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Fire-Tongue Sax Rohmer

Phil Abingdon's Visitor

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The strange personality of the man was having its effect. Phil Abingdon's eyes were widely open, and she was hanging upon his words. Underneath the soft effeminate exterior lay a masterful spirit--a spirit which had known few obstacles. The world of womanhood could have produced no more difficult subject than Phil Abingdon. Yet she realized, and became conscious of a sense of helplessness, that under certain conditions she would be as a child in the hands of this Persian mystic, whose weird eyes appeared to be watching not her body, nor even her mind, but her soul, whose voice touched unfamiliar chords within her--chords which had never responded to any other human voice.

It was thrilling, vaguely pleasurable, but deep terror underlay it.

"Your Excellency almost frightens me," she whispered. "Yet I do not doubt that you speak of what you know."

"It is so," he returned, gravely. "At any hour, day or night, if you care to make the request, I shall be happy to prove my words. But," he lowered his dark lashes and then raised them again, "the real object of my visit is concerned with more material things."

"Indeed," said Phil Abingdon, and whether because of the words of Ormuz Khan, or because of some bond of telepathy which he had established between them, she immediately found herself to be thinking of Paul Harley.

"I bring you a message," he continued, "from a friend."

With eyes widely open, Phil Abingdon watched him.

"From," she began--but her lips would not frame the name.

"From Mr. Paul Harley," he said, inclining his head gravely.

"Oh! tell me, tell me!"

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"I am here to tell you, Miss Abingdon. Mr. Harley feels that his absence may have distressed you."

"Yes, yes," she said, eagerly.

"But in pursuit of a certain matter which is known to you, he has found it necessary in the interests of his safety to remain out of London for a while."

"Oh," Phil Abingdon heaved a great sigh. "Oh, Your Excellency, how glad I am to hear that he is safe!"

The long, dark eyes regarded her intently, unemotionally, noting that the flush had faded from her face, leaving it very pale, and noting also the expression of gladness in her eyes, the quivering of her sweet lips.

"He is my guest," continued Ormuz Khan, "my honoured guest."

"He is with you?" exclaimed Phil, almost incredulously.

"With me, at my home in Surrey. In me he found a natural ally, since my concern was as great as his own. I do not conceal from you, Miss Abingdon, that he is danger."

"In danger?" she whispered.

"It is true, but beneath my roof he is safe. There is a matter of vital urgency, however, in which you can assist him."

"I?" she exclaimed.

"No one but you." Ormuz Khan raised his slender hand gracefully. "I beg you, do not misunderstand me. In the first place, would Mr. Harley have asked you to visit him at my home, if he had not been well assured that you could do so with propriety? In the second place, should I, who respect you more deeply than any woman in the world, consent to your coming unchaperoned? Miss Abingdon, you know me better. I beg of you in Mr. Harley's name and in my own, prevail upon Mrs. McMurdoch to accept the invitation which I bring to lunch with me at Hillside, my Surrey home."

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