'Oh, God,' said Marie, frozen. Turn on the lights, Jason.'

'None of them work,' he replied. Only two table lamps, they found one. He walked across the room cautiously and reached the lamp he was looking for; it was on the floor against the wall. He knelt down and turned it on; Marie shuddered.

Strung across the bathroom door, held in place by threads torn from a curtain, was her long dress, rippling from an unseen source of wind. It was riddled with bullet holes.

'Against the far window, Bourne's shirt and trousers had been tacked to the frame, the panes by both sleeves smashed, the breeze rushing in, causing the fabric to move up and down. The white cloth of the shirt was punctured in a half-dozen places, a diagonal line of bullets across the chest.

'There's your message,' said Jason. 'Now you know what it is. And now I think you'd better listen to what I have to say.'

Marie did not answer him. Instead, she walked slowly to the dress, studying it as if not believing what she saw. Without warning, she suddenly spun around, her eyes glittering, the tears arrested. 'No! It's wrong! Something's terribly wrong! Call the embassy.' 'What?'

'Do as I say. Now!'

'Stop it, Marie. You've got to understand.' 'No, goddamn you! You've got to understand! It wouldn't happen this way. It couldn't? 'It did.'

'Call the embassy! Use that phone over there and call it now! Ask for Corbelier. Quickly, for God's sake! If I mean anything to you, do as I ask!'

Bourne could not deny her. Her intensity killing both herself and him. 'What do I tell him?' he asked, going to the telephone.

'Get him first! That's what I'm afraid of ... oh, God, I'm frightened!' 'What's the number?'

She gave it to him; he dialled, holding on interminably for the switchboard to answer. When it finally did, the operator was in panic, her words rising and falling, at moments incomprehensible. In the background, he could hear shouts, sharp commands voiced rapidly in English and in French. Within seconds he learned why.

Dennis Corbelier, Canadian attache*, had walked down the

steps of the embassy on the avenue Montaigne at 1.40 in

the morning and had been shot in the throat. He was dead.

'There's the other part of the message, Jason,' whispered

Marie, drained, staring at him. 'And now I'll listen to anything you have to say. Because there is someone out there trying to reach you, trying to help you. A message was sent, but not to us, not to me. Only to you, and only you were to understand it.

22

One by one the four men arrived at the crowded Hilton Hotel on Sixteenth Street in Washington, D.C. Each went to a separate lift, taking it two or three floors above or below his destination, walking the remaining flights to the correct level There was no time to meet outside the limits of the District of Columbia; the crisis was unparalleled. These were men of Treadstone Seventy-one - those that remained alive. The rest were dead, slaughtered in a massacre on a quiet, tree-lined street in New York.

Two of the faces were familiar to the public, one more than the other. The first belonged to the ageing senator from Colorado, the second was Brigadier-General I. A. Crawford -Irwin Arthur, freely translated as Iron Ass - acknowledged spokesman for Army Intelligence and defender of the G-Two data banks. The other two men were virtually unknown, except within the corridors of their own operations. One was a middle-aged naval officer, attached to Information Control, 5th Naval District The fourth and last man was a forty-six-year-old veteran of the Central Intelligence Agency, a slender, coiled spring of anger who walked with a cane. His foot had been blown off by a grenade in South-east Asia; he had been a deep cover agent with the Medusa operation at the time. His name was Alexander Conklin.

There was no conference table in the room; it was an

ordinary double bedroom with the standard twin beds, a couch, two armchairs and a coffee table. It was an unlikely spot to hold a meeting of such consequence; there were no spinning computers to light up dark screens with green letters, no electronic communications equipment that would reach consoles in London or Paris or Istanbul. It was a plain hotel room, devoid of everything but four minds that held the secrets of Tread stone Seventy-one.

The senator sat at one end of the couch, the naval officer at the other. Conklin lowered himself into an armchair, stretching his immobile limb out in front of him, the cane between his legs, while Brigadier-General Crawford remained standing, his face flushed, the muscles of his jaw pulsing in anger.

'I've reached the President,' said the senator, rubbing his forehead, the lack of sleep apparent in his bearing. 'I had to; we're meeting tonight. Tell me everything you can, each of you. You begin, General. What in the name of God happened?'

'Major Webb was to meet his car at twenty-three-hundred hours on the corner of Lexington and Seventy-second Street. The time was firm, but he didn't show up. By twenty-three-thirty the driver became alarmed because of the distance to the airfield in New Jersey. The sergeant remembered the address - mainly because he'd been told to forget it - drove round and went to the door. The security bolts had been jammed, and the door just swung open; all the alarms had been shorted out. There was blood on the foyer floor, the dead woman on the staircase. He walked down the hall into the operations room and found the bodies.'

'That man deserves a very quiet promotion,' said the naval officer.

'Why do you say that?' asked the senator. Crawford replied. 'He had the presence of mind to call the Pentagon and insist on speaking with covert transmissions, domestic. He specified the scrambler frequency, the time and the place of reception, and said he had to speak with the sender. He didn't say a word to anyone until he got me on the phone.'

'Put him in the War College, Irwin,' said Conklin grimly, holding his cane. 'He's brighter than most of the clowns you've got over there.'

That's not only unnecessary, Conklin,' admonished the senator, 'but patently offensive. Go on, please, General.'

Crawford exchanged looks with the C.I.A. man. I reached Colonel Paul McClaren in New York, ordered him over there, and told him to do absolutely nothing until I arrived. I then phoned Conklin and George here, and we flew up together.'

'I called a Bureau print team in Manhattan,' added Conklin. 'One we've used before, and can trust I didn't tell them what we were looking for, but I told them to sweep the place and give what they found only to me.' The C.I.A. man stopped, lifting his cane in the direction of the naval officer. Then George fed them thirty-seven names, all men whose prints we knew were in the F.B.I. files. They came up with the one set we didn't expect, didn't want... didn't believe.'

'Delta's,' said the senator.

'Yes,' concurred the naval officer. The names I submitted were those of anyone - no matter how remote - who might have learned the address of Treadstone, including, incidentally, all of us. The room had been wiped clean; every surface; every knob, every glass - except one. It was a broken brandy glass, only a few fragments in the corner under a curtain, but it was enough. The prints were there: third and index fingers, right hand.'

'You're absolutely positive?' asked the senator slowly.

'The prints can't lie, sir,' said the officer. They were there, moist brandy still on the fragments. Outside this room, Delta's the only one who knows about Seventy-first Street'

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