Tales of Chinatown by Sax Rohmer

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Page 1



In the saloon bar of a public-house, situated only a few hundred
yards from the official frontier of Chinatown, two men sat at a
small table in a corner, engaged in earnest conversation. They
afforded a sharp contrast. One was a thick-set and rather
ruffianly looking fellow, not too cleanly in either person or
clothing, and, amongst other evidences that at one time he had
known the prize ring, possessing a badly broken nose. His
companion was dressed with that spruceness which belongs to the
successful East End Jew; he was cleanly shaven, of slight build,
and alert in manner and address.

Having ordered and paid for two whiskies and sodas, the Jew,
raising his glass, nodded to his companion and took a drink. The
glitter of a magnificent diamond which he wore seemed to attract
the other's attention almost hypnotically.

"Cheerio, Freddy!" said the thick-set man. "Any news?"

"Nothing much," returned the one addressed as Freddy, setting his
glass upon the table and selecting a cigarette from a packet
which he carried in his pocket.

"I'm not so sure," growled the other, watching him suspiciously.
"You've been lying low for a long time, and it's not like you to
slack off except when there's something big in sight."

"Hm!" said his companion, lighting his cigarette. "What do you
mean exactly?"

Jim Poland--for such was the big man's name--growled and spat
reflectively into a spittoon.

"I've had my eye on you, Freddy," he replied; "I've had my eye on

"Oh, have you?" murmured the other. "But tell me what you mean!"

Beneath his suave manner lay a threat, and, indeed, Freddy Cohen,
known to his associates as "Diamond Fred," was in many ways a
formidable personality. He had brought to his chosen profession
of crook a first-rate American training, together with all that
mental agility and cleverness which belong to his race, and was
at once an object of envy and admiration amongst the fraternity
which keeps Scotland Yard busy.

Jim Poland, physically a more dangerous character, was not in the
same class with him; but he was not without brains of a sort, and
Cohen, although smiling agreeably, waited with some anxiety for
his reply.

"I mean," growled Poland, "that you're not wasting your time with
Lala Huang for nothing."

"Perhaps not," returned Cohen lightly. "She's a pretty girl; but
what business is it of yours?"

"None at all. I ain't interested in 'er good looks; neither are

Cohen shrugged and raised his glass again.

"Come on," growled Poland, leaning across the table. "I know,
and I'm in on it. D'ye hear me? I'm in on it. These are hard
times, and we've got to stick together."

"Oh," said Cohen, "that's the game, is it?"

"That's the game right enough. You won't go wrong if you bring
me in, even at fifty-fifty, because maybe I know things about old
Huang that you don't know."

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Books | Photos | Paul Mutton | Fri 28th Feb 2020, 12:02