam; control yourself!" Forrester replied sharply, his narrow nostrils quivering with excitement.

The north wind, sweeping furiously across the rolling Maryland hills, hurled a barrage of sleet and snow against the windows, a man coughed with the abrupt sharpness of nervousness, and a woman tittered with embarrassment. The logs in the hall fireplace snapped and crackled; otherwise the house was as silent as a Quaker meeting before the Spirit moves. Two minutes dragged slowly by while the party in the drawing room watched the library door with bated breath. What drama was being enacted behind those unresponsive panels?

"Oh, I know—" the Milsted person began her dismal prophecy once more, then checked her speech with a little squeak like that of an unsuspecting mouse suddenly snared in a trap. Dying with a short flare, like a shred of dried grass touched with a match, the electric lights winked out, and, save for the reflection of the blazing logs in the hall fireplace, the house was hooded in darkness.

"Oh, I knew it—" Miss Milsted asserted, but Professor Forrester strode impatiently across the polished floor toward the closed door of the library.

"Control yourself, Madam," he snapped. "The wires have been short-circuited by the storm. Here, somebody, bring some candles!" It was characteristic of him that he should assume command in the emergency. The man who had braved sandstorms in the Sahara, glaciers in the Himalayas and natives of Somaliland while tracing the footprints of early civilizations was not to be daunted by imperfect electric power systems. "Fetch some candles," he repeated sharply; "we can't—"

Voices rose in angry discord behind the library door. A man's shout, a woman's scream, Milsted's half-uttered curse mingled in sudden, sharp babel, then bang! the wicked, whiplike snap of a pistol-sh...

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