decorative title text

He Swallows Gold

by H. Bedford-Jones


“We, all of us,” said Huber Davis reflectively, “like to show off how we do things; we like to tell people about our methods; we like to exposit our particular way of managing affairs. Each of us thinks he is a little tin god in that respect, Carefrew. That’s the way of a white man. A Chinaman, however, is just the opposite. He does not want to show his methods. He does things in a damned mysterious way—and he never tells.”

Carefrew sucked at his cigarette and eyed his brother-in-law with a sneer beneath his eyelids. Only a few hours previously Carefrew had landed from the coasting steamer, very glad indeed to get out of Batavia and parts adjacent with a whole skin. His wife was coming later, after she had straightened up his affairs, and he would then hop aboard the Royal Mail liner with her, and voyage on to Colombo and Europe. Ruth Carefrew, however, knew little about the deal which had sent Carefrew himself up to Sabang in a hurry.

“You seem to know a lot about Chinese ways,” said Carefrew.

“I ought to,” admitted Huber Davis placidly. “I’ve been dealing with ’em here for the past ten years, and I’ve built up a whale of a business with their help. You, on the other hand, got into a whale of a mess through swindling the innocent Oriental—”

“Oh, cut out the abuse!” broke in Carefrew nastily. “What are you driving at with your drivel about Chinese methods? I suppose you’re insinuating that they’ll try to get after me away up here at Sabang?”

“More than likely,” assented Huber Davis. “They have fairly close connections, what with business tongs and the Heaven-and-Earth Society, which has a lodge here. They’ll know that the clever chap who carried out that swindling game in Singapore, and then managed to put it over the second time in Batavia, is named Reginald Carefrew. They’ll have relatives in both places; probably you ruined a good many of their relatives—”

“Look here!” snapped Carefrew nastily. “Let me impress on you that there was no swindle! The Chinese love to gamble, and I gave ’em a run for their money—that’s all.”

Huber Davis eyed his brother-in-law with a trace of cynicism in his wide-eyed, poised features.

“Never mind lying about it, Reggy,” he said coolly. “You’ll be here until the next boat to Colombo, which is five days. In those five days you take my advice and stick close to this house; you’ll be absolutely safe here. I’m not helping and protecting you, mind, because I love you—it’s for Ruth’s sake. Somehow, Ruth would be sorry if you got bumped off. No one else would be sorry that I know of, but Ruth’s my sister, and I’d like to oblige her. I don’t order you to stay here, mind that! It’s merely advice.”

Under this lash of cool, unimpassioned truths Carefrew reddened and then paled again. He did not display any resentment, however. He was a little afraid of Huber Davis.

“You’re away off color,” he said carelessly. “Think I’m going to be a prisoner here? No. Besides, I honestly think there’s no danger, in spite of your apprehension. The yellow boys have nothing to be revengeful over, you see.”

“Oh,” said Huber Davis mildly. “I understood that several had committed suicide back in Batavia. That makes you their murderer, according to the old beliefs.”

Carefrew laughed; his laugh was not very good to hear, either.

“Bosh!” he exclaimed. “Those old superstitions are discarded in these days of New China. You’ll be saying next that the ghosts of the dead will haunt me!”

“They ought to,” retorted Huber Davis. “So you think the old beliefs are gone, do you? Well, we’re not in China, my excellent Reggy. We’re in Sabang, and the Straits Chinese have a way of clinging to the beliefs of their ancestors. You stick close to the house.”

“You go to the devil!” snapped Carefrew.

Huber Davis merely shrugged his shoulders, as though he had received all the consideration which he had expected.

“Li Mow Gee,” he observed, “is the biggest trader in these parts, and I know he has a raft of relatives back your way. I’d avoid his store.”

Carefrew, uttering an impatient oath, got up and left the veranda.

