The bourne supremacy, p.92
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       The Bourne Supremacy, p.92

         Part #2 of Jason Bourne series by Robert Ludlum
 
Page 92

 

  'That's why we stopped at the Peninsula, isn't it? Why you told me not to check you out yesterday. Your money's there. '

  'It was. In the hotel safe. I'll get him out. '

  'On the wings of, Pegasus?'

  'No, probably a Pan Am flight with the two of us helping a very sick friend. Actually, somewhere along the line I think you gave me the idea. '

  Then I am a mental case!'

  'Stay by the window,' said Bourne. There's another twelve minutes before the next plane is due from Kai Tak, but then that could mean two minutes or twelve hours. I'm going to

  buy us both a present. '

  'Madness,' mumbled the Frenchman, too tired to do more than shake his head.

  When Jason returned he directed d'Anjou into a corner within sight of the immigration doors, which were kept closed except when passengers were emerging from customs. Bourne reached into his inside jacket pocket and pulled out a long, thin brightly covered box with the sort of gaudy wrapping found in souvenir shops the world over. He removed the top; inside on ersatz felt was a narrow brass letter-opener with Chinese characters along the handle. The point was obviously honed and sharp. Take it,' said Jason. 'Put it in your belt. '

  'How's the balance?' asked Medusa's Echo as he slid the blade under his trousers.

  'Not bad. It's about halfway to the base of the handle and the brass gives it weight. The thrust should be decent. '

  'Yes, I recall,' said d'Anjou. 'One of the first rules was never to throw a knife, but one evening at dusk you watched a Gurkha take out a scout ten feet away without firing a shot or risking hand-to- hand combat. His carbine bayonet spun through the air like a whirling missile, right into the scout's chest. The next morning you ordered the Gurkha to teach us - some did better than others. '

  'How did you do?'

  'Reasonably well. I was older than all of you and felt drawn to whatever defences I could learn that did not take great physical exertion. Also I kept practising. You saw me; you commented on it frequently. '

  Jason looked at the Frenchman. 'It's funny, but I don't remember any of that. '

  'I just naturally thought . . . I'm sorry, Delta. '

  'Forget it. I'm learning to trust things I don't understand. ' The vigil continued, reminding Bourne of his wait in Lo Wu as one trainload after another crossed the border, no one revealed until a short, elderly man with a limp became someone else in the distance. The 11:30 plane was over two hours late. Customs would take an additional fifty minutes. . .

  'That one!' cried d'Anjou, pointing to a figure walking out of the immigration doors.

  'With a cane?' asked Jason. 'With a limp?'

  'His shabby clothes cannot conceal his shoulders!' exclaimed Echo. The grey hair is too new; he hasn't brushed it sufficiently, and the dark glasses too wide. Like us, he is tired. You were right. The summons to Beijing had to be complied with and he is careless. '

  'Because "rest is a weapon" and he disregarded it?'

  'Yes. Last night Kai Tak must have taken its toll on him, but more important he had to obey. Merde! His fees must be in the hundreds of thousands!'

  'He's heading for the hotel,' said Bourne. 'Stay back here, I'll follow him - at a distance. If he spotted you, he'd run and we could lose him. '

  'He could spot you'

  'Not likely. I invented the game. Also, I'll be behind him. Stay here. I'll come back for you. '

  Carrying his canvas bag, his gait showing the weariness of jet lag, Jason fell in line with the disembarked passengers heading into the hotel, his eyes on the grey-haired man ahead. Twice the former British commando stopped and turned around, and twice, with each brief movement of the shoulders, Bourne also turned and bent down, as if brushing an insect from his leg or adjusting the strap of his bag, his body and face out of sight. The crowd at the registration counter grew and Jason was eight people behind the killer in the second line, making himself as inconspicuous as possible, continually stooping to kick his bag ahead. The commando reached the female clerk; he showed his papers, signed the register, and limped with his cane towards a bank of brown elevators on the right. Six minutes later Bourne faced the same clerk. He spoke in Mandarin.

  'Ni neng bang-zhu wo ma?' he began, asking for help. 'It was a sudden trip and I've no place to stay. Just for the night. '

  'You speak our language very well,' said the clerk, her almond eyes wide in appreciation. 'You do us honour,' she added politely.

  'I hope to do much better during my stay here. I'm on a scholarly trip. '

  'It is the best kind. There are many treasures in Beijing, and elsewhere, of course, but this is the heavenly city. You have no reservation?'

  'I'm afraid not. Everything was last minute, if you know what I mean. '

  'As I speak both languages, I can tell you that you said it correctly in ours. Everything is rush- rush. I'll see what I can do. It will not be terribly grand, of course. '

  'I can't afford terribly grand,' said Jason, shyly. 'But I have a roommate - we can share the same bed, if necessary. '

  'I'm certain it will be a case of sharing, at such short notice. ' The clerk's fingers leafed through the file cards. 'Here,' she said. 'A single back room on the second floor. I think it may fit your economics-'

  'We'll take it,' agreed Bourne. 'By the way, a few minutes ago I saw a man in this line who I'm sure I know. He's getting on now but I think he was an old professor of mine when I studied in England. Grey-haired, with a cane . . . I'm certain it's he. I'd like to call him. '

  'Oh, yes, I remember. ' The clerk now separated the most recent registration cards in front of her. The name is Wadsworth, Joseph Wadsworth. He's in three twenty-five. But you may be wrong. His occupation is listed as an offshore oil consultant from Great Britain. ' 'You're right, wrong man,' said Jason, shaking his head in embarrassment. He took the key to the room.

  'We can take him! Now!' Bourne gripped d'Anjou's arm, pulling the Frenchman away from the deserted corner of the terminal.

  'Now? So easily? So quickly? It is incredible!' The opposite,' said Jason, leading d'Anjou towards the crowded row of glass doors that was the entrance to the hotel. 'It's completely credible. Your man's mind is on a dozen different things right now. He's got to stay out of sight. He can't place a call through a switchboard, so he'll remain in his room waiting for a call to -him giving him his instructions. ' They walked through a glass door, looked around and headed to the left of the long counter. Bourne continued, speaking rapidly. 'Kai Tak didn't work last night so he has to consider another possibility. His own elimination on the basis that whoever discovered the explosives under the car saw him and identified him - which is the truth. He has to insist that his client is alone at the arranged rendezvous so that he can reach him one on one. It's his ultimate protection. ' They found a staircase and started climbing. 'And his clothes,' went on Medusa's Delta. 'He'll change them. He can't appear as he was and he can't appear as he is. He has to be someone else. ' They reached the third floor and Jason, his hand on the knob, turned to d'Anjou. 'Take my word for it, Echo, your boy's involved. He's got exercises going on in his head that would challenge a Russian chess player. '

 
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