The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux:
Seeing my pistols, the little viscount asked me if we were going to fight a duel. I said:
“Yes; and what a duel!”
But, of course, I had no time to explain anything to him. The little viscount is a brave fellow, but he knew hardly anything about his adversary; and it was so much the better. My great fear was that he was already somewhere near us, preparing the Punjab lasso. No one knows better than he how to throw the Punjab lasso, for he is the king of stranglers even as he is the prince of conjurers. When he had finished making the little sultana laugh, at the time of the “rosy hours of Mazenderan,” she herself used to ask him to amuse her by giving her a thrill. It was then that he introduced the sport of the Punjab lasso.
He had lived in India and acquired an incredible skill in the art of strangulation. He would make them lock him into a court-yard to which they brought a warrior—usually, a man condemned to death—armed with a long pike and broadsword. Erik had only his lasso; and it was always just when the warrior thought he was going to fell Erik with a tremendous blow that we heard the lasso whistle through the air. With a turn of the wrist, Erik tightened the noose round his adversary’s neck and, in this fashion, dragged him before the little sultana and her women, who sat looking from a window and applauding. The little sultana herself learned to wield the Punjab lasso and killed several of her women and even of the friends who visited her. But I prefer to drop this terrible subject of the rosy hours of Mazenderan. I have mentioned it only to explain why, on arriving with the Vicomte de Chagny in the cellars of the Opera, I was bound to protect my companion against the ever-threatening danger of death by strangling. My pistols could serve no purpose, for Erik was not likely to show himself; but Erik could always strangle us. I had no time to explain all this to the viscount; besides, there was nothing to be gained by complicating the position. I simply told M. de Chagny to keep his hand at the level of his eyes, with the arm bent, as though waiting for the command to fire. With his victim in this attitude, it is impossible even for the most expert strangler to throw the lasso with advantage. It catches you not only round the neck, but also round the arm or hand. This enable you easily to unloose the lasso, which then becomes harmless.