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Fire-Tongue Sax Rohmer


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"At the earliest moment that I can decently arrange a meeting," replied Doctor McMurdoch, "I will communicate with you, Mr. Harley. I am just cudgelling my brains at the moment to think how the news is to be broken to her. Poor little Phil! He was all she had."

"I wish I could help you," declared Harley with sincerity, "but in the circumstances any suggestion of mine would be mere impertinence." He held out his hand to the doctor.

"Good-night," said the latter, gripping it heartily. "If there is any mystery surrounding poor Abingdon's death, I believe you are the man to clear it up. But, frankly, it was his heart. I believe he had a touch of the sun once in India. Who knows? His idea that some danger threatened him or threatened Phil may have been merely--" He tapped his brow significantly.

"But in the whole of your knowledge of Sir Charles," cried Harley, exhibiting a certain irritation, "have you ever known him to suffer from delusions of that kind or any other?"

"Never," replied the physician, firmly; "but once a man has had the sun one cannot tell."

"Ah!" said Harley. "Good-night, Doctor McMurdoch."

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When presently he left the house, carrying a brown leather bag which he had borrowed from the butler, he knew that rightly or wrongly his own opinion remained unchanged in spite of the stubborn opposition of the Scottish physician. The bogus message remained to be explained, and the assault in the square, as did the purpose of the burglar to whom gold and silver plate made no appeal. More important even than these points were the dead man's extraordinary words: "Fire-Tongue"--"Nicol Brinn." Finally and conclusively, he had detected the note of danger outside and inside the house; and now as he began to cross the square it touched him again intimately.

He looked up at the darkened sky. A black cloud was moving slowly overhead, high above the roof of the late Sir Charles Abingdon; and as he watched its stealthy approach it seemed to Paul Harley to be the symbol of that dread in which latterly Sir Charles's life had lain, beneath which he had died, and which now was stretching out, mysterious and menacing, over himself.

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