A BILL ON ETERNITY
HERE was, and maybe
there still is, a certain Chinese store in a certain Hong Kong street
whose owners spoke fair pidgin. My compradore had introduced me to
them, and from the day of our first meeting the partners were my good
friends. They were land and estate agents, and their office was the
rendezvous, not only of every propertied Chinaman, but also of the
Komintern politicians—Doctor Sun Yat Sen's party. There I met at one
time or another, on friendly terms, all the Canton men who mattered:
cabinet ministers, those in office, those that had been in office, and
those still to come into power, generals, fighting men, bandit-chiefs
and political grafters.
was always able to tell how much squeeze a political stunt had yielded
to the one or the other by the size of the diamonds they bought of me.
In all the time I was at Canton only one man bought no brilliants from
me—he who had sent the Manchus packing and is now laid to rest in
Tientsin with clean hands and a broken heart.
was inevitable that sooner or later some of that political crowd should
come to me with a proposition of a certain kind. Rifles and ammunition
were needed badly, because the South was at war with the North. There
was plenty of ammunition and as many rifles as China could do with in
nearly every country in Europe, particularly in Germany. Those who had
the buying knew I could be trusted with the funds and wanted me to
charter a steamer in Hamburg to load and proceed straight up the Pearl
River to Canton, without touching Hong Kong or any other port on the
way out. The profit was enormous, more than could be earned in three
years of ordinary trading.