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ALBERT DORRINGTON

THE JUDO MAN

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As published in
The Sydney Mail, Australia, 16 January 1924

This e-book edition: Roy Glashan's Library, 2020
Version Date: 2020-05-23
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THE schooner Daphne leaned her bows against the mangroves, where the mud-choked river oozed from the jungle into the clear waters of the Pacific. Under the schooner's sun-awning a white boy lay in a hammock. For all his length of limb and superb youth, Jimmy Dale was as helpless as a toy giant. Fever that lurks among the blue gnats and death-ticks of the Papuan river deltas had sapped his strength.

Outside the schooner's galley sat a small, winkle-eyed Chinaman, knitting socks for the sick boy, Dale. Down a narrow plank leading from the river-bank some native carriers ran with tiny baskets of broken quartz, to be emptied into the schooner's open hatch. Foremost among the barudi carriers stalked a Japanese overseer, Matsu Shinogi, a ponderous load of reef stone balanced on his bullet head. Into the hold thundered Shinogi's load of gold-studded quartz, while Lim Chin of the winkle-eyes look cognisance.

Six months before Dale had cut through the fringe of poison woods that lie north of the Jode River, with little Lim Chin as axe-bearer and cook. They had cleared three acres of scrub timber and bush that concealed a shallow outcrop of gold-bearing stone. In the midst of their labours they were joined by Shinogi. The Jap was built on lines that amazed the tall, hard-slogging Dale. Of medium height, Shinogi bulged like a pocket Hercules in his blue sarong and belted coat.

Jimmy Dale hailed his appearance with joy, offering him immediate employment on the reef. Eight miles of foetid swamp land separated them from the coast. Across this mangrove-infested area every ounce of gold-bearing quartz would have to be borne to the schooner's hold. Once on board the ore could be treated at any of the North Queensland ports, and the last ounce of precious metal placed to Dale's account in the bank.

At a glance Shinogi saw the possibilities in the white man's venture. He worked with a bloodhound's instinct for reward. Dale cheered and encouraged him.

"Stick it, Shinogi! We'll clean up enough to keep us on velvet for the rest of our lives."

The Jap grinned as lie swung his great bulk over a crowbar and levered a ton of crumbling rook to his feet.

"Goot, honourable sir. Shinogi take pleasure in a big velvet coat when the snow blow over Nagasaki."

In nine weeks Dale pouched five hundred ounces of coarse gold, washed and cradled from the sandy bottom of the claim. At night. Dale's head reposed on his cushion of gold dust, while in dreamland he encountered the wistful face of Mary Argent, daughter of Timothy Argent, pearl king of Fane Island.

Never once, even during the fierce heat of midday, did Shinogi discard his blue leather-belted coat. Dale was puzzled until the Chinaman whispered one day that the Jap carried on his right arm the symbol of the sacred Judo clan—a black butterfly. Lim Chin further explained to the astonished Dale that under no circumstances does the Judo man leave his country.

Only in rare books had Dale read of the mighty deeds of these priests of Japanese physical culture. He knew that their system of bodily defence and attack made the experts of ju-jitsu look like children and weaklings.

One morning a letter reached Dale from the chief magistrate at Samarai. It ran:


Dear Mr. Dale.

We beg to warn you that the Japanese in your employ is suspect. While proofs are wanting, there is a suspicion that he is responsible for the wholesale smashing up of a dozen Papuan plantation workers at Lalanga. Some of the Papuans are crippled for life. As Lalanga is swarming with Japanese, his identification is difficult. We therefore ask you to be on your guard.

FLYLEY.


SHINOGI slept in the open by the smoky campfire. In spite of his bulk and tiger-like personality he was also a dreamer: but his dreams carried him no farther than Dale's gold-stuffed pillow. Instinct warned him that a thief would get no farther with it than the coast, where the black police would cast him into a stone gaol. And once within the stone gaol at the Fly River the centipedes and spiders would do the rest.