Huber Davis glanced after his brother-in-law, a sleepy, cynical laziness in his gaze. One gathered that he would not care a whit how soon Carefrew died, except possibly that his sister Ruth still loved Carefrew—a little. And except, of course, that the man was his own brother-in-law, and at the ends of the earth a white man upholds certain ideas about caste and the duty of white to white, and so forth.


Singapore is called the gateway of the Far East, but the real portal is the free-trade island harbor of Sabang, at the northern end of Sumatra.

At Sabang even the mail-steamers stop, coming and going. From England and India, coal is dumped at Sabang; the wharves and floating docks are many and busy; the cables extend from Sabang to all parts of the globe.

From the harbor heads runs brilliant blue water up to the brilliant green shores, and under the hill is snugly nestled a city whose Chinese streets convey a dull-red impression. Here, as elsewhere, the Chinese are the ganglia of trade and activity. The Dutch government likes them and profits by them, and they profit likewise.

One of the narrow Chinese streets turns sharply, almost at right angles, and is called the Street of the Heavenly Elbow for this reason. At the outside corner of the elbow is a door and shop sign, opening upon a narrow room little wider than the door; but behind this is another room, widening as one goes farther from the elbow, and behind this yet another room which broadens into a suite of apartments.

Such was the shop of Li Mow Gee. As is well known, Li is one of the Four Hundred surnames, and betokens that its owner is at least of good family, also widely connected. Li Mow Gee was both; to boot, he was very rich, considerably dissipated, and his private affairs were exactly like his shop—they began at a small and obscure point, which was himself, and they widened and widened beyond the ken of passersby until they comprised an extent which would have been incredible to any chance beholder. But Li Mow Gee saw to it that there were no chance beholders of his private affairs or shop either.

Li Mow Gee was not the type of inscrutable, omnipotent gambler who somehow manages to control fate and carry out the purposes of destiny, such as appear to be many of his race. He prided himself upon being a “son of T’ang”—that is, a man of the old southern empire whose ancestry was quite clear and unblemished through about nine centuries.

He was a slant-eyed, yellow-skinned, wrinkled little man of fifty. He had a bad digestion and an irritable temper, he was much given to rice-wine and wives, and he possessed an uncanny knowledge of the code of Confucius, by which he ruled his life—sometimes.

Upon the day after Reginald Carefrew arrived in Sabang the estimable Li Mow Gee sat in his private back room, which was hung with Chien Lung paintings, whose subjects would have scandalized Sodom and Gomorrah. Li Mow Gee sucked a three-foot pipe of bamboo and steel, and watched a kettle of water bubbling over a charcoal brazier. At the proper moment he took a pewter insert from its stand, slipped it into its niche inside the kettle, and watched the water boil until the pewter vessel was well heated. Then he poured hot rice-wine into the thimble-cup of porcelain at his elbow, sipped it with satisfaction, and clapped his hands four times.

One of the numerous doors of the room opened to admit a spectacled old man who was a junior partner of Li Mow Gee in business, but who was also Venerable Master of the local lodge of the Heaven-and-Earth Society. As etiquette demanded, the junior partner removed his spectacles and stood blinking, being blind as a bat without them.

“As you are aware, worshipful Chang,” said Li Mow Gee after some preliminary discourse, “my father’s younger brother has become an ancient.”

Mr. Chang bowed respectfully. A son of T’ang never says of his family that they are dead. But Mr. Chang had heard that Li Mow Gee’s father’s younger brother had committed suicide, with the intent of sending his avenging ghost after one Reginald Carefrew.

“You are also aware,” pursued Li Mow Gee, refilling the steel bowl of his pipe, “that the brother-in-law of my friend Huber Davis has arrived in Sabang for a short visit. As a man of learning, you will comprehend that I have certain duties to perform.”

Mr. Chang blinked, and promptly took his cue.

“You doubtless recall certain canons of the law which bear upon the situation,” he squeaked blandly. “It would give me infinite pleasure to hear them from your lips.”

