Commissioner the breakthrough.
Denis Nayland He and his 'guv'nor' were recovering
Smith. Blake from their third run-in with Satira. It
reported to 'C', the had ended in a blazing inferno and
head of the British they both felt battered, bruised and
Secret Intelligence exhausted. A long healing sleep had
Service, as he helped somewhat and now they were
The Prologue always did after an encounter with the enjoying one of Mrs Bardell's
The Other Organisation Brotherhood of the Yellow Beetle. extravagant breakfasts; a proven
In the box there was a huge pearl of During the meeting he mentioned the Si restorative!
outstanding purity and a small square of Fan and asked where he might find the Blake, as he ate, was reading The Daily
white card which bore the message: commissioner. Radio. Tinker was concentrating only
'For services rendered and with sincere C gave a surprising reply: "Under no on the scrambled eggs, devilled
gratitude — the Si Fan'. circumstances are you to contact him. kidneys, grilled bacon and tomatoes,
Sexton Blake placed the box and its Nor are you to investigate this other fried eggs and mushrooms, toast and
contents on the mantelpiece and gazed organisation. Leave it alone, Blake. marmalade. His thoughts — what
at it thoughtfully. This Si Fan business That's a direct order!" thoughts he had — were meandering.
had him puzzled. No explanation was offered. And as so often happens when a brain
A few days previously he and his young Blake returned home. In his absence, a is at rest, an obscure memory popped
assistant, Tinker, had investigated the small box had been delivered. It into it for no apparent reason.
murder of a shopkeeper and the theft contained the pearl and the message. He stopped eating and stared at Blake,
from his premises of a Chinese tapestry Sexton Blake was intrigued — but an expression of astonishment on his
with a dragon woven upon it — a orders are orders so, with a shrug of his face.
'miankse'. Blake traced the crime to the shoulders, he let the matter rest. "My hat!"
Brotherhood of the Yellow Beetle, that This was the first occasion that Sexton Blake looked up from the newspaper.
nefarious organisation headed by Prince Blake ignored the Si Fan. "What is it, young'un?"
Wu Ling. The Brotherhood was trying "Do you recall the affair of the dragon
to keep the miankse out of the hands of Months passed. Frantic months! The miankse? The Si Fan?"
its rightful owners; a rival tong named detective found himself pushed to the "Of course. What about it?"
the Si Fan. limits as he finally overthrew the "I just remembered where I heard
Tinker had wrested the silk banner from Criminals' Confederation, struggled about 'em before! I always thought the
the hands of Wu Ling himself and it was with an increasingly active Zenith the name sounded strangely familiar!"
returned to the shopkeeper's family. At Albino, and battled Doctor Satira. "Me too! Where?"
their request, and with help from one of Occasionally the words 'Si Fan' popped "You'll think this ridiculous but it was
his contacts in London's Chinatown, into his head unbidden and seemed to in a story book, years ago! You
Blake arranged for its sale to the Si Fan. stir in him a memory but, for the life of remember when our first encounter
An astonishing sum of money was him, he could not dredge it up out of his with Wu Ling was written up in the
exchanged for the silk and the family subconscious, so he dismissed it — for Union Jack?"
breathed a sigh of relief when it was Blake's memory was eidetic where crime Blake smiled. "Yes, a masterful
taken off their hands, for it was was concerned, which meant that if he example of misinformation and
obviously a dangerous item to possess. couldn't recall where he'd heard of the exaggeration! Thank goodness Lord
The case was closed with a final word Si Fan, then it was of no importance, for Northcliffe is on our side!"
from Blake's contact, who advised him it could not be connected with crime. "Well," continued Tinker, "that same
to seek an audience with Assistant It was Tinker who eventually provided week — when the story was published
— a book came out which told a very, organisation every bit as dangerous as The First Chapter
and I mean a very, similar tale. It was The Brotherhood of the Yellow Beetle; The Scheming Begins
about a Chinese warlord named Fu its leader as cunning and merciless as Ever since he was sprung from gaol by
Manchu, who led an organisation called Prince Wu Ling. Prince Wu Ling's men after the failure
the Si Fan. He was opposed by an Assistant Commissioner Sir Denis of the Great Canal Plot, George
Englishman named — " Nayland Smith and his assistant Doctor Marsden Plummer had been laying low
"Nayland Smith!" interrupted Blake. Petrie had successfully opposed the Si in the Rif Mountains of Morocco. He
"Yes! Well guv'nor, you know what Fan's various schemes for some had adopted his other identity — that
these publishers are like! They take one considerable time now. They been of Sakr-el-Droog, the Hawk of the Peak
story, give it a tweak, change the names, granted a 'roving commission', which — and had eaten and fought side by
and republish it under a different title. allowed them to exercise authority over side with the wild tribesmen of those
How many of our cases have ended up any group that could help in their untamed heights.
being attributed to Nelson Lee or mission against the Si Fan. It was the Although he hated the lifestyle, as a
Fenlock Fawn, fr'instance?" same commission that Sexton Blake bandit he excelled. His latent anger, so
"True," nodded Blake. and Tinker had been given by the easily aroused and so ferocious in its
"So I guess I just dismissed the story as a Secret Intelligence Service to help with expression, together with his naturally
copy and haven't thought about it since! their struggle against Wu Ling. arrogant bearing, impressed the
And now here we are a few months after Essentially, Blake and Nayland Smith Riffians; they regarded him as a born
a brush with an organisation called the were doing the same job for the British leader. This appealed immensely to his
Si Fan and suddenly that giddy book government but against different egotistical nature, so he put up with the
pops into my head!" opponents. What angered Blake, harsh environment and poor food and
"Curious!" said Blake thoughtfully. The though, was the fact that those in doing so he gained something that
fact that the Si Fan had featured in an opponents were ranged against each he'd never experienced before — a
adventure book explained why he had other — so why had C kept the vague sense of loyalty.
so easily, though not consciously, investigators apart when they could It was reciprocated. There was a
dismissed it from his mind. He paused have worked together to exchange sizeable army of Riffians hidden amid
and glanced at the pearl displayed on intelligence and to increase the rivalry the crags and the men would follow
the mantelpiece. "Tinker, after between the Si Fan and The him into Hell's teeth if he so ordered —
breakfast, why don't you track down a Brotherhood of the Yellow Beetle? and he had so ordered on more than
copy of that book for me?" After all, if the two groups were fully one occasion during the their long and
"Rightie-ho, guv'nor!" occupied with each other, they would violent war against the united forces of
Later that day, Sexton Blake, spread- have less resources with which to Spain and France.
eagled in his armchair, lay aside a copy operate against the British Empire! Now, though, the ragged army was at a
of 'The Mystery of Dr Fu Manchu', lit C was having none of it. low ebb. It had lost its figurehead, Abd
his pipe and started smoking furiously. "Blake," he explained curtly, "I want the el-Krim, who had surrendered to the
The consulting room quickly filled with groups handled separately. You have French just a few months previously
noxious fumes, causing Pedro, the great proven to be the best man to oppose and was currently exiled on the island
bloodhound, to abandon his place on Wu Ling's group. You and your of Réunion. It was also in dire need of
the rug to seek the more pleasantly assistant have been doing it for years supplies and munitions.
scented air of Mrs Bardell's domain. and I'm extremely pleased with the For this reason, Plummer was on his
"I wonder ... " muttered the detective. "I results. Similarly with Nayland Smith way to England to appeal to a rather
wonder ... " and the Si Fan. You each have one shady financier named Fairfax who had
Tinker had gone to the Odeon to see great force that would like to see you provided funds to the army on previous
'Big Business', the latest Laurel and dead. If you combine your talents, you occasions. In return for his support, the
Hardy film. When he returned, eager to will each have two great forces plotting Riffians saw to it that Fairfax received
entertain his guv'nor with the duo's to cut your throats. If one of you is concessions on some of the most
latest antics, he found the consulting done in, the other will be left to battle productive of the country's phosphate
room empty. overwhelming odds. I cannot afford mines. He was also guaranteed further
"Hmm, where's he gone off to?" mused that risk! I don't even want any contact trade rights when the Riffians secured
the youngster. "Hope I haven't missed between you two! Nayland Smith is off territory from their European enemies.
the start of another case!" limits, understood?" However, if truth be told, Plummer's
Sexton Blake was, in fact, at the So that was that. motivation was rather more selfish than
headquarters of the Secret Intelligence Sexton Blake didn't agree with C's logic it seemed, for he regarded himself as a
Service, deep in discussion with C. but he knew an order when he heard it, gentleman — and gentlemen require
The mention of Doctor Fu Manchu had so he returned to Baker Street and the comforts of civilisation. Luxury was,
broken C's silence concerning Assistant crossed the 'other organisation' off his in his opinion, his birthright, and after
Commissioner Denis Nayland Smith list of unfinished business. so many months of austerity he could
and the Si Fan. It was the second time that Sexton no longer resist the temptation of
What Blake was now learning infuriated Blake ignored the Si Fan. London's hotels and clubs, even though
him. Thanks to George Marsden Plummer, that particular city was home to his arch
The Si Fan, he was informed, was an there would not be a third. nemesis, Sexton Blake.
So Plummer rode to Tangier and the beans. Speak!" 'Colonel Ash's' behalf. A mere three
boarded a boat which, under cover of Fairfax spilled the beans. hours later, Ash was summoned to a
darkness, dropped him on the coast of Afterwards Plummer sat in silence for meeting.
Spain just north of Gibraltar. The ten minutes, his chin resting on his fist, It took place underground, in a large
Iberian peninsular was dangerous a frown creasing his brow. chamber accessed via a café in the
ground for him. Should the Spanish Then he looked up and said, "Very well. Limehouse district of England's capital.
authorities discover Sakr-el-Droog in So you have the two million they The chamber was draped with yellow
their territory, he would doubtlessly demanded?" silks and sumptuously carpeted. Against
share the same fate as Abd el-Krim. "Y-yes! But parting with it will ruin one wall there was a raised platform
Even without the significant part he had me!" upon which stood a carved throne-like
played in the Riff war, Plummer would "Ruination or death! Which is it to be? chair. A lamp hung over it, suspended
have found Spain an uncomfortable land Listen Fairfax, if you want to live, you'll by golden chains from the ceiling, and
through which to travel. Under the do exactly as I say. Pay the usual out of it tendrils of incense slowly
authoritarian rule of General Miguel amount to the Riffians — put it into the coiled, filling the room with a sweet
Primo de Rivera, the country was account we established for that aroma. The man who sat upon the chair
fragmenting. Its politics were careening purpose. As for this other matter, let me was unlike any individual Plummer had
out of control, becoming ever more deal with it. Give me one and a half ever encountered before.
extreme, setting neighbours against million. I'll deliver it to this group and His eyes, oblique and as intensely green
neighbours, even dividing families. Civil I'll tell them that you're raising the rest as Plummer's own, were like those of
war seemed inevitable and an and will have it soon. But I'll try to the mythical dragon depicted on several
atmosphere of lawlessness pervaded the negotiate with them — make them see of the cloths and decorations. They
hot, dusty and passionate land. reason. Maybe you won't have to cough were the eyes of a sorcerer; serpentine;
Plummer travelled with his head held up that quarter of a million at all." hypnotic; terrible. The irises were mere
low and his lips sealed. He rode hard, ate "But these people ..." quaked Fairfax. pinpricks and, weirdly, there appeared
little, evaded bandits and eventually "Never you mind ‘these people'. Leave to be an inner membrane, white and
made it to the Pyrenees, which he everything to me." filmy, which occasionally blinked
thankfully crossed. He entered France "But — but —" independently of the outer eyelid. The
and two days later traversed the "Damn you! Do it or I will wring your man's shoulders were high, almost
Channel, landed in Southampton and neck right here, right now!" hunched; his body long and slender; his
took a train to London. Finally, tired, Reluctantly, with no vestige of courage hands large and bony with long, talon-
irritated and in no mood for an left to help him resist, Fairfax agreed. like nails. But more overpowering than
argument, he stood face to face with Two hours later, George Marsden any aspect of his physique was the
Fairfax who said: "It's impossible! I can't Plummer left the office with one and a intense malignancy that radiated out
finance the Rif army any more!" half million pounds in cheques in his from him.
Plummer's agate green eyes flared pocket. He had given the financier the Plummer felt as if he was in the
dangerously. address of a safe-house and ordered presence of pure evil.
"You refuse? Explain!" him to hide there until negotiations He was in the presence of Doctor Fu
"Please," begged Fairfax, "You have to were complete. Plummer fully intended Manchu.
understand that the situation has to contact the mysterious other group. "It is dangerous," purred the doctor,
changed!" He wanted to know who they were and "for a Westerner to seek an audience
Plummer placed his knuckles on what they were up to. However, there with me."
Fairfax's desk and leaned forward on his would be no negotiations and they "Of that I am aware," said Colonel Ash.
muscular arms, bringing his strange eyes would never receive the money. "But I come as one who fought at the
closer to the financier's round, fat face. That was his. side of Abd el-Krim."
"How so?" "The defeated," said Fu Manchu,
"I-I-I'm being bled dry!" George Marsden Plummer adopted a without a trace of sarcasm.
"Not by us!" snapped Plummer. disguise and a new identity — that of "Defeated? Yes. He surrendered to the
"No! No!" stammered Fairfax. "There's Colonel Ash, disgraced army officer — French this May past. But his army
another group! They are asking for two and approached Fairfax's contact, a remains defiant ... and it is mine to
million. Two million!" Chinaman named Sing. This man — he command."
Plummer reeled backwards. Another was a clerk in a lawyer's office — told "Indeed?" Fu Manchu's left eyebrow
group? Two million? Who would him a great deal. raised slightly. "You don't appear to be
demand such a staggering amount? Plummer had already worked with the a Mohammadan."
"What!" he barked. "Who are they?" Brotherhood of the Yellow Beetle and "I am not!" answered Plummer.
Fairfax dropped his head into his hands found it to be a profitable experience. "Nevertheless, the Rif army will obey
and blubbered, "I daren't tell! I can't! Now he was learning of another me."
They'll kill me!" organisation of the same ilk — and it "And why should this be of interest to
Plummer reached out and grabbed the wasn't long before a scheme occurred me, white man?"
man's collar, hauling him halfway across to him. "Because I am at your disposal! With
the desk. Sing took a carefully worded message to your financial backing, my men can
"I will kill you right now unless you spill the leader of the organisation on regroup and re-arm. Then you need but
say the word and they will sweep into him and he sent von Horst as his financial coups? That was a puzzle, for
Spain like a swarm of locusts, as did the representative. It seems that Hitler's Franklyn Bennett confided in no one.
Mohammadans of yore. They will plans are bigger even than the rest of His dealings in the money-markets
conquer the Iberian peninsular and Europe can imagine. If he gains the were for the benefit of one man only —
make it their own. And once power he craves, the consequences and that man was Franklyn Bennett!
established, they will give you could destabilise the entire Western His vast wealth — and no one knew
sovereignty. Spain will be your hemisphere. This would be to my how many millions the man was worth
foothold. From it, you can expand your advantage, especially if, through you, I — was directed in its flow by his brain
operations into the whole of Europe." secure Spain as my stronghold before only. The torrent of it would often
Fu Manchu looked thoughtful. Hitler makes his move, for in the sweep through the markets, crushing all
"Interesting," he said. "Spain is like a Pyranees it has the most easily opposition like an avalanche, leaving
sick dog. There is no strength to its defended land border in Europe. Von devastation and chaos in its wake.
bite. Doubtlessly, it could be easily Horst has asked me to fund the Nazi When that happened, ruined men
taken. But why would I wish to see it party and to quietly exert my influence cursed his name, but Franklyn Bennett
cower under the flag of Islam?" over events to ensure that Hitler gains sat in his office and smiled as he raked
"The East is the East," said Plummer. control of Germany ... and I am in thousands more.
"That is so," muttered the man they inclined to fall in with his scheme. But Recently, though, that smile had been
called the Devil Doctor. "You are an frankly, Colonel Ash, I loathe von less frequent, for Bennett had invested
intriguing individual, Colonel Ash. But Horst and mean to test the extent of in an organisation that had promised
tell me: how do you intend to profit his loyalty to me. I think you can help." him much but which, so far, had
from this?" "Ah," smiled Plummer, "and ‘helping' delivered little. Worse: it was taking
"I want the Andalus." will be a test of my loyalty too?" more and more! And for once, his
"You want ... ?" "Of course." ruthlessness was being weakened by an
"The Andalus." Plummer dipped his head. "As I have emotion he had never felt before —
Doctor Fu Manchu's eyes glittered. already stated, I am yours to fear!
"Ah, I see. You would be a Lord, with command." At a quarter to four, when George
peasants to serve you, pay you rent and "Very well. We will retire to the next Marsden Plummer was in conference
fawn at your feet?" room to discuss our plans further. with Doctor Fu Manchu, a man named
Plummer grinned and said, "Precisely!" Then, as your first test, I want you to Thompson, who was one of Bennett's
Fu Manchu surveyed him silently for a locate a man named Fairfax. At noon clerks, knocked on the door of his
moment. Then: today he should have supplied my employer's private room. In his hand
"An army sweeping across Spain. The organisation with a certain sum of Thompson held the cup of tea that
concept interests me. It interests me a money. He failed and has now Franklyn Bennett always drank around
great deal!" vanished. This is the second time in this time of the afternoon. The clerk
Plummer gave a slight bow. "I offer my the past few days that a financier has silently set the cup down and retired.
services as military advisor." betrayed me. The first is being dealt Bennett, who was deeply engrossed in
"Hmmm. Tell me Colonel Ash, have with even as we speak. Now it is some documents, did not acknowledge
you ever encountered a man named Fairfax's turn to pay the price ... and his clerk. There was nothing unusual
von Horst; a German?" you, my dear colonel, must witness the about that.
