The bourne supremacy, p.88
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       The Bourne Supremacy, p.88

         Part #2 of Jason Bourne series by Robert Ludlum
 
Page 88

 

  'Jesus Christ!' exploded Havilland. 'He's a drug addict!'

  'That's ludicrous, but typical of the primitive reaction of an American "moralist" given a few key words. '

  'Please, Mrs Staples-'

  'He was drugged; he doesn't take drugs. His limit is three vodka martinis, and he likes girls. Of course, a few of your male attaches prefer boys, and their limit is nearer six martinis, but who's counting? Frankly, I personally don't give a damn what adults do within the four walls of a bedroom - I don't really believe that whatever it is affects what they do outside the bedroom - but Washington has this peculiar preoccupation with-'

  'All right, Mrs Staples! Nelson is reprimanded - by me -and the Consul General will not be informed and nothing goes into his record. Are you satisfied?

  'We're getting there. Call him this afternoon and tell him that. Also tell him to get his extracurricular act together for his own benefit. '

  That will be a pleasure. Is there anything else?

  'Yes, and I'm afraid I don't know how to put it without insulting you. '

  'That hasn't fazed you. '

  'It fazes me now because I know far more than I did three hours ago. '

  'Then insult me, dear lady. '

  Catherine paused, and when she spoke her voice was a cry for understanding. It was hollow yet vibrant and filled the room. ' Why! Why did you do it? Wasn't there another way?'

  'I presume you mean Mrs Webb. '

  'Of course I mean Mrs Webb, and no less her husband! I asked you before, have you any idea what you've done to them? It's barbaric and I mean that in the full ugliness of the word. You've put both of them on some kind of medieval rack, literally pulling their minds and their bodies apart, making them live with the knowledge that they may never see each other again, each believing that with a wrong decision one can cause the other's death. An American lawyer once asked a question in a senate hearing, and I'm afraid I must ask it of you. . . Have you no sense of decency, Mr Ambassador?'

  Havilland looked wearily at Staples. 'I have a sense of duty,' he said, his voice tired, his face drawn. 'I had to develop a situation rapidly that would provoke an immediate response, a total commitment to act instantly. It was based on an incident in Webb's past, a terrible thing that turned a civilized young scholar into - the phrase used to describe him was the "supreme guerrilla". I needed that man, that hunter, for all the reasons you've heard. He's here, he's hunting, and I assume his wife is unharmed and we obviously never intended anything else for her. ' The incident in Webb's past. That was his first wife? In Cambodia?

  'You know, then?

  'Marie told me. His wife and two children were killed by a lone jet fighter sweeping down along a river, strafing the water where they were playing. '

  'He became another man,' said Havilland, nodding. 'His mind snapped and it became his war despite the fact that he had little or no regard for Saigon. He was venting his outrage in the only way he knew how, fighting an enemy who had stolen his life from him. He would usually take on only the most complex and dangerous assignments where the objectives were major, the targets within the framework of command personnel. One doctor said that in his mental warp Webb was killing the killers who sent out other mindless killers. I suppose it makes sense. '

  'And by taking his second wife in Maine you raised the spectre of his first loss. The incident that turned him first into this "supreme guerrilla', then later as Jason Bourne, the hunter of Carlos the Jackal. '

  'Yes, Mrs Staples, hunter,' interjected the diplomat quietly. 'I wanted that hunter on the scene immediately. I couldn't waste any time - not a minute - and I didn't know any other way to get immediate results. '

  'He's an Oriental scholar? cried Catherine. 'He understands the dynamics of the Orient a hell of a lot better than any of us, the so-called experts. Couldn't you have appealed to him, appealed to his sense of history, pointing out the consequences of what could happen?

  'He may be a scholar but he's first a man who believes -with certain justification - that he was betrayed by his government. He asked for help and a trap was set to kill him. No appeals of mine would have broken through that barrier. '

  'You could have tried'

  'And risk delay when every hour counted? In a way, I'm sorry you've never been put in my position. Then, perhaps, you might really understand me. '

  'Question,' said Catherine, holding up her hand defiantly. 'What makes you think that David Webb will go into China after Sheng if he does find and take the impostor? As I understand it, the agreement is for him to deliver the man who calls himself Jason Bourne and Marie is returned to him. '

  'At that point, if it occurs, it doesn't really matter. That's when we'll tell him why we did what we did. That's when we'll appeal to his Far East expertise and the global consequences of Sheng's and the taipans' machinations. If he walks away, we have several experienced field agents who can take his place. They're not men who you'd care to bring home to meet your mother but they're available and they can do it. '

  'How?

  'Codes, Mrs Staples. The original Jason Bourne's methods always included codes between himself and his clients. That was the structured myth and the impostor has studied every aspect of the original. Once this new Bourne is in our hands we'll get the information we need one way or another -confirmed by chemicals, of course. We'll know how to reach Sheng, and that's all we have to know. One meeting in the countryside outside Jade Tower Mountain. One kill and the world goes on. I'm not capable of coming up with any other solution. Are you?'

  'No,' said Catherine softly, slowly shaking her head. 'It's hardball. '

  'Give us Mrs Webb. '

  'Yes, of course, but not tonight. She can't go anywhere, and you've got enough to worry about with Kai Tak. I took her to a flat in Tuen Mun in the New Territories. It belongs to a friend of mine. I also took her to a doctor who bandaged her feet - she bruised them badly running from Lin - and he gave her a sedative. My God, she's a wreck; she hasn't slept in days, and the pills didn't do much for her last night; she was too tense, still too frightened. I stayed with her and she talked until dawn. Let her rest. I'll pick her up in the morning. '

  'How will you manage it? What will you say?'

  'I'm not sure. I'll call her later and try to keep her calm. I'll tell her I'm making progress - more, perhaps, than I thought I would. I just want to give her hope, to ease the tension. I'll tell her to stay near the phone, get as much rest as she can, and I'll drive up in the morning, I think with good news. '

  'I'd like to send a back-up with you,' said Havilland. 'Including McAllister. He knows her and I honestly believe his moral suasion will be communicated. It will bolster your case. '

  'It might,' agreed Catherine, nodding. 'As you said, I sensed it. All right, but they're to stay away until I've talked to her and that could take a couple of hours. She has a finely honed distrust of Washington and I've got a lot of convincing to do. That's her husband out there and she loves him very much. I can't and I won't tell her that I approve of what you did, but I can say that in light of the extraordinary circumstances - not excluding the conceivable economic collapse of Hong Kong - I understand why you did it. What she has to understand - if nothing else - is that she's closer to her husband being with you than away from you. Of course, she may try to kill you but that's your problem. She's a very feminine, good-looking woman, more than attractive, quite striking actually, but remember she's a ranch girl from Calgary. I wouldn't advise being alone with her in a room. I'm sure she's wrestled calves to the ground far stronger than you. '

 
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