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0105_001E The Quest of the Sacred Slipper Sax Rohmer

The Ring Of The Prophet

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Contemplating these things I sat, in a world of dark dreams, unconscious of the comings and goings in the court below, unconscious of the hum which told of busy Fleet Street so near to me. The weather, as is its uncomfortable habit in England, had suddenly grown tropically hot, plunging London into the vapours of an African spring, and the sun was streaming through my open window fully upon the table.

I mopped my clammy forehead, glancing with distaste at the pile of work which lay before me. Then my eyes turned to an open quarto book. It was the late Professor Deeping's "Assyrian Mythology," and embodied the result of his researches into the history of the Hashishin, the religious murderers of whose existence he had been so skeptical. To the Chief of the Order, the terrible Sheikh Hassan of Aleppo, he referred as a "fabled being"; yet it was at the hands of this "fabled being" that he had met his end! How incredible it all seemed. But I knew full well how worthy of credence it was.

Then upon my gloomy musings a sound intruded-the ringing of my door bell. I rose from my chair with a weary sigh, went to the door, and opened it. An aged Oriental stood without. He was tall and straight, had a snow-white beard and clear-cut, handsome features. He wore well-cut; European garments and a green turban. As I stood staring he saluted me gravely.

"Mr. Cavanagh?" he asked, speaking in faultless English.

"I am he."

"I learn that the services of a Moslem workman are required."

"Quite correct, sir; but you should apply at the offices of Messrs. Rawson & Rawson, Chancery Lane."

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The old man bowed, smiling.

"Many thanks; I understood so much. But, my position being a peculiar one, I wished to speak with you - as a friend of the late Professor."

I hesitated. The old man looked harmless enough, but there was an air of mystery about the matter which put me on my guard.

"You will pardon me," I said, "but the work is scarcely of a kind - "

He raised his thin hand.

"I am not undertaking it myself. I wished to explain to you the conditions under which I could arrange to furnish suitable porters."

His patient explanation disposed me to believe that he was merely some kind of small contractor, and in any event I had nothing to fear from this frail old man.

"Step in, sir," I said, repenting of my brusquerie - and stood aside for him.

He entered, with that Oriental meekness in which there is something majestic. I placed a chair for him in the study, and reseated myself at the table. The old man, who from the first had kept his eyes lowered deferentially, turned to me with a gentle gesture, as if to apologize for opening the conversation.

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The Quest of the Sacred Slipper
Sax Rohmer

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