Mrs. Spring Fragrance by Edith Maude Eaton
Mrs. Spring Fragrance
The Smuggling of Tie Co
Amongst the daring men who engage in contrabanding Chinese from Canada into the United States Jack Fabian ranks as the boldest in deed, the cleverest in scheming, and the most successful in outwitting Government officers.
Uncommonly strong in person, tall and well built, with fine features and a pair of keen, steady blue eyes, gifted with a sort of rough eloquence and of much personal fascination, it is no wonder that we fellows regard him as our chief and are bound to follow where he leads. With Fabian at our head we engage in the wildest adventures and find such places of concealment for our human goods as none but those who take part in a desperate business would dare to dream of.
Jack, however, is not in search of glory — money is his object. One day when a romantic friend remarked that it was very kind of him to help the poor Chinamen over the border, a cynical smile curled his moustache.
"Kind!" he echoed. "Well, I haven't yet had time to become sentimental over the matter. It is merely a matter of dollars and cents, though, of course, to a man of my strict principles, there is a certain pleasure to be derived from getting ahead of the Government. A poor devil does now and then like to take a little out of those millionaire concerns."
It was last summer and Fabian was some- what down on his luck. A few months previously, to the surprise of us all, he had made a blunder, which resulted in his capture by American officers, and he and his companion, together with five uncustomed Chinamen, had been lodged in a county jail to await trial.
But loafing behind bars did not agree with Fabian's energetic nature, so one dark night, by means of a saw which had been given to him by a very innocent-looking visitor the day before, he made good his escape, and after a long, hungry, detective-hunted tramp through woods and bushes, found himself safe in Canada.
He had had a three months' sojourn in prison, and during that time some changes had taken place in smuggling circles. Some ingenious lawyers had devised a scheme by which any young Chinaman on payment of a couple of hundred dollars could procure a father which father would swear the young-Chinaman was born in America — thus proving him to be an American citizen with the right to breathe United States air. And the Chinese themselves, assisted by some white men, were manufacturing certificates establishing their right to cross the border, and in that way were crossing over in large batches.
That sort of trick naturally spoiled our fellows' business, but we all know that "Yankee sharper" games can hold good only for a short while; so we bided our time and waited in patience.
Not so Fabian. He became very restless and wandered around with glowering looks. He was sitting one day in a laundry, the proprietor of which had sent out many a boy through our chief's instrumentality. Indeed, Fabian is said to have "rushed over" to "Uncle Sam" himself some five hundred Celestials, and if Fabian had not been an exceedingly generous fellow he might now be a gentleman of leisure instead of an unimmortalized Rob Roy.
Well, Fabian was sitting in the laundry of Chen Ting Lung & Co., telling a nice-looking young Chinaman that he was so broke that he'd be willing to take over even one man at a time.
The young Chinaman looked thoughtfully into Fabian's face. "Would you take me?" he inquired.
"Take you!" echoed Fabian. "Why, you are one of the 'bosses' here. You don't mean to say that you are hankering after a place where it would take you years to get as high up in the 'washee, washee' business as you are now?"
"Yes, I want go," replied Tie Co. "I want go to New York and I will pay you fifty dollars and all expense if you take me, and not say you take me to my partners."
"There's no accounting for a Chinaman," muttered Fabian; but he gladly agreed to the proposal and a night was fixed.
"What is the name of the firm you are going to?" inquired the white man.
Chinamen who intend being smuggled always make arrangements with some Chinese firm in the States to receive them.
Tie Co hesitated, then mumbled something which sounded like "Quong Wo Yuen" or "Long Lo Toon," Fabian was not sure which, but did not repeat the question, not being sufficiently interested.
He left the laundry, nodding goodbye to Tie Co as he passed outside the window, and the Chinaman nodded back, a faint smile on his small, delicate face lingering until Fabian's receding form was lost to view.
It was a pleasant night on which the two men set out. Fabian had a rig waiting at the corner of the street; Tie Co, dressed in citizen's clothes, stepped into it unobserved, and the smuggler and would-be-smuggled were soon out of the city. They had a merry drive, for Fabian's liking for Tie Co was very real; he had known him for several years, and the lad's quick intelligence interested him.
The second day they left their horse at a farmhouse, where Fabian would call for it on his return trip, crossed a river in a rowboat before the sun was up, and plunged into a wood in which they would remain till evening. It was raining, but through mud and wind and rain they trudged slowly and heavily.
