The Rampa Story/Chapter Six

Published in 1960, the only one of Lobsang Rampa's books to have not been renewed.

CHAPTER SIXEdit

New York seemed such an unfriendly place. People whom I attempted to stop to enquire the way gave me a frightened look and hurried on. After a night's sleep, I had my breakfast and boarded a bus for the Bronx. From the papers I had gained the idea that lodgings would be cheaper there. Near Bronx Park I alighted and trudged along the street looking for a "Room for Rent" sign. A speeding car flashed between two delivery vans and on to the wrong side of the road, skidding, it mounted the sidewalk and struck me on the left side. Once again I heard the breaking of bones. As I slid to the sidewalk, and before merciful oblivion claimed me, I saw a man snatch up my two suitcases and hurry off.

The air was filled of the sound of music. I was happy, comfortable after years of hardship. "Ah!" exclaimed the voice of the Lama Mingyar Dondup, "So you have had to come here again?" I opened my eyes to find him smiling down upon me, with the utmost compassion shining from his eyes. "Life upon Earth is hard and bitter, and you have had experiences from which, happily, most people are spared. It is just an interlude, Lobsang, just an unpleasant interlude. After the long night will come the awakening to a perfect day when no longer need you return to Earth, nor to any of the lower worlds." I sighed. It was pleasant here, and that accentuated even more the harshness and unfairness of the Earth life. "You, my Lobsang," said my Guide, "are living your last, life upon Earth. You are clearing up all Kharma and are also doing a momentous task, a task which evil powers seek to hinder."

Kharma! It recalled vividly to my mind the lesson, which I had learned in beloved, far-off Lhasa....

The tinkling of the little silver bells had ended. No longer did the trumpets blare across the Valley of Lhasa, sounding loud and clear in the crisp, thin air. About me was uncanny silence, a silence that should not be. I awakened from my reverie just as the monks in the temple started their deep-toned Litany for the Dead. Dead? Yes! Of course, the Litany for the old monk who had so recently died. Died, after a life-time of suffering, of service to others, of being misunderstood and unthanked.

"What a terrible Kharma he must have had," I said to myself "What a wicked person he must have been in his past life to merit such retribution."

"Lobsang!" The voice behind me was like a clap of distant thunder. The blows that rained upon my shrinking body—well—they were not so distant, unfortunately. "Lobsang! You here skulking, showing disrespect to our departed Brother, take that, and that!" Suddenly the blows and the abuse stopped as if by magic. I turned my anguished head round and gazed up at the giant figure towering above me, heavy cudgel still in his upraised hand.

"Proctor," said a well-loved voice, "that was vicious punishment indeed for a small boy. What has he done to suffer that? Has he desecrated the Temple? Has he shown disrespect to the Golden Figures? Speak, and explain your cruelty."

"Lord Mingyar Dondup," whined the tall Proctor of the Temple, "the boy was here day-dreaming when he should have been at the Litany with his fellows."

The Lama Mingyar Dondup, no small man himself, gazed sadly up at the seven-foot Man of Kham standing before him. Firmly the Lama spoke, "You may go, Proctor, I will deal with this myself". As the Proctor respectfully bowed, and turned away, my Guide, the Lama Mingyar Dondup turned to me, "Now Lobsang, let us go to my room so that you can recount the tale of your numerous well punished sins." With that he stooped gently and lifted me to my feet. In my short life no one but my Guide had ever shown me kindness, and I was hard put to keep back tears of gratitude and love.

The Lama turned away and slowly walked up the long deserted corridor. I humbly followed in his footsteps, followed even eagerly, knowing that no injustice could ever come from this great man.

At the entrance to his room he stopped, turned to me, and put a hand on my shoulder, "Come along, Lobsang, you have committed no crime, come in and tell me about this trouble." With that he pushed me before him and bade me be seated. "Food, Lobsang, "Food", that also is upon your mind. We must have food and tea while we talk." Leisurely he rang his silver bell, and an attendant entered.

Until food and drink was placed before us we sat in silence, I thinking of the sureness with which all my offences were found out and punished almost before they were committed. Once again a voice broke into my thoughts. "Lobsang! You are day-dreaming! Food, Lobsang, Food is before you and you, you of all people, do not see it." The kindly, bantering voice brought me back to attention and almost automatically I reached out for those sweet sugared cakes which so greatly entranced my palate. Cakes which had been brought from far-off India for the Dalai Lama, but which through his kindness were available to me.

For some moments more we sat and ate, or rather I ate, and the Lama smiled benevolently upon me. "Now, Lobsang," he said when I showed signs of repletion, "what is all this about?"

