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This story is a variant of the "The Chinese Cat,"
which was published eight years earlier—in 1906.

Ex Libris

Published in
Short Stories, February 1914
The World's News, Sydney, Australia,
12 February 1916 (this version)

This e-book edition: Roy Glashan's Library, 2019
Version Date: 2019-08-17
Produced by Terry Walker and Roy Glashan

All original content added by RGL is protected by copyright.

Click here for more books by this author


"BULLY" HAYES was a notorious American-born "blackbirder" who flourished in the 1860 and 1870s, and was murdered in 1877. He arrived in Australia in 1857 as a ships' captain, where he began a career as a fraudster and opportunist. Bankrupted in Western Australia after a "long firm" fraud, he joined the gold rush to Otago, New Zealand. He seems to have married around four times without the formality of a divorce from any of his wives.

He was soon back in another ship, whose co-owner mysteriously vanished at sea, leaving Hayes sole owner; and he joined the "blackbirding" trade, where Pacific islanders were coerced, or bribed, and then shipped to the Queensland canefields as indentured labourers. After a number of wild escapades, and several arrests and imprisonments, he was shot and killed by ship's cook, Peter Radek.

So notorious was "Bully" Hayes, and so apt his nickname, (he was a big, violent, overbearing and brutal man) that Radek was not charged; he was indeed hailed a hero.

Dorrington wrote a number of amusing and entirely fictitious short stories about Hayes. Australian author Louis Becke, who sailed with Hayes, also wrote about him.

Terry Walker

HER black funnel smoke oozed over the sea-line shredding the windless expanse from cape to cape. Captain William Hayes, loafing on the verandah of the Sourabaya Hotel, watched her lazily through his powerful binoculars until her snoring length was well inside the bay. Her sides were brown and rust-eaten, where sun and sea had scoured the naked iron. A dozen Indian coolies were gathered on her fo'c'sle, spying out the small island village scarce visible through the dense palm woods.

The buccaneer regarded her suspiciously, her greasy, cargo- littered decks and smoke-grimed funnel, the naked turbaned shapes squatting on the rails and hatches.

"Nose on her like, a beast-boat," he growled. "Guess she's put in for repairs or a set of new boilers. Got an Indian plague smell about her anyhow!"

The rattle of her anchor chains brought small groups of men from the outlying trade house verandahs, discussing in loud voices the strange ship which had come upon them so suddenly from the north-east. Several island traders nodded to Hayes as they hurried past to the beach, for in that lone region everyone desired to be on peaceful terms with the man who had made his name a terror from the Line Islands to the Marquesas.

"Big tramp out dere, Hayes!" shouted a passing German. "She ees down from Rangoon I hears. She haf no cargo vort mentionin'."

"Guess she can load here with alligators if she likes," laughed the buccaneer. "I'd like to fill her with pearl and sell her in Shanghai. It's three years since I borrowed anything over two thousand tons."

Ten minutes later a boat with the captain of the steamer on board put off for the shore. Hayes watched him hurry down the landing jetty, the roll of the sea in his gait, his eyes wandering inquisitively from the beach to the hotel verandah. Halting at the jetty end, he addressed a half-naked pearl-sheller loafing near a pile of nets.

"Seaman by name of Hayes I'm after," he said huskily. "My people said I'd find him hereabouts."

"That big man lying in the silk hammock is Hayes." The sheller indicated the hotel briefly. "And don't wake him too sudden if he's asleep—he's got a nickel-plated bull-dog in his pocket."

"Aye, aye, sonny; his gun won't bite me, I hope." The skipper of the tramp steamer passed towards the hotel and saluted the buccaneer deferentially.

"Cap'n William Hayes, I believe?" he began, smiling blandly.

"If the name was on a ten thousand dollar bill it wouldn't be worth much," snapped the buccaneer. "Is your business connected with drinks or with the police?" he asked dourly.

