Part 6 out of 6
was slipping from her; felt herself falling, and shrieked to know
herself helpless and alone with Kazmah. She groped for support, but
found none; and, moaning, she sank down, and was unconscious of her
A voice awakened her. Someone knelt beside her in the darkness,
supporting her; someone who spoke wildly, despairingly, but with a
strange, emotional reverence curbing the passion in his voice.
"Rita--my Rita! What have they done to you? Speak to me. . . . Oh God!
Spare her to me. . . . Let her hate me for ever, but spare her--spare
her. Rita, speak to me! I tried, heaven hear me, to save you little
girl. I only want you to be happy!"
She felt herself being lifted gently, tenderly. And as though the
man's passionate entreaty had called her back from the dead, she
reentered into life and strove to realize what had happened.
Sir Lucien was supporting her, and she found it hard to credit the
fact that it was he, the hard, nonchalant man of the world she knew,
who had spoken. She clutched his arm with both hands.
"Oh, Lucy!" she whispered. "I am so frightened--and so ill."
"Thank God," he said huskily, "she is alive. Lean against me and try
to stand up. We must get away from here."
Rita managed to stand upright, clinging wildly to Sir Lucien. A
square, vaguely luminous opening became visible to her. Against it,
silhouetted, she could discern part of the outline of Kazmah's chair.
She drew back, uttering a low, sobbing cry. Sir Lucien supported her,
"Don't be afraid, dear," he said reassuringly. "Nothing shall hurt
He pushed open a door, and through it shone the same vague light which
she had seen in the opening behind the chair. Sir Lucien spoke rapidly
in a language which sounded like Spanish. He was answered by a perfect
torrent of words in the same tongue.
Fiercely he cried something back at the hidden speaker.
A shriek of rage, of frenzy, came out of the darkness. Rita felt that
consciousness was about to leave her again. She swayed forward
dizzily, and a figure which seemed to belong to delirium--a lithe
shadow out of which gleamed a pair of wild eyes--leapt upon her. A
knife glittered. . . .
In order to have repelled the attack, Sir Lucien would have had to
release Rita, who was clinging to him, weak and terror-stricken.
Instead he threw himself before her. . . . She saw the knife enter his
shoulder. . . .
Through absolute darkness she sank down into a land of chaotic
nightmare horrors. Great bells clanged maddeningly. Impish hands
plucked at her garments, dragged her hair. She was hurried this way
and that, bruised, torn, and tossed helpless upon a sea of liquid
brass. Through vast avenues lined with yellow, immobile Chinese faces
she was borne upon a bier. Oblique eyes looked into hers. Knives which
glittered greenly in the light of lamps globular and suspended in
immeasurable space, were hurled at her in showers. . . .
Sir Lucien stood before her, supporting her; and all the knives buried
themselves in his body. She tried to cry out, but no sound could she
utter. Darkness fell again. . . .
A Chinaman was bending over her. His hands were tucked in his loose
sleeves. He smiled, and his smile was hideous but friendly. He was
strangely like Sin Sin Wa, save that he did not lack an eye.
Rita found herself lying in an untidy bed in a room laden with opium
fumes and dimly lighted. On a table beside her were the remains of a
meal. She strove to recall having partaken of food, but was
unsuccessful. . . .
There came a blank--then a sharp, stabbing pain in her right arm. She
thought it was the knife, and shrieked wildly again and again. . . .
Years seemingly elapsed, years of agony spent amid oblique eyes which
floated in space unattached to any visible body, amid reeking fumes
and sounds of ceaseless conflict. Once she heard the cry of some bird,
and thought it must be the parakeet which eternally sat on a branch of
a lonely palm in the heart of the Great Sahara. . . . Then, one night,
when she lay shrinking from the plucking yellow hands which reached
out of the darkness:
"Tell me your dream," boomed a deep, mocking voice; "and I will read
She opened her eyes. She lay in the untidy bed in the room which was
laden with the fumes of opium. She stared upward at the low, dirty
"Why do you come to me with your stories of desperation?" continued
the mocking voice. "You have insisted upon seeing me. I am here."
Rita managed to move her head so that she could see more of the room.
On a divan at the other end of the place, propped up by a number of
garish cushions, Rita beheld Mrs. Sin. The long bamboo pipe had fallen
from her listless fingers. Her face wore an expression of mystic
rapture, like that characterizing the features of some Chinese
Buddhas. . . .
In the other corner of the divan, contemplating her from under heavy
brows, sat Kazmah. . . .
SAM TUK MOVES
Chinatown was being watched as Chinatown had never been watched
before, even during the most stringent enforcement of the Defence of
the Realm Act. K Division was on its mettle, and Scotland Yard had
sent to aid Chief Inspector Kerry every man that could be spared to
the task. The River Police, too, were aflame with zeal; for every
officer in the service whose work lay east of London Bridge had
appropriated to himself the stigma implied by the creation of Lord
"Corners" in foodstuffs, metals, and other indispensable commodities
are appreciated by every man, because every man knows such things to
exist; but a corner in drugs was something which the East End police
authorities found very difficult to grasp. They could not free their
minds of the traditional idea that every second Chinaman in the
Causeway was a small importer. They were seeking a hundred lesser
stores instead of one greater one. Not all Seton's quiet explanations
nor Kerry's savage language could wean the higher local officials from
their ancient beliefs. They failed to conceive the idea of a wealthy
syndicate conducted by an educated Chinaman and backed, covered, and
protected by a crooked gentleman and accomplished man of affairs.
Perhaps they knew and perhaps they knew not, that during the period
ruled by D.O.R.A. as much as L25 was paid by habitues for one pipe of
chandu. The power of gold is often badly estimated by an official
whose horizon is marked by a pension. This is mere lack of
imagination, and no more reflects discredit upon a man than lack of
hair on his crown or of color in his cheeks. Nevertheless, it may
prove very annoying.
Towards the close of an afternoon which symbolized the worst that
London's particular climate can do in the matter of drizzling rain and
gloom, Chief Inspector Kerry, carrying an irritable toy spaniel, came
out of a turning which forms a V with Limehouse Canal, into a narrow
street which runs parallel with the Thames. He had arrived at the
conclusion that the neighborhood was sown so thickly with detectives
that one could not throw a stone without hitting one. Yet Sin Sin Wa
had quietly left his abode and had disappeared from official ken.
Three times within the past ten minutes the spaniel had tried to bite
Kerry, nor was Kerry blind to the amusement which his burden had
occasioned among the men of K Division whom he had met on his travels.
Finally, as he came out into the riverside lane, the ill-tempered
little animal essayed a fourth, and successful, attempt, burying his
wicked white teeth in the Chief Inspector's wrist.
Kerry hooked his finger into the dog's collar, swung the yapping
animal above his head, and hurled it from him into the gloom and rain
"Hell take the blasted thing!" he shouted. "I'm done with it!"
He tenderly sucked his wounded wrist, and picking up his cane, which
he had dropped, he looked about him and swore savagely. Of Seton Pasha
he had had news several times during the day, and he was aware that
the Home office agent was not idle. But to that old rivalry which had
leapt up anew when he had seen Seton near Kennington oval had
succeeded a sort of despair; so that now he would have welcomed the
information that Seton had triumphed where he had failed. A furious
hatred of the one-eyed Chinaman around whom he was convinced the
mystery centred had grown up within his mind. At that hour he would
gladly have resigned his post and sacrificed his pension to know that
Sin Sin Wa was under lock and key. His outlook was official, and
accordingly peculiar. He regarded the murder of Sir Lucien Pyne and
the flight or abduction of Mrs. Monte Irvin as mere minor incidents in
a case wherein Sin Sin Wa figured as the chief culprit. Nothing had
acted so powerfully to bring about this conviction in the mind of the
Chief Inspector as the inexplicable disappearance of the Chinaman
under circumstances which had apparently precluded such a possibility.
A whimpering cry came to Kerry's ears; and because beneath the mask of
ferocity which he wore a humane man was concealed: "Flames!" he
snapped; "perhaps I've broken the poor little devil's leg."
Shaking a cascade of water from the brim of his neat bowler, he set
off through the murk towards the spot from whence the cries of the
spaniel seemed to proceed. A few paces brought him to the door of a
dirty little shop. In a window close beside it appeared the legend:
The spaniel crouched by the door whining and scratching, and as Kerry
came up it raised its beady black eyes to him with a look which, while
it was not unfearful, held an unmistakable appeal. Kerry stood
watching the dog for a moment, and as he watched he became conscious
of an exhilarated pulse.
He tried the door and found it to be open. Thereupon he entered a
dirty little shop, which he remembered to have searched in person in
the grey dawn of the day which now was entering upon a premature dusk.
The dog ran in past him, crossed the gloomy shop, and raced down into
a tiny coal cellar, which likewise had been submitted during the early
hours of the morning to careful scrutiny under the directions of the
A Chinese boy, who had been the only occupant of the place on that
occasion and who had given his name as Ah Fung, was surprised by the
sudden entrance of man and dog in the act of spreading coal dust with
his fingers upon a portion of the paved floor. He came to his feet
with a leap and confronted Kerry. The spaniel began to scratch
feverishly upon the spot where the coal dust had been artificially
spread. Kerry's eyes gleamed like steel. He shot out his hand and
grasped the Chinaman by his long hair. "Open that trap," he said, "or
I'll break you in half!"
Ah Fung's oblique eyes regarded him with an expression difficult to
analyze, but partly it was murder. He made no attempt to obey the
order. Meanwhile the dog, whining and scratching furiously, had
exposed the greater part of a stone slab somewhat larger than those
adjoining it, and having a large crack or fissure in one end.
