The bourne supremacy, p.89
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       The Bourne Supremacy, p.89

         Part #2 of Jason Bourne series by Robert Ludlum
Page 89


  'I'll bring in a squad of marines. '

  'Don't. She'd turn them against you. She's one of the most persuasive people I've ever met. '

  'She has to be,' replied the ambassador, leaning back in his chair. 'She forced a man with no identity, with overwhelming feelings of guilt, to look into himself and walk out of the tunnels of his own confusion. No easy task . . . Tell me about her - not the dry facts of a dossier, but the person. ''

  Catherine did, telling what she knew from observation and instinct, and as one aspect arose, it gave rise to other angles of questioning. Time passed; the minutes and the half hours punctuated with repeated phone calls apprising Havilland of the conditions at Kai Tak Airport. The sun descended beyond the walls of the garden outside. A light supper was provided by the staff.

  'Would you ask Mr McAllister to join us? said Havilland to a steward.

  'I asked Mr McAllister if I could fetch him something, sir, and he was pretty firm about it. He told me to get out and leave him alone. '

  Then never mind, thank you. '

  The phone calls kept coming; the subject of Marie St Jacques was exhausted, and the conversation now turned exclusively on the developments at Kai Tak. Staples watched the diplomat in amazement, for the more intense the crisis became, the slower and more controlled was his speech.

  Tell me about yourself, Mrs Staples. Only what you care to professionally, of course. '

  Catherine studied Raymond Havilland and began quietly. 'I sprang from an ear of Ontario corn. . . '

  'Yes, of course,' said the ambassador in utter sincerity, glancing at the phone.

  Staples now understood. This celebrated statesman was carrying on an innocuous conversation while his mind was riveted on an entirely different subject. Kai Tak. His eyes kept straying to the telephone; his wrist turned constantly so that he could look at his watch, and yet he never missed the breaks in their dialogue where he was expected to voice a response.

  'My former husband sells shoes-' Havilland's head snapped up from his watch. He would not have been thought capable of an embarrassed smile, but he showed one at that moment. 'You've caught me,' he said.

  'A long time ago,' said Catherine.

  There's a reason. I know Owen Staples quite well. '

  'It figures. I imagine you move in the same circles. '

  'I saw him last year at the Queen's Plate race in Toronto. I think one of his horses ran respectably well. He looked quite grand in his cutaway, but then he was one of the Queen Mother's escorts. '

  'When we were married, he couldn't afford a suit off the rack. '

  'You know,' said Havilland, 'when I read up on you and learned about Owen, I had a fleeting temptation to call him. Not to say anything, obviously, but to ask him about you. Then I thought, my God, in this age of post-marital civility, suppose they still talk to each other. I'd be tipping my hand. '

  'We're still talking, and you tipped your hand when you flew into Hong Kong. '

  'For you, perhaps. But only after Webb's wife reached you. Tell me, what did you think when you first heard I was here?'

  'That the UK had called you in for consultation on the Accords. '

  'You flatter me-'

  The telephone rang and Havilland's hand flew out for it. The caller was Wenzu, reporting the progress being made at Kai Tak, or more substantively, as was apparent, the lack of progress.

  'Why don't they simply call the whole damn thing off?' asked the ambassador angrily. 'Pile them into their cars and get the hell out of there!' Whatever reply the major offered only served to further exasperate Havilland. That's ridiculous! This isn't a show of gamesmanship, it's a potential assassination! No one's image or honour is involved under the circumstances, and believe me, the world isn't hanging by its collective teeth waiting for that damned press conference. Most of it's asleep, for God's sake!' Again the diplomat listened. Lin's remarks not only astonished him, they infuriated him. 'The Chinese said that? It's preposterous] Peking has no right to make such a demand! It's-' Havilland glanced at Staples. 'It's barbaric Someone should tell them it's not their Asian faces that are being saved, it's the British Governor's and his face is attached to his head which could be blown off!' Silence; the ambassador's eyes blinked in angry resignation. 'I know, I know. The heavenly red star must continue to shine in a heavenly blackout. There's nothing you can do, so do your best, Major. Keep calling. As one of my grandchildren puts it, I'm "eating bananas", whatever the hell that means. ' Havilland hung up and looked over at Catherine. 'Orders from Peking. The delegations are not to run in the face of Western terrorism. Protect all concerned but carry on. '

  'London would probably approve. The "carry on" has a familiar ring. '

  'Orders from Peking. . . ' said the diplomat softly, not hearing Staples. 'Orders from Sheng?

  'Are you quite sure of that?'

  'It's his ballgame! He calls the shots. My God, he is ready!'

  The tension grew geometrically with each quarter hour, until the air was filled with electricity. The rains came, pounding the bay window with a relentless tattoo. A television set was rolled in and turned on, the American ambassador-at-large and the Canadian Foreign Service Officer watching in fear and in silence. The huge jet taxied in the downpour to its appointed rendezvous with the crowds of reporters and camera crews. The English and the Chinese honour guards emerged first, simultaneously from both sides of the open door. Their appearance was startling, for instead of the stately procession expected of such military escorts, these squads moved rapidly into flanking positions down the metal steps, elbows bent skyward, sidearms gripped, guns at the ready. The leaders then filed out waving to the onlookers; they started down the staircase followed by two lines of awkwardly grinning subordinates. The strange 'press conference' began and Undersecretary of State Edward McAllister burst into the room, the heavy door crashing into the wall as he flung it open.

  'I have it!' he cried, a page of paper in his hand. 'I'm sure I have it!'

  'Calm down, Edward! Speak sensibly. '

  'The Chinese delegation!' shouted McAllister out of breath, racing to the diplomat and thrusting the paper at him. 'It's headed by a man named Lao Sing! The second in command is a general named Yunshen! They're powerful and they've opposed Sheng Chou Yang for years, objecting to his policies openly in the Central Committee! Their inclusion in the negotiating teams was seen as due to Sheng's willingness to accept a balance - making him look fair in the eyes of the old guard. '

  'For God's sake, what are you trying to say? ' It's not the Governor! Not just him! It's all of them! With one action he removes his two strongest opponents in Peking and clears the path for himself. -Then, as you put it, he implants his clearing house - his taipans - during a period of instability shared by both governments!'

  Havilland yanked the telephone out of its cradle. 'Get me Lin at Kai Tak,' he ordered the switchboard. 'Quickly!. . . Major Lin, please. At once . . . What do you mean, he's not there? Where is he? . . . Who's this? . . . Yes, I know who you are. Listen to me and listen carefully! The target is not the Governor alone, it's worse. It includes two members of the Chinese delegation. Separate all parties- You know that!. . . A man from the Mossad! What the hell. . . ? There's no such arrangement, there couldn't be! . . . Yes, of course, I'll get off the line. ' Breathing rapidly, his lined face pale, the diplomat looked at the wall and spoke in a barely audible voice. 'They found out, from God knows where, and are taking immediate countermeasures . . . Who! For Christ's sake, who was it?' 'Our Jason Bourne,' said McAllister quietly. 'He's there. ' On the television screen a distant limousine jolted to a stop while others peeled away into the darkness. Figures fled from the stationary car in panic, and seconds later the screen was filled with a blinding explosion. 'He's there,' repeated McAllister, whispering. 'He's there!'

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