Tie Co paused now and then to take breath. Once Fabian remarked;
"You are not a very strong lad, Tie Co. It's a pity you have to work as you do for your living," and Tie Co had answered:
"Work velly good! No work, Tie Co die."
Fabian looked at the lad protectingly, wondering in a careless way why this Chinaman seemed to him so different from the others.
"Wouldn't you like to be back in China?" he asked.
"No," said Tie Co decidedly.
"I not know why," answered Tie Co.
"Haven't you got a nice little wife, at home?" he continued. "I hear you people marry very young."
"No, I no wife," asserted his companion with a choky little laugh. "I never have no wife."
"Nonsense," joked Fabian.' "Why, Tie Co, think how nice it would be to have a little woman cook your rice and to love you."
"I not have wife," repeated Tie Co seriously. "I not like woman, I like man."
"You confirmed old bachelor!" ejaculated Fabian.
"I like you," said Tie Co, his boyish voice sounding clear and sweet in the wet woods. "I like you so much that I want go to New York, so you make fifty dollars. I no flend in New York."
"What!" exclaimed Fabian.
"Oh, I solly I tell you, Tie Co velly solly," and the Chinese boy shuffled on with bowed head.
"Look here, Tie Co," said Fabian; "I won't have you do this for my sake. You have been very foolish, and I don't care for your fifty dollars. I do not need it half as much as you do. Good God! how ashamed you make me feel — I who have blown in my thousands in idle pleasures cannot take the little you have slaved for. We are in New York State now. When we get out of this wood we will have to walk over a bridge which crosses a river. On the other side, not far from where we cross, there is a railway station. Instead of buying you a ticket for the city of New York I shall take train with you for Toronto."
Tie Co did not answer — he seemed to be thinking deeply. Suddenly he pointed to where some fallen trees lay.
"Two men run away behind there," cried he.
Fabian looked round them anxiously; his keen eyes seemed to pierce the gloom in his endeavor to catch a glimpse of any person; but no man was visible, and, save the dismal sighing of the wind among the trees, all was quiet.
"There's no one," he said somewhat gruffly — he was rather startled, for they were a mile over "the border and he knew that the Government officers were on a sharp lookout for him, and felt, despite his strength, if any trick or surprise were attempted it would go hard with him.
"If they catch you with me it be too bad," sententiously remarked Tie Co. It seemed as if his words were in answer to Fabian's thoughts.
"But they will not catch us; so cheer up your heart, my boy," replied the latter, more heartily than he felt.
"If they come, and I not with you, they not take you and it be all lite."
"Yes," assented Fabian, wondering what his companion was thinking about.
They emerged from the woods in the dusk of the evening and were soon on the bridge crossing the river. When they were near the centre Tie Co stopped and looked into Fabian's face.
"Man come for you, I not here, man no hurt you." And with the words he whirled like a flash over the rail.
In another flash Fabian was after him. But though a first-class swimmer, the white man's efforts were of no avail, and Tie Co was borne away from him by the swift current.
Cold and dripping wet, Fabian dragged himself up the bank and found himself a prisoner.
"So your Chinaman threw himself into the river. What was that for?" asked one of the Government officers.
"I think he was out of his head," replied Fabian. And he fully believed what he uttered.
"We tracked you right through the woods," said another of the captors. "We thought once the boy caught sight of us."
Fabian remained s|lent.
Tie Co's body was picked up the next day. Tie Co's body, and yet not Tie Co, for Tie Co was a youth, and the body found with Tie Co's face and dressed in Tie Co's clothes was the body of a girl — a woman.
Nobody in, the laundry of Chen Ting Lung & Co. — no Chinaman in Canada or New York — could explain the mystery. Tie Co had come out to Canada with a number of other youths. Though not very strong he had always been a good worker and "very smart." He had been quiet and reserved among his own countrymen; had refused to smoke tobacco or opium, and had been a regular attendant at Sunday schools and a great favorite with Mission ladies.
Fabian was released in less than a week. "No evidence against him," said the Commissioner, who was not aware that the prisoner was the man who had broken out of jail but a month before.
Fabian is now very busy; there are lots of boys taking his helping hand over the border, but none of them are like Tie Co; and sometimes, between whiles, Fabian finds himself pondering long and earnestly over the mystery of Tie Go's life - and death.