The bourne supremacy, p.46
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       The Bourne Supremacy, p.46

         Part #2 of Jason Bourne series by Robert Ludlum
 
Page 46

 

  'As usual, that is no answer. '

  'Let's put it another way, and this much I can tell you. Actually you already know it since you played the role tonight. The lie about our mythical taipan's young wife and lover having been murdered in Macao. Any thoughts on it?'

  'An ingenious device,' said Lin, frowning. 'Few acts of vengeance are as readily understood as an "eye for an eye". In a sense, it's the basis of your strategy - what I know of it. '

  'What do you think Webb would do if he found out it was a lie?'

  'He couldn't. You made it clear the killings were covered up. '

  'You underestimate him. Once in Macao, he'd turn over every piece of garbage to learn who this taipan is. He'd question every bellhop, every maid - probably threaten or bribe a dozen hotel personnel at the Lisboa and most of the police until he learned the truth. '

  'But we have his wife, and that is not a lie. He will act accordingly. ' 'Yes, but in a different dimension. Whatever he thinks now - and certainly he must have suspicions - he can't know, know for certain. If he digs in Macao, however, and learns the truth, he will have proof that he's been deceived by his government. '

  'How specifically?'

  'Because the lie was delivered to him by a senior official of the State Department, namely me. And by his lights at best, he. was betrayed before. '

  'That much we do know. '

  'I want a man at all times at immigration in Macao -around the clock. Hire people you can trust, and give them photographs but no information. Offer a bonus for anyone who spots him and calls you. '

  'It can be done, but he wouldn't risk it. He believes the odds are against him. One informer in the hotel or at police headquarters and his wife dies. He wouldn't take the chance. '

  'And we can't take that chance, however remote. If he found out that he's being used again - betrayed again - he might come unhinged, do things and say things that would have unthinkable consequences for us all. Frankly, if he heads for Macao, he could become a terrible liability rather than the asset we think we've created. '

  'Termination?' asked the major simply.

  'I can't use that word. '

  'I don't think you'll have to. I was very convincing. I slammed my hand on the chair and raised my voice most effectively. "Your wife will die!" I yelled. He believed me. I should have trained for the opera. '

  'You did well. '

  'It was a performance worthy of Akim Tamiroff. '

  'Who?'

  'Please. I went through this at the gate. '

  'I beg your pardon?'

  'Forget it. In Cambridge, they said I'd meet people like you. I had a don in Oriental History who said you can't let go, any of you. You insist on keeping secrets because the Zhongguo ren are inferior; they cannot comprehend. Is that the case here, yang guizi?'

  'Good Lord, no. '

  Then what are we doing! The obvious I understand. We recruit a man who's in the unique position of hunting a killer because the killer is impersonating him - impersonating the man he was. But to go to such lengths - kidnapping his wife, involving us, these elaborate and, frankly, dangerous games we play. Truthfully, Edward, when you gave me the scenario, I, myself, questioned London. "Follow orders, " they repeated. "Above all, keep silent. " Well, as you said a moment ago, it's not good enough. We should be told more. Without knowledge, how can Special Branch assume responsibility?'

  'For the moment, the responsibility's ours, the decisions ours. London's agreed to that, and they wouldn't have agreed if they weren't convinced it was the best way to go. Everything must be contained; there's no room whatsoever for leakage or miscalculation. Incidentally, those were London's words. ' McAllister leaned forward, clasping his hands together, his knuckles white from the grip. 'I'll tell you this much, Lin. I wish to God it wasn't our responsibility, especially with me near the centre. Not that I make the final decisions, but I'd rather not make any. I'm not qualified. '

  'I wouldn't say that, Edward. You're one of the most thorough men I've ever met, you proved that two years ago. You're a brilliant analyst. You don't have to possess the expertise yourself as long as you take your orders from someone who does. All you need is understanding and conviction - and conviction is written all over your troubled face. You will do the right thing if it is given to you to execute. '.

  Thank you, I guess. '

  'What you wanted was accomplished tonight, so you'll

  soon know if your resurrected hunter retains his old skills. During the coming days we can monitor events, but that's all we can do. They're out of our hands. This Bourne begins his dangerous journey. '

  'He has the names, then?'

  The authentic names, Edward. Among the most vicious members of the Hong Kong-Macao underworld - upper-level soldiers who carry out orders, captains who initiate deals and arrange contracts, violent ones. If there are any in the territory who have knowledge of this impostor-killer, they'll be found on that list. ' �

  'We start phase two. Good. ' McAllister unclasped his hands and looked at his watch. 'Good heavens, I had no idea of the time. It's been a long day for you. You certainly didn't have to return the watch and the cufflinks tonight. '

  'I certainly knew that. '

  Then why?'

  'I don't wish to burden you further, but we may have an unforeseen problem. At least one we hadn't considered, perhaps foolishly. '

  'What is it?'

  The woman may be ill. Her husband sensed it when he talked with her. '

  'You mean seriously?'

  'We can't rule it out - the doctor can't rule it out. '

  The doctor?'

  There was no point in alarming you. I called in one of our medical staff several days ago - he's completely reliable. She wasn't eating and complained of nausea. The doctor thought it might be anxiety or depression, or even a virus, so he gave her antibiotics and mild tranquillizers. She has not improved. In fact, her condition has rapidly deteriorated. She's become listless; she has trembling seizures and her mind appears to wander. None of this is like that woman, I can assure you. '

  'It certainly isn't!' said the undersecretary of state, as he blinked his eyes rapidly, his lips pursed. 'What can we do?'

  The doctor thinks she should be admitted to hospital immediately for tests. '

  'She can't be! Good Christ, it's out of the question!'

  The Chinese intelligence officer rose from the chair and approached the desk slowly. 'Edward,' he began calmly. 'I don't know the ramifications of this operation, but I can obviously piece together several basic objectives, especially one. I'm afraid I must ask you: What happens to David Webb if his wife is seriously ill? What happens to your Jason Bourne if she dies?'

  Chapter Twelve

  'I need her medical history, and I want it just as fast as you can provide it, Major. That's an order, sir, from a former lieutenant in Her Majesty's Medical Corps. '

  He's the English doctor who examined me. He's very civil, but cold, and, I suspect, a terribly good physician. He's bewildered. That's fine.

  'We'll get it for you; there are ways. You say she couldn't tell you the name of her doctor back in the United States?'

 
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