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  Fire-Tongue Sax Rohmer

A Wreath Of Hyacinths

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Deep in reflection and oblivious of the busy London life around him, Paul Harley walked slowly along the Strand. Outwardly he was still the keen-eyed investigator who could pry more deeply into a mystery than any other in England; but to-day his mood was introspective. He was in a brown study.

The one figure which had power to recall him to the actual world suddenly intruded itself upon his field of vision. From dreams which he recognized in the moment of awakening to have been of Phil Abingdon, he was suddenly aroused to the fact that Phil Abingdon herself was present. Perhaps, half subconsciously, he had been looking for her.

Veiled and dressed in black, he saw her slim figure moving through the throng. He conceived the idea that there was something furtive in her movements. She seemed to be hurrying along as if desirous of avoiding recognition. Every now and again she glanced back, evidently in search of a cab, and a dormant suspicion which had lain in Harley's mind now became animate. Phil Abingdon was coming from the direction of the Savoy Hotel. Was it possible that she had been to visit Ormuz Khan?

Harley crossed the Strand and paused just in front of the hurrying, black-clad figure. "Miss Abingdon," he said, "a sort of instinct told me that I should meet you to-day."

She stopped suddenly, and through the black veil which she wore he saw her eyes grow larger--or such was the effect as she opened them widely. Perhaps he misread their message. To him Phil Abingdon's expression was that of detected guilt. More than ever he was convinced of the truth of his suspicions. "Perhaps you were looking for a cab?" he suggested.

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Overcoming her surprise, or whatever emotion had claimed her at the moment of this unexpected meeting, Phil Abingdon took Harley's outstretched hand and held it for a moment before replying. "I had almost despaired of finding one," she said, "and I am late already."

"The porter at the Savoy would get you one."

"I have tried there and got tired of waiting," she answered quite simply.

For a moment Harley's suspicions were almost dispelled, and, observing an empty cab approaching, he signalled to the man to pull up.

"Where do you want to go to?" he inquired, opening the door.

"I am due at Doctor McMurdoch's," she replied, stepping in.

Paul Harley hesitated, glancing from the speaker to the driver.

"I wonder if you have time to come with me," said Phil Abingdon. "I know the doctor wants to see you."

"I will come with pleasure," replied Harley, a statement which was no more than true.

Accordingly he gave the necessary directions to the taxi man and seated himself beside the girl in the cab.

"I am awfully glad of an opportunity of a chat with you, Mr. Harley," said Phil Abingdon. "The last few days have seemed like one long nightmare to me." She sighed pathetically. "Surely Doctor McMurdoch is right, and all the horrible doubts which troubled us were idle ones, after all?"

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