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Paul Harley crossed the room and stood in front of the tall Burmese cabinet. He experienced the utmost difficulty in adopting a judicial attitude toward his beautiful visitor. Proximity increased his mental confusion. Therefore he stood on the opposite side of the office ere beginning to question her.
"In the first place, Miss Abingdon," he said, speaking very deliberately, "do you attach any particular significance to the term 'Fire-Tongue'?"
Phil Abingdon glanced rapidly at Doctor McMurdoch. "None at all, Mr. Harley," she replied. "The doctor has already told me of--"
"You know why I ask?" She inclined her head.
"And Mr. Nicol Brinn? Have you met this gentleman?"
"Never. I know that Dad had met him and was very much interested in him."
"In what way?"
"I have no idea. He told me that he thought Mr. Brinn one of the most singular characters he had ever known. But beyond describing his rooms in Piccadilly, which had impressed him as extraordinary, he said very little about Mr. Brinn. He sounded interesting and "--she hesitated and her eyes filled with tears--"I asked Dad to invite him home." Again she paused. This retrospection, by making the dead seem to live again, added to the horror of her sudden bereavement, and Harley would most gladly have spared her more. "Dad seemed strangely disinclined to do so," she added.
At that the keen investigator came to life within Harley. "Your father did not appear anxious to bring Mr. Brinn to his home?" he asked, eagerly.
"Not at all anxious. This was all the more strange because Dad invited Mr. Brinn to his club."
"He gave no reason for his refusal?"
"Oh, there was no refusal, Mr. Harley. He merely evaded the matter. I never knew why."
"H'm," muttered Harley. "And now, Miss Abingdon, can you enlighten me respecting the identity of the Oriental gentleman with whom he had latterly become acquainted?"
Phil Abingdon glanced rapidly at Doctor McMurdoch and then lowered her head. She did not answer at once. "I know to whom you refer, Mr. Harley," she said, finally. "But it was I who had made this gentleman's acquaintance. My father did not know him."
"Then I wonder why he mentioned him?" murmured Harley.
"That I cannot imagine. I have been wondering ever since Doctor McMurdoch told me."
"You recognize the person to whom Sir Charles referred?"
"Yes. He could only have meant Ormuz Khan."
"Ormuz Khan--" echoed Harley. "Where have I heard that name?"
"He visits England periodically, I believe. In fact, he has a house somewhere near London. I met him at Lady Vail's."
"Lady Vail's? His excellency moves, then, in diplomatic circles? Odd that I cannot place him."
"I have a vague idea, Mr. Harley, that he is a financier. I seem to have heard that he had something to do with the Imperial Bank of Iran." She glanced naively at Harley. "Is there such a bank?" she asked.
"There is," he replied. "Am I to understand that Ormuz Khan is a Persian?"
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