"My name is Ambrose," laughed the other. "I came out of my way to deliver a package to William Hayes, master of the schooner Daphne. The package was consigned by a gentleman named Sedar Singh, of Hindu habits, living in a one-elephant seaport in the Bay of Bengal. Here's his letter of advice."

Hayes took the note and scanned the misspelt address curiously. "You haven't told me what the package contains," he said sharply. "Sedar Singh doesn't owe me anything."

Captain Ambrose wiped his brow and glanced nervously at the narrow-hipped cargo tramp across the bay. "I ought to have told you," he said in an under-breath, "that the package contains a live black monkey. I was paid handsomely to deliver it to you at this address. Failing, I was ordered to carry it to a man named Hydra Singh at Sydney."

Hayes listened and his face grew dark with annoyance. "If this monkey-sending business is a joke," he broke out, "India isn't big enough to shelter the man who started it, sir!"

Glancing at the letter, he read it slowly, end his face relaxed a trifle; the livid bullet-sear on his left, cheek seemed to vanish in the creases of his sun-blackened skin.

""Sahib Hayes, (it ran)

"I want you to do me a little service. Draft inside letter for 200 to cover your expenses. I pray you deliver the sacred monkey, Han, to my brother Hydra, in Sydney, who is well known at the Quay. Your small schooner is much better for the purpose than a big steamship, and will save me big expense. I am too sick to travel. Han belonged to my uncle at Benares, who was a priest of Siva—he conducted the worship of sacred animals within the shrine of Hanuman. My uncle died last year and he desired me to send Han to my brother as a token of his love. Do this favour for me, Sahib Hayes, because I helped when trouble and the police were at your elbow.

"Sedar Singh."

The buccaneer scrutinised the draft closely, then, with a laugh, turned to the waiting Ambrose. "Sedar Singh isn't figuring as a humorist this time. So we'll forgive him the monkey on account of the draft." Captain Ambrose squared his shoulders and breathed like one in a hurry to be gone. "Give me your receipt of delivery, and I'll get my anchor," he said briefly. "Here's the coolie in charge of the monkey. He'll be derned glad to be rid of the brute, I reckon. Gave us a hell of a time...."

A Manila boy appeared on the Jetty, carrying a cage on his shoulder. At a nod from Hayes he bore it to where the schooner Daphne lay some distance down the pier. Four kanakas and the mate, Howe, were idling about the deck, and, as the boy approached, they leaned over the rail, staring at the black-faced simian squatting inside the cage.

"Always thought Hayes was a bit daft," said Howe wrathfully. "Monkeys above all things—he'll be shipping cargoes of tame devils next."

NIGHT found the schooner running towards the outside reefs before a stiff nor-easter. Hayes, with a bottle of "square-face" beside him, was brooding over a chart in his cabin.

The mate peeped in at the door, hurriedly; his face was deadly pale, his knees trembled violently. "Cap'n," he whispered, "there's somethin' movin' about the schooner, somethin' with a heye that looks clean through ye. It's the heye of a ghost, cap'n."

Hayes looked up from the chart quickly, and frowned. "Get on with your work, my lad, and don't fill the schooner with your ghost yarns, or those kanakas of mine will be jumping overboard. Try an onion before you turn in. It will keep the ghost at a distance."

"Cap'n," quavered the mate, "there's a heye sittin' on' the schooner's rail; a white heye with a face behind it."

Pushing the mate aside, the buccaneer stepped on deck, and halted stiffly. Then he crouched low, while his hair stiffened, and his throat grew dry.

A squat shape was clinging to the schooner's rail—its face lit up by a moon-like nimbus that glowed, alternately emitting yolks of amber flame. Hayes lifted his pistol hand as the thing snarled and leaped across the deck.

"The monkey," he snapped. "How did it get out?" He wiped the sweat from his brow hurriedly. "How—"

A kanaka sprang in the air suddenly, and bolted screaming below. Hayes knelt on the deck, his pistol half raised, and waited. He was not a superstitious man, but the sight of the ape, with the burning face, almost unnerved him. "Don't want any jadoo monkeys on my schooner," he muttered irritably. "The whisky I drink will supply the right kind of face every time."

