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The Quest of the Sacred Slipper Sax Rohmer

We Meet Mr. Isaacs

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Quitting the wayside station, and walking down a short lane, we came out upon Watling Street, white and dusty beneath the afternoon sun. We were less than an hour's train journey from London but found ourselves amid the Kentish hop gardens, amid a rural peace unbroken. My companion carried a camera case slung across her shoulder, but its contents were less innocent than one might have supposed. In fact, it contained a neat set of those instruments of the burglar's art with whose use she appeared to be quite familiar.

"There is an inn," she said, "about a mile ahead, where we can obtain some vital information. He last wrote to me from there."

Side by side we tramped along the dusty road. We both were silent, occupied with our own thoughts. Respecting the nature of my companion's I could entertain little doubt, and my own turned upon the foolhardy nature of the undertaking upon which I was embarked. No other word passed between us then, until upon rounding a bend and passing a cluster of picturesque cottages, the yard of the Vinepole came into view.

"Do they know you by sight here?" I asked abruptly.

"No, of course not; we never made strategic mistakes of that kind. If we have tea here, no doubt we can learn all we require."

1 entered the little parlour of the inn, and suggested that tea should be served in the pretty garden which opened out of it upon the right.

The host, who himself laid the table, viewed the camera case critically.

"We get a lot of photographers down here," he remarked tentatively.

"No doubt," said my companion. "There is some very pretty scenery in the neighbourhood."

The landlord rested his hands upon the table.

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"There was a gentleman here on Wednesday last," he said; "an old gentleman who had met with an accident, and was staying somewhere hereabouts for his health. But he'd got his camera with him, and it was wonderful the way he could use it, considering he hadn't got the use of his right hand."

"He must have been a very keen photographer," I said, glancing at the girl beside me.

"He took three or four pictures of the Vinepole," replied the landlord (which I doubted, since probably his camera was a dummy); "and he wanted to know if there were any other old houses in the neighbourhood. I told him he ought to take Cadham Hall, and he said he had heard that the Gate House, which is about a mile from here, was one of the oldest buildings about.")

A girl appeared with a tea tray, and for a moment I almost feared that the landlord was about to retire; but he lingered, whilst the girl distributed the things about the table, and Carneta asked casually, "Would there be time for me to photograph the Gate House before dark?"

"There might be time," was the reply, "but that's not the difficulty. Mr. Isaacs is the difficulty."

"Who is Mr. Isaacs?" I asked.

"He's the Jewish gentleman who bought the Gate House recently. Lots of money he's got and a big motor car. He's up and down to London almost every day in the week, but he won't let anybody take photographs of the house. I know several who've asked."

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The Quest of the Sacred Slipper
Sax Rohmer

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