“Good night, M. Gaston!” said Gianapolis, in radiant benediction.
“Au revoir, monsieur!”
M. Max followed Ho-Pin to Block A and was conducted to a room at the extreme right of the matting-lined corridor. He glanced about it curiously.
“If you will pwrepare for your flight into the subliminal,” said Ho-Pin, bowing in the doorway, “I shall pwresently wreturn with your wings.”
In the cave of the golden dragon, Gianapolis sat smoking upon one of the divans. The silence of the place was extraordinary; unnatural, in the very heart of busy commercial London. Ho-Pin reappeared and standing in the open doorway of Block A sharply clapped his hands three times.
Said, the Egyptian, came out of the door at the further end of the place, bearing a brass tray upon which were a little brass lamp of Oriental manufacture wherein burned a blue spirituous flame, a Japanese, lacquered box not much larger than a snuff-box, and a long and most curiously carved pipe of wood inlaid with metal and having a metal bowl. Bearing this, he crossed the room, passed Ho-Pin, and entered the corridor beyond.
“You have, of course, put him in the observation room?” said Gianapolis.
Ho-Pin regarded the speaker unemotionally.
“Assuwredly,” he replied; “for since he visits us for the first time, Mr. King will wish to see him"...
A faint shadow momentarily crossed the swarthy face of the Greek at mention of that name—Mr. King. The servants of Mr. King, from the highest to the lowest, served him for gain... and from fear.
Utter silence had claimed again the cave of the golden dragon. Gianapolis sat alone in the place, smoking a cigarette, and gazing crookedly at the image on the ivory pedestal. Then, glancing at his wrist-watch, he stood up, and, stepping to the entrance door, was about to open it...
“Ah, so! You go—already?”—
Gianapolis started back as though he had put his foot upon a viper, and turned.
The Eurasian, wearing her yellow, Chinese dress, and with a red poppy in her hair, stood watching him through half-shut eyes, slowly waving her little fan before her face. Gianapolis attempted the radiant smile, but its brilliancy was somewhat forced tonight.
“Yes, I must be off,” he said hurriedly; “I have to see someone—a future client, I think!”
“A future client—yes!”—the long black eyes were closed almost entirely now. “Who is it—this future client, that you have to see?”
“My dear Mahara! How odd of you to ask that"...
“It is odd of me?—so!... It is odd of me that I thinking to wonder why you alway running away from me now?”
“Run away from you! My dear little Mahara!”—He approached the dusky beauty with a certain timidity as one might seek to caress a tiger-cat—“Surely you know"...