A ROLAND DANIEL DOUBLE:
THE SIGNAL & THE RETURN OF WU FANG
by ROLAND DANIEL
Tiny Chinese lanterns, lit up inside by small candles, dangled from the branches of the mimosa trees in the garden. More lanterns of a larger size and lit by electric bulbs hung from the roof of the veranda. Away in the distance, overlooking the house-tops of Canton, could be seen by the light of the moon the flickering waters of Chu-Kiang River. A very picturesque view, though it is doubtful whether the two men seated upon the veranda had ever bothered to observe that fact. Both were Chinamen. The taller of the two, a sinister-faced looking individual was the owner of the place. Well known even in China for his cunning and cruelty was Wu Fang. His companion, a much older man, very lined about the face, sat facing his host. For a long time the two had sat facing each other in silence. Quite three cigarettes had they smoked each without a word being uttered. It was the elder man who at last broke the silence.
“Most honourable Fang, if I, as an old friend may be permitted to say so, your mind is troubled by thoughts of evil.”
Wu Fang turned his black piercing eyes on the speaker.
“Surely, Wong Foo, words of truth fall from your lips.”
“When men are friendly even water is sweet. Will not my friend confide in me?”
Wu Fang took from a box which lay on a table by his side a cigarette. Both men spoke in their native tongue Chinese.
“Is it thoughts of your honourable and dutiful son Chung which is giving pain to your heart?”
Wong Foo crossed his hands on his lap and waited for an answer. For a little the other smoked in silence then turning suddenly to his companion his eyes flashing he cried out:
“Dogs!—Sons of dogs! If I could only have those who were responsible for his incarceration here in my power I would see to it they died the death of dogs. But before they died their miserable bodies should suffer the pangs of hell.”
Gravely Wong Foo bowed his head.
“It would be a fitting punishment for the swine,” he said.
“They have taken him now to be confined in a prison called Dartmoor. It is a great grey building standing on the moors. In the winter the cold winds freeze the marrow in a man’s bones. Wong Foo, my son will surely not survive long in such a place.”
“Is there no way by which he may escape?” asked the elder man.
Wu Fang shook his head.
“It is rarely a prisoner manages to escape from that prison on the moors,” he said. “It was because of two previous attempts at escape from another prison he was removed to Dartmoor.”
“Would it not be possible to bribe one of the warders to arrange an escape for him?”
For the first time since their interview started Wu Fang smiled.
“It is perfectly clear, my friend, that you have never been to England, the warders of prisons there are not like ours here in China—they will not take bribes, in fact to suggest such a thing to one of them might very well land the would-be briber in prison himself.”
The elder man gave a deep sigh.
“It is well said that they are barbarians,” he muttered. “Will they keep the honourable Chung in prison for long?” he asked.
“For five more years, Wong Foo. Seven years was his sentence. Two he has already served, but it is in my heart he will not live to serve the remainder. The cold winds and the snow in the winter will surely undermine his health. There is only one chance for him, Wong Foo, and that is for me to go to England and see what can be done. I have powerful friends in London, and with their aid something might be done. May the curses of my honourable ancestors rest on the souls of those responsible for his undoing”. Wu Fang rose to his feet and shook his fists in the air. “The disgrace that is on my head, on the memory of my dead ancestors, that the first born of the house of Fang should be in prison.”
“You will take revenge on these foreign devils?” asked Wong Foo.
“I have sworn to do so.”
“Who are they?”
“There are two, but one is more responsible than the other, for it was he who sent the information to England which caused Chung to be arrested. This man, Wong Foo, is an American, Alec Williams by name, and a member of the American Secret Service. It was he who sent the information to his friend at Scotland Yard, Superintendent Saville, that Chung was arriving in England and was planning to kidnap Prince Matsmaio, the heir to the Japanese throne when he paid his state visit to London. A plan, Wong Foo, which had taken me months to devise, and which could have succeeded had not that interfering American had Chung’s luggage searched on the ship which took him from New York to Southampton. Had Chung’s mission succeeded I would have made myself one of the most powerful men in all China. Now, this Alec Williams has a wife, and it is through the woman I will strike at him. As for the man Saville he and I have an old score to settle, when we meet next I trust it will be settled for always. Now with regard to the American, I have received information his wife intends shortly to pay a visit to England. It is when she does so that I shall strike, Wong Foo.”
Wong Foo lifted up his eyebrows in surprise.
“Does that mean you will shortly be leaving for that barbarian country?”
Wu Fang nodded his head.
“But will it not be dangerous to go back there? Have you not told me the police of London hold a warrant for your arrest?”
“That is so, my friend, but I shall prove myself too clever for them this time, just as I have on other occasions. I shall go to England not only to revenge myself on those two men, but to make a last endeavour to free my honourable son. Would you have me turn coward when my first-born is in danger?”
Wong Foo shook his head.
“We can but die once,” he replied.
“I may be away many moons,” went on Wu Fang, “and whilst I am gone it is my wish that you, as my oldest friend, shall take complete charge of my household. You will do this for me?”
“I will guard your household with my life,” replied Wong Foo.
“My blessings be on your head, Wong Foo. Now, I will explain something of what I have arranged for my visit to England. In the old days when I lived in London I bought an old warehouse down by the river. When circumstances forced me to leave that city I left that old warehouse in charge of one of my agents—with certain instructions”; here Wu Fang paused a moment as he lit himself another cigarette. “The warehouse was to be used as a receiving store for the firm of Wing Tung and company, tea merchants. Secretly I had arranged with the honourable Wing Tung for excavations to go on at night until such time as underneath the warehouse a place had been prepared for me to live in should at any time I desire to return. Such a place has been prepared, Wong Foo. Underneath that old warehouse there is now accommodation fit for any man to live in, also, there are rooms in which prisoners could be placed and never heard of again. It is in those rooms I shall hope to have the pleasure of receiving those who were responsible for my son’s capture. Once in my power for every pang the honourable Chung has suffered they shall suffer tenfold. That I have sworn.”
And as Wu Fang finished speaking, such a devilish look of cruelty came over his face that even the hardened old Chinaman who sat facing him could not restrain a shiver passing along his spine. No doubt he could visualize some of the tortures the other had in mind for his enemies. No one knew better than Wong Foo that in the whole of China there was no man more educated in the art of devilish cruelty than Wu Fang.