Two days after receiving the letter an attack of fever threw up Dale's temperature to the killing point. It was here that, little Lim Chin took up the white man's burden. With the help of two native boys he carried Dale to the schooner that leaned against the river-bank. Shinogi walked with them, but offered no help. And while the Judo man squatted in the shadow of the deck awning the little Chinaman deliberated on Dale's behalf. He had known the young American more than a year. A code of honesty, white as Dale's skin, lay between them. The little Celestial asked no more than to become a member of the white man's household when the cottage was built for Mary at Fane Island. To be Mrs. Dale's cook and humble slave was the very Nirvana of his ambitions. And this fever?

"You see, Shinogi," he said slowly to the Jap, "me ready to pay you off now. Allee work finished at the mine. So why you wantee come to Fane?"

Shinogi frowned heavily as his experienced eye wandered over the trim little schooner, the sole property of Mary's father at Fane Island. It was possible, he ruminated, that Dale might die before he reached this white woman with the rich father! The shadow on his brow softened.

"By-an'-bye you get dirty weather, Lim Chin," he explained. "This big dam boom you carry will send you to the bottom unless you have me to swing her. I am a goot sailor, Lim Chin; I will go with you to Fane."

The Chinaman nodded a trifle desperately. The three Papuan deckhands barely sufficed for the run to Fane Island, although it was an easy course. But Lim was mindful of cyclones, and he felt that Shinogi could easily be kept busy and out of mischief.


THE sea air cooled Dale's fevered blood and roused him from the death-like torpor into which he had fallen.

He woke one morning and called faintly to the Chinaman in the galley.

"Tell me, Lim Chin, where you have put the gold dust," he asked faintly. "The pillow that was under my head at the reef?"

Lim Chin smiled tenderly and disappeared into the state-room. He returned a few moments later carrying a heavy canvas pouch on his shoulder. He placed it reverently near the sick man's head. Dale leaned from his hammock and scrutinised the pouch for an instant; then he pinched it feebly with linger and thumb. A frozen silence followed his simple act.

The Chinaman's bland smile vanished.

"This isn't our gold!" Dale remonstrated with an effort. "Open it."

With trembling fingers Lim Chin unlaced the fastenings from the throat of the pouch. His hand plunged inside and drew out some yellow sand and pebbles. Dale lay hack in his hammock: his eyes closed wearily. A curious mirthless smile touched his boyish lips.

"We've got it right on our honourable necks this time, Lim Chin," he sighed. "Someone has handed us the sandbag with a vengeance. They might have given us a fighting chance."


LIM CHIN blanched to his tiny ear lobes. Unlike the white boy, he wanted to scream out at the wanton cruelty of the theft. The gold torn from the Papuan fever lands had turned to sand indeed!

Within the narrow wheelhouse on the bridge Shinogi was keeping the course for Fane Island. His eyes deviated from the compass as Lim Chin spilled the sand and pebbles from the pouch into the sea. A deathlike stillness fell upon the schooner.

To Jimmy Dale, newly awakened from the nightmares of his delirium, the silence cut like a blade. Even in his delirium there had always remained he conviction that his future was assured. The five hundred ounces of gold would have financed new ventures. Timothy Argent would no longer have regarded him as a worthless adventurer with nothing to his credit except his sporting record at an American university. The quartz in the hold might cover the expenses of the expedition from Fane Island to Papua, but there remained the fact that Jimmy Dale would have to start again with fresh excuses to the father of his beloved Mary Argent.

Lim Chin retired to his galley to attempt a few tasty dishes for his sick young master. At eight bells, noon, Shinogi was relieved from his trick at the wheel. He descended the bridge steps, yawning and stretching his muscle-ridged arms with tigerish impatience. Then his slit eyes fell on the Chinaman watching him from the galley door.

"You likee plenty rice an' curry, Shinogi?" Lim addressed him with the paternal solicitude of a restaurant chef. "Plenty chicken in curry to-day, Shinogi."