"Master," I replied, "I was reflecting upon the terrible Kharma of the monk who died. He must have been a very wicked man in many lives past. So thinking, I forgot all about the temple service, and the Proctor came upon me before I was able to escape."

He burst out with a laugh, "So, Lobsang, you would have tried to escape from your Kharma if you could!" I looked glumly at him, knowing that few could outrun the athletic proctors, so very fleet of foot.

"Lobsang, this matter of Kharma. Oh how it is misunderstood by some even here in the Temple. Make yourself comfortable, for I am going to talk to you on this matter at some length."

I shuffled around a bit and made a show of "getting comfortable". I wanted to be out with the others, not sitting here listening to a lecture, for even from such a great man as the Lama Mingyar Dondup a lecture was a lecture, and medicine with a pleasant taste was still medicine.

"You know all this, Lobsang, or should if you have paid any attention to your teachers (which I doubt!) but I will remind you again as I fear that your attention is still somewhat lacking." With that he gave me a piercing glance and resumed. "We come to this Earth as to a school. We come to learn our lessons. In our first attendance at school we are in the lowest class because we are ignorant and as yet have learned nothing. At the end of our term we either pass our examinations or fail them. If we pass we go on to a higher class, when we return from the school vacation. If we fail, then we return to the same class as that which we left. If we fail in perhaps one subject only we may be permitted to go on to the higher class and there also study the subject of our failure."

This was speaking to me in language, which I well understood. I knew all about examinations, and failing in a subject and having to go on to a higher class, competing with bigger boys, and at the same time studying in what should have been my free time, studying under the eagle eye of some mouldy old lama teacher, one who was so ancient that he forgot all about his own boyhood days.

There was a crash, and I jumped so much with fright that I almost left the ground. "Ah, Lobsang, so we did get a reaction after all," said my Guide as he laughingly replaced the silver bell he had dropped behind me; "I spoke to you on a number of occasions, but you were wandering far afield."

"I am sorry, Honourable Lama," I replied, "but I was thinking how clear your lecture was."

The Lama stilled a smile and continued. "We come to this Earth as do children to a schoolroom. If, in our lifetime, we do well and learn that which caused us to come, then we progress further and take up life in a higher state. If we do not learn our lessons, we come back to almost the same type of body and conditions. In some cases a man, in a past life, will have shown much cruelty to others. He must come back to this Earth and try to atone for his misdeeds. He must come back and show kindness to others.

Many of the greatest reformers in this life were offenders in the past. So the Wheel of Life revolves, bringing first riches to one, and then poverty to another, and the beggar of today may be the prince of tomorrow, and so it continues from life to life."

"But Honourable Lama," I interjected, "does it mean that if a man is now a beggar with one leg, he must have cut off the leg of some other person in another life?"

"No, Lobsang, it does not. It means that the man needed to be poor, and needed to suffer the loss of one leg so that he could learn his lesson. If you have to study figures you take your slate and your abacus. If you are going to study carving you take a knife and a piece of wood. You take tools suitable for the task in hand. So it is with the type of body we have, the body and our life circumstances are the most suitable for the task we have to overcome."

I thought of the old monk who had died, he was always bewailing his "bad Kharma", wondering what he had done to deserve such a hard life. "Ah, yes, Lobsang," said my Guide, reading my thoughts, "the unenlightened always bemoan the workings of Kharma. They do not realize that they are sometimes the victims of the bad acts of others, and though they suffer unjustly now, yet in a later life they will have full recompense. Again I say to you, Lobsang, you cannot judge a man's evolution by his present status on Earth, nor can you condemn him as evil because he seems to be in difficulties. Nor should you condemn, for until you have all the facts, which you cannot have in this life, you have no sound judgment."

The voice of the temple trumpets echoing through the halls and corridors summoned us from our talk to attend the evening service. Voice of the temple trumpets? Or was it a deep-toned gong? It seemed that the gong was in my head, booming away, jerking me, bringing me back to life on Earth. Wearily I opened my eyes. Screens were around my bed and an oxygen cylinder stood nearby. "He is awake, Doctor," said a voice. Shuffling of feet, and the rustle of well-starched cloth. A red face came into range of my vision. "Ah!" said the American doctor. "So you have come back to life! You sure got yourself smashed up!" I gazed blankly at him.

"My suitcases?" I asked, "Are they all right?"

"No, a guy made off with them and the police cannot find him."

