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Fire-Tongue Sax Rohmer

Story Of The City Of Fire -- continued 3

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"She exacted an oath from me that I would never divulge anything which I had seen or heard in the City of Fire. She urged that I must leave India as quickly as possible. I had already learned that this remote society was closely in touch with the affairs of the outside world. And, because I knew I was leaving my heart behind there in the Indian hills, I recognized that this dreadful parting must be final.

"Therefore I scarcely heeded her when she assured me that, should I ever be in danger because of what had happened, a message in the Times of India would reach her. I never intended to insert such a message, gentlemen. I knew that it would need all my strength to close this door which I had opened.

"I will spare you and myself the details of our parting. I passed out from the City of Fire in the darkest hour of the night, through a long winding tunnel, half a mile in length. I had protested to Naida that the secret mark might be painted upon my arm and not branded, but she had assured me that the latter was a necessity, and this now became evident; for, not only three times was it subjected to scrutiny, but by the last of the guards, posted near the outer end of the tunnel, it was tested with some kind of solution.

"Silence and the salutation with the moistened finger tips, together with the brand upon my arm, won me freedom from the abode of Fire-Tongue.

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"From a village situated upon one of the tributaries of the Ganges I readily obtained a guide, to whom such silent, yellow-robed figures as mine were evidently not unfamiliar; and, crossing the east of Nepal, I entered Bengal, bearing a strange secret. I found myself in an empty world--a world which had nothing to offer me. For every step south took me farther from all that made life worth living."

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Sax Rohmer

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