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Writings

The She Fiend

by the Author of the “Three Days’ Raid.”
Illustrated by John Cameron

Piracy on the high seas had died out of the Western world by the middle of the 1700s (except for wartime privateering). However, buccaneers continued to sail the waters along the Chinese coast well into the 19th century; these Eastern pirate crews were comprised of coastal Chinese clans that had for many centuries taken advantage of China’s weak naval power and overstretched central government, and had made a family business of plundering merchant and passenger vessels in the waters of the China Seas. Leadership of these clans was hereditary, and they were sometimes led by women as well as by men. As piracy waned in the West, these clans began to receive new recruits--shady European adventurers seeking new pirating fields; many of these newcomers married into the Chinese pirate families, and established their own dynasties.

caniff-the-dragon-lady
The Dragon Lady
from Terry and the Pirates
by Milton Caniff

However, these pirates—Chinese, European, and Eurasian alike—were eventually stamped out in the mid-and-late-19th century. As Western countries began to establish more of a presence in China, British and American ships and naval officers joined forces with the Chinese authorities to hunt down the pirate ships and break the power of the pirate clans—although some pirate families continued to operate on a small local scale into the 20th century.

The history of Chinese piracy in general—and the existence of women pirates in particular—inspired cartoonist Milt Caniff to create his most famous character, the Eurasian buccaneering queen known as the Dragon Lady. The story you are about to read, the “She Fiend,” tells of a precursor to the Dragon Lady—another Eurasian female pirate who, much like Caniff’s Dragon Lady, has some good qualities to set alongside her evil ones. However, the She Fiend achieves a more complete redemption than the Dragon Lady ever did.

“The She Fiend” was supposedly based on a true story—a claim that would seem to be substantiated by the somewhat disjointed narrative structure and by the completely unexpected way in which the She Fiend goes from villainess to heroine in the course of the tale; real people are always much more unpredictable than fictional counterparts, whose changes of character tend to be carefully foreshadowed by their creators. Unfortunately, we’ve been unable to discover the name of the author who set down this account of the She Fiend’s exploits; he evidently had at least one other popular story to his credit (witness the introductory note), but he’s remained elusive.

“The She Fiend” originally appeared in the July, 1901 issue of The Royal Magazine.

Dan Neyer
January, 2018
Introduction © 2018 by Dan Neyer

title-redux

I.

THE English Lieutenant, or “Captain” as he ranked in the Chinese Imperial Navy, unrolled himself from his blanket on deck and proceeded to busy himself in the most matter of fact way with a bucket of water and cake of soap which Ab Sin, his boy, had brought him.

It was half-past two, the night a pitch dark one, and the Lucky Chance was riding by a single light anchor about three miles from the land in the very heart of the district infested by the Hing Ti pirates—the most daring and powerful confederacy that had ever terrorised the waterways round Southern China’s capital since the days of the dreaded Kozinga, whose power the Dutch fleet had to cripple in the time of our Great Protector. The Lieutenant might have been sleeping at his club in Piccadilly—excepting, of course, for the deck plank and the bucket—for all his countenance displayed to the contrary as he plied a rough brown towel over his dripping neck.

Without a suspicion on the part of anyone but his Excellency the Viceroy, and a certain high official of the British Government, this youth of two-and-twenty with a few score of “Hakkas” had set out two days before, determined to try to break the power of the Sepgo Hing Ti, the Brotherhood of Seven Pirate Captains said to reckon its victims by thousands, and its booty by scores of thousands of pounds.

Not that the Lieutenant or the Viceroy doubted the existence or the formidable nature of the confederacy. That the Hing Ti were a dangerous association was an established fact; native stories of the fate of countless Chinese ships, of course, did not lose in the telling, but it was known that several British steamers, and a few British and foreign vessels had been captured.

Nor need it be doubted that Semala, the bloodthirsty Portuguese renegade whom native rumour placed at the head of the dread Brotherhood, was a figure existing in very reality. But the story of the She-Fiend was, in the opinion of both the Lieutenant and the Viceroy, nothing short of a fairy tale. The idea of a beautiful girl-pirate steering a pirate vessel, and even leading boarders, was a little ‘difficult to swallow.’

