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The Quest of the Sacred Slipper Sax Rohmer

The Light Of El-Medineh

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Bristol laughed grimly.

"It's a daring game," he said; "a piece of barefaced impudence quite characteristic.

He's posing as a sort of private detective now, and is prepared for a trifling consideration to return the slipper which he stole himself! He must know, though, that we have his severed hand at the Yard to be used in evidence against him."

"Is the Burton Room open to the public again?" I asked Mostyn.

"It is open, yes," he replied, "and a quite unusual number of visitors come daily to gaze at the empty case which once held the slipper of the Prophet."

"Has the case been mended?"

"Yes; it is quite intact again; only the exhibit is missing."

We ascended the stairs, passed along the Assyrian Room, which seemed to be unusually crowded, and entered the lofty apartment known as the Burton Room. The sunblinds were drawn, and a sort of dim, religious light prevailed therein. A group of visitors stood around an empty case at the farther end of the apartment.

"You see," said Mostyn, pointing, "that empty case has a greater attraction than all the other full ones!"

But I scarcely heeded his words, for I was intently watching the movements of one of the group about the empty case. I have said that the room was but dimly illuminated, and this fact, together no doubt with some effect of reflected light, enhanced by my imagination, perhaps produced the phenomenon which was occasioning me so much amazement.

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Remember that my mind was filled with memories of weird things, that I often found myself thinking of that mystic light which Hassan of Aleppo had called the light of El-Medineh - that light whereby, undeterred by distance, he claimed to be able to trace the whereabouts of any of the relics of the Prophet.

Bristol and Mostyn walked on then; but I stood just within the doorway, intently, breathlessly watching an old man wearing an out-of-date Inverness coat and a soft felt hat. He had a gray beard and moustache, and long, untidy hair, walked with a stoop, and in short was no unusual type of Visitor to that institution.

But it seemed to me, and the closer I watched him the more convinced I became, that this was no optical illusion, that a faint luminosity, a sort of elfin light, played eerily about his head!

As Bristol and Mostyn approached the case the old man began to walk toward me and in the direction of the door. The idea flashed through my mind that it might be Hassan of Aleppo himself, Hassan who had predicted that the stolen slipper should that day be returned to the Museum!

Then he came abreast of me, passed me, and I felt that my surmise had been wrong. I saw Bristol, from farther up the room, turn and look back. Something attracted his trained eye, I suppose, which was not perceptible to me. But he suddenly came striding along. Obviously he was pursuing the old man, who was just about to leave the apartment. Seeing that the latter had reached the doorway, Bristol began to run.

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The Quest of the Sacred Slipper
Sax Rohmer

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