"For the last time," said Kerry, drawing the man's head back so that
his breath began to whistle through his nostrils, "open that trap."
As he spoke he released Ah Fung, and Ah Fung made one wild leap
towards the stairs. Kerry's fist caught him behind the ear as he
sprang, and he went down like a dead man upon a small heap of coal
which filled the angle of the cellar.
Breathing rapidly and having his teeth so tightly clenched that his
maxillary muscles protruded lumpishly, Kerry stood looking at the
fallen man. But Ah Fung did not move. The dog had ceased to scratch,
and now stood uttering short staccato barks and looking up at the
Chief Inspector. Otherwise there was no sound in the house, above or
Kerry stooped, and with his handkerchief scrupulously dusted the stone
slab. The spaniel, resentment forgotten, danced excitedly beside him
and barked continuously.
"There's some sort of hook to fit in that crack," muttered Kerry.
He began to hunt about among the debris which littered one end of the
cellar, testing fragment after fragment, but failing to find any piece
of scrap to suit his purpose. By sheer perseverance rather than by any
process of reasoning, he finally hit upon the piece of bent wire which
was the key to this door of Sin Sin Wa's drug warehouse.
One short exclamation of triumph he muttered at the moment that his
glance rested upon it, and five seconds later he had the trapdoor open
and was peering down into the narrow pit in which wooden steps rested.
The spaniel began to bark wildly, whereupon Kerry grasped him, tucked
him under his arm, and ran up to the room above, where he deposited
the furiously wriggling animal. He stepped quickly back again and
closed the upper door. By this act he plunged the cellar into complete
darkness, and accordingly he took out from the pocket of his
rain-drenched overall the electric torch which he always carried.
Directing its ray downwards into the cellar, he perceived Ah Fung move
and toss his hand above his head. He also detected a faint rattling
"Ah!" said Kerry.
He descended, and stooping over the unconscious man extracted from the
pocket of his baggy blue trousers four keys upon a ring. At these
Kerry stared eagerly. Two of them belonged to yale locks; the third
was a simple English barrel-key, which probably fitted a padlock; but
the fourth was large and complicated.
"Looks like the key of a jail," he said aloud.
He spoke with unconscious prescience. This was the key of the door of
the vault. Removing his overall, Kerry laid it with his cane upon the
scrap-heap, then he climbed down the ladder and found himself in the
mouth of that low timbered tunnel, like a trenchwork, which owed its
existence to the cunning craftsmanship of Sin Sin Wa. Stooping
uncomfortably, he made his way along the passage until the massive
door confronted him. He was in no doubt as to which key to employ; his
mental condition was such that he was indifferent to the dangers which
probably lay before him.
The well-oiled lock operated smoothly. Kerry pushed the door open and
stepped briskly into the vault.
His movements, from the moment that he had opened the trap, had been
swift and as nearly noiseless as the difficulties of the task had
permitted. Nevertheless, they had not been so silent as to escape the
attention of the preternaturally acute Sin Sin Wa. Kerry found the
place occupied only by the aged Sam Tuk. A bright fire burned in the
stove, and a ship's lantern stood upon the counter. Dense chemical
fumes rendered the air difficult to breathe; but the shelves, once
laden with the largest illicit collection of drugs in London, were
Kerry's fierce eyes moved right and left; his jaws worked
automatically. Sam Tuk sat motionless, his hands concealed in his
sleeves, bending decrepitly forward in his chair. Then:
"Hi! Guy Fawkes!" rapped Kerry, striding forward "Who's been letting
Sam Tuk nodded senilely, but spoke not a word.
Kerry stooped and stared into the heart of the fire. A dense coat of
white ash lay upon the embers. He grasped the shoulder of the aged
Chinaman, and pushed him back so that he could look into the bleared
eyes behind the owlish spectacles.
"Been cleaning up the 'evidence,' eh?" he shouted. "This joint stinks
of opium and a score of other dopes. Where are the gang?" He shook the
yielding, ancient frame. "Where's the smart with one eye?"
But Sam Tuk, merely nodded, and as Kerry released his hold sank
forward again, nodding incessantly.
"H'm, you're a hard case," said the Chief Inspector. "A couple of
witnesses like you and the jury would retire to Bedlam!"
He stood glaring fiercely at the limp frame of the old Chinaman, and
as he glared his expression changed. Lying on the dirty floor not a
yard from Sam Tuk's feet was a ball of leaf opium!
"Ha!" exclaimed Kerry, and he stooped to pick it up.
As he did so, with a lightning movement of which the most astute
observer could never have supposed him capable, Sam Tuk, whipped a
loaded rubber tube from his sleeve and struck Kerry a shrewd blow
across the back of the skull.
The Chief Inspector, without word or cry, collapsed upon his knees,
and then fell gently forward--forward--and toppled face downwards
before his assailant. His bowler fell off and rolled across the dirty
Sam Tuk sank deeply into his chair, and his toothless jaws worked
convulsively. The skinny hand which clutched the piece of tubing
twitched and shook, so that the primitive deadly weapon fell from its
Silently, that set of empty shelves nearest to the inner wall of the
vault slid open, and Sin Sin Wa came out. He, too, carried his hands
tucked in his sleeves, and his yellow, pock-marked face wore its
"Well done," he crooned softly in Chinese. "Well done, bald father of
wisdom. The dogs draw near, but the old fox sleeps not."
SETON PASHA REPORTS
At about the time that the fearless Chief Inspector was entering the
establishment of Sam Tuk Seton Pasha was reporting to Lord Wrexborough
in Whitehall. His nautical disguise had served its purpose, and he had
now finally abandoned it, recognizing that he had to deal with a
criminal of genius to whom disguise merely afforded matter for
In his proper person, as Greville Seton, he afforded a marked contrast
to that John Smiles, seaman, who had sat in a top room in Limehouse
with Chief Inspector Kerry. And although he had to report failure, the
grim, bronzed face and bright grey eyes must have inspired in the
heart of any thoughtful observer confidence in ultimate success. Lord
Wrexborough, silver-haired, florid and dignified, sat before a vast
table laden with neatly arranged dispatch-boxes, books, documents tied
with red tape, and the other impressive impedimenta which characterize
the table of a Secretary of State. Quentin Gray, unable to conceal his
condition of nervous excitement, stared from a window down into
"I take it, then, Seton," Lord Wrexborough was saying, "that in your
opinion--although perhaps it is somewhat hastily formed--there is and
has been no connivance between officials and receivers of drugs?"
"That is my opinion, sir. The traffic has gradually and ingeniously
been 'ringed' by a wealthy group. Smaller dealers have been bought out
or driven out, and today I believe it would be difficult, if not
impossible, to obtain opium, cocaine, or veronal illicitly anywhere in
London. Kazmah and Company had the available stock cornered. Of
course, now that they are out of business, no doubt others will step
in. It is a trade that can never be suppressed under existing laws."
"I see, I see," muttered Lord Wrexborough, adjusting his pince-nez.
"You also believe that Kazmah and Company are in hiding within what
you term"--he consulted a written page--"the 'Causeway area'? And you
believe that the man called Sin Sin Wa is the head of the
"I believe the late Sir Lucien Pyne was the actual head of the group,"
said Seton bluntly. "But Sin Sin Wa is the acting head. In view of his
physical peculiarities, I don't quite see how he's going to escape us,
either, sir. His wife has a fighting chance, and as for Mohammed
el-Kazmah, he might sail for anywhere tomorrow, and we should never
know. You see, we have no description of the man."
"His passports?" murmured Lord Wrexborough.
Seton Pasha smiled grimly.
"Not an insurmountable difficulty, sir," he replied, "but Sin Sin Wa
is a marked man. He has the longest and thickest pigtail which I ever
saw on a human scalp. I take it he is a Southerner of the old school;
therefore, he won't cut it off. He has also only one eye, and while
there are many one-eyed Chinamen, there are few one-eyed Chinamen who
possess pigtails like a battleship's hawser. Furthermore, he travels
with a talking raven, and I'll swear he won't leave it behind. On the
other hand, he is endowed with an amount of craft which comes very
near to genius."
"And--Mrs. Monte Irvin?"
Quentin Gray turned suddenly, and his boyish face was very pale.
"Seton, Seton!" he said. "For God's sake tell me the truth! Do you
He stopped, choking emotionally. Seton Pasha watched him with that
cool, confident stare which could either soothe or irritate; and:
"She was alive this morning, Gray," he replied quietly, "we heard her.
You may take it from me that they will offer her no violence. I shall
say no more."
Lord Wrexborough cleared his throat and took up a document from the
"Your remark raises another point, Quentin," he said sternly, "which
has to be settled today. Your appointment to Cairo was confirmed this
morning. You sail on Tuesday."
Quentin Gray turned again abruptly and stared out of the window.
"You're practically kicking me out, sir," he said. "I don't know what
"You have done nothing," replied Lord Wrexborough "which an honorable
man may not do. But in common with many others similarly
circumstanced, you seem inclined, now that your military duties are at
an end, to regard life as a sort of perpetual 'leave.' I speak frankly
before Seton because I know that he agrees with me. My friend the
Foreign Secretary has generously offered you an appointment which
opens up a career that should not--I repeat, that should not prove
less successful than his own."
Gray turned, and his face had flushed deeply.
"I know that Margaret has been scaring you about Rita Irvin," he said,
"but on my word, sir, there was no need to do it."
He met Seton Pasha's cool regard, and:
"Margaret's one of the best," he added. "I know you agree with me?"
A faint suggestion of added color came into Seton's tanned cheeks.
