The Pagan Madonna (Chapter 4, page 1 of 13)


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Chapter 4

Morning and winnowed skies; China awake. The great black-and-gold banners
were again fluttering in Nanking Road. Mongolian ponies clattered about,
automobiles rumbled, 'rickshas jogged. Venders were everywhere, many with
hot rice and bean curd. Street cleaners in bright-red cotton jackets were
busy with the mud puddles. The river swarmed with sampans and barges and
launches. There was only one lifeless thing in all Shanghai that
morning--the German Club.

In the city hospital the man Morrissy, his head in bandages, smiled feebly
into Cunningham's face.

"Were you mad to try a game like that? What the devil possessed you? Three
to one, and never a ghost of a chance. You never blew up like this before.
What's the answer?"

"Just struck me, Dick--one of those impulses you can't help. I'm sorry.
Ought to have known I'd have no chance, and you'd have been justified in
croaking me. Just as I was in the act of handing them over to you the idea
came to bolt. All that dough would keep me comfortably the rest of my
life."

"What happened to them?"

"Don't know. After that biff on the coco I only wanted some place to crawl
into. I had them in my hand when I started to run. Sorry."

"Have they quizzed you?"

"Yes, but I made out I couldn't talk. What's the dope?"

"You were in a rough-and-tumble down the Chinese Bund, and we got you
away. Play up to that."

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