Li Mow Gee had been waiting for this. He exhaled a thin cloud of smoke, and quoted from his exact memory of the writings of the Confucian canon:

“With the slayer of his father, a man may not live under the same sky; against the slayer of his brother, a man must never have to go home to seek a weapon; with the slayer of his friend, a man may not live in the same state.”

Li Mow Gee smoked for a moment in silence, then continued:

“Thus reads the Book of Rites, most venerable Chang. And yet our friend Huber Davis is our friend.”

“If the tiger and the ox are in company,” quoth Mr. Chang squeakily, “let the ox die with the tiger.”

“Not at all to the point,” said Li Mow Gee in irritated accents. “Do not be a venerable fool, my father! I desire that a messenger be sent to my bazaar.”

“Speak the message, beloved of heaven,” responded the elder.

“In our safe,” said Li Mow Gee slowly, “is a three-armed candlestick of white jade, bound in brass and having upon its three arms the characters signifying chalk, charcoal, and water. It is my wish that this precious object be taken to my bazaar and placed there near the door, with a sign upon it putting the price at nine florins; also, that our clerks be severely instructed to sell this object to no one except Mr. Carefrew.”

Mr. Chang wet his lips.

“But, dear brother,” he expostulated, “this is one of the precious objects of the Heaven-and-Earth Society.”

“That is why I desire your permission to make use of it,” said Li Mow Gee. “Am I to be trusted or not? Is my sacred honor of no worth in your eyes?”

“But, to be sold to a foreign devil!” the junior partner exclaimed.

“That is my wish.”

Mr. Chang threw up his hands, not without a smothered oath.

“Very well!” he squeaked angrily. “But when this swindler, this murderer of honest folk, sees it for sale in your bazaar at so ridiculous a price, he will buy it and take it away, and laugh at Li Mow Gee for a fool!”

“If he did not,” said Li Mow Gee, pouring himself another thimble-cup of wine, “I should be a most wretched and unhappy man!”


A Chinese candlestick is meant to hold, upon a long, upright prong, a candle painted with very soft red wax, so soft that the finger cannot touch the paint without blurring and marring it. Otherwise, it is like Occidental candlesticks in general respects.

Reginald Carefrew, who had plenty of money in his pocket, but who had left Singapore in something of a real hurry, walked into the Benevolent Brethren Bazaar in search of silks and pongees to take home to Europe. The bazaar, which bore no other name, confined itself almost exclusively to such goods. In the front of the shop, which was upon one of the half-Dutch streets overlooking the harbor, were strewn about a few objects of brass, bronze, and the cheap champlevé cloisonné which are made for tourists.

Almost as he entered the place, however, the vigilant eye of Carefrew discovered a very different object, placed in a niche which concealed it from view of the street. It was no less than a candlestick of three arms, a most unusual thing; also, it was made chiefly from jade, highly carven, while the upright prongs and the trimmings were of brass. Altogether, a most extraordinary and wonderful candlestick—priced at nine florins.

Carefrew, naturally, thought that his eyes lied to him about the price. With excitement twitching at his nerves, he walked back and bought several bolts of silk, ordering them sent to him at the residence of Huber Davis.

Then, casually, he inquired about the candlestick of the smiling clerk.

It was, he learned, a worthless object, left here for sale long years ago by some now forgotten Hindu native, or maybe Arab; one could not be certain where years had elapsed and the insignificance of the object was great, but of course the books would show, should it be desired that the affair be looked into.

Naturally, Carefrew did not desire the affair looked into, because some one was then sure to discover that the candlestick was real jade. There was no doubt about that fact, and he was too shrewd to be deceived. A passing wonder did enter his mind as to how yellow men, especially men of T’ang from the middle provinces, could have supposed the candlestick to be worthless; but, after all, mistakes happen to all men—and other men profit by them. The candlestick was not a wonder of the world, but was worth a few hundred dollars at least.