Later in the day the police came to my bedside seeking information. My cases had been stolen. The man whose car had knocked me down and gravely injured me was not insured. He was an unemployed negro. Once again I had my left arm broken, four ribs broken, and both feet smashed. "You will be out in a month," cheerily said the doctor. Then double pneumonia set in. For nine weeks I lingered in the hospital. As soon as I was able to get up I was asked about payment. "We found two hundred and sixty dollars in your wallet, we shall have to take two hundred and fifty for your stay here." I looked at the man aghast. "But I shall have no job, nothing," I said. "How shall I live on ten dollars?"

The man shrugged his shoulders. "Oh you will have to sue the negro. You have had treatment and we have to be paid. The case is nothing to do with us—make an action against the man who caused the trouble."

Shakily I went down the stairs. Tottered into the street. No money, other than ten dollars. No job, nowhere to live. How to live, that was the problem. The janitor jerked his thumb, "Up the street, Employment Agency there, go see them." Nodding dumbly, I wandered off, looking for my only hope. In a shoddy side-street I saw a battered sign, "Jobs". The climb to the third floor office was almost more than I could manage. Gasping, I clung to the rail at the top until I felt a little better.

"Kin ye scrub, Bud?" said the yellow-toothed man, rolling a ragged cigar between his thick lips. He eyed me up and down. "Guess you have just come out of the penitentiary or the hospital," he said. I told him all that had happened, how I had lost my belongings and my money. "So you want some bucks mighty fast," he said, reaching for a card and filling in some details. He gave it to me, and told me to take it to a hotel with a very celebrated name, one of the hotels! I went, spending precious cents on bus fares.

"Twenty dollars a week and one meal per day," said the Staff Manager. So, for "twenty dollars and one meal per day" I washed mountains of filthy plates, and scrubbed endless stairs for ten hours each day.

Twenty dollars a week—and one meal. The meals served to the staff were not of the same quality as those served to the guests. Staff meals were rigidly supervised and checked. My wages were so poor that I could not afford a room. I made my home in the parks, beneath arches and bridges, and learned to move at night before the Cop on the Beat came along with his prodding night stick and his gruff "Getamoveonwillya?" I learned to stuff my clothes with newspaper to keep out the bitter winds that swept New York's deserted streets by night. My one suit of clothes was travel-worn and work-stained, and I had no change of underwear. To wash my clothing I locked myself in the Men's Room, removed my underwear, put my trousers on again, and washed my clothing in a basin, drying them on the steam pipes after, for until I could wear them I could not go out. My shoes had holes in the soles, and I patched them with cardboard, while watching the garbage bins for any better pair which a guest might throw out. But there were many keen eyes and many eager hands to examine the "guest-trash" before it reached me. I lived and worked on one meal a day, and plenty of water. Gradually I accumulated a change of clothing, a second-hand suit, and second-hand shoes. Slowly I accumulated a hundred dollars.

One day I heard two guests talking as I worked near a service door. They were discussing the failure of an advertisement to bring in a reply from the type of man they wanted. I worked slower and slower. "Knowledge of Europe. Good voice, radio training..." Something happened to me, I dashed round the door and exclaimed, "I can claim all those!" The men looked at me dumbfounded and then broke into yells of laughter. The Chief Waiter and an under waiter dashed forward, utter fury on their faces. "Out!" said the Chief Waiter as he grabbed violently at my collar, ripping my poor old jacket from top to bottom. I turned on him and threw the two halves of my jacket in his face: "Twenty dollars a week does not enable you to speak to a man like that!" I said fiercely. One of the two men looked at me in hushed horror, "Twenty dollars a week, you said?"

"Yes, sir, that is what I am paid, and one meal a day. I sleep in the parks, I am chased from place to place by the police. I came to this 'Land of Opportunity' and on the day after I landed a man ran me down with his car, and when I was unconscious an American robbed me of all I had. Proof? Sir? I will give you proof, then you check my story!" The Floor Manager rushed up, wringing his hands and almost weeping. We were ushered into his office. The others sat down, I was left standing. The older of the two men phoned the hospital, and after some delay, my story was authenticated in every detail. The Floor Manager pressed a twenty-dollar bill on me, "Buy a new jacket," he said, "and clear out!" I pressed the money back into his flabby hands. "You take it," I replied, "You will need it more than I." I turned to leave and as I reached the door a hand shot out and a voice said "Stop!" The older man looked me straight in the eyes. "I think that you may suit us. We will see. Come to Schenectady tomorrow. Here is my card." I turned to go. "Wait—here are fifty dollars to see you there."

