The Bourne Identity / Page 35

Page 35



Marie rose from the chair and crushed out her cigarette. Then she picked up the gun and walked towards the bed. 'You're very anxious to condemn yourself, aren't you?" 'I respect facts.'

'Then if what you say is true, I have an obligation, too, don't I? As a law-abiding member of the social order I must call the Zurich police and tell them where you are.' She raised the gun.

Bourne looked at her. 'I thought...' 'Why not?' she broke in. 'You're a condemned man who wants to get it over with, aren't you? You lie there talking with such finality, with, if you'll forgive me, not a little self-pity, expecting to appeal to my ... what was it? False gratitude? Well, I think you'd better understand something. I'm not a fool; if I thought for a minute you're what they say you are, I wouldn't be here and neither would you. Facts that cannot be documented aren't facts at all. You don't have facts, you have conclusions, your own conclusions based on statements made by men you know are garbage.'

'And an unexplained bank account with over four million dollars in it. Don't forget that.'

'How could I? I'm supposed to be a financial whiz. That account may not be explained in ways that you'd like, but there's a proviso attached that lends a considerable degree of legitimacy to it. It can be inspected - probably invaded -by any certified director of a corporation called something-or-other Seventy-one. That's hardly an affiliation for a hired killer.'

The corporation may be named, it isn't listed.' 'In a telephone book? You are naive ... But let's get back to you. Right now. Shall I really call the police?' 'You know my answer. I can't stop you, but I don't want you to.'

Marie lowered the gun. 'And I won't. For the same reason you don't want me to. I don't believe what they say you are any more than you do.'

"Then what do you believe?'

'I told you, I'm not sure. All I really know is that seven hours ago I was underneath an animal, his mouth all over me, his hands clawing me ... and I knew I was going to die. And then a man came back for me - a man who could have kept running - but who came back for me and offered to die in my place. I guess I believe in him."

'Suppose you're wrong?'

'Then I'll have made a terrible mistake.'

'Thank you. Where's the money?'

'On the bureau. In your passport case and wallet Also the name of the doctor and the receipt for the room.'

'May I have the passport, please? That's the Swiss currency.'

'I know.' Marie brought them to him. 'I gave the concierge three hundred francs for the room and two hundred for the name of the doctor. The doctor's services came to four hundred and fifty, to which I added another hundred and fifty for his co-operation. Altogether I paid out eleven hundred francs.'

'You don't have to give me an account,' he said.

'You should know. What are you going to do?'

'Give you money so you can get back to Canada.'

'I mean afterwards."

'See how I feel later on. Probably pay the concierge to buy m? some clothes. Ask him a few questions. I'll be all right.' He took out a number of large bills and held them out for her.

'That's over fifty thousand francs.'

'I've put you through a great deal.'

Marie St Jacques looked at the money, then down at the gun in her left hand. 'I don't want your money," she said, placing the weapon on the bedside table.

'What do you mean?'

She turned and walked back to the armchair, turning again to look at him as she sat down. 'I think I want to help you.'

'Now wait a minute ...'

'Please,' she interrupted. 'Please don't ask me any questions. Don't say anything for a while.'

10

Neither of them knew when it happened, or, in truth, whether it had happened. Or, if it had, to what lengths either would go to preserve it, or deepen it. There was no essential drama, no conflicts to overcome or barriers to surmount. All that was required was communication, by words and looks, and, perhaps as vital as either of these, the frequent accompaniment of quiet laughter.

Their living arrangements in the room at the village inn were as clinical as they might have been in the hospital ward it replaced. During the daylight hours Marie took care of various practical matters such as clothes, meals, maps and newspapers. On her own she had driven the stolen car ten miles south to the town of Reinach where she had abandoned it, taking a taxi back to Lenzburg. When she was out Bourne concentrated on rest and mobility. From somewhere in his forgotten past he understood that recovery depended upon both and he applied rigid discipline to both; he had been there before ... before Port Noir.

When they were together they talked, at first awkwardly, the thrusts and parries of strangers thrown together and surviving the shock waves of cataclysm. They tried to insert normality where none could exist, but it was easier when they both accepted the essential abnormality: there was nothing to say not related to what had happened. And if there was, it would begin to appear only during those moments when the probing of what-had-happened was temporarily exhausted, the silences springboards to relief, to other words and thoughts.

It was during such moments that Jason learned the salient facts about the woman who had saved his life. He protested that she knew as much about him as he did, but he knew nothing about her. Where had she sprung from? Why was an attractive woman with dark red hair and skin obviously nurtured on a farm somewhere pretending to be a Doctor of Economics.

'Because she was sick of the farm,' Marie replied.

'No kidding? A farm, really?'

'Well, a small ranch would be more like it. Small in comparison to the king-sized ones in Alberta. In my father's time, when a Canuke went west to buy land, there were unwritten restrictions. Don't compete in size with your betters. He often said that if he'd used the name St James rather than St Jacques, he'd be a far wealthier man today.'

'He was a rancher?'

Marie had laughed. 'No, he was an accountant who became a rancher by way of a Vickers bomber in the war. He was a pilot in the Royal Canadian Air Force. I guess once he saw all that sky, an accounting office seemed a little dull.'

That takes a lot of nerve.'

'More than you know. He sold cattle he didn't own on land he didn't have before he bought the ranch. French-to-the-core, people said.'

'I think I'd like him.'

'You would.'

She had lived in Calgary with her parents and two brothers until she was eighteen, when she went to McGill University in Montreal and the beginnings of a life she had never contemplated. An indifferent student who preferred racing over the fields on the back of a horse to the structured boredom of a convent school in Alberta, discovered the excitement of using her mind.

'It was really as simple as that," she told him. 'I'd looked at books as natural enemies, and suddenly here I was in a place surrounded by people who were caught up in them, having a marvellous time. Everything was talk. Talk all day, talk all night - in classrooms and seminars, in crowded booths over pitchers of beer; I think it was the talk that turned me on. Does that make sense to you?'

'I can't remember, but I can understand,' Bourne said. 'I have no memories of college or friends! like that, but I'm pretty sure I was there.' He smiled. Talking over pitchers of beer is a pretty strong impression.'


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