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||The Quest of the Sacred Slipper||Sax Rohmer|
My Last Meeting With Hassan Of Aleppo
|Page 5 of 5||
"I know, effendim; it is so written. Open the door."
I closed the window and mechanically descended the stairs.
"Mind it isn't a trap!" cried Hilton, who, with the others, had overheard every word of this strange interview. "They may try to rush the door directly we open it."
"I'll stand the chest behind it," said Soar; "between the door and the wall, so that only one can enter at a time.
This was done, and the door opened.
Alone, majestic, entered Hassan of Aleppo.
He was dressed in European clothes but wore the green turban of a Sherif. With his snowy beard and coal-black eyes he seemed like a vision of the Prophet, of the Prophet in whose name he had committed such ghastly atrocities.
Deigning no glance to Soar nor to Hilton, he paced into the room, passing me and ignoring Carneta, where Earl Dexter awaited him. I shall never forget the scene as Hassan entered, to stand looking with blazing eyes at The Stetson Man, who sat beside the fire with the slipper of Mohammed in his hand!
"Hassan," said Dexter quietly, "Mr. Cavanagh has had to promise you safe conduct, or as sure as God made me, I'd put a bullet in you!"
The Sheikh of the Hashishin glared fixedly at him.
"Companion of the evil one," he said, "it is not written that I shall die by your hand - or by the hand of any here. But it has been revealed to me that to-night the gates of Paradise may be closed in my face."
"I shouldn't be at all surprised," drawled Dexter. "But it's up to you. You've got to swear by Mohammed - "
"Salla-'llahu 'aleyhi wasellem!"
"That you won't lay a hand upon any living soul, or allow any of your followers to do so, who has touched the slipper or had anything to do with it, but that you will go in peace."
"You are doomed to die!"
"You don't agree, then?"
"Those who have offended must suffer the penalty!"
"Right!" said Dexter - and prepared to toss the slipper into the heart of the fire?
"Stop! Infidel! Stop!"
There was real agony in Hassan's voice. To my inexpressible surprise he dropped upon his knee, extending his lean brown hands toward the slipper.
Dexter hesitated. "You agree, then?"
Hassan raised his eyes to the ceiling.
"I agree," he said. "Dark are the ways. It is the will of God. . ."
Dimly the booming of the thunder came echoing back to us from the hills. Above its roll sounded a barbaric chanting to which the drums of angry heaven formed a fitting accompaniment.
I heard Soar shooting the bolts again upon the going of our strange visitor.
Faint and more faint grew the chanting, until it merged into the remote muttering of the storm-and was lost. The quest of the sacred slipper was ended.
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