Harold MacGrath.

The yellow typhoon online

. (page 1 of 13)
Online LibraryHarold MacGrathThe yellow typhoon → online text (page 1 of 13)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


THE YELLOW TYPHOON ***




Produced by Martin Pettit and the Online Distributed
Proofreading Team at http://www.pgdp.net (This file was
produced from images generously made available by The
Internet Archive)






+ - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -+
|Transcriber's note: |
| |
|Obvious typographic errors have been corrected. |
| |
+ - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -+


THE YELLOW TYPHOON

[Illustration: Decoration]




BOOKS BY HAROLD MACGRATH


THE YELLOW TYPHOON

THE PRIVATE WIRE TO WASHINGTON

THE LUCK OF THE IRISH

THE GIRL IN HIS HOUSE


HARPER & BROTHERS, NEW YORK [ESTABLISHED 1817]


[Illustration: "No. The same girl in every port, in the fire, in the
moon mist."]




The Yellow Typhoon

BY
HAROLD MACGRATH

AUTHOR OF
"THE GIRL IN HIS HOUSE" "THE PRIVATE
WIRE TO WASHINGTON" ETC.

_Illustrated by_
WILL GREFÉ

[Illustration: Logo]

HARPER & BROTHERS PUBLISHERS
NEW YORK AND LONDON


THE YELLOW TYPHOON

Copyright, 1919, by Harper & Brothers
Printed in the United States of America
Published October, 1919




ILLUSTRATIONS

"NO. THE SAME GIRL IN EVERY PORT, IN THE
FIRE, IN THE MOON-MISTS" _Frontispiece_

HILDA WAS STANDING IN THE DOORWAY, STRUCK
BY THAT HYPNOSIS WITH WHICH SUDDEN TRAGEDY
ALWAYS BENUMBS US _Facing p. 292_




THE YELLOW TYPHOON




CHAPTER I


A naval officer, trig in his white twill, strode along the Escolta,
Manila's leading thoroughfare. There was something in his stride that
suggested anger; and the settled grimness of his lips, visible between
his mustache and short beard, and the hard brightness of his blue eyes
emphasized this suggestion. He was angry, but it was a cold anger, a
kind of clear-minded fury which often makes calculation terrible. He had
been carrying this anger in his heart for six bitter years. It was
something like glacial ice; it moved always, but never seemed to lose
either hardness or configuration. To-day it had the effect of the north
wind - that almost forgotten north wind of his native land - in that it
winnowed all the chaff from his mind and left one clear thought. He
would settle the matter once and for all time. The face and form of an
angel, and the heart of a Messalina!

He had known all along that some day she would turn up in Manila. It was
impossible for them to resist the temptation to view their handiwork.
Tigers, they always return to the kill. But he had her now, had her in
the hollow of his hand. All the fear of her was gone. This afternoon he
would teach her what the word meant. Civilians were lucky. These sordid
things could pop up into their lives, even get into the papers, and
shortly be forgotten. But in the navy it was the knell of advancement.
It never mattered if the wrong was wholly on the other side; the result
was the same. But he had her, thank God! The world would never know what
had turned Bob Hallowell into a misanthrope. The tentacles of the
octopus had been lopped off, as by a miracle. He was a free man.

Never would he forget the shame and misery, the horror of that night in
the Grand Hotel in Yokohama. The brazenness of that confession - on the
first night of his honeymoon! He was free, yes, but he would never be
able to blot out that infernal night. Well, he had her. She should leave
Manila on the first ship that left port; it did not matter whether it
went north or east. If she proved obdurate, he would have her arrested.
He would fight her tooth and nail. The world had changed since that
night. The old order had gone to smash since August, 1914. Traditions
had been badly mauled by necessities. Such a scandal, in which he had
been merely the dupe, would scarcely leave a ripple in passing. Who
would care, these tremendous times?

He stopped abruptly. His thoughts had almost carried him past the hotel,
one of those second-rate establishments which you find in all Oriental
cities that are seaports, hotels full of tragic and sordid histories. He
entered, ran up the first flight of stairs, scrutinized the numbers on
two doors, and paused before the third. He raised his hand and struck
the panel. A touch of vertigo seized him. Supposing his love for the
Jezebel was still a living thing and needed only the sight of the woman
to revive it?

"Come in!"

