The Bourne Identity / Page 40

Page 40



'Angelus Domini,' he said.

'Angelus Domini, child of God,' whispered the hooded silhouette. 'Are your days comfortable?'

They draw to an end,' replied the old man, making the proper response, 'but they are made comfortable.'

'Good. It's important to have a sense of security at your age,' said Carlos. 'But to business. Did you get the particulars from Zurich?'

The owl is dead; so are two others, possibly a third. Another's hand was severely wounded; he cannot work. Cain disappeared. They think the woman is with him.'

'An odd turn of events,' said Carlos.

'There's more. The one ordered to kill her has not been heard from. He was to take her to the Guisan Quai; no one knows what happened.'

'Except that a watchman was killed in her place. It's possible she was never a hostage at all, but instead, bait for a trap. A trap that snapped back on Cain. I want to think about that... In the meantime, here are my instructions. Are you ready?'

The old man reached into his Docket and took nut the stub of a pencil and a scrap of paper. "Very well.'

'Telephone Zurich. I want a man in Paris by tomorrow who bas seen Cain, who can recognize him. Also, Zurich is to reach Koenig at the Gemeinschaft, and tell him to send his tape to New York. He's to use the post office box in Village Station.'

'Please,' interrupted the aged messenger. 'These old hands do not write as they once did !

'Forgive me,' whispered Carlos. I'm preoccupied and inconsiderate I'm sorry.'

'Not at all, not at all. Go ahead.'

'Finally, I want our team to take rooms within a block of the bank on the rue Madeleine. This time the bank will be Cain's undoing. The pretender will be taken at the source of his misplaced pride. A bargain price, as despicable as he is .,. Unless he's something else.'

11

Bourne watched from a distance as Marie passed through customs and immigration in Bern's airport, looking for signs of interest or recognition from anyone in the crowd that stood around Air France's departure area. It was four o'clock in the afternoon, the busiest hour for flights to Paris, a time when privileged businessmen hurried back to the City of Light after dull company chores at the banks of Bern. Marie glanced over her shoulder as she walked through the gate; he nodded, waited until she had disappeared, then turned and started for the Swiss Air Lounge. George P. Washburn had a reservation on the 4.30 plane to Orly.

They would meet later at a cafe Marie remembered from visits during her Oxford days. It was called Au Coin de Cluny on the boulevard Saint-Michel, several blocks from the Sor-bonne. If by any chance it was no longer there, Jason would find her around nine o'clock on the steps of the Cluny Museum.

Bourne would be late, nearby but late. The Sorbonne had one of the most extensive libraries in all Europe and somewhere in that library were back issues of newspapers. University libraries were not subject to the working hours of government employees; students used them during the evenings. So would he as soon as he reached Paris. There was something he had to learn.

Every day I read the newspapers. In three languages. Six months ago a man was killed, his death reported on the front page of each of those newspapers. So said a fat man in Zurich.

He left his suitcase at the library cloakroom and walked to the first floor, turning left towards the arch that led to the huge reading room. The Chambre des Journals was in this annexe, the newspapers on spindles placed in racks, the issues going back precisely one year from the day's date.

He walked along the racks, counting back six months, lifting off the first ten weeks' worth of papers beyond that date a half a year ago. He carried them to the nearest vacant table and without sitting down flipped through from front page to front page, issue to issue.

Great men had died in their beds, while others had made pronouncements; the dollar had fallen, gold risen; strikes had crippled, and governments had vacillated between action and paralysis. But no name had been killed who warranted headlines; there was no such incident - no such assassination.

Jason returned to the racks and went back further. Two weeks, twelve weeks, twenty weeks. Nearly eight months. Nothing.

Then it struck him; he had gone back in time, not forward from that date six months ago. An error could be made in either direction; a few days or a week, even two. He returned the spindles to the racks, and pulled out the papers from four and five months ago.

Aeroplanes had crashed and revolutions had erupted bloodily; holy men had spoken only to be rebuked by other holy men; poverty and disease had been found where everyone knew they could be found, but no man of consequence had been killed.

He started on the last spindle, the mists of doubt and guilt clearing with each turn of a page. Had a sweating fat man in Zurich lied? Was it all a lie? All lies? Was he somehow living a nighI'mare that could vanish with ...

AMBASSADEUR LELAND EST MORT A MARSEILLES!

The thick block letters of the headline exploded off the page hurting his eyes. It was not imagined pain, not invented pain, but a sharp ache that penetrated his sockets and seared through his head. His breathing stopped, his eyes rigid on the name, LELAND. He knew it; he could picture the face, actually picture it. Thick brows beneath a wide forehead, a blunt nose centred between high cheekbones and above curiously thin lips topped by a perfectly groomed grey moustache. He knew the face, he knew the man. And the man had been killed by a single shot from a high-powered rifle fired from a waterfront window. Ambassador Howard Leland had walked down a Marseilles pier at five o'clock in the afternoon. His head had been blown off.

Bourne did not have to read the second paragraph to know that Howard Leland had been Admiral H. R. Leland, United States Navy, until an interim appoinI'ment as Director of Naval Intelligence preceded his ambassadorship to the Quai d'Orsay in Paris. Nor did he have to reach the body of the article where motives for the assassination were speculated upon to know them; he knew them. Leland's primary function in Paris was to dissuade the French government from authorizing massive arms sales - in particular fleets of Mirage jets - to Africa and the Middle East. To an astonishing degree he had succeeded, angering interested parties at all points in the Mediterranean. It was presumed that he had been killed for his interference; a punishment which served as a warning to others. Buyers and sellers of death were not to be hindered.

And the seller of death who had killed him would have been paid a great deal of money, far from the scene, all traces buried.

Zurich. A messenger to a legless man; another to a fat man in a crowded restaurant off the Falkenstrasse.

Zurich.

Marseilles.

Jason closed his eyes, the pain now intolerable. He had been picked up at sea five months ago, his port-of-origin assumed to have been Marseilles. And if Marseilles, the waterfront had been his escape route, a boat hired to take him into the vast expanse of Mediterranean. Everything fitted too well, each piece of the puzzle sculpted into the next. How could he know the things he knew if he were not that seller of death from a window on the Marseilles waterfront?

He opened his eyes, pain inhibiting thought, but not all thought, one decision as clear as anything in his limited memory. There would be no rendezvous in Paris with Marie St Jacques.

Perhaps one day he would write her a letter, saying the things he could not say now. If he was alive and could write a letter; he could not write one now. There could be no written words of thanks or love, no explanations at all; she would wait for him and he would not come to her. He had to put distance between them; she could not be involved with a seller of death. She had been wrong, his worst fears accurate.


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