The Quest of the Sacred Slipper
21. The Black Tube
There's no doubt in my mind," said Inspector Bristol, "that your experience was real
The sun was shining into my room now, but could not wholly disperse the cloud of horror
which lay upon it. That I had been drugged was sufficiently evident from my present
condition, and that I had been taken away from my chambers Inspector Bristol had
satisfactorily proved by an examination of the soles of my slippers.
"It was a clever trick," he said. "God knows what it was they puffed into your face
through the letter box, but the devilish arts of ten centuries, we must remember, are at the
command of Hassan of Aleppo! The repetition of the trick at the mysterious place you
were taken to is particularly interesting. I should say you won't be in a hurry to peer
through letter boxes and so forth in the future?"
I shook my aching head.
"That accursed yellow room," I replied, "stank with the fumes of hashish. It may have
been some preparation of hashish that was used to drug me."
Bristol stood looking thoughtfully from the window.
"It was a nightmare business, Mr. Cavanagh," he said; "but it doesn't advance our inquiry
a little bit. The prophecy of the old man with the white beard - whom you assure me to be
none other than Hassan of Aleppo - is something we cannot very well act upon. He
clearly believes it himself; for he has released you after having captured you, evidently in
order that you may be at liberty to take up your duty as trustee of the slipper again. If the
slipper really comes back to the Museum the fact will show Hassan to be something little
short of a magician. I shan't envy you then, Mr. Cavanagh, considering that you hold the
keys of the case!"
"No," I replied wearily. "Poor Professor Deeping thought that he acted in my interests
and that my possession of the keys would constitute a safeguard. He was wrong. It has
plunged me into the very vortex of this ghastly affair."
"It is maddening," said Bristol, "to know that Hassan and Company are snugly located
somewhere under our very noses, and that all Scotland Yard can find no trace of them.
Then to think that Hassan of Aleppo, apparently by means of some mystical light, has
knowledge of the whereabouts of the slipper and consequently of the whereabouts of Earl
Dexter (another badly wanted man) is extremely discouraging! I feel like an amateur; I'm
ashamed of myself!"
Bristol departed in a condition of irritable uncertainty.