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  The Quest of the Sacred Slipper Sax Rohmer

The Hashishin Watch

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The American gentleman has just gone out, sir," said the sergeant at the door.

I nodded grimly and raced down the steps. Despite my half-formed desire that the slipper should be recovered by those to whom properly it belonged, I experienced at times a curious interest in its welfare. I cannot explain this. Across the hall in front of me I saw Earl Dexter passing out of the Museum. I followed him through into Kingsway and thence to Fleet Street. He sauntered easily along, a nonchalant gray figure. I had begun to think that he was bound for his hotel and that I was wasting my time when he turned sharply into quiet Salisbury Square; it was almost deserted.

My heart leapt into my mouth with a presentiment of what was coming as I saw an elegant and beautifully dressed woman sauntering along in front of us on the far side.

Was it that I detected something familiar in her carriage, in the poise of her head - something that reminded me of former unforgettable encounters; encounters which without exception had presaged attempts upon the slipper of the Prophet? Or was it that I recollected how Dexter had booked two passages to America? I cannot say, but I felt my heart leap; I knew beyond any possibility of doubt that this meeting in Salisbury Square marked the opening of a new chapter in the history of the slipper.

Dexter slipped his arm within that of the girl in front of him and they paced slowly forward in earnest conversation. I suppose my action was very amateurish and very poor detective work; but regardless of discovery I crossed the road and passed close by the pair.

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I am certain that Dexter was speaking as I came up, but, well out of earshot, his voice was suddenly arrested. His companion turned and looked at me.

I was prepared for it, yet was thrilled electrically by the flashing glance of the violet eyes - for it was she - the beautiful harbinger of calamities!

My brain was in a whirl; complication piled itself upon complication; yet in the heart of all this bewilderment I thought I could detect the key of the labyrinth, but at the time my ideas were in disorder, for the violet eyes were not lowered but fixed upon me in cold scorn.

I knew myself helpless, and bending my head with conscious embarrassment I passed on hurriedly.

I had work to do in plenty, but I could not apply my mind to it; and now, although the obvious and sensible thing was to go about my business, I wandered on aimlessly, my brain employed with a hundred idle conjectures and the query, "Where have I seen The Stetson Man?" seeming to beat, like a tattoo, in my brain. There was something magnetic about the accursed slipper, for without knowing by what route I had arrived there, I found myself in Great Orchard Street and close under the walls of the British Antiquarian Museum. Then I was effectually aroused from my reverie.

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The Quest of the Sacred Slipper
Sax Rohmer

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