The Yellow Peril : The Japanese Threat

By Bassett Kendall


Scene: A room in Fugijiro’s house in Hyde Park Gardens. Time about 6.00 p.m. One door, C. No windows. Curtains. Oriental hangings. Subdued light, but not dark.

Fugijiro discovered C. (Enter Takihama.)

Taki. Missy Gaskell she here.

Fugi. Ask her to come in.

Taki. She come – yes. (Exit Taki. Enter Miss G.)

Fugi. Well, what news?

Miss G. First, Maxwell has made all preparations for leaving at half past six.

Fugi. Then we have no time to lose. (Claps.) I am going to kidnap him. (Enter Taki.) Ask Mr. Lockyer to come to me at once.

Taki. He come – yes. (Exit Taki.)

Fugi. Maxwell means to escape with the rest of the papers. He knows I’m after them; if we can catch him, we get the papers too. (Enter Hamilton – alias Lockyer. He is dressed as a taxi driver.)

Fugi. Good, Lockyer – you look the part to the life. Is your taxi ready.

Ham. Quite

Fugi. Very good. These are your instructions; you drive straight round to Maxwell’s house and wait three doors off, so that there is no possibility of another taxi taking the hail. Take your revolver with you. As soon as you have Maxwell and his luggage on board, drive him straight here: it is on the way to Victoria from his house. Stop outside this door as if you had engine trouble: look into the window, let him see your revolver and demand that he enters the house. Bring him straight up to this room, walking behind him with the revolver. Tell Takihama to be on the look out to open the front door and to bring up all Maxwell’s luggage. Is that clear?

Ham. Perfectly.

Fugi. Good. You ought to be starting. (Exit Ham.) Anything more to report?

Miss G. While I was out, Admiral Cooper turned up with Inspector Dodd from Scotland Yard.

Fugi. I have met Dodd before. We have nothing to fear from him.

Miss G. His manner in cross-questioning me was so pleasant that I feel sure I was under suspicion.

Fugi. Oh, yes. He’s a clever man. But he’s a professional and therefore is bound to act slowly. I am much more afraid of interference from young Sherwood: if he butts in it might be awkward. Being an amateur, he would not observe the rules of the game. I suppose you got the keys?

Miss G. No – they hadn’t come when I left the house.

Fugi. No matter. I had them sent to you as openly as possible so as not to arouse suspicion. They will be taken up to your room – And as things are they will not be needed. If we can decoy Maxwell here with the papers on him, the game is ours – If he gets away to Paris, we have lost. Everything depends on tonight. (Enter Taki.) What do you want?

Taki. (presenting cards.) Pair of mans – downstairs.

Fugi. (Reads cards and hands to Miss G.) Sherwood and Cooper. The young fools.

Miss G. You won’t see them?

Fugi. Certainly I shall. If they are in here, I know what they are doing. Outside they might wreck everything. You had better remain here but you must not be seen at first: It is possible that I may need assistance; take this six-shooter – it is not loaded, but it may be useful for bluff; we must have no accidents in this house. A corpse is an inconvenient thing to dispose of and would hamper our movements. Stand behind this curtain.

Miss G. They are bound to be armed.

Fugi. Yes. And it will be our business to disarm them. Don’t show yourself unless it becomes necessary. I leave it to you to act as you think best.

Miss G. And the papers?

Fugi. You need have no fear for the papers. They will not be found. (Miss G. behind curtain.) Takihama, bring pair of mans here.

Taki. Them come – yes.

Fugi. Wait. When I clap hands – so – lock door – no noise.

Taki. Door lock – yes – hush. (Taki. exit.) (Fugi lights cigarette. Enter Taki., followed by Derek and John. Exit Taki.)

Derek. I feel I owe you an apology for my strange conduct this morning –

Fugi. That is not the object of your visit. You believe that I have stolen certain important papers from your Uncle’s house. (Claps hands.) You will not find them here: you are wasting time and labour. Will you smoke?

