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|The Quest of the Sacred Slipper||Sax Rohmer|
How We Were Reenforced
|Page 2 of 3||
"Eh?" jerked Hilton - "in the orchard? Come on up, Cavanagh!"
We all ran upstairs. The moonlight was streaming into the room.
"Keep back!" I warned.
Well within the shadow, I crept up to the window and looked out. The night was hot and still. No breeze stirred the leaves, but the edge of the frowning thunder cloud which I had noted before spread a heavy carpet of ebony black upon the ground. Beyond, I could dimly discern the hills. The others stood behind me, constrained by the fear of this mysterious danger which I had brought to "Uplands."
There was someone moving among the trees!
Closer came the figure, and closer, until suddenly a shaft of moonlight found passage and spilled a momentary pool of light amid the shadows, I could see the watcher very clearly. A moment he stood there, motionless, and looking up at the window; then as he glided again into the shade of the trees the darkness became complete. But I watched, crouching there nervously, for long after he was gone.
"For God's sake, who is it?" whispered Hilton, with a sort of awe in his voice.
"It's Hassan of Aleppo!" I replied.
Virtually, the house, with the capital of the Midlands so near upon the one hand, the feverish activity of the Black Country reddening the night upon the other, was invested by fanatic Easterns!
We descended again to the extemporized study. Soar entered with us and Hilton invited him to sit down.
"We must stick together to-night!" he said. "Now, Cavanagh, let us see if we can find any explanation of this amazing business. I can understand that at one period of the slipper's history you were an object of interest to those who sought to recover it; but if, as you say, the Hashishin have the slipper now, what do they want with you? If you have never touched it, they cannot be prompted by desire for vengeance."
"I have never touched it," I replied grimly; "nor even any receptacle containing it."
As I ceased speaking came a distant muffled rumbling.
"That's the thunder," said Hilton. "There's a tremendous storm brewing."
He poured out three glasses of whisky, and was about to speak when Soar held up a warning finger.
"Listen!" he said.
At his words, with tropical suddenness down came the rain.
Hilton, his pipe in his hand, stood listening intently.
"What?" he asked.
"I don't know, sir; the sound of the rain has drowned it."
Indeed, the rain was descending in a perfect deluge, its continuous roar drowning all other sounds; but as we three listened tensely we detected a noise which hitherto had seemed like the overflowing of some spout.
But louder and clearer it grew, until at last I knew it for what it was.
"It's a motor-car!" I cried.
"And coming here!" added Soar. "Listen! it's in the lane!"'
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