25. An Englishman's Honour
"You have been guilty of a series of unfortunate mistakes, Mr. Harley," continued
the speaker. "Notably, you have relied upon the clumsy device of disguise. To
the organization in which you have chosen to interest yourself, this has provided
some mild amusement. Your pedlar of almanacs was a clever impersonation, but
fortunately your appearance at the Savoy had been anticipated, and no one was
Paul Harley did not reply. He concluded, quite correctly, that the organization had
failed to detect himself in the person of the nervous cobbler. He drew courage
from this deduction. Fire-Tongue was not omniscient.
"It is possible," continued the unseen speaker, in whom Harley had now definitely
recognized Ormuz Khan's secretary, "that you recently overheard a resolution
respecting yourself. Your death, in fact, had been determined upon. Life and
death being synonymous, the philosopher contemplates either with equanimity."
"I am contemplating the latter with equanimity at the moment," said Harley, dryly.
"The brave man does so," the Hindu continued, smoothly. "The world only seems
to grow older; its youth is really eternal, but as age succeeds age, new creeds
must take the place of the old ones which are burned out. Fire, Mr. Harley,
sweeps everything from its path irresistibly. You have dared to stand in the path
of a fiery dawn; therefore, like all specks of dust which clog the wheels of
progress, you must be brushed aside."
Harley nodded grimly, watching a ring of smoke floating slowly upward.
"It is a little thing to those who know the truth," the speaker resumed. "To the
purblind laws of the West it may seem a great thing. We seek in Rome to do as
Rome does. We judge every man as we find him. Therefore, recognizing that
your total disappearance might compromise our movements in the near future,
we have decided to offer you an alternative. This offer is based upon the British