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|The Quest of the Sacred Slipper||Sax Rohmer|
How We Were Reenforced
|Page 3 of 3||
"It certainly isn't a taxicab," declared Hilton. "None of the men will come beyond the village."
"That's the gate!" said Soar, in an awed voice, and stood up, looking at Hilton.
"Come on," said the latter abruptly, making for the door.
"Be careful, Hilton!" I cried; "it may be a trick!"
Soar unbolted the front door, threw it open, and looked out. In the darkness of the storm it was almost impossible to see anything in the lane outside. But at that moment a great sheet of lightning split the gloom, and we saw a taxicab standing close up to the gateway!
"Help! Open the gate!" came a high-pitched voice; "open the gate!"
Out into the rain we ran and down the gravel path. Soar had the gate open in a twinkling, and a woman carrying a brown leather grip, but who was so closely veiled that I had no glimpse of her features, leapt through on to the drive.
"Lend a hand, two of you!" cried a vaguely familiar voice - "this way!"
Hilton and Soar stepped out into the road. The driver of the cab was lying forward across the wheel, apparently insensible, but as Hilton seized his arm he moved and spoke feebly.
"For God's sake be quick, sir!" he said. "They're after us! They're on the other side of the lane, there!"
With that he dropped limply into Hilton's arms!
He was dragged in on to the drive - and something whizzed over our heads and went sputtering into the gravel away up toward the house. The last to enter was the man who had come in the cab. As he barred the gate behind him he suddenly reached out through the bars and I saw a pistol in his hand.
Once - twice - thrice - he fired into the blackness of the lane.
"Take that, you swine!" he shouted. "Take that!"
As quickly as we could, bearing the insensible man, we hurried back to the door. On the step the woman was waiting for us, with her veil raised. A blinding flash of lightning came as we mounted the step - and I looked into the violet eyes of Carneta! I turned and stared at the man behind me.
It was Earl Dexter.
Three of the mysterious missiles fell amongst us, but miraculously no one was struck. Amid the mighty booming of the thunder we reentered the houses and got the door barred. In the hall we laid down the unconscious man and stood, a strangely met company, peering at one another in the dim lamplight.
"We've got to bury the hatchet, Mr. Cavanagh!" said Dexter. "It's a case of the common enemy I've brought you your bag!" and he pointed to the brown grip upon the floor.
"My bag!" I cried. "My bag is upstairs in my room."
"Wrong, sir!" snapped The Stetson Man. "They are like as two peas in a pod, I'll grant you, but the bag you snatched off the platform at New Street was mine! That's what I'm after; I ought to be on the way to Liverpool. That's what Hassan's after!"
"You don't need to ask what's in the bag?" suggested Dexter.
"What is in the bag?" ask Hilton hoarsely.
"The slipper of the Prophet, sir!" was the reply.
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