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- OF QUEST OF THE SACRED SLIPPER - 1/35 -


The Quest of the Sacred Slipper

by Sax Rohmer

CONTENTS

I. THE PHANTOM SCIMITAR.

II. THE GIRL WITH THE VIOLET EYES

III. "HASSAN OF ALEPPO"

IV. THE OBLONG BOX

V. THE OCCUPANT OF THE BOX

VI. THE RING OF THE PROPHET

VII. FIRST ATTEMPT ON THE SAFE

VIII. THE VIOLET EYES AGAIN

IX. SECOND ATTEMPT ON THE SAFE

X. AT THE BRITISH ANTIQUARIAN MUSEUM

XI. THE HOLE IN THE BLIND

XII. THE HASHISHIN WATCH

XIII. THE WHITE BEAM

XIV. A SCREAM IN THE NIGHT

XV. A SHRIVELLED HAND

XVI. THE DWARF

XVII. THE WOMAN WITH THE BASKET

XVIII. WHAT CAME THROUGH THE WINDOW

XIX. A RAPPING AT MIDNIGHT

XX. THE GOLDEN PAVILION

XXI. THE BLACK TUBE

XXII. THE LIGHT OF EL-MEDINEH

XXIII. THE THREE MESSAGES

XXIV. I KEEP THE APPOINTMENT

XXV. THE WATCHER IN BANK CHAMBERS

XXVI. THE STRONG-ROOM

XXVII. THE SLIPPER

XXVIII. CARNETA

XXIX. WE MEET MR. ISAACS

XXX. AT THE GATE HOUSE

XXXI. THE POOL OF DEATH

XXXII. SIX PATCHES

XXXIII. HOW WE WERE REENFORCED

XXXIV. MY LAST MEETING WITH HASSAN OF ALEPPO

THE QUEST OF THE SACRED SLIPPER

CHAPTER I

THE PHANTOM SCIMITAR

I was not the only passenger aboard the S.S. Mandalay who perceived the disturbance and wondered what it might portend and from whence proceed. A goodly number of passengers were joining the ship at Port Said. I was lounging against the rail, pipe in mouth, lazily wondering, with a large vagueness.

What a heterogeneous rabble it was!--a brightly coloured rabble, but the colours all were dirty, like the town and the canal. Only the sky was clean; the sky and the hard, merciless sunlight which spared nothing of the uncleanness, and defied one even to think of the term dear to tourists, "picturesque." I was in that kind of mood. All the natives appeared to be pockmarked; all the Europeans greasy with perspiration.

But what was the stir about?

I turned to the dark, bespectacled young man who leaned upon the rail beside me. From the first I had taken to Mr. Ahmad Ahmadeen.

"There is some kind of undercurrent of excitement among the natives," I said, "a sort of subdued Greek chorus is audible. What's it all about?"

Mr. Ahmadeen smiled. After a gaunt fashion, he was a handsome man and had a pleasant smile.

"Probably," he replied, "some local celebrity is joining the ship."

I stared at him curiously.

"Any idea who he is?" (The soul of the copyhunter is a restless soul.)

A group of men dressed in semi-European fashion--that is, in European fashion save for their turbans, which were green--passed close to us along the deck.

Ahmadeen appeared not to have heard the question.

The disturbance, which could only be defined as a subdued uproar, but could be traced to no particular individual or group, grew momentarily louder--and died away. It was only when it had completely ceased that one realized how pronounced it had been --how altogether peculiar, secret; like that incomprehensible murmuring in a bazaar when, unknown to the insular visitor, a reputed saint is present.

Then it happened; the inexplicable incident which, though I knew it not, heralded the coming of strange things, and the dawn of a new power; which should set up its secret standards in England, which should flood Europe and the civilized world with wonder.

A shrill scream marked the overture--a scream of fear and of pain, which dropped to a groan, and moaned out into the silence of which it was the cause.

"My God! what's that?"

I started forward. There was a general crowding rush, and a darkly tanned and bearded man came on board, carrying a brown leather case. Behind him surged those who bore the victim.

"It's one of the lascars!"

"No--an Egyptian!"

"It was a porter--?"

"What is it--?"

"Someone been stabbed!"

"Where's the doctor?"

"Stand away there, if you please!"

That was a ship's officer; and the voice of authority served to quell the disturbance. Through a lane walled with craning heads they bore the insensible man. Ahmadeen was at my elbow.

"A Copt," he said softly. "Poor devil!" I turned to him. There was a queer expression on his lean, clean-shaven, bronze face.

"Good God!" I said. "His hand has been cut off!"

That was the fact of the matter. And no one knew who was responsible for the atrocity. And no one knew what had become of the severed hand! I wasted not a moment in linking up the story. The pressman within me acted automatically.

"The gentleman just come aboard, sir," said a steward, "is Professor Deeping. The poor beggar who was assaulted was carrying some of the Professor's baggage." The whole incident struck me as most odd. There was an idea lurking in my mind that something else--something more--lay behind all this. With impatience I awaited the time when the injured man, having received medical attention, was conveyed ashore, and Professor Deeping reappeared. To the celebrated traveller and Oriental scholar I introduced myself.

He was singularly reticent.

"I was unable to see what took place, Mr. Cavanagh," he said. "The poor fellow was behind me, for I had stepped from the boat ahead of him. I had just taken a bag from his hand, but he was carrying another, heavier one. It is a clean cut, like that of a scimitar. I have seen very similar wounds in the cases of men who have suffered the old Moslem penalty for theft."


OF QUEST OF THE SACRED SLIPPER - 1/35

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