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The Seventh Kama
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It would have been good to know that he was followed. His only hope was that someone detailed by Paul Harley might be in pursuit.
Lighting a fresh cigar, Nicol Brinn drew a copy of the Sketch from the rack, and studied the photographs of more or less pretty actresses with apparent contentment. He had finished the Sketch, and was perusing the Bystander, when, the car having climbed a steep hill and swerved sharply to the right, he heard the rustling of leaves, and divined that they were proceeding along a drive.
He replaced the paper in the rack, and took out his watch. Consulting it, he returned it to his pocket as the car stopped and the light went out.
The door, which, with its fellow, Nicol Brinn had discovered to be locked, was opened by the Oriental chauffeur, and Brinn descended upon the steps of a shadowed porch. The house door was open, and although there was no light within:
"Come this way," said a voice, speaking out of the darkness.
Nicol Brinn entered a hallway the atmosphere of which seemed to be very hot.
"Allow me to take your hat and coat," continued the voice.
He was relieved of these, guided along a dark passage; and presently, an inner door being opened, he found himself in a small, barely furnished room where one shaded lamp burned upon a large writing table.
His conductor, who did not enter, closed the door quietly, and Nicol Brinn found himself looking into the smiling face of a Hindu gentleman who sat at the table.
The room was decorated with queer-looking Indian carvings, pictures upon silk, and other products of Eastern craftsmanship. The table and the several chairs were Oriental in character, but the articles upon the table were very European and businesslike in appearance. Furthermore, the Hindu gentleman, who wore correct evening dress, might have been the representative of an Eastern banking house, as indeed he happened to be, amongst other things.
"Good evening," he said, speaking perfect English "won't you sit down?"
He pointed with a pen which he was holding in the direction of a heavily carved chair which stood near the table. Nicol Brinn sat down, regarding the speaker with lack-lustre eyes.
"A query has arisen respecting your fraternal rights," continued the Hindu. "Am I to understand that you claim to belong to the Seventh Kama?"
"Certainly," replied Brinn in a toneless voice.
The Hindu drew his cuff back from a slender yellow wrist, revealing a curious mark which appeared to be branded upon the flesh. It was in the form of a torch or flambeau surmounted by a tongue of flame. He raised his black brows, smiling significantly.
Nicol Brinn stood up, removing his tight dinner jacket. Then, rolling back his sleeve from a lean, sinuous forearm, he extended the powerful member, having his fist tightly clenched.
Upon the inside of his arm, just above the elbow, an identical mark had been branded!
The Hindu stood up and saluted Nicol Brinn in a peculiar manner. That is to say, he touched the second finger of his right hand with the tip of his tongue, and then laid the finger upon his forehead, at the same time bowing deeply.
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