"No," answered Plummer, and he consequences of betrayal!" An hour later, Thompson re-entered
couldn't help but sneer, for despite the room the room and this time
being born in Melbourne, he The Second Chapter encountered a very unusual
considered himself an Englishman and Death Has Green Hands circumstance indeed: Franklyn Bennett
possessed a low opinion of the German Franklyn Bennett, financier, had a was lying back in his chair stone dead!
race. small office near the Bank of England. His tea still stood at his elbow,
Doctor Fu Manchu noted the reaction But though his office was small, the untouched.
and said, "I feel the same way, Colonel. business done within its cramped walls Thompson, a thin, nervous-looking
Von Horst is an army officer, an was exceedingly large. For Franklyn man with white hair, stood tottering on
extremist, and a man I do not Bennett was one of the richest men in the carpet as he gazed at the dead man.
altogether trust. However, he recently the City of London, and his knowledge It was not the face at which he stared —
brought to me an interesting proposal. of international money matters was a face now white as chalk — but at the
He is an adherent of Hitler and his masterly. He was a heavily built man of hands.
Nazi party. You are aware of that middle-age, with very little hair on a For Franklyn Bennett's lifeless hands
individual?" round, shining skull, a red face, and were resting upon the documents he
"Of course!" rather small eyes that never looked had been reading ... and they were
Hitler is, by all accounts, something of anyone straight in the face. bright green!
a fantatic —" What lay beneath that bald skull was
"A madman, more like!" interrupted more or less a mystery. A restlessly "Very strange," murmured Sexton
Plummer. active and crafty brain, of course; Blake, a frown upon his strong, aquiline
"Maybe so, but even madmen have anyone could recognise that. But what face.
their uses. I recently made contact with schemes and plottings and dawning The famous detective of Baker Street
was pacing the rug by the fireplace in his confabulation with you, Mr Blake." good as dead!" he repeated wildly.
consulting room. He had just tossed the The detective glanced at the name on "Please try to remain calm," advised
morning paper on to the table. In it he had the card: Mr Malcolm Fairfax. Blake. "Can I offer you a cigarette?"
read of the amazing death of Franklyn "I don't know him. But show him up, He held a box of cigarettes out to the
Bennett. please, Mrs Bardell." trembling man. Fairfax leaned forward
“You're right there, guv'nor! What a The housekeeper departed and a few and took one, lit it with shaking
mystery!" agreed Tinker. moments later there came hurried fingers, and dropped back heavily into
Blake's youthful but highly capable footsteps on the stairs. A short, stout the chair again.
assistant reached out from his chair and man in a morning-coat, carrying a silk "Green hands!" they heard him mutter,
picked the Daily Radio off the table, and hat, practically ran into the room. almost to himself. "The dragon's
again scanned the glaring headlines of the "Sit down please, Mr Fairfax. You claws!"
special edition: wished to see me?" said Blake. He held out his own, staring down at
Malcolm Fairfax collapsed panting into them in horror, as though he thought
FAMOUS FINANCIER DEATH an armchair, which Sexton Blake to see them turn green before his eyes.
MYSTERY! HANDS PAINTED GREEN! ruefully noted was his own rather than "Mine will be like that! You see, I
the one generally favoured by clients. defied them too! They asked too
The paragraph below, which had been Blake's chair, to the left of the fireplace, much ... "
written by their friend Derek 'Splash' Page, was a decrepit saddlebag affair which Suddenly he gave a tremulous sigh and
the paper's irrepressible crime reporter, had, over the years, perfectly adapted closed his eyes.
went on to describe how Franklyn Bennett itself to his contours. By contrast, In a moment Blake was beside him.
had been found dead at his desk yesterday Tinker's armchair, on the right — "He's fainted, Tinker."
afternoon. which doubled as the clients' chair — He stared down at the short, stout
The doctors declared that the cause of his was newer, smarter and in every way figure with a frown. "It looked as
demise, as far as they could tell from an more respectable-looking. though we were about to hear
initial examination, was heart-failure, and something uncommonly interesting.
one of them gave it as his opinion, judging Well, I suppose he'll have his wits back
from the expression on the man's face, that in a moment. The strain of his fear and
the heart attack had been caused by fear — excitement has been too much for
a great and terrible fear — the him."
circumstances of which could not be As he spoke, Blake loosened Fairfax's
guessed at. collar.
But the great thing was, of course, the They heard a sudden knock on the
mystery of the green hands. What was the street door.
meaning of that startling fact? "Hallo! Another one! It's getting like
"The doctors can't say whether his hands Clapham Junction here! Who is it this
were daubed with the paint while he was time?" said Tinker.
alive or after he died," muttered Tinker, The face of the man now occupying The door opened a minute later and
glancing across at Blake. Blake's chair had gone a peculiar grey Mrs Bardell appeared. "Land sakes! I'm
"So I read," nodded the detective. colour. His eyes seemed wild with up an' down them stairs like a you-
"They are going to analyse the paint," went terror. you!" she began but then broke off
on the youngster thoughtfully. "There's an "It-it's awful! Terrible !" he stammered, with a little cry when she saw Fairfax's
idea that in some way it may have been the moistening his lips. His hands were condition.
cause of death — blood-poisoning or trembling. He could not sit still, and in "Don't be alarmed. He's only fainted,"
something." another moment he had jumped to his said Blake soothingly. "He was over-
"I scarcely think that is likely," said Blake. feet again. "The green hands —" excited. Who has called now?"
“I'm strongly inclined to favour the opinion He broke off with a shudder. "A gentleman what gave 'is name as
of the doctor who states that Bennett died Blake took the opportunity to gently Colonel Hash. He seemed very
from terror. But what scared him? What did guide Fairfax to the client chair, hanxious to see you, sir. Shall I show
he see in his last moments that numbed his lowering him into it. He glanced at 'im up? He asked if Mr Fairfax was
soul with such fear that it slew him?" Tinker and saw, with amusement, that 'ere."
"But why the green hands?" exclaimed his assistant had noted the manoeuvre "You told him that he was?"
Tinker. and was grinning broadly. "Yes, sir."
There was a muffled knock heard from the "Please control yourself, Mr Fairfax," "Show him up then, Mrs Bardell."
street door below. Blake said quietly. "Let us hear your "And you mean 'yo-yo'!" quipped
"Who's this?" the youngster wondered business clearly. Am I to understand Tinker.
aloud. that it is in connection with the death The old housekeeper glared at him and
They heard the footsteps of Mrs Bardell, of Mr. Franklyn Bennett?" muttered “I'll yo-yo you!” as she
the housekeeper, going along the hall to "Yes! Heavens, I just read it in the hurried from the room. A few
open the door. A minute later she brought a paper! It's ghastly! I want to break moments later, with her returning
visiting card up to the consulting room and loose, but-but now, if it's known I have footsteps came the heavier tread of a
declared, "A gentleman what wants to 'ave a come here, I am as good as dead. As man.
Colonel Ash proved to be a large The visitor shrugged his shoulders. I can't allow that," he said sharply. "He
individual: six foot if an inch, and with a "You must not attach too much must stay here until he recovers
wide chest and muscular shoulders. importance to that, Mr Blake," he consciousness. I cannot have him taken
"Strong as an ox!" was Tinker's inward replied. "My friend, I fear, is on the away. Remember, I do not know you,
description of him. His face was burned verge of a nervous breakdown. He has though I must confess, I have the strangest
dark by the sun, and a long black been very much overworked of late, and feeling that we have met before. Have we,
moustache, thick and bristly, grew with I fear for his mind if he does not obey Colonel Ash?"
a downward sweep upon his lip. From the doctors and take a year's rest. He "No! Come now! This is absurd!"
behind a pair of smoked spectacles, was intimately acquainted with poor exclaimed the colonel impatiently.
deep-set eyes of an indeterminate Franklyn Bennett, and his death — and But he sat Fairfax back down in a chair —
colour swept round the room, taking in the strange mystery surrounding it, in Sexton Blake's chair, to Tinker's intense
the unconscious man in the chair, and particular, I fancy — has pushed him amusement.
Blake and Tinker, at a single over the brink. I suppose he had some Suddenly there was a low, ominous growl
penetrating glance. idea of asking you to investigate the from the the other side of the room.
"Mr Blake?" he boomed, in a loud but mystery. That's why he's here and why Pedro had padded up the stairs from Mrs
mellow voice. he's worked up so emotionally." Bardell's domain and had nosed through
"I am he," answered the detective. "You He glanced around again in an odd way. the door. He was now watching the big
are Colonel Ash?" "Did he tell you much before he man with a ferocious light in his eyes.
Instead of offering a reply, the fainted?" he asked. Clearly something about Ash had aroused
newcomer moved across with quick "A little," answered Blake guardedly. the bloodhound's antagonism.
strides to the chair where Fairfax lay. Again the odd look flashed into the half- Colonel Ash recoiled with an oath.
Ash was wearing a thick motoring coat concealed eyes of Colonel Ash. Quickly he plunged a hand into his breast
that increased his big frame. He carried "I think I had better take him home at pocket and took out what seemed to be a
a tweed cap under his arm. once," he said abruptly. "I have a car syringe.
"My friend is ill?" he cried, in alarm. outside." "Look out!" cried Blake.
"Mr Fairfax has fainted, that is all," said In a moment he stooped and scooped With a hiss, a spray of liquid came
Blake calmly. "You say he is a friend of the plump little figure into his great shooting from the tiny nozzle. It took the
yours? Can you tell us the cause of his arms. detective full in the face even as he tried to
great alarm and excitement?" But Blake stepped forward quickly. "No, leap aside. He reeled back, hands to his
eyes, in agony. The spray was pure whereabouts of the financier, for he Crossing the grease-encrusted room,
ammonia. himself had told Fairfax where to lay he opened another door behind which
With a loud snarl, Pedro flew for Ash's low. However, he was certain that at was revealed the top of a flight of steps.
throat. least two members of the Si Fan were He descended these until he came to a
The man wheeled, directing the blinding, shadowing him, so this morning, short corridor blocked at the end by a
suffocating spray at the dog's face. It having enjoyed his first night in a third door. When he knocked upon
drenched Pedro's head even as the comfortable bed for many a month, he this, a panel slid back and a voice
bloodhound was in mid-air. Pedro crashed made a show of visiting the financier's whispered, "Tell me of vengeance!"
into the colonel — who stumbled office and home, and of following up "Vengeance is the dragon's claw!"
backwards — and fell, yelping and nonexistent leads. Then he went to the answered Plummer.
frantically shaking his great head. safe house where Fairfax was hiding The door swung open. He stepped
Tinker, with blazing eyes, hurled himself at only to be told by the landlady that the through into the thickly carpeted
the big man but was met with a staggering financier had departed half an hour chamber in which he had been
blow to the point of the jaw. Back he earlier to visit Sexton Blake, the famous interviewed the previous day. The
crashed, and lay inert; Colonel Ash's fist detective. carved throne was unoccupied. A few
had found its mark, sending the youngster The news came as a shattering blow. Chinamen and dacoits looked up at
into oblivion. The very last thing that Plummer him from the cushions on which they
With a grim laugh, Ash thrust the syringe desired was another encounter with squatted. Then they resumed their
back into his pocket, scooped Fairfax out of Blake. For a few moments he games of fan tan, their meditations and
the chair again, flung him across one considered abandoning his schemes their mumbled conversations. He
shoulder like a bundle of rags, and strode and fleeing the country ... but with so ignored them, strode across the soft
swiftly out of the room. Blake, blindly much money at stake his greed carpet, knocked upon a scarlet-painted
staggering about with his hands to his eyes, empowered him with reckless courage door, and stood waiting. In answer to
was powerless to stop him. and, leaping into the car put at his the soft "Come in!" that he heard, he
Mrs Bardell saw Ash in the passage and disposal by Fu Manchu, he ordered the pushed the portal open and passed
gave a cry of alarm at sight of his burden. chauffeur to drive to Baker Street, through into Doctor Fu Manchu's
He thrust her roughly aside and growled, making one quick stop en route to study. He was still wearing his
"Tell your master that George Marsden purchase a syringe and a bottle of motoring coat and carrying a cap. A
Plummer called this morning!" before ammonia. long cigar protruded in an aggressive
darting out through the door, across the His mission had been successful. way from the side of his mouth.
pavement and into a car which was drawn But Plummer was furious with himself Like the outer chamber, the study was
up and waiting. A moment later it had for revealing his identity as he had left furnished with the gaudy lavishness of
driven off into the wet gloom and vanished the Baker Street house. It had been an the East. Chinese carvings, furniture
in the direction of Piccadilly. act of unthinking bravado ... and an act and statuary, were set against walls
Colonel Ash had gone, swallowed in the guaranteed to put Blake on his trail. hidden by soft hanging silk. The ceiling
teeming millions of London. And with him "Fool that I am," muttered the master was painted with inscriptions and
was Malcolm Fairfax, the man who had crook to himself, "Now I will have to figures in scarlet and gold. The carpets
stammered about the green hands of get this business over with as soon as were bright with a wealth of colour —
Franklyn Bennett! possible!" the general effect was such that
After securing Fairfax and delivering Plummer, who had removed his
The Third Chapter him to a certain premises in Woolwich, smoked spectacles, blinked once or
The Café he lunched in the restaurant of the twice as he entered, as if dazzled.
George Marsden Plummer had spent most Argent Hotel, spending a happy couple Fu Manchu was seated on a cushion at
of the previous day in the company of of hours indulging his passion for the a low, ornate table.
Doctor Fu Manchu. The Chinese warlord finest foods, wines, brandies and cigars. Plummer took his cigar from his
had questioned him at great length about On top of the one and a half million mouth.
the strengths and weaknesses of the Riffian Plummer had acquired from Fairfax, Fu "I've got him."
forces; about their history and their Manchu had paid him a generous "Put your cigar out," ordered the head
ambitions. Plummer responded to this 'retainer', and when George Marsden of the Si Fan. "I do not allow smoking
interrogation with the truth, and it is as Plummer had money in his pocket, in my presence."
well he did, for the Devil Doctor was far there was nothing he liked better than Plummer hesitated a moment, then
better informed than his guest suspected, to spend it! dropped his cigar to the carpet and
and had Plummer lied or made an error in It was a rather worse-for-wear 'Colonel crushed it into the expensive fabric
his replies, he would have been swatted Ash', who, slightly unsteadily, entered with his foot.
with the same casual, murderous disdain the café in Limehouse that afternoon. A quiet sibilant hiss escaped from the
with which one treats an irritating fly. He walked past the tables with an ill- doctor. There was a moment's silence,
As it was, Fu Manchu was satisfied and sent concealed expression of contempt then he asked, "So he tried to get to the
him on his mission to find Fairfax believing directed at the rag-tag collection of detective, Sexton Blake?'
that in Colonel Ash he had discovered a Asiatics who were gathered there and, Plummer nodded. He was right: he had
valuable — though as yet untested — ally. unchallenged, he pushed through a been shadowed!
Plummer had no need to trace the door leading to a filthy kitchen. "He did get there. But I got him away,
and before he had told anything. Their eyes were still paining them sitting inside."
Blake's eyes must be smarting still. I terribly from the effects of the "So you think there's some sort of meeting
used ammonia when he tried to stop ammonia, which had left them place accessible through the café?"
me taking Fairfax." absolutely helpless while Colonel Ash "It's the only explanation, guv'nor! I went
"A narrow shave, Colonel Ash," purred escaped from the Baker Street house 'round to the back for a while but there
the soft voice. "Where is Fairfax now?" with the insensible Fairfax. Then Mrs was no activity there, so I don't think the
"At Woolwich. He'd fainted at Blake's Bardell broke the news that Ash was, Celestials I saw shuffling through the
place — that's why he told nothing. But in fact, Sexton Blake's oldest enemy: front door were then shuffling out the
he came to after I got him away. He's George Marsden Plummer! back!"
nearly off his head with terror." Tinker had gone to Scotland Yard to "Hmmm. What's the address?"
"He has cause to be afraid!" The report Fairfax's kidnapping and the "Number 8, Harbour Wall Street."
slanting eyes gleamed. "He is a fool." presence of Plummer in London to "And, orientals, you say?"
Plummer grunted. An uneasy look Detective-Inspector Coutts. On his Tinker nodded. "A lot of 'em! You don't
came into his face as he met the eyes of way back, the youngster had passed suppose Plummer is still working with Wu
the doctor. He, too, was afraid of this the Argent Hotel and had recognised Ling?"
oriental and that was a new experience the big figure of 'Colonel Ash' "It's highly probable, Tinker. Remember,
for him, for hitherto he had been afraid stumbling out of the entrance and into Wu Ling broke him out of prison after
of no man except, perhaps, for Sexton a waiting car. 'The Great Canal Plot' earlier this year! I
Blake. Tinker had not been seen by the thought he'd fled back to Morocco but it
"What are you going to do with him?" colonel. So he had promptly climbed may be that The Brotherhood of the
he asked, suddenly. into an empty taxi and cried, "Follow Yellow Beetle is calling in the debt!"
