Christopher Rowe

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The Madam at Number Nine
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I think this is just fascinating. Here's a passage I read on my lunch break from Charles Gallenkamp's Dragon Hunter: Roy Chapman Andrews and the Central Asiatic Expeditions, which is shaping up into a fascinating read.

"Andrews' guide [an English expatriate resident in 1909 Japan] had arranged for them to dine at the most famous of the Yoshiwara's establishments, known simply as Number Nine. [Yoshiwara, or "Street of Joy" was the red light district of Yokahama.] Number Nine…boasted a lavish décor, a spacious courtyard, and a garden filled with enormous chrysanthemums….

Apart from its felicitous atmosphere, superb food, and alluring women, one of the establishment's major attractions was its enigmatic owner, whom everyone knew only as Mother Jesus. Although she ran Number Nine with ironhanded efficiency, she had endeared herself to a wide circle of regular customers for whom she acted as adviser and confidante. Her clientele included spies, soldiers of fortune, smugglers, world travelers, ships' officers, and highly placed individuals in government, the military, and business. Mother Jesus was a clearinghouse of information who picked up gossip before anybody else, and could accomplish the seemingly impossible--such things as locating missing relatives and friends or arranging passage on ships supposedly booked to capacity."

Wow! How Tales of the Gold Monkey is that?

Well, not very, I guess, but you take my meaning. Kind of makes all those crappy genre "club stories" seem even more banal than they already did, eh?

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