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The Quest of the Sacred Slipper Sax Rohmer

My Last Meeting With Hassan Of Aleppo

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I felt dazed, as a man must feel who has just heard the death sentence pronounced upon him. Hilton seemed to have become incapable of speech or action; and in silence we stood watching Carneta tending the unconscious man. She forced brandy from a flask between his teeth, kneeling there beside him with her face very pale and dark rings around her eyes. Presently she looked up.

"Will you please get me a bowl of water and a sponge?" she said quietly.

Soar departed without a word, and no one spoke until he returned, bringing the sponge and the water, when the girl set to work in a businesslike way to cleanse a wound which showed upon the man's head.

"She's a good nurse is Carneta," said Dexter coolly. "She was the only doctor I had through this" - indicating his maimed wrist. "If you will fetch my bag down, there's some lint in it."

I hesitated.

"You needn't worry," said Dexter; "as well be hung for a sheep as a lamb. You've handled the bag, and I'm not asking you to do any more."

I went up to my room and lifted the grip from the chair upon which I had put it. Even now I found it difficult to perceive any difference between this and mine. Both were of identical appearance and both new. In fact, I had bought mine only that morning, my old one being past use, and being in a hurry, I had not left it to be initialled.

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As I picked up the bag the lightning flashed again, and from the window I could see the orchard as clearly as by sunlight. At the farther end near the wall someone was standing watching the house.

I went downstairs carrying the fatal bag, and rejoined the group in the hall.

"He will have to be got to bed," said Carneta, referring to the wounded man; "he will probably remain unconscious for a long time.

Accordingly, we took the patient into one of the few furnished bedrooms, and having put him to bed left him in care of the beautiful nurse. When we four men met again downstairs, amazement had rendered the whole scene unreal to me. Soar stood just within the open door, not knowing whether to go or to remain; but Hilton motioned to him to stay. Earl Dexter bit off the end of a cigar and stood with his left elbow resting on the mantelpiece.

His gaunt face looked gaunter than ever, but the daredevil gray eyes still nursed that humorous light in their depths.

"Mr. Cavanagh," he said, "we're brothers! And if you'll consider a minute, you'll see that I'm not lying when I say I'm on the straight, now and for always!"

I made no reply: I could think of none.

"I'm a crook," he resumed, "or I was up to a while ago. There's a warrant out for me - the first that ever bore my name. I've sailed near the wind often enough, but it was desperation that got me into hot water about that!"

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The Quest of the Sacred Slipper
Sax Rohmer

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