The monkey was not seen again that night, but during the middle watch on the following day the buccaneer came upon it dozing under a piece of canvas near the stairhead. At the first movement it sprang away and flew chattering to the cross- trees.

Few men would have cared to call Hayes a coward, but if his South Sea enemies could have watched him on his trip to Sydney, shivering by night at sight of the fiery face that glowered at him from the yards, his reputation as a man-fighter and buccaneer would have suffered considerably.

But Hayes brought the schooner into Port Jackson in holiday style. The ape had been captured and caged after endless days of watching and scheming. It was a sultry night as they entered the harbor. An occasional fishing boat swung past the schooner, as she stole to her old moorings at Dawes Point.

Hayes was eager to be rid of his simian passenger, and he promised himself a new outfit as soon as Sedar Singh's draft had been cashed.

"You'd better take the monkey ashore in the dinghy, Mr. Howe," he said to the mate "Anyone will show you Hydra's shop. Don't drop the derned animal overboard, or some-thing might happen at the bank when I'm cashing the draft."

"Aye, aye, cap'n." Holding the cage at arm's length, the mate stepped into the dinghy, and pulled swiftly towards the Quay. Hayes gave a grunt of relief as the boat vanished in the maze of light and moving craft.

At that time the police had no specific charge against him, and he whistled cheerily as he leaned over the rail and counted the steeple-like masts silhouetted against the star-washed sky.

A small boat shot alongside suddenly, and the voice of an old Pacific trader bailed him from the port side.

"Good-night, Captain Hayes! Anybody aboard?"

The buccaneer peered into the darkness, and saw a sharp-faced man in white duck clothes looking up at him. There was no one else in the boat. "Hulloa, Jensen! Met you in 'Frisco, didn't I? How's the missus and kids, Jensen?"

"Well enough, Bully. I'm glad you're here," answered the other unsteadily. "Been keeping a sharp look-out for you the last week."

"Your face is sharp enough to cut blue ice," laughed the buccaneer. "Don't wear it out looking for me, Jensen," he added huskily.

"No time to joke, Hayes. Is the monkey all right? I got the tip from Calcutta."

The buccaneer leaned with studied elegance against the schooner rail, and glowered at the speaker below. "You got the tip, eh, Mr. Jensen? I'd be glad to hear what that tip might be."

Jensen placed his hand against the schooner's side and breathed excitedly. Something in his fierce impatience warned the buccaneer not to trifle further. "Hayes," his voice had grown sharp, almost hysterical, in its pleading, "it's the biggest thing that ever jumped from a native's brain. The Calcutta papers blew the gaff a month ago. I heard the news from a Lascar seaman on the P. and O. wharf. There isn't a man in India or Australia besides Sedar's brother who knows the truth about the monkey."

"See here!" interrupted the buccaneer sharply, "don't monkey me on a dark night. Speak out!"

"Is the ape still on board?"

"No, I sent it to it's owner an hour ago."

"Yah!" The man in the boat sat back, gritting in his suppressed fury. "Another chance gone. Oh, what a holy mess you've made of it!"

"Speak out!" thundered Hayes. "What are you jabbering over?"

Jensen was seized with a violent fit of coughing. A minute passed before he straightened his narrow shoulders.

"What's the good of speaking out when it's too late," he rasped. "Don't you know that a lot of Indian papers have reported the theft of the White Mogul diamond from a temple at Udrapore, by a native named Sedar Singh, late of Sydney and Samoa."

"Go on," nodded Hayes. "Didn't think Sedar was smart enough to steal a dead prawn."

"He was arrested," continued Jensen hastily, "but there was no evidence to convict him and he was released. A close watch was kept on his movements night and day. He lived in a bungalow under the fort gate on the Surimpur road within a hundred yards of the temple. He had no friends or relative's, nothing but the one-eyed monkey."

