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Dragon's blood   By: (1877-1927)

Book cover

First Page:

DRAGON'S BLOOD

by

HENRY MILNER RIDEOUT

with illustrations by HAROLD M. BRETT

1909

To CHARLES TOWNSEND COPELAND, 15 Hollis Hall, Cambridge, Massachusetts

Dear Cope,

Mr. Peachey Carnehan, when he returned from Kafiristan, in bad shape but with a king's head in a bag, exclaimed to the man in the newspaper office, "And you've been sitting there ever since!" There is only a pig in the following poke; and yet in giving you the string to cut and the bag to open, I feel something of Peachey's wonder to think of you, across all this distance and change, as still sitting in your great chair by the green lamp, while past a dim background of books moves the procession of youth. Many of us, growing older in various places, remember well your friendship, and are glad that you are there, urging our successors to look backward into good books, and forward into life.

Yours ever truly, H. M. R. Sausalito, California .

CONTENTS

I. A LADY AND A GRIFFIN II. THE PIED PIPER III. UNDER FIRE IV. THE SWORD PEN V. IN TOWN VI. THE PAGODA VII. IPHIGENIA VIII. THE HOT NIGHT IX. PASSAGE AT ARMS X. THREE PORTALS XI. WHITE LOTUS XII. THE WAR BOARD XIII. THE SPARE MAN XIV. OFF DUTY XV. KAÚ FAI XVI. THE GUNWALE XVII. LAMP OF HEAVEN XVIII. SIEGE XIX. BROTHER MOLES XX. THE HAKKA BOAT XXI. THE DRAGON'S SHADOW

ILLUSTRATIONS

"Good by! A pleasant voyage" ... Frontispiece

Rudolph was aware of crowded bodies, of yellow faces grinning

He let the inverted cup dangle from his hands

He went leaping from sight over the crest

CHAPTER I

A LADY AND A GRIFFIN

It was "about first drink time," as the captain of the Tsuen Chau, bound for Shanghai and Japan ports, observed to his friend Cesare Domenico, a good British subject born at Malta. They sat on the coolest corner in Port Said, their table commanding both the cross way of Chareh Sultan el Osman, and the short, glaring vista of desert dust and starved young acacias which led to the black hulks of shipping in the Canal. From the Bar la Poste came orchestral strains "Ai nostri monti" performed by a piano indoors and two violins on the pavement. The sounds contended with a thin, scattered strumming of cafe mandolins, the tinkle of glasses, the steady click of dominoes and backgammon; then were drowned in the harsh chatter of Arab coolies who, all grimed as black as Nubians, and shouldering spear headed shovels, tramped inland, their long tunics stiff with coal dust, like a band of chain mailed Crusaders lately caught in a hurricane of powdered charcoal. Athwart them, Parisian gowns floated past on stout Italian forms; hulking third class Australians, in shirtsleeves, slouched along toward their mail boat, hugging whiskey bottles, baskets of oranges, baskets of dates; British soldiers, khaki clad for India, raced galloping donkeys through the crowded and dusty street. It was mail day, and gayety flowed among the tables, under the thin acacias, on a high tide of Amer Picon.

Through the inky files of the coaling coolies burst an alien and bewildered figure. He passed unnoticed, except by the filthy little Arab bootblacks who swarmed about him, trotting, capering, yelping cheerfully: "Mista Ferguson! polish, finish! can can see nice Frencha girl Mista McKenzie, Scotcha fella from Dublin smotta picture polish, finish!" undertoned by a squabbling chorus. But presently, studying his face, they cried in a loud voice, "Nix! Alles!" and left him, as one not desiring polish.

"German, that chap," drawled the captain of the Tsuen Chau, lazily, noticing the uncertain military walk of the young man's clumsy legs, his uncouth clothes, his pale visage winged by blushing ears of coral pink.

"The Eitel's in, then," replied Cesare. And they let the young Teuton vanish in the vision of mixed lives.

Down the lane of music and chatter and drink he passed slowly, like a man just wakened, assailed by Oriental noise and smells, jostled by the races of all latitudes and longitudes, surrounded and solitary, unheeded and self conscious... Continue reading book >>




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