He opened the door and closed it behind him, standing with his back to
it. He did not take off his hat. A cold little shudder ran over him. She
was more beautiful than ever.

She rose from a dilapidated corduroy divan, pressed the coal of a
cigarette into the ash-tray, and faced him, her air one of hesitance and
timidity. What she saw was a squat muscular body, a beautiful head with
a rugged, kindly face. She noted the hair, shot with silver. That was
always a good sign. Still, there was something in the elevation of his
jaw and the set of his powerful shoulders she did not like.

What he saw was a woman of medium height, slender but perfectly molded,
young, beautiful, exquisite. Her hair was the color of spun molasses,
lustrous because the color was genuine. Her eyes were velvety purple.
The skin was milk-white, with a hint of peachblow under the eyes and
temples. The marvel of her lay in the fact that she never had to make
up. The devil had given her all those effectives for which most women
strive in vain. Innocence! She might have stepped out of one of
Bouguereau's masterpieces. At one corner of her mouth was the most
charming mole imaginable. You might look at her nose, her eyes, the
curve of her chin, but invariably your glance returned to the mole. The
devil's finishing-touch; it permitted you to see the mouth indirectly,
and you lost the salient - a certain grim, cruel hardness.

He waited with an ironical twist to one corner of his mouth. But in his
heart there was great rejoicing. Aside from the initial chill - nothing,
not a thrill, not a tingle at the roots of his hair. He could look upon
her beauty without a single extra heartbeat. He was free, spiritually as
well as legally.

"Well?" he said.

"I came to Manila, to you, because I am tired and repentant and want a
home. I am growing old."

He laughed and rested his shoulders against the door. There was a
repressed volcanic flash in her eyes. That laugh did not presage well.

"Is it so hard to forgive?" Vocal honey.

"What is it you really want?" he asked, perfectly willing to see the
comedy to its end.

"A home ... with you. I know, Robert, that I was a wretch in those
days. But the world over here ... men ... the temptation ... the
primordial instinct of woman to fight man with any weapon she can lay a
hand to!... Won't you take me back and forgive?"

"Take care, Berta! Don't waste those tears! In your eyes they are pearls
without price. Don't waste them on me."

"Then you won't forgive?"

"Forgive? What manner of fool have you written me down? Forgive! I gave
you an honest man's love ... and you picked my pockets! I would not give
two coppers to place on your dead eyes. Take you home? Innocent child!"

"Ah! Then it is war?"

"War to the end, pretty cobra! You don't suppose I came here with any
other idea?"

How she hated this man! Hated him because she had never beaten him,
never seen him cringe nor heard him plead. She, too, would remember that
night in Yokohama, six years gone. After the blow, silence, not a word
or a look. Stonily he had packed up his belongings and gone to the
Yokohama Club, whence he had gone aboard a cruiser in the morning.
Since that moment until this she had never laid eyes on him. Every six
months a check came; but even that lacked his signature - a draft from
Cook's. War! So be it. He would learn when she began to turn the screws.

"You will take me home and acknowledge me," she whipped back at him.

"Acknowledge you ... what?"

"As your wife!" stormily.

Again he laughed. "You are not my wife, and never have been."

"And how will you prove it?"

"That will be easy. Curious old world, isn't it? I thought, when I
received your note, that nothing would satisfy me but to wring your
neck. And all I want is a kiss ... because I'm sure it would poison you!
I know. You have in that head of yours schemes for my humiliation,
scandal, and all that. A woman, known as The Yellow Typhoon, claiming to
be the wife of one Robert Hallowell, rampaging the office, storming the
villa gate, getting interviewed. No, Berta, it isn't going to happen at
all. On the contrary, you will leave Manila on the first ship out."

"And if I refuse?"

"Bilibid prison. While we are very busy militarily, our civil courts
have plenty of time to try a prime case of bigamy. War? You will jolly
well find out!"

"Bigamy!"

"Sure. Lieutenant Graham is dead, and I had charge of his effects. I
found some interesting letters. These led me to the Protestant Episcopal
cathedral, where your name and his were neatly inscribed on the register
... six months before you laid your trap for me. You found, after you
had married him, that he wasn't the Graham who had inherited a fortune.
Marriage! It seems to be a mania with you. How many of us poor devils
have you rooked with your infernal beauty? What's God's idea, anyhow? Or
is it the devil himself who fits you out, covers your black heart with
alluring flesh? No matter. The first ship out or Bilibid. I have warned
you."

