The bourne supremacy, p.71
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       The Bourne Supremacy, p.71

         Part #2 of Jason Bourne series by Robert Ludlum
Page 71


  'I got the distinct impression that our Canadian friend had serious doubts as to my mental faculties. Call Lewis. God knows when we'll get that list. Our maple leaf will probably have it sent by train from Ottawa to Vancouver and then on a slow freighter to Hong Kong where it'll get lost in the mailroom. In the meantime, we've got an attach� who behaves very strangely. He leaps over fences when no such jumps are required. '

  'I've met John Nelson, sir,' said Lin. 'He's a bright lad and speaks a fair Chinese. He's quite popular with the consulate crowd. '

  'He's also something else, Major. '

  Nelson hung up the phone. Beads of perspiration had broken out on his forehead; he wiped them off with the back of his hand, satisfied that he had handled himself as well as he did, all things considered. He was especially pleased that he had turned the thrust of McAllister's questions against the questioner, albeit diplomatically.

  Why did you feel compelled to go to the consul general?

  Your call would seem to answer that, Mr McAllister. I sensed that something out of the ordinary had happened. I thought the consul should be told.

  But the woman refused to go to the police; she even refused to come inside the consulate.

  As I said, it was out of the ordinary, sir. She was nervous and tense, but she wasn't a ding dong.

  A what?

  She was perfectly lucid, you could even say controlled, in spite of her anxiety.

  I see.

  I wonder if you do, sir. I have no idea what the consul general told you, but I did suggest to him that what with the house in Victoria Peak, the marine guards, and then the arrival of Ambassador Havilland, he might consider calling someone up there.

  You suggested it?

  Yes, I did.


  I don't think it would serve any purpose for me to speculate on these matters, Mr McAllister. They don't concern me.

  Yes, of course, you're right. I mean -yes, all right. But we must find that woman, Mr Nelson. I've been instructed to tell you that if you can help us it would be greatly to your advantage.

  I want to help in any event, sir. If she reaches me, I'll try to set up a meeting somewhere and call you. I knew I was right to do what I did, to say what I did.

  We'll wait for your call.

  Catherine was on target, thought John Nelson, there was one hell of a connection. So much of a connection that he did not dare use his consulate phone to call Staples. But when he did reach her, he would ask her some very hard questions. He trusted Catherine, but the photographs and their consequences notwithstanding, he was not for sale. He got up from his desk and headed for the door of his office. A suddenly remembered dental appointment would suffice. As he walked down the corridor towards the reception room his thoughts returned to Catherine Staples. Catherine was one of the strongest people he had ever met, but the look in her eyes last night had conveyed not strength, but a kind of desperate fear. It was a Catherine he had never seen before.

  'He diverted your questions to his own ends,' said Havilland, coming through the door, the immense Lin Wenzu behind him. 'Do you agree, Major?'

  'Yes, and that means he anticipated the questions. He was primed for them. ' 'Which means someone primed him!'

  'We never should have called him,' said McAllister quietly, sitting behind the desk, his nervous fingers once again massaging his right temple. 'Nearly everything he brought up was meant to provoke a response from me. '

  'We had to call him,' insisted Havilland, 'if only to learn that. '

  'He stayed in control. I lost it. '

  'You could not have behaved differently, Edward,' said Lin. 'To react other than you did would have been to question his motives. In essence, you would have threatened him. '

  'And at the moment, we don't want him to feel threatened,' agreed Havilland. 'He's getting information for someone, and we've got to find out who it is. '

  'And that means Webb's wife did reach someone she knew and told that person everything. ' McAllister leaned forward, his elbows on the desk, his hands tightly clasped.

  'You were right, after all,' said the Ambassador, looking down at the undersecretary of state. 'A street with her favourite maple trees. Paris. The inevitable repetition. It's quite clear. Nelson is working for someone in the Canadian consulate - and whoever it is, is in touch with Webb's wife. '

  McAllister looked up. Then Nelson's either a damn fool or a bigger damn fool. By his own admission he knows - at least he assumes - that he's dealing with highly sensitive information involving an adviser to presidents. Dismissal aside, he could be sent to prison for conspiring against the government. '

  'He's not a fool, I can assure you,' said Lin.

  'Then either someone is forcing him to do this against his win - blackmail most likely - or he's being paid to find out if

  there's a connection between Marie St Jacques and this house in Victoria Peak. It can't be anything else. ' Frowning, Havilland sat down in the chair in front of the desk.

  'Give me a day,' continued the major from MI6. 'Perhaps I can find out. If I can, we'll pick up whoever it is in the consulate. '

  'No,' said the diplomat whose expertise lay in covert operations. 'You have until eight o'clock tonight. We can't afford that, but if we can avoid a confrontation and any possible fallout, we must try. Containment is everything. Try, Lin. For God's sake, try. '

  'And after eight o'clock, Mr Ambassador? What then?'

  Then, Major, we pull in our clever and evasive attach� and break him. I'd much prefer to use him without his knowing it, without risking alarms, but the woman comes first. Eight o'clock, Major Lin. '

  'I'll do everything I can. '

  'And if we're wrong,' went on Havilland, as if Lin Wenzu had not spoken, 'if this Nelson has been set up as a blind and knows nothing, I want all the rules broken. I don't care how you do it or how much it costs in bribes or the garbage you have to employ to get it done. I want cameras, telephone taps, electronic surveillance - whatever you can manage - on every single person in that consulate. Someone there knows where she is. Someone there is hiding her. '

  'Catherine, it's John,' said Nelson into the pay phone on Albert Road.

  'How good of you to call,' answered Staples quickly. 'It's been a trying afternoon, but do let's have drinks one of these days. It'll be so good to see you after all these months, and you can tell me about Canberra. But do tell me one thing now. Was I right in what I told you?'

  'I have to see you, Catherine. '

  'Not even a hint?'

  'I have to see you. Are you free?' 'I have a meeting in forty-five minutes. '

  Then later, around five. There's a place called the Monkey Tree in the Wanchai, on Gloucester-'

  'I know it. I'll be there. '

  John Nelson hung up. There was nothing else to do but go back to the office. He could not stay away for three hours, not after his conversation with Undersecretary of State Edward McAllister; appearances precluded such an absence. He had heard about McAllister; the undersecretary had spent seven years in Hong Kong, leaving only months before Nelson had arrived. Why had he returned? Why was there a sterile house in Victoria Peak with Ambassador Havilland suddenly in residence? Above all, why was Catherine Staples so frightened? He owed Catherine his career, but he had to have a few answers. He had a decision to make.

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