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0100_005E Fire-Tongue Sax Rohmer

Nicol Brinn's Story -- concluded

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"'She seemed more especially to concern herself with preserving intact a lock of the young man's jet-black hair, which was brushed in rather an odd manner across his ivory forehead. Naturally enough, this circumstance excited my curiosity and, distracting the woman's attention for a moment--I asked her to bring me something from a table at the opposite side of the room--I lightly raised this wayward lock and immediately replaced it again.

"'Do you know what it concealed, Mr. Brinn?'

"I assured him that I did not.

"'A mark, apparently natural, resembling a torch surmounted by a tongue of fire!'

"I was amazed, gentlemen, by Sir Charles's story. He was given his fee and driven back to his quarters But that he had succeeded where I had failed, that he had actually looked upon Fire-Tongue in person, I could not doubt. I learned from this, too, that the Prophet of Fire did not always remain in his mountain stronghold, for Delhi is a long way from the Secret City.

"Strange though it must appear, at this time I failed to account for Sir Charles confiding this thing to me. Later, I realized that he must have seen the mark on my arm, although he never referred to it.

"Well, the past leapt out at me, as you see, and worse was to come. The death of Sir Charles Abingdon told me what I hated to know: that Fire-Tongue was in England!

"I moved at once. I inserted in the Times the prearranged message, hardly daring to hope that it would come to the eye of Naida; but it did! She visited me. And I learned that not only Sir Charles Abingdon, but another, knew of the mark which I bore!

"I was summoned to appear before the Prophet of fire!

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"Gentlemen, what I saw and how I succeeded in finding out the location of his abode are matters that can wait. The important things are these: first, I learned why Sir Charles Abingdon had been done to death!

"The unwelcome attentions of the man known as Ormuz Khan led Sir Charles to seek an interview with him. I may say here and now that Ormuz Khan is Fire-Tongue! Oh! it's a tough statement--but I can prove it. Sir Charles practically forced his way into this man's presence--and immediately recognized his mysterious patient of years ago!

"He accused him of having set spies upon his daughter's movements--an accusation which was true--and forbade him to see her again. From that hour the fate of Sir Charles was sealed. What he knew, the world must never know. He had recorded, in a private paper, all that he had learned. This paper was stolen from his bureau--and its contents led to my being summoned to the house of Fire-Tongue! It also spurred the organization to renewed efforts, for it revealed the fact that Sir Charles contemplated confiding the story to others.

"What were the intentions of the man Ormuz in regard to Miss Abingdon, I don't know. His entourage all left England some days ago--with three exceptions. I believe him to have been capable of almost anything. He was desperate. He knew that Ormuz Khan must finally and definitely disappear. It is just possible that he meant Miss Abingdon to disappear along with him!

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