THE PIGTAIL OF
LI-FANG-FU
by
Sax Rohmer
&
T.W. Thurban (1919)
Billy Bennett
 They speak of a dead man's vengeance; 
They whisper a deed of hell
Neath the Mosque of Mohammed Ali. 
And this is the thing they tell.
In a deep and a midnight gully,
By the street where the goldsmiths are,
'Neath the Mosque of Mohammed Ali, 
At the back of the Scent Bazaar.
Was the House of a Hundred Raptures,
The tomb of a thousand sighs;
Where the sleepers lay in that living death
Which the opium-smoker dies.
At the House of a Hundred Raptures, 
Where the reek of the joss-stick rose
From the knees of the golden idol 
To the tip of his gilded nose.
Through the billowing oily vapour, 
The smoke of the black chandu,
There a lantern green cast a serpent sheen 
On the pigtail of Li-Fang-Fu.
There was Ramsa Lal of Bhiwani, 
Who could smoke more than any three,
A pair of Kashmiri dancing girls 
And Ameer Khan Motee;
And there was a grey-haired soldier too, 
The wreck of a splendid man;
When the place was still I've heard mounted drill 
Being muttered by 'Captain Dan'.
Then, one night as I lay a-dreaming, 
There was shuddering, frenzied screams;
But the smoke had a spell upon me;
I was chained to that couch of dreams.
All my strength, all my will had left me, 
Because of the black chandu,
And upon the floor, by the close-barred door,
Lay the daughter of Li-Fang-Fu.
'Twas the first time I ever saw her, 
But often I dream of her now;
For she was as sweet as a lotus, 
With the grace of a willow bough.
The daintiest ivory maiden 
That ever a man called fair, 
And I saw blood drip where Li-Fang-Fu's whip 
Had tattered her shoulders bare!
I fought for the power to curse him 
And never a word would come!
To reach him... to kill him!...
But opium had stricken me helpless - dumb.
He lashed her again and again, 
Until she uttered a moaning prayer,
And as he whipped so the red blood dripped 
From those ivory shoulders bare.
When crash!... went the window behind me, 
And in leapt a grey-haired man,
As he tore the whip from that devil's grip,
I knew him... 'twas Captain Dan!
Ne'er a word spoke he, but remorseless, grim,
His brow with anger black.
He lashed and lashed till the shirt was slashed 
From the Chinaman's writhing back.
And when in his grasp the whip broke short, 
He cut with a long keen knife,
The pigtail, for which a Chinaman 
Would barter his gold, his life. 
He cut the pig-tail from Li-Fang-Fu. 
And this is the thing they tell
By the Mosque of Mohammed Ali
For it led to a deed of hell.
In his terrible icy passion, 
Captain Dan that pig-tail plied,
And with it he thrashed the Chinaman, 
Until any but he had died
Until Li-Fang-Fu dropped limply down 
Too feeble, it seemed, to stand.
But swift to arise, with death in his eyes - 
And the long keen knife in his hand!
Like fiends of an opium vision 
They closed in a fight for life,
And nearer the breast of the Captain crept 
The blade of the gleaming knife.
Then a shot! a groan - and a wisp of smoke. 
I swooned and knew no more 
Save that Li-Fang-Fu lay silent and still
In a red pool near the door.
But never shall I remember how
That curtain of sleep was drawn
And I woke, 'mid a deathly silence, 
In the darkness before the dawn.
There was blood on the golden idol! 
My God! that dream was true!
For there, like a slumbering serpent, 
Lay the pigtail of Li-Fang-Fu.
From the House of a Hundred Raptures
I crept ere the news should spread
That the Devil's due had claimed Li- Fang-Fu, 
And that Li-Fang-Fu was dead.
'Twas the end of that Indian summer, 
When Fate - or the ancient ties
Drew my steps again to the gully,
To the Tomb of a Thousand Sighs;
And the door of the house was open! 
All the blood in my heart grew cold.
For within sat the golden idol, 
And he leered as he leered of old!
And I thought that his eyes were moving 
In a sinister vile grimace
When suddenly, there at his feet I saw 
A staring and well-known face!
With the shriek of a soul in torment,
I turned like a frenzied man,
Falling back from the spot where the moonlight poured 
Down upon 'Captain Dan'!
He was dead, and in death was fearful; 
With features of ghastly hue 
And snakelike around his throat was wound... 
The pigtail of Li-Fang-Fu!... 
The end