1. Confucius, a sage of China, invents an intricate game called Yeng-San, in 500 B. C. (Note that a new thread is created here.)

2. Ng Chuen Li Yat, a Chinese orphan, becomes a penniless ragamuffin on the banks of the Yang-Tse river.

3. Ng Yat, mastering Yeng-San, wins his way by the game to becoming the Rockefeller of the Orient.

4. Leonard Wong, an eighth-breed Chinese-white "brat" becomes acquainted with Zeller, a ship's mate, in his quarter-breed father's barber shop in Frisco.

5. Wong, as an older learns the game of Yeng-San, presumably from his father.

6. Samuel Cropston, president of the Importers and Traders Bank of Chicago and Shanghai. becomes banker for the funds belonging to the T’ong of the Seven Sparrows.

7. Beatrice Mannerby, daughter of a newspaper proprietor who owns the Chicago Leader, becomes intimately acquainted with a Chinese girl in Paris.

8. Joseph Mannerby, the newspaper proprietor, gives his friend Cranston a $150,000 "courtesy" note, signed by himself and daughter, part owner with him, to temporarily stabilize Cropston's books for bank examiner. The note is endorsed in blank. (New thread starts here.)

9. Wong, at college, masters enough mathematics to find the secret of winning at Yeng-San.

10. Cropston sails for China with $200,000 in English money to bolster up the Shanghai branch.

11. Mannerby, having a disastrous fire and losing even the receipt for the note, is re-equipped by the Plottkin Brothers, publication sharks, with a heavy mortgage, unrenewable if any more obligations fall due.

12. Wong "bums" a passage to China from his friend Zeller, and sails for China to utilize his secret against Ng Yat.

13. A white translator of Oriental languages, who is never known except as "Smith" and who is called in this key “X. Y." Smith to distinguish him from the hero of similar last name, sails for China. (The actual story shows how all records concerning the man are destroyed in various ways.)

14. A big consignment of steel spades is shipped by a hardware company to China. We are interested, in a plot sense, only in two of these spades, and we give them here the plot thread designated "Two Steel Spades."

15. The Chinese government forbids the playing of Yeng-San. (Note: Yeng-San thread ends here.)

16. Ng Chen Li Yat, bored with life, makes a huge wager that he can cross Brazil on foot in 18 months and leaves China.

17. Ship wrecked and crew take to lifeboats. We find Wong, Zeller, "X. Y." Smith the translator, and Cropston the banker in one boat. Also the two steel spades being used as oars. (Five threads are deviated by this wreck and therefore attempt has been made by the use of broken and dotted lines, etc., to differentiate the many threads going into and out of this incident.)

18. Wong and "X. Y." Smith kill Cropston (and his son, an unnecessary thread) with the two spades, while Zeller looks on, becoming as it were a witness to a murder.

19. In dividing up the Bank of England bills found on Cropston, Wong gets the $150,000 "courtesy" note, endorsed in blank.

20. Zeller is left to die on Calaya Island in the Pacific, and is tricked out of the $66,000 share given him voluntarily.

21. "X. Y." Smith is transferred to a sealer, which goes on to the Arctic after transferring him to an unknown boat. (This separation is a vital incident, as it motivates much of Zeller's later actions.)

22. Wong, having separated from "X. Y." Smith, reaches China.

23. Monte Van Tine, a friend of Beatrice Mannerby in Chicago, snaps her photo on the Country Club steps. (New thread is born.)

24. Wong goes broke.

25. Wong gets a job on the Chicago Leader, in Chicago, under the name of "Sam Barker" and is referred to thus in the Key, after this.

26. Monte Van Tine is gotten into a secretaryship to Joseph Mannerby (by Bee Mannerby).

27. "Barker," as a reporter, does grave injury to Pansy St. Clair, a musical comedy actress.

28. "Barker" doublecrosses Absalom Smith, a brother reporter, out of his job on the Leader. (Note: This is a different Smith than "X. Y." Smith, the Oriental translator, and is, moreover, the hero.)

29. Mannerby orders Beatrice to skip to Hudson Bay and hide, to throw lawsuit on the "courtesy note" far enough off so that he can renew his mortgage.

