The bourne supremacy, p.58
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       The Bourne Supremacy, p.58

         Part #2 of Jason Bourne series by Robert Ludlum
Page 58


  'As they say, that's putting it mildly. Will your lunch date accept the British delegation story?'

  'Without a thought to the contrary. The mother country is marshalling its most persuasive forces. Beijing buys enormous quantities of much-needed wheat from us - but then you know that as well as I do, and probably a lot more in terms of dollars and cents. '

  'I'm not very current these days. '

  'Yes, I understand. ' Staples nodded, looking sternly yet kindly at Marie, her eyes questioning. 'I was over here by then, but we heard the rumours and read the European papers. To say we were in shock can't describe the way those of us who knew you felt. In the weeks that followed we all tried to get answers, but we were told to let it alone, drop it -for your sake. "Don't pursue it," they kept saying. "It's in her best interests to stay away. . . " Of course, we finally heard that you were exonerated of all charges - Christ, what an insulting phrase after what you were put through! Then you just faded, and no one heard anything more about you. '

  'They told you the truth, Catherine. It was in my interest -our interests - to stay away. For months we were kept hidden, and when we took up our civilized lives again it was in a fairly remote area and under a name few people knew. The guards, however, were still in place. '


  'I married the man you read about in the papers. Of course, he wasn't the man described in the papers; he was in deep cover for the American Government. He gave up a great deal of his life for that awfully strange commitment. '

  'And now you're in Hong Kong and you tell me you're in trouble. '

  'I'm in Hong Kong and I'm in serious trouble. '

  'May I assume that the events of the past year are related to your current difficulties?'

  'I believe they are. '

  'What can you tell me?'

  'Everything I know because I want your help. I have no right to ask it unless you know everything I know. '

  'I like succinct language. Not only for its clarity but because it usually defines the person delivering it. You're also saying that unless I know everything I probably can't do anything. '

  'I hadn't thought of it that way, but you're probably right. '

  'Good. I was testing you. In the nouvelle diplomatic overt simplicity has become both a cover and a tool. It's frequently used to obscure duplicity, as well as to disarm an adversary. I refer you to the recent proclamations of your new country -new as a wife, of course. '

  'I'm an economist, Catherine, not a diplomat. '

  'Combine the talents that I know you have, and you could scale the heights in Washington as you would have in Ottawa. But then you wouldn't have the obscurity you so desire in your regained civilized life. '

  'We must have that. It's all that matters. I don't. '

  Testing again. You were not without ambition. You love that husband of yours. '

  'Very much. I want to find him. I want him back. '

  Staples's head snapped as her eyes blinked. 'He's here!'

  'Somewhere. It's part of the story. '

  'Is it complicated?'

  'Very. '

  'Can you hold back - and I mean that, Marie - until we go some place where it's quieter?'

  'I was taught patience by a man whose life depended on it twenty-four hours a day for three years. '

  'Good God. Are you hungry?' 'Famished. That's also part of the story. As long as you're here and listening to me, may we order?'

  'Avoid the dim sum, it's oversteamed and overfried. The duck, however, is the best in Hong Kong. . . Can you wait, Marie? Would you rather leave?'

  'I can wait, Catherine. My whole life's on hold. Half an hour won't make any difference. And if I don't eat I won't be coherent. '

  'I know. It's part of the story. '

  They sat opposite each other in Catherine Staples's flat, a coffee table between them, sharing a pot of tea.

  'I think,' said Catherine, 'that I've just heard what amounts to the most blatant misuse of office in thirty years of foreign service - on our side, of course. Unless there's a grave misinterpretation. '

  'You're saying you don't believe me. '

  'On the contrary, my dear, you couldn't have made it up. You're quite right. The whole damn thing's full of illogical logic. '

  'I didn't say that. '

  'You didn't have to, it's there. Your husband is primed, the possibilities implanted, and then he's shot up like a nuclear rocket. Why?'

  'I told you. There's a man killing people who claims he's Jason Bourne - the role David played for three years. '

  'A killer's a killer, no matter the name he assumes, whether it's Genghis Khan or Jack the Ripper, or, if you will, Carlos the Jackal - even the assassin, Jason Bourne. Traps for such men are planned with the consent of the trappers. '

  'I don't understand you, Catherine. '

  'Then listen to me, my dear. This is an old-time mind speaking. Remember when I went to you for the Common Market refresher with the emphasis on Eastern trade?'

  'Yes. We cooked dinners for each other. Yours was better than mine. '

  'Yes, it was. But I was really there to learn how to convince my contacts in the Eastern bloc that I could use the fluctuating rates of exchange so that purchases made from us would be infinitely more profitable for them. I did it. Moscow was furious. '

  'Catherine, what the hell has that got to do with me?"

  Staples looked at Marie, her gentle demeanour again underlined with firmness. 'Let me be clearer. If you thought about it at all, you had to assume that I'd come to Ottawa to gain a firmer grasp of European economics so as to do my job better. In one sense that was true, but it wasn't the real reason. I was actually there to learn how to use the fluctuating rates of the various currencies and offer contracts of the greatest advantage to our potential clients. When the Deutschmark rose, we sold on the franc or the guilder or whatever. It was built into the contracts. '

  'That was hardly self-serving. '

  'We weren't looking for profits, we were opening markets that had been closed to us. The profits would come later. You were very clear about exchange rate speculation. You preached its evils and I had to learn to be something of a devil - for a good cause, of course. '

  'All right, you picked what brains I have for a purpose I didn't know about-'

  'It had to be kept totally secret, obviously. '

  'But what's it got to do with anything I've told you?'

  'I smell a bad piece of meat, and this nose is experienced. Just as I had an ulterior motive to go to you in Ottawa, whoever is doing this to you has a deeper reason than the capture of your husband's impersonator. ' 'Why do you say that?'

  'Your husband said it first. This is primarily and quite properly a police matter, even an international police matter for Interpol's highly respected intelligence network. They're far more qualified for this sort of thing than State Departments or Foreign Offices, CIAs or MI6s. Overseas Intelligence branches don't concern themselves with non-political criminals - everyday murderers - they can't afford to. My God, most of those asses would expose whatever covers they'd managed to build if they interfered with police work. '

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