The Yellow Claw HTML version

Ho-Pin's Catacombs
The newly-created Mr. Lucas entered upon a sort of cave-man existence in this fantastic
abode where night was day and day was night; where the sun never shone.
He was awakened on the first morning of his sojourn in the establishment of Ho-Pin by
the loud ringing of an electric bell immediately beside his bed. He sprang upright with a
catching of the breath, peering about him at the unfamiliar surroundings and wondering,
in the hazy manner of a sleeper newly awakened, where he was, and how come there. He
was fully dressed, and his strapped-up grip lay beside him on the floor; for he had not
dared to remove his clothes, had not dared to seek slumber after that terrifying interview
with Mr. King. But outraged nature had prevailed, and sleep had come unbeckoned,
The electric light was still burning in the room, as he had left it, and as he sat up, looking
about him, a purring whistle drew his attention to a speaking-tube which protruded below
the bell.
Soames rolled from the bed, head throbbing, and an acrid taste in his mouth, and spoke
into the tube:
"You will pwrepare for youwr duties," came the metallic gutturals of Ho-Pin.
"Bwreakfast will be bwrought to you in a quawrter-of- an-hour."
He made no reply, but stood looking about him dully. It had not been a dream, then, nor
was he mad. It was a horrible reality; here, in London, in modern, civilized London, he
was actually buried in some incredible catacomb; somewhere near to him, very near to
him, was the cave of the golden dragon, and, also adjacent-- terrifying thought--was the
doorless library, the rose-scented haunt where the beautiful Eurasian spoke, oracularly,
the responses of Mr. King!
Soames could not understand it all; he felt that such things could not be; that there must
exist an explanation of those seeming impossibilities other than that they actually existed.
But the instructions were veritable enough, and would not be denied.
Rapidly he began to unpack his grip. His watch had stopped, since he had neglected to
wind it, and he hurried with his toilet, fearful of incurring the anger of Ho-Pin--of Ho-
Pin, the beetlesque.
He observed, with passive interest, that the operation of shaving did not appreciably
lighten the stain upon his skin, and, by the time that he was shaved, he had begun to
know the dark-haired, yellow-faced man grimacing in the mirror for himself; but he was
far from being reconciled to his new appearance.
Said peeped in at the door. He no longer wore his chauffeur's livery, but was arrayed in a
white linen robe, red-sashed, and wore loose, red slippers; a tarboosh perched upon his
shaven skull.