The doctor caught the irony, and he warmed a little. “I’m afraid I must decline to tell you. Do you know what Spurlock has done?”
“Mr. O’Higgins did not confide in me. But he told me this much, that no matter how far Mr. Spurlock went, it would not be far enough.”
A detective. The doctor paced the room half a dozen times. How easily an evil thought could penetrate a normally decent mind! All he had to do was to disclose Spurlock’s destination, and in a few months Ruth would be free. For it was but logical that she would seek a divorce on the ground that she had unknowingly married a fugitive from justice. McClintock would be on hand to tell her how and where to obtain this freedom. He stopped abruptly before the apparently incurious Chinaman.
“Your detective has been remiss in his duty; let him suffer for it.”
“Personally, I am neutral,” said Ah Cum. “I wish merely to come out of this bargain honourably. It would make the young wife unhappy.”
“There was a yacht in the river?”
“I have nothing to say.”
“By the name of The Tigress?”
The doctor smiled, but shook his head. He sent a speculative glance at the immobile yellow face. Was Ah Cum offering him an opportunity to warn Spurlock? But should he warn the boy? Why not let him imagine himself secure? The thunderbolt would be launched soon enough.
“I haven’t a word to say, Ah Cum, not a word.”
“Then I wish you good night.”
Ah Cum went directly to the telegraph office, and his message was devoted particularly to a description of The Tigress. Spurlock had been taken aboard that yacht with the Kanaka crew, because The Tigress was the only ship marked for departure that night. Ah Cum was not a sailor, but he knew his water-front. One of his chair coolies had witnessed the transportation of Spurlock by stretcher to the sampan in the canal. There were three other ships at anchor; but as two would be making Shanghai and one rounding to Singapore two days hence, it was logically certain that no fugitive would seek haven in one of these.
But whither The Tigress was bound or who the owner was lay beyond the reach of Ah Cum’s deductions. He did not particularly care. It was enough that Spurlock had been taken aboard The Tigress.
He wisely refrained from questioning the manager of the Victoria. He feared to antagonize that distinguished person. The Victoria was Ah Cum’s bread and butter.
The telegram dispatched, his obligation cancelled, Ah Cum proceeded homeward, chuckling occasionally. The Yale spirit!
James Boyle O’Higgins was, as the saying goes, somewhat out of luck. Ah Cum’s wire reached the Hong-Kong Hotel promptly enough; but O’Higgins was on board a United States cruiser, witnessing a bout between a British sailor and a sergeant in the U.S. Marines. It was a capital diversion; and as usual the Leatherneck bested the Britisher, in seven rounds. O’Higgins returned to town and made a night of it, nothing very wild, nothing very desperate. A modest drinking bout which had its windup in a fan-tan house over in Kowloon, where O’Higgins tussled with varying fortune until five in the morning.