30. She has an ingenious idea of her own, however, and through a newspaper friend in South America creates a spurious Ng Yat news story which says that Ng Yat is coming out on the East Coast, thence to New Orleans and then home. (We may say that involved in this incident is also her departure for Chinaman's Block, New Orleans, where she becomes "Sarah Fu," a "half-breed," as far as the rest of the characters know.)

31, Wong, still as "Sam Barker," gets a berth on the Argus, a rival paper in Chicago to the Leader. (We may say that his getting aboard is an incident with Snell, city editor.)

32. Zeller, getting away from Calaya Island, reads in a paper in Frisco the spurious Ng Yat story and evolves an idea to locate Smith and blackmail him.

33. Zeller goes to Matthew Fosgrove, a photo-engraver of New York, and learns that he can print a cryptic Chinese message, presumably from Wong, and addressed to the unknown Smith, many times through the use of a zinc etching.

34. Fosgrove takes the Chinese copy to Sing Lee, his laundryman, who copies it but deceives him as to the translation.

35. Zeller crystallizes the idea of the two spades used in the murder, to 14,000 two's-of-spades (playing cards) to go to all the Smiths in the Eastern half of the U. S. A., each bearing this Chinese message, supposedly from Wong and offering to sell his share of the English bank notes. (We are interested only in the two plot threads thus created: one, the card intended to reach the real "X. Y." Smith; the other, the card which subsequently reaches the hero, Absalom Smith. The one thread has become twins!)

36. Sing Lee notifies the T'ong of the Seven Sparrows that Leonard Wong, known to have gotten $200,000 in the murder, and wrecking the bank which held their funds, is sending out a message from No. 1129 Chinaman's Block, New Orleans.

37. Absalom Smith's paralyzed father gets a supreme court decree settling his suit for an old broken ankle, leaving him a residium of $150. (This is the money which later is to carry Absalom Smith to New Orleans.)

38. Wong, or "Barker," makes a deal with the Plottkin Brothers to sell them the $150,000 note "dirt cheap." (But they must locate the girl co-signer to defeat the contest against the note.)

A 39. Absalom Smith, a penniless newspaper reporter, strikes Snell of the Chicago Argus for a job, but receives only an offer of a thousand dollars if he can locate Beatrice Mannerby, merely as a news-story.

B 40. Absalom is sent for by Monte van Tine, who merely wants to help Smith get his old job on the Leader back. Van Tine tips him off about Sarah Fu, of New Orleans, knowing Beatrice Mannerby in Paris, and about "Barker's" doublecross.

C 41. Full of wrath, Absalom goes to have it out with "Barker," and in his excitement foolishly drops a hint that he has an inside track to Beatrice Mannerby.

D 42. Now realizing he's got to get to his quarry ahead of "Barker," he goes to his brother, Ambrose Smith, to get a loan. ( He does not get it; but the incident is used, however, since in it Ambrose Arranges with him to read "novelty copy" for his "Japanese King" oil well. When Absalom later, in incident 47, receives his deuce-of-spades, he thinks it is part of this “copy.")

E 43. On account of his brother's refusal to help him, he goes to his paralyzed father, who gives him his settlement check for $150 as a stake to reach and live in New Orleans.

F 44. With everything now O.K. he calls on Albert Wicks, occupying his joint flat, and instructs him to forward all his mail.

G 45. Just before leaving he receives at his lodging house a picture, that of one, Courtney Shale's sweetheart due to a mistake of a hotel clerk in carrying out Van Tine's orders. (The reader believes all along that this is Beatrice Mannerby's picture; and thus "Sarah Fu's" real identity is covered.)

46. Wicks forwards to New Orleans a cryptic deuce of spades with Chinese writing on it.

H 47. Absalom receives it. (Thinks it is Japanese novelty copy from Ambrose.)

1 48. He is "picked up." (His trail) by (spies of) the T’ong of the Seven Sparrows who are watching the house where Beatrice Mannerby is living upstairs, and Zeller downstairs.

J 49. In like manner, he is "picked up" by Zeller, watching from the first door, who elicits by a trick his production of his two of spades.

50. "Barker" is despatched to New Orleans on the Mannerby case by Snell, of the Argus.

