austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,

Let it be clear or cloudy weather / My crate and I together

Ace Drummond Chapter Seven, ``The Trackless Trail'', opens with the discovery that Ace Drummond is not dead.

Comic Relief Mechanic Jerry notices the poison gas from the spinning lamp and runs in, smashing the wooden slats that make up the windows so they can get some air in the place. While Chang Ho's there, Drummond is missing, and Jerry immediately opens the trap door and runs through the cave set used for every science fiction show ever up to Enterprise, leading to the courtyard and where nobody saw Drummond being taken out.

Chang Ho's notes talk about the mountain of jade that's behind all this, and Jerry reads through the diary while a disguised Drummond sneaks out the trap door. He wants people to think he's been abducted so he can get the diary page, and orders Jerry to pretend the plane has motor trouble. Jerry reports back to Bai-Tal Airfield what he's up to, where the ever-suspicious Ivan/Johnny can prominently notice and speak cryptically to Henry Kee who's arriving from whatever it is he's always arriving for. The Dragon commands the Lama's underling, Kai Shek (really), to stay away from the hideout because Drummond is on their trail.

Drummond watches suspicious-looking people attach messages to carrier pigeons, so he breaks in to have a fistfight with whoever they turn out to be and swipe a pigeon. Jerry makes a weird joke about eating pigeon pie, but Drummond explains this whole ``tracking'' concept.

The earlier pigeon delivers the diary page to The Dragon's henchmen watching over Dr Trainor, who's by the way reading a thick book; they have to keep him alive to translate the diary page, so maybe the ``Chinese writing in Mongolia'' plan wasn't as dumb as I snarked about it being. Dr Trainor tosses a tree branch in the water wheel, stopping it up, and tells his dumb guard that he'd better fix it in case The Dragon needs to issue a command by spinning-object radio. The guard falls for this, but Dr Trainor doesn't grab the guard's rifle before walking slowly away on the cliff face, and he's pretty swiftly recaptured.

Drummond --- who's just a darling in still wearing a three-piece suit and tie to go tromping around a Mongolian mountain --- and Jerry find the pigeon's drop point, and get shot at by henchmen. This leads Drummond and Jerry to the tunnel, and they find the ammunition dump. This is where the henchmen catch up with them and they start shooting, because what's better than an exploding ammunition dump in a cave for a cliffhanger?

I get how this qualifies as having a ``trackless trail''.

Trivia: The P&O ship Himalaya was sold to the British government as a troop ship for £133,000 in July 1854. The ship was finally sunk --- as a coal hulk --- by a German bomb in Weymouth harbour during World War II. Source: The Story of P&O, David Howarth, Stephen Howarth.

Currently Reading: Fantasy and Science Fiction, March/April 2011, Editor Gordon van Gelder.


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