“There is never much smoke without some fire,” the Lieutenant had acknowledged, “and possibly a good-looking youth dressed in girl’s clothes may account for the fable; but I venture to doubt the lady-pirate.”

But what was a matter for serious consideration was the effect of these legends on his native crew. That his Hakkas believed in and feared the mythical Amazon the Lieutenant could not overlook. He had overheard fragments of their conversation before the start of his expedition, enough to tell him that the She-Fiend was, in their minds, not a creature of this earth. But he had felt more confident as he surveyed the long twelve-pounder brass gun amidships, and the six-pounders in the bow and stern.

THE Lucky Chance, a Chinese trader built for speed, had been commandeered from her owner by the Lieutenant for his expedition against the pirates. Every indication of armed force had been carefully removed; the guns had been concealed; the men assumed the character of an ordinary trading crew; and the Lieutenant had even donned native cap, jacket, and trousers over his uniform.

All through the previous moonlit night the Lucky Chance had been dogged, as she headed seawards before a six-knot breeze, by a long, low, fast vessel. Throughout the following day the mysterious pursuer had hung in her wake, invisible except from the Lucky Chance’s mast-head. This craft, the Lieutenant learned from his coxswain, was Semala’s, whose consort (for these vessels of the Hing Ti always cruised in pairs) was even more dreaded, for she was usually handled and steered by the dreaded She-Fiend, so his Hakkas unanimously declared; nor had any of their officer’s taunts or reprimands been able to stir their conviction of this or allay their superstitious fears of her power.

Now, however, the Lieutenant thought, as he made short work of the hot coffee, devilled fowl and biscuit, brought him by Ab Sin—cook, table-boy and marine in one, whose cutlass and pistols were even now in his belt—he was soon to see for himself how much truth there was in the She-Fiend story.

The men were quietly roused and a ration of hot tea, pork and rice was served out to them, after which the Lieutenant inspected their weapons by the light of a dark lantern and overhauled their guns and their gear. Then there was nothing to do but wait, crouching behind the bulwarks, until the look-out men gave warning.

The Lieutenant grasped his cutlass. Stolid Englishman thought he was, the situation was beginning to get on his nerves. There seemed something uncanny in sitting quietly down in the still darkness of the night—an inky darkness that could almost be felt—to wait till some phantom-like craft should glide up and pour a bloodthirsty crowd of desperadoes on the deck.

Beside him, steering the ship...stood a slim young girl.
Beside him, steering the ship...stood a slim young girl.

SUDDENLY the black, pall-like clouds dispersed, and showed the same long, low vessel, their pursuer of the previous night, heading straight for the Lucky Chance. Quick as thought the Lieutenant gave orders to slip the cable and hoist the sails. He was only just in time, for immediately afterwards the approaching vessel shot past the Lucky Chance’s stern, so close, too, that the Lieutenant and his men could make out everything on her deck quite plainly.

Behind the bow gun stood Semala himself, swarthy and cruel, surrounded by his men, stripped to the waist, ready to board. But every eye was immediately riveted to the pirate’s stern, and a low cry went up from the Lieutenant’s men.

A helmsman stood with his arm on the tiller, but did not touch the ropes, for beside him, steering the ship, her handsome features illumined by a swinging paper lantern bearing in blood-red characters the name of Semala, stood a slim young girl.

“The She-Fiend herself,” cried the Lieutenant’s crew in sudden panic, “in Semala’s vessel instead of her own!”

The Lieutenant seized a Snider carbine and covered the beautiful pirate; his crew held their breath, their eyes fixed on their leader; none of them would have dared to lift a hand against a creature not of this earth. As the Lieutenant glanced along the barrel of his carbine, he saw in a line with the sights a handsome young woman, tall, slender, and dark, whose flashing eyes, pale face, and long, jet black hair that hung in a heavy plait below her waist, were rendered clearly visible by the stern lanthorns. A short fringe on her forehead added to her masculine style of attire, giving her the appearance of a very handsome youth rather than that of a young female.

Her jacket of dark blue silk, confined at the waist by a scarlet sash, allowed a white silk vest to show above it at the neck. Her loose trousers of dark blue silk did not cover her shapely ankles and small feet, encased in neat shoes of European make. Thrust into her sash were a long, double-barrelled pistol and broad, heavy dagger knife, the handles of both weapons being of solid silver. Neither jewel nor ornament of any kind, however, did the “She-Fiend” wear as she stood at the long tiller of her vessel as graceful and almost as motionless as a statue.

