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The Quest of the Sacred Slipper Sax Rohmer

The Ring Of The Prophet

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"From the papers, Mr. Cavanagh," he began, "I have learned of the circumstances attending the death of Professor Deeping. "Your papers" - he smiled, and I thought I had never seen a smile of such sweetness - "your papers know all! Now I understand why a Moslem is required, and I understand what is required of him. But remembering that the object of his labours would be to place a holy relic on exhibition for the amusement of unbelievers, can you reasonably expect to obtain the services of one?"

His point of view was fair enough.

"Perhaps not," I replied. "For my own part I should wish to see the slipper back in Mecca, or wherever it came from. But Professor Deeping - "

"Professor Deeping was a thorn in the flesh of the Faithful!"

My visitor s voice was gravely reproachful.

"Nevertheless his wishes must be considered," I said, "and the methods adopted by those who seek to recover the relic are such as to alienate all sympathy."

"You speak of the Hashishin?" asked the old man. "Mr. Cavanagh, in your own faith you have had those who spilled the blood of infidels as freely!"

"My good sir, the existence of such an organization cannot be tolerated today! This survival of the dark ages must be stamped out. However just a cause may be, secret murder is not permissible, as you, a man of culture, a Believer, and" - I glanced at his unusual turban - " a descendant of the Prophet, must admit."

"I can admit nothing against the Guardian of the Tradition, Mr. Cavanagh! The Prophet taught that we should smite the Infidel. I ask you-have you the courage of your convictions?"

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"Perhaps; I trust so."

"Then assist me to rid England of what you have called a survival of the dark ages. I will furnish porters to remove and carry the safe, if you will deliver to me the key!"

I sprang to my feet.

"That is madness!" I cried. "In the first place I should be compromising with my conscience, and in the second place I should be defenceless against those who might - "

"I have with me a written promise from one highly placed - one to whose will Hassan of Aleppo bows!"

My mind greatly disturbed, I watched the venerable speaker. I had determined now that he was some religious leader of Islam in England, who had been deputed to approach me; and, let me add, I was sorely tempted to accede to his proposal, for nothing would be gained by any one if the slipper remained for ever at the museum, whereas by conniving at its recovery by those who, after all, were its rightful owners I should be ridding England of a weird and undesirable visitant.

I think I should have agreed, when I remembered that the Hashishin had murdered Professor Deeping and had mutilated others wholly innocent of offence. I looked across at the old man. He had drawn himself up to his great height, and for the first time fully raising the lids, had fixed upon me the piercing gaze of a pair of eagle eyes. I started, for the aspect of this majestic figure was entirely different from that of the old stranger who had stood suppliant before me a moment ago.

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The Quest of the Sacred Slipper
Sax Rohmer

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