The Chinaman smiled. that car and keep out of sight! I'll give "Phew!" gasped Tinker. "Up against those
"Fairfax is finished," he said. you an extra ten-bob if you stick to it two again!"
"Tomorrow night von Horst will be without being seen!" "Indeed!" said Blake. He looked
tested in the Temple of the Dragon. "Ha!" cried the driver. "'Oo do you thoughtful for a moment then: "Are you
Fairfax will play a major role in that think you are, boy assistant to Sexton fit enough for an all-nighter, young'un? I
test." bloomin' Blake?" want you to watch the place while I try to
Plummer nodded. "As a matter of fact, yes! And less of find out what Wu Ling has been up to
"I thought that would be it," he said, the 'boy', if you don't mind!" snapped since the Suez affair."
evading the jade eyes that were Tinker, throwing a handful of coins "Fit as a fiddle and raring to go, guv'nor!"
directed upon him. "Any news from into the driver's lap. "Now drive!" "Good lad! Take a detour down to the
Canton?" he added. "Bloomin' 'eck! Watch me earn it!" kitchen first. Have Mrs Bardell slap
"Yes. A ship is arranged. Guns and grinned the driver. together some sandwiches for you!"
munitions will be loaded within the They sped away. An hour or so later, Tinker was strolling
week. Then it will sail for Tangier. The car in front entered Limehouse along Harbour Wall Street again. He had
Incidentally, I have not seen the paper. some time later and parked outside beef sandwiches in his pocket and chicken
What is said about Franklyn Bennett?" the café. The taxi passed it, rounded a sandwiches in his stomach. All was good
"The public is set by the ears over that," corner and stopped. Tinker dismissed with the world — there was nothing he
grinned Plummer grimly. it and, poking his head around the liked more than good grub and a mission
"Franklyn Bennett was very unwise — corner, watched Plummer go into the from Sexton Blake! The rain had started
as big a fool as Fairfax. And speaking of café. A couple of hours later, his to fall and was pattering on his glistening
fools, von Horst will be waiting for you quarry had still not emerged and the macintosh. He had a cap well pulled down
at eight o'clock in the temple. But youngster decided to report to his over his ears. From beneath its peak, he
before you go to introduce yourself, sit master. shot a sideways glance at number 8. The
down. We must discuss your role in Five o'clock was striking when Sexton café was open but seemed to be empty.
tomorrow's ceremony, among other Blake's assistant got back to Baker A few yards farther on, he ran into a
things." Street. constable. The youngster stopped and
Plummer drew a large silk cushion up The detective, his eyes still red and greeted him. "Hallo Lomax! How goes it?"
to the table, seating himself opposite watery, listened to his story with rapt "Evenin' laddie!" exclaimed the
the doctor. interest. policeman. "Wet as usual! What's your
Some time later, outside the café, a "So he was alone? Fairfax was not with game?"
figure detached itself from the shadows him?" "Oh, just nosing around for the guv'nor. Is
of a doorway and, with head down, "No, guv'nor! He must have taken him this your regular beat?"
hurried off. It was Tinker. somewhere before going to the Argent Police Constable Lomax gave a heartfelt
and then on to this greasy chopstick sigh. "Ufff! Yes, for my sins! I gave the
Sheer luck had enabled Tinker to trace place. Plummer went in but, when I sergeant some cheek and the silly old
George Marsden Plummer to the managed to get a peek in through the duffer got his own back by posting me to
Limehouse café. window, he wasn't at any of the tables Limehouse! I'll probably end up with a
When the youngster had recovered his or anywhere in sight. There were a lot knife in my back! And you should watch
senses after that knock-down blow, he of oriental types coming and going as yourself too, m'lad! This is a dangerous
had attended to Blake and to Pedro. well but only ever a few customers neighbourhood!"
Tinker smiled. "And don't I know it! Me and the evidence isn't enough to convince "I AM the police!" roared Coutts.
the guv'nor have had plenty of run-ins in this me. I think you and I should have a "What in heaven's name is all this racket
area! Say, Lomax, what do you know about nose around. What do you say?" about?" came Sexton Blake's voice from
that café over there?" "You're on! I'll be with you in a jiffy!" the stairs. "Inspector Coutts, unhand my
"Well, I wouldn't eat in it!" grunted the Half an hour after Coutts had slammed landlady at once!"
constable. "I'm not so keen on fried cat and down the telephone receiver, there "But — But —" burbled Coutts,
noodles or boiled rat and rice!" came a thunderous pounding at Sexton snatching his hand from Mrs Bardell. "I
Tinker chuckled. "A Chinese place, then?" Blake's front door, accompanied by a was only trying to calm —"
"I should say so! I've seen floods of 'em frenzied clanging of the doorbell. A tall Chinaman stepped into view
comin' and goin'!" Lomax grinned. "I bet "Good ‘eavens!" cried Mrs Bardell. "If behind Mrs Bardell. His skin was like
you've read about the 'yellow peril' in your that ain't Defective-Suspector Scoots, yellow parchment, translucent, and so
story books! Well, maybe this is where it's all then I'm the Duchess of Devonshire! criss-crossed by fine wrinkles that it
planned, eh lad? ha ha!" Always a-hammerin' the polish hoff the looked almost mummified. His oblique
"I'll bet," said Tinker with a laugh. "Well, door 'e is! Alrightie! Alrightie! Hold eyes were thickly hooded and jet black.
thanks Lomax. Go safely! And give my your horsies! I'm a-comin'!" From his upper lip, long thin moustaches
regards to Mrs Lomax when you get home!" Sexton Blake's formidable landlady drooped to either side of his thin-lipped
"I will, if I can get a word in edgeways!" flung open the door and stood mouth, reaching to just below his chin.
The constable moved on. blocking the entrance, glaring at He was wearing a felt hat and long yellow
Two hours later, Tinker left the shadow of a Detective-Inspector Coutts. robes with voluminous sleeves into
doorway, slouched past the café window and "If I've told you once, I've told you 'alf which his hands were thrust. His sinister,
surreptitiously peered in. It was an ill-timed a dozen times," she declared. "If you unblinking eyes fixed on those of
act, for just as he passed the door, it opened, will hinsist on banging the polish off Detective-Inspector Coutts and the Yard
throwing a glow of light out across the wet the woodworm, then do it with that man took an involuntary step backwards.
pavement, and the large figure of Colonel thick 'ead of yours and not with your "Who — who — who the dickens are
Ash stepped out straight into the youngster's bally fisticuffs. At least thataways you you?"
path. Tinker, startled, took a step back and might knock some sense into yerself!" "I velly solly," said the Celestial, "But you
looked up into Plummer's agate eyes. "Stand aside, my good woman! I'm no put hands on Mr Brake's randrady!
"Blake's whelp!" gasped the crook. In a flash, here on police business!" snapped She velly plecious! Cook velly velly
Plummer's fist shot out and caught Tinker Coutts. good! Must not be manhandled by fatty
smack on the bruise that marked its previous "I don't care if you're a-thumping my man flom Scotrand Yard!"
impact, with exactly the same result. Tinker polish for the perlice or for 'is madjesty "Fatty!" exploded Coutts in indignation.
crumpled. the King of Hingland, gawd bless 'im!" "Ha! That's right!" exclaimed Mrs
"Well well!" muttered Plummer, "You're just announced Mrs Bardell. "Just stop it! Bardell. "You tell 'im, Mr Blake!"
what I need!” It's uncivilated! And you can give the "What?" cried Coutts. "Brake? I mean
doorbell a rest too! Goodness, my Blake? That's you, Blake?"
The Fourth Chapter nerves are all a-jangle what with the The Chinaman gave a dignified bow of
Detective-Inspector Coutts Gets Involved noise of it. Thought there was an his head.
The next morning, Sexton Blake telephoned hearthcake, I did!" "Pah!" exploded Coutts, punching his
Scotland Yard and asked to be put through to Through all this, Detective-Inspector already dented bowler again before
Detective-Inspector Coutts. The Yard man's Coutts had been trying, unsuccessfully, slamming it back onto his head.
voice, gruff as always, barked: "Blake, is that to push past the old dame — but Mrs "I'll give you 'pah'!" noted Mrs Bardell.
you? What is it? Any news of Plummer?" Bardell was having none of it. With "You're lucky I don't take a broom to
"No, but Tinker hasn't reported in this hands on ample hips and legs braced, yer!"
morning," said Blake. she stood her ground and resisted the "No need for that!" advised the Celestial
"In? In from where?" Yard man. Never a patient fellow at the in Sexton Blake's voice. "Don't worry
"I had him watching a café in Limehouse. best of times, Coutts snatched off his yourself further, Mrs Bardell. I shall have
He'd traced Plummer to it. It's a Chinese bowler and drove a fist into it, roaring, stern words with the inspector here
place!" "By the Lord Harry! I'll have you about the intensity of his ... er ..."
"What! Chinese!" clapped in irons, woman! Let me "Knockering and ringifying!"
Blake heard distinctly over the telephone through!" "Yes, quite!"
wire the sound of Coutts's bowler hat being "Oh, clappered in irons, is it!" With a final glare at Coutts, Mrs Bardell
vigorously thrown against the wall. Coutts screeched Mrs Bardell. "That's 'ow turned and waddled back towards her
had a habit of expressing himself with you'd treat an old widder woman what kitchen. "Intensity, he calls it!" she
assaults against his headgear. "Are you is only trying to protectionise the grumbled. "More like insanity! Got a
suggesting," the Yard man shouted, "that the respeckerbility of her master's front screw loose, that's 'is problem. 'ow 'e ever
scoundrel has hooked up with Wu Ling door! 'ooligan! Vandal!" got to be a defective-suspector fair
again?" "My good woman, please calm boggles me mind!"
"As far as I've been able to ascertain from the yourself" insisted Coutts more softly. Detective-Inspector Coutts mopped his
admittedly flimsy evidence, Prince Wu Ling He lay a soothing hand on the face with a large red and white checked
went straight back to China after we landlady's arm. handkerchief as Blake exited the house,
scuppered his Suez Canal plot. But as I say, "Help! Help!" she yelled. "Perlice!" closing the door behind him.
"I think you may have just uninvited not engage his attention for very long master to establish passwords for each of
yourself to Christmas dinner," the because, before much more than ten his outposts in this godless country. Has
Baker Street man mused. minutes had passed, he had witnessed my guidance been followed?"
The look of horror that passed across a number of individuals passing "It has!"
Coutts's face was so comical that under through the dining room and "And the passwords are changed
normal circumstances Blake would disappearing into the kitchen. He had frequently, as I suggested?"
have burst out laughing. These, also seen others emerge from the "Yes! Yes! We change them each week!"
though, were not normal kitchen to leave the premises. None of Sexton Blake placed a hand on the man's
circumstances. He was worried about them stopped to eat. All of them shoulder and gave a slight smile. "You
Tinker. looked rather better off than the café's serve the master well, honourable one! I
A great many times in the past, Tinker customers. will be sure to mention this to him!"
had not reported back to Blake at the After twenty minutes or so, and leaving The little man looked pathetically pleased,
time arranged. Usually it was because the unpalatable slop half finished, he his plump cheeks bunching into an eager
he was following up a new lead or rose and moved towards the kitchen. smile as he rapidly bowed his head over
shadowing a suspect. However, when "Hi! You there!" came a cry in and over.
George Marsden Plummer was Cantonese. "Of course," continued Blake, "I have been
involved ... well, anything could have Blake turned and levelled his gaze at at sea these weeks past, so have not yet
happened! the café's proprietor, a short but very been informed of the current password."
"Come along, let's get to work!" said fat Chinaman. "You will hear the statement 'Tell me of
Blake tersely. "Where do you think you are going?" vengeance!'" whispered the little
They hailed a taxi and climbed into it. Blake bowed and replied in flawless Chinaman. "You must answer 'Vengeance
"My guess is, you're going to try to get Cantonese: "Forgive me, honourable is the dragon's claw!'"
into that café!" said Coutts. sir. I have an appointment." Blake nodded, patted the man's shoulder
"Thus the disguise, yes," answered "I have not seen you before!" came the and left him, crossing to the kitchen.
Blake. "And sorry about that 'fatty' challenge. Inside it were two men — cooks — whose
remark. I was just playing the role." "This is true. I have not been here general appearance made the detective
"Hmmph! Well, quite so! But I mean, before. I have just arrived in this regret the few spoonfuls of soup he'd
really, I don't see that it was necessary accursed country." tasted. They ignored him as he opened the
to ... hmmph! ... I say, Blake old man, "And now, like a hungry dog, you seek door at the top of the stairs, went through,
you don't think she'll really strike me to ingratiate yourself with the master, and pulled it shut behind him.
off the Christmas list?" is that it?" sneered the short man. Back in the café, the fat proprietor had
Sexton Blake smiled. "I don't think so, The detective blinked rapidly and said, stepped behind a counter. He bent over a
old chap. Despite the bluster, the old "Why no! The master sent for me! I speaking tube and began talking into it.
girl is terribly fond of you!" have travelled halfway around the
Detective-Inspector Coutts reddened world in answer to his summons! Detective-Inspector Coutts was painfully
and rubbed his bristly moustache. Would you now stop me?" reminded of the time when he had
"The thing is," he muttered, "there's The proprietor suddenly looked ill at patrolled the streets as a mere constable.
nothing quite like Mrs Bardell's ease. As Blake had guessed he would His feet were aching abominably! He was
Christmas pudding!" be, the man was intimidated by the hungry too. It was lunchtime and though
The taxi dropped Coutts a couple of sound of a cultured, well-educated he had never tasted Chinese food — and
streets away from the café and Blake Cantonese voice. didn't like the theory of it — he was
on a corner near it. It wouldn't do for The café owner rubbed a dirty cloth nevertheless rather envious of Sexton
them to be seen together, so they had over a filthy plate and coughed. "Of Blake, who he imagined sitting in the café
arranged that the Yard man would course I won't stop you," he mumbled. wolfing down a bowl of noodles or
stroll around the area keeping the "I was just checking, that's all! But be aromatic rice.
establishment within sight and taking aware, honourable one, that the master "I don't hold with that foreign muck,"
note of whatever comings and goings is not here now! He has gone to the Coutts muttered to himself, "but at least
might arise, while Blake would enter temple!" it'd line the stomach! How Blake expects
the café and attempt to gain entry to "Then I would speak with those who me to keep on my feet without sustenance
whatever secret meeting place it was are close to him!" is beyond me!"
covering. The fat man nodded and gestured He had just patrolled the area around the
The first part of Blake's task was easy towards the kitchen. back of the café and was now turning into
enough; he simply shuffled through Blake began to move towards it but an alleyway that led through to the main
the door, sat at a table and ordered a then hesitated and turned back to the street. He intended to saunter past the
bowl of soup. The place was by no proprietor. premises and peer through the window to
means crowded and the few diners "Faithful one," he said, "Come closer!" see what his colleague was up to. Or
present were of the most disreputable The Chinaman approached warily, his rather, to see what he was eating.
class of Celestial that inhabits the eyes peering nervously at his tall "Hope it's a boiled squirrel!" he grunted.
Limehouse region; poorly clothed, visitor. The passage lay in the shadows and as the
hardly washed, shifty-eyed. "Listen well," said Blake in a low voice. Yard man came abreast of a pile of wooden
These men at the tables, though, did "It is some time since I advised the crates, four figures stepped out of the
master to establish passwords for each
of his outposts in this godless country.
gloom; two in front of him and two behind. Chinese. The other was an Indian. one, urging Detective-Inspector Coutts
"Here! What's this?" he exclaimed. He One of the Celestials — a short man of to follow. Arriving at its base, Blake
whipped off his bowler and rapped his average build, his head shaven but for a shifted his position, lifted his legs and
knuckles on it threateningly. "Keep back! long pigtail — spoke. He did so in kicked it open.
I'm Detective-Inspector Coutts of the English and his voice was cultured, With the big chamber behind them
CID!" without a trace of an accent. He said: "I rapidly becoming hazy with smoke, the
He should have kept his hat on. It may have congratulate you. You have both scored two men rolled through into an ornately
done something to soften the blow as a a victory." decorated room and kicked closed the
length of thick rubber tubing crashed "Please?" asked Blake in Cantonese. door. Sexton Blake looked around.
against his skull. The man repeated himself, this time in There was a low table, some cushions,
Detective-Inspector Coutts of the CID that language. He went on, first in and various items of statuary lining the
went out like a light. English then again in the Asian tongue: walls. One of the latter depicted a
"This meeting place is useless to us Chinese warrior, his hand resting on the
The Fifth Chapter now. Your presence demonstrates that hilt of a sword, its point resting on the
Inferno! it is known to The Brotherhood of the plinth upon which he stood. The sword
"Are you alright, old man?" Yellow Beetle and also to the police. was not real — it was merely a carving
Sexton Blake's voice seemed to come from You leave us no alternative but to shut — and was not sharp ... but it was, at
a great distance, piercing through layers of it down." least, an edge.
pain. Coutts snorted, "Sorry to spoil your Blake rolled across to the statue and
"I say, buck up Coutts! We're in it up to our fun!" heaved himself into a sitting position.
necks!" The Chinaman simply bowed and He began rubbing his bound wrists
Consciousness slowly returned to silently left the room with his against the blade.