So Carefrew laid down his nine florins, and carried his purchase away with him, wrapped in paper.

Carefrew found the bungalow deserted except for the native boys; the siesta hour was over, and Huber Davis had departed to his office. After a critical inspection of his purchase, resulting in a complete vindication of his former judgment, Carefrew set the triple candlestick on the dining-table and swung off to Chinatown again.

It was the most natural desire in the world to want to complete that princely candlestick with appropriate candles; particularly as Carefrew was now on his way to Europe and would have little further chance to get hold of the real articles.

Being down-town, Carefrew dropped into the office of Huber Davis, and found a letter which had come in that morning by the coast steamer from Batavia. The letter was from Ruth, confirming her passage on the next fast Royal Mail boat. Upon the fourth day from this she would be at Sabang, having taken passage as far as Colombo for herself and Carefrew, whose loose business ends she was arranging.

“I suppose,” inquired Huber Davis in his cool, semi-interested fashion, “you did not take her into your confidence regarding your late financial ventures?”

“Why in hell would I want to bother her about finances?” retorted Carefrew, with his bold-eyed look. “She doesn’t understand such things.”

“Damned good thing she doesn’t, perhaps,” reflected the other. “Well, see you later! By the way, here’s the receipt for that thirty thousand you laid in my safe.”

“I don’t want receipts from you.” protested Carefrew virtuously.

“Maybe not, but I want to give ’em to you,” and Huber Davis smiled.

“Damned rotter!” reflected Carefrew as he passed on his way.

He was not acquainted in or with Sabang. It was not hard to see what he desired, however, and presently he succeeded beyond his expectations. A dirty window filled with dried oysters and strings of fish and other things, after the Chinese fashion, carried also a display of temple candles. They had only appeared in the window that morning, but Carefrew did not know it, and would not have cared had he known it.

Carefrew stopped and inspected the candles, which were exactly what he wanted. There was a half-inch wick of twisted cotton, around which was built the candle, two inches thick. The outside was gaudy red and blue with sticky greasepaint, and at the lower end was a protruding reed four inches long.

By this reed one might handle the affair without marring the paint, and into this reed fitted the upright prong of a candlestick. The whole candle was bound inside a big joint of bamboo, which held it without harm.

Noting that there was one candle on display, and that there seemed to be but two more with it, Carefrew entered the shop, found the proprietor, and priced the candles. The proprietor had brought them from Singapore ten years previously and did not want to sell them. However, Carefrew offered a ten-florin note, and carried them home.

He was, for the moment, a child with a new toy, completely absorbed in it, and utterly heedless of all the rest of the world. Another man might have had weights upon his conscience, but Reginald Carefrew was not bothered by any such.

He laid the three bamboo cylinders upon the dining-table, after it had been laid for dinner, and opened them, cutting the shrunken withes that held them securely. The glaring red candles lay before him, and for a moment he pulled at his cigarette and studied them. Knowing what sort of candles they were, he tentatively touched them with his forefinger. The touch left a red blotch at the end of his finger, so soft was the greasepaint.

One by one he set them carefully upon the three prongs of his jade candlestick. One could not blame his ardent admiration. Even to an eye which knew nothing of Chinese art, the picture was exquisite; to one who could appreciate fully, it was marvelous. Candles and candlestick blended into a perfect thing, a creation.

“And to think that it cost me,” said Carefrew to his brother-in-law, when Huber Davis appeared, “exactly nineteen florins—ten of which were for the candles!”

Huber Davis gazed at the outfit appraisingly, a slight frown creasing his brow.

“If I were you,” he said after a moment, “I’d get rid of it, Reggy. You certainly picked up something there—but it doesn’t look right to me. You don’t catch John Chinaman handing out stuff like that at a bargain price, not these days!”

“Bosh!” ejaculated Carefrew. “A pickup, that’s all—one of the things that comes the way of any man who keeps his eyes open.”

