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0100_005E Fire-Tongue Sax Rohmer

Fire-Tongue Speaks

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"We congratulate you," said Rama Dass. "You are a worthy brother."

He performed the secret salutation, which Nicol Brinn automatically acknowledged. Then, without another word, Rama Dass led the way to the door.

Out into the dark hallway Nicol Brinn stepped, his muscles taut, his brain alert for instant action. But no one offered to molest him. He was assisted into his coat, and his hat was placed in his hands. Then, the front door being opened, he saw the headlights of the waiting car shining on a pillar of the porch.

A minute later he was seated again in the shuttered limousine, and as it moved off, and the lights leapt up above him, he lay back upon the cushions and uttered a long sigh.

Already he divined that, following a night's sleep, these scenes would seem like the episodes of a dream. Taking off his hat, he raised his hand to his forehead, and discovered it to be slightly damp.

"No wonder," he muttered.

Drawing out a silk handkerchief from the breast pocket of his dinner jacket, he wiped his face and forehead deliberately. Then, selecting a long black cigar from a case which bore the monogram of the late Czar of Russia, he lighted it, dropped the match in the tray, and lolling back in a corner, closed his eyes wearily.

Thus, almost unmoving, he remained throughout the drive. His only actions were, first, to assure himself that both doors were locked again, and then at intervals tidily to place a little cone of ash in the tray provided for the purpose. Finally, the car drew up and a door was unlocked by the chauffeur.

Nicol Brinn, placing his hat upon his head, stepped out before the porch of the Cavalry Club.

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The chauffeur closed the door, and returned again to the wheel. Immediately the car moved away. At the illuminated number Nicol Brinn scarcely troubled to glance. Common sense told him that it was not that under which the car was registered. His interest, on the contrary, was entirely focussed upon a beautiful Rolls Royce, which was evidently awaiting some visitor or member of the club. Glancing shrewdly at the chauffeur, a smart, military-looking fellow, Nicol Brinn drew a card from his waistcoat pocket, and resting it upon a wing in the light of one of the lamps, wrote something rapidly upon it in pencil.

Returning the pencil to his pocket:

"Whose car, my man?" he inquired of the chauffear.

"Colonel Lord Wolverham's, sir."

"Good," said Nicol Brinn, and put the card and a ten-shilling note into the man's hand. "Go right into the club and personally give Colonel Lord Wolverham this card. Do you understand?"

The man understood. Used to discipline, he recognized the note of command in the speaker's voice.

"Certainly, sir," he returned, without hesitation; and stepping down upon the pavement he walked into the club.

Less than two minutes afterward a highly infuriated military gentleman--who, as it chanced, had never even heard of the distinguished American traveller--came running out hatless into Piccadilly, holding a crumpled visiting card in his hand. The card, which his chauffeur had given him in the midst of a thrilling game, read as follows:


And written in pencil beneath the name appeared the following:

Borrowed your Rolls. Urgent. Will explain tomorrow. Apologize. N.B.

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