"I do, Gray," he answered quietly. "I believe you are good enough to
look upon me as a real friend; therefore allow me to add my advice,
for what it is worth, to that of Lord Wrexborough and your cousin:
take the Egyptian appointment. I know where it will lead. You can do
no good by remaining in London; and when we find Mrs. Irvin your
presence would be an embarrassment to the unhappy man who waits for
news at Princes Gate. I am frank, but it's my way."
He held out his hand, smiling. Quentin Gray's mercurial complexion was
changing again, but:
"Good old Seton!" he said, rather huskily, and gripped the
outstretched hand. "For Irvin's sake, save her!"
He turned to his father.
"Thank you, sir," he added, "you are always right. I shall be ready on
Tuesday. I suppose you are off again, Seton?"
"I am," was the reply. "Chief Inspector Kerry is moving heaven and
earth to find the Kazmah establishment, and I don't want to come in a
Lord Wrexborough cleared his throat and turned in the padded revolving
"Honestly, Seton," he said, "what do you think of your chance of
Seton Pasha smiled grimly.
"Many ascribe success to wit," he replied, "and failure to bad luck;
but the Arab says 'Kismet.'"
THE SONG OF SIN SIN WA
Mrs. Sin, aroused by her husband from the deep opium sleep, came out
into the fume-laden vault. Her dyed hair was disarranged, and her dark
eyes stared glassily before her; but even in this half-drugged state
she bore herself with the lithe carriage of a dancer, swinging her
hips lazily and pointing the toes of her high-heeled slippers.
"Awake, my wife," crooned Sin Sin Wa. "Only a fool seeks the black
smoke when the jackals sit in a ring "
Mrs. Sin gave him a glance of smiling contempt--a glance which,
passing him, rested finally upon the prone body of Chief Inspector
Kerry lying stretched upon the floor before the stove. Her pupils
contracted to mere pin-points and then dilated blackly. She recoiled a
step, fighting with the stupor which her ill-timed indulgence had left
At this moment Kerry groaned loudly, tossed his arm out with a
convulsive movement, and rolled over on to his side, drawing up his
The eye of Sin Sin Wa gleamed strangely, but he did not move, and Sam
Tuk who sat huddled in his chair where his feet almost touched the
fallen man, stirred never a muscle. But Mrs. Sin, who still moved in a
semi-phantasmagoric world, swiftly raised the hem of her kimona,
affording a glimpse of a shapely silk-clad limb. From a sheath
attached to her garter she drew a thin stilletto. Curiously feline,
she crouched, as if about to spring.
Sin Sin Wa extended his hand, grasping his wife's wrist.
"No, woman of indifferent intelligence," he said in his queer sibilant
language, "since when has murder gone unpunished in these British
Mrs. Sin snatched her wrist from his grasp, falling back wild-eyed.
"Yellow ape! yellow ape!" she said hoarsely. "One more does not matter
"One more?" crooned Sin Sin Wa, glancing curiously at Kerry.
"They are here! We are trapped!"
"No, no," said Sin Sin Wa. "He is a brave man; he comes alone."
He paused, and then suddenly resumed in pidgin English:
"You likee killa him, eh?"
Perhaps unconscious that she did so, Mrs. Sin replied also in English:
"No, I am mad. Let me think, old fool!"
She dropped the stiletto and raised her hand dazedly to her brow.
"You gotchee tired of knifee chop, eh?" murmured Sin Sin Wa.
Mrs. Sin clenched her hands, holding them rigidly against her hips;
and, nostrils dilated, she stared at the smiling Chinaman.
"What do you mean?" she demanded.
Sin Sin Wa performed his curious oriental shrug.
"You putta topside pidgin on Sir Lucy alla lightee," he murmured.
"Givee him hell alla velly proper."
The pupils of the woman's eyes contracted again, and remained so. She
laughed hoarsely and tossed her head.
"Who told you that?" she asked contemptuously. "It was the doll-woman
who killed him--I have said so."
"You tella me so--hoi, hoi! But old Sin Sin Wa catchee wonder. Lo!"--
he extended a yellow forefinger, pointing at his wife--"Mrs. Sin make
him catchee die! No bhobbery, no palaber. Sin Sin Wa gotchee you sized
up allee timee."
Mrs. Sin snapped her fingers under his nose then stooped, picked up
the stiletto, and swiftly restored it to its sheath. Her hands resting
upon her hips, she came forward, until her dark evil face almost
touched the yellow, smiling face of Sin Sin Wa.
"Listen, old fool," she said in a low, husky voice; "I have done with
you, ape-man, for good! Yes! I killed Lucy, I killed him! He belonged
to me--until that pink and white thing took him away. I am glad I
killed him. If I cannot have him neither can she. But I was mad all
She glanced down at Kerry, and:
"Tie him up," she directed, "and send him to sleep. And understand,
Sin, we've shared out for the last time--You go your way and I go
mine. No stinking Yellow River for me. New York is good enough until
it's safe to go to Buenos Ayres."
"Smartest leg in Buenos Ayres," croaked the raven from his wicker
cage, which was set upon the counter.
Sin Sin Wa regarded him smilingly.
"Yes, yes, my little friend," he crooned in Chinese, while
Tling-a-Ling rattled ghostly castanets. "In Ho-Nan they will say that
you are a devil and I am a wizard. That which is unknown is always
thought to be magical, my Tling-a-Ling."
Mrs. Sin, who was rapidly throwing off the effects of opium and
recovering her normal self-confident personality, glanced at her
"Tell me," she said, "what has happened? How did he come here?"
"Blinga filly doggy," murmured Sin Sin Wa. "Knockee Ah Fung on him
head and comee down here, lo. Ah Fung allee lightee now--topside.
Chasee filly doggy. Allee velly proper. No bhobbery."
"Talk less and act more," said Mrs. Sin. "Tie him up, and if you must
talk, talk Chinese. Tie him up."
She pointed to Kerry. Sin Sin Wa tucked his hands into his sleeves and
shuffled towards the masked door communicating with the inner room.
"Only by intelligent speech are we distinguished from the other
animals," he murmured in Chinese.
Entering the inner room, he began to extricate a long piece of thin
rope from amid a tangle of other materials with which it was
complicated. Mrs. Sin stood looking down at the fallen man. Neither
Kerry nor Sam Tuk gave the slightest evidence of life. And as Sin Sin
Wa disentangled yard upon yard of rope from the bundle on the floor by
the bed where Rita Irvin lay in her long troubled sleep, he crooned a
queer song. It was in the Ho-Nan dialect and intelligible to himself
"Shoa, the evil woman (he chanted), the woman of
many strange loves. . . .
Shoa, the ghoul. . . .
Lo, the Yellow River leaps forth from the nostrils
of the mountain god. . . .
Shoa, the betrayer of men. . . .
Blood is on her brow.
Lo, the betrayer is betrayed. Death sits at her elbow.
See, the Yellow River bears a corpse upon its tide. . .
Dead men hear her secret.
Shoa, the ghoul. . . .
Shoa, the evil woman. Death sits at her elbow.
Black, the vultures flock about her. . . .
Lo, the Yellow River leaps forth from the nostrils
of the mountain god."
Meanwhile Kerry, lying motionless at the feet of Sam Tuk was doing
some hard and rapid thinking. He had recovered consciousness a few
moments before Mrs. Sin had come into the vault from the inner room.
There were those, Seton Pasha among them, who would have regarded the
groan and the convulsive movements of Kerry's body with keen
suspicion. And because the Chief Inspector suffered from no illusions
respecting the genius of Sin Sin Wa, the apparent failure of the one-
eyed Chinaman to recognize these preparations for attack nonplussed
the Chief Inspector. His outstanding vice as an investigator was the
directness of his own methods and of his mental outlook, so that he
frequently experienced great difficulty in penetrating to the motives
of a tortuous brain such as that of Sin Sin Wa.
That Sin Sin Wa thought him to be still unconscious he did not
believe. He was confident that his tactics had deceived the Jewess,
but he entertained an almost superstitious respect for the cleverness
of the Chinaman. The trick with the ball of leaf opium was painfully
fresh in his memory.
Kerry, in common with many members of the Criminal Investigation
Department, rarely carried firearms. He was a man with a profound
belief in his bare hands--aided when necessary by his agile feet. At
the moment that Sin Sin Wa had checked the woman's murderous and half
insane outburst Kerry had been contemplating attack. The sudden change
of language on the part of the Chinaman had arrested him in the act;
and, realizing that he was listening to a confession which placed the
hangman's rope about the neck of Mrs. Sin, he lay still and wondered.
Why had Sin Sin Wa forced his wife to betray herself? To clear Mareno?
To clear Mrs. Irvin--or to save his own skin?
It was a frightful puzzle for Kerry. Then--where was Kazmah? That Mrs.
Irvin, probably in a drugged condition, lay somewhere in that
mysterious inner room Kerry felt fairly sure. His maltreated skull was
humming like a bee-hive and aching intensely, but the man was tough as
men are made, and he could not only think clearly, but was capable of
swift and dangerous action.
He believed that he could tackle the Chinaman with fair prospects of
success; and women, however murderous, he habitually disregarded as
adversaries. But the mummy-like, deceptive Sam Tuk was not negligible,
and Kazmah remained an unknown quantity.
From under that protective arm, cast across his face, Kerry's fierce
eyes peered out across the dirty floor. Then quickly he shut his eyes
Sin Sin Wa, crooning his strange song, came in carrying a coil of rope
--and a Mauser pistol!
"P'licemanee gotchee catchee sleepee," he murmured, "or maybe he
He tossed the rope to his wife, who stood silent tapping the floor
with one slim restless foot.
