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Kazmah's Methods
Rita Dresden married Monte Irvin in the spring and bade farewell to the stage. The
goal long held in view was attained at last. But another farewell which at one time
she had contemplated eagerly no longer appeared desirable or even possible. To
cocamania had been added a tolerance for opium, and at the last party given by
Cyrus Kilfane she had learned that she could smoke nearly as much opium as the
American habitue.
The altered attitude of Sir Lucien surprised and annoyed her. He, who had first
introduced her to the spirit of the coca leaf and to the goddess of the poppy,
seemed suddenly to have determined to convince her of the folly of these
communions. He only succeeded in losing her confidence. She twice visited the
"House of a Hundred Raptures" with Mollie Gretna, and once with Mollie and
Kilfane, unknown to Sir Lucien.
Urgent affairs of some kind necessitated his leaving England a few weeks before
the date fixed for Rita's wedding, and as Kilfane had already returned to America,
Rita recognized with a certain dismay that she would be left to her own resources--
handicapped by the presence of a watchful husband. This subtle change in her
view of Monte Irvin she was incapable of appreciating, for Rita was no
psychologist. But the effect of the drug habit was pointedly illustrated by the fact
that in a period of little more than six months, from regarding Monte Irvin as a rock
of refuge--a chance of salvation--she had come to regard him in the light of an
obstacle to her indulgence. Not that her respect had diminished. She really loved
at last, and so well that the idea of discovery by this man whose wholesomeness
was the trait of character which most potently attracted her, was too appalling to be
contemplated. The chance of discovery would be enhanced, she recognized, by
the absence of her friends and accomplices.
Of course she was acquainted with many other devotees. In fact, she met so many
of them that she had grown reconciled to her habits, believing them to be common
to all "smart" people--a part of the Bohemian life. The truth of the matter was that
she had become a prominent member of a coterie closely knit and associated by a
bond of mutual vice--a kind of masonry whereof Kazmah of Bond Street was
Grand Master and Mrs. Sin Grand Mistress.
The relations existing between Kazmah and his clients were of a most peculiar
nature, too, and must have piqued the curiosity of anyone but a drug-slave. Having
seen him once, in his oracular cave, Rita had been accepted as one of the
initiated. Thereafter she had had no occasion to interview the strange, immobile
Egyptian, nor had she experienced any desire to do so. The method of obtaining
drugs was a simple one. She had merely to present herself at the establishment in
Bond Street and to purchase either a flask of perfume or a box of sweetmeats.
There were several varieties of perfume, and each corresponded to a particular
drug. The sweetmeats corresponded to morphine. Rashid, the attendant, knew all
Kazmah's clients, and with the box or flask he gave them a quantity of the required
drug. This scheme was precautionary. For if a visitor should chance to be