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Grenoble - near the Swiss border, an hour from Zurich. Amsterdam. Boulogne-sur-Mer - on the Channel, an hour from London. Marseilles . . . Carlos.

'When was the conference in Marseilles?" asked Jason.

'Last August, I believe. Towards the latter part of the month. '

'On 24 August at five o'clock in the afternoon, Ambassador Howard Leland was assassinated on the Marseilles waterfront. '

'Yes, I know,' said Villiers. 'You spoke of it before. I mourn the passing of the man, not his judgments. ' The old soldier stopped; he looked at Bourne. 'My God' he whispered. 'She had to be with him. Carlos summoned her and she came to him. She obeyed. '

'I never went this far,' said Jason. 'I swear to you I thought of her as a relay - a blind relay. I never went this far. "

Suddenly, from the old man's throat came a scream - deep and filled with agony and hatred. He brought his hands to his face, his head arched back once again in the moonlight; and he wept.

Bourne did not move; there was nothing he could do. 'I'm sorry,' he said.

The general regained control 'And so am I,' he replied finally. 'I apologize. '

'No need to. '

'I think there is. We will discuss it no further. I shall do what has to be done. '

'Which is?'

The soldier sat erect on the bench, his jaw firm. 'You can ask that?'

'I have to ask it. '

'Having done what she's done is no different from having killed the child of mine she did not bear. She pretended to hold his memory dear. Yet she was and is an accomplice to his murder. And all the while she committed a second treason against the nation I have served throughout my life. '

'You're going to kill her?'

'I'm going to kill her. She will tell me the truth and she will die. '

'She'll deny everything you say. '

'I doubt it. '

That's crazy!

'Young man, I've spent over half a century trapping and fighting the enemies of France, even when they were Frenchmen. The truth will be heard. '

'What do you think she's going to do? Sit there and listen to you and calmly agree that she's guilty?'

'She'll do nothing calmly. But she'll agree; she'll proclaim it. '

'Why would she?*

'Because when I accuse her she'll have the opportunity to kill me. When she makes the attempt, I will have my explanation, won't I?'

'You'd take that risk?'

'I must take it. '

'Suppose she doesn't make the attempt, doesn't try to kill you?*

That would be another explanation," Villiers said. 'In that unlikely event, I should look to my flanks if I were you, Monsieur. ' He shook his head. 'It will not happen. We both know it, I far more clearly than you. '

'Listen to me,' insisted Jason. 'You say there was your son first Think of him Go after the killer, not the accomplice.

She's an enormous wound for you, but he's a greater wound. Get the man who killed your son! In the end, you'll get both. Don't confront her; not yet 1 Use what you know against Carlos. Hunt him with me. No one's ever been this close. '

'You ask more than I can give,' said the old man.

'Not if you think about your son. If you think of yourself, it is! But not if you think of the rue du Bac!'

'You are excessively cruel, Monsieur. '

'I'm right and you know it. '

A high cloud floated by in the night sky, briefly blocking the light of the moon. Darkness was complete; Jason shivered. The old soldier spoke, resignation in his voice.

'Yes, you are right,' he said. 'Excessively cruel and excessively right. It's the killer, not the whore, who must be stopped. How do we work together? Hunt together?'

Bourne closed his eyes briefly in relief. 'Don't do anything. Carlos must be looking for me all over Paris. I've killed his men, uncovered a drop, found a contact. I'm too close to him. Unless we're both mistaken your telephone will become busier and busier. I'll make sure of it. '

'How?'

'I'll intercept a half a dozen employees of Les Classiques. ' Several clerks, the Lavier woman, Bergeron maybe, and certainly the man at the switchboard. They'll talk. And so will I. That phone of yours will be busy as hell. '

'But what of me? What do I do?'

'Stay at home. Say you're not feeling well. And whenever that phone rings, stay near whoever else answers. Listen to the conversation, try to pick up codes, question the servants as to what was said to them. You could even listen in. If you hear something, fine, but you probably won't. Whoever's on the line will know you're there. Still, you'll frustrate the relay. And depending upon where your wife is. . . '

'The whore is,' broke in the old soldier.

'. . . in Carlos's hierarchy, we might even force him to come out. '

'Again, how?'

'His lines of communication will be disrupted. The secure, unthinkable relay will be interfered with. He'll demand a meeting with your wife. "

'He would hardly announce the whereabouts. '

'He has to tell her' Bourne paused, another thought coming into focus. 'If the disruption is severe enough, there'll be that one phone call, or that one person you don't know coming to the house, and shortly after, your wife will tell you she has to go somewhere. When it happens insist she leave a number where she can be reached. Be firm about it; you're not trying to stop her from going, but you must be able to reach her. Tell her anything - use the relationship she developed. Say it's a highly sensitive military matter you can't talk about until you get a clearance. Then you want to discuss it with her before you a render a judgment She might jump at it* 'What will it serve?'

'She'll be telling you where she is. Maybe where Carlos is. If not Carlos, certainly others closer to him . . . Then reach me. I'll give you a hotel and a room number. The name on the register is meaningless, don't bother about it. ' 'Why don't you give me your real name?' 'Because if you ever mentioned it - consciously or unconsciously - you'd be dead. ' 'I'm not senile. '

'No, you're not. But you're a man who's been hurt very badly. As badly as a person can be hurt, I think. You may risk your life; I won't. ' 'You're a strange man, Monsieur. '

'Yes. . . If I'm not there when you call, a woman will answer. She'll know where I am. We'll set up timing for messages. '

'A woman?' The general drew back. 'You've said nothing about a woman, or anyone else. '

'There is no one else. Without her I wouldn't be alive. Carlos is hunting both of us; he's tried to kill both of us. ' 'Does she know about me?'

'Yes. She's the one who said it couldn't be true. That you couldn't be allied with Carlos. ' I thought you were. ' 'Perhaps I'll meet her. '

'Not likely. ' Until Carlos is taken - if he can be taken - we can't be seen with you. Of all people, not you. Afterwards - if there is an afterwards - you may not want to be seen with us. With me. I'm being honest with you. '

'I understand that and I respect it. In any event, thank this woman for me. Thank her for thinking I could be no part of Carlos. '



Tags: Robert Ludlum, Eric Van Lustbader Jason Bourne Thriller
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