Then he did something that he afterward regretted. But malice burned so
hotly in his veins that he could not resist the impulse. He walked over
to her and, before she could comprehend his purpose, swept her into his
arms, held her tightly for a moment, and kissed her, her eyes, her
lips, her throat. Then he flung her roughly back upon the divan, stalked
from the room, and closed the door with an emphasis which proclaimed
that it was to stand between them eternally. Once he reached the street,
he spat and rubbed his lips energetically.

He had been a fool to do that. He had slipped down to her level. But,
hang it! it was the only way he could make her feel anything, the viper!

A fool indeed; for later that act was going to cost him dearly.

He left behind a tableau. Not until his footsteps died away did the
woman stir. Then she sprang to her feet, a fury. She swept her hand
savagely across her mouth. She, too, spat.

"Oh!" she cried, through her teeth, in a kind of animal roar. She seized
the divan pillow, tore at it, and sent it hurtling across the room.
"Oh!"

"There, there! Enough of that, Berta!"

A man stepped from behind the screen. He was notable for three things,
his bulk, his straw-colored hair, and the pleasant expression of his
smooth, ruddy face. The ensemble was particularly agreeable. But in
detail, somehow, the man lost out. There wasn't enough skull at the back
of his head, his eyes were too shallow, there was a bad droop to his
nether lip. For all these defects, everything about the man suggested
power - power never wastefully applied.

The woman whirled upon him. "But you!" her voice thick with passion.
"You saw what he did?"

"Yes."

"And you let him go?"

"I have told you. If there is one man in Manila I do not care to meet,
it's the captain."

"I despise you all!" She flew about the room, gesticulating.

"You will die of apoplexy some day, if you ever have the misfortune to
grow fat. Enough of that nonsense. That goose is dead; but there are
others, and larger golden eggs."

"But I hate him! I want him broken, disgraced! Didn't you hear him order
me out of Manila?"

"Don't let that worry you. You'll stay here until I'm ready to leave.
I'll hide you over in the Tondo."

"What! Among the natives?"

The man crossed the room and caught hold of her. "Be sensible. The
captain will do exactly as he threatens. It's Bilibid if I don't hide
you at once. You couldn't walk five blocks up the Escolta without
running into some one who knows you. You left a trail across these
diggings, my tiger-kitten. They don't call you The Yellow Typhoon for
nothing. You've got to keep under cover, since we can't get you into
that villa of his. These are war-times and I've big work to do. You'll
go to Tondo because it is my will. I've let you play your game; now
you'll help me play mine. When this job is done we'll return to the
States and live like nabobs. I tell you, Berta, there's a fortune for
the picking. Risks, yes; but not any more dangerous than we've been
accustomed to. These American swine - "

"Hush!"

"All right." The man switched into Danish. "These American swine don't
shoot spies; they arrest them and let them out on bail. Ye gods! But I
say, I've got a little surprise for you. Remember those sables I
smuggled in last spring? Well, Wu Fang is making them into a coat that
will be worth seven thousand in the States."

"Manchurian!" disdainfully.

"Real Russian." He smoothed her hair; but it was some time before she
began to purr. "No nonsense. We'll clear out of here at once. I'll take
you to the Tondo and you can rig up in that Chinese costume of yours.
You can ride after sundown, and I'll be out frequently. I'll fix you up
like the Sultan's favorite. You can wear a cap outside of doors. Inside,
it won't matter if the natives see your hair."

"For how long?"

"Perhaps two weeks."

"Something of naval importance," she mused.

"So big that the fatherland will pay a million. One of the biggest
things in the world, here in Manila; and it's packed away in the brain
of that experimental husband of yours. That's why I wanted you out
there. There is a blue-print at that villa. If I can't land the big
goose, I can land that. If we can't apply the principle, we can learn
what it is."

"And if he loses it, it will break him?"

"Something like that."

"Then I'll go peacefully into the Tondo. The thought of his being
broken will keep me alive. Make him pay for those kisses!"

The man held her off at arm's-length. "You're a queer hawk. I don't
suppose there's a man on earth you really care for. You're afraid of me;
that's my hold."

"Afraid of you? No. You are generally sensible and necessary. And I
happen to be your wife. You're a port in the storm."

"There seems to be only one idea in your head - to break men, twist their
hearts and empty their pockets."

