CHAPTER THE SIXTEENTH
‘“Oh, yes… I killed him that morning before I
left Rashida.”’

Subchapter i

AMETALLIC wash of sound-waves ebbed out from the knocker, flowed across our heads, and fell down the foul well of the stair in a faint, thundering splash. The boy knocked again, and at that we heard a shuffling on the other side of the door. Then, to the right of the knocker, appeared a parallelogram of light : daylight. A small panel had been slipped aside.

A face appeared in it—a small, Mongolian face, with brooding brows and pallid cheeks and a small, button-like nose. A Japanese face; the face of a Japanese prostitute, the original brown of the skin hidden under layers of porcelain powder.

“Kota—it’s Esdras Quaritch.”

He spoke in French. The eyes stared slantingly, unwinking, levered from one to the other of us by slow movements of the head crowned with dead black hair. Then the button-like nose slowly ascended the face and sank into position again. She had smiled at us.

Suddenly the panel became a portion of the door again. The door itself opened.

-230-

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