Tong Law by Edmund Snell
When Valtier is poisoned on the steamer Madelon, Roper and Walters join forces to track down the legend of the ‘Hanoi Emerald.’
Tong Law – When Valtier is poisoned on the steamer Madelon, Roper and Walters join forces to track down the legend of the ‘Hanoi Emerald.’
Valtier had bought the pale green jewel, apparently a treasure looted from some temple. Was a curse attached to the jewel? Murder and death followed it and touched all who came in contact with it. Imprisoned in the heart of the jewel was the distinct outline of a spider. And so, the deaths were referred to as the ‘spider murders.’
Tong Law (1930) – An Enthralling Long Novel Of Action And Sinister Mystery
Chapter I. The Sign Of The Spider.
Chapter II. Roper Wins A Trick.
Chapter III. The Spider Attacks.
Chapter IV. Death In A Box.
Chapter V. “Simone!”
Chapter VI. The Lair Of The Spider.
Chapter VII. The Spider Hits Back.
Chapter VIII. The Fight On The River.
Chapter IX. Epilogue.
Edmund Snell (1889-1972) was a British author, prolific between the Wars, specializing in thrillers (often with Oriental villains) and mysteries. He was born in London on 5 September 1889 and died in Worthing, Sussex in September 1972.
Tong Law has 11 illustrations.
Excerpt: Tong Law
The Sign Of The Spider.
THREE men sat in the smoke-room of the French steamer Madelon, slipping down the China Sea from Saigon to Singapore—Louis Valtier, explorer, thin and yellow, with a wisp of moustache and a tuft of beard at his chin; Joe Walters, trader, forty perhaps, clean-shaven, six feet two in his socks; and Len Roper, who was short and dapper, and whose very blue eyes, staring through rimless glasses, gave the impression that he was seeing the broiling East for the first time in his existence.
It was ten minutes past eleven by Roper’s wrist-watch—a gold one with a broad strap and a luminous dial. Walters and he were drinking whisky from the former’s private bottle; Valtier was sipping absinthe and talking excellent English in a pleasant, low-pitched voice. Between cane chairs and the roof-lights there hung a thick cloud of tobacco smoke that even the droning electric fan had difficulty in dispersing. A gale was blowing outside, and the Madelon had developed a disconcerting roll.
“They knew me up there,” said Valtier; “from the coast way up into the back of beyond, people know that I combine business with pleasure. You see, I explore for pleasure—and collect for business. I am a poor man with what the Germans call the wanderlust, and so I have to collect. People bring me things—curious, strange weapons, precious stones. A month ago, in Cholou, an Anamese brought me a thing he called the ‘Hanoi Emerald’ —a stone half as long as my little finger and just as narrow.” He drew from his pocket a cylindrical cardboard box, with “Chloro-dyne” and some dark brown stains on the label. Removing the upper half and some cotton-wool, he shook on to his palm a long green stone.
Walters took it from him and examined it curiously.
“It’s a beauty,” he murmured presently. “Queer shape, too. I don’t know that I’ve ever seen anything quite like it.” He looked at Valtier. “But it isn’t an emerald, old son; it’s a green sapphire.” Roper whistled softly, and bent over it. “A green sapphire, eh?” he said. “They’re pretty rare.”
Walters was leaning backwards, holding the stone to the light. Suddenly he uttered a sharp exclamation and tugged at Roper’s sleeve.
“Come here!” he whispered. “Look at that!”
The other looked.
Imprisoned, apparently, in the heart of the pale green jewel, he saw the distinct outline of a spider. Walters turned it over; it was exactly the same from the other side. It was for all the world as if the insect had been caught in some strange cataclysm beneath the earth’s surface and awoken to find itself imprisoned in a green crystalline tomb!
“Good lor’!” he gasped. “How did it get there?”
The Frenchman shrugged his shoulders.
“It’s not a spider, of course; it’s sheerly a freak of nature. You knock across somewhat similar things from time to time.” He rescued the stone and restored it to the wadding and the box. “The fellow demanded a stiff price for it; we haggled for two whole days. I gave him five thousand francs for it in the end—-roughly forty pounds. It was midnight when we came to terms. I was stopping at Mathieudacy’s bungalow—a very old friend of mine—it’s a stone house, and there’s a big flame-tree just outside. Mathieudacy was away.
“My Anamese halted at the top of the steps that ran down to the garden, nude to the waist, grinning from ear to ear. I guessed then that he had stolen the thing from somewhere, and was glad to get rid of it. He waved my wad of francs at me and laughed aloud. ‘You are a white thief,’ he cried, ‘because you have bought it for too little. One day the spider will find you—and you will be sorry!’ One of my field-boots was on the floor, and I threw it at him. He ducked, and it missed him. When he looked up again, the smile had vanished. ‘The sign of the spider!’ he hissed at me—and he was gone.”
Walters dropped back into his chair and began replenishing his pipe.
“The sign of the spider!” he echoed. “That’s curious!”
Valtier bent forward.
“Wait a minute,” he said. “The affair didn’t end there. Mathieudacy came back in the morning, and I told him about it, thinking he would treat it as a joke. Instead, he sprang to his feet and began pacing up and down the veranda, gesticulating like a lunatic. He had heard of the ‘Hanoi Emerald.’ but had never seen it. I couldn’t get him to look at it then. He wanted me to clear out of his house, out of the town, out of the country. I never saw a man so genuinely upset in my life! For the life of me, I couldn’t get a connected yarn out of him.”
“Religion was at the back of it, of course. I gathered that it had been part of some temple treasure at some time or another, and that somebody had looted it and died. Presumably it had passed from hand to hand, and everybody who had touched it had perished in an unpleasant manner. Mathieudacy had been out there too long; he was beginning to get the native outlook. He really believed that there was a curse attached to the thing—and that it worked! I steered him away from this, and he admitted that the police looked upon the affair in a more rational light.
“These spider murders, in their view, were the work of religious fanatics from the north. There was a white syndicate, too, known to be interested in the stone and out to get it—” Valtier paused in the midst of his narrative to favour his listeners with a whimsical smile. “I saw that I should have to clear out, so I went in and packed up my traps. My friend pressed me to stop to dinner, and we went down to the garden afterwards together. The moon was up and the night air heavy with night-scented flowers. At the foot of the flame-tree Mathieudacy tripped over a brown leg pushing out from the shadows. He kicked the body, but it didn’t move. We drew it out on to the path, and my blood ran cold. It was my Anamese, dead, twisted, grimacing horribly at the stars. There was no wound on him—only eight tiny punctures at the side of his throat and a poisonous swelling all around them. I thought Mathieudacy was going to faint. He flopped against me, all limp and bloodless. ‘You see what it does!’ he muttered in my ear. His finger shook as he pointed to the marks. ‘That, Louis,’ he whispered, ‘is the sign of the spider!’ ”
Excerpt From: Edmund Snell. “Tong Law.”
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