The Slayer of Souls

Robert W. Chambers




His Excellency President Tintinto, Chief Executive of one of the newer and cruder republics, visiting New York incognito with his Secretaries of War and of the Navy, had sent for John Recklow.  And now the reception was in full operation.
          Recklow was explaining.  "In the beginning," he said, "The Bolsheviks' aim was to destroy everything and everybody except themselves, and then to reorganise for their own benefit what was left of a wrecked world.  That was their programme---?"
          "Quite a programme," interrupted the Secretary of War, with something that almost resembled a giggle.  But his prominent eyes continued to stare at Recklow untouched by the mirth which stretched his large, silly mouth.
          The face of the Secretary of the Navy resembled the countenance of a benevolent manatee.  The visage of the President was a study in tinted chalks.
          Recklow said: "To combat that sort of Bolshevism was a business that we of the United States Secret Service understood--or supposed we understood.
          "Then, suddenly, out of unknown Mongolia and into the civilised world stepped eight men."
          "Yezidees," said the President mechanically.  "Your Government has sent me a very full report."
          "Yezidees of the Sect of the Assassins," continued Recklow; "--the most ancient sect in the world surviving from ancient times--the Sorcerers of Asia.  And, as it was in ancient times, so it is now: the Yezidees are devil worshipers; and their god is Satan; his regent is Erlik, Prince of Darkness; his regent is the old man of Mount Alamout; and to this ancient and sinister title a Yezidee sorcerer called Prince Sanang, or Sanang Noïane, has succeeded.
          "His murderous deputies were the Eight Khans of the Eight Towers.  Four of these assassins are dead--Gutchlug, Yarghouz, Djamouk the Fox, and Yaddin-ed-Din.  One is in prison charged with murder,--Albert Feke.
          "Four of the sorcerers remain alive: Tiyang Khan, Togrul, Arrak Sou-sou, called the Squirrel, and the Old Man of the Mountain himself, Saï-Sanang, Prince of the Yezidees."
          Recklow paused; the pop-eyes of the War Secretary were upon him; the benevolent manatee gazed mildly at him; the countenance of the President seemed more like a Rocky Mountain goat than ever--chiselled out of a block of tinted chalk.
          Recklow said: "To the menace of Bolshevism, which endangers this Republic and yours, has been added a more terrible threat--the threat of powerful and evil minds made formidable by psychic knowledge.
          "For these Yezidee Sorcerers are determined to conquer, seize, and subdue the minds of mankind.  They are here for that frightful purpose.  Powerfully, terrifically equipped to surprise and capture the unarmed minds of our people, enslave their very thoughts and use them to their own purposes, these Sorcerers of the Yezidees assumed control of the Bolsheviki, who were merely envious and ferocious bandits, but whose crippled minds are now utterly enslaved by these Assassins from Asia.
          "And this is what the United States Secret Service has to combat.  And its weapons are not warrants, not pistols.  For in this awful battle between decency and evil, it is mind against mind in an occult death grapple.  And our only weapon against these minds made powerful by the psychic knowledge and made terrible by an esoteric ability akin to what is called black magic,--our only weapon is the mind of a young girl."
          "I understand," said the President, "that she became an adept in occult practices while imprisoned in the Yezidee Temple of Erlik at Yian."
          Recklow looked into the President's face, which had grown very pale.
          "Yes, sir," he said.  "God only knows what this child learned in the Yezidee Temple.  All I know is that with this knowledge she has met the Yezidees in a battle of minds, has halted them, confounded them, fought them with their own occult knowledge, and has slain four of them."
          The intense silence was broken by the frivolous titter of the Secretary of War:
          "Of course I don't believe any of this supernatural stuff," he said with the split grin which did not modify his protruding stare.  "This girl is merely a clever detective, that is the gist of the matter.  And I don't believe anything else."
          "Perhaps, sir, you will believe this, then" said John Recklow quietly.  "I cut if from the Times this morning."  And he handed the clipping to the Secretary of War.


Moslem and Hindu Conspirators
Have Formed Secret

Have World Revolution in View

Think to Rouse Asia, America, and Africa
To Outbreaks by Their


Copyright, 1919, by The New York Times Company.
Special Cable to The New York Times.

