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|The Quest of the Sacred Slipper||Sax Rohmer|
"Hassan Of Aleppo"
|Page 2 of 3||
"Why do you tell me all this?" I interrupted.
He laughed harshly.
"The identity of my pursuer has just dawned upon me," he said. "I know that my life is in real danger. I would give up what is demanded of me, but I believe its possession to be my strongest safeguard."
Mystery upon mystery! I seemed to be getting no nearer to the heart of this maze. What in heaven's name did it all mean? Suddenly an idea struck me.
"Is our late fellow passenger, Mr. Ahmadeen, connected with the matter?" I asked.
"In no way," replied Deeping earnestly. "Mr. Ahmadeen is, I believe, a person of some consequence in the Moslem world; but I have nothing to fear from him."
"What steps have you taken to protect yourself?"
Again the short laugh reached my ears.
"I'm afraid long residence in the East has rendered me something of a fatalist, Cavanagh! Beyond keeping my door locked, I have taken no steps whatever. I fear I am quite accessible!"
A while longer we talked; and with every word the conviction was more strongly borne in upon me that some uncanny menace threatened the peace, perhaps the life, of Professor Deeping.
I had hung up the receiver scarce a moment when, acting upon a sudden determination, I called up New Scotland Yard, and asked for Detective-Inspector Bristol, whom I knew well. A few words were sufficient keenly to arouse his curiosity, and he announced his intention of calling upon me immediately. He was in charge of the case of the severed hand.
I made no attempt to resume work in the interval preceding his arrival. I had not long to wait, however, ere Bristol was ringing my bell; and I hurried to the door, only too glad to confide in one so well equipped to analyze my doubts and fears. For Bristol is no ordinary policeman, but a trained observer, who, when I first made his acquaintance, completely upset my ideas upon the mental limitations of the official detective force.
In appearance Bristol suggests an Anglo-Indian officer, and at the time of which I write he had recently returned from Jamaica and his face was as bronzed as a sailor's. One would never take Bristol for a detective. As he seated himself in the armchair, without preamble I plunged into my story. He listened gravely.
"What sort of house is Professor Deeping's?" he asked suddenly.
"I have no idea," I replied, "beyond the fact that it is somewhere in Dulwich."
"May I use your telephone?"
Very quickly Bristol got into communication with the superintendent of P Division. A brief delay, and the man came to the telephone whose beat included the road wherein Professor Deeping's house was situated.
"Why!" said Bristol, hanging up the receiver after making a number of inquiries, "it's a sort of rambling cottage in extensive grounds. There's only one servant, a manservant, and he sleeps in a detached lodge. If the Professor is really in danger of attack he could not well have chosen a more likely residence for the purpose!"
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