"I hate them. I have always hated them. As a child I fought the boys
when they tried to kiss me. I was born that way. Analyze it? I've never
tried to. Perhaps I am Nemesis for all the wrongs mankind has done
womankind. I hate them. They never kiss me - even you - that I don't want
to strike and cut."

"And you've been successful for one reason only."

"And what is that?"

"Naval officers, English and American, proud and inherently afraid of
scandal. You may thank God you never tried your game on a man of my
kidney. Your pretty neck would have twisted long ago. Mark me, Berta,
you are mine. Never try to play any of those tricks on me. If you do
I'll kill you with bare hands. To you I am a reliable business partner;
to me you're the one woman. Remember that. You hold me because you are
always a bit of mystery. What's behind that day in San Francisco when
you decided to cast your lot with mine? More than seven years gone, and
I've never found out. Some man, and because he did not give you a square
deal - all these wrecks."

"Do you want the truth? You are the first man who ever laid his hand on
me. I ran away from a humdrum world. I wanted adventure, swift,
red-blooded. I'm a viking's daughter."

"I can believe that. You don't care for money or jewels. It's the game,
the sport. Typhoons! that's you. You come and go across men's lives
exactly like a typhoon. Wherever you pass - wreckage. But our captain
seems to have escaped."

"I have your promise in regard to him."

The man laughed. "That's one of your charms - you stick it out. What are
you - German, Dane, Finn? To this day I don't know. But always keep in
your pretty head that you are mine. Marry them, kiss them, and say
good-by; but always recollect that I'm under the latticed window. After
all, it's just as well that you didn't go out to San Miguel. The captain
has a partner. He'd have been too much for you."

"In what way?"

"Your way. Handsomest man in the Asiatic fleet, and rich. He's to be
transferred shortly to the Atlantic. And if I've got the right of it,
you and I are going to be very much interested in his journey."

"Rich and handsome," she said, ruminatingly.

The man smiled ironically. "An officer who has never had an affair; ice,
where women are concerned. I dig up their histories; part of my game.
You would have about as much chance with him as I would in a sampan in
the middle of one of your happy-go-lucky typhoons. A handsome, vigorous
young man, who carries a Rajputana parrakeet with him when he travels, a
talking parrakeet. Everybody in Manila has heard about that bird."

"A handsome young man with money and a talking parrakeet!" The woman
began to laugh. "I never heard anything like that before. I am
interested. What's he look like?"

The man took out a wallet from which he drew a newspaper clipping.
"That's a good likeness."

"He is handsome!... Good Heavens!"

"Well?"

"But this isn't his photograph. It's a crook's - 'Black' Ellison, wanted
for diamond robbery and assault in San Francisco."

"The two look enough alike to be useful ... maybe. Not a physical
likeness; it's merely photographic. I never overlook anything. If he
takes the journey I have in mind, it may be of use. Photographically,
they look enough alike to be twins."

The woman returned the clipping, her eyes somber. She walked slowly over
to a window and stared down into the street - without seeing anything of
the busy life below.




CHAPTER II


Out San Miguel way there are many two-storied brick villas with
Spanish-red tiles. Sometimes there are three or four almost neighborly,
then one aloof and alone. In Manila most white folk live up-stairs, the
servants down. It permits white folk to talk over their affairs without
listeners - and the servants to run away to cock-fights as often as they
dare.

One of these isolated villas was walled in, except on the river side, by
a wall of rubble coated with whitewash. Rising above the _chevaux de
frise_ of broken bottles was a fringe of feathery bamboo. There was an
alley of these trees from the gate to the door. There was also a garden;
but the precise formality with which it had been laid out was a mute
testimony of the absence of womankind.

Two Americans lived there - bachelors. One of them lived there
continuously; the other, whenever his ship was in port. They were
officers in the United States navy. An odd pair, agreed official and
social Manila; and after futile efforts to make friends with them,
dismissed them. Odd, because bachelor officers who have incomes outside
their pay are generally gay sailormen. Off duty, these two formed an
association of hermits. They never went anywhere except officially, and
avoided women as other men avoided the plague. One of them was
woman-shy; the other hated them, it was said.

Captain Hallowell of the staff would in all probability never go to sea
again, actively. An experiment had severely injured one of his eyes,
though the defect was not noticeable.

Lieutenant-Commander Mathison was an officer of the line - a fighting
sailor. They were as unlike physically as it is possible for two men to
be.