"Sir," I said, refusing the money offered, "I will get there under my own steam. I will not take money until you are sure that I will meet your requirements, for I could not possibly pay you back if you do not want me." I turned and left the room. From my locker in the Staff Room I took my meagre belongings and walked out in the street. I had nowhere to go but to a seat in the park. No roof, no one to whom to say good-bye. In the night the pitiless rain came down and soaked me to the skin. By good fortune I kept my "new suit" dry by sitting on it.

In the morning I had a cup of coffee and a sandwich and found that the cheapest way to travel from New York City to Schenectady was by bus. I bought my ticket and settled in a seat. Some passenger had left a copy of the Morning Times on a seat, so I read through it to keep me from brooding on my very uncertain future. The bus droned on, eating up the miles. By afternoon I was in the city. I went to the public baths, made myself as smart as possible, put on my clean clothes and walked out.

At the radio studios the two men were waiting. For hour after hour they plied me with questions. Man after man came in and went out again. At last they had my whole story. "You say you have papers stored with a friend in Shanghai?" said the senior man. "Then we will engage you on a temporary basis and will cable to Shanghai to have your things sent on here. As soon as we see these papers, you will be on a permanent footing. A hundred and ten dollars a week; we will discuss it further when we see those papers. Have them sent at our expense."

The second man spoke, "Sure guess he could do with an advance," he said.

"Give him a month in advance," said the first man. "Let him start the day after tomorrow."

So began a happy period in my life. I liked the work, and I gave complete satisfaction. In the course of time my papers, my age-old crystal, and a very few other things arrived. The two men checked everything, and gave me a fifteen dollar a week raise. Life was beginning to smile upon me, I thought.

After some time, during which I saved most of my money, I began to experience the feeling that I was getting nowhere, I was not getting on with my allotted task in life. The senior man was very fond of me now, and I went to him and discussed the problem, telling him that I would leave when he found a suitable replacement for me. For three months more I stayed.

My papers had come from Shanghai, among them a passport issued by the British authorities at the British Concession. During those far-off war days the British were very fond of me, for they made use of my services. Now, well, now they think they have no more to gain. I took my passport and other papers to the United Kingdom Embassy in New York, and after a lot of trouble and much delay, managed to obtain first a visa and then a work permit for England.

At last a replacement for me was obtained, and I stayed two weeks to "show him the ropes", then I left. America is perhaps unique in that a person who knows how, can travel almost anywhere free. I looked at various newspapers until I saw, under "Transportation", the following:

"California, Seattle, Boston, New York.

Gas free, Call 000000 XXX Auto Drive-away."

Firms in America want cars delivered all over the continent. Many drivers want to travel, so a good and cheap method is for the would-be driver to get in touch with the auto delivery firm. On passing a simple driving test one is then given gas (petrol) vouchers for certain selected filling stations on the route.

I called on the XXX Auto Drive-away and said I wanted to drive a car to Seattle. "No difficulty at all, at all," said the man with the Irish brogue. "I am looking for a good driver to take a Lincoln there. Drive me round, let's see how you shape." As I drove him round he told me of various useflil matters. He seemed to have taken quite a liking to me, then he said; "I recognized your voice, you were an Announcer." This I confirmed. He said, "I have a short-wave radio which I use to keep in touch with the Old Country. Something wrong with it, it won't get the short waves any more. The local men do not understand this type of radio, do you?"

I assured him that I would have a look at it and he invited me to his home that evening, even lending me a car with which to get there. His Irish wife was exceptionally pleasant, and they left within me a love for Ireland, which became intensified when I went there to live.

The radio was a very famous English model, an exceptionally fine Eddystone which has no peer. Fortune smiled upon me. The Irishman picked up one of the plug-in coils and I saw how he held it. "Let me have that coil," I said, "and have you a magnifying glass?" He had, and a quick examination showed me that in his incorrect handling of the coil, he had broken a wire free from one of the pins. I showed it to him. "Have you a soldering iron and solder?" I asked. No, but his neighbour had. Off he dashed, to return with a soldering iron and solder. It was the work of minutes to resolder the wire—and the set worked. Simple little adjustments to the trimmers and it worked better. Soon we were listening to the B.B.C. in London, England.

"I was going to send the radio back to England to be put right," said the Irishman. "Now I'm going to do something for you. The owner of the Lincoln wanted one of our firm's drivers to take it to him in Seattle. He is a rich man. I am going to put you on our payroll so you can get paid. We will give you eighty dollars and we will charge him a hundred and twenty. Done?" Done? Most certainly, it suited me just fine.