Detective-Inspector Coutts. His head companions. "Hurry man!" cried Coutts. "There's
throbbed, his mouth was dry, his wrists and For some minutes the two captives lay smoke coming through under the door!"
ankles were bound with viciously tight still and silent. Then Blake muttered: Both men could now see dark tendrils
cords. "It never even occurred to them that we coiling through the air. Coutts fancied
He opened his eyes. He was laying on his were working together. They're so that he could hear flames and the room
side on a thick carpet in a large room hung convinced that I'm one of the was definitely getting hotter.
with yellow silks. Sexton Blake lay beside Brotherhood. And, of course, a Yellow "The place is going up like dry tinder!"
him, also bound. The Baker Street Beetle would never be seen hand in exclaimed the Yard man. "It's all that
detective's face — still in the guise of a hand with a bluebottle!" silk! This is it, Blake! We're not going to
celestial — was bruised, his eyes blackened, "Very funny," growled Coutts. "Blast! I get out of this one!"
his lips split and bleeding. can't move a muscle, I'm trussed up so As if to illustrate his point, an orange
The Yard man licked his lips. "Where are tight! How about you, Blake?" light flickered beneath the door, the
we?" he croaked. "The same!" temperature jumped higher, and the
"Under the café," answered Blake. "In a sort They struggled but only succeeded in crackling of flames came from the
of basement which extends, I think, scraping the skin off their wrists. chamber beyond.
beneath the houses on either side and some They rested, catching their breath. Detective-Inspector Coutts began
way under the road." "What do they intend to do with us, coughing. "How are you doing?" he
"How'd they get you?" anyway?" panted Coutts. gasped. "Almost free?"
"My own fault!" grunted Blake. "I was "Has that knock on the head robbed "I'm afraid not," came Blake's hoarse
overconfident! Dived straight into a trap — you of your sense of smell?" snapped voice. "And having recently experienced
gave the password, walked through the Blake. a blaze courtesy of Doctor Satira, I can
door, and a dozen or so of the blighters "What? What are you gibbering abou— honestly say that this is becoming
jumped on me!" Great Scott! Fire!" extremely tiresome!"
"I hope you broke some oriental teeth. Any Alerted to it by his friend, Coutts could The minutes passed and the heat
sign of Wu Ling?" now smell smoke. increased. The Baker Street detective
"Well that's the funny thing. They seem to "They've set the place alight! Help! made no progress. The cords were too
think that I'm a spy for The Brotherhood of Help!" he hollered. strong; the edge too blunt.
the Yellow Beetle. They've been trying to "Stop that!" ordered Blake. "We're The room was by now so filled with
beat an admission out of me. They were underground! No one is going to hear smoke that Coutts could barely see him.
just about to try a spot of torture when four your racket so you might as well pack it "These cords aren't giving at all!" gasped
of their chaps dragged you in. They tied in!" Blake.
you up then all retired to another room for The Baker Street detective twisted his Both men's eyes were watering and their
a conflab. They've been gone for half an head this way and that, searching the lungs were wheezing like old leathery
hour or so." room for a sharp edge against which to bellows. Coutts was trying to use his feet
"So they haven't seen through your rub his bonds. There was nothing. And to push himself farther from the door
disguise," said Coutts, "and they obviously now the smell of smoke was
aren't Wu Ling's mob! But, in that case, strengthening.
who in blazes are they?" There were three doors visible between
Before Sexton Blake could answer, three the hanging silks. Blake rolled across
men entered the chamber. Two were the carpet towards a scarlet-painted
but his strength was giving out and he body is switched on but ‘is brain is "Of course," said the Indian. "I am Dr
couldn't catch his breath. switched hoff! Which I says, Defective- Petrie, a friend of Assistant Commissioner
Sexton Blake toppled sideways and lay Suspector Scoots, if'n you bring ‘im Sir Denis Nayland Smith's."
on the carpet. His mind began to ‘ome in this rendition again, you'll not
wander; swimming in and out of be welcombed in this ‘ouse not for any The Sixth Chapter
consciousness. He remembered his hoccasion, an' that concludes Revelations
parents, who had been murdered by a Christmas! An' another, thing: I don't It was half past four in the afternoon and
man named Francois Leroux; his elder like no hindians in my ‘ouse!" the rain was pattering against the window
brother, Henry, who had been driven "I assure you, dear lady," came a voice, of the consulting room.
to crime by a crook known as The "that I am not an Indian, despite Tinker had been missing for almost
Baron and who had faked his own appearances to the contrary!" twenty-four hours.
suicide only to resurface some years Who was that? Blake didn't recognise Sexton Blake and Detective-Inspector
later; and his younger brother, Nigel, the voice. He peered through watering Coutts had washed away the soot and had
who had also turned to crime before eyes. A dark chap, standing near the drunk copious amounts of tea to ease their
being exiled to Africa. window. scorched throats. Blake was no longer
No! He mustn't lose focus! Escape! "Mrs Bardell." disguised as a Chinaman.
Save Coutts! Ah, that was Coutts, though he Dr Petrie was also transformed. In place of
Dimly, he was aware of a bright sounded strangely hoarse. a shifty-looking Indian, there now sat a
rectangle of flame — the place where "Look for yourself, my dear. He handsome, well-built Englishman with
the door had been, now the mouth of a appears to be coming around. Perhaps clear blue eyes and a broad intelligent-
furnace! A shadow seemed to move now would be an ideal time to put the looking forehead. He was wrapped in
against the glare of the raging inferno. kettle on. I'm sure he'll need a good Sexton Blake's disreputable acid-stained
Was it Tinker? Brave, clever, cuppa once his wits return!" dressing gown.
extraordinary Tinker! They had met "Good gracious, I think you're right!" The three men were sitting around the
when — operating under the warbled Mrs Bardell. "Lookit the way fireplace discussing the events of the day.
pseudonym of Richard Allandale — ‘is eyes are a-wanderin' ... Like ‘e's As Sexton Blake had suspected since his
Blake had finally caught up with The noticin' things for the first time since bruising interrogation, he had not fallen
Baron. Tinker, a mere street Arab at you dragged ‘im up them stairs! into the hands of The Brotherhood of the
the time, had stumbled into the thick of Lordy!" Yellow Beetle but into those of the Si Fan.
it and had provided the means through Blake saw a blurred shaped cross the "Seeing you both there, on the verge of
which Blake could, at last, take revenge room and exit through the door. Mrs being burned to death, well ..." said Petrie,
for the apparent death of Henry. Since Bardell's footsteps descended the stairs. "obviously I had no choice but to wait until
then, the youngster had saved Blake's His eyes cleared. my Chinese companions were out of the
life on countless occasions. Detective-Inspector Coutts was sitting way and then return to the chamber and
"Tinker," he whispered. opposite. His skin — what showed of it drag you out of there."
Coutts's voice, a hoarse rasp, came beneath a layer of soot — was even "An act of courage for which I am
from a great distance: "Don't leave redder than usual. He smiled, showing immensely grateful, Doctor Petrie!"
him! He's not a Chinaman! He's his buck teeth. "Hear, hear!" cheered Coutts.
Sexton Blake!" "Back in the land of the living?" "When did you infiltrate the Si Fan?" asked
Good old Coutts. Blake opened his mouth and croaked, Blake.
A face swam into view in his mind's "Brandy!" "Me, about a month ago, in the guise of
eye: Mademoiselle Yvonne Cartier. The figure at the window turned. It was Arjun Narayan, a Hindi doctor with
No. Wait. The face was altogether too the Indian who had accompanied the questionable ethics. Nayland Smith, more
dark! It wasn't Yvonne. It was a man's three Chinamen into the chamber recently."
face. In fact, thought Blake as he beneath the café. "Doctor Petrie," said Blake earnestly,
slipped into oblivion, it was an Indian's. "Of course!" he said, in perfect Oxford "Whatever they are, I must apologise for
English. "Allow me!" interfering with your plans. I had no idea
Home. He crossed to the drinks cabinet in the that it was the Si Fan I was dealing with. In
Baker Street. corner and poured three generous fact, I've been given a very clear order to
The consulting room. brandies. steer clear of them. I hope you understand,
Comfortable slippers. "I think we all need this!" though, that with George Marsden
His thoughts were meandering and he Stepping to where Blake and Coutts Plummer involved and with my assistant
may have been dreaming. Was he really sat, he bent and handed them both a missing, I had little choice but to pursue
slumped in his armchair? Was the glass. my investigations!"
weight on his right thigh really Pedro's "Are you with us, Mr Blake?" "I understand perfectly, old chap," said
head? Was that Mrs Bardell he could Sexton Blake took a gulp of the fiery Petrie. "Let me fill you in on the story so
hear? liquid and smiled up at the smoke- far, perhaps it will give you some clue as to
" ... Looking like one of ‘em chimbley blackened stranger. He felt his lips what this scoundrel Plummer is up to.
sweeps and with a voice what is as crack. Nayland Smith and I are investigating two
creaky as a door in an ‘aunted ‘ouse! "Thank you," he said. "Yes, I am. May I
And a-shufflin' around the place like ‘is ask your name?" Continued on page 16 .
Do you remember the early days of television appear in THE UNION JACK or THE
when the old goggle-box took a couple of SEXTON BLAKE LIBRARY or in one of
hours to warm up and most of the night to the countless other story papers. Of
cool down? Back then, the rather frequent course, the facts were exaggerated out of
breaks in service were always accompanied by all proportion. Names and dates were
the reassurance that "normal services will be purposely changed and reality got
resumed as soon as possible." Nearly half a obscured by 'disinformation'.
decade ago, I would have liked to have said Which is just what we wanted!
those words to you, dear reader, but, alas, the
guv'nor and I knew that what passed for * * *
'normal' in our lives was changing rapidly and
things would never be the same again. For a Confused? You Will Be!
start, the publication of our various This technique, created by Sexton Blake
adventures (albeit in a rather exaggerated and later developed to an extraordinary
form) had to end. degree by Eustace Craille, was used to
You see, old Eustace Craille had other plans confound our enemies. The average villain
for us, and what Craille wanted, Craille got! didn't know where Blake was, what he was
At this moment, I can't say any more about capable of, or even if he actually existed! consider it at all, then
that – George Coutts Jr., who now runs The Which meant that in a great many cases, we do so as if it was
Craille Institute – would have my hide if I the mere name 'Sexton Blake' was enough something entirely
tried! Suffice to say, though, that all these to confuse and discourage the crook, fictitious!
years later, there are hints that an “almost disorientating him (or 'her' – there were Sexton Blake and myself, The Craille
normal service” might be resumed! plenty of 'her's'!) and making him Institute, and a whole host of criminals
relatively 'easy pickings' for the Scotland rely on this phenomenon to obfuscate,
* * * Yard boys. deceive and misguide.
In the meantime, the guv'nor and I, having If you doubt the existence of the
Cases Old and New! manipulated ourselves into a sort of Credibility Gap or think you are immune
For a start, The Craille Institute has 'mythical' status, were left free to tackle the
to its influence, I can demonstrate that
authorised the release of some of Sexton rather special breed of criminals who were you are wrong by making a statement and
Blake's unpublished cases. These were appearing from the other side of the asking you to consider whether it's true or
considered too 'delicate' for public 'Credibility Gap'. not. The statement is this: 'Sexton Blake
consumption back when they actually is not a fictional character; he really
occurred, so they never even made it onto
good old Twy's desk. Apparently some of our
* * * exists!”
If you don't believe that, then Bob's your
new cases might also see the light of day.
Credibility Gap uncle; the Credibility Gap is functioning
Phew! How to explain the Credibility just fine, thanks!
* * * Gap? It's a concept with staggering
The Old System implications -- again, a theory of the * * *
Perhaps I should explain how we used to do guv'nor's which was expanded upon by old Dazzle!
things. It was a simple process. The guv'nor Craille. Okay, let's give this a try. Take a To get back to what I was saying, thanks
and I would get into a gigantic scrap with a look at the illustration on the facing page. to the Credibility Gap, The Craille
loopy villain, such as Professor Kew or Dr. That's called a Necker Cube. As you can Institute (which you don't believe in
Huxton Rymer or Kestrel or … well, there see, there are no clues to suggest which either, huh?) is now starting to release
were hundreds of the blighters! Then, having plane is the front and which is the back. accounts of some of our cases – old and
successfully foiled Whatsisname's evil plan, Your perception tends to alternate new – in order to dazzle the public once
the guv'nor would laze around in his stinky between the two possibilities. However, more with the genius of Sexton Blake
old dressing gown while yours truly had to what if one option was constantly and, of course, of his plucky assistant!
write up the case. Now I don't mind writing – reinforced by other peoples' opinion and it The operative word here is 'dazzle'.
I do a lot of it – but describing being bashed was also supported by apparent 'evidence'?
over the head, thrown into a river, gassed, Then the alternative version becomes * * *
poisoned and thumped just hours after those more and more difficult to perceive. In
events took place, and while my flesh and fact, it quickly becomes 'impossible'. Blake is Back!
bones were still throbbing … well, as you can The Credibility Gap is the gulf that exists Why do we need to dazzle you? Because
imagine, my notes weren't exactly between one option and the other. If we all we're back in business, that's why! And
Shakespeare! stand on the side that supports the notion that means the old techniques are being
So my next job was to wrap 'em up and post that we are looking at the cube from a left- dusted off to ensure that me and the
them to Twy – H. W. Twyman – one of the hand perspective, then it becomes almost guv'nor and those around us remain on
'high-ups' at Amalgamated Press and a great impossible to cross the gap to the place the 'other side of the gap', as it were
friend of the guv'nor and I. Twy would then where it could be said that we are looking (and yes, the phenomenon is so
assign the notes to whichever writer he felt at it from a right-hand perspective. In fact, powerful that I can even signal our
could do 'em justice, and, not long after, a the notion of a right-hand perspective intentions knowing that you still won't
splendidly written tale of derring-do would becomes so unrealistic to us that, if we can believe it!).
A Quick Catch Up The Couttses
So, anyway, that's enough about the past, Another thing not made clear in our old
now let's take a look at the present. I adventures was that fact that after
expect you're dying to know more about Detective-Inspector Coutts retired we
the current state of affairs with 'Sexton worked with his son, also named George,
Blake and Tinker'. Well, first of all, we are who became a Detective-
back living in Baker Street, though it Superintendent. In other words, the
hardly resembles the thoroughfare of old! Coutts of the '50s and '60s was not the
From the outside, you would never suspect same man as the Coutts of the '20s and
that our building is a domestic paradise '30s, though he had all his father's bull-
but, thanks to Mrs Bardell, who is still headedness and dogged determination.
going strong, that's exactly what it is! Mrs The younger Coutts went on to become
B is unchanged; still mangling her words, Sir George William Coutts III and he
still keeping us fed, and still giving the took over the running of The Craille
Coutts family plenty of cheek!" Institute after Eustace Craille finally
passed away (aged 112!). Recently, Sir
Censorship! George retired and handed leadership
These unpublished cases over to his son, George William Coutts
were originally withheld IV. The younger Coutts bears an
-- in the case of the older uncanny resemblance to his grandfather,
stories by the Secret both in appearance and temperament --
Intelligence Service and, which causes the guv'nor and myself no
with the more recent end of amusement, especially when Mrs
ones, by The Craille B harangues him for failing to wipe his
Institute -- for a variety of feet upon entry to the Baker Street
Sometimes it was for the
protection of innocent Youthful Good Looks!
parties who had been I daresay that you are asking yourself how it is
involved in the events that Sexton Blake and I are still around,
and whose real identity seemingly unchanged after all these years. The
was impossible to answer to that question concerns one of the
disguise. Sometimes it most remarkable discoveries ... one made by the
was for political reasons. guv'nor's father (who was murdered because of
And on occasions, as with it) and later brought to fruition by events that
this issue's tale of occurred in 1908. A small group of people -- the
SEXTON BLAKE VS. THE NECKER CUBE guv'nor and I, Mrs Bardell, Sir Richard Losely
FU MANCHU, it was and Lobangu, George Marsden Plummer
because the delicate (regretably) and one or two others who can't be
balance of the Credibility Gap might
have been threatened. Pedro
Imagine if multiple sources suggested It was never really made clear in the old
that Fu Manchu really existed. In no stories but there have been quite a few
time at all the public would begin to Pedros. The original (one of the most
believe ... and if that happened, the remarkable dogs who ever lived) sired
subsequent fear and unrest would have generations of talented bloodhounds who
given the 'Devil Doctor' far too much all received intensive training to bring INFORMATION BLOCKED
power! them up to their forebear's standard.
Over the years, whenever our 'current
THE CRAILLE INSTITUTE
Pedro' became too old to continue with us,
* * * he would be packed off to luxurious
The Fu Manchu Case accommodation with a loving family while REF. FILE 000027489
The account you hold in your hands one of his descendents took over the job.
records an encounter that left the guv'nor I'll say this: every Pedro has been
profoundly dissatisfied. He was not at all incredible and I have loved them all. The
happy with the orders issued from 'C' of remarkable thing is, though, that the
the Secret Intelligence Service. He felt breeding program has been so pure, and
they lacked logic and wasted an the training so effective, that I honestly feel
opportunity. Sexton Blake, though, like there's only ever been the one
knows when to obey an order; and he bloodhound with us for all this time!
never breaks his word; so this really was Ha! ... He knows I'm writing about him!
the only time that he faced Fu Manchu. The tail is going nine to the dozen!
