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0105_001E Fire-Tongue Sax Rohmer

What Happened To Harley -- continued

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Paul Harley believed that he understood precisely what this signified, and when, after listening intently in the stillness of the night, he failed to detect sounds of any other approach, he descended to the path and stole toward the dark house.

There were French windows upon the ground floor, all of them closely shuttered. Although he recognized that he was taking desperate chances, he inspected each one of them closely.

Passing gently from window to window, his quest ultimately earned its reward. Through a crack in one of the shutters a dim light shone out. His heart was beating uncomfortably, although he had himself well in hand; and, crawling into the recess formed by the window, he pressed his ear against a pane and listened intently. At first he could hear nothing, but, his investigation being aided by the stillness of the night, he presently became aware that a voice was speaking within the room--deliberately, musically. The beating of his heart seemed to make his body throb to the very finger tips. He had recognized the voice to be the voice of Ormuz Khan!

Now, his sense of hearing becoming attuned to the muffled tones, he began to make out syllables, words, and, finally, sentences. Darkness wrapped him about, so that no one watching could have seen his face. But he himself knew that under the bronze which he never lost he had grown pale. His heartbeats grew suddenly fainter, an eerie chill more intense than any which the note of danger had ever occasioned caused him to draw sharply back.

"My God!" he whispered. He drew his automatic swiftly from his pocket, and, pressed against the wall beside the window, looked about him as a man looks who finds himself surrounded by enemies. Not a sound disturbed the stillness of the garden except for sibilant rustlings of the leaves, occasioned by a slight breeze.

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Paul Harley retreated step by step to the bushes. He held the pistol tightly clenched in his right hand.

He had heard his own death sentence pronounced and he knew that it was likely to be executed.

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