On the following Monday morning I started off. Pasadena. was my first destination. I wanted to make sure that the Ship's Engineer whose papers I had used really had no relatives. New York, Pittsburg, Columbus, Kansas City, the miles mounted up. I did not hurry, I allowed a week for the trip. By night I slept in the big car to save hotel expenses, pulling off the road wherever I thought suitable. Soon I was at the foot-hills of the American Rockies, enjoying the better air, enjoying it even more as the car climbed higher and higher. For a whole day I lingered here in the mountainous ranges, and then I drove off to Pasadena. The most scrupulous enquiries failed to reveal that the Engineer had any relatives. He seemed to have been a morose sort of man who preferred his own company to that of any other person.

Through the Yosemite National Park I drove. Crater Lake National Park, Portland, and finally Seattle. I took the car into the garage where it was carefully inspected, greased and washed. Then a call was made by the garage manager. "Come on," he said to me, "he wants us to take it over to him." I drove the Lincoln, and the manager drove another car so that we had return transportation.

Up the spacious drive of a big house, and three men appeared. The manager was very deferential to the frosty-faced man who had bought the Lincoln. The two men with him were automobile engineers who proceeded to give the Lincoln a thorough examination. "It has been very carefully driven," said the senior engineer, "you may take delivery with complete confidence."

The frosty-faced man nodded condescendingly at me. "Come along to my study," he said, "I am going to give you a bonus of a hundred dollars—for you alone—because you have driven so carefully."

"Man, oh! Man!" said the manager afterwards. "That was mighty big of him, you sure made a hit."

"I want a job taking me into Canada," I said. "Can you help me?"

"Well," replied the manager, "you really want to go to Vancouver and I have nothing in that direction, but I have a man who wants a new De Soto. He lives at Oroville, right on the Border. He will not drive that far himself. He'd be mighty glad to have someone deliver his car. His credit is good. I'll call him."

"Gee, Hank!" said the manager to the man on the telephone, "Will ye quit yer dickering! and say if you want the De Soto?" He listened for a while and then broke in, "Well, ain't I a-telling you? I gotta guy here who is coming to Oroville on his way to Canada. He brought a Lincoln from New York. What say, Hank?" Hank babbled away at length in Oroville. His voice came through to me as a confused jumble of sound. The manager sighed with exasperation. "Well, ain't you an ornery doggone crittur?" he said. "You can place your cheque in the bank, guess I've known you for twenty years and more, not scairt of you running out on me." He listened for a little longer. "OO-kay," he said at last, "I will do that. Yep, I'll add it on the bill." He hung up the receiver and let out his breath in a long, low whistle. "Say, Mister," he said to me, "D'ye know anything about wimmen?" Women? What did he think I knew about women? Who does know about them? They are enigmas even to themselves! The manager saw my blank look and continued, "Hank up there, he's been a bachelor for forty years, that I know. Now he asks for you to bring up some feminine fripperies for him. Well, well, well, guess the ol' daug's gone gay. I shall ask the Missus what to send."

Later in the week I drove out to Seattle in a brand new De Soto and a load of women's clothes. Mrs. Manager had sensibly telephoned Hank to see what it was all about! Seattle to Wenatchee, Wenatchee to Oroville. Hank was satisfied, so I wasted little time but pressed on into Canada. For a few days I stayed at Osoyoos. By not a little good fortune I was able to make my way across Canada, from Trail, through Ottawa, Montreal, and Quebec. There is no point in going into that here, because it was so unusual that it may yet be the subject of another book.

Quebec is a beautiful city with the disadvantage that in some parts of it one is unpopular unless one can speak French. My own knowledge of the language was just sufficient to get me through! I frequented the waterfront, and by managing to obtain a Seaman's Union Card, I joined a ship as deck hand. Not a highly paid job, but one which enabled me to work my way across the Atlantic once more. The ship was a dirty old tramp. The Captain and the Mates had long ago lost any enthusiasm for the sea and their ship. Little cleaning work was done. I was unpopular because I did not gamble or talk of affairs with women. I was feared because the attempts of the ship's bully to assert his superiority over me resulted in him screaming for mercy. Two of his gang fared even worse, and I was hauled before the Captain and reprimanded for disabling members of the crew. There was no thought that I was merely defending myself! Apart from those very minor incidents, the journey was uneventful, and soon the ship was making her slow way up the English Channel.