"Number one top-side tie up," he crooned. "Sin Sin Wa watchee withum
Kerry lay like a dead man; for in the Chinaman's voice were menace and
THE EMPTY WHARF
The suspected area of Limehouse was closely invested as any fortress
of old when Seton Pasha once more found himself approaching that
painfully familiar neighborhood. He had spoken to several pickets, and
had gathered no news of interest, except that none of them had seen
Chief Inspector Kerry since some time shortly before dusk. Seton,
newly from more genial climes, shivered as he contemplated the misty,
rain-swept streets, deserted and but dimly lighted by an occasional
lamp. The hooting of a steam siren on the river seemed to be in
harmony with the prevailing gloom, and the most confirmed optimist
must have suffered depression amid those surroundings.
He had no definite plan of action. Every line of inquiry hitherto
followed had led to nothing but disappointment. With most of the
details concerning the elaborate organization of the Kazmah group
either gathered or in sight, the whereabouts of the surviving members
remained a profound mystery. From the Chinese no information could be
obtained. Distrust of the police resides deep within the Chinese
heart; for the Chinaman, and not unjustly, regards the police as ever
ready to accuse him and ever unwilling to defend him; knows himself
for a pariah capable of the worst crimes, and who may therefore be
robbed, beaten and even murdered by his white neighbors with impunity.
But when the police seek information from Chinatown, Chinatown takes
its revenge--and is silent.
Out on the river, above and below Limehouse, patrols watched for
signals from the Asiatic quarter, and from a carefully selected spot
on the Surrey side George Martin watched also. Not even the lure of a
neighboring tavern could draw him from his post. Hour after hour he
waited patiently--for Sin Sin Wa paid fair prices, and tonight he
bought neither opium nor cocaine, but liberty.
Seton Pasha, passing from point to point, and nowhere receiving news
of Kerry, began to experience a certain anxiety respecting the safety
of the intrepid Chief Inspector. His mind filled with troubled
conjectures, he passed the house formerly occupied by the one-eyed
Chinaman--where he found Detective-Sergeant Coombes on duty and very
much on the alert--and followed the bank of the Thames in the
direction of Limehouse Basin. The narrow, ill-lighted street was quite
deserted. Bad weather and the presence of many police had driven the
Asiatic inhabitants indoors. But from the river and the docks arose
the incessant din of industry. Whistles shrieked and machinery
clanked, and sometimes remotely came the sound of human voices.
Musing upon the sordid mystery which seems to underlie the whole of
this dingy quarter, Seton pursued his way, crossing inlets and
circling around basins dimly divined, turning to the right into a lane
flanked by high eyeless walls, and again to the left, finally to
emerge nearly opposite a dilapidated gateway giving access to a small
All unconsciously, he was traversing the same route as that recently
pursued by the fugitive Sin Sin Wa; but now he paused, staring at the
empty wharf. The annexed building, a mere shell, had not escaped
examination by the search party, and it was with no very definite
purpose in view that Seton pushed open the rickety gate. Doubtless
Kismet, of which the Arabs speak, dictated that he should do so.
The tide was high, and the water whispered ghostly under the pile-
supported structure. Seton experienced a new sense of chill which did
not seem to be entirely physical as he stared out at the gloomy river
prospect and listened to the uncanny whisperings of the tide. He was
about to turn back when another sound attracted his attention. A dog
was whimpering somewhere near him.
At first he was disposed to believe that the sound was due to some
other cause, for the deserted wharf was not a likely spot in which to
find a dog, but when to the faint whimpering there was added a
scratching sound, Seton's last doubts vanished.
"It's a dog," he said, "a small dog."
Like Kerry, he always carried an electric pocket-lamp, and now he
directed its rays into the interior of the building.
A tiny spaniel, whining excitedly, was engaged in scratching with its
paws upon the dirty floor as though determined to dig its way through.
As the light shone upon it the dog crouched affrightedly, and,
glancing in Seton's direction, revealed its teeth. He saw that it was
covered with mud from head to tail, presenting a most woe-begone
appearance, and the mystery of its presence there came home to him
It was a toy spaniel of a breed very popular among ladies of fashion,
and to its collar was still attached a tattered and muddy fragment of
The little animal crouched in a manner which unmistakably pointed to
the fact that it apprehended ill-treatment, but these personal fears
had only a secondary place in its mind, and with one eye on the
intruder it continued to scratch madly at the floor.
Seton acted promptly. He snapped off the light, and, replacing the
lamp in his pocket, stepped into the building and dropped down upon
his knees beside the dog. He next lay prone, and having rapidly
cleared a space with his sleeve of some of the dirt which coated it,
he applied his ear to the floor.
In spite of that iron control which habitually he imposed upon
himself, he became aware of the fact that his heart was beating
rapidly. He had learned at Leman Street that Kerry had brought Mrs.
Irvin's dog from Prince's Gate to aid in the search for the missing
woman. He did not doubt that this was the dog which snarled and
scratched excitedly beside him. Dimly he divined something of the
truth. Kerry had fallen into the hands of the gang, but the dog,
evidently not without difficulty, had escaped. What lay below the
Holding his breath, he crouched, listening; but not a sound could he
"There's nothing here, old chap," he said to the dog.
Responsive to the friendly tone, the little animal began barking
loudly with high staccato notes, which must have been audible on the
Seton was profoundly mystified by the animal's behavior. He had
personally searched every foot of this particular building, and was
confident that it afforded no hiding-place. The behavior of the dog,
however, was susceptible of only one explanation; and Seton
recognizing that the clue to the mystery lay somewhere within this
ramshackle building, became seized with a conviction that he was being
Standing upright, he paused for a moment, irresolute, thinking that he
had detected a muffled shriek. But the riverside noises were
misleading and his imagination was on fire.
That almost superstitious respect for the powers of Sin Sin Wa, which
had led Chief Inspector Kerry to look upon the Chinaman as a being
more than humanly endowed, began to take possession of Seton Pasha. He
regretted having entered the place so overtly, he regretted having
shown a light. Keen eyes, vigilant, regarded him. It was perhaps a
delusion, bred of the mournful night sounds, the gloom, and the
uncanny resourcefulness, already proven, of the Kazmah group. But it
Theories, wild, improbable, flocked to his mind. The great dope cache
lay beneath his feet--and there must be some hidden entrance to it
which had escaped the attention of the search-party. This in itself
was not improbable, since they had devoted no more time to this
building than to any other in the vicinity. That wild cry in the night
which had struck so mournful a chill to the hearts of the watchers on
the river had seemed to come out of the void of the blackness, had
given but slight clue to the location of the place of captivity.
Indeed, they could only surmise that it had been uttered by the
missing woman. Yet in their hearts neither had doubted it.
He determined to cause the place to be searched again, as secretly as
possible; he determined to set so close a guard over it and over its
approaches that none could enter or leave unobserved.
Yet Kismet, in whose omnipotence he more than half believed, had
ordained otherwise; for man is merely an instrument in the hand of
COIL OF THE PIGTAIL
The inner room was in darkness and the fume-laden air almost
unbreathable. A dull and regular moaning sound proceeded from the
corner where the bed was situated, but of the contents of the place
and of its other occupant or occupants Kerry had no more than a hazy
idea. His imagination supplied those details which he had failed to
observe. Mrs. Monte Irvin, in a dying condition, lay upon the bed, and
someone or some thing crouched on the divan behind Kerry as he lay
stretched upon the matting-covered floor. His wrists, tied behind him,
gave him great pain; and since his ankles were also fastened and the
end of the rope drawn taut and attached to that binding his wrists, he
was rendered absolutely helpless. For one of his fiery temperament
this physical impotence was maddening, and because his own
handkerchief had been tied tightly around his head so as to secure
between his teeth a wooden stopper of considerable size which
possessed an unpleasant chemical taste and smell, even speech was
How long he had lain thus he had no means of judging accurately; but
hours--long, maddening hours--seemed to have passed since, with the
muzzle of Sin Sin Wa's Mauser pressed coldly to his ear, he had
submitted willy-nilly to the adroit manipulations of Mrs. Sin. At
first he had believed, in his confirmed masculine vanity, that it
would be a simple matter to extricate himself from the fastenings made
by a woman; but when, rolling him sideways, she had drawn back his
heels and run the loose end of the line through the loop formed by the
lashing of his wrists behind him, he had recognized a Chinese
training, and had resigned himself to the inevitable. The wooden gag
was a sore trial, and if it had not broken his spirit it had nearly
caused him to break an artery in his impotent fury.
Into the darkened inner chamber Sin Sin Wa had dragged him, and there
Kerry had lain ever since, listening to the various sounds of the
place, to the coarse voice, often raised in anger, of the Cuban-
Jewess, to the crooning tones of the imperturbable Chinaman. The
incessant moaning of the woman on the bed sometimes became mingled
with another sound more remote, which Kerry for long failed to
identify; but ultimately he concluded it to be occasioned by the tide
flowing under the wharf. The raven was silent, because, imprisoned in
his wicker cage, he had been placed in some dark spot below the
counter. Very dimly from time to time a steam siren might be heard
upon the river, and once the thudding of a screw-propeller told of the
passage of a large vessel along Limehouse Reach.
