Bill Meilen
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CHANGO JADE

 

“Tell this valueless nephew of yours, teacher, there is no time for superficial nonsense. We must leave by the end of the week or by the time we reach Hong Kong, the Imperial Japanese Army may be waiting to greet us. Selection has been made very carefully from young women of good family stock and position, strong of limb, who show promise of being able to give me some grandsons. Each of the ones selected brings with her a good dowry. Each is equal in my estimation!” He glowered at his son fiercely.

“He may therefore have free choice from among the three. Then he will be married. But no delays. There is no time.” He walked in a circle, the hem of his robe sweeping the tips of the sparse grass, and stopped before Sun.

“Where have you hidden the door to the treasure chamber, Sun? I looked and looked and could not see it. It has changed this past five years.”

Sun smiled and led Lee along an incline towards a series of mossy outcrops. “It has not changed at all, brother,” he said quietly to Lee, walking beside him in close conference. “It is your way of looking at things that has changed. The way you used to ridicule the Analects!” He chuckled at his brother’s pomposity, hiding it from Loy.

Louder, for the benefit of Loy, who was trailing disdainfully in their wake, he said, “Surely you remember the place, Lee? It was easy to see. Remember you complained last time we closed it that a blind man could see it.” He chuckled at his brother, who strode alongside him and clapped an arm across his shoulders.

“I thought I knew!” Lee declared. “I was certain I remembered. I came up the hill with the entrance clearly in my mind, but when I looked for the picture I had in my mind, there was nothing there to match it!” He stopped to gesture ahead. “There. I swear it was there.” A group of rocks, long fallen and covered in moss, lay scattered about along the grassy path. Rock outcrops buttressed a short cliff. “You have the power of Chang Kuo-lao about you. It is invisible.”

Sun smiled obliquely at his brother. “Mother Earth is a jealous guardian of riches. Gold is part of her vital sinews. Of course she will use every possible subterfuge to bemuse your eye so that you cannot see the door. Even the patient moss is on her side. But we hold the key to her secrets!”

Slipping a slim blade from beneath his robe he advanced upon the rock wall some paces along. Where a slight protrusion lumped from the wall he sliced into the moss in a triangle upwards from the ground, and around and back down to the ground again, stepping back to gesture at a staring Lee. “That is the position of the door.” He scratched in the sand and shale at the foot of the rock and came up with an iron lever bar. “Here is the key.” With a few deft twists of the bar in the cracks around the rock he levered a slab almost as tall as himself away from the cliff face to reveal a hole in the rock beyond, large enough for a man to pass.

Loy placed a lamp on the ground and lit its floating wick. The three men let it smoke for a while, then Sun picked it up, and on his knees, entered the short tunnel that led into the cave, pushing the light ahead of him. The others followed close behind. A few yards in, the tunnel broadened into a sizeable cave filled with small crates and boxes. The shadows of the three men danced grotesquely in the flickering light of the lamp for a moment as they stood

 

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