"Two-eyed," corrected the buccaneer. "Stick to facts, man."

"One eye, Hayes, as you shall hear. This Sedar Singh was a taxidermist and made a good living at one time stuffing birds and animals. How he got into the temple beats me. The big diamond went missing on June 20. It was chiselled from the head of the White Mogul, and for live days the priests kept the affair a secret, hoping to trap Sedar Singh the moment he tried to pass the jewel on. Everyone knew that he had been employed by the priests to decorate the Mogul throne with feathers and skins of animals. On June 25 Sedar was arrested privately by the priests and tortured in his own house.

"They applied hot plates to his insteps, and filled his mouth and ears with green acid until the police dropped in and prevented further torture. For weeks after Sedar was watched by Thugs and religious fanatics who were ready to strangle him the moment he tried to pass on the Mogul diamond through the post or by way of a friend. That bit of stone, I might tell you, is valued at two hundred thousand dollars."

"The ape—where does it come in?" interrupted Hayes impatiently.

"There was no chance of Sedar sneaking out of India alive with the stone," continued Jensen. "Transmission by letter or friend was out of the question. The priests had him watched night and day. The fakirs in the bazaars knew him for a temple breaker. Everyone in Udrapore laughed and waited. It takes a Hindu to deal with a Hindu, but they get left sometimes.

"One night Sedar strolled down to the wharf where Captain Ambrose's vessel was loading cargo for Batavia. He knew Ambrose slightly, and, as he stepped aboard, it was noticed by the native who followed him that a black monkey ran beside him and stayed aboard. Ambrose passed the animal to you at Thursday. You know the rest," said Jensen quickly.

"Guess I don't!" snapped Hayes peevishly. "Where is the diamond? And what had the ape to do with it anyhow?"

Jensen pressed his brow with both hands as though his thoughts were beginning to swim and dance through his head. "Great, Scot!" he shouted hoarsely. "I mistook you for a needle-pointed buccaneer. Hayes," he said wearily, "why did you let the animal leave this schooner? Sedar Singh coated the diamond with cat's eye enamel, and set it with the skill of a specialist into the ape's socket—just as you'd set an ordinary glass eye into the head of a man or woman. Then he passed the monkey on from Ambrose to you. See!"

The buccaneer made no answer. In a flash he was beside Jensen in the boat. "Pull," he said fiercely; "we'll have another look at this diamond ape."

THE lights of the town showed dimly across the harbor as the boat stole to the pier steps. Voices from the near streets broke in a strange babel upon the ears of the man who had come from the silent spaces of the Pacific. Passing hurriedly from the pier, they came suddenly into one of the main arteries of the city. The buccaneer halted, suddenly attracted by a jeering crowd of larrikins at the opposite street corner, and the familiar figure of his mate Howe brandishing the empty monkey cage in their midst.

The gang of hoodlums broke into shrieks of laughter at the torrent of abuse hurled upon them by the excited seaman with the cage. Hayes divined in a flash that something serious has happened. Followed by Jensen, he pushed through the crowd and hauled the mate aside.

"Come away," he said fiercely, "and tell what has happened."

Howe faced him half-drunkenly, and it was plain that he had spent most of his time ashore within some liquor house or bar. There were lights in his eyes; his red, wind-burnt face glowed like a lamp. "No fault of mine, cap'n." He held up the empty cage as though it was a trophy. "You gave me the Hindu's wrong address. An' these larrikins rushed me an' unfastened the cage while—"

"Where's the ape?" thundered Hayes, hauling him further from the crowd. "What has become of it?"

"Took to the roof the minute the crowd opened the cage door. I broke a lot of winders down the road tryin' to indooce the blame creature to come back. The fire brigade came along an' blew it off the roof of the lock-up with a hose. An' the police took possession of the monkey, hopin' I'd turn up an' claim it."