In the eyes of Mrs. Sin Kerry had read menace, and for all their dark
beauty they had reminded him of the eyes of a cornered rat. Beneath
the contemptuous nonchalance which she flaunted he read terror and
remorse, and a foreboding of doom--panic ill repressed, which made her
dangerous as any beast at bay. The attitude of the Chinaman was more
puzzling. He seemed to bear the Chief Inspector no personal animosity,
and indeed, in his glittering eye, Kerry had detected a sort of
mysterious light of understanding which was almost mirthful, but which
bore no relation to Sin Sin Wa's perpetual smile. Kerry's respect for
the one-eyed Chinaman had increased rather than diminished upon closer
acquaintance. Underlying his urbanity he failed to trace any symptom
of apprehension. This Sin Sin Wa, accomplice of a murderess self-
confessed, evident head of a drug syndicate which had led to the
establishment of a Home office inquiry--this badly "wanted" man, whose
last hiding-place, whose keep, was closely invested by the agents of
the law, was the same Sin Sin Wa who had smilingly extended his
wrists, inviting the manacles, when Kerry had first made his
acquaintance under circumstances legally very different.
Sometimes Kerry could hear him singing his weird crooning song, and
twice Mrs. Sin had shrieked blasphemous execrations at him because of
it. But why should Sin Sin Wa sing? What hope had he of escape? In the
case of any other criminal Kerry would have answered "None," but the
ease with which this one-eyed singing Chinaman had departed from his
abode under the very noses of four detectives had shaken the Chief
Inspector's confidence in the efficiency of ordinary police methods
where this Chinese conjurer was concerned. A man who could convert an
elaborate opium house into a dirty ruin in so short a time, too, was
capable of other miraculous feats, and it would not have surprised
Kerry to learn that Sin Sin Wa, at a moment's notice, could disguise
himself as a chest of tea, or pass invisible through solid walls.
For evidence that Seton Pasha or any of the men from Scotland Yard had
penetrated to the secret of Sam Tuk's cellar Kerry listened in vain.
What was about to happen he could not imagine, nor if his life was to
be spared. In the confession so curiously extorted from Mrs. Sin by
her husband he perceived a clue to this and other mysteries, but
strove in vain to disentangle it from the many maddening complexities
of the case.
So he mused, wearily, listening to the moaning of his fellow captive,
and wondering, since no sign of life came thence, why he imagined
another presence in the stuffy room or the presence of someone or of
some thing on the divan behind him. And in upon these dreary musings
broke an altercation between Mrs. Sin and her husband.
"Keep the blasted thing covered up!" she cried hoarsely.
"Tling-a-Ling wantchee catchee bleathee sometime," crooned Sin Sin Wa.
"Hello, hello!" croaked the raven drowsily. "Smartest--smartest--
"You catchee sleepee, Tling-a-Ling," murmured the Chinaman. "Mrs. Sin
no likee you palaber, lo!"
"Burn it!" cried the woman, "burn the one-eyed horror!"
But when, carrying a lighted lantern, Sin Sin Wa presently came into
the inner room, he smiled as imperturbably as ever, and was unmoved so
far as external evidence showed.
Sin Sin Wa set the lantern upon a Moorish coffee-table which once had
stood beside the divan in Mrs. Sin's sanctum at the House of a Hundred
Raptures. A significant glance--its significance an acute puzzle to
the recipient--he cast upon Chief Inspector Kerry. His hands tucked in
the loose sleeves of his blouse, he stood looking down at the woman
who lay moaning on the bed; and:
"Tchee, tchee," he crooned softly, "you hate no catchee die, my
beautiful. You sniffee plenty too muchee 'white snow,' hoi, hoi! Velly
bad woman tly makee you catchee die, but Sin Sin Wa no hate got for
killee chop. Topside pidgin no good enough, lo!"
His thick, extraordinary long pigtail hanging down his back and
gleaming in the rays of the lantern, he stood, head bowed, watching
Rita Irvin. Because of his position on the floor, Mrs. Irvin was
invisible from Kerry's point of view, but she continued to moan
incessantly, and he knew that she must be unconscious of the
"Hurry, old fool!" came Mrs. Sin's harsh voice from the outer room.
"In ten minutes Ah Fung will give the signal. Is she dead yet--the
"She hate no catchee die," murmured Sin Sin Wa, "She still vella
It was at the moment that he spoke these words that Seton Pasha
entered the empty building above and found the spaniel scratching at
the paved floor. So that, as Sin Sin Wa stood looking down at the wan
face of the unfortunate woman who refused to die, the dog above,
excited by Seton's presence, ceased to whine and scratch and began to
Faintly to the vault the sound of the high-pitched barking penetrated.
Kerry tensed his muscles and groaned impotently feeling his heart
beating like a hammer in his breast. Complete silence reigned in the
outer room. Sin Sin Wa never stirred. Again the dog barked, then:
"Hello, hello!" shrieked the raven shrilly. "Number one p'lice chop,
lo! Sin Sin Wa! Sin Sin Wa!"
There came a fierce exclamation, the sound of something being hastily
overturned, of a scuffle, and:
"Sin--Sin--Wa!" croaked the raven feebly.
The words ended in a screeching cry, which was followed by a sound of
wildly beating wings. Sin Sin Wa, hands tucked in sleeves, turned and
walked from the inner room, closing the sliding door behind him with a
movement of his shoulder.
Resting against the empty shelves, he stood and surveyed the scene in
Mrs. Sin, who had been kneeling beside the wicker cage, which was
upset, was in the act of standing upright. At her feet, and not far
from the motionless form of old Sam Tuk who sat like a dummy figure in
his chair before the stove, lay a palpitating mass of black feathers.
Other detached feathers were sprinkled about the floor. Feebly the
raven's wings beat the ground once, twice--and were still.
Sin Sin Wa uttered one sibilant word, withdrew his hands from his
sleeves, and, stepping around the end of the counter, dropped upon his
knees beside the raven. He touched it with long yellow fingers, then
raised it and stared into the solitary eye, now glazed and sightless
as its fellow. The smile had gone from the face of Sin Sin Wa.
"My Tling-a-Ling!" he moaned in his native mandarin tongue. "Speak to
me, my little black friend!"
A bead of blood, like a ruby, dropped from the raven's beak. Sin Sin
Wa bowed his head and knelt awhile in silence; then, standing up, he
reverently laid the poor bedraggled body upon a chest. He turned and
looked at his wife.
Hands on hips, she confronted him, breathing rapidly, and her glance
of contempt swept him up and down.
"I've often threatened to do it," she said in English. "Now I've done
it. They're on the wharf. We're trapped--thanks to that black,
"Tchee, tchee!" hissed Sin Sin Wa.
His gleaming eye fixed upon the woman unblinkingly, he began very
deliberately to roll up his loose sleeves. She watched him, contempt
in her glance, but her expression changed subtly, and her dark eyes
grew narrowed. She looked rapidly towards Sam Tuk but Sam Tuk never
"Old fool!" she cried at Sin Sin Wa. "What are you doing?"
But Sin Sin Wa, his sleeves rolled up above his yellow, sinewy
forearms, now tossed his pigtail, serpentine, across his shoulder and
touched it with his fingers, an odd, caressing movement.
"Ho!" laughed Mrs. Sin in her deep scoffing fashion, "it is for me you
make all this bhobbery, eh? It is me you are going to chastise, my
She flung back her head, snapping her fingers before the silent
Chinaman. He watched her, and slowly--slowly--he began to crouch,
lower and lower, but always that unblinking regard remained fixed upon
the face of Mrs. Sin.
The woman laughed again, more loudly. Bending her lithe body forward
in mocking mimicry, she snapped her fingers, once--again--and again
under Sin Sin Wa's nose. Then:
"Do you think, you blasted yellow ape, that you can frighten me?" she
screamed, a swift flame of wrath lighting up her dark face.
In a flash she had raised the kimona and had the stiletto in her hand.
But, even swifter than she, Sin Sin Wa sprang. . .
Once, twice she struck at him, and blood streamed from his left
shoulder. But the pigtail, like an executioner's rope, was about the
woman's throat. She uttered one smothered shriek, dropping the knife,
and then was silent. . .
Her dyed hair escaped from its fastenings and descended, a ruddy
torrent, about her as she writhed, silent, horrible, in the death-coil
of the pigtail.
Rigidly, at arms-length, he held her, moment after moment, immovable,
implacable; and when he read death in her empurpled face, a miraculous
The "blind" eye of Sin Sin Wa opened!
A husky rattle told of the end, and he dropped the woman's body from
his steely grip, disengaging the pigtail with a swift movement of his
head. Opening and closing his yellow fingers to restore circulation,
he stood looking down at her. He spat upon the floor at her feet.
Then, turning, he held out his arms and confronted Sam Tuk.
"Was it well done, bald father of wisdom?" he demanded hoarsely.
But old Sam Tuk seated lumpish in his chair like some grotesque idol
before whom a human sacrifice has been offered up, stirred not. The
length of loaded tubing with which he had struck Kerry lay beside him
where it had fallen from his nerveless hand. And the two oblique,
beady eyes of Sin Sin Wa, watching, grew dim. Step by step he
approached the old Chinaman, stooped, touched him, then knelt and laid
his head upon the thin knees.
"Old father," he murmured, "Old bald father who knew so much. Tonight
you know all."
For Sam Tuk was no more. At what moment he had died, whether in the
excitement of striking Kerry or later, no man could have presumed to
say, since, save by an occasional nod of his head, he had often
simulated death in life--he who was so old that he was known as "The
Father of Chinatown."
Standing upright, Sin Sin Wa looked from the dead man to the dead
raven. Then, tenderly raising poor Tling-a-Ling, he laid the great
dishevelled bird--a weird offering--upon the knees of Sam Tuk.
"Take him with you where you travel tonight, my father," he said. "He,
too, was faithful."