I was off duty and on deck as we passed The Needles and entered the Solent, that strip of water bounded by the Isle of Wight and the mainland. Slowly we crept up past Netley Hospital, with its very beautiful grounds. Up past the busy ferries at Woolston, and into the Harbour at Southampton. The anchor dropped with a splash, and the chain rattled through the hawse-holes. The ship swung head to stream, the engine room telegraph rang out, and the slight vibration of the engine ceased. Officials came aboard, examined the ship's papers and poked about in the crew's quarters. The Port Medical Officer gave us clearance, and slowly the ship steamed up to her moorings. As a member of the crew, I stayed aboard until the ship was unloaded, then, paid off, I took my scanty belongings and went ashore.

"Anything to declare?" asked the Customs Officer.

"Nothing at all," I replied, opening my case as directed. He looked through my few possessions, closed the case, and scribbled his sign on it in chalk.

"How long are you staying?" he asked.

"Going to live here, sir," I replied.

He looked at my Passport, Visa and Work Permit with approval. "Okay," he motioned me through the gate. I walked on, and turned to take a last look at the ship I had just left. A stunning blow almost knocked me to the ground and I turned quickly. Another Customs Officer had been hurrying in from the street, late for duty, he had collided with me and now he sat half dazed in the roadway. For a moment he sat there, then I went to help him up. He struck out at me in fury, so I picked up my case to move on. "Stop!" he yelled.

"It is all right, sir," said the Officer who had passed me through, "He has nothing and his papers are in order."

"I will examine him myself," shouted the Senior Official. Two other Officers stood by me, their faces showing considerable concern. One attempted to remonstrate, but was told roughly to "shut up".

I was taken to a room, and soon the irate Officer appeared. He looked through my case, throwing my things on the floor. He searched the linings and bottom of the battered old case. Chagrined that nothing was to be found, he demanded my Passport. "Ah!" he exclaimed, "You have a Visa and a Work Permit. The Officer in New York had no authority to issue both. It is left to our discretion here in England." He was beaming with triumph, and with a theatrical gesture he tore my Passport right across and threw it in the rubbish container. On an impulse, he picked up the tattered remnants, and stuffed them in his pocket. Ringing a bell, two men came in from the outer office. "This man has no papers," he said, "He will have to be deported, take him to the Holding Cell."

"But, sir" said one of the Officers, "I actually saw them, they were in order."

"Are you questioning my ability?" roared the Senior man. "Do as I say"

A man sadly took my arm. "Come on," he said I was marched out and lodged in a bare cell.

"By Jove, Old Boy!" said the Bright Young Man from the Foreign Office when he entered my cell much, much later. "All this is a frightful pother, what?" He stroked his baby-smooth chin and sighed noisily. "You see our position, Old Chap, it really is just too too simply desperate! You must have had papers, or the Wallahs in Quebec would not have let you embark. Now you have no papers. They must have been lost overboard. Q.E.D. Old Boy, what? I mean to say..."

I glowered at him and remarked, "My papers were deliberately torn up. I demand that I be released and be permitted to land."

"Yes, yes," replied the Bright Young Man, "but can you prove it? I have had a gentle breeze in my ear which told me exactly what happened. We have to stand by our uniformed staff, or the Press would be around our ears. Loyalty and esprit de corps, and all that sort of thing."

"So," I said, "you know the truth, that my papers were destroyed, yet you, in this much-vaunted 'Land of the Free', can stand blandly aside and watch such persecution?"

"My dear fellow, you merely had the Passport of a resident of an Annexed State, you are not a Commonwealth member by birth. I'm afraid you are rather out of our orbit. Now, Chappie, unless you agree that your papers were—ah—lost overboard, we shall have to make a case against you for illegal entry. That might net you a stretch in the cooler for up to two years. If you play ball with us, you will merely be returned to New York."

"New York? Why New York?" I asked.

"If you return to Quebec, you might cause us some trouble. We can prove that you came from New York. So it is up to you. New York or up to two years as an involuntary Guest of His Majesty." He added as an afterthought "Of course, you would still be deported after you had served your sentence, and the Authorities would gladly confiscate that money which you have. Our suggestion will enable you to keep it."

The Bright Young Man stood up and brushed imaginary specks of dust from his immaculate jacket. "Think it over, Old Boy, think it over, we offer you a perfectly wizard way out!" With that he turned and left me alone in the cell.

Stodgy English food was brought in and I attempted to cut it up with the bluntest knife I have ever used. They might have thought that in my extremity I contemplated suicide. Well, no one would commit suicide with that knife.

The day wore on. A friendly Guard tossed in some English newspapers. After a glance I put them aside, so far as I could see they dealt only in sex and scandal. With the coming of darkness I was brought a thick mug of cocoa and a slice of bread and margarine. The night was chilly, with a dankness that reminded me of tombs and mouldering bodies.

