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Fire-Tongue Sax Rohmer

A Client For Paul Harley

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"I don't understand, then."

"I chanced to have occasion to open my bureau which I invariably keep locked. Immediately--immediately--I perceived that my papers were disarranged. Close examination revealed the fact that a short manuscript in my own hand, which had been placed in one of the pigeonholes, was missing."

"A manuscript," murmured Harley. "Upon a technical subject?"

"Scarcely a technical subject, Mr. Harley. It was a brief account which I had vaguely contemplated publishing in one of the reviews, a brief account of a very extraordinary patient whom I once attended."

"And had you written it recently?"

"No; some years ago. But I had recently added to it. I may say that it was my purpose still further to add to it, and with this object I had actually unlocked the bureau."

"New facts respecting this patient had come into your possession?"

"They had."

"Before the date of the attack upon you?"

"Before that date, yes."

"And before surveillance of your movements began?"

"I believe so."

"May I suggest that your patient and the 'well-known man' to whom you referred are one and the same?"

"It is not so, Mr. Harley," returned Sir Charles in a tired voice. "Nothing so simple. I realize more than ever that I must arrange my facts in some sort of historical order. Therefore I ask you again: will you dine with me to-night?"

"With pleasure," replied Harley, promptly. "I have no other engagement."

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That his ready acceptance had immensely relieved the troubled mind of Sir Charles was evident enough. His visitor stood up. "I am not prone to sickly fancies, Mr. Harley," he said. "But a conviction has been growing upon me for some time that I have incurred, how I cannot imagine, but that nevertheless I have incurred powerful enmity. I trust our evening's counsel may enable you, with your highly specialized faculties, to detect an explanation."

And it was instructive to note how fluently he spoke now that he found himself temporarily relieved of the necessity of confessing the source of his mysterious fears.

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