A cheap German clock commenced a muted clangor, for the little hammer
Sin Sin Wa walked slowly across to the counter. Taking up the gleaming
joss, he unscrewed its pedestal. Then, returning to the spot where
Mrs. Sin lay, he coolly detached a leather wallet which she wore
beneath her dress fastened to a girdle. Next he removed her rings, her
bangles and other ornaments. He secreted all in the interior of the
joss--his treasure-chest. He raised his hands and began to unplait his
long pigtail, which, like his "blind" eye, was camouflage--a false
queue attached to his own hair, which he wore but slightly longer than
some Europeans and many Americans. With a small pair of scissors he
clipped off his long, snake-like moustaches. . . .
THE FINDING OF KAZMAH
At a point just above the sweep of Limehouse Reach a watchful river
police patrol observed a moving speck of light on the right bank of
the Thames. As if in answer to the signal there came a few moments
later a second moving speck at a point not far above the district once
notorious in its possession of Ratcliff Highway. A third light
answered from the Surrey bank, and a fourth shone out yet higher up
and on the opposite side of the Thames.
The tide had just turned. As Chief Inspector Kerry had once observed,
"there are no pleasure parties punting about that stretch," and,
consequently, when George Martin tumbled into his skiff on the Surrey
shore and began lustily to pull up stream, he was observed almost
immediately by the River Police.
Pulling hard against the stream, it took him a long time to reach his
destination--stone stairs near the point from which the second light
had been shown. Rain had ceased and the mist had cleared shortly after
dusk, as often happens at this time of year, and because the night was
comparatively clear the pursuing boats had to be handled with care.
George did not disembark at the stone steps, but after waiting there
for some time he began to drop down on the tide, keeping close
"He knows we've spotted him," said Sergeant Coombes, who was in one of
the River Police boats. "It was at the stairs that he had to pick up
Certainly, the tactics of George suggested that he had recognized
surveillance, and, his purpose abandoned, now sought to efface himself
without delay. Taking advantage of every shadow, he resigned his boat
to the gentle current. He had actually come to the entrance of
Greenwich Reach when a dock light, shining out across the river,
outlined the boat yellowly.
"He's got a passenger!" said Coombes amazedly.
Inspector White, who was in charge of the cutter, rested his arm on
Coombes' shoulder and stared across the moving tide.
"I can see no one," he replied. "You're over anxious, Detective-
Sergeant--and I can understand it!"
Coombes smiled heroically.
"I may be over anxious, Inspector," he replied, "but if I lost Sin Sin
Wa, the River Police had never even heard of him till the C.I.D. put
"H'm!" muttered the Inspector. "D'you suggest we board him?"
"No," said Coombes, "let him land, but don't trouble to hide any more.
Show him we're in pursuit."
No longer drifting with the outgoing tide, George Martin had now
boldly taken to the oars. The River Police boat close in his wake, he
headed for the blunt promontory of the Isle of Dogs. The grim pursuit
went on until:
"I bet I know where he's for," said Coombes.
"So do I," declared Inspector White; "Dougal's!"
Their anticipations were realized. To the wooden stairs which served
as a water-gate for the establishment on the Isle of Dogs, George
Martin ran in openly; the police boat followed, and:
"You were right!" cried the Inspector, "he has somebody with him!"
A furtive figure, bearing a burden upon its shoulder, moved up the
slope and disappeared. A moment later the police were leaping ashore.
George deserted his boat and went running heavily after his passenger.
"After them!" cried Coombes. "That's Sin Sin Wa!"
Around the mazey, rubbish-strewn paths the pursuit went hotly. In
sight of Dougal's Coombes saw the swing door open and a silhouette--
that of a man who carried a bag on his shoulder--pass in. George
Martin followed, but the Scotland Yard man had his hand upon his
"Police!" he said sharply. "Who's your friend?"
George turned, red and truculent, with clenched fists.
"Mind your own bloody business!" he roared.
"Mind yours, my lad!" retorted Coombes warningly. "You're no Thames
waterman. Who's your friend?"
"Wotcher mean?" shouted George. "You're up the pole or canned you
"Grab him!" said Coombes, and he kicked open the door and entered the
saloon, followed by Inspector White and the boat's crew.
As they appeared, the Inspector conspicuous in his uniform, backed by
the group of River Police, one of whom grasped George Martin by his
"Splits!" bellowed Dougal in a voice like a fog-horn.
Twenty cups of tea, coffee and cocoa, too hot for speedy assimilation,
were spilled upon the floor.
The place as usual was crowded, more particularly in the neighborhood
of the two stoves. Here were dock laborers, seamen and riverside
loafers, lascars, Chinese, Arabs, negroes and dagoes. Mrs. Dougal,
defiant and red, brawny arms folded and her pose as that of one
contemplating a physical contest, glared from behind the "solid"
counter. Dougal rested his hairy hands upon the "wet" counter and
revealed his defective teeth in a vicious snarl. Many of the patrons
carried light baggage, since a P and O boat, an oriental, and the S.
S. Mahratta, were sailing that night or in the early morning, and
Dougal's was the favorite house of call for a doch-an-dorrich for
sailormen, particularly for sailormen of color.
Upon the police group became focussed the glances of light eyes and
dark eyes, round eyes, almond-shaped eyes, and oblique eyes. Silence
"We are police officers," called Coombes formally. "All papers,
Thereupon, without disturbance, the inspection began, and among the
papers scrutinized were those of one, Chung Chow, an able-bodied
Chinese seaman. But since his papers were in order, and since he
possessed two eyes and wore no pigtail, he excited no more interest in
the mind of Detective-Sergeant Coombes than did any one of the other
Chinamen in the place.
A careful search of the premises led to no better result, and George
Martin accounted for his possession of a considerable sum of money
found upon him by explaining that he had recently been paid off after
a long voyage and had been lucky at cards.
The result of the night's traffic, then, spelled failure for British
justice, the S.S. Mahratta sailed one stewardess short of her
complement; but among the Chinese crew of another steamer Eastward
bound was one, Chung Chow, formerly known as Sin Sin Wa. And sometimes
in the night watches there arose before him the picture of a black
bird resting upon the knees of an aged Chinaman. Beyond these figures
dimly he perceived the paddy-fields of Ho-Nan and the sweeping valley
of the Yellow River, where the opium poppy grows.
It was about an hour before the sailing of the ship which numbered
Chung Chow among the yellow members of its crew that Seton Pasha
returned once more to the deserted wharf whereon he had found Mrs.
Monte Irvin's spaniel. Afterwards, in the light of ascertained facts,
he condemned himself for a stupidity passing the ordinary. For while
he had conducted a careful search of the wharf and adjoining premises,
convinced that there was a cellar of some kind below, he had omitted
to look for a water-gate to this hypothetical cache.
Perhaps his self-condemnation was deserved, but in justice to the
agent selected by Lord Wrexborough, it should be added that Chief
Inspector Kerry had no more idea of the existence of such an entrance,
and exit, than had Seton Pasha.
Leaving the dog at Leman Street then, and learning that there was no
news of the missing Chief Inspector, Seton had set out once more. He
had been informed of the mysterious signals flashed from side to side
of the Lower Pool, and was hourly expecting a report to the effect
that Sin Sin Wa had been apprehended in the act of escaping. That Sin
Sin Wa had dropped into the turgid tide from his underground hiding-
place, and pushing his property--which was floatable--before him,
encased in a waterproof bag, had swum out and clung to the stern of
George Martin's boat as it passed close to the empty wharf, neither
Seton Pasha nor any other man knew--except George Martin and Sin Sin
At a suitably dark spot the Chinaman had boarded the little craft, not
without difficulty, for his wounded shoulder pained him, and had
changed his sodden attire for a dry outfit which awaited him in the
locker at the stern of the skiff. The cunning of the Chinese has the
simplicity of true genius.
Not two paces had Seton taken on to the mystifying wharf when:
"Sam Tuk barber! Entrance in cellar!" rapped a ghostly, muffled voice
from beneath his feet. "Sam Tuk barber! Entrance in cellar!"
Seton Pasha stood still, temporarily bereft of speech. Then, "Kerry!"
he cried. "Kerry! Where are you?"
But apparently his voice failed to reach the invisible speaker, for:
"Sam Tuk barber! Entrance in cellar!" repeated the voice.
Seton Pasha wasted no more time. He ran out into the narrow street. A
man was on duty there.
"Call assistance!" ordered Seton briskly, "Send four men to join me at
the barber's shop called Sam Tuk's! You know it?"
"Yes, sir; I searched it with Chief Inspector Kerry."
The note of a police whistle followed.
Ten minutes later the secret of Sam Tuk's cellar was unmasked. The
place was empty, and the subterranean door locked; but it succumbed to
the persistent attacks of axe and crowbar, and Seton Pasha was the
first of the party to enter the vault. It was laden with chemical
fumes. . . .
He found there an aged Chinaman, dead, seated by a stove in which the
fire had burned very low. Sprawling across the old man's knees was the
body of a raven. Lying at his feet was a woman, lithe, contorted, the
face half hidden in masses of bright red hair.
"End case near the door!" rapped the voice of Kerry. "Slides to the
Seton Pasha vaulted over the counter, drew the shelves aside, and
entered the inner room.
By the dim light of a lantern burning upon a moorish coffee-table he
discerned an untidy bed, upon which a second woman lay, pallid.
"God!" he muttered; "this place is a morgue!"
"It certainly isn't healthy!" said an irritable voice from the floor.
"But I think I might survive it if you could spare a second to untie
Kerry's extensive practice in chewing and the enormous development of
his maxillary muscles had stood him in good stead. His keen, strong
teeth had bitten through the extemporized gag, and as a result the
tension of the handkerchief which had held it in place had become
relaxed, enabling him to rid himself of it and to spit out the
fragments of filthy-tasting wood which the biting operation had left
in his mouth.
