a secluded corner and Tony had ordered the regular dinner.
"Well, what's up?" I asked again. "Something to do with 1925?"
He started violently. "How'd you know?"
"It wasn't hard to guess. You have friends to go to when you want other things."
He gave a rueful little smile. "Prejudices die hard around you, don't they, Mac? But you'll be glad–in the end–that I wrote that book."
"What is it you want?"
His smile vanished. "You have a lot of data on the religious beliefs and ceremonies of the Bhan-Guru tribe. I need your help."
"If I had had the opportunity of putting it in print, you could have gone to the public library," I said with some bitterness.
There was terror in his eyes. "I'm a dirty skunk, I admit it. I admit any thing. But you've got to help me–got to!"
And that was the last time I thought of Anthony Henderson's book, until now, months later as I write trying to explain the unexplainable, because courts of law believe that when a man is killed, it must be by a human and visible agent.
"Well," I said, "let's have it."
Although there was no one near us, he lowered his voice.
"It's about the temple of Nyi, and death." He looked up questioningly. "You remember that temple?"
"Of course," I said. "Where the priests of Bhan-Guru laid human sacrifices to Nyi, their god of death. Nothing particularly interesting, as I remember, except the pretty visible proof that the custom was still extant, and the two eyes of the statue that shone a smoky greenish gray or blue at night Captain Clark took one out for his collection, as I remember."
Tony's gaze was riveted on my face.
"Well, what about it?" I demanded.
"Do you remember, Mac, how Nyi's victims were killed?"
After a bit I said, "Strangled. Some were throttled to death by the fingers of the priests; others had ropes drawn about their throats. Bloodless but unpleasant. I don't get the connection with you."
"I didn't, either, until seven days ago. We stole that eye, Mac; we ravaged the statue of Nyi. We were the enemies of the god of death. Oh, there's a connection all right."
"If you're going to start some nonsense about a curse running around the globe from one generation to another, you can save your breath. I may be a fool, but I'm not as big a one as that."
"Listen," he said. "On the seventh of July, 1925, we took a stone from the statue of Nyi. It was just after midnight, when the priests were sleeping below the altar steps. Captain Clark put it among his curios in the bank vault when he reached this country. In July of 1926 Captain Clark was murdered."
"I was in Europe at the time," I said dryly, "but I heard from reliable sources that Clark committed suicide."
"You heard that because the courts demand a material explanation of death. They found him locked in an empty boathouse, hanging from a crossbeam."
"Men have been known to hang themselves. It isn't a physical impossibility."
"That's true enough. But no one was able to explain what he stepped off from into space, and——"
"If the jury was satisfied, I am."
"Very well. His collection, including the eye of death, went to Milroy, of course, and a year later–again in July–Bobby died."