"Well, why don't you claim it?" roared Hayes.

The mate coughed sulkily. "They'll make me pay for those derned winders if I do. Try 'em yourself, cap'n. You're responsible for the animal."

The lights of the distant police depot were visible from where they stood. Leaving the mate to return to the schooner, Hayes approached the depot carefully until he stood within a few feet of the entrance.

With Sedar Singh's letter in his pocket authorising him to deliver the ape to Hydra Singh in Sydney, he felt certain that the police would not prevent him recovering the lost simian. Fumbling for the letter among a bundle of loose papers in his breast pocket, he turned for a moment, and drew back into the shadows as though a ghost had walked across his line of vision. Two Hindus came from the lock-up and passed swiftly in the direction of the city.

Hayes gasped as the two turbaned figures slunk out of sight. "That fellow with the blue headgear is Hydra Singh!" he choked. "What in thunder was he doing inside the lock-up?"

"Interviewing the officer in charge, perhaps," suggested Jensen. "He must have received a cablegram from his brother in India advising him of your arrival. Beats me how these Hindus pick up the thread of a thing. Funny, eh?"

"Neither of them had the monkey anyhow."

The buccaneer pondered for several moments near the pavement edge, as though the sudden appearance of Hydra Singh had unnerved him. It occurred to him dimly that his movements had been shadowed since the moment his schooner entered the harbor. Howe had been followed, no doubt, by some of Hydra's servants, who had witnessed the attack on the mate by the larrikin gang, together with the ape's flight to the roof of the lock-up. Someone had acquainted the watchful Hindu, who was hourly expecting the arrival of the little black ape from India; and Hayes felt certain that the police had refused to deliver the animal to Hydra or his companion.

Entering the lock-up suddenly, the buccaneer almost collided with a young Irish policeman hurrying down the passage. A swift apology from Hayes followed, but the officer of the law glared a trifle indignantly at the big seafaring man who rolled like a ship in a gale.

"Ye seem in a hurry to thread on people's toes," he said gruffly. "Maybe yez mistook this place for a fighting saloon."

"I mistook it for a garden where civil policemen grow," laughed the buccaneer good-humouredly.

"'Tis a garden iv thieves ye've walked into, me man. Phwat's your business, may I ask?"

"The monkey you've got locked up, and the two Hindu gentlemen who walked out of here a minute ago."

"Hindu hooligans! 'Tis a month's hard labour one iv them deserves for callin' me names an' tearin' me uniform awhile ago."

"Oh!" Hayes pondered briefly, while a thought flashed through his mind that left him cold and ill at ease. Then his glance fell upon the hot-tempered young policeman. "Did he tear your uniform because you wouldn't hand over the monkey after it had been driven off the roof," he asked.

"There was no question av apes or monkeys between me an' the coolie blackguard whin he struck me outside here. I hov witnesses to prove ut. Meself an' Callaghan arrested him afther a desprit sthruggle. But there was no question av monkeys, sorr. 'Twas for throwin' mud on me uniform an' callin' me names I arrested Hydra Singh."

"I'm a friend of Hydra Singh," interjected Hayes. "I saw him quit here a minute ago. He has been released on bail, I presume?"

"He was awhile ago."

A sergeant appeared from an office at the end of the stone passage, a grizzled old man with lynx eyes and a torpedo-shaped beard. He stood, pen in hand, regarding the buccaneer closely. "We have a black ape in custody," he said in a strangely even tone. "Do you claim it as your property?" he demanded shrewdly.

"I am merely the ape's guardian, with orders to deliver it to a certain gentleman in Sydney. My first officer was commissioned to bring it ashore. And I'm afraid he bungled the job," explained Hayes. "I thought it strange," he went on, "to see the ape's rightful owner walking out of the lock-up without taking the animal with him."

The sergeant looked puzzled and addressed himself in an undertone to the palpitating young constable. A few hurried questions and answers passed between them before the sergeant again turned to the buccaneer.