“Spanish blood, there,” muttered the Lieutenant, as he reluctantly grounded his carbine.

An affrighted murmur went up from his Hakkas. Their leader had been unnerved by the She-Fiend’s sorcery. The Lieutenant recovered himself and drew his hand slowly round his neck. He preferred to assign this kind of thing to the Cantonese executioner.

“Hi-yah, Sapne-Katow!” yelled his men. “Yes, let her head be cut off instead!”

Semala’s vessel began to put about.

“Number one gun ready!” cried the Lieutenant.

Before he had time to give the order, “At one hundred and fifty yards fire,” there was a flash, a report, and a huge rent appeared in the foot of the pirate’s mainsail. Without waiting for the command the too eager gun-captain had pulled the lanyard, and the whole charge of canister went wide, the round shot alone telling. A surprised yell followed from the pirate’s deck; they had not expected any resistance at all from what had seemed a rich trader and passenger vessel.

The Lieutenant dispatched his coxswain to the twelve-pounder, ordering him not to pull the lanyard till within a hundred and fifty yards.

There was a brief pause while the vessels strung nearer to each other; then a quick jerk of Long Ling’s wrist, a terrific report from the heavily charged swivel gun, and the pirate’s fore-mast fell with a crash, while a heap of dead and dying writhed on the deck. More than this, the falling mast had dismounted the bow gun and crushed several pirates under its weight.

A hoarse volley of execrations went up from the pirate vessel. In an instant the She-Fiend had left the helm and dashed into the midst of her panic-stricken men. From between her small pearly teeth came a stream of curses as, with a long double-barrelled pistol, she struck right and left among her disheartened followers, rallying them by fierce blows! Semala himself, urging his men with oaths and threats, brought his stern guns to bear on the Lucky Chance.

The latter shortened sail to run alongside of her opponent. Fortunately the “mixed shot” from the pirate’s stern carronades fell short; at the same moment the contents of the Lucky Chance’s bow gun and a volley from her small-arm men got home. Before the smoke from these had cleared, her stem went rasping and grinding along the pirate’s quarter till the rigging and sails of the two vessels fouled.

Like a flash the Lieutenant with two score picked men at his heels had scrambled over the wreckage of the foremast, and was on the pirate’s deck.

“Tah!” (kill) he shouted.

“Tah!” re-echoed his Hakkas, as they cut and slashed among the pirates’ ranks. The latter, stripped to the waist, blackened with powder, many of them besmeared with blood, rallied round Semala and the She-Fiend amidships. Their hideous faces only served to accentuate the latter’s strange beauty, as she stood, pistol in hand, screaming orders to her men and firing into her enemies’ ranks. Two of the pirates seemed to devote themselves to shielding her with their spears, while the Lieutenant’s men, their superstitious fear overcome in a measure by the actuality of combat, strove to break through to her with their sword-bayonets and pikes.

SEMALA himself fought like a demon; but try as he would the Lieutenant was unable to reach the renegade; some devoted brute always threw himself before his master, and the odds at present were against the Englishman. In vain he emptied his heavy Colt’s pistol, and his coxswain thrust and lunged with his long pike. As each gap appeared the pirates’ ranks closed up and filled it. They had even begun to drag the stern carronades round, in order to discharge them point blank at the advancing boarders, when the old “service” instincts of the master of the Lucky Chance became too strong for him, he having served the “Inglish Keen,” as he styled her late Majesty, on board a wooden sailing three-decker. Old habit getting the better of present prudence, he discharged the stern six-pounder crammed to the muzzle with grape shot point blank into the pirate’s vessel, and then, followed by nearly all the remaining men of the Lucky Chance, scrambled on board the pirate.

Fortunately this diversion proved just sufficient to turn the scale.

“Tah!” yelled the Lieutenant’s men anew, and step by step they drove the pirates further aft. Gradually, as the latter were forced further and further back, the half-dozen small-arm men still left in the Lucky Chance were able to get their Enfield rifles to work. Only their bamboo helmets with the Imperial dragon on the front now distinguished the Lieutenant’s men from their equally blackened and blood-stained opponents. At last by a final effort, and aided by the marksmen from the other vessel, the European-drilled Hakkas drove the remainder of the pirates, still fighting round Semala and the She-Fiend, below.