Continued from page 13. Manchu is, we think, attempting to for persuading western financiers to
foment war in the West but has taken make what might be called 'donations'.
matters which are causing much gnashing his eye off the ball in China. Wu Ling, He selects the rather more shady species
of teeth among the higher-ups of the Secret by contrast, has just suffered a of financier and fools them into
Intelligence Service. The first relates to the sequence of huge defeats here, thanks believing that they're investing in a
political situation in Germany. As I'm sure to you, Blake, but is now focusing his cause which will bring them great riches
you're aware, there are some worrying energy on the preparation of a puppet in the near future. Of course, he has no
developments over there. Hitler's Nazi leader in China, a man named Chiang intention of coming good on the
party is rising fast and some of our people Kai-shek. If he is successful in that — promise!"
are convinced that if he gains control of and Nayland Smith is convinced that he "Do you know who these financiers are?"
Germany he will re-arm and attempt to will be — then he'll be occupied there "We have a list of suspects, yes."
expand that country's territory." for years to come, which is very good "Are the names Bennett and Fairfax on
"But what about the Treaty of Versailles?" news for England!" that list?"
muttered Coutts. "Indeed!" agreed Sexton Blake. "In the "Why, yes! You know them?"
"As far as he's concerned it's an insult to meantime, though, we have a possible "In your role of Arjun Narayan,"
the Fatherland and 'es ist keinen Pfennig alliance between Doctor Fu Manchu answered Blake, "I don't suppose you
wert'!" and Herr Hitler?" got to see yesterday's newspapers. It was
"Beg pardon?" said Coutts. "Perhaps 'potential' would be a better reported that a financier named Bennett
"Not worth a brass farthing," supplied word, Blake. There's no solid evidence was found dead. The coroner has
Blake. of it as yet. There's been contact, speculated that something literally
"Good Lord!" exclaimed Coutts. "Is the certainly, but whether anything has frightened the man to death. And his
man really such a warmonger?" come of it; that we don't know. hands were painted green!"
"It's too early to say," answered Petrie. "But Nayland Smith and I have been having Doctor Petrie suddenly sat bolt upright.
there are men in high places who are afraid a poke around to see whether there's "Green! Then it's begun!" he cried.
that he is. They are also afraid that he anything to find." "What has?"
might form an alliance with Doctor Fu Blake grunted and reached for his pipe. "Wait! Wait!" said Petrie, holding up a
Manchu!" Then he thought better of it and hand. "What of this Fairfax fellow?"
"Fu Man who?" withdrew his hand. His lungs had been "Yesterday he came to me babbling
"He's a Chinese warlord, Coutts; the head fumigated enough for one day. something about green hands but was
of the Si Fan," interjected Sexton Blake. "I still can't see how Plummer fits into then carried off — from right under my
"Or to put it in layman's terms: he's the picture," he ruminated. "However nose, regrettably — by Plummer."
another Wu Ling!" deep the criminal kink in his brain may "Then he's a dead man! Earlier, Blake, I
"Great heavens!" run — and there's no doubt that it runs mentioned a second reason for
"More like the opposite side of the same very deep indeed — there's ample infiltrating the Si Fan. Nayland Smith
coin, Blake," said Petrie. "He claims to be evidence to suggest that it doesn't and I wanted to get to the root of a
directly descended from the Manchu impinge on that part where his rumour that Fu Manchu recently
Dynasty while Wu Ling claims to be a child patriotism is located. Plummer regained possession of an ancient
of the Ming. Both consider it to be their considers himself to be a member of the artifact; a green dragon miankse."
God-given right to rule China — and British aristocracy. As such, it's "What the dickens is that?" muttered
beyond! And they are both plotting to inconceivable that he would align Coutts.
destabilise and ultimately conquer the himself with Fu Manchu, especially if "Nothing but an embroidered silk
West." that man is involved with the Nazis." banner, on the face of it," said Petrie.
"But keep getting in each other's way?" "But Blake!" put in Coutts, "He aligned "But a very dangerous artifact!"
mused Blake. himself with Wu Ling without much "How so?" grunted the inspector.
"Exactly. Also, of course, you've done a fine hesitation!" "The miankse was lost to the Si Fan
job of foiling Wu Ling's various schemes!" "That's true but his motivation wasn't about eighty years ago when it was
"As have you and Commissioner Nayland political, it was financial!" stolen from them by the Brotherhood of
Smith with regard to the Si Fan!" "It always is! Money, plain and simple! the Yellow Beetle. Without it, the Si Fan
"Phew!" gasped Coutts. "Imagine if the The villain cares for nothing else!" could not perform the ceremony of the
Yellow Beetles and the Si Fan started declared Detective-Inspector Coutts. dragon's claw ... a sort of initiation
working together!" "Ah! You may have something there!" which not only binds the initiate to them
"It will never happen!" said Petrie. "And said Blake with a snap of his fingers. for life but all his descendants too."
that's something we can be thankful for! "Doctor Petrie, how is the Si Fan "They couldn't perform the ceremony?
Individually, neither group is strong financed?" Why not?" asked Coutts.
enough to exert any meaningful influence "Hmmm, well that's rather interesting," Doctor Petrie shrugged. "Even after all
in China and the West at the same time. So answered Petrie. "Each member of the my experiences battling Celestials, I still
they tend to alternate. In recent years Si Fan pays what amounts to a small don't understand the oriental mind. The
Doctor Fu Manchu has been strong in the tax. There are literally millions of vital significance they often attach to
East but weak in the West, while with members, so the twice-yearly payments items which, for us, would seem to
Prince Wu Ling, it was the other way add up to a vast and growing fortune. possess nothing but decorative value, is
around. Now the tides are turning. Fu On top of that, Fu Manchu has a talent astonishing. The miankse, Detective-
Inspector, is a symbol and nothing more. ancestors. Already Bennett has fallen The Seventh Chapter
But what a symbol! Through that one victim to it. Fairfax will be next, if he's Plummer's Machinations
silk, hundreds of thousands of innocent not dead already, and countless more Some hours after the meeting at Baker
people can be enslaved — shackled to the will follow! Which is why Nayland Street had broken up, the German, von
Si Fan by bonds of fear and superstition! Smith and I have dedicated ourselves Horst, climbed into a taxi and told the
No Celestial would even consider defying to the destruction of that miankse!" driver to take him to Carnival Row,
the dictates of the dragon; it would be Blake suddenly stood. "Then, despite Woolwich. He had a second appointment
fatal!" my orders, I must also pledge myself to with Colonel Ash, a man to whom he'd
Sexton Blake frowned and steepled his that cause, doctor. For it was me who taken an instant dislike when they'd met
fingers together. "Fatal, doctor?" he placed that dreadful symbol into the the night before. Von Horst had tried to
asked. hands of the Si Fan!" engage him in conversation — tried to
"Yes! They call it death by the claw! How "What!" exclaimed Petrie and Coutts in find out more about where he came from
the execution used to be carried out, I unison. and why he'd allied himself to the Si Fan
don't know. But whatever was originally Blake paced the room, rubbing his — but Ash had seemed distant and
involved, the prospect of it was so terrible hands together. preoccupied, almost to the point of
that now, just the possibility of it is "A mistake! The Secret Intelligence rudeness. Now the German didn't want to
enough to kill!" Service had been keeping information spend any more time with him than he had
"Kill how?" barked Coutts. about Doctor Fu Manchu from me. I to — but this evening, Doctor Fu Manchu
"Through fear! Simply knowing that was not aware of him or his was initiating von Horst into his Si Fan
you've been marked for death by the claw organisation. Somehow, the organisation and Colonel Ash had been
is enough to induce heart failure!" Brotherhood of the Yellow Beetle lost assigned to guide him through the
"Proposterous!" the miankse until, earlier this year, it ceremony, so there was no choice. He was
Blake shook his head. "Not at all, Coutts. turned up in a junk shop. They killed not going to be able to avoid the big
Take, for example, the voodoo rites of the the shopkeeper and Wu Ling himself Englishman.
Caribbean. It's a well-documented fact tried to flee with the banner in his Sitting stiffly in the taxi, von Horst was a
that practitioners of that black art can possession. Tinker and I intercepted rather atypical example of the German
induce heart failure simply by informing him and, though he escaped, we race. He was tall and lean, with a square-
their victims that they've been marked for managed to get the silk. It was passed cut intellectual face, short blonde straight
death." to the shopkeeper's family who, with hair, a close-cropped pointed beard and
The Baker Street detective turned his my help, sold it to the Si Fan. I was steely but honest-looking eyes behind
attention back to Petrie. "When the Si acting merely to keep it out of Wu round, metal-rimmed spectacles.
Fan execute a man in this fashion, do they Ling's hands, without the slightest However, in character, he was everything
paint the corpse's hands green?" suspicion that I was passing it to a man an Englishman expects of a German:
"Yes!" exclaimed the doctor. "It's a and an organisation that are in every abrupt, ruthlessly efficient, cold and
message to the victim's family, to remind way as dangerous!" disciplined. He held himself straight as a
them that they are slaves to the Si Fan! "I'm with you, of course!" declared plumb-line. On this particular night he was
They are in the grip of the dragon!" Coutts. "We have to get that banner; wearing full evening-dress — tails and a
"So," murmured Blake thoughtfully, "the we have to find Tinker; and, once and white waistcoat.
miankse gives the Si Fan the symbolic for all, we have to stop Plummer in his He had picked up the taxi in Piccadilly
right to enslave and tax complete tracks. But what's our next move?" Circus and as he was being driven past the
innocents." "A police raid!" said Petrie. Venetia Hotel he suddenly slammed down
"That is correct. Let me ask you "Now you're talking my language, the window and called to the driver to
something, Blake — in your dealings with Doctor Petrie. But what do we raid? stop.
Prince Wu Ling have you ever considered The café and the chambers beneath are He had seen a familiar figure issuing from
him an honourable man?" burnt-out and the chinks have the glittering portals of the Venetia.
Sexton Blake's brows rose at the rather scarpered!" "Hallo," he cried, "Hier! Colonel Ash!"
odd question. "As a matter of fact, yes!" "True. But there is still the Temple of At the foot of the hotel's steps, George
he answered. "On a number of occasions the Dragon!" Marsden Plummer stopped and turned
he has given me his word concerning Blake stopped his pacing. with a start.
some matter or other and he has been "And you know where it is?" "Von Horst!" he cried, in surprise.
true to it. His idea of ‘honour' may not be Petrie gave a grim smile. "Arjun A minute later he had crossed to the taxi
the same as an Englishman's but, Narayan is expected there tonight! And and climbed in.
nevertheless, he is honourable. Why do he shall go! And while he's there, he "Drive on — Carnival Row!" von Horst
you ask?" will thump the sentries over the head, ordered the driver.
"Because until recently, Doctor Fu unlock the outer doors, and leave the "I've just been having a good feed!"
Manchu has also been somewhat way clear for you two to lead in the grinned Plummer who, like his
restrained by his notion of honour. boys in blue!" companion, was wearing evening-dress.
Possession of the miankse has changed Detective-Inspector Coutts's eyes He seemed much more cheerful than the
that. As a Manchu symbol, it gives him a sparkled. It was going to be a very previous night and was breathing rather
terrible freedom; casting away the bonds interesting evening. heavily, as though his meal had been a very
of civilisation and allowing him to act good one indeed — obviously including
with all the utter ruthlessness of his * * * wine! He gave a sideways glance at von
Horst who, noticing his companion's sly continued. "They are bitter rivals and pocketed. George Marsden Plummer
expression, snapped, "You look forward their organisations — Wu Ling's was playing a very dangerous game
to the occasion tonight, no? I am to be Brotherhood of the Yellow Beetle and indeed and he was beginning to worry
humiliated?" Fu Manchu's Si Fan — are constantly that exposure was inevitable. And what
"What makes you say that? There's at each other's throats. That's what's would happen then? He shuddered.
nothing to it! I've been through the kept them from achieving their aims so Von Horst, misinterpreting the motion,
ceremony myself!" Then he added far. But Fu Manchu is in the glanced up swiftly.
quickly: "It's the Celestial's way, of ascendancy at the moment, thanks to "Fairfax?" he said. "The other financier?
course! Just a tomfool idea of the the detective I saw today, Sexton Blake, What has happened to him?"
doctor's. And one has to humour him. who has single-handedly dashed Wu "Oh, he got the wind up him after
It's worth it! If you can keep in with Fu Ling's every scheme." Bennett's death," grunted Plummer
Manchu you are a made man, von Horst. "Ja, I have heard of this Blake. But rather nervously. "He went to split to
Why, look at me! I've just dined at the come now, Colonel, let us talk of Sexton Blake, hoping the detective
Venetia Hotel!" tonight. What am I to expect in the would scupper Fu Manchu the way he's
"Ja, a man who is most days with Arabs is Temple of the Dragon?" been scuppering Wu Ling. But as I say,
not often to be found at a hotel like the "Oh, just the usual hocus-pocus. the doctor cottoned on to it and now —
Venetia, is that not so?" agreed von There's nothing in it. You'll swear well, Fairfax is finished."
Horst with a dry chuckle. Plummer allegiance to Fu Manchu, then there "Dead?" muttered von Horst.
flushed. He did not like Germans and, in are one or two rituals." He avoided his "I don't know," lied Plummer. "As good
particular, he did not like this one. companion's eye. "Nothing to worry as dead, anyway!"
"And what of the men who pledge about," he added in a loud, determined The taxi rounded a corner.
themselves to Hitler, Germany's answer voice. "We're here," said Plummer, and his
to Charlie Chaplin?" he snarled. "Melodramatic nonsense," grumbled voice was oddly hoarse. He put his head
Von Horst shot him an ugly look and the German. out of the window and found that it was
Plummer laughed. "The sort of thing to expect from a still raining. "Right you are," he called to
"Oh, cut it out, Mr Nazi!" he said. "No yellow man," assented Plummer. "But the driver, "put us down at the corner
need to have a row. We shall be seeing Fu Manchu is deadly serious over it. here."
too much of each other from now on to Understand that! The oath of The taxi drew to a standstill.
be on bad terms. If Fu Manchu's plans allegiance means a lot to him. If ever Plummer and the German alighted, paid
work out as he hopes, we've got a life job you break it, look out! Remember the taxi-driver, and watched him drive
together. And even if they crash, we shall Franklyn Bennett." away. Then Plummer spun on his heels.
see a lot of each other first!" "That is just what I don't like to "This way," he said, taking the German
"You think they will crash?" muttered remember," grumbled the German. by the arm. "This way, von Horst."
von Horst. "Nevertheless, I was sent here by my They hurried along the ill-lit pavement.
George Marsden Plummer shrugged his master to establish a relationship with Tall, grimy buildings rose high around
shoulders. Fu Manchu, so I shall do exactly that, them. Plummer turned and led his
"When a man sets his sights as high as even if it means I have to prove myself companion down a dark alley, with a
our yellow friend has done, who knows by going through with this ridiculous spike-surmounted wall on either side.
what'll happen!" he grunted, "But he ceremony. But I shall not grovel to a Opposite a low door, he stopped. He
looks to me as if he's a fair way towards Chinaman, I tell you. He needs me; rapped upon it.
achieving his ends. He's got huge and a man like me isn't found on every "The sun sets in the West!" came a low
swathes of China now, thanks to the street corner!" foreign voice from behind the portal.
millions he's spent there. He's well on "Don't flatter yourself too much!" "The dawn is in the East!" answered
the way to having India, too, to say grinned Plummer unpleasantly. "He'll Plummer.
nothing of Mongolia and Turkestan. treat you as he treated Franklyn They were the passwords to the Temple
With Asia at his command, he can Bennett as soon as look at you, of the Dragon. The door swung open
conquer the white races, especially if he especially if he suspects that you've and the two men glimpsed a square
sets them at each others' throats first!" double-crossed him!" yellow face with oblique eyes — the
"But can nothing stop him?" von Horst He broke off suddenly, unnerved by his custodian of the door.
interrupted. "I ask, you understand, own words. He was responsible for Plummer pushed von Horst through and
because I wish to know who our enemies Fairfax's failure to contribute the followed him. The door closed behind
are!" money demanded by the Si Fan — a them with a soft click.
"Oh, he has plenty of them!" said failure for which the financier was They crossed a room and passed through
Plummer. "Last night he told me about a about to suffer. Furthermore, though another door which opened onto a
man named Wu Ling. Prince Wu Ling." he would see to it that the Riffians narrow yard, with low buildings on all
Plummer had, of course, met and worked received some of the munitions that the four sides. Plummer led von Horst in
Prince Wu Ling in the recent past but in doctor was shipping to Tangier, he through a door on the left and into an
his role as Colonel Ash, he could not would also sell a large amount of them office of sorts. But before he entered von
reveal this fact. for his own personal gain. And money Horst noticed two other doorways; and
"Wu Ling is to the Ming Dynasty what that Fu Manchu had given him to help the one on the opposite side of the yard
Fu Manchu is to the Manchus," he increase his Rif army had also been was painted a startlingly vivid green.
"That," muttered Plummer, in answer to He stood, unlocked the door and The big crook turned and crossed to a
the German's unspoken question, "That stepped into a small square room, shelf, reached up and took down a folded
is the door to the Temple of the which was dimly lit by a flickering oil sheet of green silk.
Dragon!" lamp. There was a cracked, web-shaded "This," he said to Fairfax, "was meant for
window in the wall opposite. you!"
