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The Quest of the Sacred Slipper Sax Rohmer

A Rapping At Midnight

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"Who's there?" I cried.

No one answered.

Wondering if I were unduly alarming myself, yet, I confess, strung up tensely in anticipation that this was some device of the phantom enemy, I stood in doubt.

The silence remained unbroken for thirty seconds or more. Then yet again it was disturbed by that ghostly, muffled rapping.

I advanced a step nearer to the door.

"Who's there?' I cried loudly. "What do you want?"

The flap of the letter box began to move, and I formed a sudden determination. Making no sound in my heelless Turkish slippers I crept close up to the door and dropped upon my knees.

Thereupon the flap became fully lifted, but from where I crouched beneath it I was unable to see who or what was looking in; yet I hesitated no longer. I suddenly raised myself and thrust the revolver barrel through the opening!

"Who are you?" I cried. "Answer or I fire!" - and along the barrel I peered out on to the landing.

Still no one answered. But something impalpable - a powder - a vapour - to this hour I do not know what - enveloped me with its nauseating fumes; was puffed fully into my face! My eyes, my mouth, my nostrils became choked up, it seemed, with a deadly stifling perfume.

Wildly, feeling that everything about me was slipping away, that I was sinking into a void, for ought I knew that of dissolution, I pulled the trigger once, twice, thrice ...

"My God!" - the words choked in my throat and I reeled back into the passage - "it's not loaded!"

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I threw up my arms to save myself, lurched, and fell forward into what seemed a bottomless pit.

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The Quest of the Sacred Slipper
Sax Rohmer

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