The Bourne Identity / Page 38

Page 38

'And the fact that you have this clearance, this access, can help me?'

'I think it can. And embassy protection, that may be the most important. But I give you my word that at the first sign of violence, I'll send the cable and get out. My own fears aside, I won't be a burden to you under those conditions.'

'At the first sign,' repeated Bourne, studying her. 'And I determine when and where that is?'

'If you like. My experience is limited. I won't argue.'

He continued to hold her eyes, the moment long, magnified by silence. Finally, he asked, 'Why are you doing this? You just said it. We're two reasonably intelligent people who crawled out of some kind of hell. That may be all we are. Is it worth it?'

She sat motionless. 'I also said something else; maybe you've forgotten. Four nights ago a man who could have kept running came back for me and offered to die in my place. I believe in that man. I think more than he does. That's really what I have to offer.'

'I accept,' he said, reaching for her. 'I shouldn't, but I do. I need that belief very badly.'

'You may interrupt now,' she whispered, lowering the sheet, her body coming to his. 'Make love to me, I have needs too.'

Three more days and nights went by, filled by the warmth of their comfort, the excitement of discovery. They lived with the intensity of two people aware that change would come. And when it came, it would come quickly; so there were things to talk about which could not be avoided any longer.

Cigarette smoke spiralled above the table, joining the steam from the hot, bitter coffee. The concierge, an ebullient Swiss whose eyes took in more than his lips would reveal, had left several minutes before, having delivered the petit dejeuner and the Zurich newspapers. Jason and Marie sat opposite each other; both had scanned the news.

'Anything in yours?' asked Bourne.

That old man, the watchman at the Guisan Quai, was buried the day before yesterday. The police still have nothing concrete. "Investigation in progress," it says.'

'It's a little more extensive here,' said Jason, shifting his paper awkwardly in his bandaged left hand.

'How is it?' asked Marie, looking at the hand.

'Better. I've got more play in the fingers now.'

'I know.'

'You've got a dirty mind.' He folded the paper. 'Here it is. They repeat the things they said the other day. The shells and blood scrapings are being analysed.' Bourne looked up. 'But they've added something. Remnants of clothing; it wasn't mentioned before.'

'Is that a problem?'

'Not for me. My clothes were bought off a rack in Marseilles. What about your dress? Was it a special design or fabric?'

'You embarrass me; it wasn't. All my clothes are made by a woman in Ottawa.'

'It couldn't be traced then?'

'I don't see how. The silk came from a bolt a C-Six in our section brought back from Hong Kong.'

'Did you buy anything at the shops in the hotel? Something you might have had on you. A kerchief, a pin, anything like that?'

'No. I'm not much of a shopper that way.'

'Good. And your friend wasn't asked any questions when she checked out?'

'Not by the desk, I told you that. Only by the two men you saw me with in the elevator.'

'From the French and Belgian delegations.'

'Yes. Everything was fine.'

'Let's go over it again.'

'There's nothing to go over. Paul - the one from Brussels -didn't see anything. He was knocked off his chair to the floor and stayed there. Claude - he tried to stop us, remember? -at first thought it was me on the stage, in the light, but before he could get to the police he was hurt in the crowd and taken to the infirmary.'

'And by the time he might have said something,' interrupted Jason, recalling her words, 'he wasn't sure.'

'Yes. But I have an idea he knew my main purpose for being at the conference; my presentation didn't fool him. If he did, it would reinforce his decision to stay out of it.'

Bourne picked up his coffee. 'Let me have that again,' he said. 'You were looking for ... alliances?'

'Well, hints of them, really. No one's going to come out and say there are financial interests in his country working with interests in that country so they can buy their way into Canadian raw materials or any other market. But you see who meets for drinks, who has dinner together. Or sometimes it's as dumb as a delegate from, say, Rome - whom you know is being paid by Agnelli - coming up and asking you how serious Ottawa is about the declaration laws.'

'I'm still not sure I understand.'

'You should. Your own country's very touchy about the subject. Who owns what? How many American banks are controlled by OPEC money? How much industry is owned by European and Japanese consortiums? How many hundreds of thousands of acres have been acquired by capital that's fled England and Italy and France? We all worry.'

'We do?'

Marie laughed. 'Of course. Nothing makes a man more nationalistic than to think his country's owned by foreigners. He can adjust in time to losing a war - that only means the enemy was stronger - but to lose his economy means the

enemy was smarter. The period of occupation lasts longer, and so do the scars.'

'You've given these things a lot of thought, haven't you?'

For a brief moment, the look in Marie's eyes lost its edge of humour; she answered him seriously. 'Yes, I have. I think they're important.'

'Did you learn anything in Zurich?'

'Nothing startling,' she said. 'Money's flying all over the place; syndicates are trying to find internal invesI'ments where bureaucratic machineries look the other way.'

'That cablegram from Peter said your daily reports were first rate. What did he mean?'

'I found a number of odd economic bedfellows who I think may be using Canadian figureheads to buy up Canadian properties. I'm not being elusive, it's just that they wouldn't mean anything to you.'

'I'm not trying to pry,' countered Jason, 'but I think you put me in one of those beds. Not with respect to Canada, but in general.'

'I don't rule you out; the structure's there. You could be part of a financial combine that's looking for all manner of illegal purchases. It's one thing I can put a quiet trace on, but I want to do it over a telephone. Not words written out in a cable.'

'Now I'm prying. What do you mean and how?'

'If there's a Treadstone Seventy-one behind a multinational corporate door somewhere, there are ways to find which company, which door. I want to call Peter from one of those public telephone stations in Paris. I'll tell him that I ran across the name Treadstone Seventy-one in Zurich and it's been bothering me. I'll ask him to make a CS - a covert search - and say that I'll call him back.'

'And if he finds it ... ?'

'If it's there, he'll find if

'Then I get in touch with whoever's listed as the "certified directors" and surface.'

'Very cautiously,' added Marie. 'Through intermediaries. Myself, if you like.'


'Because of what they've done. Or not done, really.'

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