The morning Guard greeted me with a smile, which threatened to crack his stony face. "You leave tomorrow," he said. "A ship's Captain has agreed to take you if you work your passage. You will be turned over to the New York Police when you arrive."

Later in the morning an official arrived to tell me officially, and to tell me that I would be doing the hardest work aboard ship, trimming coal in the bunkers of an ancient freighter with no labour saving devices at all. There would be no pay and I would have to sign the Articles to say that I agreed to those terms. In the afternoon I was taken down to the Shipping Agent, under gnard, where—in the presence of the Captain, I signed the Articles.

Twenty-four hours later, still under guard, I was taken to the ship and locked in a small cabin, being told that I would have to remain there until the ship was beyond the limits of territorial waters. Soon the thudding of the old engine awakened the ship to sluggish life. There was the clatter of heavy feet above me and by the rise and fall of the deck I knew that we were heading out into a choppy sea. Not until Portland Bill was well off to starboard, and receding in the distance, was I released. "Git crackin', chum," said the fireman, handing me a battered shovel and rake. "Clean out them there 'oles of clinker. Take 'em on deck and dump 'em. Look lively, now!"

"Aw! Looky here!" bawled the huge man in the fo'c'sle later when I went there. "We gotta Gook, or Chink or Jap. Hey you," he said, slapping me across the face, "Remember Pearl 'Arber?"

"Let 'im be, Butch," said another man, "the cops are arter 'im."

"Haw haw!" roared Butch, "Let's give 'im a workin' over fust, just fer Pearl 'Arber." He sailed in to me, fists going like pistons, and becoming more and more furious as none of his blows reached me. "Slippery swab, eh?" he grunted, reaching out in an attempt to get my throat in a strangle-hold. Old Tzu, and others in far-off Tibet had well prepared me for such things. I dropped, limp, and Butch's momentum carried him forward. He tripped over me and smashed his face on the edge of the fo'c'sle table, breaking his jaw and nearly severing an ear on a mug which he broke in his fall. I had no more trouble with the crew.

Slowly the New York skyline loomed up ahead of us. We ploughed on, leaving a black wake of smoke in the sky from the inferior coal we were using. A Lascar stoker, looking fearfully over his shoulder, edged up to me. "De cops come for you soon," he said. "You good man, heard Chief saying what Cap'n told him. They got to keep their noses clean." He passed me over an oilskin tobacco pouch. "Put your money in that and slip over de side before dey gets you ashore." He whispered confidentially, telling me where the Police boat would head, telling me where I could hide, as he had done in the past. I listened with great care as he told me how to escape the Police hunt after I had jumped overboard. He gave me names and addresses of people who would help me and he promised to get in touch with them when he went ashore. "I have been in trouble like this," he said. "I got framed because of th' colour of ma skin."

"Hey, you!" A voice bawled from the Bridge. "The Cap'n wants you. Double to it!" I hurried up to the Bridge, the Mate jerked a thumb in the direction of the Chart Room. The Captain was sitting at a table, looking over some papers. "Ah!" he said, as he looked up at me. "I have put you in charge of the Police. Have you anything to tell me first?"

"Sir," I replied, "my papers were all in order, but a senior Customs Officer tore them up."

He gazed at me and nodded, looked at his papers again, and apparently made up his mind. "I know the man you mean. I have had trouble with him myself. The face of officialdom must be saved, no matter what misery it causes for others. I know your story is true, for I have a friend at Customs who confirmed your tale." He looked down again and fiddled with the papers "I have a complaint here that you were a stowaway."

"But, sir!" I exclaimed, "the British Embassy in New York can confirm who I am. The Shipping Agents in Quebec can do likewise."

"My man," sadly said the Captain, "You do not know the ways of the West. No enquiries will be made. You will be taken ashore, placed in a cell, tried, convicted, and sent to prison. Then you will be forgotten. When the time for your release is near, you will be detained until you can be deported back to China."

"That will be death, Sir," I said.

He nodded. "Yes, but the course of official duty will have been followed. We on this ship had an experience 'way back in Prohibition days. We were arrested on suspicion and heavily fined, yet we were quite innocent."

He opened the drawer in front of him and took out a small object. "I will tell the Police that you have been framed, I will help you all I can. They may handcuff you, but they will not search you until they get you ashore. Here is a key which fits the Police handcuffs. I will not give it to you, but will place it here, and turn away." He placed the shiny key in front of me, rose from his desk, and turned to the chart behind him. I picked up the key and put it in my pocket.

"Thank you, Sir," I said, "I feel better for your faith in me."