Derek. It’s no use trying to bluff us, Mr. Fugijiro. You told my Uncle this morning that those papers were in your possession. Now I’ll make you a fair offer: will you sell them?

Fugi. Can a man sell what is not his own?

Derek. I can make it worth your while.

Fugi. To betray my country.

John. It’s no use arguing with him, Derek.

Fugi. You have never spoken a truer word than that. Nothing that you can say will deflect me by a hair’s breadth from the course I mean to pursue.

Derek. I accept the challenge – (glance at John. Both take out revolvers and cover Fugi.) Here is an argument which may appeal to you more than words. Hand over all the stolen papers or we’ll shoot you like a dog.

Fugi. The law against murder is a severe one, Mr. Sherwood – Think before you do anything foolish.

Derek. My Uncle’s honour is at stake – so is the reputation of Admiral Cooper – We are prepared to go to any lengths to save them.

Fugi. Will it help them if you have to state publicly in a court of law, why you murdered me?

Derek. We shall say nothing of our motives. The recovery of the papers will save them and we shall be saving our country at the same time.

Fugi. My death will not help you to recover the papers.

Derek. I know you have them – we shall search till we find them.

Fugi. You will search in vain.

Derek. You are a clever man, Mr. Fugijiro, clever enough to know when you are beaten. The ablest detective in England is on your tracks.

Fugi. I know the police. I do not fear them.

Derek. Now I offer you one chance of escape. Hand over the papers to me at once and you are free to leave the country: refuse, and I shoot you where you sit. I give you one minute. (pause.)

Fugi. You think you have me cornered. Now listen – it is you who are trapped. The door of this room is made of steel and is sound roof; when it is closed there is no sign of a door on the outside. When you came in you may have noticed that I clapped my hands: that was a signal to my boy to shut the door. The police may come but they will not find us; my boy is not clever, but he is faithful. If he has an order he will carry it out to the death. So you are at my mercy. No one except me knows the secret of opening that door. When I choose, I can let you out. Suppose you kill me, as it is quite in your power to do – you are armed and I am not – then the secret dies with me and nothing but dynamite can release you. You will be left alone with my dead body – to starve or to go mad – Here in the heart of your civilised London, within a few hundred yards of your friends, you are trapped – trapped like rats in a cage (rises.)

John. There’s the window –

Fugi. There are no windows in this room.

John. He’s bluffing us, Derek.

Derek. Keep him covered. I’ll make certain. (He approaches window with revolver down, Miss G. steps out, revolver levelled.)

Miss G. Stop where you are.

John. Miss Gaskell!

Fugi. Take his revolver, Miss Gaskell.

John. Don’t give it up, Derek. They daren’t use theirs.

Fugi. You forget that we are spies. If we are caught, we are shot – You have reminded me that the police are on my track. We are at bay and desperate. If our death is necessary for our escape, we shall not hesitate to kill you. We have ways of eluding the police which you have never dreamt of. Give up your revolver. (Derek hands it to Miss Gaskell.)

Miss G. Now, Mr. Cooper, put yours on that table.

John. I’m hanged if i do.

Miss G. Then I shall shoot, Mr. Sherwood.

Fugi. Miss Gaskell is a very good shot – at that range.

(John puts down revolver. Fugi takes it.)

Fugi. (taking revolvers from Miss Gaskell.) Thank you. That’s better. Now I’ll keep Mr. Cooper’s revolver for myself; I am locking Mr. Sherwood’s up for the moment. I’ll make you a present of Miss Gaskell’s (to John) in case you feel dull without one. You can do no a with it: it’s not loaded.

Derek. Not loaded?

Fugi. No. Miss Gaskell is not accustomed to firearms. She would hardly be safe with a loaded one.

John. Oh, my dear Derek, we are a pair of fools.

Fugi. Don’t despair. You did quite well for beginners: I have played the game of bluff longer than you have. Now you had better both sit down and keep quiet. Don’t forget that I have a loaded revolver in my pocket now: if you are troublesome, I shall have to use it. I shall only detain you for about an hour. What shall we do? There are four of us here. Shall it be bridge or Mah-jong?