Seton turned, stooped on one knee to release the captive . . . and
found himself looking into the face of someone who sat crouched upon
the divan behind the Chief Inspector. The figure was that of an
oriental, richly robed. Long, slim, ivory hands rested upon his knees,
and on the first finger of the right hand gleamed a big talismanic
ring. But the face, surmounted by a white turban, was wonderful,
arresting in its immobile intellectual beauty; and from under the
heavy brows a pair of abnormally large eyes looked out hypnotically.
"My God!" whispered Seton, then:
"If you've finished your short prayer," rapped Kerry, "set about my
"But, Kerry--Kerry, behind you!"
"I haven't any eyes in my back hair!"
Mechanically, half fearfully, Seton touched the hands of the crouching
oriental. A low moan came from the woman in the bed, and:
"It's Kazmah!" gasped Seton. "Kerry . . . Kazmah is--a wax figure!"
"Hell!" said Chief Inspector Kerry.
A YEAR LATER
Beneath an awning spread above the balcony of one of those modern
elegant flats, which today characterize Heliopolis, the City of the
Sun, site of perhaps the most ancient seat of learning in the known
world, a party of four was gathered, awaiting the unique spectacle
which is afforded when the sun's dying rays fade from the Libyan sands
and the violet wonder of the afterglow conjures up old magical Egypt
from the ashes of the desert.
"Yes," Monte Irvin was saying, "only a year ago; but, thank God, it
seems more like ten! Merciful time effaces sadness but spares joy."
He turned to his wife, whose flower-like face peeped out from a nest
of white fur. Covertly he squeezed her hand, and was rewarded with a
swift, half coquettish glance, in which he read trust and contentment.
The dreadful ordeal through which she had passed had accomplished that
which no physician in Europe could have hoped for, since no physician
would have dared to adopt such drastic measures. Actuated by
deliberate cruelty, and with the design of bringing about her death
from apparently natural causes, the Kazmah group had deprived her of
cocaine for so long a period that sanity, life itself, had barely
survived; but for so long a period that, surviving, she had outlived
the drug craving. Kazmah had cured her!
Monte Irvin turned to the tall fair girl who sat upon the arm of a
cane rest-chair beside Rita.
"But nothing can ever efface the memory of all you have done for Rita,
and for me," he said, "nothing, Mrs. Seton."
"Oh," said Margaret, "my mind was away back, and that sounded--so
Seton Pasha, who occupied the lounge-chair upon the broad arm of which
his wife was seated, looked up, smiling into the suddenly flushed
face. They were but newly returned from their honeymoon, and had just
taken possession of their home, for Seton was now stationed in Cairo.
He flicked a cone of ash from his cheroot.
"It seems to me that we are all more or less indebted to one another,"
he declared. "For instance, I might never have met you, Margaret, if I
had not run into your cousin that eventful night at Princes; and Gray
would not have been gazing abstractedly out of the doorway if Mrs.
Irvin had joined him for dinner as arranged. One can trace almost
every episode in life right back, and ultimately come--"
"To Kismet!" cried his wife, laughing merrily. "So before we begin
dinner tonight--which is a night of reunion--I am going to propose a
toast to Kismet!"
"Good!" said Seton, "we shall all drink it gladly. Eh, Irvin?"
"Gladly, indeed," agreed Monte Irvin. "You know, Seton," he continued,
"we have been wandering, Rita and I; and ever since your wife handed
her patient over to me as cured we have covered some territory. I
don't know if you or Chief Inspector Kerry has been responsible, but
the press accounts of the Kazmah affair have been scanty to baldness.
One stray bit of news reached us--in Colorado, I think."
"What was that, Mr. Irvin?" asked Margaret, leaning towards the
"It was about Mollie Gretna. Someone wrote and told me that she had
eloped with a billiard marker--a married man with five children!"
Seton laughed heartily, and so did Margaret and Rita.
"Right!" cried Seton. "She did. When last heard of she was acting as
barmaid in a Portsmouth tavern!"
But Monte Irvin did not laugh.
"Poor, foolish girl!" he said gravely. "Her life might have been so
different--so useful and happy."
"I agree," replied Seton, "if she had had a husband like Kerry."
"Oh, please don't!" said Margaret. "I almost fell in love with Chief
Inspector Kerry myself."
"A grand fellow!" declared her husband warmly. "The Kazmah inquiry was
the triumph of his career."
Monte Irvin turned to him.
"You did your bit, Seton," he said quietly. "The last words Inspector
Kerry spoke to me before I left England were in the nature of a
splendid tribute to yourself, but I will spare your blushes."
"Kerry is as white as they're made," replied Seton, "but we should
never have known for certain who killed Sir Lucien if he had not
risked his life in that filthy cellar as he did."
Rita Irvin shuddered slightly and drew her furs more closely about her
"Shall we change the conversation, dear?" whispered Margaret.
"No, please," said Rita. "You cannot imagine how curious I am to learn
the true details--for, as Monte says, we have been out of touch with
things, and although we were so intimately concerned, neither of us
really knows the inner history of the affair to this day. Of course,
we know that Kazmah was a dummy figure, posed in the big ebony chair.
He never moved, except to raise his hand, and this was done by someone
seated in the inner room behind the figure. But who was seated there?"
Seton glanced inquiringly at his wife, and she nodded, smiling.
"Right-o!" he said. "If you will excuse me for a moment I will get my
notes. Hello, here's Gray!"
A little two-seater came bowling along the road from Cairo, and drew
up beneath the balcony. It was the car which had belonged to Margaret
when in practice in Dover Street. Quentin Gray jumped out, waving his
hand cheerily to the quartette above, and went in at the doorway.
Seton walked through the flat and admitted him.
"Sorry I'm late!" cried Gray, impetuous and boyish as ever, although
he looked older and had grown very bronzed. "The chief detained me."
"Go through to them," said Seton informally. "I'm getting my notes;
we're going to read the thrilling story of the Kazmah mystery before
"Good enough!" cried Gray. "I'm in the dark on many points."
He had outlived his youthful infatuation, although it was probable
enough that had Rita been free he would have presented himself as a
suitor without delay. But the old relationship he had no desire to
renew. A generous self-effacing regard had supplanted the madness of
his earlier passion. Rita had changed too; she had learned to know
herself and to know her husband.
So that when Seton Pasha presently rejoined his guests, he found the
most complete harmony to prevail among them. He carried a bulky
notebook, and, tapping his teeth with his monocle:
"Ladies and gentlemen," he began whimsically, "I will bore you with a
brief account of the extraordinary facts concerning the Kazmah case."
Margaret was seated in the rest-chair which her husband had vacated,
and Seton took up a position upon the ledge formed by one of the wide
arms. Everyone prepared to listen, with interest undisguised.
"There were three outstanding personalities dominating what we may
term the Kazmah group," continued Seton. "In order of importance they
were: Sin Sin Wa, Sir Lucien Pyne and Mrs. Sin."
Rita Irvin inhaled deeply, but did not interrupt the speaker.
"I shall begin with Sir Lucien," Seton went on. "For some years before
his father's death he seems to have lived a very shady life in many
parts of the world. He was a confirmed gambler, and was also somewhat
unduly fond of the ladies' society. In Buenos Ayres--the exact date
does not matter--he made the acquaintance of a variety artiste known
as La Belle Lola, a Cuban-Jewess, good-looking and unscrupulous. I
cannot say if Sir Lucien was aware from the outset of his affair with
La Belle that she was a married woman. But it is certain that her
husband, Sin Sin Wa, very early learned of the intrigue, and condoned
"How Sir Lucien came to get into the clutches of the pair I do not
know. But that he did so we have ascertained beyond doubt. I think,
personally, that his third vice--opium--was probably responsible. For
Sin Sin Wa appears throughout in the character of a drug dealer.
"These three people really become interesting from the time that La
Belle Lola quitted the stage and joined her husband in the conducting
of a concern in Buenos Ayres, which was the parent, if I may use the
term, of the Kazmah business later established in Bond Street. From a
music-hall illusionist, who came to grief during a South American
tour, they acquired the oriental waxwork figure which subsequently
mystified so many thousands of dupes. It was the work of a famous
French artist in wax, and had originally been made to represent the
Pharaoh, Rameses II., for a Paris exhibition. Attired in Eastern
robes, and worked by a simple device which raised and lowered the
right hand, it was used, firstly, in a stage performance, and
secondly, in the character of 'Kazmah the Dream-reader.'
"Even at this time Sir Lucien had access to good society, or to the
best society which Buenos Ayres could offer, and he was the source of
the surprising revelations made to patrons by the 'dream-reader.' At
first, apparently, the drug business was conducted independently of
the Kazmah concern, but the facilities offered by the latter for
masking the former soon became apparent to the wily Sin Sin Wa.
Thereupon the affair was reorganized on the lines later adopted in
Bond Street. Kazmah's became a secret dope-shop, and annexed to it was
an elaborate chandu-khan, conducted by the Chinaman. Mrs. Sin was the
"You are all waiting to hear--or, to be exact, two are waiting to
hear, Gray and Margaret already know--who spoke as Kazmah through the
little window behind the chair. The deep-voiced speaker was Juan
Mareno, Mrs. Sin's brother! Mrs. Sin's maiden name was Lola Mareno.
"Many of these details were provided by Mareno, who, after the death
of his sister, to whom he was deeply attached, volunteered to give
crown evidence. Most of them we have confirmed from other sources.
"Behold 'Kazmah the dream-reader,' then, established in Buenos Ayres.
The partners in the enterprise speedily acquired considerable wealth.