As the Lieutenant wrenched at the closed hatch of the companion ladder he felt a sharp pain in his ankle. His white trousers turned quickly red, and there was a cry of triumph from the She-Fiend below. But the wound was slight and in a trice he had forced the hatch, and cleared the ladder with his Colt.

Nor were they a moment too soon, for the lieutenant only sprang down in time to strike from the She-Fiend’s hand the pistol that in another second would have discharged its second barrel into the powder-kegs, stink-pots, and gun-cartridges that the pirate’s magazine contained.

With a scream of rage, and holding her almost broken wrist she sprang through an open door into the stern-cabin. A female slave, with cries of terror, dragged the heavy sliding door to, and dropped the bar.

Posting two men at the door, the Lieutenant turned his attention to clearing the ’tween decks. This his Hakkas’ bayonets soon did, a single volley into the bows sending the last cluster of the Hing Ti pirates from the shelter of their gloom. Then torches were brought, and those remaining alive were secured.

Semala himself seemed to have disappeared. He was not among the prisoners, nor could his body be found among the dead.

On an ebony and marble seat near the altar, calmly regarding the scene, reclined the She-Fiend
On an ebony and marble seat near the altar,
calmly regarding the scene, reclined the She-Fiend

MEANWHILE Long Ling and a mandarin officer who had accompanied the expedition were trying to burst open the door of the She-Fiend’s cabin, while Ab Sin, table-boy and marine, covered it with his Snider in case of a sally. These three were perhaps the only men under the Lieutenant’s command who would have dared to seize the She-Fiend. As the Lieutenant approached, and Long Ling was about to deliver a blow with his axe, the bar was shot back from within and the door quickly drawn back.

The Lieutenant stepped back in sudden horror. Almost in the doorway itself, suspended by a sash from a beam and full in the lurid glare of the great red lamps which swung before the altar of the Demon he had worshipped, hung Semala, his eyeballs starting from their sockets, his dark saturnine face even more hideous in death. The image itself, with one hand outstretched, the carbuncles forming the eyes sparkling in the flickering crimson light, seemed to exult over its victim with a fiendish leer.

On an ebony and marble seat near the altar, calmly regarding the scene, reclined the She-Fiend, neither her face nor her dress now showing any signs of disorder. A touch of rouge had removed her paleness, some of which, no doubt, had been due to rice powder. She was wearing a yellow flowered-silk jacket with pale blue trousers, both of which allowed the graceful outline of her figure to be seen through them, while gold and jade bangles adorned her wrists and ankles. Pink silk stockings and thin patent leather shoes set off her shapely feet and ankles; handsome rings set with diamonds, of European make—spoils of murdered owners—covered her hands.

For a moment the four men stood rooted to the spot with horror, then the Lieutenant advanced into the cabin and, to destroy the glamour of the scene, struck the great idol a heavy blow with the butt of his revolver. As the image swayed and crashed over on to the deck, not all the heaps of Mexican dollars revealed in its hollow base, nor the jewels and ornaments covering it, could tempt even the coxswain or Ab Sin, far less any of the other Hakkas, to cross that awful threshold.

The Lieutenant then called to Long Ling to cut down the body of Semala. But the coxswain merely shook his head and retreated further from the doorway.

“Plenty devil have got ’ee,” he observed laconically with a jerk of his thumb towards the body as it swung to and fro in the flickering red light.

Both the coxswain and Ab Sin firmly believed that the ghosts of all Semala’s former victims had visited him in his last moments, till driven to desperation he accepted the suggestion of the demon he worshipped and committed suicide to escape them. Demon-haunted was the place in their belief for now and evermore.

Eventually the Lieutenant had to cut down the body himself, while the military mandarin, enraged at the She-Fiend’s insolence in daring to wear the Imperial yellow, added a pair of heavy wrist-irons to her other adornments.

