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The Quest of the Sacred Slipper

12. The Hashishin Watch
The American gentleman has just gone out, sir," said the sergeant at the door.
I nodded grimly and raced down the steps. Despite my half-formed desire that the slipper
should be recovered by those to whom properly it belonged, I experienced at times a
curious interest in its welfare. I cannot explain this. Across the hall in front of me I saw
Earl Dexter passing out of the Museum. I followed him through into Kingsway and
thence to Fleet Street. He sauntered easily along, a nonchalant gray figure. I had begun to
think that he was bound for his hotel and that I was wasting my time when he turned
sharply into quiet Salisbury Square; it was almost deserted.
My heart leapt into my mouth with a presentiment of what was coming as I saw an
elegant and beautifully dressed woman sauntering along in front of us on the far side.
Was it that I detected something familiar in her carriage, in the poise of her head -
something that reminded me of former unforgettable encounters; encounters which
without exception had presaged attempts upon the slipper of the Prophet? Or was it that I
recollected how Dexter had booked two passages to America? I cannot say, but I felt my
heart leap; I knew beyond any possibility of doubt that this meeting in Salisbury Square
marked the opening of a new chapter in the history of the slipper.
Dexter slipped his arm within that of the girl in front of him and they paced slowly
forward in earnest conversation. I suppose my action was very amateurish and very poor
detective work; but regardless of discovery I crossed the road and passed close by the
pair.
I am certain that Dexter was speaking as I came up, but, well out of earshot, his voice
was suddenly arrested. His companion turned and looked at me.
I was prepared for it, yet was thrilled electrically by the flashing glance of the violet eyes
- for it was she - the beautiful harbinger of calamities!
My brain was in a whirl; complication piled itself upon complication; yet in the heart of
all this bewilderment I thought I could detect the key of the labyrinth, but at the time my
ideas were in disorder, for the violet eyes were not lowered but fixed upon me in cold
scorn.
I knew myself helpless, and bending my head with conscious embarrassment I passed on
hurriedly.
I had work to do in plenty, but I could not apply my mind to it; and now, although the
obvious and sensible thing was to go about my business, I wandered on aimlessly, my
brain employed with a hundred idle conjectures and the query, "Where have I seen The
Stetson Man?" seeming to beat, like a tattoo, in my brain. There was something magnetic
 
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