The Jap contemplated his diminutive figure with acid forbearance, a crucified grin enlarging his thick lips. "I like plenty rice an' all the chicken, sah! I am now hungry: so move that food along."

Lim Chin salaamed, and as he bent forward he noticed a curious bulge beneath Shinogi's blue coat, a bulge that caused even the strong leather belt to sag. Ordinarily the waist of the Judo man was as straight as a boy's. Now it bulged!

"Allee chicken, shuah!" Lim Chin breathed obsequiously. "Barudi boys no wantee chicken if Shinogi is hungly. Plenty banana good enough for them."

Shinogi's glance traversed the deck to where Dale lay brooding in the hammock. A half-uttered word hung on his lips. He seemed to check it with an effort as he passed to his quarters in the forepart.

In silence Lim Chin served the midday meal—a few oysters to tempt Dale, a mountain of chicken and rice to placate the sullen-browed Shinogi.


TOWARDS sunset the wind fell to a dead calm. A string of tiny atolls lay on their quarter, with myriads of sun-birds cheeping above the pendants-skirted beaches. The heat below deck was intense. Only a few hours before a school of small sharks had hung round the schooner's stern; then suddenly the shoal disappeared. Even the sooty-winged terns that dipped and cried about the galley door fell away into the sunset haze.

After his heavy meal Shinogi sprawled in the cool of the gangway awning and was soon asleep. The native at the wheel dozed as the schooner hung motionless in the suffocating calm. Lim Chin leaned over the rail and stared into the blue depths under the schooner's keel. He could not understand the sudden departure of the shark shoal; usually they clung to the schooner's shadow with the pertinacity of sea-fowl.

The voice of Tamalpa, one of the native boys, called softly to the Chinaman from the shrouds. Lim Chin looked up quickly while Tamalpa indicated something floating near the gangway head.

The Chinaman peered down, and shrank back with a stilled cry of surprise. Like some huge tree shadow it spread over the face of the water, a dark green jungle of living tentacles and feelers. From the centre of its dish-shaped body a pair of sluggish eyes glanced up at the schooner and closed again.

Lim Chin drew hack from the rail, his Oriental mind alive to the possibilities presented by the giant octopus, which had evidently groped its way from the channels of some near-by lagoon or bank. A faint slimy odour drifted up from the slow moving mass as it pulsated like a wind-shaken tree in the outgoing tide.

The Chinaman reflected swiftly. Within the cubby adjoining the galley was a shark-line of the toughest Manila brand. It carried a double hook that had held many a twelve-foot hammerhead to its undoing. At the holder's end of the line was an iron clasp useful to clamp on a rail, or pin whenever the efforts of a caught shark threatened to weary the fisherman. Drawing the line from the cubby the Chinaman dropped the naked shark-hooks into the heart shaped centre of the slow-moving mass of tentacles.

The big squid sank a fathom's depth in a soft turmoil of rippling water. Lim Chin chuckled under his breath, the long shark line held cunningly in his pliant lingers. At a depth of two fathoms the octopus appeared to turn its indolent, squirming mass from the schooner's rail. And just here the Chinaman jagged the hooks with all his might through the pendulating tentacles.

The line in Lim's hands grew suddenly taut as a banjo string. Instantly he slackened out and waited, while his alert eyes became fixed on the snoring figure of Shinogi near the gangway- head. In the twist of an arm, and before Dale could call out, he had stealthily slipped the iron clasp at the end of the line over Shinogi's leather belt. Not a muscle of the sleeper's face moved to denote the slightest consciousness of the trick played on him. Stooping well over the schooner's rail, the Chinaman jagged the line with a seesaw motion and let go.

A terrific commotion happened in the water. It was as if a depth charge had been exploded. The livid shadow of the giant squid swept to the surface in a whirlwind of blood and brine. The ten feet of slack line which the Chinaman had been careful to keep in hand went over the rail like a whip-cut. The savage jolt that followed lifted the sleeping Jap from the deck and brought him with the sound of a slamming door against the gangway head.

