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The Quest of the Sacred Slipper

27. The Slipper
Someone was breaking in at the door of my chambers!
I aroused myself from a state of coma almost death-like and listened to the blows. The
sun was streaming in at my windows.
A splintering crash told of a panel broken. Then a moment later I heard the grating of the
lock, and a rush of footsteps along the passage.
"Try the study!" came a voice that sounded like Bristol's, save that it was strangely weak
and shaky.
Almost simultaneously the Inspector himself threw open the bedroom door - and, very
pale and haggard-eyed, stood there looking across at me. It was a scene unforgettable.
"Mr. Cavanagh!" he said huskily - "Mr. Cavanagh! Thank God you're alive! But" - he
turned - "this way, Marden!" he cried, "Untie him quickly! I've got no strength in my
arms!".
Marden, a C.I.D. man, came running, and in a minute, or less, I was sitting up gulping
brandy.
"I've had the most awful experience of my life," said Bristol. "You've fared badly enough,
but I've been hanging by my wrists - you know Dexter's trick! - for close upon sixteen
hours! I wasn't released until Carter, an office boy, came on the scene this morning!"
Very feebly I nodded; I could not talk.
"The strong-room of your bank was rifled under my very eyes last evening!" he
continued, with something of his old vigour; "and five minutes after the Antiquarian
Museum was opened to the public this morning quite an unusual number of visitors
appeared.
"I saw the bank manager the moment he arrived, and learned a piece of news that
positively took my breath away! I was at the Museum seven minutes later and got another
shock! There in the case was the red slipper!"
"Then," I whispered-"it hadn't been stolen?"
"Wrong! It had! This was a duplicate, as Mostyn, the curator, saw at a glance! Some of
the early visitors - they were Easterns - had quite surrounded the case. They were
watched, of course, but any number of Orientals come to see the thing; and, short of
smashing the glass, which would immediately attract attention, the authorities were
 
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