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|The Quest of the Sacred Slipper||Sax Rohmer|
My Last Meeting With Hassan Of Aleppo
|Page 3 of 5||
He passed it to me. It was that which I had received from Hilton. I had packed the suit which I had been wearing that morning and must previously have thrust the telegram into the waistcoat pocket.
"Providence!" Dexter assured me. "Because I got on the station in time to see Hassan of Aleppo join the train for H-! I was too late, though. But I chartered a taxi out on Corporation Street and invited the man to race the local! He couldn't do it, but we got here in time for the fireworks! Mr. Cavanagh, there are anything from six to ten Hashishin watching this house!"
"I know it!"
"They're bareheaded; and in the dark their shaven skulls look like nothing human. They're armed with those damned tubes, too. I'd give a thousand dollars - if I had it! - to know their mechanism. Well, gentlemen, deeds speak. What am I here for, when I might be on the way to Liverpool, and safety?"
"You're here to try to make up for the past a bit!" said a soft, musical voice. "Mr. Cavanagh's life is in danger."
Carneta entered the room.
The light played in that wonderful hair of hers; and pale though she was, I thought I had never seen a more beautiful woman.
"Tell them," she said quietly, "what must be done."
Soar glanced at me out of the corner of his eyes and shifted uneasily. Hilton stared as if fascinated.
"Now," rapped Dexter, in his strident voice, "putting aside all questions of justice and right (we're not policemen), what do we want - you and I, Mr. Cavanagh?"
"I can't think clearly about anything," I said dully. "Explain yourself."
"Very well. Inspector Bristol, C.I.D., would want me and Hassan arrested. I don't want that! What I want is peace; I want to be able to sleep in comfort; I want to know I'm not likely to be murdered on the next corner! Same with you?"
"Yes - yes."
"How can we manage it? One way would be to kill Hassan of Aleppo; but he wants a lot of killing - I've tried! Moreover, directly we'd done it, another Sheikh-al-jebal would be nominated and he'd carry on the bloody work. We'd be worse off than ever. Right! we've got to connive at letting the blood-stained fanatic escape, and we've got to give up the slipper!"
"I'll do that with all my heart!"
"Sure! But you and I have both got little scores up against Hassan, which it's not in human nature to forget. But I've got it worked out that there's only one way. It may nearly choke us to have to do it, I'll allow. I'm working on the Moslem character. Mr. Hilton, make up a fire in the grate here!"
Hilton stared, not comprehending.
"Do as he asks," I said. "Personally, I am resigned to mutilation, since I have touched the bag containing the slipper, but if Dexter has a plan - "
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