Half stunned and not wholly awake, Shinogi gasped and choked under the thunderbolt force of the collision. His body lay half bent over the rail, the veins of his neck and hands starting like roots. Fifteen feet away the squid, with the shark-hooks planted in its fleshy body, clawed the line with powerful tentacles and pulled.

The heart of Shinogi came near to bursting as he dug his sandalled toes into the scuppers to prevent a headlong dive into the sea.

"Tashan!" he choked. "What dog has done this?"

The deck hands laughed at his plight. Not a finger stirred to cut the madly dragging line that held the clawing reef devil to his belt.

Shinogi played to slacken the strangling pressure of the line: all the science of his craft was bent in his efforts to obtain a loop or half-loop round a stanchion at his elbow. But the fury of the hooked squid allowed no breath-giving pause. The line hummed and writhed stiffly over the churning, blackened water.

"Atana!" he called faintly to the Chinaman. "Where is your knife? Swine, help cut... or when I am free..."

The Chinaman slipped from the shadow of the galley, a razor- edged knife in his hand. Drawing near the flattened body of the Jap, he stooped and raised the folds of his blue coat dexterously, and with the skill of a surgeon made two criss-cross incisions in the bulge under the waist. Instantly a stream of gold dust poured to the deck, the shining yellow grains and slugs won from the Papuan fever lands.

Lim Chin indicated the pile of precious dust that fell about the Jap's feet as he bent his head before Dale in the hammock.

"What shall do now, sah, with this Shinogi the thief?" he begged breathlessly. "Me welly much like devil fish to pull him ovah, sah; but you no likee, eh?"

A faint smile broke from Dale as he raised himself in the hammock. "Get my automatic, Lim; it's down in my cabin—under the red cushions of the settee. Quick! He's going to beat your devil fish. And—he will brain us all unless we get a pull somewhere. Hurry!"

Dale was right. Shinogi had succeeded in looping the line around a broken stay-end a foot or two from the gangway-head, it checked the intolerable strain of the fighting tentacles and allowed him to slip from the belt that held him to the line. The dark, fighting tentacles disappeared in a smother of foam and blood.

Shinogi drew breath and turned slowly across the deck. In his eyes was the look of a hurt tiger. The native deck hands scurried aloft, whimpering in their sudden panic. Shinogi turned his eyes on the galley in search of the Chinaman.

"Ao! The yellow dog plays treeks wit me, Shinogi!" His voice had a blade-edge challenge that seemed to run along the deck. A tense silence hung about the schooner, broken only by the soft gurgle of the tide wash under the bows. Dale turned in weary desperation to the companion-head that led to his cabin.

"Lim Chin," he called softly, "where—"

The little Chinaman appeared, smiling blandly. "The atamatic is nowhere there," he babbled in Dale's ear. "Hush; let me see this thing through," he almost begged.

Shinogi stood with his legs apart, his left hand resting on his beltless hip. He surveyed the Chinaman with eyes grown narrow as kris points, his teeth snapped tight. There was no denying the man's strength; it sat in every curve and ridge of his muscle- packed neck and shoulders. His flat sandalled feel were planted on the heap of gold dust which had spilled almost in a circle about him.

"You make game of me with hooks an' ropes, Chinaman," he stated with deadly precision, while the muscles under the wide- sleeved blue coat seemed to gather for the stroke. "I will now show the honourable little pigtail how to bait an octopus. I will—" He paused and stared at the little Chinaman. A curious long glass syringe appeared in Lim's left hand. The cylinder contained about a pint of dark yellow fluid. Lim Chin smiled pleasantly as he raised the syringe and spurted a thimbleful on the dry, sun-heated deck. Instantly the plank began to smoke. A curious suffocating odour filled the air.

