The Yellow Claw eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 260 pages of information about The Yellow Claw.

XXIII

RAID IN THE RUE ST. CLAUDE

“I perceived,” said M. Gaston Max, “that owing to the progress of the work of demolition, and owing to the carelessness of the people in charge—­nom d’un nom! they were careless, those!—­I was able, from a certain point, to look into a small room fitted up in a way very curious.  There was a sort of bunk somewhat similar to that in a steamer berth, and the walls were covered with paper of a Chinese pattern most bizarre.  No one was in the room when I first perceived it, but I had not been looking in for many moments before a Chinaman entered and closed the shutters.  He was hasty, this one.

“Eh bien!  I had seen enough.  I perceived that my visit to the house of Cagliostro had been dictated by a good little angel.  It happened that for many months I had been in quest of the headquarters of a certain group which I knew, beyond any tiny doubt, to have its claws deep in Parisian society.  I refer to an opium syndicate"...

Dr. Cumberly started and seemed about to speak; but he restrained himself, bending forward and awaiting the detective’s next words with even keener interest than hitherto.

“I had been trying—­all vainly—­to trace the source from which the opium was obtained, and the place where it was used.  I have devoted much attention to the subject, and have spent some twelve months in the opium provinces of China, you understand.  I know how insidious a thing it is, this opium, and how dreadful a curse it may become when it gets a hold upon a community.  I was formerly engaged upon a most sensational case in San Francisco; and the horrors of the discoveries which we made there—­the American police and myself—­have remained with me ever since.  Pardieu!  I cannot forget them!  Therefore when I learnt that an organized attempt was being made to establish elaborate opium dens upon a most up-to-date plan, in Paris, I exerted myself to the utmost to break up this scheme in its infancy"...

Dr. Cumberly was hanging upon every word.

“Apart from the physical and moral ruin attendant upon the vice,” continued Max, “the methods of this particular organization have brought financial ruin to many.”  He shook his finger at Dr. Cumberly as if to emphasize his certainty upon this point.  “I will not go into particulars now, but there is a system of wholesale robbery—­sapristi! of most ingenious brigandage—­being practised by this group.  Therefore I congratulated myself upon the inspiration which had led me to mount Cagliostro’s staircase.  The way in which these people had conducted their sinister trade from so public a spot as this was really wonderful, but I had already learned to respect the ingenuity of the group, or of the man at the head of it.  I wasted no time; not I!  We raided the house that evening"...

“And what did you find?” asked Dr. Cumberly, eagerly.

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The Yellow Claw from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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