Huber Davis shrugged his shoulders.

“Got the red stuff on your hands, eh?”

Carefrew smiled vaguely—his smile was always vague and disagreeable—and glanced at his hands. He rubbed them, and the red spots became a fine pink rouge.

“I’ll light ’em up,” he said, “and then wash for dinner, eh?”

Huber Davis said nothing, but watched with cold-growing eyes as Carefrew lighted the three wicks. He was somewhat long in doing this, for they were slow to catch. When they did flare, it was with a yellow, smoky light that sent a black trail to the ceiling. Carefrew turned to leave the room, but the voice of his brother-in-law brought him about quickly.

“Wait! I had a letter to-day from my agent in Batavia, Reggy. He said that Ruth had been in the office—he was helping her straighten up some of your affairs.”

A subtle alarm crept into the narrow eyes of Carefrew as he met the cold, passionless gaze of Huber Davis.

“Well?” he demanded suddenly. “What is the idea?”

“You didn’t say anything was wrong with Ruth,” said Huber Davis calmly. “But my agent mentioned that her right arm looked badly bruised—her sleeve fell away, I imagine—and she said it had been a slight accident. What was it?”

Carefrew’s brows lifted. “Damned if I know! Must have hurt herself after I left, eh? Too bad, now—”

He turned and left the room, whistling. Huber Davis gazed after him; one would have said that the man’s cold eyes suddenly glowed and smoldered, as a shaft of sunlight suddenly strikes fire into cold amethyst.

“Ah!” he muttered. “You damned blackguard—it goes with the rest, it does! You’ve laid hands on her, and yet she sticks by you; some women are like that. You’ve laid hands on her, all right. If I could prove it, by the Lord I’d let out your rotten soul! But she’ll never tell.”

Presently Carefrew’s gay whistle sounded, and he sauntered back into the dining-room.

“That’s queer!” he observed lightly. “The red ink wouldn’t come off. I’ll get some of your cocoa butter after dinner and try it on. Hello! Real steamed rice, eh? Say, that’s a treat! I despise this Dutch stuff.”


Huber Davis, who had an excellent general agency, always dealt with Li Mow Gee in silks and fabrics—that is, he dealt with Li Mow Gee direct, which meant that he was one of a circle of half a dozen men who did this. Not more than half a dozen knew that Li Mow Gee had any particular interest in the silk trade.

Two days after Carefrew had brought home the candlestick and appurtenances thereof, Huber Davis sought the Street of the Heavenly Elbow, and entered the dingy cubby-hole which opened upon the widening shop of Li Mow Gee. That morning Carefrew had carefully tied up his temple candles again and was preparing to pack his purchases of silk.

After a very short wait Huber Davis was ushered through the fan-shaped apartments to the hub and kernel of Li Mow Gee’s enterprises, where the owner sat before his charcoal brazier, heated his rice-wine, and gazed upon his nudes—to call them by a polite name—with never-flagging appreciation.

Li Mow Gee greeted him cordially and ordered tea brought in. Huber Davis said nothing of business until the tea had been poured, and then he did not make the usual foreigner’s mistake of drinking his tea. He knew better, for Li Mow Gee followed the tea ceremony implicitly.

When he had concluded his business in silk Huber Davis took from his pocket a sheet of note-paper upon which were inscribed three ideographs.

“I wish you would do me a favor, Mr. Li,” he said. “My brother-in-law is visiting me, and the other day he picked up a candlestick bearing these characters. For the sake of satisfying my own curiosity, I copied the characters and put ’em up to my clerk, but he said they were very old writing, and that only a university man like yourself could decipher them correctly. So, if you would oblige me—”

Li Mow Gee took the paper and glanced at the three ideographs. He wrinkled up his dissipated eyes and gazed at Huber Davis. Then he picked up his pipe and began to smoke.

“Your clerk was a wise man, Mr. Davis,” he said quietly. “You have heard of the Heaven-and-Earth Society, no doubt?”