George Marsden Plummer glanced at On the floor were two figures, both He draped the sheet over Sexton Blake's
his watch. "We've three-quarters of an tightly bound and gagged. One was assistant.
hour to wait," he said. Tinker, the other was Malcom Fairfax. He then returned to Fairfax and began to
The two men seated themselves by an Tinker was in the grip of a drug- untie the man's bonds. "The window
electric heater, and for a long while sat induced sleep. The youth had proven there," he said, nodding his head towards
in silence, listening to the patter of the to Plummer far too many times that, the wall, "opens onto a yard. I'm going to
rain. Once they heard the custodian of conscious, he was as slippery as an eel lower you out and you're going to cross
the door speak in a low voice, and and far too adept at the art of the yard and go through a door which
though they could not hear the escapology. The crook had given him a opens onto an alleyway. I've unlocked the
answering passwords, they knew they strong enough dose to keep him quiet door to aid your escape. Turn left and run
must have been given, for the door was for a while. along the alleyway to its end, then turn
opened and someone entered the yard. Fairfax, by contrast, was awake and right. Keep running. You'll reach a road
"Wonder who that is?" grunted staring at Plummer with wide, where a taxi can be flagged down. Now
Plummer. frightened eyes. listen Fairfax: go straight to your office
He stood and pulled the door open The master crook crouched beside him and secure the funds. Then leave and
slightly, putting his eye to the gap. and pulled down the gag. under no circumstances go home or back
Outside, a tall Indian was passing "Stay silent and listen to me!" he to the office. Take the taxi to Ilford and
through the door that led into the hissed. "Your life depends on it!" rent a room in a tavern called The Spoon,
temple. One of Fu Manchu's many Mutely, Fairfax nodded. on the Cranbrook Road. Use the name
lackeys. "I'm going to give you a chance to live!" Darwin. Lay low. Understand?"
Again he glanced at watch. whispered Plummer. "But it will cost "Darwin. Yes."
"I have an errand to run. You stay here. you the half million that remains from "In two days, at noon exactly, I will come
I'll be back soon." the two million the Si Fan demanded!" and visit you and you will hand over the
"Where are you going, Ash?" demanded "N-no!" stuttered Fairfax. "I have to funds."
the German. give it to the Si Fan! They're going to The bonds fell away from Fairfax's ankles.
"Mind your business!" snapped kill me otherwise! Where's the rest? His wrists were already free. He sat up,
Plummer. "And it's 'Colonel' Ash, if you Why — why didn't you give it to rubbing his numb limbs.
please!" them?" "And the Si Fan?" he asked in a tremulous
He strode from the room, closed the "That's my affair! And they'll kill you voice.
door behind him, glanced around the anyway, you fool!" snapped Plummer. "By then they will think you dead. I will
yard and seeing that it was now empty, "If you want to live you'll pay me that confirm to you the truth of this when I see
crossed to one of the other doors — the other half a million! It's your only you. If all goes as planned, you will be able
one that did not lead to the mysterious chance! Do so and I'll get you out of to walk out of that tavern a safe man. But
temple. Pulling a key from his pocket, he here. I'll also see to it that the Si Fan be warned! If you cross me, you will have
unlocked it and stepped through, pulling will think you dead. That way you'll both me and the Si Fan hot on your
it shut behind him. He was in a long, know they won't be coming after you. heels!"
dark, low-roofed warehouse, piled with But no tricks! If, when I come for the Fairfax nodded miserably and heaved
crates and sacks. Rain drummed against money, you refuse to hand it over, I'll himself to his feet.
skylights in the roof. In a couple of tell them that you're alive and how to "Alright," said Plummer, "let's get you out
places, the panes were broken and the find you!" of here!"
water dribbled through onto the Fairfax swallowed and nodded. "Yes!
concrete floor, its liquid pattering Yes! Anything you say! Just get me out The Eighth Chapter
echoing through the silence. of here!" A Ceremony Interrupted
Plummer pulled an electric torch from "Very well!" Thirty minutes later, von Horst looked up
his pocket and flicked it on. A rat Plummer moved across to Tinker and as Colonel Ash returned and announced,
scurried away from the cone of light. looked down at the youngster. "Time to get you ready, von Horst."
Through corridors formed by the crates, "You have caused me countless He went to a cupboard and produced a
the big man passed until, about two problems for a great many years," he silken robe of dazzling yellow,
thirds of the way along the length of the said through gritted teeth, though ornamented with strange Asiatic designs
warehouse, he bore to the right and Tinker was oblivious to the words. "It's in blue and green.
came to a door. time to pay your dues. I am not a killer "Put this on over your other clothes."
He crouched down outside it and — perhaps it's my one saving grace — Von Horst slipped the robe over his tall,
carefully removed the false moustache but that doesn't mean I won't place you athletic frame. It hung loose and open,
that decorated his upper lip. His wig in the path of one. Tonight you'll die showing his evening dress beneath.
followed, and then the false teeth that and I'll be happy to see the back of you. Colonel Ash grinned.
fitted so smoothly over his own. Goodbye, Tinker!" "Now you look like a proper initiate!" he
said. "Fu Manchu ought to be a theatrical Then von Horst noticed a figure into the shape of a dragon's foot with
manager — he obviously loves to ham it stretched out at the bottom of the steps ferociously sharp talons. It was studded
up! Come on! Put your coat on again — — a human figure it appeared to be, with jade and might have been admired
it's still raining." but hidden beneath a green silken for its beautiful craftsmanship were it
The German put on his overcoat, which shroud that gave only the vaguest not so deadly-looking. He took it.
was long one, falling below his knees and impression of a man's outline. "What do I do with this?"
hiding the yellow robe beneath. Ash "What's that?" he whispered. Colonel Ash licked his lips.
opened the door and the two hurried "Only a dummy," answered Colonel "The big ceremony now," he muttered
across the yard towards the door of the Ash softly. "Purely symbolic. Hush thickly. "You must plunge the blades
Temple of the Dragon. The colonel now!" into the dummy, at the heart. It's a
knocked softly upon it. A deep-muttered chant had come from symbol. As you strike you must cry
"Who comes?" came a soft, gutteral voice. the rows of watching Asiatics. It filled aloud: 'So shall the claw strike at the foes
"One who answers the summons of the the hall with rhythmic sound, almost of the Si Fan!'"
dragon," he answered. like a heartbeat. Then, as von Horst Von Horst stepped slowly forward and
The door swung open and von Horst and and Ash reached the steps, it died away. raised the greenly-gleaming shaft.
Colonel Ash stepped through into a kind Doctor Fu Manchu's voice sounded "So shall the claw strike —"
of low vestibule, hung with silk, with a pair purringly in the stillness; he was Suddenly he hooked the blades into the
of heavy silken curtains at the end. speaking Chinese. Colonel Ash green silk and yanked it aside. The
An uncharacteristically tall and muscular answered in the same tongue — unconscious figure of a youth lay there,
Chinaman had opened the door. Now he surprising von Horst, who had not bound hand and foot and gagged, lashed
led them to the curtains and flung them known that his companion could speak down so that he could scarcely move a
aside. it. finger.
Ash and von Horst passed through, and In a chanting tone, Fu Manchu and Doctor Fu Manchu's eyes flickered from
the curtains fell back softly behind them. Colonel Ash continued their exchange von Horst to the prone form of the
A long, narrow room, very lofty, stretched of ritualised statements. Von Horst youngster to the suddenly white face of
before them. The Temple of the Dragon! gave no indication that he understood Colonel Ash.
Aligned along the gaudily ornamented the words, though he did and found "You!" he hissed. "Who is this boy?"
walls were rows upon rows of men, with them to be thoroughly menacing. "It's — It's the assistant to Sexton Blake!
faces that varied from light yellow to The atmosphere of the place was I caught him spying on us!" stuttered the
blackish brown — Asiatics all, and clad in oppressive. His eyes were fixed on the colonel.
the costumes of their native countries — shrouded dummy before him. It looked "And so," said the doctor with
Chinese in their blue overalls and felt- horribly like a dead man, he thought. mesmerising slowness, "Rather than
soled shoes, Indians with turbans, His pulse had quickened. His eyes bringing him before me, you took it
Burmese and Siamese and Japanese, half- began to roam, and suddenly he upon yourself to substitute him for
castes and Africans. Von Horst caught his noticed the banner hanging on the wall Fairfax!"
breath. His eyes roamed up the serried behind the bowls of incense — on it "Yes! He's dangerous! You know how
ranks, impressed with the number and was depicted a ferocious green dragon Sexton Blake has opposed Wu Ling!"
variety of attendees. with savage, clutching claws. The "Colonel Ash, you have defied me!
"Come on,' muttered Ash, and with a tight words chanted by Fu Manchu and Where is the dog Fairfax?"
grip on the German's arm he strode Colonel Ash seemed to have been "You don't understand! Blake is a devil!
forward along the stone floor, which, like inspired by this image, for they spoke If we deprive him of his assistant, it
the ceiling, was painted with inscriptions. of the ‘the talons' that would strike any could break him!"
The air was heavy with drifting incense, man who betrayed the Si Fan. Doctor Fu Manchu sat, calm and
which obscured the end of the room. The Fu Manchu and Colonel Ash fell silent. motionless but for the restless green
whole place was lit with shaded lamps, Quietly, the chanting began again, flames of his slanted eyes.
filling the hall with a soft yellow light. throbbing against the walls, filling von "I repeat, Colonel Ash, and for the last
As von Horst's eyes grew more used to the Horst's head. He wanted to press his time: where is Fairfax?"
hazy atmosphere he saw Doctor Fu hands against his ears as the pulsing "He —"
Manchu. voices grew louder. The sound seemed Ash was interrupted by a sudden loud
The Devil Doctor was seated on a carved supernatural, as if channelled through beating on the door behind the curtains
ivory throne at the top of three broad the gathered throng from a distant time at the other end of the hall. There was a
steps. Behind him was a row of great brass and place. On it went, the voices rising, splintering crash and the thud of many
bowls, hung from the ceiling on slender falling, rising, falling. booted feet. The next moment, a horde
chains. From these the coils of the incense Then, suddenly, silence. of blue-clad figures came bursting into
drifted. He felt Ash tugging at his sleeve and sight — stalwart police constables, led
Fu Manchu's yellow skin, the oblique eyes turned with a start. by the short burly figure of Detective-
that glimmered with dark inscrutability, "Here you are — take this!" the Inspector Coutts and, beside him,
and the large, claw-like hands with their Colonel was whispering. Sexton Blake.
long nails, seemed the personification of Von Horst saw that his companion held Along the length of the hall, the Baker
the mysterious East, with all its riddles, a long trident-shaped weapon; a long Street detective's eyes locked with the
slumbering ambitions and vast dreams. handle with a three-bladed end carved agate-green ones of Colonel Ash.
"Coutts, get that man with the black a common thief?" said von Horst, his Chinamen were hurriedly removing the
moustache!" he cried, "He's Plu— " grip on Plummer loosening slightly. dragon miankse from the wall.
He broke off as a wiry, vicious-looking Plummer met von Horst's eyes. "There Without another word, Nayland Smith,
dacoit grabbed him by the throat and is nothing," he snarled, "common Sexton Blake and Doctor Petrie bounded
dragged him to the floor. about me!" He broke free from the up the steps and went crashing into the
The end of the hall erupted into erstwhile German's grip and his fist Celestials.
violence. The Si Fan leaped upon the slammed into von Horst's face, sending The seven men on the dais instantly
police with knives and garrottes in their the man staggering backwards into a became the focal point of the entire battle
hands. Blake struggled with his assailant, knot of Si Fan men. as Si Fan men rushed to defend the
who'd dropped a cord around the Plummer leaped onto the dais. miankse and constables raced after them.
detective's neck and was throttling him, Sexton Blake's voice rose above the Had anyone been watching from the back
while Coutts was also dragged to the din: "Plummer! Give yourself up!" of the hall the scene would have been too
floor by two dark-skinned assailants. The master crook ignored the chaotic to follow. Limbs whirled, blades
Fu Manchu rose to his feet, his eyes not command and passed around the flashed, truncheons swung down onto
leaving the quaking form of Colonel Ash. throne, pulling aside the curtains to the heads; there were screams and shouts and
"So!" His voice was sulphuric. "What was right of it and revealing an open door. groans and, from time to time, rising above
he about to say, white man? Who are He stepped through into a long the cacophony, the sound of Detective-
you? How deep is your treachery?" corridor and closed the portal behind Inspector Coutts roaring instructions and
George Marsden Plummer stood, frozen him. He found three large bolts which, encouragement to his men:
with fear. His jaw worked spasmodically with a grim smile of relief, he slid into "Hughes! Johnson! Montgomery! Keep
but no sound emerged from him. place. Turning, he spotted some way that exit guarded! Don't let any of the
Three Chinese suddenly pushed him and ahead of him the two Asiatics carrying blighters slip away!"
von Horst aside and ran up the steps to Tinker. They did not see him and soon "Good work Lomax! You show ‘em what's
Fu Manchu. They bowed then stepped out of sight around a corner. what!"
whispered urgently. Without taking his Plummer waited a few moments to "Dickson! Mitchell! Stop ‘em grouping up
eyes off Plummer, the Devil Doctor allow them to get farther ahead, then there on the right!"
nodded and said something. Then he cautiously followed. "Lowry! Behind you, man! Watch out!"
broke his gaze, turned and quickly Back in the hall, as von Horst picked The Si Fan men fought viciously but
stepped behind the carved throne, himself off the floor, Sexton Blake shot gradually they succumbed, overwhelmed
disappearing behind a curtain. Two of past him and flung himself against the by the bravery, strength and determination
the Chinamen ran down to Tinker, door through which Plummer had of the British 'bobbies'. Up on the dais,
picked him up and followed their master. passed. It held firm. A pair of Si Fan Doctor Petri had unashamedly wrapped
The third drew a long knife from the men suddenly pounced on the the miankse around his left forearm to
folds of his sleeve and stepped towards detective and threw him backwards, stem the flow of blood caused by a slashing
Plummer. As he lifted the blade to strike, down the steps and straight into von knife. He stood, propped against the wall
von Horst swung the trident into the Horst who found himself sprawled on and visibly pale even through his dark
Chinaman's face. The celestial went the floor again. make-up, while Blake and Nayland Smith
flying backwards and landed in a heap on "Stay down!" panted Blake. "You'll be fought off the remaining Asiatics. These
the dais. arrested in a moment! There's no point last few men — mostly dacoits — were
"Good work!" cried Plummer. "Now let's in trying to run!" particularly savage, driven by their
get the blazes out of here!" "I'm Nayland Smith!" snapped von desperation to recover the silk banner.
But before he could move he found Horst. However, when Detective-Inspector
himself held in an iron grip. "Good man!" cried Blake. "Help me Coutts came smashing into them from the
"Let go, von Horst! What are you catch up with Plummer!" rear, their game was up. One by one they
playing at!" "Who?" asked Assistant Commissioner fell; some conscious, some unconscious,
"Stand still!" snapped von Horst, Denis Nayland Smith as Blake helped but all handcuffed and helpless.
without the slightest trace of a German him back to his feet. For a moment, everything seemed still.
accent. "Colonel Ash is George Marsden The strange quietness was broken by
"Let me go I say! The police won't be Plummer, the notorious crook!" Doctor Petrie's unsteady voice:
delayed for much longer!" "Great Scott! That explains a lot! "As a medical man, may I make a
"You're not going anywhere Colonel From out of the battling police and Si suggestion?"
Ash!" came the steely reply. "You are a Fan men, an Indian leaped and in four Nayland Smith turned and took his friend
filthy traitor!" long strides reached Nayland Smith by the uninjured elbow. "What is it, old
Plummer's eyes suddenly blazed. "You and gripped his hand. man?"
fool!" he hissed, "I'm no traitor! That "Petrie, old man!" exclaimed the "That we treat this silk the same way we
Chinaman was never going to get an commissioner. treat all used dressings!"
army from me! I was just out for his "Smith! We've got to stop them!" cried "You mean —?"
money!" Petrie, who was in his guise as Arjun "We burn the damnable thing!"
"What!" Narayan. He pointed over his friend's
"I was swindling the damned chink!" shoulder to the area directly behind Fu
"Do you mean to tell me that you're just Manchu's throne. There, four * * *
The Ninth Chapter Pedro's nose discovered areas where expressionless, unreadable eyes.
Two Remarkable Conversations Tinker had obviously been but there He had followed three of them,
George Marsden Plummer had escaped, was no trail that could be followed. separately, upon their release but in all
Tinker was still missing, and Sexton Blake The many members of the Si Fan who three cases the men had gone straight
was not happy. had been rounded up were, for the to Southampton and had boarded an
He had caught a glimpse of the most part, slowly being released. There East-bound liner. Doctor Fu Manchu
unconscious body of his assistant during were few charges that could be levelled was obviously financing the mass
the raid on the Temple of the Dragon and against them, other than resisting arrest evacuation of all the men who'd fallen
knew that Tinker was in the hands of the Si and assaulting a police officer. Serious into the hands of the police.
