The Quest of the Sacred Slipper HTML version

9. Second Attempt On The Safe
"You see," said Bristol, "the Hashishin must know that the safe won't remain here
unopened much longer. They will therefore probably make another attempt to-night."
"It seems likely," I replied; and was silent. Outside the open windows whispered the
shrubbery, as a soft breeze stole through the bushes. Beyond, the moon made play in the
dim avenue. From the old chapel hard by the sweet-toned bell proclaimed midnight. Our
vigil was begun. In this room it was that Professor Deeping had met death at the hands of
the murderous Easterns; here it was that Marden and West had mysteriously been struck
down the night before.
To-night was every whit as hot, and Bristol and I had the windows widely opened. My
companion was seated where the detective, Marden, had sat, in a chair near the westerly
window, and I lay back in the armchair that had been occupied by West.
I may repeat here that the house of the late Professor Deeping was more properly a
cottage, surrounded by a fairly large piece of ground, for the most part run wild. The
room used as a study was on the ground floor, and had windows on the west and on the
south. Those on the west (French windows) opened on a loggia; those on the south
opened right into the dense tangle of a neglected shrubbery. The place possessed an
oppressive atmosphere of loneliness, for which in some measure its history may have
been responsible.
The silence, seemingly intensified by each whisper that sped through the elms and crept
about the shrubbery, grew to such a stillness that I told myself I had experienced nothing
like it since crossing with a caravan I had slept in the desert. Yet noisy, whirling London
was within gunshot of us; and this, though hard enough to believe, was a reflection oddly
comforting. Only one train of thought was possible, and this I pursued at random.
By what means were Marden and West struck down? In thus exposing ourselves, in order
that we might trap the author or authors of the outrage, did we act wisely?
"Bristol," I said suddenly, "it was someone who came through the open window."
"No one," he replied, "came through the windows. West saw absolutely nothing. But if
any one comes that way to-night, we have him!"
"West may have seen nothing; but how else could any one enter?"
Bristol offered' no reply; and I plunged again into a maze of speculation.
Powerful mantraps were set in such a way that any one or anything, ignorant of their
positions, coming up to the windows must unavoidably be snared. These had been placed
in position with much secrecy after dusk, and the man on duty at the gate stood with his