Sir Lucien--at this time plain Mr. Pyne--several times came home and
lived in London and elsewhere like a millionaire. There is no doubt, I
think, that he was seeking a suitable opportunity to establish a
London branch of the business."
"My God!" said Monte Irvin. "How horrible it seems!"
"Horrible, indeed!" agreed Seton. "But there are two features of the
case which, in justice to Sir Lucien, we should not overlook. He, who
had been a poor man, had become a wealthy one and had tasted the
sweets of wealth; also he was now hopelessly in the toils of the woman
"With the ingenious financial details of the concern, which were
conducted in the style of the 'Jose Santos Company,' I need not
trouble you now. We come to the second period, when the flat in
Albemarle Street and the two offices in old Bond Street became vacant
and were promptly leased by Mareno, acting on Sir Lucien's behalf, and
calling himself sometimes Mr. Isaacs, sometimes Mr. Jacobs, and at
other times merely posing as a representative of the Jose Santos
Company in some other name.
"All went well. The concern had ample capital, and was organized by
clever people. Sin Sin Wa took up new quarters in Limehouse; they had
actually bought half the houses in one entire street as well as a
wharf! And Sin Sin Wa brought with him the good-will of an illicit
drug business which already had almost assumed the dimensions of a
"Sir Lucien's household was a mere bluff. He rarely entertained at
home, and lived himself entirely at restaurants and clubs. The private
entrance to the Kazmah house of business was the back window of the
Cubanis Cigarette Company's office. From thence down the back stair to
Kazmah's door it was a simple matter for Mareno to pass unobserved.
Sir Lucien resumed his role of private inquiry agent, and Mareno
recited the 'revelations' from notes supplied to him.
"But the 'dream reading' part of the business was merely carried on to
mask the really profitable side of the concern. We have recently
learned that drugs were distributed from that one office alone to the
amount of thirty thousand pounds' worth annually! This is excluding
the profits of the House of a Hundred Raptures and of the private
chandu orgies organized by Mrs. Sin.
"The Kazmah group gradually acquired control of the entire market, and
we know for a fact that at one period during the war they were
actually supplying smuggled cocaine, indirectly, to no fewer than
twelve R.A.M.C. hospitals! The complete ramifications of the system we
shall never know.
"I come, now, to the tragedy, or series of tragedies, which brought
about the collapse of the most ingenious criminal organization which
has ever flourished, probably, in any community. I will dare to be
frank. Sir Lucien was the victim of a woman's jealousy. Am I to
Seton paused, glancing at his audience; and:
"If you please," whispered Rita. "Monte knows and I know--why--she
killed him. But we don't know--"
"The nasty details," said Quentin Gray. "Carry on, Seton. Are you
"I am anxious to know," replied Irvin, "for I believe Sir Lucien
deserved well of me, bad as he was."
Seton clapped his hands, and an Egyptian servant appeared, silently
and mysteriously as is the way of his class.
The Egyptian disappeared.
"There's just time," declared Margaret, gazing out across the
prospect, "before sunset."
THE STORY OF THE CRIME
"You are all aware," Seton continued, "that Sir Lucien Pyne was an
admirer of Mrs. Irvin. God knows, I hold no brief for the man, but
this love of his was the one redeeming feature of a bad life. How and
when it began I don't profess to know, but it became the only pure
thing which he possessed. That he was instrumental in introducing you,
Mrs. Irvin, to the unfortunately prevalent drug habit, you will not
deny; but that he afterwards tried sincerely to redeem you from it I
can positively affirm. In seeking your redemption he found his own,
for I know that he was engaged at the time of his death in extricating
himself from the group. You may say that he had made a fortune, and
was satisfied; that is your view, Gray. I prefer to think that he was
anxious to begin a new life and to make himself more worthy of the
respect of those he loved.
"There was one obstacle which proved too great for him--Mrs. Sin.
Although Juan Mareno was the spokesman of the group, Lola Mareno was
the prompter. All Sir Lucien's plans for weaning Mrs. Irvin from the
habits which she had acquired were deliberately and malignantly foiled
by this woman. She endeavored to inveigle Mrs. Irvin into indebtedness
to you, Gray, as you know now. Failing in this, she endeavored to kill
her by depriving her of that which had at the time become practically
indispensable. A venomous jealousy led her to almost suicidal
measures. She risked exposure and ruin in her endeavors to dispose of
one whom she looked upon as a rival.
"During Sir Lucien's several absences from London she was particularly
active, and this brings me to the closing scene of the drama. On the
night that you determined, in desperation, Mrs. Irvin, to see Kazmah
personally, you will recall that Sir Lucien went out to telephone to
Rita nodded but did not speak.
"Actually," Seton explained, "he instructed Mareno to go across the
leads to Kazmah's directly you had left the flat, and to give you a
certain message as 'Kazmah.' He also instructed Mareno to telephone
certain orders to Rashid, the Egyptian attendant. In spite of the
unforeseen meeting with Gray, all would have gone well, no doubt, if
Mrs. Sin had not chanced to be on the Kazmah premises at the time that
the message was received!
"I need not say that Mrs. Sin was a remarkable woman, possessing many
accomplishments, among them that of mimicry. She had often amused
herself by taking Mareno's place at the table behind Kazmah, and,
speaking in her brother's oracular voice, had delivered the
'revelations.' Mareno was like wax in his sister's hands, and on this
fateful night, when he arrived at the place--which he did a few
minutes before Mrs. Irvin, Gray and Sir Lucien--Mrs. Sin peremptorily
ordered him to wait upstairs in the Cubanis office, and she took her
seat in the room from which the Kazmah illusions were controlled.
"So carefully arranged was every detail of the business that Rashid,
the Egyptian, was ignorant of Sir Lucien's official connection with
the Kazmah concern. He had been ordered--by Mareno speaking from Sir
Lucien's flat--to admit Mrs. Irvin to the room of seance and then to
go home. He obeyed and departed, leaving Sir Lucien in the waiting-
"Driven to desperation by 'Kazmah's' taunting words, we know that Mrs.
Irvin penetrated to the inner room. I must slur over the details of
the scene which ensued. Hearing her cry out, Sir Lucien ran to her
assistance. Mrs. Sin, enraged by his manner, lost all control of her
insane passion. She attempted Mrs. Irvin's life with a stiletto which
habitually she carried--and Sir Lucien died like a gentleman who had
lived like a blackguard. He shielded her--"
Seton paused. Margaret was biting her lip hard, and Rita was looking
down so that her face could not be seen.
"The shock consequent upon the deed sobered the half crazy woman,"
continued the speaker. "Her usual resourcefulness returned to her.
Self-preservation had to be considered before remorse. Mrs. Irvin had
swooned, and"--he hesitated--"Mrs. Sin saw to it that she did not
revive prematurely. Mareno was summoned from the room above. The outer
door was locked.
"It affords evidence of this woman's callous coolness that she removed
from the Kazmah premises, and--probably assisted by her brother,
although he denies it--from the person and garments of the dead man,
every scrap of evidence. They had not by any means finished the task
when you knocked at he door, Gray. But they completed it, faultlessly,
after you had gone.
"Their unconscious victim, and the figure of Kazmah, as well as every
paper or other possible clue, they carried up to the Cubanis office,
and from thence across the roof to Sir Lucien's study. Next, while
Mareno went for the car, Mrs. Sin rifled the safe, bureaus and desks
in Sir Lucien's flat, so that we had the devil's own work, as you
know, to find out even the more simple facts of his everyday life.
"Not a soul ever came forward who noticed the big car being driven
into Albemarle Street or who observed it outside the flat. The chances
run by the pair in conveying their several strange burdens from the
top floor, down the stairs and out into the street were extraordinary.
Yet they succeeded unobserved. Of course, the street was imperfectly
lighted, and is but little frequented after dusk.
"The journey to Limehouse was performed without discovery--aided, no
doubt, by the mistiness of the night; and Mareno, returning to the
West End, ingeniously inquired for Sir Lucien at his club. Learning,
although he knew it already, that Sir Lucien had not been to the club
that night, he returned the car to the garage and calmly went back to
"His reason for taking this dangerous step is by no means clear.
According to his own account, he did it to gain time for the fugitive
Mrs. Sin. You see, there was really only one witness of the crime
(Mrs. Irvin) and she could not have sworn to the identity of the
assassin. Rashid was warned and presumably supplied with sufficient
funds to enable him to leave the country.
"Well, the woman met her deserts, no doubt at the hands of Sin Sin Wa.
Kerry is sure of this. And Sin Sin Wa escaped, taking with him an
enormous sum of ready money. He was the true genius of the enterprise.
No one, his wife and Mareno excepted--we know of no other--suspected
that the real Sin Sin Wa was clean-shaven, possessed two eyes, and no
pigtail! A wonderfully clever man!"
The native servant appeared to announce that dinner was served;
African dusk drew its swift curtain over the desert, and a gun spoke
sharply from the Citadel. In silence the party watched the deepening
velvet of the sky, witnessing the birth of a million stars, and in
silence they entered the gaily lighted dining-room.
Seton Pasha moved one of the lights so as to illuminate a small oil
painting which hung above the sideboard. It represented the head and
shoulders of a savage-looking red man, his hair close-cropped like
that of a pugilist, and his moustache trimmed in such a fashion that a
row of large, fierce teeth were revealed in an expression which might
have been meant for a smile. A pair of intolerant steel-blue eyes
looked squarely out at the spectator.
"What a time I had," said Seton, "to get him to sit for that! But I
managed to secure his wife's support, and the trick was done. You are
down to toast Kismet, Margaret, but I am going to propose the health,
long life and prosperity of Chief Inspector Kerry, of the Criminal
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