“You offer me life!” declared M. Gaston, gratefully. “The commoner establishments, for the convenience of sailors and others of that class, at Dieppe, Calais,”—he shrugged his shoulders, comprehensively—“are impossible as resorts. In catering for the true devotees—for those who, unlike De Quincey, plunge and do not dabble—for those who seek to explore the ultimate regions of poppyland, for those who have learnt the mystery from the real masters in Asia and not in Europe—the enterprise conducted by Madame Jean supplied a want long and bitterly experienced. I rejoice to know that London has not been neglected"...
“My dear friend!” cried Gianapolis enthusiastically, “no important city has been neglected! A high priest of the cult has arisen, and from a parent lodge in Pekin he has extended his offices to kindred lodges in most of the capitals of Europe and Asia; he has not neglected the Near East, and America owes him a national debt of gratitude.”
“Ah! the great man!” murmured M. Gaston, with closed eyes. “As an old habitue of the Rue St. Claude, I divine that you refer to Mr. King?”
“Beyond doubt,” whispered Gianapolis, imparting a quality of awe to his voice. “From you, my friend, I will have no secrets; but”—he glanced about him crookedly, and lowered his voice to an impressive whisper—“the police, as you are aware"...
“Curse their interference!” said M. Gaston.
“Curse it indeed; but the police persist in believing, or in pretending to believe, that any establishment patronized by lovers of the magic resin must necessarily be a resort of criminals.”
“Whilst this absurd state of affairs prevails, it is advisable, it is more than advisable, it is imperative, that all of us should be secret. The... raid—unpleasant word!—upon the establishment in Paris—was so unexpected that there was no time to advise patrons; but the admirable tact of the French authorities ensured the suppression of all names. Since—always as a protective measure—no business relationship exists between any two of Mr. King’s establishments (each one being entirely self-governed) some difficulty is being experienced, I believe, in obtaining the names of those who patronized Madame Jean. But I am doubly glad to have met you, M. Gaston, for not only can I put you in touch with the London establishment, but I can impress upon you the necessity of preserving absolute silence"...
M. Gaston extended his palms eloquently.
“To me,” he declared, “the name of Mr. King is a sacred symbol.”
“It is to all of us!” responded the Greek, devoutly.
M. Gaston in turn became confidential, bending toward Gianapolis so that, as the shadow of the Greek fell upon his face, his pupils contracted catlike.
“How often have I prayed,” he whispered, “for a sight of that remarkable man!”
A look of horror, real or simulated, appeared upon the countenance of Gianapolis.