Monday, 9 November 1925
Jimmy wakes up on his cot down in the hospital lab. He fishes the burnt piece of paper he found at the Pension Montigny the day before, pops it into an autoclave for a moment, and then examines it. The scorch marks have faded, and with the help of a stain he can lift a trace of writing from it.
It’s in Chinese, of course.
He runs down a nurse. She examines it. “Hrm. This part, is address. Not in Shanghai. This part, is bill. For uniform. Girls’ school uniform. Maybe 6 years old.”
Jimmy kicks Francis awake, and tells him what he heard the night before.
“Let me understand,” says Francis. “Brady? The guy on the run from everyone? Sang at the bar?”
“Brady must have lived next door to the assassin,” says Francis. “And that guy died horribly. So, he’s either hiding, or being protected. By Ho?”
Jimmy takes out the notes Jax left on Brady. “So, he was wounded at Chateau Thierry…the doc said he should have died. Then, Jax caught up with him in Singapore…met someone named Vanessa.” He holds up a picture of a young woman. “That really disturbed her. And there’s this ship.”
It’s a picture of a steam yacht, surrounded by junks. The letters DAR can be read on the prow.
“Go check out the charitable foundation Freddie found out about,” says Francis. “I’ll see if I can track down this ship. And then maybe we can use those connections to find this little girl.”
Back at the Pension Freddie, the doctor thanks them for their help. “I’m a little addled,” says Mwimbe. “I don’t know what happened. They burst in during the night, I think they were cultists.”
“How do you know that?” asks the Rev.
“They asked about my books.”
“B-b-b-books?” says the Rev. His eyes get a strange glint.
“Very boring books,” quickly interjects Mwimbe.
“Romance novels,” says Freddie. He notices that the normally unreadable Mwimbe seems genuinely surprised that she was attacked, and a little afraid.
Freddie arranges to move them all to the French Concession. Gilbert makes some arrangements with his underworld contacts.
Francis heads down to the docks and spends a long wearisome time crawling through various registries, agencies, logbooks, and writs. Eventually he discovers that the boat in the picture is named the Dark Mistress, British registry, owned by an “Alfred Penhurst.” The parallel to Aubrey Penhew strikes him immediately. He also finds out that it has been making regular trips all around the Indian Ocean, especially between Calcutta and Shanghai—and occasionally ties up at the slip registered to Ho Fong Shipping.
[I handed out that darn picture in the first bloody session but no one ever asked me about it until now.]
Jimmy heads out to find out more about the charitable organization Isoge tipped them to. He heads to the local Anglican church and eventually discovers they fund hospitals throughout the Empire. Brady’s papers singled out two of these that share the same campus—St. Howard’s, and St. Phillip’s. One of them is a mental institution, Jimmy notes.
Freddie asks Dr. Mwimbe about what she was being questioned about. She tells him that they were interested in her books and artifacts.
“Rather specific information, don’t you think?”
“Yes. I think it is a safe bet that the cult knows we are here. I…I fear I have not been completely honest with you, Mr. Blakely.”
“I’ve known that for a while. Is this the part where you say you’re a cultist and stab me?”
“No, but…I was a cultist. In my youth I joined an occult organization. When I discovered they were not actually interested in ending imperialism, but merely the worship of dark evil gods, I left. But they have long memories.”
“Do you feel better for telling me?”
“I suppose. I apologize for endangering you…I hope I have provided some small assistance, from time to time.”
The Rev is straightening up Mwimbe’s room. The porters at the pension are quietly respectful.
“Mr. Chiu?” one says. “If you ever need protection, just let us know.”
“What would I need protection from.”
“No way,” they murmur. “I told you he was tough,” says one. “Just like his dad!” says another.
“What was my father ever doing in Shanghai,” wonders the Rev to himself.
“Chiu Wei-fan and Li Hong were the two greatest of all the Boxers in Shanghai,” says one.
“I’d like to hear some stories of that someday,” says the Rev.
The porters take him out for lunch. The Rev does some light preaching: “Let me read to you from Tentacles, Chapter 13…”
That night they reconvene at a charming French restaurant in the Concession. Freddie recognizes from the description of the uniform that Jimmy has been put together that whoever it was for probably attends a high-end convent school.
[He had the highest Credit Rating.]
“Perhaps we could drive by and assassinate Ho Fong,” muses Freddie. “No, that’s a ridiculous idea.”
[When FP and I played Masks together, that’s exactly what we did. Don’t have a predictable schedule after you threaten psychopaths with shotguns—Evil Cultist List Item No. 41.]
Francis wants to know more about the warehouse. Freddie is nervous about the next arson charge that will be placed against him.
Jimmy wonders if they can learn more about Vanessa, who seems to be in Singapore.
[Here’s the relevant entries from Jax’s diary:
[I can’t believe it no its] [Heavily crossed out]
Not possible .
But I saw!
I saw what [Illegible, scribbled out]
What does it all mean?
After dinner, Freddie decides to call his cousin Wooster, with the aim of reaching Jeeves.
“Ah, hello Jeeves!”
“Count Orlok. What a pleasure.”
“Since the lady of our mutual acquaintance doesn’t want me to contact her directly, I thought I’d pass on the following to you: at this point, we’re on the verge of burning down another warehouse, starting a Communist revolution, and going to Singapore. What say you?”
“I would say that the first one would almost certainly be a criminal action and you should not attempt it, the second is probably inevitable if Mr. Marx is correct, and the third sounds a capital idea. Would you like to speak to your cousin? He is somewhat indisposed right now…”
“Not necessary, if I know Bertie he’ll be a while. Well, what ho, Jeeves.”
“What ho, Jeeves…what an interesting turn of phrase.”