'Yes.' She was silent for a moment. 'We went from one relationship to another, the second more important to both of us, I think. He was like an imperfect brother you want to succeed in spite of the Saws, because underneath there was such decency.'
I'm sorry. I'm truly sorry.'
She looked up at him. 'You have the same decency. When you do the kind of work I do decency becomes very important It's not the meek who are inheriting the earth, Jason, it's the corruptors. And I have an idea that the distance between corruption and killing is a very short step.'
'Yes. We were both right I do want them exposed, I want them to pay for what they've done... And you can't run away.'
He brushed his lips against her cheek and then her hair and held her. 'I should throw you out,' he said. 'I should tell you to get out of my life. I can't do it, but I know damned well I should.'
'It wouldn't make any difference if you did. I wouldn't go, my love.'
The lawyer's suite of offices was on the boulevard de la Chapelle, the book-lined conference room more a stage setting than an office; everything was a prop, and in its place. Deals were made in that room, not contracts. As for the lawyer himself, a dignified white goatee and silver pince-nez above an aquiline nose could not conceal the essential graft in the man. He even insisted on conversing in poor English, for which, at a later date, he could claim to have been misunderstood.
Marie did most of the talking, Bourne deferring, client to advisor. She made her points succinctly, altering the cashier's cheques to bearer bonds, payable in dollars, in denominations ranging from a maximum of twenty thousand to a minimum of five. She instructed the lawyer to tell the bank that all series were to be broken up numerically in threes, international guarantees with every fifth lot of certificates. Her objective was not lost on the attorney; she so complicated the issuing of the bonds that tracing them would be beyond the facilities of most banks or brokers. Nor would such banks or brokers take on the added trouble or expense; payments were guaranteed.
When the irritated, goateed lawyer had nearly concluded his telephone conversation with an equally disturbed Antoine d'Amacourt, Marie held up her hand.
'Pardon me, but Monsieur Bourne insists that Monsieur d'Amacourt also include two hundred thousand francs in cash, one hundred thousand to be included with the bonds and one hundred to be held by Monsieur d'Amacourt. He suggests that the second hundred thousand be divided as follows. Seventy-five thousand for Monsieur d'Amacourt and twenty-five thousand for yourself. He realizes that he is greatly in debt to both of you for your advice, and the additional trouble he has caused you. Needless to say, no specific record of breakdown is required.'
Irritation and disturbance vanished with her words, replaced by an obsequiousness not seen since the court of Versailles. The arrangements were made in accordance with the unusual - but completely understandable - demands of Monsieur Bourne and his esteemed advisor.
A leather attach�case was provided by Monsieur Bourne for
the bonds and the money; it would be carried by an armed courier who would leave the bank at 2:30 in the afternoon and meet Monsieur Bourne at 3:00 on the Pont Neuf. The distinguished client would identify himself with a small piece of leather cut from the shell of the case which, when fitted in place, would prove to be the missing fragment. Added to this would be the words: 'Herr Koenig sends greetings from Zurich.!
So much for the details. Except for one, which was made clear by Monsieur Bourne's advisor.
'We recognize that the demands of the fiche must be carried out to the letter, and fully expect Monsieur d'Amacourt to do so,8 said Marie St Jacques. 'However, we also recognize that the timing can be advantageous to Monsieur Bourne, and would expect no less than that advantage. Were he not to have it, I'm afraid that I, as a certified - if for the present, anonymous - member of the International Banking Commission, would feel compelled to report certain aberrations of banking and legal procedures as I have witnessed them. I'm sure that won't be necessary; we're all very well paid, n'est-ce pas, monsieur?'
'C'est vrai, madame! In banking and law ... indeed, as in life itself ... timing is everything. You have nothing to fear.'
'I know,' said Marie.
Bourne examined the grooves of the silencer, satisfied that he had removed the particles of dust and fluff that had gathered with non-use. He gave it a final, wrenching turn, depressed the magazine release and checked the clip. Six shells remained; he was ready. He shoved the weapon into his belt and buttoned his jacket.
Marie had not seen him with the gun. She was sitting on the bed, her back to him, talking on the telephone to the Canadian Embassy attache", Dennis Corbelier. Cigarette smoke curled up from an ashtray next to her notebook; she was writing down Corbelier's information. When he had finished, she thanked him and hung up the phone. She remained motionless for two or three seconds, the pencil still in her hand.
'He doesn't know about Peter,' she said, turning to Jason. 'That's odd.'
'Very,' agreed Bourne. 'I thought he'd be one of the first to
know. You said they looked over Peter's telephone logs; he'd placed a call to Paris, to Corbelier. You'd think someone would have followed up on it.'
'I hadn't even considered that. I was thinking about the newspapers, the wire services. Peter was ... was found eighteen hours ago, and regardless of how casual I may have sounded, he was an important man in the Canadian government. His death would be news in itself, his murder infinitely more so ... It wasn't reported.'
'Call Ottawa tonight. Find out why.'
'What did Corbelier tell you?'
'Oh, yes.' Marie shifted her eyes to the notebook. 'The licence plate in rue Madeleine was meaningless, a car rented at De Gaulle airport to a Jean-Pierre Larousse...'
'John Smith,' interrupted Jason.
'Exactly. He had better luck with the telephone number d'Amacourt gave you but he can't see what it could possibly have to do with anything. Neither can I, as a matter of fact"
'It's that strange?'
'I think so. It's a private line belonging to a fashion house on Saint-Honor^. Les Classiques.'
'A fashion house? You mean a studio?'
'I'm sure it's got one, but it's essentially an elegant dress shop. Like the House of Dior, or Givenchy. Haute couture. In the trade, Corbelier said, it's known as the "House of Ren�". That's Bergeron.'
'Rene Bergeron, a designer. He's been around for years, always on the fringes of a major success. I know about him because my little lady back home copies his designs.'
'Did you get the address?"
Marie nodded. 'Why didn't Corbelier know about Peter? Why doesn't everybody?'
'Maybe you'll learn when you call. It's probably as simple as time zones, too late for the morning editions here in Paris. I'll pick up an afternoon paper.' Bourne went to the wardrobe for his overcoat, conscious of the hidden weight in his belt. 'I'm going back to the bank. I'll follow the courier to the Pont Neuf.' He put on the coat, aware that Marie was not listening. 'I meant to ask you, do these fellows wear uniforms?'
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