The bourne supremacy, p.165
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       The Bourne Supremacy, p.165

         Part #2 of Jason Bourne series by Robert Ludlum
Page 165


  'What kind of decision, sir?

  That he should die so that I could live. '

  'Like the Christian scriptures. The nuns taught them to us. '

  'Hardly,' said Jason, amused at the thought. 'If there'd been another way out we would have taken it. There wasn't. He simply accepted the fact that his death was my way out. '

  'I liked him,' said the conduit.

  Take us to the restaurant. '

  It was all Edward McAllister could do to contain himself. What he did not know and what Bourne would not discuss at the table was choking him with frustration. Twice he tried to broach the subject of relays and the current situation and twice Jason cut him off, admonishing the undersecretary with a stare, as the conduit, in gratitude, looked away. There were certain facts the Chinese knew about and there were other facts he did not care to know about for his own safety.

  'Rest and food,' mused Bourne, finishing the last of his tian-suan ran. The Frenchman said they were weapons. He was right, of course. '

  'I suggest he needed the first more than you did, sir,' said the conduit.

  'Perhaps, but he was a student of military history. He claimed more battles were lost from fatigue than from inferior fire power. '

  This is all very interesting,' McAllister interrupted sharply, 'but we've been here for some time and I'm sure there are things we should be doing. '

  'We will, Edward. If you're uptight, think what they're going through. The Frenchman also used to say that the enemy's exposed nerves were our best allies. '

  'I'm becoming rather tired of your Frenchman,' said McAllister testily.

  Jason looked at the analyst and spoke quietly. 'Don't ever say that to me again. You weren't there. ' Bourne checked his watch. 'It's over an hour. Let's find a phone. ' He turned to the conduit. 'I'll need your help,' he added. 'You just put in the money. I'll dial. '

  'You said you'd call back in thirty minutes? spat out the woman at the other end of the line.

  'I had business to take care of. I have other clients and I'm not too keen on your attitude. If this is going to be a waste of time, I've got other things to do and you can answer to the man when the typhoon comes. '

  'How could that happen?'

  'Come on, lady! Give me a trunk filled with more money than you've ever thought about and I might tell you. On the other hand I probably wouldn't. I like to be owed favours by men in high places. You've got ten seconds until I hang up. '

  Please. You will meet a man who will take you to a house on the Guia Hill where there is highly sophisticated communications equipment-'

  'And where half a dozen of your goons crack my skull and throw me into a room where a doctor fills me with juice and you get it all for nothing? Bourne's anger was only partly feigned; Sheng's troops were the ones behaving like amateurs. 'I'll tell you about another piece of sophisticated equipment. It's called a telephone and I didn't think there'd be communications from Macao to the Guangdong garrison if you didn't have scramblers. Of course, you bought them in Tokyo because if you made them yourselves they probably wouldn't work! Use one. I'm calling you just once more, lady. Have a number for me. The man's number. ' Jason hung up.

  'That's interesting,' said McAllister several feet away from the pay phone, glancing briefly at the Chinese conduit who had returned to the table. 'You used the stick when I would have used the carrot. ' 'Used the what?'

  'I would have emphasized what extraordinary information I had to reveal. Instead you threatened, as if you were dismissing whoever it was. '

  'Spare me,' answered Bourne, lighting a cigarette, grateful that his hand was not shaking. 'For your edification I did both. The threat emphasizes the revelation and the dismissal reinforces both. '

  'Your input is showing,' said the undersecretary of state, a hint of a smile on his face. Thank you. '

  The man from Medusa looked hard at the man from Washington. 'If this damn thing works, can you do it, analyst? Can you whip out the gun and pull the trigger? Because if you can't, we're both dead. '

  'I can do it,' said McAllister calmly. 'For the Far East. For the world. '

  'And for your day in the sun. ' Jason started towards the table. 'Let's get out of here. I don't want to use this phone again. '

  The serenity of Jade Tower Mountain was belied by the frantic activity inside the villa of Sheng Chou Yang. The turmoil was not caused by the number of people for there were only five, but by the intensity of the players. The minister listened as his aides came and went from the garden bringing news of the latest developments and timidly offered advice, which was withdrawn instantly at the first sign of displeasure.

  'Our people have confirmed the story, sir!' cried a uniformed middle-aged man rushing from the house. They've talked to the journalists. Everything was as the assassin described and a photograph of the dead man was distributed to the newspapers. '

  'Get it,' ordered Sheng. 'Have it wired here at once. This is incredible. '

  'It's being done,' said the soldier. The consulate sent an attache to the South China News. It should be arriving within minutes. '

  'Incredible,' repeated Sheng softly, his eyes straying to the lily pads in the nearest of the four man-made ponds. The symmetry is too perfect, the timing too perfect, and that means something is imperfect. Someone has imposed order. '

  The assassin?' asked another aide.

  'For what purpose? He has no idea that he would have been a corpse before the night was over in the sanctuary. He thought he was privileged, but we were only using him to trap his predecessor, unearthed by our man in Special Branch. '

  'Then who?' questioned another.

  That's the dilemma. Who! Everything is at once tempting yet clumsy. It's all too apparent, fraught with unprofessional ego. The assassin, if he's telling the truth, must believe he has nothing to fear from me, but still he threatens, conceivably throwing over a most profitable client. Professionals don't do that and that's what bothers me. '

  'You are suggesting a third party, Minister?' asked the third aide.

  'If so,' said Sheng, his eyes now riveted on a single lily pad, 'someone with no experience or with the intelligence of an ox. It's a dilemma. '

  'It's here, sir!' shouted a young man, racing into the garden, holding a teletyped photograph.

  'Give it to me. Quickly!' Sheng grabbed the paper and angled it into the glare of a floodlight. 'It is he I'll never forget that face as long as I breathe! Clear everything! Tell the woman in Macao to give our assassin the number and electronically sweep all conceivable interceptions. Failure is death. '

  'Instantly, Minister!' The operator ran back to the house. 'My wife and my children,' said Sheng Chou Yang, reflectively. They may be upset by all this disturbance. Will one of you please go inside and explain that affairs of state keep me from their beloved presence?'

  'It is my honour, sir,' said an aide.

  They suffer so from the demands of my work. They are all angels. One day they will be rewarded. '

  Bourne touched the conduit's shoulder, then pointed to the lighted marquee of a hotel on the right side of the street. 'We'll check in here then head for a phone booth on the other side of the city. Okay?

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