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|The Quest of the Sacred Slipper||Sax Rohmer|
Six Gray Patches
|Page 4 of 4||
A pattering like naked feet sounded on the road, and, without pausing in my headlong career, I sent a random shot into the blackness.
The crack of the Smith and Wesson reassured me. I pulled up short, turned, and looked back toward the trees.
Nothing - no one!
Breathing heavily, I crammed my extinguished briar into my pocket - re-charged the empty chamber of the revolver - and started to run again toward a light that showed over the treetops to my left.
That, if the man's directions were right, was "Uplands" - if his directions were wrong - then . . .
A shrill whistle - minor, eerie, in rising cadence - sounded on the dead silence with piercing clearness! Six whistles - seemingly from all around me - replied!
Some object came humming through the air, and I ducked wildly.
On and on I ran - flying from an unknown, but, as a warning instinct told me, deadly peril - ran as a man runs pursued by devils.
The road bent sharply to the left then forked. Overhanging trees concealed the house, and the light, though high up under the eaves, was no longer visible. Trusting to Providence to guide me, I plunged down the lane that turned to the left, and, almost exhausted, saw the gates before me - saw the sweep of the drive, and the moonlight, gleaming on the windows!
None of the windows were illuminated.
Straight up to the iron gates I raced.
They were locked!
Without a moment's hesitation I hurled my grip over the top and clambered up the bars! As I got astride, from the blackness of the lane came the ominous hum, and my hat went spinning away across the lawn !- the black cloud veiled the moon and complete darkness fell.
Then I dropped and ran for the house - shouting, though all but winded - "Hilton! Hilton! Open the door!"
Sinking exhausted on the steps, I looked toward the gates - but they showed only dimly in the dense shadows of the trees.
I dropped flat in the portico as something struck the metal knob of the door and rebounded over me. A shower of gravel told of another misdirected projectile.
Crack! Crack! Crack! The revolver spoke its short reply into the mysterious darkness; but the night gave up no sound to tell of a shot gone home.
"Hilton! Hilton!" I cried, banging on the panels with the butt of the weapon. "Open the door! Open the door!"
And now I heard the coming footsteps along the hall within; heavy bolts were withdrawn - the door swung open - and Hilton, pale-faced, appeared. His hand shot out, grabbed my coat collar; and weak, exhausted, I found myself snatched into safety, and the door rebolted.
"Thank God!" I whispered. "Thank God! Hilton, look to all your bolts and fastenings. Hell is outside!"
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|The Quest of the Sacred Slipper
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