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3. Kazmah
Mrs. Monte Irvin entered the inner room. The air was heavy with the perfume of
frankincense which smouldered in a brass vessel set upon a tray. This was the
audience chamber of Kazmah. In marked contrast to the overcrowded
appointments, divans and cupboards of the first room, it was sparsely furnished.
The floor was thickly carpeted, but save for an ornate inlaid table upon which stood
the tray and incense- burner, and a long, low-cushioned seat placed immediately
beneath a hanging lamp burning dimly in a globular green shade, it was devoid of
decoration. The walls were draped with green curtains, so that except for the
presence of the painted door, the four sides of the apartment appeared to be
Having conducted Mrs. Irvin to the seat, the Egyptian bowed and retired again
through the doorway by which they had entered. The visitor found herself alone.
She moved nervously, staring across at the blank wall before her. With her little
satin shoe she tapped the carpet, biting her under lip and seeming to be listening.
Nothing stirred. Not even an echo of busy Bond Street penetrated to the place.
Mrs. Irvin unfastened her cloak and allowed it to fall back upon the settee. Her bare
shoulders looked waxen and unnatural in the weird light which shone down upon
them. She was breathing rapidly.
The minutes passed by in unbroken silence. So still was the room that Mrs. Irvin
could hear the faint crackling sound made by the burning charcoal in the brass
vessel near her. Wisps of blue-grey smoke arose through the perforated lid and
she began to watch them fascinatedly, so lithe they seemed, like wraiths of
serpents creeping up the green draperies.
So she was seated, her foot still restlessly tapping, but her gaze arrested by the
hypnotic movements of the smoke, when at last a sound from the outer world,
penetrated to the room. A church clock struck the hour of seven, its clangor
intruding upon the silence only as a muffled boom. Almost coincident with the last
stroke came the sweeter note of a silver gong from somewhere close at hand.
Mrs. Irvin started, and her eyes turned instantly in the direction of the greenly
draped wall before her. Her pupils had grown suddenly dilated, and she clenched
her hands tightly.
The light above her head went out.
Now that the moment was come to which she had looked forward with mingled
hope and terror, long pent-up emotion threatened to overcome her, and she
trembled wildly.
Out of the darkness dawned a vague light and in it a shape seemed to take form.
As the light increased the effect was as though part of the wall had become
transparent so as to reveal the interior of an inner room where a figure was seated
in a massive ebony chair. The figure was that of an oriental, richly robed and
wearing a white turban. His long slim hands, of the color of old ivory, rested upon
the arms of the chair, and on the first finger of the right hand gleamed a big