Dope by Sax Rohmer
Part Fourth. The Eye of Sin Sin Wa
Chapter XXXVII. Seton Pasha Reports
At about the time that the fearless Chief Inspector was entering the establishment of Sam Tuk Seton Pasha was reporting to Lord Wrexborough in Whitehall. His nautical disguise had served its purpose, and he had now finally abandoned it, recognizing that he had to deal with a criminal of genius to whom disguise merely afforded matter for amusement.
In his proper person, as Greville Seton, he afforded a marked contrast to that John Smiles, seaman, who had sat in a top room in Limehouse with Chief Inspector Kerry. And although he had to report failure, the grim, bronzed face and bright grey eyes must have inspired in the heart of any thoughtful observer confidence in ultimate success. Lord Wrexborough, silver-haired, florid and dignified, sat before a vast table laden with neatly arranged dispatch-boxes, books, documents tied with red tape, and the other impressive impedimenta which characterize the table of a Secretary of State. Quentin Gray, unable to conceal his condition of nervous excitement, stared from a window down into Whitehall.
"I take it, then, Seton," Lord Wrexborough was saying, "that in your opinion--although perhaps it is somewhat hastily formed--there is and has been no connivance between officials and receivers of drugs?"
"That is my opinion, sir. The traffic has gradually and ingeniously been 'ringed' by a wealthy group. Smaller dealers have been bought out or driven out, and today I believe it would be difficult, if not impossible, to obtain opium, cocaine, or veronal illicitly anywhere in London. Kazmah and Company had the available stock cornered. Of course, now that they are out of business, no doubt others will step in. It is a trade that can never be suppressed under existing laws."
"I see, I see," muttered Lord Wrexborough, adjusting his pince-nez. "You also believe that Kazmah and Company are in hiding within what you term"--he consulted a written page--"the 'Causeway area'? And you believe that the man called Sin Sin Wa is the head of the organization?"
"I believe the late Sir Lucien Pyne was the actual head of the group," said Seton bluntly. "But Sin Sin Wa is the acting head. In view of his physical peculiarities, I don't quite see how he's going to escape us, either, sir. His wife has a fighting chance, and as for Mohammed el-Kazmah, he might sail for anywhere tomorrow, and we should never know. You see, we have no description of the man."
"His passports?" murmured Lord Wrexborough.
Seton Pasha smiled grimly.
"Not an insurmountable difficulty, sir," he replied, "but Sin Sin Wa is a marked man. He has the longest and thickest pigtail which I ever saw on a human scalp. I take it he is a Southerner of the old school; therefore, he won't cut it off. He has also only one eye, and while there are many one-eyed Chinamen, there are few one-eyed Chinamen who possess pigtails like a battleship's hawser. Furthermore, he travels with a talking raven, and I'll swear he won't leave it behind. On the other hand, he is endowed with an amount of craft which comes very near to genius."
"And--Mrs. Monte Irvin?"
Quentin Gray turned suddenly, and his boyish face was very pale.
"Seton, Seton!" he said. "For God's sake tell me the truth! Do you think--"
He stopped, choking emotionally. Seton Pasha watched him with that cool, confident stare which could either soothe or irritate; and:
"She was alive this morning, Gray," he replied quietly, "we heard her. You may take it from me that they will offer her no violence. I shall say no more."
Lord Wrexborough cleared his throat and took up a document from the table.
"Your remark raises another point, Quentin," he said sternly, "which has to be settled today. Your appointment to Cairo was confirmed this morning. You sail on Tuesday."
Quentin Gray turned again abruptly and stared out of the window.
"You're practically kicking me out, sir," he said. "I don't know what I've done."
"You have done nothing," replied Lord Wrexborough "which an honorable man may not do. But in common with many others similarly circumstanced, you seem inclined, now that your military duties are at an end, to regard life as a sort of perpetual 'leave.' I speak frankly before Seton because I know that he agrees with me. My friend the Foreign Secretary has generously offered you an appointment which opens up a career that should not--I repeat, that should not prove less successful than his own."
Gray turned, and his face had flushed deeply.
"I know that Margaret has been scaring you about Rita Irvin," he said, "but on my word, sir, there was no need to do it."
He met Seton Pasha's cool regard, and:
"Margaret's one of the best," he added. "I know you agree with me?"
A faint suggestion of added color came into Seton's tanned cheeks.
"I do, Gray," he answered quietly. "I believe you are good enough to look upon me as a real friend; therefore allow me to add my advice, for what it is worth, to that of Lord Wrexborough and your cousin: take the Egyptian appointment. I know where it will lead. You can do no good by remaining in London; and when we find Mrs. Irvin your presence would be an embarrassment to the unhappy man who waits for news at Princes Gate. I am frank, but it's my way."
He held out his hand, smiling. Quentin Gray's mercurial complexion was changing again, but:
"Good old Seton!" he said, rather huskily, and gripped the outstretched hand. "For Irvin's sake, save her!"
He turned to his father.
"Thank you, sir," he added, "you are always right. I shall be ready on Tuesday. I suppose you are off again, Seton?"
"I am," was the reply. "Chief Inspector Kerry is moving heaven and earth to find the Kazmah establishment, and I don't want to come in a poor second."
Lord Wrexborough cleared his throat and turned in the padded revolving chair.
"Honestly, Seton," he said, "what do you think of your chance of success?"
Seton Pasha smiled grimly.
"Many ascribe success to wit," he replied, "and failure to bad luck; but the Arab says 'Kismet.'"