The Exploits of Elaine HTML version

14. The Reckoning
Pacing up and down his den in the heart of Chinatown, Long Sin was thinking over his
bargain with Kennedy to betray the infamous Clutching Hand.
It was a small room in a small and unpretentious house, but it adequately expressed the
character of the subtle Oriental. The den was lavishly furnished, while the guileful Long
Sin himself wore a richly figured lounging gown of the finest and costliest silk, chosen
for the express purpose of harmonizing with the luxurious Far Eastern hangings and
furniture so as to impress his followers and those whom he might choose as visitors.
At length he seated himself at a teakwood table, still deliberating over the promise he had
been forced to make to Kennedy. He sat for some moments, deeply absorbed in thought.
Suddenly an idea seemed to strike him. Lifting a little hammer, he struck a Chinese gong
on the table at his side. At the same time, he leaned over and turned a knob at the side of
a large roll-top desk.
A few seconds later a sort of hatchway, covered by a rug on the floor, in one corner of the
room, was slowly lifted and Long Sin's secretary, a sallow, cadaverous Chinaman,
appeared from below. He stepped noiselessly into the room and shuffled across to Long
Long Sin scowled, as though something had interfered with his own plans, but tore open
the envelope without a word, spreading out on his lap the sheet of paper it contained.
The letter bore a typewritten message, all in capitals, which read:
At the bottom of the note appeared the sinister signature of the Clutching Hand.
As soon as he had finished reading the note, the Chinaman turned to his obsequious
secretary, who stood motionless, with folded arms and head meekly bent.
"Very well," he said with an imperious wave of his hand. "You may go."
Bowing low again, the secretary shuffled across and down again through the hatchway,
closing the door as he descended.
Long Sin read the note once more, while his inscrutable face assumed an expression of
malicious cunning. Then he glanced at his heavy gold watch.
With an air of deliberation, he reached for a match and struck it. He had just placed the
paper in the flame when suddenly he seemed to change his mind. He hastily blew out the