Taki. (without) ’Ullo! ’Ullo!

Derek. You said the door was soundproof?

Fugi. That was when you had a loaded revolver.

John. And the window?

Fugi. Looks out over the Park. (Derek jumps up.) Sit still.

Taki. (without.) ’Ullo! ’Ullo! ’Ullo!

Fugi. Unlock the door, Takihama.

Taki. (entering in panic.) One more pair of mans. One very cross.

Fugi. Pair of mans here, Takihama. Two very cross. A very ordinary wooden door, you see, gentlemen, with a still more ordinary lock.

Taki. (With cards.) Here.

Fugi. Friends of yours, gentlemen. Admiral Cooper and Mr. Dodd. Takihama bring mans here.

Taki. Me not I like. Old man he hit my face.

Fugi. Bring them here. (Exit Taki.) I’m afraid our game must wait.

(Enter Adm. and Dodd and policeman.)

Adm. Now then, you dog, hand over those plans –

Derek. He’s got a gun, Sir.

Adm. I don’t care for his gun – what are you boys doing here?

Dodd. Excuse me, Sir Reginald, we must proceed correctly. Mr. Fugijiro, I have an order to search your house – also a warrant for the arrest of Miss Gaskell, who I see has saved us trouble by coming here. I suppose you have no intention of making any resistance: I have six policemen watching the house.

John. You’d better take his revolver, Inspector.

Dodd. Perhaps it would be as well.

Fugi. (handing revolver.) I see the game is up.

Dodd. Miss Gaskell, I’m sorry to say it is my duty to arrest you. The Darbies, Jenkins. (she is handcuffed.) I must warn you that anything you say may be used against you.

Adm. Now for the plans: you’d much better give them up.

Fugi. You are at liberty to search my house, gentlemen: here are my keys. You will not find any plans.

Adm. You’ve already sent them to Japan?

Fugi. Not yet, Sir Reginald. I propose to deal with them in my own time.

Dodd. (sits down to search at table.) This may be a tedious business, Sir Reginald.

Fugi. In that case I think I’ll smoke. Will you have one, Inspector? (Thrusts cigarette case under his nose.)

Dodd. No: I don’t smoke on duty, (suddenly looks more closely at case and then up at Fugi, who smiles.) I’m sorry, Sir Reginald, I must give up this case.

Adm. Because he offers you a cigarette? I shall write to the “Times.”

Dodd. (rising.) I can take no action against this gentlemen – (To Fugi.) Would you rather we left the house, Sir?

Fugi. No, it would be better for you all to remain. There is only one more person to complete our party – and I am expecting him every minute.

Adm. Who’s that? The Mikado?

Fugi. Mr. Maxwell.

Adm. Maxwell? But he’s going to Paris.

Fugi. Not unless my plans have miscarried. Inspector will you ask your men at the front door to allow Mr. Maxwell and his taxi-driver to come in when they arrive?

Dodd. Jenkins, run down and tell them to let in Mr. Maxwell and the driver.

Jenkins. Yes, Sir. (Exit Jenkins.)

Adm. What is the meaning of this treachery – You call yourself an Englishman, Mr. Dodd: you’re in league with this traitor yourself. Come, boys, we’re three to two –

Fugi. (at door.) Ah, here he is.

(Enter Max. furious, followed by Ham. with revolver and Taki carrying despatch case and suitcase.)

Max. What is the meaning of this insult? Ah, thank heaven, my friends are here. Now, you blackguard, what do you mean by it?

(Fugi has opened despatch case and hastily looked through papers.)

Fugi. (dropping foreign accent.) I can’t attend to you yet.

Max. How dare you touch my private papers? Admiral, Inspector, are you going to stand by while a spy examines government documents? (Adm. Derek and John are going to intervene.)