"The fact is,"' he began, glancing at Hayes under his thick grey brows, "we felt it necessary to keep the ape out of harm's way until its owner arrived, It gave us a lot of trouble and nearly caused a riot in the Chinese quarter of the town. It was brought in here by Constable Callaghan and a fireman. We were not provided with a cage, so," he paused and smiled as an afterthought, "we put it into our only available cell."

"Then I claim it," said Hayes brusquely. "Here's the letter of advice sent to me by Sedar Singh, of Udrapore. I will pay all damages in connection with the ape's capture. It is only fair that I should deliver it to its rightful owner seeing that I've been well paid for doing go."

He handed Sedar Singh's letter to the bewildered sergeant, feeling certain now that nothing short of a miracle could keep the diamond ape from him. Glancing over the letter carefully, the sergeant nodded briefly to the red-faced young policeman.

The buccaneer could scarcely maintain his self-control as he stepped gingerly down the passage in the officer's wake. Halting at the cell door, the constable turned a grinning face to the buccaneer—his natural good humour appeared to be overcoming him by degrees. "The coolie mahn Hydra, was put in here along wid the little monkey," he ventured as the cell door swung open. "There bein' small accommodation these times for blackguards and wife-beaters."

"Put Hydra Singh in here with the ape!" choked Hayes. "I guess you conduct things a bit off-hand in these parts."

"There are three white men in the other cell, an' we cud not put a black man in with him," was the retort. "'Tis the law iv the counthry all the same. An' there bein' only two cells in the lock-up we had small choice between the coolie an' the black ape, sorr."

The gas jet from the passage lit up the narrow cell, revealing two clean-scrubbed bunks on the left hand side of the doorway. Entering, the young constable indicated the silken-haired ape huddled in a far corner of the top bunk.

"'Tis not meself that cares to handle such things," he said loudly. "The bite av a monkey is worse than poison."

Hayes, with the blood surging from his heart at the thought of the White Mogul diamond, reached for the huddled figure of the ape. Raising it, he peered into the silent face and dropped it with a snarl of disgust.

"The blamed Hindu strangled it, and took out the diamond eye!" he shouted to Jensen in the passage. "What a holy fraud!"

"Ye'll take the dead monkey from here anyway," insisted the young policeman. "An' what d'yez mane by doimond eyes an' the loike?" he demanded.

Hayes did not wait to argue the point; dashing from the lock- up, with Jensen at his heels, he hurried down the crowded street in the direction of the wharf.

One thought remained clear in his mind. Hydra Singh had deliberately brought about his own arrest in the frantic hope of being able to see or handle even for a moment the elusive diamond ape. His colour and nationality had caused him to be placed, for a while, in the one cell available for Chinamen, Hindus, and other aliens. Within twenty minutes of his arrest a wealthy compatriot had bailed him out, thus eluding Hayes by a matter of a few seconds.

AT the wharf Hayes nodded a sullen goodnight to Jensen. "I've still got Sedar's draft for two hundred pounds," he said gloomily. "I ought to be satisfied perhaps."

"We're no match for people who can get into a lock-up and bring away a two hundred thousand dollar diamond!" cried Jensen savagely. "There was too much electricity about Hydra's feet. And there's no two hundred pound draft to soften my feelings. Good- night, Hayes, and remember me next time you are looking along the barrel of your rifle at a coloured man."

Few people would have associated the dead black ape lying in the lock-up at Dawes Point, with the White Mogul diamond stolen from a Hindoo shrine on the Ganges.


Roy Glashan's Library
Non sibi sed omnibus
Administered by Matthias Kaether and Roy Glashan
Go to Home Page
This work is out of copyright in countries with a copyright
period of 70 years or less, after the year of the author's death.
If it is under copyright in your country of residence,
do not download or redistribute this file.
Original content added by RGL (e.g., introductions, notes,
RGL covers) is proprietary and protected by copyright.