The Quest of the Sacred Slipper
34. My Last Meeting With Hassan Of Aleppo
I felt dazed, as a man must feel who has just heard the death sentence pronounced upon
him. Hilton seemed to have become incapable of speech or action; and in silence we
stood watching Carneta tending the unconscious man. She forced brandy from a flask
between his teeth, kneeling there beside him with her face very pale and dark rings
around her eyes. Presently she looked up.
"Will you please get me a bowl of water and a sponge?" she said quietly.
Soar departed without a word, and no one spoke until he returned, bringing the sponge
and the water, when the girl set to work in a businesslike way to cleanse a wound which
showed upon the man's head.
"She's a good nurse is Carneta," said Dexter coolly. "She was the only doctor I had
through this" - indicating his maimed wrist. "If you will fetch my bag down, there's some
lint in it."
"You needn't worry," said Dexter; "as well be hung for a sheep as a lamb. You've handled
the bag, and I'm not asking you to do any more."
I went up to my room and lifted the grip from the chair upon which I had put it. Even
now I found it difficult to perceive any difference between this and mine. Both were of
identical appearance and both new. In fact, I had bought mine only that morning, my old
one being past use, and being in a hurry, I had not left it to be initialled.
As I picked up the bag the lightning flashed again, and from the window I could see the
orchard as clearly as by sunlight. At the farther end near the wall someone was standing
watching the house.
I went downstairs carrying the fatal bag, and rejoined the group in the hall.
"He will have to be got to bed," said Carneta, referring to the wounded man; "he will
probably remain unconscious for a long time.
Accordingly, we took the patient into one of the few furnished bedrooms, and having put
him to bed left him in care of the beautiful nurse. When we four men met again
downstairs, amazement had rendered the whole scene unreal to me. Soar stood just within
the open door, not knowing whether to go or to remain; but Hilton motioned to him to
stay. Earl Dexter bit off the end of a cigar and stood with his left elbow resting on the