Fugi. Stand back – and hear me. You’ve all made up your minds I’m a spy because I have seized confidential papers and plans. Is there no one else but a spy who might wish to get possession of such documents? If you don’t follow me yet, ask Mr. Dodd what he saw in my cigarette-case. (All look at Dodd.)

Dodd. Something which in my position I am bound to respect, gentlemen, – the badge of the Secret Service.

Adm. Well, I’m hanged.

Fugi. There is the spy! (pointing at Max.) This is the man – an Englishman – who has for nearly two years been collecting secret information and sending it out to Japan. I was put on to this job 6 months ago: I know Japan well and can speak the language: so I adopted this disguise to get into touch with various Japanese spies who were known to our department. They were all subordinates, and we had no idea who was at the bottom of the plot. After three months of careful investigation I discovered that all these Japanese were working under this man Maxwell: his was the master mind directing them. No doubt he was well paid. (Maxwell sinks into chair.) I had as yet no direct proof: I asked that Miss Gaskell might work with me in the case – she obtained the post of his Secretary and so I had a colleague in the house. You know the rest. With her help I obtained some of the papers and with the assistance my friend Lockyer here I have succeeded in catching Maxwell with the remaining documents. As a proof of my story, Sir Reginald, I will hand you back the missing submarine plans: they are not needed as a proof of his guilt and no doubt it will be a relief to you that they should not appear at the trial. We have plenty of other evidence: (He takes off wig and gives papers from inside it to Adm.) Allow me.

Adm. My dear Sir – how can I thank you? I have been a perfect fool.

Fugi. A little indiscreet, perhaps, Admiral.

John. I’m afraid we very nearly queered your pitch, Sir.

Fugi. You did your best. Fortunately you were quite easily had on.

John. We were appalling idiots not to see which was the right side.

Fugi. We should not be much use as a secret service if every idiot could see through us.

Derek. (Coming up to Fugi.) I’m sorry, Sir. You’ll understand that my uncle’s disgrace is a bit of a knock to me. If you don’t mind, I’ll be off. But I do apologise for anything I’ve done or said.

Fugi. That’s all right, Sherwood. I hope we shall see more of one another. (Exit Derek.) Poor boy.

Adm. I don’t yet know the name of my benefactor.

Fugi. In our service we are not allowed to disclose our identity – Think of me as Fugijiro the spy. Inspector: Miss Gaskell and I must go and report at Headquarters: I’ll hand Maxwell over to you. I know you fellows are sticklers for correct procedure so here’s the warrant. I’ve had it ready for the last two months. You’d better put on the Darbies: besides, they are inconveniencing Miss Gaskell.

Dodd. I beg pardon, Miss, the same. It’s not often I arrest the wrong person. (Takes off handcuffs.)

Miss G. Your arrest of me was one of the smartest things in your career. I don’t yet know how you spotted me.

Dodd. Violet Soap, Miss. If you’ll take my advice, you’ll use unscented soap when you next want to commit a crime.

Fugi. (Drawing Dodd aside.) You’ll find a taxi at the door. Show him every consideration.

Dodd. I will, Sir.

Fugi. Lockyer, do you mind driving?

Ham. Of course not. (Exit.)

Dodd. (touches Max, who looks up wearily.) Mr. Maxwell, I must ask you to come with me. (Putting on handcuffs.) Just as a matter of form, you understand. Let me help you up. I’ll give you an arm downstairs – you’re feeling a bit shaken, of course – (Till out of hearing. Exeunt.)

Fugi. Poor beggar. Come, Miss Gaskell, we must be off to make our report. Then we’ll dine together at the Savoy.

Adm. What beats me is how an Englishman –

Fugi. Mammon, Sir Reginald, the mammon of unrighteousness.

Adm. You have done me a remarkable service, Sir. If I can ever do anything for you in return, I hope you’ll let me know.

Fugi. Thank you. But at the moment my only wants are a stick of Cocoa butter, a hot bath and dinner with Miss Gaskell and the face of a Christian.