The She-Fiend then suffered herself and her servant to be led from the ghastly scene in the cabin, the Lieutenant threatening to pistol any man who ill-used either her or her slave. Not that such a prohibition was very necessary, for his Hakkas for the most part gave the She-Fiend a very wide berth. Ab Sin, however, and the coxswain, both of whom had seen service with the British-Chinese forces in the “Sixties” were bolder than their comrades and made friends with the She-Fiend at once, supplying her with all she needed in the shape of cigarettes, tea, fruit, cakes, and mandarin wine, and imparting much novel information as to the wonderful ways of all foreign devils in general, and the Lieutenant foreign devil in particular. The latter, however, resisted with some disgust all the She-Fiend’s attempts to attract his attention, and hoisting the Imperial dragon over both vessels, had them steered, with their cargo of captured pirates, direct for the Canton River.

THE rumour of the capture of the most dreaded of the seven pirate captains had out-stripped—as native rumour does outstrip everything else, even the telegraph itself at times—the arrival of the Lucky Chance and her prey, and many who were interested in the coast trade had come to see the prisoners landed. Among others, the Tepo of a large village, head of a powerful Hakka clan, and who had purchased an official “button,” had been engaging junks to carry the granite from his quarries to Canton, and stopped on his way back to see the Lieutenant disembark with his captives. The officer had allowed the She-Fiend’s slave to go free, and the She-Fiend, herself, being the last to disembark, was alone.

The She-Fiend marked the admiring gaze of the Tepo. The She-Fiend had a remarkably fine pair of eyes, and being a woman, though a pirate, knew how to use them.

When the Tepo left the quay he was observed to make his way to the Yamen of the local official or magistrate. An hour or two later a casual observer might have noticed a huge sack of silver being carried by coolies into the building. A few days afterwards the execution of the pirates and “the woman who led them,” was officially reported, and two heaps of heads duly appeared on the Public Executioner’s ground.

But if that same casual observer had cared to examine these grisly trophies, he would have found that the features of the She-Fiend had in death become singularly like those of her faithful female slave.

II.

IT was the autumn of the year 1900, and more than a quarter of a century had now elapsed since the fight on the West Coast. Li-a-Kew, head of the Li clan, and Tepo of the large “stone village,” with its strong loop-holed walls, was a prosperous man with power of life and death over four thousand able-bodied Hakkas. Few cared to cross the Tepo, who, as magistrate, was quite capable of administering the bamboo, ordering torture, or even execution to such an offender. But still fewer cared to cross the Tepo’s “number one wife,” a tall, powerful woman of eight-and-forty, whose features even now bore more resemblance to the She-Fiend’s than had those of the ghastly severed head which had lain on the executioner’s ground at Canton nearly thirty years ago. It was the Tepo’s wife who really ruled the Li clan of the stone village, and ruled them with a rod of iron.

The gossips, and such as had felt the weight of her sore displeasure, declared that his wife had bewitched their Tepo, that he was under the magic of the “Tankerlow Devil,” and that no good would come of it. But the missionaries, at least, spoke charitably of “the Tepo’s lady” as a liberal contributor to the funds of the mission, and if not actually a Christian herself, the mother of one of their most promising converts. For the Tepo’s daughter had become a strict Catholic under the care of the “Good Sisters,” and was soon to be married to a young Christian from the Hong Kong College, the son of a wealthy “Hong” proprietor in that British colony.

Just, however, as the Tepo’s wife had ascertained an auspicious date for the ceremony from the soothsayer, there came rumours of a Boxer rising in the north, and the people of the Kwang provinces heard that all the foreign devils were to be driven into the sea.

The more turbulent of the population began to grow restless and show a truly Oriental tendency to range themselves on what they thought to be the winning side. The more enlightened agreed that as the foreign devils had suppressed the “Taipings” forty years ago they would certainly suppress the Boxers now. For the present, at any rate, while these rumoured doings were confined to the north, the people continued to go quietly about their business as usual. The Cantonese Acting Viceroy posted notices instructing the people not to interfere with the missions or molest the native Christians. But all this time certain “Traders” were arriving from the north, well-dressed men in long silk gowns, with plenty of silver at their disposal.

Soon these mysterious “Traders” began to appear in the Tepo’s district. The usual Boxer placards were posted in the villages. These, by the Tepo’s order, were promptly torn down and the Boxer agents roughly handled and driven out. But in the next district—and it was here that the mission buildings and chapel were situated—the people were mostly Puntis, and the mischief of the Boxer agents began to work.