51. The mystery Smith--"M Y." Smith--reads the spurious Ng Yat story at some unknown place and time, (placed here on the graph in lieu of any known time.) This prepares for his collapse later, in incident 56.

K 52. Absalom calls on "Sarah Fu."

L 53. Absalom gets a wire from his father that "Barker" has left Chicago for New Orleans and "to step lively.”

54. "Barker" calls on "Sarah" and makes a huge offer for Beatrice's whereabouts. She refuses.

55. Due to her refusal, he arranges with Neggie, a snide detective agency chief, to arrest "Sarah" Sunday at 2 A. M.

56. “X. Y." Smith, the Oriental translator, dies of heart disease in Cleveland on receiving his two of spades, but only after burning it. (Note: Two threads end here by destruction.)

M 57. Absalom makes a trick letter with Miss St. Clair to discredit "Barker" on his paper. (Note: New thread starts here, but so that it can be seen by the reader, in spite of its shortness, it is projected as a dash-and-dot line.)

58 "Barker" steals the trick letter.

59. Because of its contents, he calls on Pansy St. Clair and accuses her of being Beatrice, but soon sees through the trick.

60. Having seen through the trick, "Barker" calls on De Moraes, a Brazilian shipmate, and by a trick induces him to agree to kidnap Absalom and take the latter to Rio de Janiero.

61. "Barker" writes a decoy note, presumably from "Sarah Fu," ordering Absalom to come to old Cemetery No. 1 at 7 P. M.

N 62. Absalom receives this decoy note and goes to the graveyard.

0 63. Absalom is kidnapped by De Moraes (i. e. by his gang).

64. De Moraes orders Affonso, a sailor, to take Absalom's papers to "Barker."

65. Affonso thus gets Absalom's two-of-spades.

66. He gets a translation of the card in Brazilian, from Pei Loo, a Brazilian Chinese cook.

67. Affonso, thinking number 1127 Chinaman's Block is a "bootleg joint," goes to Zeller's who gives him a valise of moonshine to quiet him down.

68. The T'ong kills him, thinking he is getting away with the stolen Bank of England notes. (He is reported by radio as being Absalom Smith, who later, on board ship, hears of his own death.)

P 69. Sailing, a prisoner, for Rio, Absalom swims for the Belle of Dixie excursion steamer and makes shore.

70. "Barker" writes a letter in duplicate to the two Plottkins, detailing his plot to send "Sarah" back to China, and tells of his progress in getting rid of Absalom, but leaves in his wastebasket a badly jumbled sheet of carbon paper. (New thread.)

Q 71. Absalom gets into "Barker’s” hotel room, and, straightening out the jumbled carbon, finds that "Sarah" is going to be shipped back to China by legal machinery hitherto unseen. (Barker's cablings to the French prefect are not shown as they merely constitute an Elemental Plot Combination Case XV, and the results are not actually put into execution.)

R 72. Absalom offers marriage to "Sarah" at 1 in the morning to prevent her deportation.

S 73. Zeller holds up Absalom and "Sarah" in her quarters, to find the name of the "X. Y." Smith he is convinced Absalom is representing.

74. Neggie, arriving to force a showdown, arrests Zeller.

75. And then "Sarah."

T 76. And then Absalom! (This makes a problem of how the hero can get the true story out to Beatrice's own paper.)

77. "Barker" now arrives by schedule and proceeds to "save" "Sarah" from the wrath of the deportation law.

78. But he is identified by Zeller as Leonard Wong, the murderer, since the two are now brought face to face for the first time since incident 20, where they parted.

79. "Barker," in fleeing, as a result of this identification. is riddled with bullets by the agents of the T'ong outside who hare worked out his identity by certain scars on his wrist. (Note, however, that the $l50,000 “courtesy note," the crux of all this trouble, and in a bag around "Barker's" neck, is also in this incident. and is thereby destroyed through being cut into ribbons and bloodsoaked to illegibility from the avalanche of bullets.)

U 80. Absalom and "Sarah"-or Beatrice now-plight their troth, as the Victorians might have it, she loving him because he asked her (in 72) to marry him when he thought she was only a penniless half-Chinese girl. (The story is over so far as Romance goes, and the Realists now commence their novel where this one ends!)