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January 18, 1947 - Image 11

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1947-01-18

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

PER IlkPVCTIVES

PDa..v lof a

AL JLA JLIL XJ JL JLJ 'A 'JL T k7

NINE THIRTY
. Don Curto

AT NINE O'CLOCK on the evening of
May 26, 1946, in Tientsin, China, it
was raining. The streets were almost de-
serted except for a few rickshas and
streams of black water eddying in the
gutters.
Henri de Saint-Hubert was at home
in a small apartment house in the old
French concession. Henri had once been
Prefect of the; French police for the
concessibn. Now he Was seliing informa-
tion about the American forces. He had
many acquaintances among the Ameri-
cans who talked to him as a friend and
ally.
On this particular night, Henri was
standing near the front door of the
apartment slipping into his coat. His
wife was holding it for him. Miane de
Saint-Hubert was a small woman and
she had to raise her arms above her
head to hold the coat for her husband.
He stood there, buttoning his coat,
not speaking to his wife. He turned
around, kissed her lightly on the lips
and pressed her arm gently. He turned
his coat collar up and said, "I'll be
home early tonight."
"I'll wait up for you," his wife said;
"please be careful."
M. Henri de Saint-Hubert opened the
door, glanced back at his wife and
winked at her and walked out into the
warm rain. He turned right on the Rue
St. Louis and walked toward the inter-
section of Victoria Avenue. He kept
both hands deep in the pockets of his
rain coat. Several ricksha boys asked
him to ride but he waved them off
without speaking. The meeting wasn't
until nine-thirty and he had plenty of
time to reach the old house in the Ex-
German concession.
In the right pocket of his rain coat,
Henri kept his hand clasped around an
American .45 oiled lightly against the
dampness. Once, before he got to 'he
corner of Victoria, he took his right
hand out of his coat to feel the envel-
opes tucked inside his coat. One was
addressed to George Lum, Chinese Min-

istry of Information, Tientsin Munici-
pal Government. The other was marked
simply to Hu Shih-pai, 437 Kirin Road.
Henri pushed them more securely into
his pocket and returned his hand to the
.45. He was smiling to himself as he
turned east down Victoria Avenue to-
ward the house in the German conces-
sion.
I another part of the city at nine
o'plock on the same evening, George
Lum shivered slightly in a heavily up-
holstered chair. He reached for the
glass of Chala brandy on the table to
his right and swallowed the liquor. He
wiped his hand across his mouth and
looked at his watch. Then he kicked
the young Chinese girl who had dozed at
his feet. She got up from the floor and
sat on his lap, putting her arms around.
his neck and kissing him on the cheek.
He shook himself and pushed her away
from him. He told her in Chinese,
"Get out of here; I must go." She stood
up and left the room quietly, without
looking back at Lum.
George Lum went to the desk in the
corner of the large room and took a
small Japanese .25 calibre automatic
from the top left drawer. He checked
the magazine to see that it was loaded
and then carried the weapon into the
hall. He laid the gun on the hall table
while he put on his coat.
Outside he put his collar up against
the rain and walked down the Via Ro-
ma toward the fountain. He stopped
under the streetlight swinging above the
fountain and checked his watch. It was
eleven minues after nine. He waited for
one minute at the fountain, holding
tightly to the gun in his pocket. He
could feel his hand perspiring against
the smooth oiliness of the gun metal.
At exactly twelve minutes after nine
o'clock he started to walk toward the
German concession.
At nine-ten that night, in one of the
upstairs rooms in a house at 437 Kirin
Road, Ex-German concession, Marine
Lieutenant Mike Hume poured himself a

