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Fire-Tongue Sax Rohmer

An Englishman's Honour

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When he returned, he found dinner spread upon the table.

He wondered for what ordeal the neophyte was prepared in this singular apartment. He wondered how such neophytes were chosen, and to what tests they were submitted before being accepted as members of the bloodthirsty order. He could not even surmise.

Evidently no neophyte had been accepted on the previous night, unless there were other like chambers in the house. The occupants of the shuttered cars must therefore have been more advanced members. He spent the night in the little cell-like bedchamber, and his second day of captivity began as the first had begun.

For his dinner he had eaten nothing but bread and fruit. For his breakfast he ate an egg and drank water from the tap in the bathroom. His plan was now nearing completion. Only one point remained doubtful.

At noon the voice again addressed him from behind the gilded screen:

"Mr. Paul Harley?"


"Your last opportunity has come. For your own future or for that of the world you seem to care little or nothing. Are you still determined to oppose our wishes?

"I am."

"You have yet an hour. Your final decision will be demanded of you at the end of that time."

Faint sounds of withdrawal followed these words and Harley suddenly discovered himself to be very cold. The note of danger had touched him. For long it had been silent. Now it clamoured insistently. He knew beyond all doubt that he was approaching a crisis in his life. At its nature he could not even guess.

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He began to pace the room nervously, listening for he knew not what. His mind was filled with vague imaginings; when at last came an overture to the grim test to be imposed upon him.

A slight metallic sound drew his glance in the direction of the gilded screen. A sliding door of thick plate glass had been closed behind it, filling the space between the metal work and the curtain. Then--the light in the brass lantern became extinguished.

Standing rigidly, fists clenched, Paul Harley watched the curtain. And as he watched, slowly it was drawn aside. He found himself looking into a long room which appeared to be practically unfurnished.

The floor was spread with rugs and at the farther end folding doors had been opened, so that he could see into a second room, most elegantly appointed in Persian fashion. Here were silver lanterns, and many silken cushions, out of which, as from a sea of colour, arose slender pillars, the scheme possessing an air of exotic luxury peculiarly Oriental.

Seated in a carved chair over which a leopard skin had been thrown, and talking earnestly to some invisible companion, whose conversation seemed wholly to enthrall her, was Phil Abingdon!

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Sax Rohmer

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