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Wa Lee. Wa Lee was created by Dorothy Black and appeared in four stories in Saturday Evening Post in 1928, beginning with “In the House of Wa Lee” (Saturday Evening Post, Oct. 6, 1928).
Wa Lee is a Chinese merchant in Rangoon. He has “five professions, but only two of them were official.” He is known to all as a rice broker and market gardener, growing lettuces and cabbages and pumpkins and selling them from steamers up and down the coast. But he has other ventures. He inhabits a rundown palace, built for a mandarin years ago, still decorated and landscaped in the classical Chinese style but falling to pieces with each successive monsoon.
“Now the house of Wa Lee was a meeting place for many kinds of men. In the vast empty rooms, camping upon the floors after their various customs, lived Maung Maung, a Burmese boy known as Mad Dog, because of his wild and lawless ways. Vital Das, a Bengali gentleman, failed B.A. of Calcutta University. Simon, unfortunate result of an alliance between a Eurasian station master and a Burmese lady whose father was English and whose grandmother was Chinese.” They live there with Wa Lee’s family, and educate Wa Lee’s oldest son David in various ways. And if the British police should come inquiring about various matters, whether opium or murder, Wa Lee smiles and invites them to inspect his home, knowing full well that they will quickly get lost and never locate their prey.
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