Fan. Two days had passed since that charges, it's true, but not the kind that Even Teng Zao Ping of the "rat-pie and
eventful night and no clue to his can be used to hold a man in a cell for dog-sausage shop" — a man who
whereabouts had been forthcoming. The very long. And once liberated, the men seemed to know everything about
detective was beside himself with worry. melted away and were never seen again. everything where his own race was
For hour after hour he had examined every Those that were subjected to an concerned — could tell Blake nothing
inch of the burnt-out rooms beneath the interrogation — with Detective- on this occasion.
now abandoned Limehouse café. He had Inspector Coutts's permission — by the "You can but wait, Mr Blake," he
scoured the temple and other rooms in Baker Street detective, simply advised. "The Devil Doctor has no
Woolwich. He had found nothing. remained silent and stared at him with direct argument with you or with
Tinker. Therefore he will not strike at tone caught the detective's attention. Blake recovered himself. "To taunt
you. Be patient. We men of the East act He sat up, his eyes suddenly alert, his me?" he asked, in a harsh metallic voice.
when the auspices suit the action, and not jaw tightening. "No. To reassure you."
before!" "Yes. I'm Sexton Blake. Who's this?" "How so?" The detective couldn't hide
So Sexton Blake waited. Another pause. his surprise.
Then, on that second day, at eight o'clock "Good evening Mr Blake. I am Prince "By telling you that your honourable
in the evening, he received a most Wu Ling." assistant is alive, unharmed, and well-
surprising telephone call. For once in his life, Blake was taken looked after."
He had been slumped in his old saddlebag aback and his voice failed him. "Wu - "How do you know this?"
chair, wrapped in his thoughts and Wu Ling?" he stuttered. "I have spies, Mr Blake. Do you not
threadbare red dressing gown, smoking Two or three seconds passed before think that an opponent like Doctor Fu
his pipe and filling the room with a blue there came a reply, indicating that the Manchu is one worth watching? My
haze, when the telephone jangled. caller was some distance away, though people have infiltrated the Si Fan as, I
Wearily, he reached across to the by no means, it occurred to Blake, as far am sure, the Si Fan have, regrettably,
occasional table and lifted the receiver to away as China. infiltrated the Brotherhood of the
his ear. "Do not be alarmed, Mr Blake," — the Yellow Beetle."
"Yes?" voice was silken even through the static Blake remained silent.
There was a pause; crackles on the line, on the line — "Though you are my "I feel certain," continued Wu Ling,
then: honourable enemy, a man I shall one "that you will be contacted soon. But be
"I am speaking to Mr Sexton Blake." day strike like a troublesome mosquito, prepared to make a deal. Were I an
Oddly, it sounded more like a statement this is not that day. I am calling as one American — and I thank the gods that I
than a question ... and something in its who holds you in the highest esteem." am not — I might tell you that the cards
are stacked in Fu Manchu's favour. But do "How gratifying," drawled Blake Intelligence Service. And perhaps, after
not be afraid that he will harm your sarcastically. all, 'C' was right in issuing that order;
assistant for as an American might also Fu Manchu appeared not to notice the maybe it was better that he, Sexton
say: he owes you one." detective's tone. Blake, dedicated himself to the fight
"How so?" "The occasion had already been turned against Prince Wu Ling while Nayland
"The miankse. It meant a great deal to into a farce by the treacherous Colonel Smith, in turn, opposed Fu Manchu.
him. I possessed it and you wrested it from Ash," he continued, "though I was not "You are aware," he said, "that if I leave
me and passed it to him. He will see to it aware of that fact until your assistant your organisation alone, there are
that the debt is repaid." was revealed." others who will not?"
There was a pause and then, with ice in his Blake remained silent. "You refer to Assistant Commissioner
voice, Prince Wu Ling said: "As will I." After a pause, Fu Manchu continued: Denis Nayland Smith?" purred the
The line went dead. "My point, Mr Blake, is that I still doctor.
Blake replaced the receiver. He was consider myself to be somewhat "Him, yes. But others, too. The British
astonished and yet also encouraged, for indebted to you over the miankse affair. will not sit back and allow you to
despite their history, he trusted Prince Wu Despite what has happened to it since, destroy our democracy! You will not
Ling's word implicitly. it was you who returned it to the Si Fan rob us of the freedoms we have toiled
Three hours later, just as he made the after it had been lost for eighty years. for so long to establish! You will not
decision to go to bed, Blake was roused by For that reason, I am willing to return undermine the principles of
a gentle knock at the door. Not the front the esteemed Tinker to you alive and civilisation! Look back at the long
door downstairs, but the door of his unharmed ... and at very little cost to history of the West, Doctor! You will
consulting room. It did not sound like Mrs yourself." see progress! You will see an ongoing
Bardell's knock. "Cost," said Blake flatly. process of enlightenment that brings
"Come!" he said. Fu Manchu gave a slight shrug of his with it ever more impressive
The door swung open and Doctor Fu shoulders and seemed to wince, as if he achievements — technologies,
Manchu glided into the room, his hands felt that the conversation was taking a governmental systems and
clasped behind his back, his head held rather unpleasant turn. "Hear me out, organisations that will ultimately help
high, his eyes filmy and unreadable. please; I will not be asking much of every man, woman and child to live a
"Good evening, Mr Blake!" you; I simply seek an assurance and a happier, healthier and more
"How the blue blazes did you get in?" little information." comfortable life! We have a class
snapped Blake, rising to his feet. Blake fished his pipe from his dressing system that gives every one of us a
"Via the front door," said Fu Manchu. He gown pocket. "Go on." clearly defined place in society; a
crossed the room and stood beside the The Chinaman looked on with distaste function; a means to contribute to, and
detective, facing the fireplace. The Si Fan as Blake filled and lit the pipe. "I benefit from, the great culture in which
pearl stood on the mantelpiece before him. understand," he said, "that the Secret we live! Can the same be said of the
"Did you know," he said in a voice that was Intelligence Service has ordered you to East? No! Most definitely not! So hear
barely above a whisper, "that this pearl was avoid contact with the Si Fan." me, doctor, and hear me well: the
once owned by Ki Kwan, wife of Sexton Blake shot upright in his seat Secret Intelligence Service issued an
Confucius?" and the pipe dropped from his mouth order. I will obey that order not
"No," snapped Blake. "Where is my into his lap. because you ask me to but because it is
assistant? I demand an answer!" "How can you possibly know that!" he my duty and my place to do so."
Without taking his eyes from the pearl, Fu barked. "The order was given in the "You give me your word that you will
Manchu said, "You demand, Mr Blake? strictest confidence during a meeting not intentionally interfere with the Si
Really? But come now, there is no need for attended only by myself and the man Fan?" said Fu Manchu quietly.
such crudity. I assure you that the plucky who issued it!" "I give you my word that I will not
young Tinker is well cared for!" "Ah, Mr Blake! There is a great deal intentionally engage with the Si Fan.
He turned and looked the detective that I know! A very great deal! The However, I will add that, if I happen
straight in the eye. "I have come to point is that the order was given and I across information that will help
negotiate. Perhaps you realise how much want you to obey it! If you give me oppose you, then I will not hesitate to
of a ... novelty ... that is for me? I do not your word that you will do so — that pass that information on to the Secret
normally negotiate, Mr Blake. May I sit?" you will not interfere with the affairs of Service."
Blake gave a curt nod. the Si Fan — then I will return Tinker "But you will not actively seek such
Fu Manchu lowered himself into the guest to you unharmed. I will also give you information?"
armchair and, with his elbows on its arms my assurance that the Si Fan will not "I shall not."
and his hands steepled before his face, he interfere in the affairs of Sexton Blake!" "Then we have a deal, Mr Blake. I have
contemplated Blake, who had also seated Blake retrieved his pipe and busied one further request."
himself. himself refilling and lighting it while Sexton Blake narrowed his eyes,
"First," said the doctor, "I want you to considering his visitor's proposal. wondering what was coming next; half
know that I do not hold you responsible Doctor Fu Manchu was, in essence, expecting trickery of some sort.
for the disruption of my little gathering the simply asking him to do something that Fu Manchu leaned forward in the chair.
other night nor for the subsequent burning he would do anyway: obey the orders That peculiar milky film in his eyes
of the dragon miankse." given him by the head of the Secret flickered across the pinpoint irises.
"Colonel Ash. I want him. Tell me "The pearl of Ki Kwan was a gift, Mr past. However, Plummer had visited each
where I might find him!" Blake. Now, perhaps, you will look one in his Colonel Ash guise when he
The Baker Street detective upon it as a memento — a memento of deposited the Si Fan money — and that is
contemplated the question. Plainly, Fu our one and only encounter! Please what terrified him, for if Sexton Blake had
Manchu did not know the colonel's true know that I have enjoyed meeting the discovered that fact, then the banks in
identity. world's most famous and accomplished question might at this very moment be
George Marsden Plummer's crime spree detective. And, of course, I wish you under observation. Even worse, Blake
had so far lasted for two decades and nothing but success in your campaign might have asked Scotland Yard to order
there was no end to it in sight. The man against our common opponent, Prince the accounts frozen.
was an out-and-out scoundrel who had, Wu Ling." Plummer needed that money. He had to
time and again, eluded Blake and police Blake bowed his head in move it to an account in Gibraltar, where
forces worldwide. He was, undoubtedly, acknowledgement. When he raised his it would be more easily accessible to him.
the most persistent of Blake's foes, and eyes, Doctor Fu Manchu had gone. He knew, though, that getting it from the
while it was true that a great many of his five banks — if, indeed, he could get it —
schemes had been foiled by the The Tenth Chapter would mean taking a massive risk. When
detective, it was also true that a great Flight! depositing the cheques, in his Colonel
many had not. For two days George Marsden Ash disguise, he had told the bank
Here was an opportunity to finally Plummer had been keeping out of sight, managers that it he would be returning in
curtail Plummer's activities. With the Si not once leaving his room in a small a few days to withdraw the cash — they
Fan on his heels, the master-crook B&B in Gillingham. Despite were expecting Ash! But thanks to Sexton
would spend the rest of his life — abandoning his Colonel Ash disguise Blake's raid on the temple, Colonel Ash
probably a short life — looking over his and donning instead a grey wig and was a very risky man to be!
shoulder fearfully. He would flinch away false beard, he felt extremely unsafe, What Plummer didn't know was that
from every yellow face he ever saw. He was filled with terror and wanted to get Sexton Blake was currently occupied
would be forced to retreat ever deeper out of the country as soon as possible. sifting through the ashes of the café and
into the shadows; maybe even fleeing to He knew that Sexton Blake would be the rooms beneath. It was, in fact, the Si
the remotest of regions. Not even his investigating the recent movements of Fan who posed the greatest danger, for
beloved Rif Mountains could offer him a 'Colonel Ash'. Plummer had developed they were combing London in search of
safe haven, for Blake had but to inform an almost superstitious fear of the Colonel Ash. Indeed, when Plummer
Fu Manchu of his possible presence detective's abilities, for time and again stepped off the train at Charing Cross
there in order to fill those rocky peaks his schemes had been foiled by the Station, he was observed by a pair of dark,
with a swarm of vengeful Chinamen. Baker Street man. slanted eyes … and from that moment, his
Plummer would be hunted like an He sat on his bed, gnawed his every movement was followed.
animal and, sooner or later, he would be fingernails, and tried to figure out what He proceeded to the first of the banks
caught — and God help him then! The clues he might have left and how Blake and, with very little trouble, withdrew the
Asiatics have ways of ensuring that a might use them to trace him. cash and placed it into a plain leather
man's final excruciating hours, days, After many hours of this, with his nerve holdall. He left the building expecting to
weeks — even months! — are almost shattered, he paid the landlady be nabbed by Scotland Yard men — but
prolonged beyond anything imaginable and walked to the train station, a nothing of the sort happened.
by a Westerner. The Christian vision of suitcase in one hand, an empty holdall It was the same story at each of the banks
Hell pales by comparison to the physical in the other. When the London-bound and, later that morning, it was a far more
agonies a Celestial can inflict. locomotive came rattling up to the confident Plummer who arrived at
Plummer's end would be ... horrible! platform, belching smoke and soot, Liverpool Street. His holdall heavy with a
Sexton Blake looked up, straight into Plummer jumped aboard almost before fortune in banknotes.
the slanted green eyes of Doctor Fu it had stopped and sat alone, shaking, in It was at this point that the flaw in his
Manchu. a first-class compartment. He fumbled a character took over.
"I know of no individual named Colonel cigar from his pocket, bit off the end Had Plummer been content with the
Ash," he said. "And if such an individual and lit it, the trembling flame crackling money currently in his hand, chances are
exists, I have no idea where he might down its side. that he would have got clear and left the
be." For the duration of the short journey, country a very rich man indeed. Plummer,
The eyes of the Chinese warlord and the he chain-smoked, filling the small space though, knew that a further half-a-million
criminal investigator held. There was with smoke. Under its cover, and for was waiting for him. It was something he
silence. Then Fu Manchu blinked and the final time, he transformed himself couldn't ignore.
stood up. into Colonel Ash. Greed motivated him.
"Very well, Mr Blake, in that case our The one-and-a-half million he had Overconfidence made him careless.
business is done. We shall never meet taken from Fairfax, plus the large He forgot to remove his disguise.
again, is that understood?" amounts of money he had accepted So he stepped aboard a train and, less
"Yes," said Blake, also standing. from Doctor Fu Manchu, had been than an hour later, he was in Ilford and
Fu Manchu crossed the room to the divided between five bank accounts. All walking along the Cranbrook Road.
door then turned and looked back at the the accounts had been opened under The previous few days of rain had given
detective. assumed names at various times in the way to a uniform but bright greyness. A
thin unbroken blanket of cloud stretched straight at Plummer. opened onto a main road. He veered to
across the sky. It was the kind of weather Fairfax's hands, dangling at his sides, the left and raced along it hoping to see
that left most people feeling flat and were painted bright green. a taxi but none came. He glanced
depressed — but Plummer was feeling Plummer stumbled backwards and fell behind him and saw a Celestial in hot
exuberant. He was rich! And he was about against the hallway wall. For a moment, pursuit.
to get richer! all rational thought left him and his The Si Fan had been looking for
After about fifteen minutes, the Spoon Inn eyes, the whites completely visible Malcom Fairfax and for Colonel Ash!
hove into view ahead of him. He entered around the green irises, twitched They had found both!
the tavern, walked up to the bar and asked frantically from side to side like those of Desperately, Plummer ran, dodging
for the landlord. A tall bearded individual a trapped animal. His knees buckled and turning through street after street,
appeared beside him and placed a tray of and he began to slide down the wall but his legs pumping, his lungs sucking in
empty glasses on the bar. "That's me!" he his wits suddenly returned and, heaving huge draughts of air. He cursed himself
said in a loud, jovial voice. "'Ow can I 'elp?" himself upright, he leaned forward and bitterly. Why had he bothered with half
"You have a Mr Darwin rooming here?" pulled the door shut. a million when he already had more
asked Plummer. Grabbing his suitcase and still clutching than three times that amount in his
"Aye! A rummy sort o' chap! Unsociable!" the holdall, he hurried back along the hands?
"Ah, that's my fault, I'm afraid!" passageway and down the stairs. The Asiatic was closing on him.
"Really? 'Ow's that then?" asked the "Hallo!" boomed the landlord, "That Plummer could hear the soft thud thud
landlord, scratching his head. was a quick visit! Ain't there nothin' you thud of the man's feet at his back.
"I'm his doctor. I told him to go stay can do for the poor chap?" And he Then, as he came alongside a high
somewhere. Take a rest. See no one. Read roared with laughter at his own joke. fence, Plummer noticed a gap where a
books!" Plummer pushed past him, heading for couple of planks had become detached
"Oh ho! A doctor hey? Funny, I took you the exit, and muttered, "He wasn't and he quickly veered into the
for a military man!" there!" opening. As he passed through, his foot
Plummer realised that he was still in his "Wasn't there? Wasn't there?" shouted caught on something and he fell head
disguise. He nodded. the landlord as the master crook first down a steep slope. His skin was
"And you are correct. I'm a military doctor. reached the door. "Why he ain't been lacerated and bruised as he rolled and
Will you announce me?" nowhere but there for two blinkin' slid in a shower of debris down the
The landlord clicked his heels and gave an days!" incline to the bottom, where he
over-theatrical salute. Plummer staggered out of the Spoon slammed into hard gravel. He lay
"No need for that, sir! You can go straight Inn and started running back towards panting and winded.
up, sir! Stairs are in the corner over there, the train station. As he came abreast the A shower of earth and stones warned
sir! The gentleman is in room four, what is mouth of an alleyway, a figure suddenly him that the Chinaman had followed
to your left at the top 'o the stairs, sir!" leaped out and dragged him into it, and was picking his way down the
Plummer smiled and drawled: "At ease, my using the big man's own momentum to slope.
man!" send him sprawling into the gloomy Plummer forced himself to his knees
The landlord saluted again as Plummer left passageway. and then to his feet. He clutched the
him, crossed the lounge bar and ascended Plummer twisted to his knees, expecting holdall to his chest and quickly glanced
the stairs. A suitcase was in his right hand; to see Sexton Blake and Tinker leaping around. He was in a railway cutting,
the holdall in his left. At the top, he turned towards him. Instead, he saw two next to the tracks, which were starting
and passed along a dingy hall until he came Chinamen. He screamed and jerked the to hum and vibrate as an unseen train
to room four. Then he placed the suitcase holdall up as a knife flashed down. It approached. How fast would it be
on the floor and knocked on the door. half severed the handle of the bag and travelling? Could he somehow board it
There was no reply. He knocked again. plunged into its brown leather. and get away? All he required was a
Silence. He gripped and turned the door Plummer yanked the bag away, bringing place where, free from prying eyes, he
handle. The door was locked. the knife with it, and, with his other could remove his Ash disguise. The Si
There are certain locks which, for an ex- hand, he sent the suitcase smashing into Fan had never seen his real features.