Hallowell was the dreamer, the thinker. He was short, thick, rugged, and
a trifle gray. His head and short beard were shot with silver, though
his mustache was still black. There was something about him that
reminded you of the gorilla. You were likely to carry this idea in your
head until you knew him; then you understood that he was in the same
category as the St. Bernard - the gentlest and friendliest dog in the
world until thoroughly aroused. They called him a woman-hater with some
justice, though no one in official Manila ever learned the true facts,
not even Mathison, who surmised that Hallowell had run afoul some
worthless woman and had got past the reefs by a hair.

Mathison was the man of action. He was tall, slender, and handsome, with
a smooth olive skin. This deep color gave conspicuity to his gray eyes,
the whites of which were dazzling. Every line and turn of his face gave
you the impression that by nature he was amiable in the extreme. Given
cause, he could be as savage and relentless as the gorilla his friend
resembled.

Woman-shy, they called him, because they could find no other suitable
name for the puzzle. He was always courteous when, by those accidents of
chance called official receptions, he found himself among women. But
there was always a cold reserve the brightest eyes could not batter
down. Rest assured, there were many feminine campaigns. He was the
combination of two things women prize highly, greedily or
sentimentally - money and good looks.

What had the aspect of shyness was merely an idea, held to with
surpassing resolution. I shall tell you about this idea later on. There
are, here and there across this world, men like Mathison, who are
neither mollycoddles nor sanctimonious nincompoops. They are not
gregarious - the type from which explorers come, men who know how to live
alone, to whom the most necessary and alluring thing in life is to
overcome obstacles.

This resolution had toughened Mathison, morally and physically. Packed
away in that lithe body of his was tremendous vitality. He was perfectly
willing to be called woman-shy. Such a reputation was a considerable
barricade. He was content to rest behind it. There had been battles,
bitter conflicts. There are certain fires which hypnotize; one _must_
reach out and touch them. I might say that this idea of his was always
in a state of siege.

After this exposition, it sounds odd to remark that Mathison was as full
of romance as a Chinese water-chestnut is of starch; that his
day-dreams were peopled with lovely women. He never saw a beautiful
woman that he did not immediately clothe her in his colorful
imagination. He rescued her from Chinese pirates, he was shipwrecked and
cast away on a desert island with her, he tore her from the hands of
brigands or the latticed window of some rajah's haremlik; and he always
married her in the end. Everything in him inclined toward the
companionship of women, and he had built a Chinese wall around this
inclination.

Among men, however, he was companionable, witty, humorous, and full of
sound common sense. But no one ever called him Jack, not even Hallowell,
the best friend he had. He was always John or Mathison to his equals and
superiors, and "sir" to his subordinates. Hallowell, however, had
compromised on "Mat." And yet Mathison bubbled with personal magnetism.

You never get deeply into a naval officer's character by rubbing elbows
with him in wardrooms or officers' clubs. If you want to know the real
man, go down into the boiler-rooms, the gun-rooms, anywhere but the
quarter-deck. The rough-necks will tell you. They sometimes weigh you
with a glance. Two things they require of you - absolute justice and
firmness. That was Mathison to his men; and he always backed these
attributes with a smiling eye. There was something in the snap of his
voice that inclined men to obey him at once, without question; not that
they were afraid of him, but that they knew he was right. In the
navy - in all navies - there are underground wireless stations. A man's
reputation travels from ship to ship, and when an officer is transferred
the men try him out just to see if his crown is of tinsel or of gold.

A fighting-sailor with red blood, with a born gambler's interest in
chance, winning or losing with a smile, as you shall see; thirty years
of age, and no anchor to windward.

He never forgot anything. They said of him that he could hide his
collar-button during a dream and go directly to it in the morning.
Hallowell, however, was very absent-minded. Often he would go about the
living-room in search of his pipe, in the end to find it dangling in his
teeth. Or he would wash his face with his spectacles on and wonder what
in thunderation ailed his sound eye.

Hallowell he, too, was full of romance - miracles in steel, visions
which cast into shape huge fighting-machines, tremendous guns, flying
torpedoes. He was, aside from his official duties, a successful
inventor. Few of the grim floating forts of the navy were without
certain devices of his. He had just completed plans which eventually


1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13

Online LibraryHarold MacGrathThe yellow typhoon → online text (page 1 of 13)