The coolie grinned foolishly.
“Him say fight. Him heap big man, alle same have Dlagon’s blood. Him say fight, we fight, sabe?” And he pointed to Kan Wong—Kan Wong, his head bleeding from a wound, his eyes glowing with a green fury from between their narrow lids, his long, strong hands, red with blood other than his own, still clutching his rifle with a grip that had a tenderly savage joy in it.
The officer approached him.
“Are you the man who rallied the coolies and held the line?” he asked shortly.
Kan Wong stiffened with a dignity to which he now felt he had a right.
“Me fight,” he said quietly—“me fight, coolie fight, too. Me belong Dlagon’s blood. One time my people fighting men; long time I wait.”
“You’ll wait no longer,” said the officer. He unpinned the cross from his tunic and fastened it to the torn, bloody blouse of Kan Wong. “Off to the east are men of your own race, fighting-men from China, Cochin-China. That is the place for a man of the Dragon’s blood—and that is the tool that belongs in your hand till we’re done with this mess.” He pointed to the rifle that Kan Wong still held with a stiff, loving, lingering grip.
And so, on the other side of the world, the son of the Dragon came to his own and realized the dreams of a glory he had missed.
On either side of the Bowery, which cuts through like a drain to catch its sewage, Every Man’s Land, a reeking march of humanity and humidity, steams with the excrement of seventeen languages, flung in patois from tenement windows, fire-escapes, curbs, stoops, and cellars whose walls are terrible and spongy with fungi.
By that impregnable chemistry of race whereby the red blood of the Mongolian and the red blood of the Caucasian become as oil and water in the mingling, Mulberry Street, bounded by sixteen languages, runs its intact Latin length of push-carts, clothes-lines, naked babies, drying vermicelli; black-eyed women in rhinestone combs and perennially big with child; whole families of button-hole makers, who first saw the blue-and-gold light of Sorrento, bent at home work around a single gas flare; pomaded barbers of a thousand Neapolitan amours. And then, just as suddenly, almost without osmosis and by the mere stepping-down from the curb, Mulberry becomes Mott Street, hung in grill-work balconies, the mouldy smell of poverty touched up with incense. Orientals, whose feet shuffle and whose faces are carved out of satinwood. Forbidden women, their white, drugged faces behind upper windows. Yellow children, incongruous enough in Western clothing. A drafty areaway with an oblique of gaslight and a black well of descending staircase. Show-windows of jade and tea and Chinese porcelains.
More streets emanating out from Mott like a handful of crooked, rheumatic fingers, then suddenly the Bowery again, cowering beneath elevated trains, where men, burned down to the butt end of soiled lives, pass in and out and out and in of the knee-high swinging doors—a veiny-nosed, acid-eaten race in themselves.