The Quest of the Sacred Slipper
14. A Scream In The Night
The day that followed was one of the hottest which we experienced during the heat wave.
It was a day crowded with happenings. The Burton Room was closed to the public, whilst
a glazier worked upon the broken east window and a new blind was fitted to the west.
Behind the workmen, guarded by a watchful commissionaire, yawned the shattered case
containing the slipper.
I wondered if the visitors to the other rooms of the Museum realized, as I realized, that
despite the blazing sunlight of tropical London, the shadow of Hassan of Aleppo lay
starkly on that haunted building?
At about eleven o'clock, as I hurried along the Strand, I almost collided with the girl of
the violet eyes! She turned and ran like the wind down Arundel Street, whilst I stood at
the corner staring after her in blank amazement, as did other passers-by; for a man cannot
with dignity race headlong after a pretty woman down a public thoroughfare!
My mystification grew hourly deeper; and Bristol wallowed in perplexities.
"It's the most horrible and confusing case," he said to me when I joined him at the
Museum, "that the Yard has ever had to handle. It bristles with outrages and murders.
God knows where it will all end. I've had London scoured for a clue to the whereabouts
of Hassan and Company and drawn absolutely blank! Then there's Earl Dexter. Where
does he come in? For once in a way he's living in hiding. I can't find his headquarters.
I've been thinking - "
He drew me aside into the small gallery which runs parallel with the Assyrian Room.
"Dexter has booked two passages in the Oceanic. Who is his companion?"
I wondered, I had wondered more than once, if his companion were my beautiful violet-
eyed acquaintance. A scruple - perhaps an absurd scruple - hitherto had kept me silent
respecting her, but now I determined to take Bristol fully into my confidence. A
conviction was growing upon me that she and Earl Dexter together represented that third
party whose existence we had long suspected. Whether they operated separately or on
behalf of the Moslems (of which arrangement I could not conceive) remained to be seen.
I was about to voice my doubts and suspicions when Bristol went on hurriedly -
"I have thoroughly examined the Burton Room, and considering that the windows are
thirty feet from the ground, that there is no sign of a ladder having stood upon the lawn,
and that the iron bars are quite intact, it doesn't look humanly possible for any one to
have been in the room last night prior to Mostyn's arrival!"
"One of the dwarfs - "