Scotland Yard man like Plummer — the side of his attacker's head. The case He just needed to pull off the wig and
especially one possessing his strength — exploded and the Celestial was sent false moustache, wipe away the
provide no barrier at all. He braced himself, reeling, collapsing to the pavement, out carefully applied lines and wrinkles,
turned the handle again, lifted and pushed. cold, with clothes and various toiletries then he could walk right past Fu
With a slight splintering sound, the door falling around him. Manchu himself without being
opened and Plummer stood on the The second man dived at Plummer but recognised!
threshold, staring into the room. was caught by the suitcase's back-swing He turned just as his pursuer reached
He blinked. The muscles at either side of which smashed into his face, causing the bottom of the slope. The oriental
his jaw pulsed. him to tumble sideways into a dustbin. dived at him. Plummer's fist shot out.
Malcom Fairfax was hanging by the neck As his assailant thrashed about amid His opponent ducked and wound his
from the light fitting in the middle of the clattering tin and stinking refuse, wiry arms around Plummer's waist,
ceiling. His face was purple and his tongue, Plummer shot to his feet, dropped the hooked his leg around the bigger man's
thick and black, was protruding from his suitcase, turned on his heel and fled ankle, and pushed. Losing his balance,
mouth. His glazed, dead eyes stared farther down the alleyway. At its end it the master crook toppled backwards
onto the rail track, banging his head But the holdall was no longer there. me. We played chequers for hours on
against one of the metal runners. For a He scrambled to his feet and stumbled end and I got fed and watered on a
brief moment he blacked out and, along beside the track, past the large regular basis. Not much different to a
when his senses revived, he found the smear of blood, to where the notes were holiday in Margate, apart from the lack
Si Fan man on his chest and a garotte scattered. He began to gather them up of sand, sun, donkey rides and freedom
around his throat. but there was only a small fraction of to depart when the whim takes you!"
Beneath him, the track began to the one-and-a-half million; just a few Further conversation was interrupted
rumble and jump as the train sped hundred pounds. He could have wept, by the sudden appearance of Pedro,
nearer. so biting was his frustration. To be so who bounded on his young master with
Plummer felt as if his head would close to the riches he had always frantic enthusiasm, his tail wagging
burst as the cord cut into his neck. His dreamed of and then have them madly. At the same time, a thunderous
vision narrowed to a pinprick, the snatched away at the last moment! pounding sounded from the front door
world becoming a distant spark of Plummer was cut, bruised, covered with below, accompanied by the urgent
light at the end of a very long tunnel. soot and dust, and bone-weary. He clanging of the doorbell and Mrs
With one final, supreme effort, he moved slowly, all the fight drained out Bardell's shriek of "Suspector-Defective
swung the heavy holdall into the side of him. Then he remembered the other Scoots!"
of his attacker's head. The handle of Chinaman — the one he had knocked While the customary battle between the
the bag, already half-sliced through, cold in the alley. As soon as that man landlady and Scotland Yard man raged
snapped, and as the Celestial fell regained his wits, he would put out the on the doorstep, Tinker settled Pedro
sideways the bag flew over him and word that Colonel Ash was in the area. onto the hearthrug, then he and Sexton
bounced away down the track. It would soon be swarming with the Si Blake took up position in their
Plummer threw the broken handle Fan! armchairs.
aside and rolled away from the railway So Plummer stuffed his pockets with By the time Coutts made it up the
line, his ears filled with a thunderous banknotes and began to climb the stairs, Blake's pipe had polluted the
noise that was partly the sound of slope. He would find a room atmosphere to a satisfactory degree and
blood pumping back through his half- somewhere nearby, clean himself up, both he and his assistant had their
crushed arteries, and partly the growl and then get out of the country as fast noses buried in newspapers.
of the fast approaching locomotive. as possible. He knew he would be safe The consultation room door opened
He dug the cord away from his throat from the Si Fan once he had divested and a thoroughly harrassed-looking
and gasped for air. himself of the Colonel Ash disguise but George Coutts stepped in. Behind him,
He staggered to his feet. A whistle there would still remain one from the bottom of the stairs, came Mrs
blasted. The Si Fan man sat up and overwhelming danger — Bardell's voice: "And you didn't wipe
looked past Plummer, his eyes The man named Sexton Blake! 'em great clod-hoppin' boots of yours
widening with terror, his mouth neither! You might 'ave been brung up
opening to scream. The Epilogue on a farm with the aminals but
Suddenly Plummer was knocked flying Baker Street hereabouts we got civilated customs
as a wall of air slapped into him with That evening, while Plummer was and don't you ferget it!"
terrible force, sending him rolling over fleeing across the channel, bitter and "By the Lord Harry!" panted Coutts,
and over. He was enveloped in thick defeated, the door to Sexton Blake's "Her cooking is heavenly but that
burning steam; deafened by an earth- consulting room opened and Tinker womans the devil in disguise!"
shattering roar as a locomotive flashed walked in. Blake leapt up from his chair Tinker lowered his paper. "Oh, hello
by less than two feet from him. The and in a couple of long strides was Couttsy. Didn't hear you coming!"
ground shook wildly as the deafening gripping his assistant's hand in a Coutts jerked his hat from his head.
train continued to pass, seeming to go heartfelt shake. He cleared his throat "Don't call me 'Couttsy, you young ...
on forever. and asked: "Are you in good shape, What! By all that's holy! Tinker!"
And then it was over and a strange young'un?" "The one and only!" grinned the
silence descended upon him. "It was dreadful!" whispered Tinker youngster, rising the grip the Yard
Plummer lay still with his face pressed huskily. "I've had nothing but noodles, man's hand.
into the oily gravel. twice a day for three days!" "Pull up a chair, old friend," advised
He was tired. He wanted to sleep, to Blake laughed and cuffed the Sexton Blake. "Tinker will tell you
shut his eyes and wake up somewhere youngster's head. "Clown! So no harm about his adventures!"
else, somewhere safe and comfortable. done, then?" Coutts did so and for the next few
After some moments, he lifted his "Nope! One minute I was looking at minutes he listened to Tinker's account
head. Plummer, next minute the lights went of his capture by Plummer and
The Chinaman had vanished. Where out. When I woke up I had a thumping imprisonment by the Si Fan.
he had been sitting, the railway great headache and my wrists and At the end of it the police inspector
sleepers were wet and red, glistening ankles were sore — seems I was tied up gave a whistle. "I can never get the hang
in the pale grey light. for a while, though I can't remember it! of these oriental types," he mused.
Further along the rails, banknotes I was in a small square room with a "First they're going to stick a steaming
fluttered through the air. mattress, a couple of cushions on the great fork into you, next they're treating
"No!" groaned Plummer. "No!" floor, and a Chinaman watching over you to bed and breakfast!"
"In fairness," opined Blake, "they didn't its forces while it's divided by these supposition that a member of the Si Fan
actually know it was Tinker beneath that ancient emnities! Doctor Fu Manchu appeared at his office window — I've
silk and it was Assistant Commissioner and Prince Wu Ling will never unite, of examined the wall beneath it and it's an
Nayland Smith, as von Horst, who was that we can be certain!" easy climb. No doubt Bennett saw him,
brandishing the fork!" "But to get back to Plummer," said knew that he was an assassin, and died
"Fiddlesticks! Mere details!" grumbled Coutts, "How the dickens did he fool a on the spot. The man then entered and
Coutts. "But I'm still in the dark. What was man like Manchu? With the Colonel painted Bennett's hands green."
Plummer up to?" Ash business, I mean." "The dragon's claw!" said Tinker.
"Exactly as you predicted!" exclaimed "Simply because he knew what he was Coutts snorted. "Mumbo jumbo, more
Blake. "He was after money!" talking about! Plummer knows the like!"
"From Doctor Fu Manchu?" Riffian forces inside out. My guess is He brushed cake crumbs from his
"Yes. But he made exactly the same mistake that, in his guise of Colonel Ash, he trouser leg.
as I did — he misjudged the hold that offered those forces to Fu Manchu. Sexton Blake turned and gazed at the
symbols and rituals have over the oriental The so-called Devil Doctor must have pearl of Ki Kwan.
mind! I was a fool to arrange the sale of the found that irresistible; his own army "Yes indeed," he muttered. "But when it
dragon miankse to the Si Fan without first poised just the other side of the Straits comes from the right source, mumbo
researching its history and significance. of Gibraltar! The prospect dazzled jumbo can be as fatal as the thrust of a
And Plummer was a fool to think that he him; blinded him to the truth — that knife!"
could substitute Tinker for Fairfax without 'Colonel Ash' was in it for one thing
Fu Manchu regarding it as an act of and one thing only — personal gain!" The End
betrayal!" "A risky game for Plummer," noted
"Great heavens if it wasn't bad enough with Tinker.
Wu Ling, now we have Fu Man-bloomin'- "Indeed," agreed Blake. "But since
chu!" groaned Coutts. when has Plummer played any other FOOTBALL COMPETITION NO. 9
"The truth is," said Blake, "that Fu Manchu sort?" Matches played Saturday X, XXXX
has been around for a long time. The After a momentary pause, the detective (Date restricted by The Craille Institute)
Secret Intelligence Service knows all about continued: ___
him and Nayland Smith and Doctor Petrie "Fu Manchu's lust for power also gave
have battled him — just as we've battled Assistant Commissioner Nayland £50 WON.
Wu Ling — for many a year. Of course, I Smith the opportunity he needed. ___
had been aware that the Manchu and the When he learned that the doctor was
Ming dynasties were at odds — and I knew making overtures to Hitler, he In this Competition no one succeeded in
that the Manchu's had an operative in intercepted the man sent to negotiate correctly forecasting the results of all the
Europe … but I had no idea that the Si Fan on Hitler's behalf and took his place. matches. The Prize of £50 is therefore
were so powerful. Whenever I saw signs of As von Horst, he gained valuable divided among the following eighteen
their various machinations — the insight into Fu Manchu's intentions!" competitors, who each sent in a coupon
attempted intrigues, kidnappings, "And Hitler's," muttered Tinker. showing twelve correct predictions:
assassinations, acts of sabotage, and so Detective-Inspector Coutts's hat went Mrs. E. J. Cole, Bishop Sutton, Bristol;
forth — I had mistakenly attributed them flying across the consulting room, Geo. Parry, Bock House, Ferndale, S.
to Wu Ling's organisation; they bore the banged against the window and fell to Wales; W. P. Lee, 78, Glandwr Street,
same unmistakable hallmark of the East!" the carpet. Abertillery. S. Wales; John St. Clair, 44,
"Guv'nor," broke in Tinker, "with these two "Blast it!" he fumed. "Hitler! Wu Ling! Spurstowe Terrace, Hackney, London;
organisations at work to destabilise Plummer! Fu Manchu! Is there no end Jas. Stewart, 12, Terrace Road,
Europe, what chance do we have? Do you to these maniacs?" Greenock; Mr. Robinson, 4 Cain Lane,
think they'll manipulate us into another His outburst was interrupted by the Southowram, Halifax; C. Hall, 52,
war?" arrival of Mrs Bardell bearing a tray Crimpsall Road, Doncaster; E. Ruddiek,
"Another war!" exclaimed Coutts. upon which stood a teapot and a plate 23, Raglan Row, Philadelphia, Co.
"Impossible!" of pastries. She lay it on an occasional Durham; John W. Mould, High Street.
"I'm afraid it's all too possible, old chap," table and was just turning to leave Mow Cop, Cheshire; Mr. A. Boanas, 82,
said Blake. "Maybe even inevitable. And if when, with a disapproving sigh, she Angus Street, Roath Park, Cardiff; John
it's anything like as ferocious as the last noticed the hat on the floor. She Radio, 48, North Junction Street, Leith,
one, then the East need only gather its crossed to it, picked it up, dusted it Scotland; L. J. Gee, 48, Hasland Road,
forces and have them sweep through the down, then, on her way out of the Chesterfield; W. Rawson, 16, Tunstall
debris!" room, silently slapped it onto Coutts's Road, Dewsbury Road, Leeds; J. A.
"My God!" head. Fraser, 132, School Road, Moseley;
"I never thought I'd say this, guv'nor," said Tinker laughed delightedly. Samuel Gibbs, 6, Russell Street,
Tinker, "but thank goodness for Prince Wu Coutts frowned and reached for a cake. Heywood, Tree Lanes; Harry Blunt, 80,
Ling!" "Incidentally," he said, "according to Bourne Street, Brindley Ford, Stoke-on-
Sexton Blake chuckled. the coroner, Bennett definitely died of Trent; Mrs. Cooper, 62, Skipworth
"Well there you have it in a nutshell," he fright." Street, Leicester; Denis Regan, 55,
nodded. "The East won't be able to gather Sexton Blake nodded. "It's my Cardiff Road, Mountain Ash, Glam.
Created by Mark Hodder of BLAKIANA on behalf of The Craille Institute. Copyright Mark Hodder 2009. No part of this publication may be
reproduced without the author's express permission. Date restricted by The Craille Institute.
A WORD FROM THE SKIPPER interesting information, including the received have each lasted exactly one
My Dear Readers, -- From time to time rough drafts of new Sexton Blake week before mysteriously crumbling into
large flat envelopes appear in a postbox stories -- drafts which, in fact, had more ash of their own accord!
marked '28 apt. 5'. Your humble of the appearance of case notes. With a I am, as you might imagine, on fire with
editor's name and address are stamped minimum of effort on my part, these curiosity!
onto these envelopes in jet black ink. became 'The Séance at Stillwater The penultimate envelope to date
The postmarks are always British but, Mansion', 'The Return of the Yellow contained twenty-six pages upon which
so far, in each instance they have Beetle', 'Special Dispensation 5 and 6 were written the most startling
indicated a different town as the point (plus 5, Appendix 1)', 'The Case of the information so far. And I mean 'written',
of origin. The most recent example, of Left Hand of Thoth', 'Pedro Pulls for the contents deviated from the usual
which I am about to write, was sent Through!', 'The Case of the Flying in the fact that, rather than being
from Herne Bay, which is a small Submarine', 'The Day of the Dragon' printed, everything was penned by hand.
seaside town on the north coast of and 'The Mystery of Devil's Forest'. Like the font of the previous missives,
Kent. Beyond the postmark, no return Of these stories, 'Special Dispensation the words were tiny in the extreme,
address has ever been indicated. 5 and 6 (plus 5, Appendix 1)' and 'The written with a narrow-nibbed fountain
To date, I have received eleven of these Case of the Left Hand of Thoth' are by pen. The letters were slanted sharply to
envelopes. Each one contained sheets far the most interesting in that they the right and were beautifully formed,
of extremely thin white paper with a suggest that Sexton Blake is alive, is though somewhat angular in style. There
great number of words printed upon working for (though independent of) a were no mistakes; nothing crossed out or
them in a typeface so small as to be just secret organisation named The Craille scribbled over; nothing misspelled.
barely legible. Institute, and that he uses (and has The author, whoever he or she may be,
The first envelope was delivered about always used) fictionalised versions of had listed key events in Sexton Blake's
eight months after I created the his cases to maintain his position on the life, including hitherto unknown 'facts'
BLAKIANA web site. It contained other side of what is termed 'The such as his birthdate and a brief (and
fifteen pages. The topmost bore the Credibility Gap'. tragic) history of his family.
following (and rather intriguing) Now, I must admit that for a A small part of this information has been
message: considerable period of time I laboured used to construct the timeline which
under the impression that I was the now appears on the BLAKIANA site.
'Re. the web site. Good work. Timely. victim of an extravagant hoax. After all, More will be added later (yes, of course
We will be in touch.' Sexton Blake is just a fictional the moment I received the envelope I
character, isn't he? copied the contents by hand!).
There was no signature or address. However, when I discovered a certain So to the most recent delivery:
The remaining fourteen sheets oddity about the jet black ink of these It contained case notes, entitled THE
contained a great many additions and envelopes and their contents ... let's AFFAIR OF THE DEVIL DOCTOR
corrections to the Sexton Blake just say that my judgement is well and and an instruction to 'Write this up'.
bibliography which, at the time, was in truly suspended. There was an address (of a post office in
an inadequate shape, to say the least. This is astonishing but true: if I try to Tunbridge Wells) to which I was asked --
This new information allowed me to scan or photocopy the pages, nothing or, rather, 'ordered' -- to send the results.
transform it into something that but a blank white page comes out. If I So I did what I was told.
actually deserved to be called a try to photograph them, the camera A few days later I received an email
bibliography! There were also extracts cannot focus on the typeface and asking me to explain what had occurred
from various issues of THE UNION records only blurred lines. so far and how I felt about it.
JACK which I was able to use as the The only way I have found to So I wrote this and will send it back to
basis for the article entitled 'Behind the reproduce the information is to sit the anonymous emailer in a moment.
Scenes in Baker Street'. down and copy the sheets by hand. How do I feel about all this?
Subsequent envelopes held much more It gets worse: the sheets of paper I have Baffled1 Excited! Intrigued!
The Craille Institute supports
BLAKIANA, the Sexton Blake
resource. Have you experienced the
adventures of the world's greatest
detective? Did you know about the
ECCENTRIC, AMBITIOUS and
DANGEROUS villains he opposes?