Huber Davis started. “You mean—”

“Exactly, my friend. How your esteemed brother-in-law picked up this candlestick I cannot imagine; but it is marked with the emblems of that society, of which I am a member.”

Huber Davis whistled. He knew that not all the power of the Manchu emperors had availed to stifle that secret fraternity, and he knew that Reggy Carefrew was playing with hot coals. But he kept silence, and presently he had his reward.

“If we were not friends,” said Li Mow Gee reflectively, “and if the ties of friendship were not sacred and honorable things, I would say nothing to you. Even now it may be too late; as to that I cannot say, for others may know that your brother-in-law made this purchase. But, because we are friends, for your sake I shall try to help you.”

“I appreciate it,” said Huber Davis, not without anxiety. His anxiety was warranted. “If you will give me advice it shall be followed implicitly, I assure you.”

Li Mow Gee smoked until his long pipe sucked dry.

“Well, then, bring to me that candlestick and whatever else was with it—candles, perhaps. I will make good whatever sum your honorable relative expended, and I will see to it that the matter is adjusted in the right quarters in case trouble has arisen. But, remember, time is an element of importance.”

“In half an hour,” said Huber Davis earnestly, “I shall return with the things.”

Li Mow Gee picked up his cup of tea, signaling that the interview was ended.

Huber Davis dropped business and hurried home. If he could have reconciled it with his conscience, he would have let matters alone in the confidence that before a great while Reginald Carefrew would be removed from this mortal sphere; but Huber Davis had a stiff conscience. Besides, there was Ruth. If Ruth still loved this swindler, Huber Davis intended to protect and further him—for her sake. There was a good deal of the old conventional spirit in Huber Davis.

He expected trouble, and was prepared to handle it firmly; but he wanted to avoid a scene if possible. So, finding Carefrew engaged in packing, he lighted his pipe and watched for a few moments without broaching the subject on his mind.

“How much,” he said at last, “do you expect to get for that candlestick if you sell it?”

Carefrew looked at him in surprise.

“Eh? Think I have some judgment, after all, do you? Oh, I ought to get a hundred easily.”

“Well, see here,” proposed Huber Davis, “I do like the thing, Reggy. Tell you what: I’ll give a hundred and twenty-five, cash down, if you’ll turn it over. Eh?”

Carefrew grinned. “Hundred and fifty takes it,” he said.

“You nasty son of—” thought Huber Davis. With an effort he controlled himself and produced his check-book. By the time he had written the check Carefrew had unpacked the candlestick. Huber Davis remembered the negligible remark which Li Mow Gee had made about the candles.

“Throw in the candles,” he said, waving the check to dry it. “I want ’em.”

Carefrew assented with a laugh. “You are welcome, old boy! I’ve never yet got that damned red stuff off my hands; nothing touches it. It ‘ll have to wear off. And it itches!”

Huber Davis paid little attention to him, but picked up the wrapped candlestick, took the two-foot bamboo sections, and started off down the hill.

“Now, you dirty whelp,” he mentally apostrophized his relative, “I’ve got you out of a cursed bad situation, only you don’t know it and would never believe it!”

Upon reaching the funny-bone in the Street of the Heavenly Elbow, he sent in his name and was ushered quickly to the presence of Li Mow Gee.

“There’s the stuff,” he said, with a deep breath of relief. “And I’m in your debt, Li. I’ll remember it.”

Li Mow Gee smiled slightly, ironically, as though Huber Davis might stand more in his debt than was known or dreamed of.

“Don’t forget the price,” he said quietly. “Accounts must be kept straight, my friend. What was the cost of this thing?”

“Nineteen florins, but don’t bother about that,” returned the other, saying nothing of his payment to Carefrew.

“Pardon me, but it must be made all straight.” Li Mow Gee counted out nineteen florins from his pocketbook, which Huber Davis accepted. “Now a little wine to our friendship, eh?”

