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  The Quest of the Sacred Slipper Sax Rohmer

The Dwarf

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The manner in which we next heard of the whereabouts of the Prophet's slipper was utterly unforeseen, wildly dramatic. That the Hashishin were aware that I, though its legal trustee, no longer had charge of the relic nor knowledge of its resting-place, was sufficiently evident from the immunity which I enjoyed at this time from that ceaseless haunting by members of the uncanny organization ruled by Hassan. I had begun to feel more secure in my chambers, and no longer worked with a loaded revolver upon the table beside me. But the slightest unusual noise in the night still sufficed to arouse me and set me listening intently, to chill me with dread of what it might portend. In short, my nerves were by no means recovered from the ceaseless strain of the events connected with and arising out of the death of my poor friend, Professor Deeping.

One evening as I sat at work in my chambers, with the throb of busy Fleet Street and its thousand familiar sounds floating in to me through the open windows, my phone bell rang.

Even as I turned to take up the receiver a foreboding possessed me that my trusteeship was no longer to be a sinecure. It was Bristol who had rung me up, and upon very strange business.

"A development at last!" he said; "but at present I don't know what to make of it. Can you come down now?"

"Where are you speaking from?"

"From the Waterloo Road - a delightful neighbourhood. I shall be glad if you can meet me at the entrance to Wyatt's Buildings in half an hour."

"What is it? Have you found Dexter?"

"No, unfortunately. But it's murder!"

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I knew as I hung up the receiver that my brief period of peace was ended; that the lists of assassination were reopened. I hurried out through the court into Fleet Street, thinking of the key of the now empty case at the Museum which reposed at my bankers, thinking of the devils who pursued the slipper, thinking of the hundred and one things, strange and terrible, which went to make up the history of that gruesome relic.

Wyatt's Buildings, Waterloo Road, are a gloomy and forbidding block of dwellings which seem to frown sullenly upon the high road, from which they are divided by a dark and dirty courtyard. Passing an iron gateway, you enter, by way of an arch, into this sinister place of uncleanness. Male residents in their shirt sleeves lounge against the several entrances. Bedraggled women nurse dirty infants and sit in groups upon the stone steps, rendering them almost impassable. But to-night a thing had happened in Wyatt's Buildings which had awakened in the inhabitants, hardened to sordid crime, a sort of torpid interest.

Faces peered from most of the windows which commanded a view of the courtyard, looking like pallid blotches against the darkness; but a number of police confined the loungers within their several doorways, so that the yard itself was comparatively clear.

I had had some difficulty in forcing a way through the crowd which thronged the entrance, but finally I found myself standing beside Inspector Bristol and looking down upon that which had brought us both to Wyatt's Buildings.

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The Quest of the Sacred Slipper
Sax Rohmer

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