Bourne nodded. 'Can you be sure your private line isn't tapped?'
'Absolutely. It is swept on a regular basis; all the telephones restricted by the Brevet are. '
'Whenever you expect a call from me, answer the phone and clear your throat twice. I'll know it's you. If for any reason you can't talk, tell me to call your secretary in the morning. I'll call back in ten minutes. What's the number?'
Villiers gave it to him. 'Your hotel?' asked the general.
'The Terrasse. Rue de Maistre, Montmartre. Room Four-twenty. '
'When will you begin?'
'As soon as possible. Noon today. '
'Be like a wolf pack,' said the old soldier, leaning forward, a commander instructing his officer corps. 'Strike swiftly. '
'She was so charming, I simply must do something for her,' cried Marie in ebullient French into the telephone. 'Also for the sweet young man; he was of such help. I tell you, the dress was a success too! I'm so grateful. '
'From your descriptions, Madame,' replied the cultured male voice on the switchboard at Les Classiques, 'I'm sure you mean Janine and Claude. '
'Yes, of course. Janine and Claude, I remember now. I'll drop each a note with a token of my thanks. Would you by any chance know their last names? I mean, it seems so crass to address envelopes simply to "Janine" and "Claude". Rather like sending missives to servants, don't you think? Could you ask Jacqueline?'
'It's not necessary, Madame. I know them. And may I say that Madame is as sensitive as she is generous. Janine Dolbert and Claude Oreale. '
'Janine Dolbert and Claude Oreale,' repeated Marie, looking at Jason. 'Janine is married to that cute pianist, isn't she?'
'I don't believe Mademoiselle Dolbert is married to anyone. '
'Of course. I'm thinking of someone else. '
'If I may, Madame, I didn't catch your name. '
'How silly of me!' Marie thrust the phone away and raised her voice. 'Darling, you're back, and so soon! That's marvellous. I'm talking to those lovely people at Les Classiques . . . Yes, right away, my dear. ' She pulled the phone to her lips.
Thank you so much. You've been very kind. She hung up.
'If you ever decide to get out of economics," said Jason, poring through the Paris telephone book, 'go into sales. I bought every word you said. '
'Were the descriptions accurate?'
To a cadaver and a very limp wrist. Nice touch, the pianist. 1
'It struck me that if she were married, the phone would be in her husband's name. . . '
'It isn't,' interrupted Bourne. 'Here it is. Dolbert, Janine, rue Losserand. ' Jason wrote down the address.
'Oreale, that's with an O, isn't it? Not An. '
'I think so. ' Marie lit a cigarette. 'You're really going to go to their homes?'
Bourne nodded. 'If I picked them up in Saint-Honore, Carlos will have it watched. *
'What about the others? Lavier, Bergeron, whoever-he-is on the switchboard. "
Tomorrow. Today's for the groundswell. '
'Get them all talking. Running around saying things that shouldn't be said. By closing time, word will be spread through the store by Dolbert and Oreale. I'll reach the two others tonight; they'll call Lavier and the man at the switchboard. We'll have the first shock wave and then the second. The general's phone will start ringing this afternoon. By morning the panic should be complete. '
Two questions,' said Marie, getting up from the edge of the bed and coming towards him. 'How are you going to get two employees away from Les Classiques during working hours? And what people will you get tonight?'
'Nobody lives in a deep freeze,' replied Bourne, looking at his watch. 'Especially in haute couture. It's eleven-fifteen now; I'll reach Dolbert's apartment by noon and get the concierge to call her at work. He'll tell her to come home right away. There's an urgent, very personal problem she'd better deal with. '
'I don't know, but who hasn't got one?'
'You'll do the same with Oreale?'
'Probably even more effective. '
'You're outrageous, Jason. '
'I'm deadly serious,' said Bourne, his finger once again sliding down a column of names. 'Here he is. Oreale, Claude Giselle. No comment. Rue Racine. I'll reach him by three; when I'm finished he'll head right back to Saint-Honore and start screaming. "
'What about the other two? Who are they?'
'I'll get names from either Oreale or Dolbert, or both. They won't know it, but they'll be giving me the second shock wave. "
Jason stood in the shadows of the recessed doorway in rue Losserand. He was fifteen feet from the entrance to Janine Dolbert's small apartment house where moments before a bewildered and richer concierge had obliged a well-spoken stranger by calling Mademoiselle Dolbert at work and telling her that a gentleman in a chauffeured limousine had been around twice asking for her. He was back again; what should the concierge do?
A small black taxi pulled up to the kerb and an agitated, cadaverous Janine Dolbert literally jumped out. Jason rushed from the doorway, intercepting her on the pavement, only feet from the entrance.
That was quick,' he said, touching her elbow. 'So nice to see you again. You were very helpful the other day. '
Janine Dolbert stared at him, her lips parted in recollection, then astonishment. 'You. The American,' she said in English. 'Monsieur Briggs, isn't it? Are you the one who. . . ?'
'I told my chauffeur to take an hour off. I wanted to see you privately. "
'Me? What could you possibly wish to see me about?'
'Don't you know? Then why did you race back here?'
The wide eyes beneath the short bobbed hair were fixed on his, her pale face paler in the sunlight. 'You're from the House of Azur, then?' she asked tentatively.
'I could be. ' Bourne applied a bit more pressure to her elbow. 'And?'
'I've delivered what I promised. There will be nothing more, we agreed to that. "
'Are you sure?'
'Don't be an idiot! You don't know Paris couture. Someone will get furious with someone else and make bitchy comments in your own studio. What strange deviations! And when the autumn line comes out. with you parading half of Bergeron's designs before he does, how long do you think I can stay at Les Classiques? I'm Lavier's number two girl, one of the few who has access to her office. You'd better take care of me as you promised. In one of your Los Angeles shops. '
'Let's take a walk,' said Jason, gently propelling her. 'You've got the wrong man, Janine. I've never heard of the House of Azur and haven't the slightest interest in stolen designs - except where the knowledge can be useful. '
'Oh, my God! . . . '
'Keep walking. ' Bourne gripped her arm. 'I said I wanted to talk to you. '
'About what? What do you want from me? How did you get my name?' The words came rapidly now, the phrases overlapping. 'I took an early lunch hour and must return at once; we're very busy today. Please, you're hurting my arm. '