"You see, Shinogi." The Chinaman kicked a bucket of water over the fuming deck plank, while he held the syringe in line with the Jap's left eye. "Always you findee me funny: always you findee me full of tricks." A few drops of the yellow fluid fell to the deck, and again came the smoke and the throat-gripping fumes.

Shinogi leaped back and remained by the bridge steps, his shoulders curved, his eyes dilating at the new horror that faced him. The little Chinaman exploded with laughter, although his eyes held a malicious slant that opened a fear valve in the heart of the Judo man.

"You tink you get away with Missah Dale's gold an' treat yo'self to one good time in Nagasaki? No, fear!"

Shinogi bent his head and was silent.

Dale's voice rang out, suddenly.

"Get back to your trick at the wheel, Shinogi!" he commanded. "Your strength doesn't seem to win you the price of a meal. Sweep up that gold, Lim Chin; there's a breeze, coming."

"Oi, oi, sah!"

The Chinaman produced a broom and bag, into which he gathered the last grain of dust from the deck.

Shinogi, tense drawn, relaxed as he walked up the bridge steps to relieve the native at the wheel. All the battle light had faded from his eyes. Only for an instant did his glance wander over the rail to where a dark sinuous mass, with a line attached, was writhing and groping blindly towards the distant reef channels.

The schooner lifted to the rising breeze as Shinogi took the wheel. Lim Chin grinned with the bag of gold dust hugged to his breast.

"No good to play soft, sah, with those strong men. That fellah Shinogi him steer like hell now."


THE following day Jimmy Dale called the Chinaman to his hammock. The palms of Fane Island were lifting above the opalescent skyline. In another hour or so they would he lying alongside Timothy Argent's jetty.

"Tell me, Lim Chin, where in blazes you got that syringe full of fire acid? What was it doing on this schooner?"

The Chinaman placed a cup of coffee beside his young master, his winkle-eyes scintillating with good humour.

"You see, Missah Dale," he explained gently, "I buy gold from miners in New Guinea little while ago. Las' time I pay one hundred for a lot of nuggets at the Fly River. White miners say they wanted the hard cash an' they give plenty measure gold for coins.

"So when I takee this las' lot of nuggets to the bank in Port Darwin the manager look at them an' say they no good. 'Lim Chin,' he says to me, 'white miner sell you brass nuggets. They melted down allee ole cartridge cases they find. You try acid next time you buy nuggets,' he advised me."

The Chinaman grinned complacently. "So I lay in good stock of acid, sah, an' cally it in my box. Welly good medicine for gold thief, sah," he added as an afterthought.

A smartly-painted police launch ran from the channel at Fane Island to meet the incoming schooner. Three white officers wearing the uniform of the Queensland constabulary stood in the bows and hailed Jimmy Dale.

"You got a black butterfly man on board, Mr. Dale. There's eight charges against him for turning the islands hereabouts into blamed hospital wards. Name of Shinogi," the sergeant informed him tersely.

The Jap was standing near the rail watching them darkly.

"All right," he called out before Dale could answer. "You come an' fetch me," he invited with sudden good humour. The sergeant in the launch consulted hastily with his two subordinates.

"I'll cover him with my rifle while you boys get the handcuffs on him," he decided at last. "Up you go, and throw him over the rail if he won't walk down."

The two subordinates, Casey and Flynn, big-limbed, well- drilled men, leaped at the opportunity. For years a cruel and remote Administration had denied them advancement. Here was their chance to bring promotion and kudos by the capture of the long- wanted and mysterious Judo man, Shinogi.

Up the steps of the lowered gangway they tripped, while the sergeant in the launch below covered the immovable figure of the Jap with his rifle. The Chinaman laughed from the smoky flare of the galley. Dale sat back in a deck-chair, feeling that the police had no need of his help. Briskly the two officers approached the brooding Shinogi, a pair of handcuffs glinting in the eager hands of Flynn. They closed on him swiftly, pinning his arms to his sides.

