Lord of the Lamia (1935) – A colorful weird mystery-tale of an American archeologist in the eon-old city of Cairo. An American archeologist faces a weird and deadly mythic ancient creature in the eons-old city of Cairo. Modern day thieves wish to control it but somehow he becomes the Lord of the Lamia.
Lord of the Lamia
1. Saint’s Miracle
2. Drugged Sherbet
3. A Very Strange Mummy
4. Real or Unreal?
5. Hagg Nadeem.
6. The Visitation
8. The Oasis
9. Men or Jinn?
10. The Stranglers
11. Three-Cornered Combat
12. The Cache
13. Unweaving the Rainbow
Otis Adelbert Kline (1891–1946), born in Chicago, Illinois, was a songwriter, an adventure novelist and literary agent during the pulp era. Kline was an amateur orientalist and a student of Arabic.
In the mid-1930s Kline largely abandoned writing to concentrate on his career as a literary agent, primarily for author Robert E. Howard, creator of Conan the Barbarian. Kline represented Howard from the spring of 1933 till Howard’s death in June 1936, and continued to act as literary agent for Howard’s estate thereafter.
Kline is perhaps best known for an apocryphal literary feud with fellow author Edgar Rice Burroughs, over their respective Mars, Venus and jungle series of stories, but this was debunked when the source of the supposed feud admitted to making it all up.
JOHN TANE, archeologist and explorer, fanned his youthful sun-bronzed features with his pith helmet, and with the tip of his polished oxford prodded the sleeping bowab, or doorkeeper, on the stone bench beside the door. The latter blinked drowsily, adjusted his red tarbush, and got to his feet.
“Is this the house of Doctor Schneider?” asked the American.
The swarthy Egyptian doorkeeper answered affirmatively, then inquired respectfully: “You are Tane Effendi?”
“I am.” Tane glanced curiously up at the mashrabiyeh windows that jutted out over the narrow street, then back at the door on which he deciphered the Arabic inscription: “O God.” And below this: “The Excellent Creator is the Everlasting.”
“My master is expecting you, effendi.” The bowab swung the door open, and shouted to someone inside. “Ya Hasan. Tane Effendi comes.” Then he stood respectfully aside, with a courteous: “Bis-millah! Enter in the Name of Allah.”
Stepping through the door, Tane found himself in a narrow passageway which turned first to the right, then to the left, before he reached the inner court, where a tall negro servant saluted him with the salam.
“My master awaits you in the reception room,” he said, opening a second door.
Tane entered a large room that was pleasantly cool after the glaring heat of the city streets. In the center of the tiled floor a fountain of marble and onyx splashed musically. Beyond it, at the far end, was an alcove, the three walls of which were fronted with cushioned diwans. On the middle one of these sat a short, corpulent man, with a round, moonlike face, a bristling blond mustache, and weak, watery eyes which squinted through thick-lensed glasses. He was smoking a narghile, and his costume was entirely oriental from skull-cap to cordovan slippers, yet the cast of his features was obviously Teutonic.
“Velcoom to Cairo, und to mein house, Herr Tane,” he said, with an accent that matched his features.
“Greetings, Herr Doktor,” replied Tane cordially, as he strode across the room. He kicked off his oxfords and seated himself, cross-legged, among the cushions.
“You vill haff a pipe und coffee? Yes?”
“By all means.” Tane tossed his helmet to one side and ran his fingers through his tousled mop of damp blond ringlets. Then his eyes strayed around the room, and he said: “So this is the place you are leasing to me for two hundred pounds a year. Not half bad, if this room is a fair sample.”
The doctor clapped his hands, and a dark-skinned servant girl entered noiselessly through a curtained doorway.
“A narghile und coffee, Marjanah,” ordered her master.
“I hear and obey,” she replied, and departed soundlessly.
Doctor Schneider turned to his guest. “You like it, eh? So do I. It iss only because I need the money so badly to carry on my vork, dot I let it go.”
“By the way, how is that new expedition of yours coming on?”
“Oh, yust so-so.”