             July I.--A significant event has recently taken place.  Under the name of the Orient League has recently been established a central organisation uniting all the various secret societies of Moslem and Hindu nationalists.  The aim of the new association is to prepare for joint revolutionary action in Asia, America, and Africa.
                    The effects of this vast conspiracy may already be traced in recent events in Egypt, India, and Afghanistan.  For the first time, through the creation of this league, the racial and religious differences which have divided Eastern conspirators have been overcome.  The Ottoman League, founded by Mahmud Muktar Pasha, Munir Pasha, and Ahmed Rechid Bey, has adhered to the new organisation.  So have the extreme Egyptian nationalists and the Hindu revolutionary group, "Pro India," emissaries of which were recently sentenced for bringing bombs into Switzerland during the war at the instigation of the German General Staff.
                    At a "Constituent Assembly" of the league, which took place in Yian, there were present, besides Young Turks, Egyptians, and Hindus, delegates representing Persia, Afghanistan, Algeria, Morocco, and Mongolia.
                    The league is of Mongolian origin.  Its leading spirit is a certain Prince Sanang, of whom little is known.
                    Associated with this mischievous and rather mysterious Mongolian personage are three better known criminals, now fugitives from justice--Talaat, Enver, and Djemal.  It is to Enver Pasha's talent for intrigue that the union between Moslems and Hindus, the most striking and dangerous feature of the movement, is chiefly due.
                    Considerable funds are at the disposal of the league.  These are partly supplied from Germany.  Besides enjoying the support of the Germans, the league is also in close touch with Lenine, who very soon after his advent to power organised an Oriental Department in Moscow.
                    The alliance between the league and the Russian Bolsheviki was brought about by the notorious German Socialist agent, "Parvus," who is now in Switzerland.  Many weeks ago he conferred with the Soviet rulers in Moscow, whence he went to Afghanistan, hoping to reorganise the new Amir's army and establish lines of communication for propaganda in India.
                    Evidence exists that the recent insurrection in Egypt, the sudden attack of the Afghans, and the rising in India, remarkable for co-operation between Moslems and Hindus, were connected with the activities of the league.

          The Secretary looked up after he finished the reading.
          "I don't see anything about Black Magic in this?" he remarked flippantly.
          Recklow's features became very grave.
          "I think," he said, "that everybody--myself included--and, with all respect, even yourself, sir,--and your honourable colleague,--and perhaps even his Excellency your President,--should be on perpetual guard over their minds, and the thoughts that range there, lest, surreptitiously, stealthily, some taint of Yezidee infection lodge there and take root--and spread--perhaps--throughout your new Republic."
          The Secretary of War grinned.  "They say I'm something of a socialist already," he chuckles.  "Do you think your magic Yezidees are responsible?"
          The President, troubled and pallid, gazed steadily at Recklow.
          "Mine is a single-track mind," he remarked as though to himself.
          Recklow said nothing.  It is one kind of mind, after all.  However, single-track roads are now obsolete.
          "A single-track mind," repeated the President.  "And--I should not like anything to happen to the switch.  It would mean ditching--or a rusty siding at best. . . . Please do all that is possible to get these four Yezidees, Mr. Recklow."
          Recklow said calmly: "Our only hope is this young girl, Tressa Norne, who is now Mrs. Cleves."
          "My conscience!" piped the Secretary of the Navy.  "What would happen to us if these Yezidees should murder her?"
          "God knows," replied John Recklow, unsmiling.
          "Why not put her aboard our new dreadnought?" suggested the Secretary, "and keep her cruising until you United States Secret Service fellows get the rest of these infernal Yezidees and clap 'em into jail?"
          "We can do nothing without her," said Recklow sombrely.
          There was a painful silence.  The President joined his finger tips and stared palely into space.
          "May I not say," he suggested, "that I think it a vital necessity that these Yezidees be caught and destroyed before they do any damage to the minds of myself and my cabinet?"
          "God grant it, sir," said Recklow grimly.
          "Mine," murmured the President, "is a single-track mind.  I should be very much annoyed if anybody tampered with the rails--very much annoyed indeed, Mr. Recklow."
          "They mustn't murder that girl," said the Secretary of the Navy.  "Do you need any Marines, Mr. Recklow?  Why not ask your Government for a few?"
          Recklow rose: "Mr. President," he said, "I shall not deny that my Government is very deeply disturbed by this situation.  In the beginning, these eight Assassins, and Sanang, came here for the purpose of attacking, overpowering, and enslaving the minds of the people of the United States and of the South American Republics.
          "But now, after four of their infamous colleagues have been destroyed, the ferocious survivors, thoroughly alarmed, have turned their every energy toward accomplishing the death of Mrs. Cleves!  Why, sir, scarcely a day passes but that some attempt upon her life is made by these Yezidees.
          "Scarcely a day passes that this young girl is not suddenly summoned to defend her mind as well as her body against the occult attacks of these Mongol Sorcerers.  Yes, sir, Sorcerers!" repeated Recklow, his calm voice deep with controlled passion, "--whatever your honourable Secretary of War may think about it!"
          His cold, grey eyes measured the President as he stood there.
          "Mr. President, I am at my wits' end to protect her from assassination!  Her husband is always with her--Victor Cleves, sir, of our Secret Service.  But wherever he takes her these devils follow and send their emissaries to watch her, to follow, to attempt her mental destruction or her physical death.
          "There is no end to their stealthy cunning, to their devilish devices, to their hellish ingenuity!
          "And all we can do is to guard her person from the approach of strangers, and stand ready, physically, to aid her.
          "She is our only barrier--your only defence--between civilisation and horrors worse than Bolshevism.
          "I believe, Mr. President, that civilisation in North and South America--in your Republic as well as ours--depends, literally, upon the safety of Tressa Cleves.  For, if the Yezidees kill her, then I do not see what is to save civilisation from utter disintegration and total destruction."
          There was a silence.  Recklow was not certain that the President had been listening.
          His Excellency sat with finger tips joined, gazing pallidly into space; and Recklow heard him murmuring under his breath and all to himself, as though to fix the deathless thought forever in his brain:
          "May I not say that mine is a single-track mind?  May I not say it?  May I not,--may I not,--not, not, not---?"


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