drink. He looked at his watch about ev-
every thirty seconds. Hu Shih-pai sat in
the corner of the room on an old sofa.
His hands were bound together on his
lap with steel cuffs. Occasionally the
lieutenant looked in his direction. A
single light hanging from the ceiling
swung in a small ~circle, making the
shadows in the room dance around their
objects. He looked once"more at his
watch.. It was nine fifteen. The lieu-
tenant picked up the glass, drained off
the hard tasting brandy and moved to
the chair in the dark corner of the room.
He sat down, looked at his watch
again and lit a cigarette. He looked at
Hu Shih-pai and said, "Keep quiet. Do
you understand?" Hu kept staring
straight ahead. The American crossed
his legs, took a .45 out of his shoulder
holster and placed it in his lap. He sat
there watching the door.
At nine twenty-five Henri de Saint-
Hubert turned onto Kirin Road and
walked the four blocks to the house. In-
stead of going into the house, he
crossed the street and stood in the shad-
ows in an alley. He watched the lighted
room in .437. Frequently he looked at
his watch. Several times he put his
hand inside of his coat to make sure
that the envelopes were still there. Kir-
in Road was completely barren and the
rain began to come down faster. He
watched it as it streaked through the
lighted area around the single light in
the center of the road. At nine twenty-
nine he decided to cross the street to
the house. He heard a sound behind him
and turned quickly. He saw the man
and started to exclaim, "Mons. ..."
Between the sight of the muzzle flash
and the blacking out, Henri thought of
reaching for his own gun.
At nine-thirty, George Lum pushed
the body closer to the wall in the alley
and took two envelopes from inside its
coat. Then he stood in the shadows
looking up and down the street. It was
still bare. At nine thirty-one he crossed
the road and opened the gate to 437. He

walked through the puddles in the fam-
iliar path, opened the front door and
started up the stairs. At the top of the
stairs, he stopped outside the door-with
a crack of light showing at the bottom.
He turned his coat collar down and put
his hand on the door knob.
Lieutenant Mike Hume put his cig-
arette out at nine-twenty-five and got
up from the chair. He went to the center
of the room and tried to stop the light
from swinging. Then he went back and
sat down. Hu Shih-pai hadn't spoken.
At nine thirty, the lieutenant heard a
shot across the street. He sat up straight
and clicked the safety off the .45. He
reached for another cigarette and put it
in his mouth. He didn't light it. Hu
Shih-pai moved to lie down on the sofa.
He looked at the lieutenant and then
sat up again. Shortly after nine-thirty,
the American saw the knob on the door
turn and a man entered the room. The
man stood inside the door, looking at Hu
Shih-pai. An expression of puzzlement
came over his face. Then he saw the
lieutenant sitting in the corner. The
lieutenant saw the man start to put his
right hand into his coat pocket. He
picked the gun up from his lap and fired
once. Then he got up and quietly closed
the still-open door.
The wife of Henri de Saint-Hubert
awoke suddenly when the clock on the
wall struck midnight. She got up from
the chair and went to the door. She
opened it and looked down the Rue St.
Louis. She stayed there for a long time
watching the lighted area at the corner.
Then she softly closed the door and
went into the bedroom and got into bed.
In the house of George Lum on the
Via Roma, the Chinese girl peeked
around the corner of the doorway into
the room where she had been earlier
with her master. It was empty and the
Lamp on the big table was lighted. She
tiptoed into the room and sat down in
the comfortable chair, curling her legs
beneath her. She poured a glass of
Chala brandy and smiled, squirming
her body into a comfortable position.
their souvenirs. They walked toward the
scene. One carried a metal rod from the
wrecked bomber. He gave it to a Chin-
ese who beat with the others. "Give 'em
hell, Joe," said the American, The other
Americans looked and said nothing. One
turned his back and bent over to vomit.
A sergeant in the group saw the de-
capitated head of the Japanese. He
went to it, a pair of souvenir pliars in
his hand. He squatted, put one foot on
the head for support and began to pull
the dead man's teeth? Several other
Americans came to watch. The sergeant
held up the teeth as he pulled them,
and handed them to the men standing
around him. An American lieutenant
came to watch. The sergeant hesitated,
"I want one, too," said the lieutenant.
The Americans began to leave. Only
a few remained to pry name plates
from the bomber's hulk. The Chinese
stopped beating the dead Japanese.
They separated and left. Here and there
a Chinese searched the wreckage for a
souvenir which later he might sell to
an American.
Ling Foos house had burned to the
ground. A pile of dried manure smold-
ered. Vegetables steamed gently from
the truck patch, freshly fertilized with
human dung. Blood stained the ground
about the dead Japanese, whose guts
now lay open. The odors mixed.
The sun was well into the Chinese
winter sky now. Three Chinese sodiers
came to guard the wreckage. Ling Foo
stood alone and silent at the edge of
his tiny farm and watched them.
NOTE: This incident took place at
an advance American air base near
Hengyang , HnanChinaan I-
cember 10, 1943.