“Digging for the mummy of some ancient princess, somewhere in the Libyan Desert, weren’t you?”
The little pig-like eyes of the doctor flashed in sudden anger. “How did you know dot?” he demanded. “Somebody has been vot you call, shooting the mouth off.”
“Saw it in the paper,” Tane replied. “They said you had exhausted your resources searching for that mummy, and had failed.”
Doctor Schneider’s look of anger vanished. “Dot iss true,” he admitted. “Yet mit the money you pay me for this place, I vill carry on, und in the end I vill vin. You haff brought the money? Yes?”
“First six months’ rent in advance. I believe that was the bargain,” Tane replied.
He drew from his inside pocket a heavy bag, which chinked musically as he placed it on the taboret.
“Count it,” he invited.
Nothing loth, the doctor complied. Then he swiftly thrust the bag beneath his sash as Marjanah came in with a tray containing a steaming brass coffee-pot and two tiny cups. Behind her trudged a native boy, carrying a water-pipe, which he set before Tane.
With the amber mouthpiece between his lips, Tane inhaled deeply, and the pipe purred like a stroked cat. The boy turned the charcoal while Marjanah poured the coffee. Then both withdrew.
“Where’s my receipt?” asked Tane, exhaling a cloud of fragrant smoke.
“Here.” The doctor drew a folded paper from beneath his clothing and passed it to his visitor. “I don’t vant my servants to know I’m getting so much money. Servants gossip, und news travels fast. Und the profession of robbery is an honorable vone among the Arabs— ven they can get avay mit it. I’ll moofe out in the morning. By the vay, how soon do you get married?”
“My fiancee is due here in three weeks,” replied Tane. “We expect to get married as soon as she arrives, and to spend our honeymoon rambling about Egypt, with this house as headquarters. Then we’ll settle down here and I’ll go to work on the excavations.”
“Yah? Dot’s nice.”
“Hope you’ll find time to call and see us when we—say! What’s that?”
He was interrupted by the sound of chanting outside the latticed windows, which swiftly grew in volume:
La ilaha illa Plaha: Mohammadur rasul l’lah. Sala l’lahu ‘aleyhi wa salam!
“Veil! Sounds like a funeral procession. Vant to see it?”
The doctor rose and waddled to the window, swiftly followed by Tane. Six ragged blind men were walking slowly, chanting the Muslim profession of faith over and over. Behind them trudged two darwishes bearing the flags of their order. Then came an old white-bearded darwish, obviously a shaykh, a number of men, and a group of boys, one of whom carried a copy of the Koran on a small platform covered with an embroidered handkerchief. The boys were chanting in a higher and livelier tone than the blind men:
I extol the perfection of Him who hath created whatever hath form; And subdued His servants by death; Who bringeth to naught all His creatures with mankind; They shall all lie in the graves.
Following the boys marched four pallbearers carrying a large coffin draped with a bright Kashmiri shawl. And behind the bier trooped half a dozen women, uttering piercing shrieks, and wailing: “O my master! O my lion! O camel of the house! O my father! O thou who brought my food and bore my burdens! O my misfortune!” at the tops of their voices.
“Must be the corpse of some great und holy darwish,” said the doctor. “Maybe even a welee, a Muslim saint, that they are taking to the Bab en Nasr Cemetery.”
The procession continued on its way uninterrupted, until the bier was opposite the door of Tane’s newly acquired house. Then the four pallbearers suddenly slumped to the ground, as if the weight of their burden had become intolerably heavy. Instantly the procession was thrown into confusion. Several of the marchers turned and tried to lift the coffin. But they appeared unable to budge it. A curious crowd quickly gathered, chattering and gesticulating, while the blind men, the boys, the darwishes and the mourners made zikker, by crying “Allah” over and over in rapid monotone.
“Gott im Himmel!” exclaimed the doctor. “A saint’s miracle!”
“I don’t see any miracle about it,” said Tane. “Those men are exhausted.”
“You don’t understand. Vait und see vot happens,” the doctor told him.”
Excerpt From: Otis Adelbert Kline. “Lord of the Lamia.”
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