36. Sam Tuk Moves
Chinatown was being watched as Chinatown had never been watched before,
even during the most stringent enforcement of the Defence of the Realm Act. K
Division was on its mettle, and Scotland Yard had sent to aid Chief Inspector Kerry
every man that could be spared to the task. The River Police, too, were aflame
with zeal; for every officer in the service whose work lay east of London Bridge had
appropriated to himself the stigma implied by the creation of Lord Wrexborough's
"Corners" in foodstuffs, metals, and other indispensable commodities are
appreciated by every man, because every man knows such things to exist; but a
corner in drugs was something which the East End police authorities found very
difficult to grasp. They could not free their minds of the traditional idea that every
second Chinaman in the Causeway was a small importer. They were seeking a
hundred lesser stores instead of one greater one. Not all Seton's quiet
explanations nor Kerry's savage language could wean the higher local officials
from their ancient beliefs. They failed to conceive the idea of a wealthy syndicate
conducted by an educated Chinaman and backed, covered, and protected by a
crooked gentleman and accomplished man of affairs.
Perhaps they knew and perhaps they knew not, that during the period ruled by
D.O.R.A. as much as L25 was paid by habitues for one pipe of chandu. The power
of gold is often badly estimated by an official whose horizon is marked by a
pension. This is mere lack of imagination, and no more reflects discredit upon a
man than lack of hair on his crown or of color in his cheeks. Nevertheless, it may
prove very annoying.
Towards the close of an afternoon which symbolized the worst that London's
particular climate can do in the matter of drizzling rain and gloom, Chief Inspector
Kerry, carrying an irritable toy spaniel, came out of a turning which forms a V with
Limehouse Canal, into a narrow street which runs parallel with the Thames. He
had arrived at the conclusion that the neighborhood was sown so thickly with
detectives that one could not throw a stone without hitting one. Yet Sin Sin Wa had
quietly left his abode and had disappeared from official ken.
Three times within the past ten minutes the spaniel had tried to bite Kerry, nor was
Kerry blind to the amusement which his burden had occasioned among the men of
K Division whom he had met on his travels. Finally, as he came out into the
riverside lane, the ill-tempered little animal essayed a fourth, and successful,
attempt, burying his wicked white teeth in the Chief Inspector's wrist.
Kerry hooked his finger into the dog's collar, swung the yapping animal above his
head, and hurled it from him into the gloom and rain mist.
"Hell take the blasted thing!" he shouted. "I'm done with it!"
He tenderly sucked his wounded wrist, and picking up his cane, which he had
dropped, he looked about him and swore savagely. Of Seton Pasha he had had
news several times during the day, and he was aware that the Home office agent
was not idle. But to that old rivalry which had leapt up anew when he had seen