In the distance I saw the Police boat coming up towards us, a white cascade of spray at the bows. Smartly it came alongside, executed a half-turn, and edged in towards us. The ladder was lowered, and two policemen came aboard and made their way up to the Bridge, amid sour looks from members of the crew. The Captain greeted them, giving them a drink and cigars. Then he produced the papers from his desk. "This man has worked well, in my opinion he has been framed by a Government official. Given time to call at the British Embassy, he could prove his innocence."

The senior policeman looked cynical, "All these guys are innocent; the penitentiaries are full of innocent men who have been framed, to listen to them. All we want is to get him tucked nicely in a cell and then we go off duty.

C'mon, fella!" he said to me. I turned to pick up my case. "Aw, you won't want that," he said, hustling me along. On an afterthought he snapped the handcuffs round my wrists.

"Oh, you don't want that," called the Captain. "He can't run anywhere, and how will he get down to your boat?"

"He can fall in the drink and we will fish him out," replied the policeman, laughing coarsely.

Climbing down the ladder was not easy, but I managed it without mishap, to the obvious regret of the police. Once on the cutter, they took no more notice of me. We sped along past many ships and rapidly approached the Police jetty. "Now is the time," I thought, and with a quick leap I was over the side, allowing myself to sink. With acute difficulty I slipped the key in the lock, and turned. The handcuffs came off and sank. Slowly, very slowly, I rose to the surface. The police cutter was a long way off, the men spotted me, and started firing. Bullet splashes were all around me as I sank again. Swimming strongly until I felt that my lungs would burst, I surfaced again. The police were far off, searching round the "obvious place", where I would be expected to land. I crawled ashore at the least obvious place, but will not mention it in case some other unfortunate should need refuge.

For hours I lay on half-sunken timbers, shivering and aching, with the scummy water swirling round me. There came the creak of rowlocks and the splashing of oars in the water. A row boat with three policemen came into sight. I slid off the beam, and let myself sink in the water so that only my nostrils were above the surface. Although I was hidden by the beam, I kept in readiness for instant flight. The boat prowled up and down. At long, long last a hoarse voice said, "Guess he's a stiff by now. His body will be recovered later. Let's get off for some cawfee." The boat drifted out of my range. After a long interval I dragged my aching body on the beam again, shivering almost uncontrollably.

The day ended, and stealthily I inched along the beam to a halfrotten ladder. Gingerly I climbed up, and seeing no one, darted for the shelter of a shed. Stripping off my clothing, I wrung them as dry as possible. Off to the end of the wharf a man appeared, the Lascar. As he came down and was opposite me, I gave a low whistle. He stopped, and sat upon a bollard. "You kin come out cautious-like," he said. "De cops be sure out in force on de udder side. Man! You sure got dem boys rattled." He stood up and stretched, and looked around him. "Follow me," he said, "but I don't know you if you is caught. A coloured gennulmun is waiting wit a truck. When we get dere you climb in de back and cover yo-self with de tarp."

He moved away, and giving him plenty of time, I followed, slipping from one shadowed building to another. The lapping of water around the piles and the far-off wail of a police car were the only sounds disturbing the peace. Suddenly there was the rattle of a truck engine being started and tail lights appeared just ahead. A huge negro nodded to the Lascar and gave me, following behind, a friendly wink as he gestured to the back of his truck. Painfully I climbed in and pulled the old tarpaulin over me. The truck moved on and stopped. The two men climbed out and one said, "We gotta load up a bit now, move forward." I crawled towards the driver's cab, and there was the clatter of boxes being loaded on.

The truck moved on, jolting over the rough roads. Soon it came to a halt, and a rough voice yelled, "What have you got there, folks?"

"Ouly garbage, sir," said the negro. Heavy footsteps came along beside me. Something poked about in the rubbish at the back. "Okay," said the voice, "on your way."

A gate clanged, the negro shifted into gear, and we drove out into the night. We seemed to drive for hours, then the truck turned sharply, braked, and came to a halt. The tarpaulin was pulled off, and there stood the Lascar and the negro, grinning down at me. I stirred wearily, and felt for my money. "I will pay you," I said.

"Pay nuthin'," said the negro.

"Butch was going to kill me before we reached New York," said the Lascar. "You saved me, now I save you, and we put up a fight against the discrimination against us. Come on in."

"Race, creed, and colour do not matter," I thought. "All men bleed red." They led me into a warm room where there were two light coloured negro women. Soon I was wrapped in hot blankets, eating hot food. Then, they showed me a place where I could sleep, and I drifted off.