Thursday, July 17, 2014

A Persian Prince in Poland

Arthur Rubinstein, My Young Years (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1973), pp. 243-4.

I remember an amusing incident that took place about this time [1907]. A young, handsome Persian Prince came to Warsaw as an exile and stayed at the Bristol, where he took a suite on my floor. All of Warsaw society showered invitations on him, and the press loved to print stories about his social life and his great wealth. Another resident of our floor was a high-grade prostitute, a voluptuous blonde.

One night, as I was going up to my room, she stopped me.

“You must help me,” she said in a pleading voice. “I am dying to meet the Persian Prince. I noticed you talking to him and I know you can arrange it. Please, please!”

I laughed. “My dear woman, I am not a pimp, and I don’t intend to help you. But why don’t you try to catch him when he returns from his party? I wish you luck!”

I entered my room and went to bed. Two or three hours later, a terrifying shriek made me jump up and run to the door. What I saw was a startling scene. The blond beauty, stark naked, was dashing out of the Prince’s apartment, yelling at the top of her voice: “Help, help, he wants to kill me!” By then most of the hotel guests were out in the corridor; a few caught up with the hysterical woman and dragged her into her room, where she kept on sobbing, “He tried to kill me.”

Since I had met the Prince socially, I ventured to enter his apartment through the still-open door. I found him standing there in his dressing gown, perfectly composed. He offered me a seat and explained in his best French what had happened.

“I came home late and was just opening the door when this girl appeared from nowhere, said something in Polish which I did not understand, then kissed me and followed me into my apartment. I found her attractive, I must admit. I had not the strength of character to throw her out.” He paused, then said a little haltingly. “She undressed completely, settled comfortably on this couch, and made a sign for me to join her.” He continued in a confidential way: “I must touch upon a delicate subject. We Moslems are not allowed to have intercourse with women who keep their pubic hair. I tried to explain it to her, but she couldn’t understand what it meant. So I went to the bathroom to fetch my razor, and came back to shave off her offensive tuft. When the girl saw me lifting my arm with the razor in my hand, she gave that shriek, and you know the rest.”

Friday, July 4, 2014

"The Loaded Chinaman"

Hudson Maxim, Dynamite Stories and Some Interesting Facts About Explosives (New York: Hearst’s International Library Co., 1916), pp. 108-9.


During the Russo-Japanese war a certain officer of the Czar, who was an impatient, overbearing person and a great martinet, had a Chinese servant whom he treated with the utmost harshness for the smallest delinquency, or for none at all. One of his favorite methods of inflicting punishment for offenses was to order the Chinaman to leave his presence, and, as the fellow went, to give him a hard kick.

The Chinaman aired his grievances one day to a Japanese spy, whom he took to be a brother Chinaman. The Jap suggested padding the seat of the Chinaman’s trousers to prevent further contusions, and this was done, the padding being furnished by the Jap. A rubber hot-water bag was filled with absorbent cotton containing all the nitroglycerin it would hold. A small exploding device armed with percussion caps was placed in the bag so that the nitroglycerin would be exploded by any sudden blow. The unfortunate Chinaman was wholly unaware of the nature of the padding.

At the next meeting of the Russian with his servant, the poor Oriental inadvertently spilled some tea upon the officer’s new uniform. Thereupon the enraged master proceeded to dismiss the Chinaman from his presence in the usual way, but with somewhat more precipitation.

One of the officer’s legs was blown off, one arm was crushed to pulp, four ribs were broken, and it was more than a day before he was restored to consciousness. When he did come to, he found himself a prisoner in a Japanese hospital, having been left behind by the retreating Russians.

As to the Chinaman himself, poor fellow, he never knew that he had been loaded.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Anesthetic Binoculars [China]
30 June 2014

Police in Lanzhou, northwest China's Gansu province, have dismissed the recent widespread rumors of binoculars being sold containing needles tipped with a powerful anesthetic meant to incapacitate the unwitting viewer, China Central Television reported on Sunday.

The rumor, of unknown origin, claimed that the needles would pierce a viewer in the eyes when he or she adjusted the zooming knob on the binoculars. The aenesthetic on the tip of the needles would incapacitate the would-be patron, and his or her organs would be harvested. [...]