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Fire-Tongue Sax Rohmer


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She wore a robe that was distinctly Oriental without being in the slightest degree barbaric. Her skin was strangely fair, and jewels sparkled upon her fingers. She conjured up dreams of the perfumed luxury of the East, and was a figure to fire the imagination. But Nicol Brinn seemed incapable of movement; his body was inert, but his eyes were on fire. Into the woman's face had come anxiety that was purely feminine.

"Oh, my big American sweetheart," she whispered, and, approaching him with a sort of timidity, laid her little hands upon his arm. "Do you still think I am beautiful?"


No man could have recognized the voice of Nicol Brinn. Suddenly his arms were about her like bands of iron, and with a long, wondering sigh she lay back looking up into his face, while he gazed hungrily into her eyes. His lips had almost met hers when softly, almost inaudibly, she sighed: "Nicol!"

She pronounced the name queerly, giving to i the value of ee, and almost dropping the last letter entirely.

Their lips met, and for a moment they clung together, this woman of the East and man of the West, in utter transgression of that law which England's poet has laid down. It was a reunion speaking of a love so deep as to be sacred.

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Lifting the woman in his arms lightly as a baby, he carried her to the settee between the two high windows and placed her there amid Oriental cushions, where she looked like an Eastern queen. He knelt at her feet and, holding both her hands, looked into her face with that wondering expression in which there was something incredulous and something sorrowful; a look of great and selfless tenderness. The face of Naida was lighted up, and her big eyes filled with tears. Disengaging one of her jewelled hands, she ruffled Nicol Brinn's hair.

"My Nicol," she said, tenderly. "Have I changed so much?"

Her accent was quaint and fascinating, but her voice was very musical. To the man who knelt at her feet it was the sweetest music in the world.

"Naida," he whispered. "Naida. Even yet I dare not believe that you are here."

"You knew I would come?"

"How was I to know that you would see my message?"

She opened her closed left hand and smoothed out a scrap of torn paper which she held there. It was from the "Agony" column of that day's Times.

N. November 23, 1913. N. B. See Telephone Directory.

"I told you long, long ago that I would come if ever you wanted me."

"Long, long ago," echoed Nicol Brinn. "To me it has seemed a century; to-night it seems a day."

He watched her with a deep and tireless content. Presently her eyes fell. "Sit here beside me," she said. "I have not long to be here. Put your arms round me. I have something to tell you."

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