The bourne supremacy, p.79
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       The Bourne Supremacy, p.79

         Part #2 of Jason Bourne series by Robert Ludlum
Page 79


  'It's too long,' whispered the major to himself.

  Static erupted from the radio. 'We have the report from the cab company, sir. '

  'Go on!'

  The taxi in question is trying to find an import house on Bonham Strand East, but the driver told his fare that the address must be on Bonham Strand West. Apparently, his passenger is very angry. He got out and threw money into the window only moments ago. '

  'Break away and return here,' ordered Lin, as he watched the garage doors opening across the street at the Apex agency. A car emerged, turning left, driven by the shirtsleeved man. The sweat now rolled down the major's face. Something was not in order; another order was being superimposed. What was it that bothered him? What was it?

  'Him' shouted Lin to his startled driver,


  'A wrinkled white shirt, but trousers creased like steel. A uniform! A chauffeur] Swing around! Follow him!'

  The driver held his hand on the horn, breaking the line of traffic as he made a U-turn while the major issued instructions to the back-ups, ordering one to stay at the Apex agency, the others to take up the new chase.

  'Aiya!' screamed the driver, jamming on his brakes, screeching to a stop as a huge brown limousine roared out of a side street blocking their way. Only the slightest contact had been made, the government car barely touching the left rear door of the large automobile.

  'Feng zi!" yelled the limousine's chauffeur, calling Lin's driver a crazy dog as he jumped out of his sedan to see if any damage had been done.

  'La17 Lair shrieked the major's driver, leaping out, ready for combat.

  'Stop it!' roared Wenzu. 'Just get him out of here!'

  'It is he who does not move, sir!'

  Tell him he must do so! Show him your identification!'

  All traffic came to a stop; horns blared, people in cars and in the streets yelled angrily. The major closed his eyes and shook his head in frustration. There was nothing he could do but get out of the car.

  As another did from the limousine. A middle-aged Chinese with a balding head. 'I gather we have a problem,' said Lee Teng.

  'I know you!' shouted Lin. The Mandarin!'

  'Many who have the taste to frequent our fine hotel know me, sir. I'm afraid I cannot reciprocate. Have you been a guest, sir?'

  'What are you doing here?'

  'It is a confidential errand for a gentleman at the Mandarin, and I have no intention of saying anything further. '

  'Damn-damn! A government directive was sent out! A Canadian woman named Staples! One of your people called us!'

  'I have no idea what you're talking about. For the last hour I have been trying to solve a problem for a guest who's attending the ball at Government House tonight. I'd be happy to furnish you with her name - if your position warrants it. '

  'My position warrants it! I repeat! Why have you stopped us?'

  'I believe it was your man who sped across the changing light. '

  'Not sol' screamed Wenzu's driver.

  Then it is a matter for the courts,' said Lee Teng. 'May we proceed?'

  'Not yet?' replied the major, approaching the Mandarin's night concierge. 'I repeat again. A government directive was received at your hotel. It stated clearly that a woman named Staples might try to lease a car and you were to report the attempt to Police Central Four. '

  Then I repeat, sir. I have not been near my desk for well over an hour, nor have I seen any such directive as you describe. However, in co-operation with your unseen credentials, I will tell you that all car rental arrangements would have to be made through my First Assistant, a man, quite frankly, I have found quite compromising in many areas. '

  'But you are here? 'How many guests at the Mandarin have late business in Bonham Strand East, sir? Accept the coincidence. '

  'Your eyes smile at me, Zhongguo ren. '

  'Without laughter, sir. I will proceed. The damage is minor. '

  'I don't give a damn if you and your people have to stay there all night,' said Ambassador Havilland. 'It's the only crack we've got. The way you've described it she'll return the car and then pick up her own. Goddamn it, there's a Canadian-American strategy conference at four o'clock tomorrow afternoon. She has to be back! Stay with it! Stay with all the posts! Just bring her in to me!'

  'She will claim harassment. We will be breaking the laws of international diplomacy. '

  Then break them! Just get her here, in Cleopatra's carpet, if you have to! I haven't any time to waste - not a minute!

  Held firmly in check by two agents, a furious Catherine Staples was led into the room in the house on Victoria Peak.

  Wenzu had opened the door; he now closed it as Staples faced Ambassador Raymond Havilland and Undersecretary of State Edward McAllister. It was 11:35 in the morning, the sun streaming through the large bay window overlooking the garden.

  'You've gone too far, Havilland,' said Catherine, her throaty voice ice-like in its flat delivery.

  'I haven't gone far enough where you're concerned, Mrs Staples. You actively compromised a member of the American legation. You engaged in extortion to the grave disservice of my government. '

  'You can't prove that because there's no evidence, no photographs-'

  'I don't have to prove it. At precisely seven o'clock last night the young man drove up here and told us everything. A sordid little chapter, isn't it?'

  'Damn fool! He's blameless, but you're not! And since you bring up the word "sordid", there's nothing he's done that could match the filth of your own actions. ' Without missing a verbal beat, Catherine looked at the undersecretary of state. 'I presume this is the liar called McAllister. '

  'You're very trying,' said the undersecretary.

  'And you're an unprincipled lackey who does another man's dirty work. I heard it all and it's all disgusting! But every thread was woven-' Staples snapped her head towards Havilland, 'by an expert. Who gave you the right to play God! Any of you? Do you know what you've done to those two people out there? Do you know what you've asked of them?'

  'We know,' said the ambassador simply. 'I know. '

  'She knows, too, in spite of the fact that I didn't have the heart to give her the final confirmation. You, McAllister! When I learned it was you up here, I wasn't sure she could handle it. Not at the moment. But I intend to tell her. You and your lies! A taipan's wife murdered in Macao - oh, the symmetry of it all, what an excuse to take another man's wife! Lies. I have my sources and it never happened. Well, get this straight. I'm bringing her in to the consulate under the full protection of my government. And if I were you, Havilland,

  I'd be damned careful about throwing around alleged illegalities. You and your goddamned people have lied to and manipulated a Canadian citizen into a life-threatening operation - whatever the hell it is this time. Your arrogance is simply beyond belief I But I assure you it's coming to a stop. Whether my government likes it or not I'm going to expose you, all of you! You're no better than the barbarians in the KGB. Well, the American juggernaut of covert operations is going to be handed a bloody setback! I'm sick of you, the world is sick of you!' 'My dear woman!' shouted-the ambassador, losing the last vestiges of control in his sudden anger. 'Make all the threats you like, but you will hear me out! And if after you've heard what I have to say you wish to declare war, you go right ahead*. As the song says, my days are dwindling down, but not millions of others! I'd like to do what I can to prolong those other lives. But you may disagree, so declare your war, dear lady! And, by Christ, you live with the consequences!'

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