Flynn discovered in a flash that his handcuffs would not snap over the big wristbones of the Jap. In his vexation he flung his weight against the prisoner to force him down the gangway slope. Casey twined his arms under the Jap's, boring his chin into the hollow of his neck.

"Take care!" Shinogi warned them as he stood rooted to the deck. The sweat of agony broke over Flynn's red face. Not a muscle of the prisoner's body seemed to respond to their frantic efforts to gouge and prise him from his foothold.

"Bejabers," Flynn panted, "you're worse than a brick wall. But by the Great Cain I've a way with such contrariness."

He raised his iron-shod fool over the bare sandalled instep of Shinogi and brought it down with a smash. Shinogi raised his knee, while his body slanted in a curious angle that brought both policemen upon each other with a crash. His right hand gripped Flynn under the heart in a squeeze that turned the big red face into a bloodless death mask.

"Oe, pa ona! You see what it means," Shinogi articulated gently. "No more rough stuff, eh? Now that we are beaten, let us be sweet an' gentle," he persuaded, tearing the handcuffs from Flynn's paralysed fingers. With scarcely an effort he snapped one over the officer's wrist and flung him stammering to the deck. Casey received a side-kick on the knee joint that doubled him across the body of his friend. Shinogi stooped and snapped the other handcuff over his wrist. The key of the steel bracelets had fallen to the deck. He kicked it overboard languidly.


THE sergeant, in the launch had been a silent spectator of the curious contest above. He dared not shoot, but waited with a sense of uneasiness for the climax. The sudden handcuffing of his two subordinates turned his blood to gall. His fingers played wickedly with the trigger of his rifle. Just here Shinogi stepped over the prostrate policemen, and with a final nod to Dale descended the gangway steps to the launch. The sergeant raised his rifle quickly, met the Jap's glance, and lowered it. Shinogi salaamed.

"I am vera sorry," he said politely, "but these pleecemen attempt too much. I will go quietly."

The rifle in the sergeant's hands fell clattering into the thwarts.

"By heaven, Shinogi, you take the bean!" he rasped. "Look at my men up there!"

Flynn and Casey, their wrists locked together, descended the gangway and blundered aboard the launch. Their initial outburst of rage and abuse, directed at the stoic-visaged Judo man, was checked sharply by the sergeant.

"Neither of you is fit to arrest a baked potato," he reprimanded. "Get those handcuffs off!"

The sudden click of a camera turned their glances upwards. The face of Lim Chin showed over the rail, a pocket camera tucked under his arm. He nodded to the group in the launch.

"You give Shinogi job in pleece force," he advised the black- browed sergeant. "Him only knock one or two saucy kanakas about on plantation. Shinogi show you how to catchum bad man."

The sergeant glared at him. "Hold your —— tongue," he commanded hoarsely.

Lim Chin waved the camera over the rail derisively.

"Me takee one little picture, sah, to show how pleecman get tied up in his own hooks. If you hurtee Shinogi I hand picture to newspaper to plint. You savvy, sah? You want plenly lesson befo' you tackle Judo crook. You makee him teachee you."


THE launch danced away in the tropic dusk, leaving Lim Chin peering over the rail in the direction of the island. A lantern- lit dinghy came through the warm stillness and pulled up under the schooner's lowered gangway.

"Ahoy there, Jimmy! Somebody here waiting ever so long!"


Illustration

"Ahoy there, Jimmy! Somebody here waiting ever so long!"


It was Mary Argent's voice, soft and clear as a child's after the polyglot tongues of the last six months. He walked down the gangway, a sense of new life leaping in his young veins as he caught her in his arms.


SOME months later a Queensland newspaper announced that the Papuan police had improved in physical drill in a way that did credit to the Administration. Some thanks were due, it said, to the unremitting efforts of a Japanese Judo expert named Matsu Shinogi, who was proving so useful in the suppressing of jungle thugs and plantation bullies.


THE END


Roy Glashan's Library
Non sibi sed omnibus
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.