Then crowds began to insult and threaten the congregations as they left the chapel. The missionaries at once applied to the acting Viceroy for protection. This was readily promised. Unfortunately, though, it didn’t come.

With matters at this pass the Tepo urged his daughter to stop away from the Mission till quieter times. But the young girl had inherited her mother’s high courage and would not give up her church and her Christian friends. The mother, pleased at her daughter’s spirit, sided with her, and announced her intention of accompanying her to the chapel on the following Sunday.

Thus Sunday morning saw her and her daughter borne in chairs by eight stout Hakka coolies on their way to the chapel in the Punti stone village. Possibly she trusted to her reputation as a sorcerer, but more probably to the good English revolver she had taken from her husband’s room, and to the long spears fastened alongside the chair-poles.

An hour’s journey brought them to a plain stone building where the great bell was yet ringing for service; this, and the stone cross over the door being the only indications of the sacred character of the place.

The She-Fiend took a seat beside her daughter, and sat silent and subdued while the service proceeded. It was the first time she had seen “the Christian Joss-house” where her daughter was to be married. She seemed strangely fascinated by a carved representation of the Virgin with the infant Christ in her arms, and many whispered that a miracle was about to be wrought—that the She-Fiend’s conversion was being accomplished.

Be that as it may, she was unusually quiet and thoughtful that fatal Sabbath morning.

Just as the officiating priest was bestowing the final benediction a distant murmur was borne to the worshippers’ ears. Each kneeling Christian started, and a very different light flashed into the She-Fiend’s eyes. Gradually as the sounds drew nearer the murmur swelled into an uproar, the uproar into a pandemonium of yells and curses.

“Tah fan kwai!” (Kill the foreigner.)

The priest ran from the altar towards the door to interpose himself between the approaching mob and his terrified flock, but before he was half way down the aisle the She-fiend, revolver in hand, sprang to the porch and called to her spearmen.

“Quick,” she said turning to the missionary and the sisters, “take you the women and the old men and go out by the door behind the bamboos. Run between the thickets to the shore. There are my husband’s stone junks. Steer them to our village and ask for help. Quick!”

The priest, an elderly man, and the sisters, finding it useless to remonstrate, followed the congregation in the stampede for the stone junks. But the She-Fiend’s daughter broke away from the sisters and rushed back to her mother’s side, nor could she be induced to leave her. Meanwhile the handful of Hakkas had made fast the doors and were piling up a barricade composed of the chapel furniture, while four or five of her own clansmen, members of the congregation who had remained behind, armed themselves with iron bars, axes and heavy ironwood poles from the Chapel tool-house.

the two foremost of the assailants bit the dust on the threshold.
The two foremost of the assailants bit the dust on the threshold.

BY the time the howling mob, now nearly 3000 strong, had reached the chapel door they found it immovable, while the bell began to swing wildly backwards and forwards, giving an alarm which the wind would carry far and wide.

The Boxer agents, who were now openly directing matters, sent men to the beach for spars to use as supports. Others uprooted a heavy tombstone from the neighbouring graveyard and hauled it to the spot. Immediately a score of hands had secured ropes to the huge mass, as it hung between the spars, and swung it high in air. No doors, however strong, could withstand this, and the chapel door, caught by the gravestone at the rebound, crashed inwards.

The Boxer leaders sprang forward against the barricade of chairs and benches.

“Crack, crack,” went the She-Fiend’s revolver from behind the woodwork, and the two foremost of the assailants bit the dust on the threshold.

The mob hesitated and hung back. What they had been promised was the pillage of the Mission, after the slaughter of women, children, and old men in the chapel. They had not bargained for the She-Fiend and her dozen spearmen behind the barricade. The chapel bell too still swayed madly to and fro, and the greater part of the mob, fearing interference, began to abandon the attack and make for the adjacent mission-house.

But the Boxers and their hired assassins—scum of opium dens and Cantonese prisons—these were made of sterner stuff, and with shouts of “Kill the Water-Devil Woman!” made another attempt to rush the barricade.

