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- The Romance of Elaine - 6/62 -

was certain: Long Sin on his arrival in New York had offended the Tong and now that his master, Wu Fang, was here the offence was even greater, for the criminal society brooked no rival.

In the dark recesses of a poorly furnished cellar, serving as the Tong headquarters, the new leader and several of his most trusted followers were now plotting revenge. Long Sin, they believed, was responsible for the murder, and, with truly Oriental guile, they had obtained a hold over Wu Fang's secretary.

Their plan decided on, the Chinamen left the headquarters and made their way separately up-town. They rejoined one another in the shelter of a rather poor house, before which was a board fence, in the vicinity of a fashionable apartment house. A moment's conference followed, and then the secretary glided away.

. . . . . . .

Wu had taken another apartment up-town in one of the large apartment houses near a parkway; for he was far too subtle to operate from his real headquarters back of the squalid exterior of Chinatown.

There Long Sin was now engaged in making all possible provisions for the safety of his master. Any one who had been walking along the boulevard and had happened to glance up at the roof of the tall apartment building might have seen Long Sin's figure silhouetted against the sky on the top of the mansard roof near a flagpole.

He had just finished fastening to the flagpole a stout rope which stretched taut across an areaway some twenty or thirty feet wide to the next building, where it was fastened to a chimney. Again and again he tested it, and finally with a nod of satisfaction descended from the roof and went to the apartment of Wu.

There, alone, he paused for a few minutes to gaze in wonder at the cryptic ring which had been the net result so far of his efforts to find the millions which Bennett, as the Clutching Hand, had hidden. He wore it, strangely enough, over his index finger, and as he examined it he shook his head in doubt.

Neither he nor his master had yet been able to fathom the significance of the ring.

Long Sin thought that he was unobserved. But outside, looking through the keyhole, was Wu's secretary, who had stolen in on the mission which had been set for him at the Tong headquarters.

Long Sin went over to a desk and opened a secret box in which Wu had placed several packages of money with which to bribe those whom he wished to get into his power. It was Long Sin's mission to carry out this scheme, so he packed the money into a bag, drew his coat more closely about him and left the room.

No sooner had he gone than the secretary hurried into the room, paused a moment to make sure that Long Sin was not coming back, then hurried over to a closet near-by.

From a secret hiding-place he drew out a small bow and arrow. He sat down at a table and hastily wrote a few Chinese characters on a piece of paper, rolling up the note into a thin quill which he inserted into a prepared place in the arrow.

Then he raised the window and deftly shot the arrow out.

Down the street, back of the board fence, where the final conference has taken place, was a rather sleepy-looking Chinaman, taking an occasional puff at a cigarette doped with opium.

He jumped to his feet suddenly. With a thud an arrow had buried itself quivering in the fence. Quickly he seized it, drew out the note and read it.

In the Canton vernacular it read briefly: "He goes with much money."

It was enough. Instantly the startling news overcame the effect of the dope, and the Chinaman shuffled off quickly to the Tong headquarters.

They were waiting for him there, and he had scarcely delivered the message before their plans were made. One by one they left the headquarters, hiding in doorways, basements and areaways along the narrow street.

. . . . . . .

Long Sin was making his rounds, visiting all those whom the glitter of Wu's money could corrupt.

Suddenly from the shadows of a narrow street, lined with the stores of petty Chinese merchants, half a dozen lithe and murderous figures leaped out behind Long Sin and seized him. He struggled, but they easily threw him down.

Any one who has visited Chinatown knows that at every corner and bend of the crooked streets stands a policeman. It was scarcely a second before the noise of the scuffle was heard, but it was too late. The half dozen Tong men had seized the money which Long Sin carried and had deftly stripped him of everything else of value.

The sound of the approaching policeman now alarmed them. Just as the new Tong leader had raised an axe to bring it down with crushing force on Long Sin's skull a shot rang out and the axe fell from the broken wrist of the Chinaman.

In another moment the policeman had seized him. Then followed a sharp fight in which the Tong men's knowledge of jiu-jitsu stood them in good stead. The policeman was hurled aside, the Tong leader broke away, and one by one his followers disappeared through dark hallways and alleyways, leaving the policeman with only two prisoners and Long Sin lying on the sidewalk.

But the ring and the money were gone.

"Are you hurt much?" demanded the burly Irish officer, assisting Long Sin to his feet, none too gently.

Long Sin was furious over the loss of the precious ring, yet he knew to involve himself in the white man's law would end only in disaster both for him and his master. He forced a painful smile, shook his head and managed to get away down the street muttering.

He made his way up-town and back to the apartment of Wu, and there, pacing up and down in a fury, attended to his wounds.

His forefinger, from which the ring had been so ruthlessly snatched, was a constant reminder to him of the loss. Any one who could have studied the vengefulness of his face would have seen that it boded ill for some one.

. . . . . . .

It was the day after her return from Aunt Tabby's that Kennedy called again upon Elaine to find that she and Aunt Josephine were engaged in the pleasant pastime of arranging an entertainment.

Jennings announced Craig and held back the portieres as he entered.

"Oh, good!" cried Elaine as she saw him. "You are just in time. I was going to send you this, but I should much rather give it to you."

She handed him a tastefully engraved sheet of paper which he read with interest:

Miss Elaine Dodge requests the honor of your presence at an Oriental Reception on April 6th, at 8 o'clock.

"Very interesting," exclaimed Craig enthusiastically. "I shall be delighted to come."

He looked about a moment at the library which Elaine was already rearranging for the entertainment.

"Then you must work," she cried gaily. "You are just in time to help me buy the decorations. No objections--come along."

She took Kennedy's arm playfully.

"But I have a very important investigation for the Coroner that I am--"

"No excuses," she cried, laughingly, dragging him out.

Among the many places which Elaine had down on her shopping list was a small Chinese curio shop on lower Fifth avenue.

They entered and were greeted with a profound bow by the proprietor. He was the new Tong leader, and this up-town shop was his cover. In actual fact, he was what might have been called a Chinese fence for stolen goods.

In their interest in the wealth of strange and curious ornaments displayed in the shop they did not notice that the Chinaman's wrist was bound tightly under his flowing sleeve.

Elaine explained what it was she wanted, and with Kennedy's aid selected a number of Chinese hangings and decorations. They were about to leave the shop when Elaine's eye was attracted by a little show case in which were many quaint and valuable Chinese ornaments in gold and silver and covered ivory.

"What an odd looking thing," she said, pointing out a nobbed ring which reposed on the black velvet of the case.

"Quite odd," agreed Kennedy.

The subtle Chinaman stood by the pile of hangings on the counter which Elaine had bought, overjoyed at such a large sale. Praising the ring to Elaine, he turned insinuatingly to Kennedy. There was nothing else for Craig to do--he bought the ring, and the Chinaman proved again his ability as a merchant.

From the curio shop where Elaine had completed her purchases they drove to Kennedy's laboratory.

The Romance of Elaine - 6/62

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