The bourne supremacy, p.112
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       The Bourne Supremacy, p.112

         Part #2 of Jason Bourne series by Robert Ludlum
Page 112


  'By how many?'

  'At least five teenaged punks. Zhongguo ren. '

  'And if you fought back, making a lot of ruckus, I might have spotted you. '

  'That's the story board,' agreed Richards quietly.

  'And when I called you, naturally it was one of the street people you've cultivated who saw a white man with a limp. '

  'Bingo. '

  'You might even get a promotion. '

  'I just want to get out. '

  'You'll make it. '

  'Not this way. '

  'So it was old Havilland himself who blew into town. '

  'You didn't get that from me! It was in the papers. '

  The sterile house in Victoria Peak wasn't in the papers,

  Matt. '

  'Hey, come on, that was a trade off! You're nice to me, I'm nice to you. No lousy report about me getting clobbered by a shoe with no foot in it and you get an address. Anyway, I'd deny it. You got it from Garden Road. It's all over the consulate, thanks to a pissed-off marine. ' 'Havilland,' mused Alex out loud. 'It fits. He's tight-ass with the British, even talks like them . . . My God, I should have recognized the voice!'

  The voice?' asked a perplexed Richards.

  'Over the phone. Another page in the scenario. It was Havilland! He wouldn't let anyone else do it! "We've lost her. " Oh, Jesus, and I was sucked right in!'

  'Into what?'

  'Forget it. '

  'Gladly. '

  An automobile slowed down and stopped across the street in front of Staples's apartment house. A woman got out of the rear kerbside door, and seeing her in the wash of the streetlights, Conklin knew who it was. Catherine Staples. She nodded to the driver, turned around and walked across the pavement to the thick glass doors of the entrance.

  Suddenly, an engine roaring at high pitch filled the quiet street by the park. A long black sedan swerved out of a space somewhere behind them and screeched to a stop beside Staples's car. Staccato explosions thundered from the second vehicle. Glass was shattered both in the street and across the pavement as the windows of the parked automobile were blown away along with the driver's head and the doors of the apartment house riddled, collapsing in bloody fragments as the body of Catherine Staples was nailed into the frame under the fusillade of bullets.

  Tyres spinning, the black sedan raced away in the dark street, leaving the carnage behind, blood and torn flesh everywhere.

  'Jesus Christ!' roared the CIA man.

  'Get out of here,' ordered Conklin.

  'Where? For Christ's sake, where?"

  'Victoria Peak. '

  'Are you out of your mind?'

  'No, but somebody else is. One blue-blooded son of a bitch has been taken. He's been had. And he's going to hear it first from me. Move!

  Chapter Twenty-six

  Bourne stopped the black Shanghai sedan on the dark, treelined, deserted stretch of road. According to the map he had passed the Eastern Gate of the Summer Palace - actually once a series of ancient royal villas set down on acres of sculptured countryside dominated by a lake known as Kunming. He had followed the shoreline north until the coloured lights of the vast pleasure ground of emperors past faded, giving way to the darkness of the country road. He extinguished the headlights, got out and carried his purchases, now in a waterproof knapsack, to the wall of trees lining the road, and dug his heel into the ground. The earth was soft, making his task easier, for the possibility that his rented car might be searched was real. He reached inside the knapsack, pulled out a pair of workman's gloves and a long-bladed hunting knife. He knelt down and dug a hole deep enough to conceal the sack; he left the top of it open, picked up the knife and cut a notch in the trunk of the nearest tree to expose the white wood beneath the bark. He replaced the knife and gloves in the knapsack, pressed it down into the earth and covered it with dirt. He returned to the car, checked the odometer, and started the engine. If the map was as accurate about distances as it was in detailing those areas in and around Beijing where it was prohibited to drive, the entrance to the Jing Shan Sanctuary was no more than three-quarters of a mile away around a long curve up ahead.

  The map was accurate. Two floodlights converged on the high green metal gate beneath huge panels depicting brightly coloured birds; the gate was closed. In a small glass-enclosed structure on the right sat a single guard. At the sight of Jason's approaching headlights he sprang up and ran out. It was difficult to tell whether the man's jacket and trousers were a uniform or not; there was no evidence of a weapon.

  Bourne drove the sedan up to within feet of the gate, climbed out and approached the Chinese behind it, surprised to see that the man was in his late fifties or early sixties.

  'Bei long, bei long?' began Jason before the guard could speak, apologizing for disturbing him. 'I've had a terrible time,' he continued rapidly, pulling out the list of the French assigned negotiators from his inside pocket. 'I was to be here three and a half hours ago, but the car didn't arrive and I couldn't reach Minister. . . ' He picked out the name of a textile minister from the list. 'Wang Xu, and I'm sure he's as upset as I am!'

  'You speak our language,' said the bewildered guard. 'You have a car with no driver. '

  'The minister cleared it. I've been to Beijing many, many times. We were going to have dinner together. '

  'We are closed, and there is no restaurant here. '

  'Did he leave a note for me, perhaps?'

  'No one leaves anything here but lost articles. I have very nice Japanese binoculars I could sell you cheap. '

  It happened. Beyond the gate, about thirty yards down the dirt road, Bourne saw a man in the shadows of a tall tree, a man wearing a long tunic - four buttons - an officer. Around his waist was a thick holster belt. A weapon.

  'I'm sorry, I have no use for binoculars. '

  'A present, perhaps?'

  'I have few friends and my children are thieves. '

  'You are a sad man. There is nothing but children and friends - and the spirits, of course. '

  'Now, really, I simply want to find the minister. We are discussing renminbi in the millions!'

  'The binoculars are but a few yuan. ' 'All right! How much?'

  'Fifty. '

  'Get them for me,' said the chameleon impatiently, reaching into his pocket, his gaze casually straying beyond the green fence as the guard rushed back to the gatehouse. The Chinese officer had retreated farther into the shadows but was still watching the gate. The pounding in Jason's chest once again felt like kettledrums - as it so often had in the days of Medusa. He had turned a trick, exposed a strategy. Delta knew the Oriental mind. Secrecy. The lone figure did not, of course, confirm it, but he did not deny it either.

  'Look how grand they are!' cried the guard, running back to the fence and holding out the binoculars. 'One hundred yuan. '

  'You said fifty!'

  'I didn't notice the lenses. Far superior. Give me the money and I'll throw them over the gate. '

  'Very well,' said Bourne, about to push the money through the criss-crossing mesh of the fence. 'But under one condition, thief. If by any chance you are questioned about me, I choose not to be embarrassed. ' 'Questioned? That's foolish. There's no one here but me. ' Delta was right.

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