Again the She-Fiend’s revolver spat forth its venomous fire, and two more of her assailants were laid low. Another of the Boxer leaders, who had escaped the revolver and managed to force his way through part of the barricade, had his sword wrenched from his hand and driven through his body by the “Water-Devil Woman,” an expert in the use of that weapon.

Yet another attempt to tear down the barricade meeting with a similar result, even these desperadoes held back for a space until cries of “Foh!” from the looters of the mission house drew their attention to that quarter. In a minute the mission house, with its wooden verandahs and Venetian shutters, was in flames. The Boxers by the chapel were not slow to take the idea, and the returning mob were ordered to bring rafters and beams from the burning building, and pile them with bundles of grass saturated with oil in front of the chapel doors.

Again the She-Fiend’s revolver added to the bodies by the barricade, but this time in vain, for, the flames catching the porch first, spread to the barricade, which was soon ablaze. When the smoke became thick enough to conceal their movements, the She-Fiend ordered her men to open the small back door of the chapel, and to rush the path leading to the sea.

The command was obeyed, and the She-Fiend and her daughter, encircled by their clansmen, dashed down the alley between the bamboo thickets, the Hakkas’ spears making short work of such of the mob as happened to be on that side of the building.

But the Boxer ringleaders from the front of the chapel had soon grasped the situation, and in a very short time were close behind the little band. Then the Tepo’s clansmen made their last stand while their master’s wife and daughter fled onwards to the beach.

For a time they used their long spears to such purpose that they kept their assailants at bay, but gradually some of the latter forced a way between the dense bamboo stems, and getting through took the Hakkas in the rear and stabbed them in the back.

As the last of her faithful clansmen went down the She-Fiend and her daughter had reached one of the half dozen of the Tepo’s sampans and were dragging in the anchor. Forty or fifty of the mob, however, led by the three remaining Boxer agents, were soon close behind the She-Fiend as she pushed the small craft off and springing in hoisted the sail.

But the wind just then fell light, and though the chapel bell still clanged out its discordant warning—never ceasing to do so indeed until the faithful wretch who pulled the rope had had the flesh hacked from his legs by the swords of his assailants on the roof—it was now too late for the Tepo’s help to be of any use, and the She-Fiend realised that her last hour, and worse still that of her innocent young daughter, had come.

Already with yells of triumph the Boxers had scrambled into the other small boats, and were propelling them rapidly towards the two women. The She-Fiend embraced her daughter, then disengaging herself, shot her only child dead, and fastening the body to the iron anchor gently lowered it by the severed rope into the clear blue water. She raised the last loaded chamber to her own temple, but an exasperating insult from the Boxer leader as he sprang into her boat changed her intention, and in an instant the Boxer’s body leapt into the air and then fell with a dull thud on the deck, with the She-Fiend’s last bullet in his brain.

This gave a momentary check to those behind him, an interval used by the She-Fiend to taunt them with the tortures her husband would inflict upon them when they fell into his power.

“See,” she cried, pointing along the coast, “the Tepo’s boats.”

And still pointing to the help that had come at last, but too late, the She-Fiend fell into the sea, a dozen weapons buried in her body.

THE She-Fiend’s body was never found. The awestruck boat-people declared that in the great storm that swept the bay that night the huge form of the Sea-Demon was seen, and that he had claimed her as his prey.

However that may be, the She-Fiend’s career had ended in the bloodshed and horror with which it had commenced.

Nor could all the tortures inflicted by the Tepo upon her murderers console the grief-stricken man for his loss.

But the memory of the She-Fiend will ever live in the hearts of the members of the Christian congregation that at such a terrible cost she had saved from the devilish atrocities of a Boxer mob!

There will be many memories of a similar nature, too, treasured by our own countrymen and countrywomen, members of those other Christian congregations at Peking, where the Legation guards and the civilian defenders could never have held out till relief came but for the gallant part played in the defence by the thousands of Chinese converts who held the Cathedral and the Palace, and whose patient labour had constructed the earthworks and the greater part of the defences of the Legations. The She-Fiend’s quick insight had very soon noted the good results in her adopted country of the Missionaries’ labours—else her daughter had not set foot in either chapel or mission. Thereby the ex-leader of Pirates showed a juster perception of the trend of affairs than the great political leaders of the greatest of Asiatic Powers, who hamper those efforts in every possible way.

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