The bourne supremacy, p.47
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       The Bourne Supremacy, p.47

         Part #2 of Jason Bourne series by Robert Ludlum
Page 47


  That's the huge Chinese who's always polite - unctuous, actually, but rather sincere. He's been nice to me, as his men have been nice to me. He's following orders - they're all following orders - but they don't know why.

  'Even in her lucid moments she draws a blank, which is not encouraging. It could be a defence mechanism indicating that she was aware of a progressive illness she wants to block out. '

  'She's not that sort, Doctor. She's a strong woman. '

  'Psychological strength is relative, Major. Often the strongest among us are loath to accept mortality. The ego refuses it. Get me her history. I must have it. '

  'A man will call Washington, and people there will make other calls. They know where she lives, her circumstances, and within minutes they'll know her neighbours. Someone will tell us. We'll find her doctor. '

  'I want everything on a satellite computer print-out. We have the equipment. '

  'Any transmission of information must be received at our offices. '

  Then I'll go with you. Give me a few minutes. '

  'You're frightened, aren't you, Doctor?'

  'If it's a neurological disorder, that's always frightening, Major. If your people can work quickly, perhaps I can talk to her doctor myself. That would be optimum. '

  'You found nothing in your examination?'

  'Only possibilities, nothing concrete. There is pain here, and there isn't pain there. I've ordered a CAT scan in the morning. '

  'You are frightened. '

  'Shitless, Major. '

  Oh, you're all doing exactly what I wanted you to do. Good God, I'm hungry! I'll eat for five straight hours when I get out of here - and I will get out! David, did you understand? Did you understand what I was telling you? The dark trees are maple trees; they're so common, darling, so identifiable. The single leaf is Canada. The embassy! Here in Hong Kong it's the consulate! That's what we did in Paris, my darling! It was terrible then, but it won't be terrible here. I'll know someone. Back in Ottawa I instructed so many who were being posted all over the world. Your memory is clouded, my love, but mine isn't. . . And you must understand, David, that the people I dealt with then are not so different from the people who are holding me now. In some ways, of course, they're robots, but they're also individuals who think and question and wonder why they are asked to do certain things. But they follow a regimen, darling, because if they don't, they get poor service reports, which is tantamount to a fate worse than dismissal - which rarely happens - because it means no advancement, limbo. They've actually been kind to me -gentle really - as if they're embarrassed by what they've been ordered to do but must carry out their assignments. They think I'm ill and they're concerned for me, genuinely concerned. They're not criminals or killers, my sweet David. They're bureaucrats in search of direction! They're bureaucrats, David! This whole incredible thing has GOVERNMENT written all over it. I know! These are the sort of people I worked with for years. I was one of them!

  Marie opened her eyes. The door was closed, the room empty, but she knew a guard was outside - she had heard the Chinese major giving instructions. No one was permitted in her room but the English doctor and two specific nurses the guard had met and who would be on duty until morning. She knew the rules, and with that knowledge she could break them.

  She sat up - Jesus, I'm hungry! - and was darkly amused at the thought of their neighbours in Maine being questioned about her doctor. She barely knew her neighbours and there was no doctor. They had been in the university town less than three months, starting with the late summer session for David's preparations, and with all the problems of renting a house and learning what the new wife of a new associate-professor should do, or be, and finding the stores and the laundry and the bedding and the linen - the thousand and ten things a woman does to make a home - there simply had been no time to think about a doctor. Good Lord, they had lived with doctors for eight months, and except for Mo Panov she would have been content never to see another one.

  Above all, there was David, fighting his way out of his personal tunnels, as he called them, trying so hard not to show the pain, so grateful when there was light and memory. God, how he attacked the books, overjoyed when whole stretches of history came back to him, balanced by the anguish of realizing it was only segments of his own life that eluded him. And so often at night she would feel the mattress ripple and know he was getting out of bed to be by himself with his half thoughts and haunting images. She would wait a few minutes, and then go out into the hallway and sit on the steps, listening. And once in a great while it happened: the quiet sobbing of a strong, proud man in agony. She would go to him and he would turn away; the embarrassment and the hurt were too much. She would say, 'You're not fighting this yourself, darling. We're fighting it together. Just as we fought before. ' He would talk then, reluctantly at first, then expanding, the words coming faster and faster until the floodgates burst and he would find things, discover things.

  Trees, David! My favourite tree, the maple tree. The maple leaf, David! The consulate, my darling! She had work to do. She reached for the cord and pressed the button for the nurse.

  Two minutes later the door opened and a Chinese woman in her mid-forties entered, her nurse's uniform starched and immaculate. 'What can I do for you, my dear?' she said pleasantly, in pleasantly accented English.

  'I'm dreadfully tired but I'm having a terrible time getting to sleep. May I have a pill that might help me?'

  'I'll check with your doctor; he's still here. I'm sure it will be all right. ' The nurse left and Marie got out of bed. She went to the door, the ill-fitting hospital gown slipping down over her left shoulder, and with the air conditioning, the slit in the back bringing a chill. She opened the door, startling the muscular young guard who sat in a chair on the right.

  'Yes, Mrs. . . ?' The guard jumped up.

  'Shhh!' ordered Marie, her index finger at her lips. 'Come in here! Quickly!'

  Bewildered, the young Chinese followed her into the room. She walked rapidly to the bed and climbed on it but did not pull up the covers. She sloped her right shoulder; the gown slipped off, held barely in place by the swell of her breast.

  'Come here!' she whispered. 'I don't want anyone to hear me. '

  'What is it, lady?' asked the guard, his gaze avoiding Marie's exposed flesh, instead focused on her face and her long auburn hair. He took several steps forward, but still kept his distance. 'The door is closed. No one can hear you. '

  'I want you to-' Her whisper fell below an audible level.

  'Even I can't hear you, Mrs. ' The man moved closer. 'You're the nicest of my guards. You've been very kind to me. '

  There was no reason to be otherwise, lady. '

  'Do you know why I'm being held?

  'For your own safety,' the guard lied, his expression noncommittal.

  'I see. ' Marie heard the footsteps outside drawing nearer. She shifted her body; the gown travelled down, baring her legs. The door opened and the nurse entered.

  'Oh?' The Chinese woman was startled. It was obvious that her eyes appraised a distasteful scene. She looked at the embarrassed guard as Marie covered herself. 'I wondered why you were not outside. '

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