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Ah Ling

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Ah Ling, also known as Hendrick van Eeden, The Tzaddick, Mr. Elliott and Mr. Todd is the antagonist in the Sally Lockhart book one The Ruby in the Smoke as well as the third book in the trilogy The Tiger in the Well by Philip Pullman.

He was played in the film adaptation of The Ruby in the Smoke by Elliot Cowan.


Ah Ling is in fact the titular Tiger of the third book. He is a feared pirate from China with a German mother. He had a black schooner which ambushed and stole the titular ruby from the first book and his henchmen were always around.


Ruby in the Smoke

Ah Ling, going by the alias "Hendrick Van Eeden" was the hidden antagonist of the first Sally Lockhart book, Ruby in the Smoke. He was a highly intelligent and sadistic Chinese-Dutch pirate who was raised in the ways of piracy by his grandfather. He was also a drug-lord and sex-trafficker. Ling ambushed Navy ships and killed hundreds of people over the course of his career, including Sally Lockhart's father. He was after a ruby from India and he had many associates after it. He only appeared at the end when he lured Sally into his carriage and drove her to the docks, giving her the choice of dying or accompanying him on his ship and being sold into prostitution. Sally refused to accompany him. Van Eeden was about to murder and possibly rape Sally but she shot him with her pearl handled revolver and escaped, leaving him for dead.

Tiger in the Well

Ling returned in the third book in the series, Tiger in the Well, using the alias, the Tzaddick. He had become reclusive and was confined to bed or a special chair and he was now completely paralyzed from the neck down as a result of Sally's bullet severing his spinal cord. As a result of the depression that came with his paralysis, he appeared to have taken to comfort eating which combined with his inability to exercise had made him preposterously obese. Having become obsessed with revenge on Lockhart for crippling him, Ling hatches a scheme to have Lockhart's daughter taken from her and placed in the care of one of his underlings, a commissions agents named Arthur Parrish. He is simultaneously involved in a money-making scheme involving Jewish persecution. Ling had a special monkey which he pretended was his familiar and which performed menial tasks for him such as feeding, cleaning and bathing. The monkey however was old and would soon be dying so Ling intended to use Sally's daughter as a replacement servant. Ling also had a scarred and apparently mentally disabled valet named Michelet.

Sally tracked the mastermind behind her sorrows to a glamorous mansion in Spittlefields where she disguised herself as a maid. Eavesdropping on one of the Tzaddick's conversations with his valet and secretary, she hears him say that he intends to use her daughter Alice as a replacement servant for his monkey. She is repulsed. She later breaks into the Tzaddick's bedroom, coming face-to-face with him and discovering that he is Ah Ling. She'd thought him dead and he told her that he may as well be before trying to goad her into killing him but his men arrived to apprehend her before she could. Despite Ling depriving her of her daughter and killing her father, Sally felt pity for him due to the miserable half-existence she had sentenced him to.

Later she confronted him and Michelet in the cellar beneath the house. Ah Ling attempts to interrogate her but she just subjects him to a monologue about how he isn't really evil but is a pathetic, ignorant little man whose malicious deeds pale in comparison to the evils of the capitalist system which Sally has been a part of. She overpowers Michelet and is about to escape when the cellar begins to flood. Sally rescues Ling, dragging him into an elevator. In there he tells her about a folk myth in his local village about a tiger stuck in their well. The locals prayed for the gods to send rain to drown the beast and they complied and he finds their present situation similar to the story. Sally asks which of them is the tiger but Ling does not answer. She tries to move him into a more comfortable position so that he doesn't suffocate but he has a convulsion and dies.

Sally is later reunited with her daughter. With Ling dead, his criminal empire will collapse but there are others ready to take his place.


  • Ah Ling is implied to be a cousin of Fu Manchu, another Asian villain albeit one significantly more ambitious and less pathetic. It is suggested that Manchu was training another monkey to take the place of the dying one and perform Ling's duties for him but Ling decided to stick with training Alice to be his servant instead.
  • Ling is similar to Mason Verger in that both are wealthy criminals, paralysed from the neck down and obsessed with getting revenge on the one who crippled them although Verger is far more sadistic.

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