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0100_005E Fire-Tongue Sax Rohmer

His Excellency Ormuz Khan

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Like Mr. Jarvis, he was bespectacled, and his teeth were much discoloured and apparently broken in front, as is usual with cobblers. His hands, too, were toil-stained and his nails very black. He carried a cardboard box. He seemed to be extremely nervous, and this nervousness palpably increased when the impudent page, who was standing in the lobby, giggled on hearing his inquiry.

"He's second floor," said the youth. "Are you from Hot-Stuff Jarvis?"

"That's right, lad," replied the visitor, speaking with a marked Manchester accent; "from Mr. Jarvis."

"And are you really going up?" inquired the boy with mock solicitude.

"I'm going up right enough. That's what I'm here for."

"Shut up, Chivers," snapped the hall porter "Ring the bell." He glanced at the cobbler. "Second floor," he said, tersely, and resumed his study of a newspaper which he had been reading.

The representative of Mr. Jarvis was carried up to the second floor and the lift man, having indicated at which door he should knock, descended again. The cobbler's nervousness thereupon became more marked than ever, so that a waiter, seeing him looking helplessly from door to door, took pity on him and inquired for whom he was searching.

"His excellency," was the reply; "but I'm hanged if I can remember the number or how to pronounce his name.

The waiter glanced at him oddly. "Ormuz Khan," he said, and rang the bell beside a door. As he hurried away, "Good luck!" he called back.

There was a short interval, and then the door was opened by a man who looked like a Hindu. He wore correct morning dress and through gold-rimmed pince-nez he stared inquiringly at the caller.

"Is his excellency at home?" asked the latter. "I'm from Mr. Jarvis, the bootmaker."

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"Oh!" said the other, smiling slightly. "Come in. What is your name?"

"Parker, sir. From Mr. Jarvis."

As the door closed, Parker found himself in a small lobby. Beside an umbrella rack a high-backed chair was placed. "Sit down," he was directed. "I will tell his excellency that you are here."

A door was opened and closed again, and Parker found himself alone. He twirled his bowler hat, which he held in his hand, and stared about the place vacantly. Once he began to whistle, but checked himself and coughed nervously. Finally the Hindu gentleman reappeared, beckoning to him to enter.

Parker stood up very quickly and advanced, hat in hand.

Then he remembered the box which he had left on the floor, and, stooping to recover it, he dropped his hat. But at last, leaving his hat upon the chair and carrying the box under his arm, he entered a room which had been converted into a very businesslike office.

There was a typewriter upon a table near the window at which someone had evidently been at work quite recently, and upon a larger table in the centre of the room were dispatch boxes, neat parcels of documents, ledgers, works of reference, and all the evidence of keen commercial activity. Crossing the room, the Hindu rapped upon an inner door, opened it, and standing aside, "The man from the bootmaker," he said in a low voice.

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