Huber Davis drank a thimble-cup of hot wine and took his departure, feeling that his hundred and fifty dollars had been well spent, having pulled Carefrew out of a bad situation, and thereby benefited Ruth.

Li Mow Gee, alone with his charcoal brazier and his pictures and his pipe, left the wrapped candlestick as it was, but took the three candles in their bamboo wrappings and opened a door in the wall where no door appeared to sight. He entered a long, narrow room which contained a great many queer little bottles, many of them old Chinese flasks carved from agate or amethyst, and a long table; the room did not appear in the least like a laboratory.

When he had laid the candles upon the table Li Mow Gee carefully cut the wrappings, but left each candle lying in its cradle of bamboo. Then he took a large glass bottle from the corner, and poured oil over each candle until the bamboo cradles were filled. When he lighted a match and ignited the oil one realized that the table was of ironwood.

Li Mow Gee stood placidly watching while the three candles became reduced to scorched and smoking masses of black grease, then blew out the lingering flames, cleaned the débris from the table into a brass jar, and returned to his own apartment.

When he had emptied six cups of wine he clapped his hands four times, and promptly the venerable Mr. Chang appeared, removing his spectacles and blinking.

“I return to your keeping the honorable candlestick of our lodge,” said Li Mow Gee, “and I thank you for the loan, venerable master.”

“Are the spirits of the dead satisfied?” queried Mr. Chang.

Li Mow Gee poured himself another cup of wine and positively grinned.

“If they are not,” he said, this time in English, “they are damned hard to please!”

It will be observed that Li Mow Gee was out nothing whatever—except certain obscure labors—for while he had paid Huber Davis nineteen florins, Carefrew had paid nineteen florins to agents of Li Mow Gee. And this, according to Oriental notions, was the acme of honor and propriety.


The Royal Mail boat, the “through packet” on which Ruth Carefrew was coming, held due for Sabang late in the afternoon. Upon the morning of that day Huber Davis went to the wireless station and sent a message to Ruth, aboard the steamer, to prepare to leave ship at Saban and cancel passage.

Then Huber Davis returned to his own bungalow, and met Dr. Brossot as the latter was leaving.

“Well,” inquired Huber Davis quickly, “what’s the trouble?”

The physician shrugged his shoulders.

“It has come, that’s all. Java has been swept, the west coast of Sumatra has seen them die by thousands, and now—it is here.”

“The influenza?’ said Huber Davis.

“It can be nothing else. High temperature, and you say he had chills yesterday; much pain, everything according to the ritual. I am sorry, Mynheer Davis; his room had better be quarantined, of course.”

“You think it is dangerous?”

“No. The danger, of course, lies in the pneumonia afterward. We must wait and see?”

After this, events moved fast. At noon the doctor arrived again, in response to a hurried message from Huber Davis. An hour later the two men sat in the study of Davis.

“But, Brossot,” said the latter, staring at the doctor, “what the devil was it, then? You say there was no pneumenia—”

The honest Dutchman shook his head. “Mynheer, upon my word of honor, I don’t know! I shall call it heart-failure; that’s what we all say, you know, to conceal our ignorance. The Chinese would say that he had swallowed gold, another polite way of saying the same thing. If you want an autopsy—”

Huber Davis rose, paced up and down the room, his brow furrowed.

“That’s not half bad, that Chinese saying,” he muttered. “No, Brossot, no autopsy. His wife arrives this afternoon, you know; my sister Ruth. Swallowed gold, did he? I believe it’s the truth, at that!”

But he never thought again about the red grease-paint on those candles, and he did not know anything about Li Mow Gee having a little laboratory—in the Chinese style—opening off his apartments. Nobody knew about that laboratory, except Li Mow Gee; and Mr. Li never boasted of his methods.

Transcriber’s Note: This story appeared in the May 3, 1919 issue of Argosy And Railroad Man’s Magazine.