SALE
(Continued from Page 8)
too busy merely trying to understand
what she was getting at.
"Wait a minute," he thought of some-
thing else "What happens to the star?"
"I'll take it of course," she told him
frowning, a bit perturbed that it should
have come up. "You won't see it any
more."
Grimo glared at her. "That's impos-
sible," he said finally. "You're feeding
Sme."
She stared back at him just as coldly,
then she shifted her gaze to the money.
"Does that look like I'm, as you say,
feeding you?"
He looked a long time at the money,
then he stood up and said, "No, God-
damn it." He started to walk away
from the desk, but he came back,
"Look," he said, "do you mean what
you're saying?" The lady just shrugged,
and :settled back in her chair to wait.
Grimo got a little mad. After all it was
his star. He didn't care who she was.
"You want that star pretty damn bad,
don't you," he leered at her. "Well, I'll
be damned if I'll sell it." He stod
above her triumphantly. She made no
move to take her money and leave; she
just sat there.
"We could get new machines," said
George quietly. The lady smiled, show-
ing the tip of her tongue between her
lip and her upper plate, Grimo began
to swear. George blushed, the lady
watched him patiently.
"It's really up to you, Mr. Grimo," she
said when he had finished. She stood.

up and pulled her belt more tightly
around the raincoat.
She made no move to take the money,
but stood there patiently watching
Grimo. Grimo stood before her very
tensely, his fists clenched, his lips white
from pressing together, his quick eyes
burning darkly. For a second no one
moved, then slowly the tenseness went
out of him, he dropped his eyes; and
he sat down. The lady shifted her
weight from one foot to the other.
He looked up at her. "But I couldn't see
my star?" he asked her.
"I'm sorry." She needed the star,
but in a way she really was sorry. And
there was nothing she could do about
it now.
Grimo looked back at the desk. For
a long time he looked at it, not at the
money, but the desk. He spoke without
looking up. "I'll do it," he said. "I'll,
sell you the star."
"Thank you," said the lady. She
turned and walked across the shabby
office, her red sandals clattering on the
old wood floor. She went out. They
could see her silhouette grow smaller
through the frosted glass window as
she walked out of the store.
Grimo gave George the money. "Go
out and break these."
"You think they're good?" George
was incredulous.
"As good as any," Grimo told him.
"And fix it for the machines." George
went out, but Grimo sat there a long
time. And that night, when he looked
from the bedroom window of his little
flat, sure enough. the star was gone.
He felt rotten about it, but, hell, what
could he do . ..?

LING FOO
TH EARLY MORNING raid was
over.
A Japanese bomber had crashed near
the house of a Chinese farmer, set it
afire, plowed into his truck patch, ex-
ploded, reduced his small crop to a
smoldering ruin.
Ling Foo, the farmer, beat at the
flames with a quilted coat. He was cry-
ing. He turned toward the wreck where
half a hundred American soldiers poked
for souvenirs. He screamed for help to
put out the fire. The Americans could
not understand Ling Foo, but they knew
what he wanted.
Ling Foo sobbed bitterly, hysterically.
He picked up a stick and ran toward a
group of Americans who were examin-
ing the twisted remains of a Japanese
machine gun. A Chinese soldier forced
the old man back with a rifle and struck
him down where he lay beating the
earth and crying.
Near Ling Foo was the torso of a Ja-
panese flyer thrown clear of the wreck.
A burned, bloody, sodden mass of swol-
len flesh. Its legs were crushed, both
arms torn off. The head lay fifteen feet
to one side, its hair burned, its face
mashed.
Ling Foo raised himself, clenched his
stick and walked to the body of the
dead Japanese. Three other Chinese
stood near. Ling Foo cried to them,
"Beat upon this devil!" He struck first.
The others followed.
The Americans were distracted from

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