The bourne supremacy, p.107
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       The Bourne Supremacy, p.107

         Part #2 of Jason Bourne series by Robert Ludlum
 
Page 107

 

  'Hello? The voice was strained, breathless.

  'I'll speak quickly,' said Jason quietly in French. 'Stay where you are and do not use the telephone. In precisely eight minutes I'll knock on your door, twice rapidly, then once. Admit me, but no one else before me. Especially a maid or a housekeeper. '

  'Who are you?

  'A countryman who must speak to you. For your own safety. Eight minutes. ' Bourne hung up and returned to the chair, counting off the minutes and calculating the time it took an elevator with the usual number of passengers to go from one floor to the next. Once on a specific floor, thirty seconds were enough to reach any room. Six minutes went by and Jason rose, nodding to a bewildered stranger next to him, and walked to an elevator where the lighted numbers indicated it would be the next to reach the lobby. Eight minutes were ideal for priming a subject; five were too few, not long enough for the right degree of tension. Six were better but passed too quickly. Eight, however, while still within an urgent timespan, provided those additional moments of anxiety that wore down a subject's resistance. The plan was not yet clear in Bourne's mind. The objective, however, was crystallized, absolute. It was all he had left, and every instinct in his Medusan body told him to go after it. Delta One knew the Oriental mind. In one respect it had not varied for centuries. Secrecy was worth ten thousand tigers, if not a kingdom.

  He stood outside the door of 1743, looking at his watch. Eight minutes precisely. He knocked twice, paused, then knocked once again. The door opened and a shocked Ardisson stared at him.

  'C'est vous!' cried the businessman, bringing his hand to his lips.

  'Keep calm,' said Jason in French, stepping inside and closing the door. 'We have to talk,' he continued. 'I must know what happened. '

  ' You! You were next to me in that horrid place. We spoke. You took my identification*. You were the cause of everything?

  'Did you mention me?

  'I didn't dare. It would have looked as if I had done something illegal - giving my pass to someone else. Who are you? Why are you here? You've caused me enough trouble for one day! I think you should leave, monsieur. '

  'Not until you tell me exactly what happened. ' Bourne walked across the room and sat down in a chair next to a red lacquered table. 'It's urgent that I know. '

  'Well, it's not urgent that I tell you. You have no right to walk in here, make yourself comfortable and give me orders. '

  'I'm afraid I do have that right. Ours was a private tour and you intruded. '

  'I was assigned to that damn tour!'

  'On whose orders?

  The concierge, or whatever you call that idiot downstairs. '

  'Not him. Above him. Who was it?

  'How would I know? I haven't the vaguest idea what you're talking about. '

  'You left. '

  'My God, it was you who told me to leave!'

  'I was testing you. '

  Testing. . . ? This is unbelievable!'

  'Believe,' said Jason. 'If you're telling the truth no harm will come to you. '

  'Harm?'

  'We do not kill the innocent, only the enemy. '

  'Kill. . . the enemy?

  Bourne reached under his jacket, took the gun from his belt and placed it on the table. 'Now convince me you're not the enemy. What happened after you left us?

  Stunned, Ardisson staggered back into the wall, his wide, frightened eyes riveted on the weapon. 'I swear by all the saints you are talking to the wrong man,' he whispered.

  'Convince me. '

  'Of what?'

  'Your innocence. What happened? 'I . . . down in the square,' began the terrified businessman. 'I thought about the things you said, that something terrible had happened inside Mao's tomb, and that the Chinese guards were shouting about foreign gangsters, and how people were going to be cordoned off and detained -especially someone like me who was not really part of the tour group . . . So I started to run - my God, I couldn't possibly be placed in such a situation! Millions of francs are involved, profits on a scale unheard of in the high fashion industry! I'm no mere bargainer, I represent a consortium?

  'So you began running and they stopped you,' interrupted Jason, anxious to get the non- essentials out of the way, 'yes! They spoke so rapidly I didn't understand a word anyone was saying, and it was an hour before they found an official who spoke French!'

  'Why didn't you simply tell them the truth? That you were with our tour. '

  'Because I was running away from that damned tour and I had given you my damned identification card! How would that look to these barbarians who see a fascist criminal in every white face?'

  'The Chinese people are not barbarians, monsieur,' said Bourne, gently. Then suddenly he shouted. 'It is only their government's political philosophy that's barbaric! Without the grace of Almighty God, with only Satan's benediction!'

  'I beg your pardon?'

  'Later, perhaps,' replied Jason, his voice abruptly calm again. 'So an official who spoke French arrived. What happened then?'

  '1 told him I was out for a stroll - your suggestion, monsieur. And that I suddenly remembered I was expecting a call from Paris and was hurrying back to the hotel, which accounted for my running. '

  'Quite plausible. '

  'Not for the official, monsieur. He began abusing me, making the most insulting remarks and insinuating the most dreadful things. I wonder what in the name of God happened in that tomb?

  'It was a beautiful piece of work, monsieur,' answered Bourne, his eyes wide.

  'I beg your pardon?

  'Later perhaps. So the official was abusive?

  'Entirely! But he went too far when he attacked Paris fashion as a decadent bourgeois industry! I mean, after all we are paying money for their damned fabrics - they certainly don't have to know the margins, of course. '

  'So what did you do?

  'I carry a list of the names with whom I'm negotiating -some are rather important, I understand, as they should be, considering the money. I insisted the official contact them and I refused - and I did refuse - to answer any more questions until at least several of them arrived. Well, after another two hours they did, and let me tell you, that changed things! I was brought back here in a Chinese version of a limousine - damned cramped for a man of my size and four escorts. And far worse, they told me that our final conference is postponed yet again. It will not take place tomorrow morning but instead in the evening. What kind of hour is that to do business?' Ardisson pushed himself away from the wall, breathing hard, his eyes now pleading. 'That's all there is to tell you, monsieur. You really do have the wrong man. I am not involved in anything over here but my consortium. '

  'You should be!' cried Jason accusingly, raising his voice again. To do business with the godless is to debase the work of the Lord!'

  'I beg your pardon?

  'You have satisfied me,' said the chameleon. 'You are simply a mistake. ' 'A what?

  'I will tell you what happened inside the tomb of Mao Zedong. We did it. We shot up the crystal coffin as well as the body of the infamous unbeliever!'

  'You what

  'And we will continue to destroy the enemies of Christ wherever we find them! We will bring His message of love back into the world if we have to kill every diseased animal who thinks otherwise! It will be a Christian globe or no globe at all!'

 
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